Major On One Thing At A Time

YardLines

I often learn about living life from the process of drawing. That sentence sounds a bit odd. But it never ceases to amaze me how the act of drawing informs life, just as living informs drawing. For those who have followed me here for some time, this is not news to you. Here and here are just a couple of posts about discovering help for life from the activity of making a drawing.

As I think about the New Year coming up, I want to live it in like manner to how I draw. When I set about to make a drawing of what’s in front of me, I often begin with a bold line marker. Whether it’s an 08 Fine Liner Pen or a thick Sharpie, I follow the contours of the main bit I want to highlight in my drawing. I settle in to concentrate only on that bit, being present to see all the shapes and connections of lines in that one area. Once I feel I’ve put down as many lines as I deem necessary for that main area, I choose a slightly, or greatly, thinner pen to render background areas. These areas receive no less attention while drawing them, but are rendered lightly so as to highlight and support the main bit, instead of taking it over. I may even choose a much paler marker for even “lesser” background areas, as I did above in the drawing of our front yard.

EclectionPinkCouch

I enjoy doing the same thing with color. Color can be added all over one’s drawing or just in specific places–not only highlighting the bits that receive color but also allowing the structure of lines to remain in view, solid and intact.

In 2015, I want to continue learning to live my life in this manner. I do best when I am purposeful about what each day holds. As a wife, mom and working artist, there are many things that vie for my attention. Being purposeful about what gets highlighted and emboldened each day helps provide focus for my days. Carving out time for what needs to have my attention allows me to fill in around it with all the other stuff…IF there is time.

Sometimes I sit down to draw and life interrupts. Of course! But if I’ve begun with the main bit, then I’ve at least gotten something down and the rest can either be left to another day or simply left out entirely.

So what am I saying in all this?

**On any given day, week, or month, MAJOR on one thing. Minor in everything else, or let some things go altogether. Being purposeful to do my work as an artist in designated time segments, allows me to fill in domestic work and other commitments around it. Indeed, sometimes I need to designate the majority of a day to the domestic stuff–cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc. Or a day might be majoring in family or friends. some days need to be “just-be” days, allowing whatever to bubble up and enjoy.

This isn’t about being rigidly segmented with one’s life. It actually allows a flow to my life with a lessened amount of mental static and confusion. Thinking in terms of “one thing to major in”, allows the structure of my life to remain in view, solid and intact. I feel less flighty, less like taffy-being-pulled-in-a-bazillion-directions,  more focused, less scattered. Note that I say “less”…nothing is ever seamless and perfect. It is merely one way to hold my dreams and hopes lovingly together with the demands of my everyday life.

Tomorrow I’ll share a second, though closely related way of approaching the New Year. Please return for a visit and if you feel so moved, leave any thoughts in the comment section for all of us to benefit from. Thank you for being here today!

 

 

Macy’s Christmas Tree: Free Instructions

Macy's Tree

Macy has been busy crocheting some Christmas trees perfect for hanging on the tree or for decorating the table. She now has a Christmas tree lot at Southwinds Gallery offering her makes for others to enjoy!

For those who crochet, Macy wanted to share how she made them. Instead of offering a PDF to download, I will dictate Macy’s instructions here for you to follow.

IMG_3491

Materials:

You need to have two colors of worsted weight yarn. Macy used Vicki Howell’s Sheepish, which she loves because it is soft and fuzzy and oh so colorful! But she also used some Peaches ‘n Cream Cotton and other worsted weight yarns. She used an H hook, and a yarn needle for sewing up and weaving in ends. Oh, and you will need a bit of stuffing and a ribbon or two for topping the tree!

Here’s how Macy did it:

Starting at the circular base, choose the main color you want for your tree and chain 3. Slip stitch to join to 1st chain forming a ring. You are working in the round the whole time.

Ch 1, work 8 sc in ring. Join with a sl st to beg sc.

Ch 1, work 2sc in each sc around. Join.

Ch 1, *work 1 sc, then 2 sc in next sc, rep from * around. Join.

Ch 1, *work 2 sc, then 2 sc in next sc, rep from * around. Join.

Stop here for smaller tree OR work another round IN THIS MANNER: *work 3 sc, then 2 sc in next sc, rep from * around. Join.

Begin working the BODY as follows:

Working in BLO, Ch 1, hdc in same as ch 1, work same as last row of base but with hdc DECREASES…SO…if last row was (*work 2 sc, then 2 sc in next sc, rep from *) THEN YOU WILL *work 2 hdc, hdc2tog, rep from * around. Join.

Change color to your CONTRASTING COLOR:

**Working in whole stitch now, make a sc in same stitch as join, ch 1, *skip a st, sc in next st, ch 1, rep from * around. Join.

Change color back to your TREE COLOR:

Ch 1, work hdc in each st around. Join.

Ch 1, *work hdc, hdc2tog, rep from * around. Join.

Change color to your CONTRASTING COLOR:

Rep this 3 RND pattern from the **, reducing stitches on the 2ND TREE COLOR rows of hdc each time around.

***STUFF AT SOME POINT BEFORE YOU GET TO THE LAST ROUND!!

End with the tree color at the top, sl st to 1st st.

Pull yarn through and tie to make a loop at top for hanging from a tree. Weave in ends.

Choose 2 ribbons to pull through top and tie in a bow.

IMG_3488

Macy hopes you enjoy making some of these little trees!! She sure had fun crocheting them! If you make them to sell, please give due credit to Jennifer Edwards, Macy’s pattern editor.:)

 

One Pane Only

1MD10.21.2014

Here’s something you can try…

Sit next to a window that has panes dividing the glassed viewing area.

2MD10.21.2014

With pen and sketchbook in hand, draw what you see within only ONE pane.

This acts as a viewfinder for you, limiting the scope of what you have to draw.

3MD10.21.2014

You can keep your lines within the rectangle of the panes, or you can let them flow outside of those lines as I have here.

These are from my daily Morning Drawings. It’s a great way start your day. Just simple lines and a splash of color. I have quite a few I haven’t uploaded to Flickr yet. In the time it takes to upload images to Flickr, I could make a couple of drawings!! To Flickr or to Draw, now that is the question. 🙂

Try the “One Pane Only” approach! Of course, with Sean Connery’s voice in your head!

All3Panes10.21.2014

My Backyard as seen from the window where I sit each morning.

*More Free For Thee!

I have just uploaded four of my patterns to the FREE Patterns page here on my blog!

Be sure to check ’em out!

Kool Aid to Dye for!

KAGlee

**This post comes with a warning: If you continue reading/viewing, you may wind up with a huge, ridiculous grin on your face such as I have in the above pic!

Why oh why did I not take a before photo of these hanks of wool?? Perhaps because I was eager to see them transformed from a pale, drab, tea-color to something infinitely more vibrant. Before my oldest daughter went back to college, we spent a lovely day dyeing 10 skeins of this dreary yarn which had been given to me by a friend. (That is quite a lovely gift, don’t you think??)

KoolAidBegin

We found an awesome tutorial for dyeing yarn on Knitty.com that called for, of all things, Kool Aid!! I had heard of dyeing yarns with Kool Aid and had always wondered if it really worked, so here was my chance to give it a try.

KAZapped

It turned out to be quite simple! Once we had purchased all the Kool Aid packets we needed in the colors we wanted to try, we began the process of dunking the hanks in plastic containers filled with water and the desired Kool Aid, microwaving them in 2 minute increments until the water appeared clear (which meant that all the dye had been absorbed by the yarn), then rinsing them, and hanging them to dry!

KAHungtoDry

I fell in love with the reds and Catherine fell in love with the blues. We both loved them all!

KAPrettyColors

The colors we chose were: Mixed Berry, Orange, Lemon-Lime, Cherry, Black Cherry, Blue Raspberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch, and Pink Lemonade (combined with the Black Cherry because we couldn’t find enough of the Black Cherry).

KADeliciousColor

I really liked how the previously dyed tea color actually gave depth to the candy colors of the Kool Aid!

We set them out on our back deck to dry, but due to threatening rain had to bring them inside to dry hanging on a shower rod in one of our bathrooms.

KAIntheRocks

Amazingly, the kool aid is extremely color-fast, meaning that very little to NO color would rinse out of the yarns!! That makes me feel comfortable that once we knit it into something to wear, we won’t drip with colors if we get caught in the rain! Ha!

KAPebbles

When the hanks dried we had a lovely little photo shoot in our back yard, hanging them on trees, winding them back into their happy little hanks and nestling them amongst rocks and flowers. Silly stuff this! But oh so fun!

KAHangingYarn

If only rich-colored yarns grew on trees… 🙂

GrowsonTrees

Now we just have to decide what we want to knit these lovely colors into. Shawl? Scarves? Sweater? Vest? Hats? I’d like to try a little Fair Isle to use all the colors together…

They really are so happy aren’t they?

Here’s wishing you a happy day! (How’s that grin on your face??:)

Following a Hunch

LilyCollagePhoto

I posted this close-up pic on Instagram and had a hunch that I would paint it and possibly add some elements of collage. I wasn’t sure though. So I started out slowly drawing the contours in pencil. So many times, I am unclear as to how I will proceed with a drawing/painting, but just beginning, making a start, almost always reveals what I want to do next.

LilyCollage1

*Note: I do not trace my photographs. I know there are artists who do this and that’s their decision. But I think tracing cuts out half the fun! I love to prop the photo on my iPad up in front of me and draw in my sketchbook looking back and forth for shape sizes and line intersections.

LilyCollage2

I decided I wanted to keep the line work evident, but to switch up the line quality. So I chose a Sharpie Fine Pen, a grease pencil, and a bic pen to give three different textures to the lines. For some reason (a hunch) I wanted to leave the lilies in pencil thinking I might collage them or something else.

LilyCollage3

 

I began to lay in color, bright, oozly and wazzly color…

LilyCollage4

At this point the idea of adding in collage elements was pretty strong in my mind, but I wanted painted color everywhere, even under whatever I might collage.

LilyCollage5

So I scoured magazines for oranges, and pilfered my paper stash for other decorative papers…

LilyCollage6

The collage part was so much fun! But it does take a bit of time choosing just the right papers, where they might go, cutting them into just the right shapes, deciding how much or how little to collage.

LilyCollage7

But in then end it was so worth it! This is my favorite of all the recent florals!

LilyCollageFinal

I love the jewel tones of watercolor juxtaposed with the bright textured papers. It’s difficult to see in a photograph, but there are shiny bits of paper that just add sparkle to the overall image. I’m definitely doing this again! And yes, I’ve done this kind of watercolor/collage before, but hadn’t in a while so it felt like discovery. You should try it too!!

**This one is in my Etsy Shop, just waiting to be “picked”.;)

 

Quick Sketch & Slow Study

QuickSketchFlowers

When you’re not feeling great physically, a quick sketch is the way to go. No planning. No lines.  Just attack the page with paint looking quickly between your subject and the paper. The above is an example of a quick sketch of another bouquet of flowers I received recently.

I love to make quick sketches! You can, if you want to, set a timer, for say 3 minutes or even just 1 minute. Do as much as you can within that time frame with whatever tools you want to work with…charcoal, pen, watercolor, or oil pastels. The primary value in making quick sketches is that it shuts off your analytical brain and allows your intuitive side full reign. The nearly always surprise me as to how fresh and unassuming these sketches are.

SlowStudyFlowers

 

And later…when you’re feeling up to it, you can settle into a slower, more studied attempt. The key is to maintain some of that freshness and effortlessness you had in the quick sketch.

*The second painting here has been added to my Etsy Shop! 😉

**I hope today finds you able to put pen or paint to paper… quick sketches or slow studies…it will do you a world of good! I’m convinced that engaging in something artistic does indeed aid in our healing, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional.

***And I hope these bouquets bring a bright spot to your day! Thank you all for your kind words you leave on my blog or on Facebook. I so appreciate it!

Change in Direction

CrochetCircle1

Some time ago, in a flurry of excitement, I had a most colorful idea to re-cover a tired looking hassock with crochet!!

CrochetCircleSquares

Bright colors, circles, surrounded by crisp white…yes, this would be perfect!

CrochetCircle4

I hook and hook, round and round.

My youngest daughter, who likes to sit in the chair next to me and chat while I crochet, asks:

“What are you making?”

I relish telling her my grand idea.

“Why are you doing THAT mom? Don’t you know, with all that white, it’s just gonna get dirty?” said with her best middle school voice tinged with sarcasm.

CrochetCircle2

Humph! Pish Posh! So what? I like it and that’s that.

But these things have a way of getting under the skin, or rattling around in one’s brain. And eventually, I begin to agree that all that white under lots of feet would indeed sully the bright color and require lots of washing.

What then could this become? I’ve already sewn the squares into enough to cover the top of the hassock.

CrochetCircle3

Another idea…hmmm…will it work?

Ahhh….YES! it will! Just one more row of these Circly Squares to make a bigger square large enough for covering the European square-shaped pillows on our bed! No more yucky brown shams leftover from another bedding set. This will be perfect with the quilt my mom made so many years ago and which I have just recently quilted to be able to use!!

I will have a proper reveal of the crocheted shams when all is done! I’m so excited about this change in direction!

hassock

But now, I have to figure out something for the old hassock. Definitely crochet. Darker colors. Hmmm… Any ideas??

************

**If you’re interested, here’s how I’m making my Circly Squares (US Crochet terms):

Using Worsted Weight Yarn and a size H hook, begin with a Magic Loop center and ch-3.

Rnd 1: Work 14dc into the Magic Loop. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3. Pull the end of the Loop to snug all dc into the center.

Rnd 2:  Ch 3, dc in same st. 2dc in each dc around. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3. (28 dc)

Rnd 3:  Ch 3, dc in same st. 1dc in next dc. *2dc in next dc, 1dc in next dc. Rep from * around. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3. (42 dc)

Rnd 4:  Change color. Ch 2, hdc in next 2 dc, *(dc in next 2 dc; 2tr, ch 2, 2 tr in next dc (corner made); dc in next 2 dc.) Hdc in next 5 dc*.  Rep ( ) once. Hdc in next 6 dc. Rep from * to * once. Dc in next 2 dc. 2tr, ch 2, 2tr in next dc, dc in next 2 dc. Hdc in next 3 dc. Join with a sl st to beg ch-2. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Note: This creates a slightly rectangle-square: it has 5 hdc on two opposite sides and 6hdc on the other opposite sides. Of course, the ch-2 functions as a hdc stitch, just like the ch-3 functions as a dc stitch. The only trick with this is that you have to orient the “squares” in the very same direction when sewing them together so that the stitch count lines up.

Clear as mud, right? 😉

A Silly Thing: Crochet Door Stopper Cover

SillyIdea2

Ideas have a way of getting a big toe in the door of my creative mind. Sometimes I shoo them away saying, “Oh that’s just silly!” And I don’t pay them any more mind. There are times, though, that I’ll give way to the silly, open the door a bit more, and see what happens.

SillyIdea3

I don’t know if I’d been pondering all the yarn bombing that goes on in the world. Like this and this…and oh this here. But a silly little home yarn bombing idea came into my head and out my fingers. You see, we have these ugly spring-looking door stopper thingys behind the doors in our house. they are old, a bit rusty looking, and several of them have lost their rubber tip, or it sits there cracked, barely hanging on for dear life.  They’re yucky little eyesores. It may be only me who sees them. But since it matters to me, I thought I’d do something about it.

Off I went to Lowe’s to look for replacements for the rubber thingys. However, I was half hoping there would not be any, because that silly idea had already got it’s foot in the door and was jangling to be tried out. Sure enough…no replacements to be found for the rubber tips on these stoppers. Ha! I can now try out my silly ole idea!

SillyIdea1

So into the yarn stash I went and up came I with several bits of bright happy colors! My thinking was to choose a yarn that was fairly thick and durable. Thick enough to actually be a soft stopper for the door and durable to time and possible cat interest. Trusty ole Red Heart was perfect. A little flower to tip the end of a stem growing out of my wall! Yes, I like it very much.

DoorStopperCover1

For those who may be interested in a little silliness for their door stoppers, here’s how I made mine:

1. Using yellow (or any color for the center of the flower) I made a magic ring loop. I crocheted 7 sc into the ring of yarn. I pulled on the yarn to close up the center hole completely. Slip stitched to the beg sc and changed colors.

2. I then worked 2 sc into each FRONT LOOP ONLY of the 7 sc around. (You will use the back loop for crocheting the green stem.) I joined with a slip stitch, fastened off, then weaved in all the ends.

3. Taking a green color (or anything you fancy), I sc in each of the 8 loops of yarn that were the BACK LOOPS of the yellow center sc stitches. I know there were only 7 sc that created the center, but somehow there are 8 loops, I’m thinking it’s from the slip stitch at the end of that round. Anyhow, this is not a precise crochet project. Just find 8 loops around, sc in them.

4. Do not slip stitch to the beginning sc of each round. I just kept on making sc stitches around and around until I achieved the length needed to cover my door stoppers (approx 3″). Sl st to end these rounds. Fasten off and weave in this green end.

5. Slip flower stem onto your stopper and voila! It’s a silly but fun thing indeed!

DoorStopperCover2

Nurture Your Creative Spark

NurturetheSpark

So. After writing the last post about my papier mache birds with shawls, I had an image in my head to work out on paper. It started with writing that bit about having a tendency to make lots of smaller projects when life goes on full tilt.  I looked back at last year around this time, and yep, I was doing it then as well. The six weeks prior to the Art Show at my school is packed with sorting through stacks of artwork, backing them with colored construction paper, labeling them, coordinating volunteers for all aspects of the evening from hanging the show, to the reception, to taking the show down a few days later. Holidays are often “full” like this, as is May-early June, the end of the school year. I had an image of Genevieve holding one of these birds gently, protecting it, with a whirlwind going on around her.

But when I sat down to draw, the thing kinda got away from me…I was drawing flowers and rain and clouds and collaging words and a poem. Huh? (above drawing)

YourCreativeSpark

So then, I decided to have a go at the image I originally had in my head. I found myself pulling out oil pastels with this one. Funny how sometimes the image dictates what supplies you need. Or how an image has a mind of its own and goes off in directions you had no clue it would go. Still I like them both. They’re quite different in many ways even though the central image of Genevieve and the bird is the same.

So. How to nurture your creative spark when life is so very full? Here are some ideas:

*Make use of the little bits of time you have here and there. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish while waiting at the doctor’s office, or in the car pick up line, or over lunch, or any margin you can find in your day.

*Find a mini-version of what it is you’d really like to be making.  So you might not have time for throwing clay on your wheel…perhaps you could make some small jewelry out of Sculpey Clay. Maybe you can’t begin illustrating your next children’s book…but you could sketch out little thumbnails, playing with placement. And if there isn’t time for composing your next symphony, pull out a toy piano or a piano app on your iPad and play around with chords, harmonies, and tunes. You never know when these seemingly insignificant things might lead to larger works when you have more time.

*Stay connected to your creative love. Even if you only have a minute or two to crack open a book on sketch journaling, or read an inspiring blog post about mosaics, or look up a favorite artist in your particular creative genre, try to stay connected with the creativity you would love to be doing. It might feed ideas and allow you to mull over what you’ll do when your time allows.

*Jot down ideas. Write down somewhere the ideas/inspirations that come to you. This way you won’t forget them, AND you won’t fret about possibly forgetting them. 🙂

*Use the little bits of time you have to try NEW things you might not otherwise try. So if you can’t work on your novel, maybe you can try your hand at calligraphy. If you don’t have any time for weaving on the loom, maybe a bit of origami would be fun to try. Mix it up, choose something small, play!

I’d LOVE to hear your ideas! What do you do when time is precious and scarce? How do YOU nurture your creative spark?