Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Grown-Up Projects

I'm guessing if you don't have kids you may never have visited Lori Pickert's Camp Creek Blog. Or maybe you have kids but you're not homeschooling, so you've never landed there. But no--you need to visit. I'm biased, sure. I like Lori a lot, and I like her book, and I'm using her guidelines and practices with my own children. But now she's begun a series of posts for adults, and I think it's such important reading. Lori feels we all deserve to have the sort of life that some of us are trying to create for our children--one where time is spent pursuing interests and passions--a whole life, I would say. And--and I appreciate this very much--she is not writing lovely-sounding things and leaving the reader to send wishes up to the universe. She's got some concrete steps we can all take. I look forward to Monday mornings because that's when she posts her project posts for grown-ups. And she is saying things I already believe in.

How can you learn to use the time you have? (And you do have time.)

What does your space say about you? Do you need to change it so it reflects the kind of work you want to do?

What kind of negative self-talk do you  have going on? Stop it, already.

These things resonate with me. When I'm on my game, I can get quite a lot of my own work accomplished in the nooks and crannies of my day--because otherwise, it won't get done. I don't care if you stay home with kids or have a full-time job out of the house, it takes mountain-moving to get a hour or two chunk of time in which to focus on your own projects. So you squeeze it in. You learn to work in small increments. Every time I see the advice to leave a first draft (writing, or painting, anything, really) and come back to it with fresh eyes I just laugh, because I am always walking away from a work in progress to attend to somebody's needs. I always have fresh eyes. Lucky me, right?

And my house? My house is...cluttered would be a nice way of describing it. This is a picture of my chair, the one that is so clearly marked as my territory that guests rarely try to sit in it.

My knitting is sitting right there waiting for me. If I have a few minutes, I can knit a bit. If I have an embroidery project going, it's usually on the footstool. The binders on the bins to the left are full of printed-out knitting and sewing patterns. Most of my pattern and reference books are downstairs, but the ones I'm using for the current project are piled up next to the chair. My sketchbook is there, too, along with a zippered pouch of sketching pencils. So if I want to sit down in the evening and work out some ideas, I don't have to go far. The basic supplies are right there. It looks pretty messy. But it works for me. (When company comes I've been known to pick up all the piles and just dump them behind a closed bedroom door for a few hours.)

Projects or fabric-in-waiting is often sitting out on the ironing board. Goodness knows I don't use it for anything else when I'm not sewing. (My husband moves my piles when he irons his shirts.)

These two embroidery pieces are waiting for their respective display solutions. I need to get on that.

Downstairs is also where our art area is. Everything I need is within reach. If I--or the kids--wants to start a project, materials are gathered within minutes. We are so well stocked--I feel so fortunate there.

Ahem. That's just some of the storage down there. It's not very...tidy. It's so accessible though!

In the comments of the third post (which is about getting out of your own way) I admitted my personal big negative self-talk hurdle: "If my passion/interest/project isn't earning any income, it's not worth the investment of money or time taken from the family." This is something I deal with as the at-home non-wage-earning parent. It's completely self-generated. I don't hear it from anyone but myself. But always, in the back of my mind, is the constant circular mumble: Is there a way to make money from this but I don't want to figure out an at-home business it would kill my joy I don't have time for that I'm working quite a bit as it is but why take a class just for fun it doesn't benefit anyone but me that's so selfish is there a way to make money from this?

I could probably benefit from the extra brain space I'd free up if I could silence that inner voice completely.

So. No big words of wisdom here. I'm still working this out. I show up on Mondays and read the posts and get reminded that I don't have to have it worked out, that having my own interests, passions, and joys is necessary for a well-lived life, not to mention it sets a good example for my kids. This is how I've always tried to be. I've always had interests and creative pursuits; I've never stopped learning. But there are periods when I don't work at it as hard, often when life is feeling its hardest--which, of course, is when I need these things that feed my soul the most. So this series of posts is serving as an excellent reminder to continue to value what I need, all the time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stitched: Little Trees

The year's second embroidery--a trio of small colorful trees.

We have a storybook that illustrates trees in almost a childlike way, with round circles at the end of stick-like branches. It's so unlike the way I draw trees, and they look awkward at first glance (and second and third, really), but they kept catching my eye. So I drew some in a similar style and transferred them to the fabric.

I'm not exactly sure how I'll finish these for display, but I know it will involve showing that selvedge edge somehow.

I'm quite fond of that selvedge edge, with its red stripe. I'm thinking the fabric needs to be sewn onto something sturdy and acid-free--heavier than cardstock, but not so heavy I can't sew through it. As for the year's first embroidery, my 8yo feels it would be best displayed in a hoop. I think he's right, so I need to get a wooden hoop and finish it off.

Embroidery makes me happy, and it's really all about the doing of it. If I don't force myself to figure out the display bit right away, I'll end up with piles of stitched images lying around, abandoned. I like what I stitch, very much; don't misunderstand. But once I'm done stitching it, it doesn't interest me quite as much anymore. I just want to get back to pulling floss through fabric, stitch after soothing stitch. However, I'm supposed to be knitting my son a sweater. If there's embroidery about, I tend to ignore the knitting. So.

But you can bet I'm planning the next embroidery piece in my head, while I'm working those knitting needles...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Blue in the Mail

These are finally on their way to Karen for the Mail Me Some Art Blue Postcard Swap. I've been meaning to join one of her swaps since she began them. It took me a while...on the plus side, I am so pleased with these four cards. They were fun to make, and I think I've improved quite a bit since my first postcard swap. The "rule" for this swap, as you might have guessed, was to use blue. A bit of contrast is okay, but mainly, we're looking at blue. Why blue? Karen also lives in New England. Have you visited New England in January? It can lend itself to the blues, if you catch my meaning. So.

These four began as one 9x12" sheet of Bristol board, collaged and painted. Then I sliced it into four pieces and added more collage pieces individually. Here's the first:

 I added the circles of text and the ghostly image on the right-hand side. It's a cut-out ghost sunprint of a skate egg case, but it kind of reminds me of someone with their hands over their head.

To this second one, I just added some washi tape, a strip of text painted blue, and a blue circle sticker. One of my kids was given a game for Christmas that had stickers that needed to be applied, and there was lots of leftover background sticker on the sheet, so I saved it to cut shapes out of.

I really like this third one. Those are more sunprints, cut out and glued on.

And the final one has this little girl in a blue-checked dress, cut out from a vintage sewing pattern envelope.

I really like beginning with something larger and then cutting it down, because I enjoy the found compositions in the smaller pieces. They each become their own little world that I can work into in various ways.

The swap is open for another week, if you're interested in joining in--the postmark day is January 21.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

List-It Tuesday: What's New?

I've been absent from List-It Tuesday for a while! This week the topic meshes so well with my wanting to share the exciting things coming up for me in this new year.

Just a quickly written list...here are the details.

Learning: I signed up for a one-day professional development workshop at the Eric Carle Museum, and I really hope it runs, as they haven't met minimum enrollment yet. It's called Beyond Books: Art Inspired by Eric Carle, and we'll be painting lots of stuff, which sounds good to me. I also signed up for a six-week continuing ed class at the Rhode Island School of Design--Embroidery + Embellishment. I haven't even attempted a night class since having kids. Providence is a 45-minute drive, the class itself is three hours long...but the draw of being in a class where embroidery is considered a valid fine art medium is just too good to pass up. And finally, I'm in Diane's e-book course. It's just a thing I've been thinking about for so long I decided it's time to find out a little more.

Teaching: I'm leading two classes at our winter session of co-op, which is slightly shorter than fall and spring. My printmaking workshop is full (full!) with a dozen kids, and I'm excited and also a little wary, truth be told. I've planned a possibly ambitious schedule of process-based exploration. I hope we can fit it all in without destroying the room. I'm also teaching a class on vertebrate classification--early elementary, so pretty basic, but I've gathered some good stuff together. (I don't use curriculum, generally. I'm a gather-and-be-flexible kind of instructor.)

Sharing: I began the new year at my other blog with a three-part series (one, two, three) on the importance of process over product art for kids, but it's just as relevant to adults, too. I'm pretty passionate on this topic, actually. I also hope to share the details of the five-part printmaking workshop as well as the adorable little animal classification booklet I put together for the co-op class, once I figure out how wordpress hosts documents.

More lists can be found over at Artsyville here! What's new with you?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Stitched: Labyrinth

Hello again! It's only been a couple weeks since solstice but already the lengthening day light is noticeable. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I also feel the return of energy, ideas, enthusiasm. I have much going on to start the year, but I will get to that in another post. First I want to share my first embroidery of 2013. When I looked back on last year, I realized that energy spent on planning and stitching in thread was a good use of energy, indeed. I want to place more focus there. Since it's been a while, I decided to start with something small.

A labyrinth is not a maze; it contains no decision points. One path in, one path out. 2012 was hard, and I didn't have a choice about most of it. There was no, "Shall I take this path, or that one?" Most of the year was just the one path, and at times it felt rather thickety and brambly. Many days, I walked that path with grace. And many days, I did not.

So I stitched myself a labyrinth, this first week of a new year, to remind myself that even when I don't have a choice of which path to walk, to walk the path with grace and mindfulness nonetheless. And I share it with you. As our planet continues on its annual path--bringing those of us in the northern hemisphere incrementally more sunlight as it goes--we have another year to traverse. Our own path to follow, and while we don't always get to choose which path, we always get to choose how we walk it.

Welcome. Welcome to 2013. Step in, and step mindfully.