Friday, December 5, 2008

Creative process of "Longing for Spring"

"Longing for Spring"
The inspiration for this faerie creation was Lita and her beautiful forest faerie:
I so fell in love with this work of art that Lita created and was more than thrilled that I had a friend who was officially a faerie! I wanted to join her in that magical realm so I set off with a task of turning myself into a faerie. I started with this image (Thanks to Lita for placing my hair just perfectly during the shoot): I wasn't sure yet of the scene I would place myself into so I just started with the basics: cutting the image out from the background and saving it into a new layer to be worked on. Staying nearly buck naked was not going to be an option so I had to create a dress. Using a hard brush in White, I outlined a dress with the bottom being a bit jagged. That's when the image of icicles came into my minds eye and the idea of a Winter faerie longing for Spring was born. Using white and an icy blue color I painted large areas of the dress...white for the highlighted areas and icy blue for where the shadows would be. I used photoshop brushes to create the top lacy part and icicles along the edge of the lace and the bottom. Using various sized brushes of varied strength, I created the texture in the dress.

Once I finished the dress, I turned my hair blue using the hue/saturation tool and created an elvish ear using the smudge too. Wings, a headpiece, anklet, glitter and snow were all done using brushes.

Now that the faerie was done, I needed a scene to place her in and I knew I wanted to do an icy, cold waterfall. Searching my archives I chose this one, taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom:

More challenging than the dress was turning this into a cold, wintery scene. I started with the Noise filter and covering everything with snow but it didn't fit the landscape at all. Scratching that idea, I decided to make it more "icy" than "snowy". I started by cutting out the river and moving it to a layer where I could work on it independent of the rest of the landscape. I wanted it to appear like a layer of ice was over it. This was done using the colorize tool to choose a color and dodging and burning at a different opacity each time. I then worked on colorizing the rest of the landscape which I made darker than the water thus adding to the feel of a frozen river. I "froze" the waterfall using the surface blur tool and then added icicles on top of it with brushes. Final steps where to add snow to the bottom ledge and the bush behind the faerie, both done with brushes. I then added the faerie to the scene, place right over the pair of ducks so I didn't even have to remove them from the image!

The full, final landscaped shot is this one and here you can see the dodging that was used on top of the leaves to make them look icy:

So I have finally inducted myself into faerie land and it's quite a magical place to be! :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Creative process of "Harbinger"

I had an idea of Lita being "a bringer of things", a Harbinger foretelling events. I did a quick sketch of my idea and began looking through my archives to see what setting I could use. I knew I wanted there to be a seaside cliff. I found the image "The North Sea" from my archives taken during my Coast to Coast Walk in England.
My first step was to turn it from day into a night image. I did this by using colorize in the hue/saturation adjustment. Tinting it blue, reducing the saturation and light. The blown out sky got replaced first with a layer of color, matching it to the image and then with a star field, created by using the Noise filter. To create the clouds, I used a Northern Lights photoshop tutorial paired with this black and white image of clouds, tinted and color matched to the previous layer.

The Eclipse and Lightening were created from scratch using photoshop tutorials. The rain was made using the Noise Filter and Motion Blur and then angled in the direction desired.

Next up was taking the relatively calm sea in the original photo and making it stormy. I used waves from several images in my archives, cutting, scaling, cloning, warping, smudging and matching colors until I was satisfied:

Now that I had stormy seas, I wanted to add a vortex. I used a stock image of a whirlpool and followed a tutorial. This was one of the most difficult parts of the image to work on. It took alot of cloning, warping, erasing, smudging, dodging, burning and perspective adjustment to get it to look just right. The ship was a stock image that was scaled down and skewed to look as though it was being sucked into the vortex. A final layer of Grit was added over the seas and sky to give it a bit more of a dark feel.

Now that the scene was completed I worked on transforming Lita. This was the starting image I chose to use, one which I plan on using again in the future (it has lots of possibilities!):

Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, I cut Lita from the scene. Using Levels, I lightened her skin. Turning her eyes green was done with the Elliptical tool and hue/saturation. Eyeshadow and lashes were added using brushes. I browsed costume images on Google until I found a cloak and gown that I liked. These were then cut out and pasted into new layers to be worked on separately. Cloning and warping were the main tools used to dress Lita. The cloak was originally on a naked mannequin and that had to be removed. The gown was originally a dull grey color and it was changed using the Color Match tool. Photoshop brushes were used in two colors to give her hair volume, length and strands blowing in the wind.

In place of the skull, I wanted a crystal ball. This was done with a photoshop tutorial and by using outer & inner glow along with dodging.

Finally, a Harbinger is in essence an two were added to the image...a black cat which was a stock photo and this image of a Boat Tailed Grackle, standing in for a Raven:

He was elongated using the skew & distort tool and place into the scene. After everything was in place I flattened the image and added the final touches of dodging highlights and burning shadows and viola! A piece of digital art!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Welcome to the Magic Show!

I had alot of fun creating this "mad magician" image. Lita and I donned the outfits and did the shoot the same day we did the mermaid "swimming" pics. I didn't have to do much digital work to Lita and I except for replacing my crazy top hat with a more traditional one which I then painted. The red bow tie came from a costume image off of google. I also used a diffused glow filter over Lita's body which gave her the look of enchantment. Both the curtains,background and bunny were stock images. For the background I had to take out things such as a window and some chains before changing the color. I changed color of the floor as well to make it fit in with my overall warm toned scheme. The bunny was originally coming out of my top hat and that was a little too much. I still wanted to use the cute little guy so off to the corner he went. Magic dust and sparkles were added using brushes and the effect of shadows being cast was done using the burn tool. After the image was together I added a CCTV dirty camera texture to a top layer and changed the blending mode to Overlay and the opacity to 50%. This popped the brightness up in the center of the image while leaving the dark edges of the texture. This image definately speaks to what I am learning right now with digital art...I'm discovering a world of magic and becoming a digital magician and oh boy, is it alot of fun!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Inspiration can come from anywhere

I find inspiration everywhere and this Nike commercial is a perfect example of that. It's just another sports commercial to most people but for me I find that the themes of life's passion, determination and hard work motivate me to "Leave Nothing" when following my dreams. I find football extremely passionate...there is always raw emotion, players trying to do and be their best. Doing what they love and doing it for the entertainment of millions of fans. As an artist on a journey of discovery, I have looked at the sport in a completely different light. One that is vibrant, fully energized and full of a cast of colors. Another reason this commercial touched me was the music...I was drawn to it and finally, after a month of watching it over and over figured out why. It's connected to my childhood and pleasant memories of us kids settling in to watch Clint Eastwood in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" with my dad who is a huge Eastwood fan (and quite coincidental, my birth father LOOKS just like Eastwood). The music is from that movie. When I finally figured it out, all those Eastwood movies, including my favorite "Two Mules for Sister Sara" came flooding back to me along with memories of us at the drive in theatre, with the large silver speaker hanging on the drivers side window blaring those familiar western themes. I began thinking about doing a photo series based on those movies and got extremely excited over bringing my childhood back to life. And to do it for my dad, who will probably get a kick out of it while recovering from shoulder surgery. Of course, I will need to find a poncho, cowboy hat, mule and a nun costume first. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Creative process of "The 12th Sign"

"The 12th Sign"
To create the digital art piece "Pisces" for my Zodiac Series I had envisioned the two fish swimming in opposite directions as mermaids. I started with several images that Lita and I had taken of ourselves in a "swimming" position, which gave our abs quite the workout! I had to only use one image from Lita's session but with me I used four different photos piecing together my body from one, face from another, and arms each from yet another photograph. When I finally had our bodies in place, I created the tails, fins and hair with brushes. Lita's hair was easy but changing my hair color completely and making it have depth was not an easy task! I imagined us as mermaids in the Mediterranean so an underwater like Atlantis with ruins was the only way to go, however I actually started with a photograph of the reef in Key Largo in the Atlantic. I used these two photos of the reef: From there I resized, scaled and warped to get the image to look like it was taken under the water instead of above the water. I then created a light source from the top using the Lasso tool to mark out where I wanted my light rays to fall. Next came finding "ruins" that I could use to create my Atlantis. I chose the archway from this shot taken at Armadale Castle in Scotland: And also this shot of the Glastonbury Abbey for the larger ruins: For both of these I needed to cut out the pieces that I wanted, change the colors to fit in with my overall ocean color scheme and scale them down to fit into the image. I then used this photograph taken in the Red Sea during a trip to Israel:

By placing this photo in a back layer I could bring it through and give the image a feeling of depth. I also warped it out and used it underneath the stone floor which I lowered the opacity on. Both the stone floor and the throne were stock images.

I added the text and symbols, placed Lita and I in position and added sparkles on and around us. The final step was a gradient layer in two colors chosen from my image, layered on top of the entire image and the opacity lowered just a bit so that Lita and I still came through as the main subject but the colors are slightly more muted to give the feeling of being under the sea.

This image involved numerous hours, lots of learning, a gazillion layers and tons of patience but I must say that I'm really proud of myself for following through with my artistic vision and bringing this piece alive. I'm also very excited to see where Lita takes her vision from this session and when she has it finished I will definately be posting a link to it from here. Next up for me is processing of some nature photos and then working on a few other artistic series including a "Mad Magician" series and a "Faerie" series!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Creative process of "By Moon's Pale Light"

I had the idea for this scene in my head for months and the final result turned out better than what I had imagined. Of course, it took a lot of work to get there...not counting the morning spent with Lita shooting the main image, post processing took about eight hours.

I ended up with about 115 shots from the session. This was the one that I ended up choosing as the main image I wanted to work with.

I liked the closeness between Lita and I, as well as the positions of our bodies and the expressions on our faces. However, the Gothic tree is in a tropical setting so my first order of business was to remove all the greenery, leaving just us and the tree.

Transporting us into a haunting graveyard was the next step and I chose this one from my files:

This shot, taken last year in Wales with a point and shoot needed to be rescaled to fit in with the image of Lita and I. I wanted to have the ivy-covered tomb be in the front so that was the driving force as to what was kept. The large tree and most of the background were masked out as were a few of the graves. I kept only the trees in the far distance to achieve depth in the shot.

I went through several versions of a final image before I finally got satisfaction which included one where the entire background was just a dark and cloudy sky. Another in high contrast b&w and yet another where I had the image a chocolate color with texture and grain. One of the images to nearly make it to completion was one where I had used many clouds. In the end though I decided only a few wisps were needed over a large and luminous moon. I used a background of b&w clouds from a Photoshop CD and masked out the ones I didn't need. I chose this shot from my files for the moon:

I needed something to fill in the rest of the image so the tops of these very branchy trees were added to the background:

I now had my composite image created. My next steps were to convert it to black and white, run some filters over it to give it the cool tones and to use the burn and dodge tools to cast my shadows and highlight the areas where the moonlight would fall. The final step was the Render Clouds filter which added the fog. I masked out most of it except around the front and used a slight blur to make it a bit less patchy.

Be sure to visit Lita's Blog to read some behind the scenes and see outtakes from this shoot and to also see how she came to her final masterpiece of "Touched":

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Everyone has to fight to be Free

This beautiful morning, while riding my bicycle and listening to Tom Petty's "Refuge", the line "Everyone has to fight to be free" really struck a chord within me. The sky was so blue, with fluffy marshmallow clouds. There was an opening where the warm sun cast her rays directly onto my emotionally drained body. I closed my eyes for a moment and drank it in. My soul was suddenly energized with this burst of freedom that I have longed to feel for a while now. To be free of relationships that are mean-spirited and negative. To be free of the rusty chains of my past. To truly be free in the live a gorgeous, love-filled life of happiness and joy. I had to battle myself and my guilt to be free. Sometimes our head tells us one thing. Our heart another. This can lead to a conflict that drains us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But if we listen to our gut...,our soul, it always knows the answer. There is no battleground there. The soul knows what is right, what is wrong and what we need to change in order to be free, complete and happy. Change is good and can lead to an unexpected freedom. Having a space left by something old means that now something new can develop in it's place and that is quite an exciting prospect. Later on in the day, I spent time working in my garden. Giving back to the earth that has so graciously blessed me with a wonderful life full of caring, supportive and loving people. Freedom was everywhere around me...a grumpy looking toad who was happy to just watch me watch him. A Giant Swallowtail that floated around me with such grace and beauty. A super fast Skipper that danced long a vine. A tiny little duckling that seemed to smile up at me when I gave him some seed. And there I was, finally feeling truly free along side them. Re-energized and happy to be part of this beautiful world.
The quick little skipper
The watchful toad

Friday, October 3, 2008

Throwback to the Teen Years

So last night I went rollerskating with my friend Lita. It was the first time in nearly 25 years that I was at a rink. I was 19 years old when my skating days ended. I had left my skates and the brown leather case my little brother saved his money to buy me for Christmas in the backseat of my 1969 Ford Mustang. I had left them in there while on a roadtrip with my college cheerleading squad. I had a feeling the whole time I was gone that someone was going to steal them and my intuition was right. After that I had quit skating but up to that point, I had skated for 15 years and my entire teen years were spent every weekend at the roller rink.
I have such fond memories of that place, the people who hung out there and the music that was played. "Blinded by the Light"...the lights would be turned off except the big disco ball that hung from the middle of the roof and which threw tiny little diamonds of light across the floor. I had dance routines to "Let it Whip" by the Dazz Band and "Flamethrower" by J. Geils Band. "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone drove me batty and when it would come on I'd leave the floor to get a Mr. Pibb.
It was at the rink that I learned all the lyrics to "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang. And of course who could forget the skating standards like "Double Dutch Bus" and "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" by the Gap Band.
They played "Double Dutch Bus" last night and Lita and I just smiled at each other, picked up speed, moved our hips and enjoyed the wind in our hair.
The photograph was taken in 1982 and the drawing I did in 1980.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Aye Mateys! 'tis been to long since ye wench here has posted words to de blog!
Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! loves this day wit all of me 'eart! There is much fun to be had when ye walk 'round talkin' like ye bloddy pirate all day! And, aye been waitin' to post ye pirate pics on Flickr for a whole year!
Me knows this wench, Francie who says life is more fun in costume! thinks I'm agreed!
So next year, me will dress in me pirate garb for a selfie portrait for all me mates to see!
Til then, smooth sailing mateys! Errrr....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dost Thou Love Life?

"Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of."

A quote by Benjamin Franklin, although I personally always remembered it from the opening scene of one of my all-time favorite movies, Gone With the Wind.

As we reach the mid-point of this year, I wonder where has the time gone?

If I didn't love life then I think time would move slowly, it would painfully tick away at the innermost sanity of my mind.

But, I DO love life and therefore, it moves so fast that I can't keep ahold of it for even one minute. I have so many things to learn, goals to accomplish (writing more often in my blog comes to mind), places to see, images yet to be captured with my camera that there is no way I will ever be able to complete it all before my clock ticks its final second.

I guess that means I'm having a blast because after all "Time flies when your having fun!".

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Joy of Photography

My friend Lita posted this picture of me from an outing we had to Loxahatchee. I was laying flat on my stomach trying to get a picture of a Blue Dasher dragonfly. I love this shot she captured because it really shows how much joy I truly get from photography. I love nature, wildlife, art and being creative. Photography lets me combine all of those into one wonderfully satisfying hobby. Photography has also led me to meet wonderful people, like Lita, who have the same passion for nature and photography. It's much more enjoyable when you find someone to share it with and I can hardly wait until our next adventure together. Maybe next time I'll catch Lita in a funny position photographing an insect of some sort! :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Fuzzy Hat

The last painting I completed was this past fall. It was a portrait of my 15yr old niece, Danielle wearing a fuzzy hat. It was a reminder of our vacation we took together in 2006. During our road trip from Florida to Kansas, we stayed in Memphis. We spent a day on Beale Street and stopped at the famous drugstore Schwabs where we had a hilarious time trying on different hats. For some reason, the fuzzy hat kind of represented her fun personality and it ended up being my favorite.

I was just messing around in the scetchbook last summer and while zoning out to the telly, I sketched a portrait of her in that fuzzy hat. It was the first time I had actually sketched someone I knew.

She was not having a good year this past year, so I decided to paint her portrait in oil using this sketch as my basis. Now, I have never, ever painted a person. I stick to still lifes, landscapes, wildlife and abstracts.
It was pretty daunting. And the problem is that I am a perfectionist with non-professional skill. That combo is not good if you have a limited amount of time to get something finished. I worked on it and worked on it right up until just a couple of weeks before Christmas. I finally just had to walk away from it and say it was the best I could do.

When I presented it to her while we were both home for Christmas, she seemed to really love it. That made me realize that I had done what I wanted to do and that was to make her feel special and loved...because she is.

It may not have been the best, but it was made by me, for her and with a lot of love. And that counts for something. But, I definately won't be doing another portrait anytime soon!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How Long a Lifetime?

As my 25th class reunion approaches, I was shocked to hear the news today that another classmate has passed away. That makes three classmates, all women, who have died in the past year at the young age of 42. One died of breast cancer, another in a car wreck and the most recent one died from complications due to pneumonia. All three were mothers. One was my brother-in-law's sister, an aunt to my young nieces and nephews.

It reminds me that a "Lifetime" isn't the same for everyone. Someone may have a lifetime of 90 years whereas another person may only get to enjoy their lifetime for 15 years. The truth is we really don't know how long our own lifetime is and that fact makes it very important that we live each day as if it were our last because it just may well be.

We need to remember to show love and kindness and to choose our words make all we do count for something. We should never wait to wear that special pair of shoes or take that long-needed vacation. We shouldn't wait for a holiday or birthday to tell someone what they mean to us. We should not hold onto our grudges and guilt or withhold love and forgiveness. And we should never push aside our dreams of a lifetime...because we don't know just how long that lifetime will actually turn out to be.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I want my mommy!

Is it ridiculous to want your mommy when your 43 years old?I'm battling some tough cold/cough and it makes me wish my mom were here. When your an adult you have to take care of yourself and I don't think I'm very good at doing that when I'm sick.

If my mom were here she would make me hot tea and crackers with butter that I could push through the little cracker holes in order to amuse myself by. Instead, I'm eating cold pizza and drinking a diet Dr. Pepper. And I'm not amused at all.

If my mom were here she would have me resting comfortably with a soft blanket and she would rub my back until I fell asleep. Instead, I'm sitting at the computer, complaining in my blog and getting a backache in the process.

If my mom were here, she would bring me my grandma's famous Navy Bean soup for dinner and we would watch some grand English comedy.

Instead, I'll probably eat a can of Campell's Soup to Go and watch Reality TV all night.

And to think I couldn't wait to become an adult!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Maple Leaf Rag

It's been a while since I have had a chance to even sit down and breathe, let alone write in my blog. Now that I have re-caught that dreaded cold I have no choice but to slow down.

So, I stopped and I sat at my piano today and played a quick "Memories". For some reason, it's one of the only songs I remember from all the ones I learned as a child.

I can still play a boogie or two but not much is in the old memory vault after that.

One of the activities on my list of "things to do in this life" is to learn the Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. It has always been my favorite ragtime ditty, ever since first hearing it played on the old piano player at The Long Branch Saloon in my home town of Dodge City. I still have the sheet music after all these years but never got around to learning it.

I can't play by ear, never have, never will. I have to read the music and therein lies the difficult part. How much about reading the music have I retained? I may have to actually hire a piano teacher again! My piano teacher was a "little people" with red hair and tons of freckles. I was always amazed that she could play the piano with those tiny, stubby little fingers of hers. I don't remember her name anymore, but I do remember she was nice to me and when your a little kid, that counts for something!!

My nephew Seth will be here to visit me in June and he loves to play the piano so maybe he will be the motivation I need to finally learn my favorite piano song.

How to Sight Read Music - wikiHow

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bonkers for Bunco!

I'm bonkers for Bunco! And here is the reason:
I played Bunco for the first time when I worked at Club Med in Scottsdale, Arizona. A group of our supervisors had a Bunco game every month and I was lucky enough to be a sub a few times. I fell in love with the fast-paced, exciting game and for the last 20 years have been waiting for a permanent seat in a Bunco Group.

Thanks to I finally got my wish when another Laura emailed me about joining her Bunco group. Of course I jumped on the chance and looked forward to my first game with gleeful anticipation.

Our group started two months ago and is comprised of 16 of the most interesting and fun women! Bunco gives us an excuse once a month to get away from all of our responsibilities and just enjoy great food, good wine, fabulous conversation and one heck of a rowdy, hilarious dice game.

All the women in our group are fascinating and beautiful with shining personalities. None of us take the game too seriously or competitive although we all would like to go home with one of the prizes! But, if we don't we still get to come away with a night full of laughs and laughing is what keeps us young. And that is why I'm bonkers for Bunco!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Planting for the Future

I spent today planting flowers. I love having blooms beautifying my yard during my favorite season of summer. Last year I planted Earthwalker Sunflowers. It was actually amazing that any of them bloomed since the squirrel dug up most of the seeds and my cat ate the tops off seedlings. I finally got wise and moved them to a secure place and for about a month during July and August I had the brightest colored sunflowers I had ever laid eyes on.
I have been meaning to get out in the yard and plant this whole month but other things kept getting in the way. I finally remembered what joy I had when the first Morning Glories opened up to the sun. The variety was Scarlett O'Hara, a gorgeous deep pink...almost hot pink really. They climbed the fence and the fig tree and bloomed all season.

I can't have an actual real garden because of all the wildlife that surrounds us. We have everything you can imagine and they eat whatever they can get their little grubby paws on. Part of the problem I guess is that I feed them seed regularly so they just must think my flowers are part of the deal.

The iguanas like to eat the heads off the Marigolds...the ducklings like the sprouts of the Morning Glories...the squirrels of course like the Sunflower seeds and all the birds, especially the White Ibis which have long, curved beaks like to dig up even the deepest of seeds.

Still, I have been surprised with what has survived and still gone on to bloom. I thought none of the Heavenly Blue Morning Glories survived. The ducklings last year ate all the seedlings and then we had torrential rain that tore up the rest. But, yet at the end of summer there they were...not where I planted them in the backyard, but in the front yard. Probably dropped there with some extra fertilizer by the sweet little ducklings!

Luckily, living in Florida we have perfect weather to plant anything and have it grow. You just have to make through the wildlife first.

Today I planted Sweet Pea, a variety called Heathcliffe that I purchased in Haworth, home of Emily Brontë the author of Wurthering Heights.

I wonder if it will be as wild and untamed as the character Heathcliffe?

I planted two varieties of Morning Glories with the hopes that the two from last year will re bloom. Grandpa Ott is a deep purple and Milky Way is a pretty white with light pink stripes. I also decided to plant Oxford Blue Scabiosa with the hopes to attract more butterflies. I did some more Marigolds for the iguanas and this time I thought of my cats and planted Catnip! I had some seeds left over from the Earthwalker Sunflowers so I planted them in a place where squirrel nor the cat could get to them. Finally, I planted Zinnia, Spanish Omelet Poached Eggs (yes, that's really the name!) and lastly Moonflower with the hopes that I'll have it blooming at night to fragrance the patio area.

I spent this one Spring day planting for the future. I can't wait to see what Summer brings!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The 2008 Self Challenge

This is my third time doing the Self Challenge. It is a healthy eating/exercise program put on by Self Magazine. It's to help women work a more healthy diet and activity level into their livestyle. It's also a great way to get ready for bikini season! Click on the title to be taken to their website where you can read all about the challenge. It's never too late to start!

I completed the challenge the first year I did it...faltered a bit the second year and last year I couldn't participate because I was travelling in the UK for two of the three months.

I'm currently on my fourth week of the three month program. For me, it's not about losing any weight really but reducing my body fat which likes to hang out on the hips and tummy areas, to add overall toning and to help me control my food portions.

So far, I've lost 1lb., 1/2% of my body fat, 1 inch on the waist and thighs. I've also reduced my girth by 1 inch but have only taken a 1/2% off of my hips. However, I did see some stomach muscles that have been long gone show up at the end of week three...I'm pretty excited by that!

I'm not someone who loves to exercise. I really have to motivate myself to do it (unless it's one of my long-distance treks!) and the Self Challenge helps me do that.

Of course, I would probably be further along if I didn't have such an addiction to dark chocolate. The story on that battle is better left for another day because right now I have to go work out! :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Memories of Easter

My memories of Easter as a child are wonderful.

Coloring eggs in a vinegar and dye mixture in plastic 1970's teacups. I can still recall the smell.

We did the coloring at my grandma's house. It was always a fun day.
Then, on Easter Sunday we would put on our new Sunday Best clothes, take pictures with our baskets, stop by Grandma's to hunt for some more awesomely filled Easter baskets before heading off to church to celebrate the real meaning of Easter. Of course, as kids all we could think about were the activities that would come after. I suppose my mom had a hard time getting us to sit still in church on days like this one.

After church we headed over to my Great Aunt Rosemary's for Easter brunch. We loved going over there because we knew we would see our cousins, Charity, Brandon, Niles and Rodney. The seven of us would play and have adventures all day long.

The feast was always amazing. Everything you could think of from Turkey and ham, to sweet and mashed potatoes, veggies, rolls, pies, cakes and of course Giant Chocolate Easter Bunnies...the gift my Great Aunt Rosemary always gave us kids.

Easter, as with all the holidays are different now. I think when we become adults our holidays come with expectations that they are going to be as wonderful and memorable as they were when we were kids. But, they usually aren't. There is usually stress, last minute running around trying to get everything done, cooking to do, kids to dress, family to visit.

Now I think of all the things my family did to make sure we kids had a perfect Easter Holiday. And, we were never aware of how much work it took or appreciated it until we grew up and had to do it for ourselves.

I am blessed that they worked so hard to give me those perfect Easter memories.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Finding Time for Art

Thanks to everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes yesterday! Each and every one made me smile and filled my heart with joy!

What am I going to get accomplished during my 43rd year?
I would like to complete all my "in progress" art projects. I realized today that I have seven oil paintings started and haven't worked on any of them in almost a year!

I love painting. I love just starting with a blank canvas and turning it into something beautiful. I love the way painting takes your mind away from everything else and you are just left with the flow of being creative.
I love painting most with oil, but I also like acrylic...watercolor, that's a whole other story and needs it's own post to explain why we don't get along too much.

My list of miniature projects is even longer...I've been working on a 1/2" scale wine cellar in what seems like forever. I've planned a Lighthouse, a Wizard's Study and an Arctic Camping scene.

And my mind is so full of ideas that I just want to get going on all of them. But, I really need to finish the ones I've started first.
Making miniatures is a fantastic hobby. You can create these tiny worlds and they can be anything you want.
I once did a Fairy Shoppe, made out of a giant paper mache mushroom! I always wanted a wine I decided to make one. Who cares that it's only 10" high and you can't drink the wine. It's still a wine cellar and it's mine.
Well, at least at will be when I find the time to finish it!
So, my only solution is to make time for art. Find the time, squeeze in the extra hours and get back to being creative. Get things done.
Finding Time for Art...
Less television would be a good way to start.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Time for Rebirth

It's the last day of the Astrological calendar...the Spring Equinox...and my 43rd birthday!

As a child, I never liked that my birthday was on the first day of Spring. It always fell during Spring Break so I was never in school on my birthday. No chocolate cupcakes to share with the class. No teacher to point out that today was my special day. No homemade card from the boy I liked. I felt ripped off, cheated out of this schooldays ritual.

But, as we all do, I grew up and came to appreciate and even love that my birthday is on this day. It's such an interesting one.

The last day of the Astrological calendar...that was always the most intriguing thing to me about my birthday. It is believed that those born on this day carry traits from all twelve zodiac signs.

I liked that...being able to read all the horoscopes and just pick the one that fits me best. :)

But, it is really the Spring Equinox that I love most about my birthday. Celebrated for thousands of years by so many different cultures, it is a time for renewal and rebirth.

Last year, on my 42nd birthday I celebrated it by climbing up to the Glastonbury Tor, an ancient site in Somerset...a place that has the most magnetic lay lines...a location that is so full of cosmic energy. No one knows for sure who built the Tor, or what it's purpose was but there is definitely something quite magical about it.

I had always wanted to visit and on this day, my mother and I began the climb up, fighting the most amazing wind. My mom made it half way and decided that it was just too taxing on her to continue. So, I made my way up to the top alone. I was exhausted when I got to the top...I could barely catch my breath. But, then something amazing happened.

I stopped. My mind became quiet. I sat down and took in the wonder and beauty of where I was. I was in Somerset, England. I could see the countryside, the village of Glastonbury, rolling green hills and the most amazing sky. I was sheltered from the wind by the Tor and I took about 30 minutes to just sit and take it all in. Little did I realize that I was also drawing in energy from this mystical tower.

When I finally began to make my way down, I had this sudden burst of joy and I began running down the hill towards my mom with great enthusiasm. She was waving at me, smiling, laughing, snapping pictures. I was so pumped up. I felt amazing. I felt new. It was at that moment that I realized what I had just experienced...a rebirth of the spirit.

Come, gentle Spring! ethereal mildness, come. -James Thomson, The Seasons.