Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend Artist

Michelle O'COnnor
Acrylic & Mixed Media on Canvas
I have been so busy this Fall! Lots going on at work, with family, and personally!
So many things to think about, decisions to make.
I have felt guilty over neglecting my blog and my art but have to remind myself that it's not because I've been lazy and uninspired, but rather, other very important things have taken priority.
And that's ok.
I have to be patient with myself and go to my art when it calls me and, I have to be in a relaxed and creative state of mind which is also something I have NOT been lately.
This weekend, however, I found a balance of creative energy and time
Working through this piece helped me process some of the things that have been on my mind.
Helped me make some decisions...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Need to scratch your creative itch? Try Art Journaling!

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself"  ~Alan Alda

Have you ever had the urge to do something creative only to find yourself staring at a blank page at a complete loss for an idea? If so, you know how frustrating it feels when you can't scratch your creative itch. So how can you get past this? Consider Art Journaling!

I first learned about Art Journaling through exploring the internet and coming across Julie Fei Fan-Balzer's Art Journal Every Day Feature on her blog:
After exploring her blog and all of the art journal pages that others had posted, I  typed "Art Journaling" in my Google search bar and found a whole new world of creativity that I never knew existed! Art journaling was a realistic way for me to incorporate creativity into my life on a daily basis, something I'd been trying to do for years, without success.

Art journaling is a great way to play with all kinds of different materials...inks, paints, stamps, stencils, markers, adhesives...I could go on and on....and not worry about the final outcome too much which is what everyone always says, "focus on the process not the product"
For me, practicing Art in this way is freedom and discovery and it nourishes my creative spirit, giving me energy and a sense of creative accomplishment. The act of working with different materials and textures also fills my creative well and gives birth to ideas.


If you want to get started and don't have a bunch of fancy materials, don't break your piggy bank to run to the local art supply store and stock up. I would suggest getting started with these simple supplies you can find around your house or buy without spending a lot of money:
  • Prang or Crayola Watercolor set 
  • Set of fine point sharpies.
  • Newspaper and/or magazine clippings
  • Tissue Paper
  • crayons and markers
  • glue stick
  • An inexpensive Sketchbook from Michael's or your local arts/crafts store will work well for Art Journaling Purposes. I recommend a Mixed Media Sketchbook simply because the pages hold up a little better to wet media like adhesives and watercolors.
  • I also recommend purchasing a tub of Gesso. Painting your journal page with Gesso before working on it helps to strengthen your surface and strengthen your pages so they will hold up to more media.
You wanna know what else I did when I started Art Journaling? I ransacked my daughter's stash of artsy stuff. I found glitter glue, crayons, glue sticks, and paints. If you have kids, I highly recommend checking out their art bins. You will be surprised what useful things you can find!  This is all you need to get started art journaling.

I started this journal page by drawing a little doodle-y sketch in my sketchbook (think about when you were in Jr. High and you used to doodle in your spiral notebook during social studies...not that I would know) Pick a motif that you are drawn to such as flowers, butterflies, trees, birds, whatever inspires you.

Next, I tore up pieces of tissue paper that I had saved from birthday presents and glued down a border, using mixed media adhesive (glue sticks work just fine)
Tissue paper has a cool transparent effect that gets more interesting as you layer it.
Then, I painted in my design with watercolors.

Finally, I used a fine point micron pen (fine point sharpies are perfect, too) to add interesting outlines to the doodled flowers and leaves (you can use lines that are thick and thin, dashed, dots, scribbly the possibilities are endless) and added text to the background. I wanted to write beautiful words and phrases in the background so I went to my bookshelf and pulled out one of my favorite books,  "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,"found a passage I liked, and copied it down in loose script to serve as an interesting background for my art journal page. You don't have to have perfect handwriting to do this. Think of Handwriting as "mark making".  Everyone's handwriting is unique, making your Art Journal page more interesting and more your own!
P.S. Copying text out of a book is ok to do in your personal Art Journal. However, if you plan to sell any work in which you've used images or words from someone else, be very careful! Make sure to familiarize yourself with Copyright laws first and make sure you are not plaigarizing!

I find Art Journaling relaxing and theraputic.
Art Journaling truly is all about the journey of self discovery and discovering who you are as an artist. It gets you out of your comfort zone, it provides a way to practice Creativity every day without pressure . Like playing your scales before moving on to that Chopin Waltz you've been working on, art journaling is an essential "warm up" in your art practice. The very act of working in your journals keeps your creative juices flowing.
More tips for art journaling next week!
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Roots and Wings

October is underway. Summer has faded into fall and winter is just around the corner.
 I feel like I'm on the brink of something, I'm not sure if it's good or bad.
I feel like I'm at a crossroads. Like I am faced with a bittersweet goodbye
and headed into unchartered territory.
Maybe this feeling is hitting me now because in October, in the beautiful, dramatic Fall, my senses and emotions are in a heightened state. The air is crisper, the skies bluer, the smell of woodsmoke fills the evening air, and food simmering on the stove smells and tastes so much better than at any other time of the year.

 I do not look forward to the chill- you- to- the- bone rain and cutting winds that are coming.
I do not look forward to leafless trees, their spiny, branchy limbs silhouettes
against the flat, grey November sky.
This is not unusual for me, I dread the long midwestern winter.
 So, what is different this year? What has me feeling  more restless about it?

My daughter is in 5th grade this year.
Maybe I feel melancholy not just because of the long and dark winter ahead, but
 because of this particular school year
It's a not just another school year but a year of great transition.

It is the year that says goodbye to Elementary and Intermediate School and hello to Middle School
The beginning of goodbye to being a kid. Hello to being a "tween" and all that comes with it.

I was okay in the summer.
Summer was still an extention of what last year was.
4th Grade.
9years old and then 10 years old.
Still a kid.

It's hitting me now and I've already seen changes.
She's almost as tall as me!
Personality-wise, too.....she's saying "hip" things these days like "really?" and "right?"
This year, I will saying goodbye to a little bit of my daughter's childhood.
This year she will be 10 and then 11.
And then......
Try as I might to stop it, she continues to grow up.
And in spite of my bittersweet words, I enjoy every second (well maybe not every second... we have our moments) of watching her grow and learn and become a young lady.
What I love most is how kid-like she still is.
As her mom, I guess it's my job to feel these things.
And to know when to step in and when to step back

 I know that who she is today isn't who she will be in June.
I know she will be smarter, taller, and more clever than she is now but
she will also be a little bit more independent and a little less in need of me.
I think I have a few more years.....  


...before she will choose her friends and her life instead of me

I have to remember she is her own person, unique and beautiful with lots to offer.....

I'm here to give her roots and wings

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Is all you have all you need?

As humans, it feels like we spend an awful lot of time
wishing for things we don't have.

Sometimes I like to stop and think that maybe every thing I have
is all I need.

Painting in process....This is a photo my brother took of a vineyard in Oregon.

His Photo

My Painting
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Seasons of the Soul

September is my favorite month of the year.  September arrives as summer and departs as fall but is dangerously unsure of itself in the middle.
It is a necessary energy merging seasons together and pushing the year forward.
 It is  new and old, warm and cold. 
Hoodies with shorts.
Jeans with flip flops.

September is authentic. A force of it's own, standing in between, creating something on either side of itself. Merging past with present and pushing it into the future.

It's a crazy lady. Impulsive, fierce and gentle, needing to push forward
 but not able to completely let go.

I thank September for it's edginess and for gifting me the time to prepare to be prepared.
To gather what I need creatively and spiritually from this time and store it up in my soul.
 The drama of September's warm days, cool nights, clear blue skies, and violet twilights heighten my senses and give me food for thought. The golden sunshine of September days invites me
 to be still and look, listen, and be inspired.
Crisp chilly nights remind me to close the windows and take care of myself.
 I savor the soul nourishing energy and beauty that naturally flows from September and tuck it under my pillow for the long, cold, dark winter when a glass of wine doesn't always make it better.

My inner self and outer self stand back to back and push up against each other like Summer against Fall creating energy that doesn't necessarily define me but is essential for the birth
 of who I am to become.
 Like September, my authentic self lies between the seasons of my soul.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No Wine-ing!

I've lived in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois my whole life (except for when I lived in Cleveland for 4 years) and aside from the North Shore and the Lakefront, beauty and adventure is scarce around here. 

Taking the scenic route to work here means finding the road with the least construction. A night out to dinner sounds like, "where should we go for dinner tonight, honey? Tuesday's or Friday's?" 

Of course I am exaggerating but until last weekend, I never knew there were more sophisticated or creative roads to travel here in my neck of the woods and I certainly never ventured to guess that something as Pacific Northwest-ish as Wine Country existed within my limited Midwestern reach.

I have the honor of standing up in the wedding of my friend Paul, a friend of 21 years, whose fiance, Melissa, has become a great friend too. In fact, I am going to be a bridesmaid for the first time! I'm so excited for these two to tie the knot and so blessed to have been a part of the celebrations leading up to the big day.
Last weekend was the Bachelorette Party....

First, we boarded the party bus.....I mean, the "Executive Coach"

Melissa's awesome group of gal pals, a little older and wiser than I was when I got married 16 years ago, fortunately, did not plan the requisite "male -stripper- shows- up- at- the door -dressed- as- a -policeman-and- asks -us -to- keep- it- down" bachelorette party that I, and many of my friends (I am embarrassed to admit) had to endure back in the day.
Instead, they planned a much more sophisticated day of champagne cocktails, meat and cheese trays, wine tasting, and oh, did I mention drunken Gummy Bears?

First Stop, Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant

Melissa and Kristy

Next Stop, Lemon Creek Winery for Wine Tasting and a Picnic Lunch...

Last Stop was Round Hill Winery, Brewery, and Distillery

It was a fantastic day and a great Bachelorette Party!
Thank you for letting me be a part of it!
Wishing Paul and Melissa all the best in their journey together!