Monday, July 22, 2013

Go on a Treasure Hunt in your own home for the "Piece de Resistance" in your next Mixed Media Project!

I've been aiming for diligence and consistency with my artwork to keep the creative flow going. If you ever read my report cards going back to - well - forever, you would see that I was consistently "inconsistent" 
I like to say it's my wandering creative mind. (*wink wink nudge nudge)

This weekend was a busy one for me - On Saturday, our stinky little Daisy took a trip to the groomer and then we had a going-away party for someone in our family who is moving to Arizona.

Daisy de-stinkified!

 Sunday was my husband's birthday for which my daughter and I shopped, wrapped, and baked!
And, of course, we still had to do all of our "have to's" like laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping.
Let's face it, there's just not enough time in the day sometimes and although we spent a lot of time with family which was good, the weekend artist was relegated to the bottom of the priority list.
But I still managed to take advantage of a few random moments here and there and got a little (soul-nourishing) creative work done. 

Here's what I managed to do over the weekend:

If your primary creative time is on the weekends, and you have a particularly busy one coming up, don't panic! PLAN!

There are a few things you can do to be ready to take advantage of random minutes during busy times.

During the week, do the following:

1. Prepare a pages in your Art Journal by Gesso-ing a bunch of them. If you have time, Gesso them, and add a little color and texture also so they're ready when you have more time to "get into" your subject matter

2. Prepare multiple pages of watercolor paper with washes and let dry. They'll be ready when you need them for your next mixed media project.

3. Cut out various shapes from different ephemera you have on hand and keep them for your next project.

4. Raid your junk drawers and jewelry boxes for awesome artifacts that you could use in your next mixed media piece.

5. Think through the busy weekend that is coming up. Try to figure out when you might be able to squeeze in 5-10 minutes here and there to glue or paint something in your journal. 
Maybe you paint while you're letting your toe polish dry or you could plan to wake up a half hour early. (although I know that when you work all week, there's nothing better than not having to set an alarm on the weekends)

Whatever you do, a little planning ahead can make creative time fun instead of frustrating.

Actually, I got the idea to raid an old jewelry box of mine (see photo above) after seeing this fantastic mixed media piece, "Believe" by Seth Apter:

Seth Apter "Believe"
I really love this piece - everything from the layers of paper to the frayed fabric edges!
I especially LOVE the face on this piece and he explains that it was from an earring he found at an NYC Flea Market!

I don't have a lot of extra money to spend on art supplies so I'm always looking for ways to recycle stuff I already have.
I don't have an "official" stash of found objects right now but I knew I had some old pieces of jewelry that were cheap and I haven't worn in years (probably since the 80's!)
I bet you have these types of  old fun pieces of jewelry, too which make great additions to a mixed media art piece.

Another good place to go on a treasure hunt in your own home is in your kids' rooms. 
My daughter has bins filled with what I call "bits and pieces" that are random, obscure, and interesting. She loves these trinkets and now I understand why. They're little treasures.
I used to want to dump it all 
in the garbage  - back when I wasn't being creative and focused way too much on how orderly my house was - now, I sneak in and rifle through her buckets of little trinkets and treasures searching for the "piece de resistance" for my next project!

Go on a treasure hunt in your home this week and see what you come up with!

Happy Hunting!

Monday, July 15, 2013

What I've accomplished in a week using the 5-10 minute rule

I've spent the week working in 5-10 minute increments in my Art Journal.
Working this way has been incredibly empowering and has helped me with my anxiety over NOT finding the time to create or, if I do find the time, being struck with creative amnesia.

I still have more work to do but I am really excited about my progress and about some of the effects that are happening as I layer paint, paper, pastels, and ink.

Also, through this process I discovered Quinacidone/Nickel Azo Gold and I think I'm falling in Love!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Practicing the 5-10 minute rule for Art

I've been having difficulty finding time to spend on my art and it's becoming very frustrating. I either don't have the time or when I do, Inspiration takes a vacation on me. I was so grateful to find Kathy Johnson's blog (K Johnson Art) where she talks about the 5-10 minute rule in her blog pots, Make Mine Mini. It seemed perfect for my lifestyle and something had to give so I decided to try it out. Here is what I've accomplished so far. It's only Day 2. I am going to try to post my progress as much as possible so check back in around Monday or Tuesday to see where this journal page goes:

Day 1

Below is the 5-10 minutes of work I did to my journal page today. To learn more about this approach to your art, visit: K Johnson Art or check out my blog post from yesterday. (click here)

Day 2
If it's difficult to find large blocks of time in your life to dedicate to your creative process, don't fret. Try taking 5-10 minutes at a time (once or many times during the day) and see what you can accomplish.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The 5-10 Minute Rule

I recently discovered a great blog from artist, Kathy Johnson (K Johnson Art.)
Her blog post, Make Mine Mini, couldn't have resonated with me more than it did today. Lately, I've really been struggling to make creative time for art and to write blog posts. How awful is that? My blog is supposed to be about overcoming these issues! We are not perfect. We are busy. There is only so much time in the day. Our focus will go on vacation without notice and we will all lose our balance from time to time.
For me, I don't know if it's because it's summertime or if something imperceptible has changed and it's throwing my focus off but it's becoming plain frustrating as days go by and I find myself going to bed at night wondering where the evening went (got home, got Katie a snack, walked dog, cleaned kitchen, made dinner, cleaned kitchen again, washed wet swimsuits, towels, and clothes from backpack from camp, played game, walked dog again.....ok I guess I get my own point)
One thing to keep in mind is that if you are a creative type but you have a full time job (hey let's face it everyone has bills to pay) and a family and other responsibilies, these things will take priority over your art-time in your life. Obviously, your kids and family come first and your job is certainly not an option!

Kathy Johnson talks about following the 5-10 minute rule and I love it. I'm going to try this as a way to make sure I get things going and do a little art every day. Kathy writes:
"When I began working in mixed media several years ago I started with some square panels of wood that were 2.5" x 2.5" on up to about 5.5" x 5.5". I never intended to make it a habit of working on a such small scale but it was fun so I kept at it. Only problem was I never felt like I had enough time for creating. I can't remember where but I read about the "5-10 minute rule" that it sounded worth giving a try. I would pop into my studio for 5-10 minutes in the morning before I left for work, glue a few things, cut or paint a few papers, then get in another 5-10 minutes when I got home and sometimes again before I went to bed. I was amazed at how much could be accomplish this way. I'm lucky enough to have some bigger blocks of time these days but I can still put that rule into action when the schedule gets crazy and creativity time is hard to come by." (Click here to read entire blog post)

Here are some of my 5-10 minute Art Journal pages that are in progress.
I will post photos as they progress (a few minutes at a time) so be sure to check back to see how they develop!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Melancholy Memorial Day

I've been away from the blog for a few weeks, unable to put two thoughts together through the haze of what I thought was allergies but what turned out to be a case of Sinusitis! I was just barely making it through my work days, coming home and sitting, exhausted and unable to breathe, in front of episodes of Law and Order and DVR'ed episodes of Gilmore Girls.
I finally went to the Doctor who, after figuring out that my left maxillary sinus was completely swollen shut, fixed me up with antibiotics and a steroid which began working instantly, restoring my air passages and delivering much needed oxygen to my brain!

In spite of feeling better health-wise, mentally I've been  melancholy this Memorial Day weekend, reflecting on those in my life who have passed and those who die every day bravely fighting for our country in wars all over our world.

My melancholy mood was acutely impacted on Thursday morning by the terrible news that my manager, a young, charismatic man with his whole life in front of him, passed away in a motorcycle accident on Wednesday. He turned 30 just a couple of weeks ago. Also, he was of Pakistani descent. A Muslim.
Which, of course, opened my philosophical flood gates deepening my reflections on life and death and pondering people and lines that divide.

I attended the visitation for him on Friday at a Muslim Prayer Center. It was a beautiful place where I saw deep spirituality and felt great respect for the culture and religion. Though different in appearance and practice than the religion I was raised to practice, the emotions transcended the boundaries of religious institution and cultural lines and settled in the common ground of being human. I saw tearful family members and friends gathered around his open casket. I heard his mother and sister sobbing and crying out his name. I remembered my own brother's funeral and felt so sad for this family.

I know it's complicated, but in spite of who we are or what our cultural background is, the pain and our expression of pain and loss is universal. We were all invited to view him and pay our respects and say our prayers. That we could all join there in spite of our diversity shows that walls of fear and stereotype are non-existent when something as serious as someone's young life is tragically ripped away. When suddenly we realize all we've taken for granted and that what we had is now lost.

At the risk of sounding ignorant in my idealism, in times like this, it just seems like it should be a simple thing to recognize that our prejudices are unfounded fears and try to open ourselves up to one another a little bit. To see, instead of differences, the common ground. To be fascinated by one another and feel safe running with open arms towards each other to learn about and revel in the wonder of something new and unfamiliar.

In progress:

Look Beyond
Unfinished Acrylic on Canvas
Michelle O'Connor

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

 It was a beautiful sunny day which made it a great day to share with my mom and my family to celebrate Mother's Day!

I got these bright beautiful flowers from my hubby, Jim! They look so pretty on the kitchen table!

One of my favorite snacks is Brie cheese so that was on the menu today!  I warm it in the oven for a little bit to get it all oozy. It's so delicious!

Not the best picture but this is a French Toast Casserole that I made. It's a recipe from Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.
It was super easy to make and it came out great! The Cinnamon Crumble on top really takes this casserole to another level! For the recipe, check out:

Fresh Strawberries and Watermelon were a scrumptious addition to our brunch!

Although the sweet cinnamon french toast was wonderful, bagels and lox made for a great savory option.
 I forget about this tasty treat!
Holy cow, if you've never had this, you must!
 Get good bagels, cream cheese, capers, red onions sliced super thin and smoked salmon. Heaven.

So, after shamelessly indulging in all of these Good Eats today,
I quickly exchanged my jeans for comfie pants, followed by a big cup of Peppermint Tea and a nap!

It was a wonderful lazy lounge-around day spent eating great food and hanging out with my family - even got to hang out with my brother TJ and his girlfriend Brittany all the way in Portland, Oregon thanks to Face Time! 

You know, sometimes days like Mother's Day can feel forced and full of expectations but really, it's about being together.
In my eyes, today was just perfect!

Later this week tune in for my favorite art products, art tips, and art blogs that I love!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Putzing Around

Happy Sunday! I did a lot of putzing-around today.
 Lots of internet exploring...
 I added some links and other fun stuff to the blog, worked with some new mediums, and tried out a variation on a glue technique I read about on this blog:(    )
It is still drying so I don't have anything to show for it yet!
I pulled out a board book I started a while ago and worked on it a bit.
My creative flow feels a bit blocked today. I take it as a sign that today isn't a day to accomplish things but rather, a day to chill and reflect.

Children's board books make great Altered Books - I pick them up at the thrift inexpensive!
This one was a Clifford book. Board books are great because they are very sturdy and hold up to a lot of layering and different mixed media.

Then I just paint, glue, and collage freely until I'm happy. Shown here: the hearts are part of the glue technique I'm trying out. They are still wet but once they dry, I want to try to paint over them and then close the book to create a mirror image of them on the other side. We'll see what happens.

This is another page in the same book that I stamped and collaged with a catalog cut out and some old sheet music.

As promised, more artsy links!
Please be kind and share!

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Be Still and Know"

When things are going on and going wrong in our lives, why is it that we feel unable to sit still?
It's as if staying in constant motion makes us believe we are
actively working on solutions.
 The compulsion to solve, act, and do is constant and pressing.
 When I finally stop moving, exhausted by the chatter in my mind and physical circling of my world, 
I peer into my hands only to find
they are empty. No answers. No solutions.
Just a lot of energy wasted.
Next time, I will try to sit still
and just listen.

From My Art Journal
"Be still and Know" from my Art Journal

A must have for any artist is a Sakura Koi Watercolor Sketch Box Travel Pan Sets

Derivan Liquid Graphite
I have this tiny set but I'm currently saving for a larger set. These crayons are wonderfully versatile, bright, blendable, and cover larger areas easily. Another favorite supply of mine

More words of wisdom taken from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet

Be Still and Know
Unfinished Journal Page
Michelle O'Connor Weekend Artist

Have Peaceful Weekend

On the Blog Sunday: More art links to share the love!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Learning to Link and Love

I've mentioned it before, I am not a super Tech-Savvy person.  I know just enough to be dangerous and I learn as  I go.
This week, I visited Seth Apter's blog, The Altered Page, (phenomenal artist/author and website - definitely check it out if you haven't already) and found that he has a blog directory full of artist's blogs!(  I started clicking through the list and found so many wonderful artists/writers that I started commenting on their blogs so I could get to know some of these creative people better! He was also nice enough to add my blog to the list!

On many blogs I discovered that people are "linking" and to be honest, I get the concept but I don't know how to do it. I'm ALL about sharing creativity so I want to get involved in this.
Today I am attempting to rise to a challenge I found on Daisy Yellow ( to Share the Link Love.
Maybe it's as simple as mentioning other blogs on my blog? I suspect there's more to it than that.
Anyway, here is my weekly blog plug. I hope it helps!
And PLEASE let me in on the secret to linking if I've got it wrong!
 Thank you for replying to my comment :-)
BEAUTIFUL and MEANINGFUL mixed media artwowrk, check out her blog!

Moments in Time - Impermanent 001
amazING found object sculpture and jewelry by JimMullan

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Studio Synergy

About once a month, I approach my workspace only to find that it has gone completely out of control. In fact, there is little if any work SPACE at all. Today was that day.
It was a particularly grey and dreary week (hello, springtime in Chicago) and my energy has been sapped for days which also sapped my creative energy. Waking up on Sunday morning with the intention of dragging myself to my "studio" to make some art only to find there was no place to make anything challenged my already blue mood.
Sometimes, the creative process involves simply a day getting your shit together.

As I cleaned up and organized supplies, threw away empty paint tubes (why do I keep these? Does anyone else find themselves doing this??), and took many avoidance breaks to look at art online I thought I would share some organization tips for small studio spaces with everyone. My studio is in my bedroom.

I have a large master bedroom so I was able to make a corner of it into my creative zone. In my last home, I had a studio space set up in the basement and  I found that it was never somewhere I wanted to go. Having my space in the bedroom keeps me connected to creativity as all of my stuff is right in front of my face at all times. It's more readily available when inspiration hits. It works for me. Choose what works for you and what makes sense in your home. Your creative space should be your sacred space and have synergy with the flow of your lifestyle.

Other simple things that are must-haves for your creative space are:

1. Storage

I have some built in shelving in the MBR that is seperate from my closet (so it's extra storage and I don't have to compromise closet space) I steal some of this space for supplies I don't use all of the time like stamps, tape, beads, ephemera, canvas, paper, etc.

2. Shelving and Storage Containers

This simple stainless steel shelving unit sits next to my drawing table and holds supplies I use often like my paintbrushes, colored pencils, paints, pastels, glue, etc. This is an inexpensive shelving system that takes up very little space and can be purchased at Target, Walmart, or any type of discount store like this. Easy to assemble, too. I use cheap plastic shoeboxes to keep my supplies organized so I can find what I need when I need it and I label them with post-it lables.

 3. RePurposed containers

Also useful are shower caddies that can be found from $1.00 to $5.00 either in the dollar store or larger discount stores.

I put my colored pencils in solo cups organized by color and put the solo cups in a caddy which keeps things organized but also portable.

Re-use those plastic food containers that have see-through lids! They make awesome art supply storage, are stackable, and also are portable if you ever feel like being creative somewhere outside of your studio!
I use jars from Spaghetti Sauce for my water basin when I am painting. You can get creative and decorate the jars if you want to!

4. Lighting

Nothing is better that natural light but that's not always available so I use a clip on lamp for my easel and an OTT Light on my table.

 If you've ever tried to mix paint in bad light, you know it's a disaster. Invest in good lighting for your studio space. It makes all the difference!

5. Large, Flat Work Surface

I still use my drawing table from when I was in High School. But 2 filing cabinets with a top across works great too:


Certain items stay on my worktable such as water jars, acrylic paints, watercolors, mediums, paint brushes, pen and ink, drawing pencils, pastels, and a sketchbook. All great for quick inspiration.

Inspiration can be fleeting so you must be ready to record your ideas quickly! A well set up workspace that has synergy with your environment and lifestyle will make it easier for you to capture the creative vibe & create quickly and more often!