Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Sun Stop and Eat an Apple

Eating an apple slowly is simple joy. Taste the sweetness, hear the crunching, and be grateful for fresh,  organic fruit from your local fruit farm, (instead of being shipped in on a truck.) 

There is information EVERYWHERE...on the packaging of stuff we buy, inside the packaging of stuff we buy, on bulletin boards that we stroll by, on the doors of places we enter, in the newspaper, magazines and books. There are stacks of fliers on the store counter, the store clerk babbling extra information about rewards and discounts at us,  the junk mail in our boxes every day...and the constant shouts from the computer or other tech toys we may have.

I work at a convenience store 40 hours a week! Talk about information and noise. I receive lots of information and noise (in addition to bad smells) in that environment...40 hours of it every week! So to add a bit of recovery on my day off Gary (my hubby) and I decide to go to a movie. It has been almost a year since our last visit to the local theater. We arrived at 4:00 with the movie starting at 4:10.

Gary pays $5.75 for a small bag of popcorn and I have a bottle of spring water and a tangelo hidden in my purse. The clerk is wearing patchouli oil which over powers the smell of popcorn. She has no idea her scent is interfering with sales at the candy counter, nor does she care the restroom is out of paper towels. (I know because I told her and she rolled her eyes.)

We find a seat in the back row all giddy with excitement about seeing a movie. And we wait. The information starts blabbing at us on the large screen and through the eight speakers lining the theater walls. We should use this insurance or see this doctor if we have these particular symptoms. And this funeral home will be pleased to serve your family when you die because you didn't use this insurance or see that doctor for those particular symptoms. I say to Gary, "I come to the movies to escape noise and information. What happened to just seeing movie trailers before the movie starts?"

And we wait through more noise and information we don't want.

It is 4:37 so I go out front to see why the movie hasn't started. It seems they have changed the time to start the movie from 4:10 to 4:45 which really means 5:00. I'm not giddy with excitement anymore. An hour of commercials flashing across a big screen is too much for me. Right then I realize we didn't need to go out for recovery and entertainment. Our front porch or time in our back yard together would've been simpler and more rewarding. I find great joy in puttering around the quiet, quiet house.


The sun shines...
so the busy people will stop what they are doing and sit quietly for awhile, feeling the warmth on their hurried bodies. It's a nice time for busy people because they completely stop thinking and doing, as if it's not important anymore. That is why in the midst of two or three cloudy days when people start to shout and their shoulders start to slump and their faces look strained...

The sun shines...
pay attention, watch and see, in the country you'll notice busy people sitting comfortably in a back yard swing. It seems to feel just right to take time to sit and listen to the wonders of nature. It seems okay to leave the laundry and dishes for awhile to watch the squirrels and birds because busy people as they are may not notice the squirrels and birds tomorrow.

Pay attention, watch and see, in the city you'll notice busy people sitting on a sidewalk bench or slowing their pace to take time to look at morning dew glistening on the cherry blossom trees because busy people as they are will be rushing tomorrow...

The sun shines...
it helps busy people remember a slower time when the sun rising and the moon setting was the wonder of the day and rarely went unnoticed or uncelebrated. Remembering how people didn't fuss about so much to do and sitting on the front porch swing, on Sunday afternoons, after a big dinner was the thing to do. Or how watching the clothes flapping in the breeze simply made us feel happy inside. How simple it was to smile and feel the heart of mindfulness in our ordinary daily routines of home and family.

Too many days can go by without feeling happy inside and busy people can't feel the sunshine anymore. Busy people start to shout and their shoulders start to slump and their faces look strained...

The sun shines...
day after day the sun shines, sometimes brighter one day than another, and perhaps on that brightest of days the busy people will stop what they're doing and sit quietly for awhile, feeling the warmth on their hurried bodies, to welcome simplicity...materially, socially, and spiritually.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tap, Tap Goes the Paint Brush

Some sensory tools.

I used to watch Bob Ross paint on TV like most people choose to watch their favorite sitcom. I wasn't exactly watching to learn how to paint (I didn't think I could do it); but do you know what I did learn from watching Bob Ross?

                                                       THE PASSION OF PAINTING.
                                                       THE PASSION OF CREATING.

The simple sound of his brush tapping on the canvas while he painted those "happy little trees" turned me upside down and had me running to the easel to paint.

I haven't watched Bob Ross for years but the love of the sounds and smells of creating has stayed with me. In fact, I believe it is a valid piece of my creative adventures. As a young child the smell of finger paint, paste and crayons excited me. The sound of scissors cutting circles out of a stiff piece of red construction paper thrilled me. Although now I use artist grade art supplies I will always have crayons and construction paper in my studio, too.

Do you HAVE to smell crayons? I do. When I am in a store and happen to approach a display of crayons I must stop to smell them. The smell of crayons immediately transports me back to my childhood where I spent hours at the card table coloring in coloring books and making paper dolls and greeting cards...and then sprinkling glitter on everything.

I enjoy the slow process of painting with oils. Working with oils can't be rushed and the studio smells wonderful.

Tearing paper for a mixed media collage is quite satisfying, especially if you tear the paper very slowly...and listen while you tear.

Watercolors mingle and dance across the paper. Spreading color on an ink drawing is quite a happy time for me. I also get great satisfaction and pleasure working in my sketchbook with a dip pen. I love the sensory know the scratchy sound of the nib moving across the paper. I like to watch the marks appear like magic, from the flow of india ink, at the tip of the nib.

Daily practice of drawing with simple tools is what keeps my imagination alive. Each time I put pen or brush to work I am releasing the mystery and passion for creating.

This week slow down and focus into the sensory components of your creative activities. And if you're a real crayon smelling addict like I am you may want to make chunky crayons for Christmas stocking stuffers.

Chunky Crayons

1. Peel the paper off crayons while oven is preheating to 150 degrees.
2. Break crayons into pieces and arrange colors in interesting designs.
4. Place in oven.
5. Bake just until waxes have melted, 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Let cool completely. If they stick, place tray in freezer for an hour and the crayons will pop right out.
7. It is also fun to use pans with heart shapes or tree shapes, etc.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Start Each Day as a Child in Play!

The more I try to control my days with plans and goals, the more I am limiting myself. But wait, wasn't I taught that to be productive and successful I had to set goals? Remember the question, "where do you see yourself in five years?" I used to soar with answering that and building steps to reach that five-year goal plan. Did I procrastinate? Was I frustrated or let down before the five year goal mark arrived?

YES! But now I am turning all of that upside down and inside out. I am learning to let go of the goal setting. I found goal setting was interfering with my basic happiness. It was blocking passionate, mindful living, as I was always pushing towards something in the future. I have found that new ideas and daily successes emerge and evolve from activities that aren't boxed in tightly with detailed plans. In fact the new ideas that reveal themselves unexpectedly almost always sparks the pathway to another idea, and much so that when I am drawing, painting, or writing I have to keep my Moleskine notebook nearby to record these ideas.

You may be asking, "but Darlene if we don't set goals how will we accomplish anything?" It is not easy to change the "goal- setting- for -success- mindset" as I know it makes me feel good and secure that I have a defined plan in writing to complete a goal. But the truth is that it didn't make me feel good and secure at all. The results usually made me feel bad about myself because I would procrastinate, or allow distractions to interrupt, or I simply became bored with the plan. And this is when I'd fall into the dark hole of the "I should be doing this," or  "why can't I finish that?"

I believe I was addicted to the feeling of control...which by the way is an illusion. It is an illusion to think I can control the outcome of my goals from start to finish. What can I do? I can replace the words "control and goals" with "discovery and letting go of the results." I can explore each day as compassionately and passionately as I can. THINK OF THE LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES I'D HAVE IF I STARTED EACH DAY AS A CHILD IN PLAY. What things and materials excite me? What activities do I lose myself and time in?

I've been focusing on the idea of no goal setting for several months after my computer crashed. Suddenly the on-line busyness halted and I was given time. I didn't have access to on-line classes, communication among artist friends, or on-line posting. I had no excuse but to go to my studio and focus 100% on creating. I have a computer now but I don't jump on it first thing in the morning, nor do I interrupt writing or drawing just to check emails real quick. (There is no real quick...) I learned that when I started my days with on-line activity I spent the rest of the day in reactive mode. I was primarily chasing after on-line activities. Now I start my day in the studio creating or writng. Same time every day. Even if I can only give 15 minutes I show up to do the work. I have a better balance of computer/studio time. Both are necessary and important and both impact and help drive and define the other.

Forming habits of daily success is more important to me now than setting long-term goals. If I show up in the art studio every day, at about the same time every day, then I build a habit of producing creative work. The showing up every day to do the work on what passionately motivates me is what makes for a masterful day. Soon the masterful days produce a completed manuscript, a painting, illustrations, or a series of Zebra cartoons. (And all of that really is my goal...I just haven't tortured myself to get there.)


Monday, August 10, 2015

I'm a Documentarian of Sorts!

I'm a documentarian of sorts...I've always been addicted to paper and pen. I like to record ideas, notes, and happenings. As a child I used those yellow writing tablets with a No. 2 pencil and if I erased too much the paper would tear. My mom taught us to write letters to our grandparents and thank you notes for gifts. I remember buying my first stationary with money I earned babysitting. I also remember buying my first fountain pen...a red Parker. I still have it.

I also wrote in a diary that had a lock and key. I wrote in composition notebooks for years, but today I primarily use Moleskine notebooks. I carry one everywhere. I record ideas and draw character sketches for a story. I doodle. I free write and I capture bits of my days on these pages. Often I will have a go at writing practice by defining a starter sentance such as, "I feel.." or "I wish I wouldn't have eaten..." I may start out writing about the sunset and end up describing the time I was very young and went to my first funeral, where I found things to be more peculiar and funny than sad. The idea is to write without punctuation if you want, but to keep the pen moving and let whatever comes to flow onto the page. (No monkey mind allowed!) In the example to follow I chose the starter, "I feel five years old and..."

I feel five years old and I could go to the beach and build sand castles if I wanted, or I could read all day as if the world and all of those "you should be doing this or this..." are not there at all, or I could sketch little pictures of birds onto notecards, or maybe paint a mermaid on my adirondack chair in bold colors of aquas and pinks. I feel five years old today and I want to ask Mom to bake a cake, to sit on the porch swing with me and play I spy. I feel five years old today and I could fall asleep on the floor watching TV, and Dad would scoop me up and carry me to bed. I would have five year old dreams of dancing and swirling in the sky while the moon smiles at me. I feel five years old today...

I love to browse through my journals and find little surprises. Perhaps I find I am still talking about a situation that doesn't really matter so I consciously let it go, or I may find a gem of a sentence to start a story with. With this particular writing I loved the part describing dreams of dancing and swirling in the sky...and I went on to write this children's story from that.

Shine Moon, Shine

After the sun sets,
I'll make you a bet,
That the moon hovering high,
Shines so you won't sigh
'cause it's nighttime and
your mama says, "Off to bed you go."
So you won't sigh
'cause you have to close your eyes.

Shine Moon, Shine,
For the nighttime magic show begins...
The fairies dance,
The bats glide low,
The peppermint candy drops from your nose.
The owls screech,
The gargoyles preach,
Your dreams aren't really dreams
But your nighttime life so sweet.

Purple skies where you can fly,
Happy dust colors your eyes.
Wishes come true when you turn blue,
Any shade will almost do.
Orange and red, and pink your hair glows,
All kinds of information you will know.
Dancing stars in shiny tap shoes,
Fireflies glide by to release sweet perfumes.

If you wake before the princess serves cake,
Simply close your eyes,
And count to ten a hundred times,
Then back to the nighttime magic you'll fly,
Just try to keep the happy dust out of your eyes.

After the sound of the great clocks chime,
The hovering moon descends the sky.
So, be ready when the sun sets low,
And your mama says, "Off to bed you go."
For the nighttime magic show begins...
Shine Moon, Shine!

Happy dancing and swirling dreams,

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Zebra Cartoon

Happy Hump Day!

Monkey Mind

Oh yes, I've had my share of monkey mind days in the jungle. That fear based mind chatter echoing between my ears can put me in a frumpy mood and keep me from creating if I'm not aware. It can block imagination and the motivation to rock it with my ideal projects. It can squish my ideal self and talk me into being lazy and frumpy in a matter of minutes.

Being aware (meditating, healthy eating, good sleep, listening to self) saves me. Routine (going to the studio the same time EVERY DAY) saves me. Some of my self talk is funny and helps me through procrastinating or simple fears, but other self talk can be damaging if I'm not aware I'm doing it, (i.e. you are so fat, or you're never going to get published!)

When I find myself in this jungle I simply say, "Stop it Darlene." Immediately I replace the negative self talk with deep breaths. (Count to yourself as you inhale to 4, hold for 2, and exhale to 6.) Do this several times and you will feel immediate lightness and calmness. Then I  say a positive affirmation out loud to cancel out the negative one, or I write it over and over in my journal. For 2015 I've chosen one special affirmation and I use it before meditating, I write it at least twenty-five times in my journal daily, and I go to sleep and wake up saying it to myself. It's also good to actually smile while you say affirmations out loud.

Another way to help with monkey mind madness is to take action. I take a little artist date for myself by myself. Perhaps a day at the Kenyon college campus to draw and read. Lunch, tea and organic dark chocolate. An author reading, a stage play or a quiet walk down the mile-long middle path. I usually treat myself to a book,  a pen, or watercolor paper. Simply a quiet, arty adventure that leaves me feeling content and all jazzed up with creative ideas.

I call a day like this "arty idle time" and it is necessary to me to refuel the imagination. I schedule "arty idle time" on my calendar now!

What do you do to push aside monkey mind and to recover your creative imagination? I'd love to hear and perhaps learn something new from you.

(Oh yes, I might add that a nap is always good.)


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Self Portrait

Happy summer days in the sun and fresh garden food! I'm ready for strawberry shortcake and corn on the cob How about you?


Thursday, May 14, 2015

BIC is My Favorite Ball Point Pen

BIC wins the Prize for my favorite ball point pen. (I buy them by the box full.) There are not any BIC pens I do not like but this is my all - time - stand - by for note taking, journal writing, list making, doodling, and drawing. It's a smooth writer and never spits ink back at me. Blue ink makes me happiest with this particular pen.

Click here for happy.

What's your favorite ball point pen?


Monday, May 11, 2015

Crosshatching Kitty Fur

Giving these kitty's fur some style with crosshatching using a Micron Pen. I am so tempted to add a bit of color was to the hats but am focusing on B&W only. Need to purchase a pen in grey shade.

The reference source for these drawings from a newspaper article about the newly released book, "Cats in Hats: 30 Knit and Crochet Patterns for Your Kitty," by Sara Thomas. (Running Press)


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Kitty Hats

I saw an article in the newspaper about this newly released book and I knew I had to draw the kitties in hats. Here are four. I will draw the other five so stay tuned.

Sara Thomas author of "Cats in Hats: 30 Knit and Crochet Patterns for Your Kitty." (Running Press, 112 pages, $16.95)


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

This and That in a Teeney Sketchbook by Lapin Barcelona

These sketches were done in a teeney sketchbook (3.5 x 5.5). The sketchbook cover is designed by Lapin Barcelona.

Art by LAPIN

The paper is smooth and a light cream color ( I prefer white) but I wanted a book by Lapin. I found it at the Kenyon College Bookstore where I find many unique things. I'm working to fill the pages with simple drawings of ordinary things.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Big Head Drawing

One of Lapin Barcelona's assignments for Sketchbook Skool was to draw Big Head portraits similar to his style. He draws using live models but I didn't have a model at the ready so I used the following photos for reference.

These are my daughters (yes, artistic and creative souls). This is the set up they staged for a Halloween Trick or Treat night outside my house. I live in a huge stone house that appears "castle-like" or "haunted"...take your pick. So it was the perfect backdrop for this Halloween magic. They did not move. They appeared mannequin or doll-like. A child would approach to look closer and maybe reach out to touch when one of them would move. The child would scream and run off. Perfect Halloween fun!