Let Nature Give You The Answers
Self Portrait

Lesson Learned

I know it has been a more than a bit since I was last here, on the blog. Believe me, it has not been for lack of stuff to share with you. Lately, I have had a difficult time keeping up with my own shadow. The girls had Spring Break and we decided to kill two birds with one stone by going back down to Florida where they could lay out on the beach, while I worked on the rental house, painting rooms, replacing the inner workings of six toilets, changing out a million door handles that had been pitted by the salt air, etc. - yuck work - all of it.

It is a ten and a half hour drive to get there and most of it was spent wishing I was back in my studio painting. What are the chances that I would see this trailer on the highway and that it would have this as a spare wheel cover?


Seeing the pool was tempting, but there was major work that had to get done.


I almost cried at the sight of my mango tree as I made a quick check of the grounds when I got there. I planted the mango when it was only a wee foot or so high and was in a 6" pot. I could not believe how much it had grown in my absence. I don't know if the actual tears I shed where because I could see the buds that would be future mangoes and I knew I wouldn't be getting a chance to taste them, or if in fact I was crying because all of the overwhelming efforts that I have put out in a lifetime of moving from one home to another, the endless conveyor belt of one house turned into a home, to the next compilation of bare windows and walls turned into another home, just all came crashing down on me in that one instant.


The gorgeous flowers all over Florida did nothing to abate my depression.


In all the days I was there, despite the fact that the house is no more than eight minutes from the beach, I did not get to see the sea. The only only water I saw, was the swirling action down those six toilets. By the time I made the ten and a half hour trip back, here, I was absolutely convinced that my priorities are way out of whack.

The first thing a I did was order myself a new chair. At $177 I was afraid I might be wasting my money. I was even more concerned when it arrived in a small box and I realized I would have to put it together. In the box was an insignficant sized piece of paper, that I could have clearly missed, with an oversimplified diagram of how the whole thing went together. No words or other instructions where included.

Unbelievably, as I am technically challenged, the thing actually went together without any big sighs, head scratching, or orphaned left over extra parts. The seat height is adjustable as well as the height of the foot rest. The beauty of the whole thing, though, is that it actually is WICKED comfortable. I have used it daily, for 6 hours at a time, and I have to say that at $177 it is an absolute steal!


While I was at it, I reorganized my entire workspace. Now, my desk position allows me to stare out the window. Some day I am going to build myself a studio that is flooded with sunlight. It is going to have more windows than you can shake a stick at. In the meantime,this little remodeling fit that I have had will have to do.


So, Flora's e-course, is over, but the Facebook group that was formed for it, is still going strong. We have made lasting connections on it and the amount of art work being exchanged there, between me and 300 other brave folks who took the course, is downright dizzying!

This is the latest piece that I am working on - no need to make an assessment on it as it is still only in it's infancy:


I got to thinking about just how much taking her class, and connecting with others via that class, helped me make the time I spend on doing creative activities more productive. In an affort to get the most out of what is left of 2013, I have decided to fill it with other classes. I am signed up for several - all of them are so exciting that sleep, and the time it takes to recoup in a night, is seriously in question. I do have a fear, though. I would not be me if I didn't hear all those voices crowding out my creative thoughts. I worry that my time gets squandered on the never ending debate in my head about how to become a better artist and which medium or format, I should focus my efforts on. It is a lot to explain, but if you are a regular reader, here, on the blog, then you know I have discussed it with you to infinitum. I made a quick little painting sketch of what I am feeling, and fearing, for those of you who haven't been with me for long: 


So, fear, or no fear, those fears coming to fruition or not, I have signed up for a few classes that are sure to push me beyond my abilities. The first one that I am sharing with you is already in progress. I am taking a lettering class from Val Web. I am well aware that it is a total 180 from Flora Bowley's class, but I picked it because I absolutely STINK at lettering. When I made that piece about being the way the world needs me to be, I was in a total funk about my letters. By taking Val's class, I am not looking for perfection, but rather I am hoping to better define my own style of lettering.

We began by learning how to make block letters. Any thoughts from my kneaded eraser that it was not the center of my existence where quickly erased! (ha,ha, could not resist sticking that in)


I realize that all my classes, and the work that gets pushed to the surface from their assignments, are just the beginning of my journey. I must tread lightly on my judgements of my work, yet run with the force of a full-on stampede at working through the inherent hiccups of putting in the required 10,000 hours to becoming an artist.

This blog, the work I have done thus far, and the classes I have jumped into, are mere:


I must work through them from the vantage point of being a good student. This is a time to learn, not just about lettering, or what it feels like to paint as if copius art supplies grew on the trees in the forest out my window, but to learn in depth by diving deep.

Let me share with you some of the exercises I have been doing. Remember, judge lightly, these are exercises, mere mile markers in my journey.

For my lettering class we needed to choose a letter and draw/paint some pebbles with the chosen letter. I chose "E", the letter that begins my married last name. After 25 years of marriage I still have a hard time getting used to the fact that my own name has an English word in it. I wondered what I would do with the pebbles if I actually could touch them and they were real pebbles laying around my studio. I thought a necklace might be nice. And so it is.


Aside from working on my Flora painting, my lettering class, and my never ending quilt project, I have taken up a light hearted exercise I do in the studio everyday to get my creative juices flowing.

At the bookstore, I found this book about William Morris. I felt like I was getting away with murder paying only $10 for it. I have been studying the work of William Morris by reading a wonderful e-book  I learned about on that fabulous British textile blog , Design, Decoration, Craft


The work of William Morris is worthy of years of study. I, for now, am giving it a few minutes a day to grease the wheels, so to speak.


So here is what I do: I flip open the book without looking. Any page will do. The art on this page happened to be created by one of Morris' assistants, but I did not continue flipping so as not to skew the task.Then I stare at the image I see for several minutes, absorbing the entire visual feast before my eyes. Then ???


I shut the book! And I draw simply from inspiration:


Form there, and for the next few days, I let the whole thing stew a bit, everyonce in a while sketching what percolates to the surface.


I work it in to what ever I am doing, in this case you can see I ended up with blue flowers to which I added the new lettering skills I am absorbing.

As I said, I have been having a hard time keeping up with my own shadow lately. Doing all this learning is what feels right to do at this leg of my journey. Forgive me for not being here every few days. Melissa P. had the good suggestion whereby I should just send out snippets to you rather than a full blown marathon post. I really, really want to do that for you. I just can't seem to get it together. Posting a blog, as it is, leaves me wondering if all of you are really connecting with what I am saying. Are you out there?


Are you?




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Elizabeth Mackey

I'm here :)
While reading your post, I was quickly reminded of my favorite paper cutting artist Elsa Mora. I don't know if you are familiar with her or not, most likely you are, but she has so many up lifting things to say about the creative process. I have her on my facebook also, and every once in a while when I'm feeling lost in the whole process of just starting something, she will have something wise to say that makes me go, YES! I get it.
Once she wrote something like this: To become good at your craft or art, you must simply just keep doing it day in and day out weather it is any good or not. Never think of the out come, just basically do it! I'm simplifying her words, but that is the gist of it.
Several months later, I was reading something about a musician that broke up his band, but wanted to start another adventure on his own. Anyway....he was always wanted to meet Fran Healy of the band "Travis." Fran is a very gifted lyricist. Long and short of it, he finally met him in London, and asked him. "Where do I even begin again." He almost said the EXACT same thing that Elsa said!!! It really was a light bulb moment for me. Two successful artists, with the same thought....it was a common thread to not ignore!
I don't know if I'm explaining myself correctly, but here is her site. You can become a part of it by adding your blog to it. http://www.artisaway.com/

I really feel like the clock has been spinning too fast these days for all that I want to do! I just bought some beautiful fabrics and the ideas are plentiful but the time is not!!!!!


I'm here. *waving hand* :-) I love your idea for the daily creative exercise! I understand your worries, I guess it's something that's true of life in general. At some point one realizes that one won't have time to do "everything". Especially in one's personal creative journey, I think that if the choices one makes how to spend one's creative time and energy feel right then they are right. It's about your own personal journey and I think you don't need to justify yourself to us or anyone about how you go about it. We'll be here, following your journey and endeavours.


I'm here for sure! I love your long posts but a snippet now and then would be lovely too! So much food for thought as always. By the way, nothing paralysis me like the 10 000 hours rule. I have no sense for numbers, the whole thing makes me feel that my life is over and that there is no way I can do anything for 10 000 hours. It is the same with quilts, I never could make them if I would start to think about the number of pieces I have to sew together.

I have following words hangin above my desk to keep me focused: "This is my work (maybe not my employment) I need to share, I want to connet." It is in part inspired by Josehp Campbell. It helps me to focus on what I want to do vs what I want to be. I want to be an artist, but what does that mean? For me it means create, share, connect. Repeat.

By the way I love it that this class is so different than the painting class! I want to have it all as well and not sign up for only one way of doing and learning. I would love to know what other classes you are taking. I would like to join a class myself but don't know how to find one!

Alicia Armstrong

Yo aqui tambien. (is that even close?)

Most of the time I feel like I have a giant clock pressing down on me,following me, ticking loudly and laughing. But remember the clock room in the antique store? It was magical and you just wanted to stand still and listen. All those clocks and it was timeless. Perspective.

It seems impossible a lot of the time, but we need to push down those worries, especially beccause we cannot change time, and just focus on the work we can do now. They may be baby steps, but they are just as critical as a child's first steps. And all too quickly (to the mother's eyes) that child is off and running. If we do the work, we will get there.

Melissa P

So many things going on--classes, new plans, life! I'm enjoying the William Morris exercises, by the way. I am a big fan of the Arts and Crafts movement. Their philosophies about life and art and their inseparability is especially uplifting in a post-modern world.

I believe you are close to walking on your own, moving beyond the baby steps into the wild abandon and freedom. Just like babies, we have to get to that point where the walking doesn't take all our focus. When we are able to move without thinking, the real excitement begins. You're almost there. Just keep creating.

We all believe in you!


I'm here and continue to be your student! Your ideas are inspiring. I will find myself with the summer "off" for the first time in 15 years... While I will be quite busy with my young ones, I get excited thinking of what projects my sons and I might do together. Your book idea is excellent as both boys have a great deal of interest in art. Xoxo

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