Stemming the Tide? or Riding the Wave?

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The above drawing illustrates how I’m experiencing my days lately. The reasons for this are many and varied, not the least of which is just trying to get back up to speed with normal everyday living in the aftermath of major surgery. Life as a pastor’s wife, a mother of three incredibly talented musical kids, and my own enjoyable work as an artist and knit & crochet teacher makes for a lot of variety, but also a very full plate. Oldest daughter is a junior in college, middle son will be graduating from high school in three months and then going off to college, while youngest daughter is in middle school. There are times I’m not sure I’m even stemming the tide, but rather staring blankly at the wall of water coming at me, looming on the horizon. I keep reaching for my knitting needles and my sketchbook. Perhaps they are a life raft, or an anchor, offering some stability in the onslaught of living.

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This (above) is probably a more realistic view of my life right now. Drawing in my sketchbook, knitting as I go, actually allows me to ride the wave of life without drowning. Sure, I may be holding the sketchbook up above the water as it encroaches up my shoulders, but still…these are the things I can hang onto as wave after wave of “Life” hits. Reframing how my life “looks” is helpful, if not crucial, to enduring the current days. Drawing affords us the ability to re-draw, re-make what our feelings may be screaming at us, and allows us to see the bigger picture, rather than succumb to the momentary drama. Knitting reminds us that it is in the stitch by stitch of everyday living that something beautiful is made. I came across this quote by Vincent Van Gogh on a knitting pattern I recently purchased!! How cool is that?

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

Vincent Van Gogh

I’ll keep on riding the wave, surfboarding on my sketchbook, and paddling with my knitting needles and hook. Might not get me very far, but will assuredly keep me afloat. That’s all I need.:)

Gray Winter Days…

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We’ve been having a lot of these. So gray and cold that even trying to get a decent photo of artwork is quite difficult. This was the best I could do today. I’ll reshoot it another day soon!

But as I was walking yesterday, I kept thinking this:

Gray winter days are best enjoyed with COLOR in your hands.

‘Tis true, n’est-ce pas?

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I’ve had some “delight”ful color running through my hands lately and it has made me so happy, nearly forgetting the gray skies outside my window.

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Socks!

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My colorful, Crochet2Heal, blanket which I have renamed and will have a proper reveal very soon as I am only three colors away from being finished!

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And my Hitchhiker Shawl. Which I took out on the back deck to knit on one of the very few sunny days we had recently! It was glorious to knit in the sunshine and see the gorgeous colors of AndreSueKnits hand-dyed yarn.

I hope you also have some delicious color in your hands these days!

Delight :: 2015

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Happy New Year to One and All!

This is the word I’ve chosen for this New Year!! Actually, it feels a bit like the word was tugging at my sleeve, asking to be picked up and carried throughout 2015.

As I look down the corridor of 2015, I’m delighted that I don’t have surgery awaiting me! My husband and I both turn 50 this year! Our second child will graduate from high school and go off to college! And our youngest becomes a teenager, turning 13 in just a few days!

I realize there are a lot of unknowns. Whatever this year holds, I want to delight in the little things along the way. I want to find beauty in every moment, whether it be mundane or magical, pretty or painful.

I look forward to delighting in more knitting and crocheting, in teaching others these wonderful skills, in drawing and painting, in creating a book or maybe two.

How about you? Do you have a word for this year? I’d love to hear about it! I plan on posting here much more often, so plan on stopping by as much as you can.

May your New Year be bright and delightful as you take delight and relish each day that is given to you!

**If you’re interested in reading about a couple of other ways I’m approaching this New Year, check here and here on my Drawn2Life blog.

Follow Through


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Close on the heels of Majoring In One Thing At A Time, is the need to follow through with what you’ve determined to major on for that day, or series of days. I am the queen of creative ADD, an expert “waffler”, starting one thing and then switching to another mid-stream. Once the excitement of a “new project” wears off, I’m dreaming of other projects to begin. “Start-itis” can be a real issue.

In 2015 I’m wanting to continue to explore ways to follow through on creative projects, especially the ones that require a long term commitment…such as writing a knitting pattern or illustrating a children’s book. One of the projects I’m going to major on is the next Genevieve book! I’m really excited about it now! But I know, from experience, that many sketches and drawings into the developing of illustrations will find me looking for other projects to begin. Here’s how I plan on tackling that issue. It has helped me enormously in the past and I plan on employing it in the New Year as well:

1. Break down the long term project into bite sized pieces.

2. Designate small amounts of time daily to the project, allowing for time to be spent on other projects as well.

Approaching a larger creative endeavor in this manner has been hugely helpful in getting me to the finish line. Working this way, I hardly even realize how much I am actually accomplishing. One baby step at a time adds up to a finished project, sometimes sooner than I had expected. When I think of following through on the project as a whole, I can be tired before I’ve even begun! But facing just 30 minutes a day to work on said project, seems so do-able and exciting. Many times I find myself going past the 30 minutes, happily working for longer. But I do cut myself off, so that the freshness and excitement remains for the next day.

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The crazy thing is that I have several long-term projects I’d like to tackle. So I do have to limit myself. Be reasonable, for goodness sakes Jennifer!!

**Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, I’ll share with you the third and final way I want to move through 2015. I hope you all have a fun time ringing in the New Year!

See you in 2015!

***Please feel free to share ways you’ve found to follow through on your creative endeavors in the comments! We can all benefit from each other!

FYI:

My first children’s book, Genevieve and the Kite,

is available on Amazon and my Etsy shop for a signed copy.;)

A set of 6 cards with two images from the book

is available in my Etsy Shop too!

Macy’s Merry Wish

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You may be wondering who Macy is, from a couple of posts ago with her crocheted Christmas trees. If you’d like a Christmas treat, put the kettle on and sip some tea while you read about Macy and her making heart. Begin here, then here, then end here. These three “chapters” about Macy will be expanded in illustrations for a book in 2015!

My heart is filled to overflowing this Christmas! Aside from healing well from recent surgery, I’m enjoying several projects by the tree:

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…A yummy crocheted Ripple Blanket made by Lucy’s instructions.

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…and the Hitchhiker Shawl knitted in a gorgeous hand-dyed yarn by AndreSueKnits!

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…plus time spent with family as they travel to visit us here in Kernersville, NC.

Macy, Genevieve and I wish you all the Merriest of Christmas days and many knitterly gifts under your tree!

Fear Not

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Tomorrow is Halloween. And I’m thinking about spectres. Spooks of a different kind that do not just come out to haunt at Halloween, but which tend to hover and linger all year round.

We are a Harry Potter loving family. Would that there was something like chocolate I could eat or do to banish the dementors. Something that I could ingest that would stop the life-sucking fear and drive it away. Oh to be able to conjure a patronus– some ethereal line that becomes a stag or a doe, or a bunny…to ward off the looming spectres.

As I’ve been ruminating this morning, it occurred to me that I do have something like chocolate. Ancient words, true and trustworthy, written for me to ingest into my being and let them work through my mind and spirit: “Fear not, for I am with you.-Is. 41:10”.  “Perfect love drives out fear.-1 Jn. 4:18”. Each time I read them, say them, ingest them, my pulse slows to normal and I’m restored, if only for the moment, to a less fear-ridden state.

I even have a wand with which to conjure a line into a deer, bunny, or a vase of flowers. Drawing acts like a force-field that keeps the spectres of fear from penetrating the boundaries of my heart. Like a patronus charm, drawing repels the threatening spooks as if they were rag dolls, keeping them at bay while I happily draw  my world.

Truth and drawing…that’s what I need this Halloween and beyond!

A chocolate frog and a mug of butter beer wouldn’t hurt either!

A Vision

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For several months now, there have been rumblings under my feet. I felt it in the months leading up to my surgery in June and have continued to sense this in the days following.

It’s a shift in focus, even if it is somewhat dimmed at times, a new path or direction, a revisiting of paths I haven’t been on in a while, a joining of creative loves to make for an artful life’s work.

The above depiction gives you an idea of what I see when I close my eyes and envision the years ahead. Tree canopies are made of yarn, supported by trunks of paint brushes and all kinds of drawing & writing tools.

This blend of creative loves will include teaching knitting and crochet classes again. I am so excited about connecting with women who are wanting to learn and broaden their ability to knit and crochet. It is so enjoyable to get to know women from all walks of life with a common love we share.

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I am also continuing to paint commissions, and am currently illustrating a book for someone. I’ll continue drawing in and around my town of Kernersville with my drawing friends.

I plan to continue creating/designing patterns for folks to knit and/or crochet various yarn projects. I have a lot of them I have not typed up into patterns yet. This is a very satisfying thing for me: the idea that someone elsewhere in our country or across the waters is sitting in her living room knitting something from one of my patterns is just too cool!! I try to write my patterns as if I were sitting right there with her as she knits or crochets.

I also want to create a line of cards and prints for yarn enthusiasts. Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later!

My second Genevieve book is ready to illustrate! I plan on starting that very soon!!:)

And there are many more ideas swimming around in this little head of mine. It does feel like it might explode sometimes, but it’s wonderful to think of the days ahead being filled with one or more of the above. I’m grateful to have the chance to really give it a go.

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So today. The kids are all in school. I have a painting on my easel ready to complete this week. I have a knitting design in the making and black and white line drawings on my drawing table.

What I envision may morph and change in the days ahead. That’s ok. With dreams and plans we have to hold them firmly but loosely. Is that possible? Firmly enough to be diligent in pursuing them. Loosely enough to allow them to be redirected.

I hope you’ll join me in this new venture!

Other ways to follow me along the creative path:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Art To Wear!

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There have been a hand full of times when I have envisioned, planned, created, and enjoyed the result so much so it makes me float on clouds for a few days. This  may sound a bit arrogant, but it isn’t meant to. Perhaps it is the reward for a creative person when they are able to see a long-term project come to fruition.

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Somewhere in mid-April I had several capelet/shawl ideas pop out in sketches. Here’s the one for this capelet I’m calling Spring Has Sprung.

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I set about gathering yarns I had on hand, leftover bits of this and that, mostly cottons, bright springy colors. I relish that part of the process…picking the colors and textures that will somehow blend to a pleasing whole in the end.

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I choose an edging from Kristin Nicolas’ book and begin there. I work my way up adding stripes of colors, a decorative eyelet row, intarsia the flower centers here and there, finishing off with a stand up collar mirroring the stripes at the bottom. This is only the beginning.

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I like to think of the basic cape as a painted canvas on which to now collage whatever I’d like to. Crocheted flowers, knitted leaves, embroidered stems, buttons, beads, etc. All of this gets added to the “painting” in yarn.

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It is satisfying work. I love the process. I love seeing it evolve. I love that it takes a while. And then, I love to wear it. Art for my shoulders…so fun and fulfilling.

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I even made a clasp for the capelet out of an aluminum stitch holder. I simply bent the wire out to allow for my chosen beads to slip on. I bent the wire back and voila! A lovely clasp for my new Spring Has Sprung Capelet.

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**If you’re interested in seeing a couple of other Art To Wear pieces I’ve made, click here and here!

More views…

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*Please honor the fact that this is an original design! It is not to be copied or duplicated in any way. I am toying with the idea of typing up a pattern so that others can make one for themselves. In the meantime, simply enjoy viewing it as you would a painting. Thank you!

Somewhere Between Dreams & Reality

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I’m reading a book titled Live What You Love by Bob and Melinda Blanchard. It sat on a friend’s coffee table, I picked it up with interest and have enjoyed reading it thus far. I like topics like this…dreams. People who pursue them. Stories of how they achieve them. What I like about this book, is the heavy dose of Reality peppered throughout their “notes from an unusual life” (subtitle).

I keep thinking, however, of an alternate title. Not for this book. For a different book. Maybe one I’m supposed to write one day. Instead of Live What You Love…the phrase, Love What You Live keeps popping up.  I don’t think of these as polar opposites. But somewhere in there, between the stuff of dreams and reality lies a subtle shift in focus that has helped me for many years. And still helps me today.

I would say, fairly confidently, that I’m a dreamer. My mind has always preoccupied itself with dreams and daydreams, the small ones and tall ones. As a little girl, I dreamed via my dolls and their house, much of which was handmade. I dreamed of driving a VW bug one day and so made them a cardboard version. In college and early marriage years I drove a 1968ish red VW bug. Today, I still want to drive a VW bug, lime green or robin’s egg blue would be fun. Red again, would also be lovely. This is not a materialistic dream. (I recognize the oh-so-typicalness of the late 40’s woman wanting to drive a bug! Oi!) There’s something bigger caught up in that Lime Green Bug. The girl who drives it is artsy and fun, if a bit eccentric. She goes on picnics and drives it around the French countryside. She pulls her art materials out of it to draw in a field. She knits up beautiful things to wear and to give away. She writes stories and illustrates them. She has tea in the afternoon with whomever will join her. This same girl drives her VW bug up to a small cottage where she lives with her family and has a few chickens and goats. Maybe she even has a sheep or 2 or 3, whose wool she spins and dyes to later knit up into fun stuff. Her cottage is painted cheery colors and it’s always just a smidge disheveled looking. There are old things here and there, furniture with stories, and handcrafted items everywhere. Her art, as well as her kid’s art, is on the walls.

Her VW bug is perfect for getting around the small, quaint town in which she lives. Everywhere she looks, she sees thing to draw and paint, colors to knit or crochet. And when she can’t see something beautiful, she draws it anyway, and in-so-doing she finds the beauty she wasn’t able to see before.

It was all there in that dollhouse I spent hours and hours making years ago. Dolls I had made, with clothes for them to wear, knitted blankets on their beds, pillows I had sewn. I didn’t actually set out to make my life that of the doll house. It’s a bit uncanny how my life now resembles this childhood dreamworld I and my friend Linda created. So much of it is my life now, with heavy doses of reality thrown in here and there.

There are some dreams still “out there”. I still want a VW bug. I’m still waiting to travel to France. I do not have any chickens or goats or sheep. Our HOA would kick us out of our suburban neighborhood.

There have been times, however, between the doll house and now, when I have pined for a life other than the one I was living.  When I was 32 and began to draw and paint, I started to see that the life I was living was the one I loved. Through creating drawings and paintings of the flowers in my yard, of my children growing up– playing on playgrounds, licking a lollipop– I could see the sparkling beauty of the life I was living.

It was also around this time that I began to knit in earnest: a vest for Catherine, a hat for William, mittens and gloves for Maddie, sweaters for myself and Randy, gifts for friends. Seeing a life take shape in yarn and in a sketchbook, allowed me to see and love the little life I was living.

I didn’t need a VW bug or a trip to France to make my life beautiful or worth living. That beauty was there all along. I just needed a lens through which to see it and celebrate it.

Of course, I would still love to travel to France. Yes, it is still good for me to dream about that and make plans toward it. But to pine for what one does not have and can not have at the moment is a way of living I no longer want. I want to enjoy where I am right now, who I’m with, and what I’m doing at the moment. Drawing and knitting are two ways that allow and foster this love for the life I have.

I will still dream. Dreams are delicious. But I want to spend my days living out the dreams that are happening right under my feet. I want to savor the life I have, drink it to the dregs, leaving few stones unturned.

And if my feet get to step into a VW bug once again, or if they carry me to France, or out back to feed some chickens one day, fine! Wonderful! Magnifique! But if not, life will have been no less lovely, because I have learned to love what I live.

**I’d love to hear what ways you have found to Love What You Live.

The Big “Ball-Drop”: A Key to Artful Living

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When the ball dropped in Times Square, ushering in the New Year, I had a brief moment of clarity. It then proceeded to leave the forefront of my mind until now, as I stand fully rooted into 2014 and finding I am unable to juggle all the balls in my life.

There are so many! A few of them, I never really let go of at all. Nor do I want to. The balls of “wife”, “mother”, “family” are always in play, as they should be. But then there is “teaching”, “house upkeep”, “drawing my life”, “Friday drawing”, “blogging”, “knitting”, “drawing Genevieve”, “walking”, “book signings”, “Etsy Shoppe Management”, and I’m sure others. But I’ll stop there for now. That alone, just looking at all those balls, makes me tired.

What blitzed into my head on New Year’s Eve, was that this needed to be the year I hone the skill of ball dropping. To somehow let one or two balls (maybe more!) drop to the ground in order to hold onto and juggle well the ones I have in my hands. Then, at a later time, when a couple of balls are not in play, I can pick them up and start juggling with them again.  A big ball I begin to add into the juggle mix in January of every year, is prep for our Art Show at the school where I teach. I’m letting a few balls drop for at least a week or more to see this one through to its finish without collapsing (or landing in the hospital!).

So I’ve chosen a couple of balls I will let drop for the next month or so. One of them is “blogging”. I will see you all on the other side of the school Art Show! And of course, I will share our amazing evening of art at Redeemer School with you, which will be held February 13th. (If you click on that link to our school’s website, you can view a little video about our school. You’ll also see my students painting and drawing, and a tiny little interview of me and many other teachers. 😉

Til then, I hope you are able to set down a ball or two if you need it, like I do, so that you can move through life a bit more gracefully and sane!