Sunday, March 31, 2013

Embracing Change

Why is change so hard? Often change comes to us as something that is beyond our control that we have no choice but to accept and adapt to. Sometimes, we experience an inner voice calling us to change something about our life, our behavior, our way of thinking. Sometimes it's subtle and imperceptible and sometimes change comes barreling at us like an avalanche, taking our entire world down with it and we survive the destruction but are forever changed.

In whatever way we experience change, we should try to find the silver lining in it, take away something positive from it. Learn and gather information for our journey.

I'm experiencing change in my life and I try to use my art to center me and help me through the process.

I've spent a year reacquainting myself with art. Re-learning how paint works and what I can do with it. Re-learning how to craft a composition that works. Learning how to incorporate it into my life and make time for it.

Today, I needed to do something different. I needed to take what I've been doing with my art to the next level. I've been wanting to find a new way to use my acrylic paints to create a new effect (new to me, anyway). I decided to do something very simple and I was excited about the results.
I first sketched out an idea, then mixed my paint. Then, I diluted my paints with water (simple!) to create glazes.

Glazes allowed me to create many transparent layers and thicknesses which created a depth that I was looking for in my abstract compositions.

It's something new for me, a change that I will work with until it's time to move to the next level.

Work in Progress
Michelle O'Connor, Mixed Media on Canvas

Just like with the changes in life (especially the messy ones) we have to gather the scattered pieces and collect them in our "vessels" (see ) in order to sort out and order everything so that it makes sense to us.
Making changes is really hard but ask yourself why?
Sometimes when you look at the way your life is, it isn't where you want to be. Maybe it's not a good place for you to be. Maybe continuing to do things the way you're doing them even though you're in your comfort zone, is holding you back.
Maybe a little change will take you to the next level where you will find unexpected gifts that you couldn't have ever imagined finding.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Vessel for Your Journey

Vessels have always been important objects in everyday life. Culturally, vessels have been made from a variety of materials to carry and store a lot of different things and vessels almost always contain their creator's own signature style.
Vessels were made to carry essential things we need for nourishment and survival like wood for fire, vegetables and grains, and water to drink. Today, vessels still serve a vital purpose in our survival but beautiful and reliable, also offer a pretty place to put the messes in our lives so that they are orderly, organized, and safe. Vessels hold that which nourishes us and transform our everyday messes into beauty.

A vessel from my home, given to me by my mom

In our lives, we are vessels, posessing our own style and ability to carry things both literally and figuratively. We are vessels in our relationships for love, friendship, and trust. In good times, our vessels fill up with love and joy. In bad times we offer ourselves as vessels to our friends when they are in crisis and need to talk, providing them with a place to set their worried thoughts aside while making their way through confusing times.

With so many around me facing challenging life situations, I write today with somewhat of a heavy heart, looking for a vessel of my own in which to place the worries I've been given to hold on to until it's time to give them back or toss them out, knowing that as we move forward in our journies, what we keep ultimately, are the lessons we learn along the way.

Untitled 9" x 12" Mixed Media on Canvas

For now I will say take all you've gathered and learned, dig deep, and be strong. You will make this journey. You already carry everything you need.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


We did our St. Patrick's Day celebration last night with my mom and dear friends of ours! Ate a little too much, drank a little too much and stayed up a little too late. Although today was pretty much a wash (laziness was totally allowed today) I managed to start 2 paintings and I downloaded a book to my new iphone (wow, I love this phone...more on that later!)

Untitled 9" x 12"
Mixed Media on Canvas
In Progress

So, my husband and I decided to come out from the rock we've been living under and finally upgraded from our LG Envy 3 phones to iPhones and we are totally obsessed!
I downloaded my library app and was able to easily download eBooks that I can "check out" for 14 days. I thought it might be difficult to read a book on the small screen but it was surprisingly awesome!  I still prefer an actual BOOK but it's nice to have a book available on my phone if  I ever find myself needing to kill time.
Lisa See is a wonderful writer (New York Times Bestselling author) and her stories are rich and robust and super interesting. I've read one other book of hers, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and it was really good.
If you just finished your book and need another one, check her out.

and finally, the day after St. Patrick's Day is never complete without a yummy Ruben Sandwich. Thanks to my Hubby for cooking these up!

And now, it is 7:57pm and I have a date with my pillow and the TV!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I'm Feeling Lucky

I once heard that luck is when preparedness meets opportunity. What this has meant to me in my life is to always be working towards my dreams and goals even when it feels like life is pulling me in a different direction or has other plans for me. And my life in the past 7 years has definitely pulled me in a direction that I had not intended to go. Everyone faces times of challenge in their lives so without going into my own gory details I will simply say that I have been blessed with good friends who inspire me every day and I have learned a lot through my experiences.
They say when things hit bottom the only way to go is up. Sometimes we make the mistake of trying to control that momentum only to find that we thwart our own efforts because we are trying too hard. The answer is to be open and take life as it comes, learning something from every experience along the way and letting that learning make us wiser and inform our journey.
Recently, I had a "lucky" experience that resulted in a change that was on my "to do" list of things I needed to do to rebuild my life. I decided to set the wheels in motion by updating my resume. I hadn't realized it, but there is a person in my life who is a highly talented & skilled Human Resources professional. I reached out to her and her willingness to help me out with my resume and expect nothing in return is something that now has to go on my "pay it forward" list. I'm always impressed by people who are simply willing. What a beautiful quality! I can only hope to be this kind of person in my own life.

So, I had a shiny new resume (quite a glowing representation of how wonderful I am, thank you very much you know who you are!) but I didn't really pursue any career opportunities right away. About a month and a half later, a friend of mine informed me of a position opening up at the company she works for. She asked if I was interested. I was hesitant. Change is scary. But then I thought about it and all of a sudden I was like, "Yes! I am definitely interested!"
Long story short, I was prepared when this opportunity presented itself to me The job couldn't have been more perfect for me, I endured the interview process, and I was hired. Everything about making this change has changed the trajectory of my life. Preparedness met opportunity.

I still have a long way to go (a 1,000 mile journey starts with a single step) but I will try to give up the need to control my life (or the illusion that I am, in fact, controlling my life)and be open to what life serves up to me. I think the more I try to control the world around me, the more angry and frustrated I find myself. The truth is, I can't control life but I can take control of myself and do things that directly relate to my goals and dreams preparing myself for the opportunities that come along on life's long and often bumpy road.

Time for a shout out to a great friend & very special person who's blog has been doing great! She's grown her readership and won a couple of awards for her blog recently. She has an amazing enthusiasm for life despite enduring some incredibly challenging allergies! She is someone who always makes lemonade out of life's lemons!
Check out her blog:


I will be with her at the GFAF Expo in Chicago April 20 & 21
stop by and say hi!

Congratulations to my friend, Jen, a.k.a. the Allergista!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Lately, I have found myself reflecting on relationships.
What makes a relationship a relationship? Does a relationship really have a beginning and end? Or is it that once something touches our life the relationship is formed and becomes infinite?
When we are in a relationship do we lose sight of where we begin and end? Or do our own lines become blurred?
What do we need from them? What do we give to them? How do we make them work? Why do some not work? 

Our worlds are made up of all different relationships; Work relationships, personal relationships, romantic relationships, relationships with our parents, relationships with our children. Every time something or someone touches our life, a shape, space, form and tension is born.

So what do we do with this energy?
Unfortunately, in our relationships with people, the rules aren't always clear. Relationships live and breathe and change. They need nurturing to grow and balance to tame tensions that threaten to break the delicate bonds that sustain them. Positive or negative, balanced, unbalanced, complimentary, inspiring, toxic, depressing. Relationships take on all different forms of energy and the way the energy touches us is what creates the momentum for that directional movement.
So when something touches our world, it takes shape and it shapes us forever.

So how do we know if a relationship is working?
This is where I relate my life reflections to art as a way of illustrating (no pun intended) my musings. And hopefully imparting a little knowledge  about art to you. Well, and life. Not that I’m an expert by any means. Just sharing my thoughts.

In art school, we were taught the Principles of Design, the guidelines that, when skillfully executed, should result in a well-crafted visual composition. These principles are to be used to create visual relationships in your work. A good relationship that is working should have balance, rhythm, contrast, a center of interest, harmony, and directional movement. In Art. And in Life.
I believe these are fundamental elements of the Natural world and can greatly inform how we approach our people-relationships. I think these fundamentals provide a natural compass to help us gage if we are on the right track in our relationships.

Principles of Design: 
(courtesy of

Center of interest - is an area that first attracts attention in a composition. This area is more important when compared to the other objects or elements in a composition.  This can be by contrast of values, more colors, and placement in the format.

Balance - is a feeling of visual equality in shape, form, value, color, etc.  Balance can be symmetrical or evenly balanced or asymmetrical and un-evenly balanced.  Objects, values, colors, textures, shapes, forms, etc., can be used in creating a balance in a composition.

Harmony - brings together a composition with similar units.  If your composition was using wavy lines and organic shapes you would stay with those types of lines and not put in just one geometric shape. (Notice how similar Harmony is to Unity - some sources list both terms)

Contrast - offers some change in value creating a visual discord in a composition. Contrast shows the difference between shapes and can be used as a background to bring objects out and forward in a design. It can also be used to create an area of emphasis.

Directional Movement - is a visual flow through the composition. It can be the suggestion of motion in a design as you move from object to object by way of placement and position.  Directional movement can be created with a value pattern. It is with the placement of dark and light areas that you can move your attention through the format.

Rhythm - is a movement in which some elements recurs regularly.  Like a dance it will have a flow of objects that will seem to be like the beat of music.