Monday, June 28, 2010


Oh my word!  We have had some pretty bad storms within a week of each other, and it has been crazy!  During the first storm, Ava (my daughter) and I were sitting in our truck in the Meijer parking lot waiting for my husband to get a fishing license.  It was pretty wicked.  We watched the dark clouds roll in from the west.  The sky kept getting darker and darker.  I texted Scott (my husband) and told him to speed it up!  But when you are waiting for someone else to serve you, sometimes it takes a while.  Ava was unbuckled and up front with me as we watched the storm coming.  Then the rain came.  It poured buckets, and the wind picked up, so it looked like the rain was going sideways.  We even saw a grocery cart go roll by and run into the side of a Jeep.  I don't think it did much damage, but I didn't get out to check.  I'm a good samaritin, but in the middle of a storm, that goes out the window!  At times the wind was strong enough to rock the truck a little.  Ava was nervous.  She asked if we could call Nora and check on her.  Now, Nora is our dog.  I reminded Ava that Nora would not be able to answer the phone.  But she said she would feel better if she could call and leave a message for Nora.  I conceeded.  If it was going to make Ava feel less nervous, that was fine with me. 

So the call went something like this:  "Nora, it's Ava.  Are you doing ok?  I know the storm is bad, but all you need to do is stay calm.  I'm a little nervous.  Just stay calm.  STAY CALM!  It will be okay.  Oh, and if I die and don't come home, I'm sorry."

I had to giggle at the end.  It was so sweet and sincere!  We kept the message on the answering machine. 
Driving home was awful.  When Scott finally got out to the truck, he was drenched.  It looked like someone had just dumped a bucket of water on him, and we were not parked that far from the entrance.  It was still storming when we set out on our way home, but it let up after a while.  However, the drive was like a maze.  No matter which road we took, we kept having to turn back and take a different one because there were so many trees down across the roads!  I'm not talking twigs either, but full-grown old trees that had just been snapped in half!  I don't think I had experienced this before.  We were like mice looking for the cheese, and it took forever!  A normal twenty minute drive ended up taking about an hour.  We didn't see any damage to homes, but we did see so many trees down.  We were lucky it was not worse.  By the time we had gotten to our home, the storm was over.  There was no damage to our trees or property either.

Five days later (this past Wednesday) we had another storm.  Luckily we were home at the time - sort of.  We don't have a basement, so we ended up going to my parents-in-law's home.  Ava and I were reading stories for bedtime when Scott told us that we should probably go to his parents house.  Ava was a little nervous again.  After loading up the dog, we got there qurickly and safely before it started to get nasty.  Ava went in and played with grandma - one of her favorite things to do.  The dog needed to go out, so I took her.  Scott and his dad were standing in the garage just watching.  We heard the storm coming before it got there.  You could not only hear the thunder and see the lightining, but you could hear the wind before it got there and made the trees move.  When I went back into the house, I coerced Ava  and grandma to go downstairs and play school with the chalkboard.  That was much easier than telling Ava we had to go to the basement for the storm.  This one seemed worse than the previous one.  I think it was because a small tornado supposedly touched our little town. 

Luckily the damage was not widespread.  Many trees were snapped in half again.  One barn lost it's roof, and one industrial building lost part of its second floor (pictures below).  I don't think anyone was injured (thank God!).  Again, our property was untouched, as were all of the ones on our road.  Let me tell you though, I am not a fan of storms.  They freak me out.  Having to pretend to be brave so that my child doesn't freak out is easier than I thought it would be.  I still do not like them though.

Storms are creative in their own way.  They morph the landscape.  It's almost like the wind is painting over a portrait that has already been finished.  Maybe it did not like the way the trees were sitting, or the way a building was built.  In any respect, the wind is an artist.  Not all art is beautiful and pretty.  Some art makes a statement.  Some art shocks.  Some art slaps you in the face until you have to look away from it.  The wind sometimes does this.  Why?  I'm not sure.  Maybe the good Lord just needed a change in the landscape.  Or was He sending us a message?  Life is fragile.  That fact is sometimes captured in art.  We should be thankful for the life we have, while we have it.  We should be thankful for the beautiful landscapes with which we have been blessed.  You never know when either may be repainted.

Be thankful for all you have been given!  What are you most thankful for?  Leave a message in the comments.  You never know, it could inspire a piece of art!  See you all next time!

Oh, and check out the sidebar for pictures from the storm!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chicago and More!

My parents gave me a false sense of adulthood - or maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention.  I always thought that when you grew up you got to do whatever you wanted; even if that meant spending all day in front of the television.  Man, was I mislead!  I just worked a thirteen hour day!  Plus, it's a Saturday!  I got all of my papers for class saved, cleaned my house, did all of my laundry and put it away, and weeded part of my garden.  My sweet husband then went and borrowed his parents tiller to weed the garden for me.  It was much faster!  Thank you Scott!  Love you!  Plus I made personal pizzas for Scott, Ava, and I.  It's been a busy day.  But do you know what was on my mind the whole time?  Art.  I kept thinking of what I could be doing out in my art house.  I kept coming up with ideas for new projects - so I wrote those down in short hand.  All I wanted to do was go out into my art house.  That is my plan for tomorrow morning before anyone else wakes up.  I'm going to eat breakfast, make coffee, and take a cup out with me.  That just sounds so nice.  In the afternoon we are hosting Father's Day dinner for my side of the family, and we will be so busy playing games that I won't get a chance otherwise.  :)  It's all fun though.

But, I need to tell you guys all about my trip to Chicago.  It was amazing!  I spend the train rides, there and back, reading and listening to my iPod.  Music is huge to me!  Music is inspiration and life all in one.  But that's a topic for another time.  I got almost a whole week of reading in my Walking in this World book. That in itself would have made an awesome day!  However, there was much more to come.  One of my good friends, Aimee, whom I hadn't seen in about five years, met me at the train in East Chicago, and then we rode the rest of the way in together.  It was so nice to see her and spend time with her.  She knows me so well, and it was just so comfortable to hang together, just like always.  Aimee is doing amazingly, and is so happy!  I am so happy for her.  Spending the day with her was just a gift.  We talked, we walked, we ate, we perused, and she shared some of Chicago with me that I had not seen.  It was just an amazing day, and we both promised that it would not be so long before we got together again.

The very first thing we did once we got off of the train was pee.  But you probably don't care about that part - I sure did though!  Once we were relieved, we found that Utrecht really was just outside of the train station.  Aimee had told me this, and I do not remember ever seeing it there before.  Once we came up the stairs, we turned left, and there it was just staring us in the face!  I couldn't believe I had never seen it before.  The store itself turned out to be so much fun!  It was not as big as I thought it would be, but that may be because I am used to crafting stores.  However, as soon as I walked in, I was in bliss!  Canvases, paints, brushes, inks, etc. Oh, it was beautiful!  We perused each isle and I found the exact things that I was looking for; a travel watercolor set, brushes, travel watercolor paper, and a small container to hold water.  Not only that, but the items were relatively inexpensive.  That made me even happier.  :)  It usually does.

Seeing as that was the only place that I really wanted to go, the rest of the day was left up to whatever we wanted.  Aimee knew where she would like to eat, so we decided since it would be such a trek that we would just start walking and stop wherever we wanted along the way.  But first I needed some coffee.  I had only had one small cup that morning, and was craving more (yes, I am an addict).  So we stopped at The Artists Cafe.  Boy, was that latte strong!  I like coffee, and I can drink fairly strong coffee and espresso.  But this coffee was crazy!  It was Italian, and delicious!  Once we got out coffee, we pleasantly stumbled onto a farmer's market.  Aimee was overjoyed, and I was completely excited!  The produce looked amazing!  Sadly, we did not purchase any because we still had the whole city to wander.

As we went on our way, we stopped at a book shop, a clothing store, and then....a vintage shop!  I had never been in one, and was pretty sure that I would not be able to afford anything (rightly so), but I needed to go in.  Aimee and I both found breath-taking vintage dresses that we would have purchased.  Sadly (or thankfully) we are not Angelina Jolie or Julia Roberts, and our budgets (we actually have them) did not leave space for a $200 dress.  Just visiting the store made me smile though.  I wondered who had worn the dresses, and what the dresses had seen.  Funny thinking a dress can see.  :)  I like that thought.

Lucky for us, the vintage shop was right next to the restaurant that Aimee wanted to go to - Karyn's Cooked. The restaurant was completely vegetarian.  I had never been to such a restaurant before, but it was mouth-wateringly indescribable!  The brown rice and vegetables in teriyaki sauce was delectable.  Plus, I tried tofu for the first time.  I never thought that I would like tofu.  In fact, I was afraid to try it - thinking it would be disgusting.  But it wasn't at all!  The cook had sliced the tofu thinly, seasoned it, and grilled it.  MMMMMMMMMM....WOW!  Aime loved her food as well.  She is a vegetarian.  We both highly recommend this eatery.  Sorry, there was no website listed that I could find.

We didn't have a whole lot of time left once we had eaten, so we headed towards the train station.  Along the way we did pop into Trader Joe's  I'm really bummed that there are no Joe's close to us, because the food and things offered in this store were mostly organic (I believe), and fairly inexpensive.  Their coffee was not bad either.  :)  When we had finished there, we headed to Millennium Park.  It started raining some, but nothing major.  In fact, I found it comfortable and refreshing to walk in the rain.    The rain did not deter us from visiting our destination.  If you have not been there, I think a trip should be made.  I still have not been through the whole thing due to time constraints.  But the next time we go, that will be the first stop on my list.  The artwork is phenomenal, as are the rest of the grounds.  I loved the flower gardens as well.  Flower gardens make me feel pretty and calm.  Maybe that's why I keep expanding my flower gardens every year.  :)  I can't wait to go again. 

When the day came to an end, I was not ready to leave.  Aimee and the city had refreshed my inspiration ten-fold.  I couldn't wait to get home and begin some projects, but I didn't want to leave either.  Saying goodbye to Aimee was tough.  It had been so long since I had seen her.  I know that we won't wait that long again though.  :)

Before I sign off for today, I wanted to point you to the sidebar.  I am trying to get a slideshow of pictures from my Flickr account to play, but I am having a tough time figuring it out.  If anyone knows how to do it, please enlighten me.  :)  Once I figure it out, I will definitely let you all know.  Also, there is a reference section of the books I have read in the past year.  There are a couple of others, but friends have them right now.  Plus I am in the middle of another, but think it is in my car (I hope!).  Please enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions.  :)  Plus, does anyone know about the Flickr slideshow?  Please do share!  :)  See you all soon!  Now go be creative!

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Ramblings

Good morning everyone!  It's yet another cloudy day here in lovely northern Indiana, but we won't let that get us down!  At the moment I am downloading some pictures to Flickr so that I can create a slideshow of pictures for you all.  These pictures include my art house, my artistic daughter (with her own face painting), my dog, and my favorite flower and tree.  I hope you enjoy them all.  Having such a peaceful place to live, with an amazing place to create is more than anyone could ask for.  I have truly been blessed.

The art house my husband built me is incredible.  Is it huge?  No, but I don't need a lot of space.  We have gotten some creative storage ideas for my supplies, and I have plenty of space within which to work.  The walls are mine to do with as I wish.  In the winter I have a little heater that does extremely well in heating my area.  My husband insulated the little house very well!  With the doors closed, the blinds open, and the music playing, I am in my own little world, doing as I wish.  It's my favorite place to be!  This is my first summer with the building, and it is better than I have ever thought!  I only play music sometimes now, because I prop open the doors and enjoy the sounds of nature.  We have plenty of birds, crickets, and frogs who make music enough to inspire.  Plus, the view of my backyard and the neighboring fields is breathless!  I can see my favorite tree from my art house (I'm a bit of a freak about trees).  I can see my garden (which is in desperate need of weeding!), and I can see Ava's trampoline and swimming pool.  If she and her friends are out there playing, I can keep an eye on them while I work.  It's the perfect place to work.  Now, in the pictures you should know that I am nowhere near finished decorating my little cottage.  It takes time, and I do it little by little.  But I will keep you updated as I add more.

In the evening I love to sit on my little stool right outside of my art cottage to watch the sky and listen to the music of nature all while breathing it in.  There is no better way to end my day - except, of course, being more productive.  Lately I have not been as inspired or productive.  It really stinks!  But I am determined not to let that get me down!  I am taking a special artist's date tomorrow (one of the assignments in Walking in this World).  Plus I work on things a little bit at a time.  That's what's frustrating to me.  I don't want to work on things a little bit at a time.  I want to work for hours - chunks of time that I can get something accomplished.  I have been laxed in meeting my goals.  I am totally frustrated by myself.  So what do I do?  I get my rear in gear!

Tomorrow I am taking a train ride to Chicago to go to Utrecht, and to visit one of my great friends - Aimee - I am so excited!  This trip will be completely on my own - which I have not done much of.  I am looking forward to all that the day brings, and I know that this will help in my inspiration.  A change of scenery usually does.  Plus, I have started to work on my tree lady again.  I started a portrait many months ago, and once I got to a certain point, she just sat there staring and me and taunting me.  But this week I have started to paint more of her leaves.  That is a huge step for me!  I refuse to let her glare at me anymore.  I know that she wants to be worked on, and to evolve into what she is supposed to be.  I'll share her with you when she is finished.  Until then, I will keep working.

Okay, now the positivity has really kicked in (that's the only way to be!).  Just remember that even on your down days, there is always hope.  There is always a spark of something that will begin to lift you up.  God places these here for us because He knows there is always hope.  Even in our darkest days, it's there.  We may not always see it right away, but if we give ourselves time and grace, we will see it.  He provides so much for us, and I know that I am truly blessed.  We all are.  That was my positive message for the day.  I'll leave you with that to ponder and think on.  Hey, who knows, maybe you will even get your journals (art or written) out and do an entry on it.  Heck, I may even do that myself!  Stay tuned - next time I will share my artist's date with you, and let you know if I have truly gotten out of my funk (I hope so!).  Until then, have a great day!  Be inspired by all that is around you!  Love to all!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Kinks in Creating

Hello everyone!  Thanks for joining in!  Let's see, where did I leave off? Oh yes, I had gotten the creative itch, and a desperate need to scratch it.  After finding Violette's book, I found her website online.  Luckily, she was offering an e-course.  I had never taken an e-course, but I wanted to jump in with both feet!  So I enrolled, and had an amazing time playing and trying out new methods of art that I had never tried before.  I am so grateful to that book and that that e-course!

But I wasn't finished there!  This started my sick addiction to art books.  Over the past year I have single-handedly helped Barnes and Noble, as well as Amazon stay afloat in these tough economic times!  But each of these books have added to my inspiration and excitement.  Kelly Rae Roberts' book was the second one I bought.  It was the one that helped me to actually fly!  While Violette's book helped me spread my wings, Kelly's really got me in the air!  I spent the last part of last summer just soaring on my creative high!  Nothing could bring me down!

Then school came.  I am a teacher of English, and I love my job.  The students and staff at my school are completely amazing!  But being a teacher is a tough job that involves many more hours than I spend at work.  During the school year I had a really rough time keeping my creativity up in the air.  Luckily I had some very creative supporters who helped keep me going.  I would bring work to school and show some of my fellow teachers (you know who you are!  Thank you!) what I had created.  I even sold a couple of pieces to a great lady.  Still, it was difficult, and will probably remain difficult.  However, I am not willing to let it break me.  I found that I could still work on my art in the evenings, but again I had  a problem with clean up.  Our dining room table was often littered with art supplies and projects (not only mine, but also my six-year-old-daughter's - she loves to create with me as well!).  My husband was not fond of all of this clutter.  Plus, as I know I am a messy person by nature, it probably did get way out of hand.  But what could I do?  I was not willing to stop creating.

Well, let me start by saying I have an amazing husband!  He and I are complete opposites, but I think that helps us to "get" each other's important things better.  After a couple of months of complaining about the mess (at the end of summer), we decided that I needed my own space.  But how?  Where?  Any art room I had ever had was now taken over by our daughter and her toys (totally worth it by the way).  So my husband built me my own art cottage!  It's not large, but it's beautiful, and my favorite place to be.  In the next few days I will post some pictures of it.  Be aware, it is not complete in its decorative charm.  My husband did a fabulous job of building and converting a small shed into a relaxing oasis of art.  In between art projects I have been working on decorating.  However, it is very slow going.  I don't mind though.  Every good thing takes a while.  I just need to be patient.  So I will add pictures as I add decor.

Once my art cottage was built, I would spend as much time out there as possible.  I live in Indiana, so winter days do leave the need for sunshine.  This cottage was/is my sunshine.  My husband insulated it and bought me a small heater so that I could stay warm and work out there.  He did such a nice job, that even when the heater is off, my paints and supplies do not freeze!  This really helped in my creative quest.  Once the art house was built, I knew I could leave all of my supplies out and not have to worry about someone complaining about it.  My daughter even has her own work table out there!  This made the school year a little bit easier.  Still, it was tough not to shirk my teacher responsibilities for my art habit.  I just wanted to be out in the cottage all of the time.  But it wasn't always possible.

Over the course of the year I read several art books.  I will put a list of them on the sideboard with a link to the artist's website, or where you can buy the book.  Right now I am doing the Walking in this World program.  It is very inspiring, and has helped me to grasp hold of so many realities about the world of creativity.  I highly suggest reading it and participating in the journey.  At the moment I am also taking my second e-course.  This one is on starting a creative business, and it is being given by one of my favorite artists, and overall inspiring women Kelly Rae Roberts.  The course is entitled Flying Lessons, and it offers so much more than just creating your own creative business.  This course has also helped me evolve as an artist - though not without its ups and downs.  We artists are such emotional people (Hallelujah!)!

Well, that's my story so far.  You have been quickly brought up to date on how my creative life has unfolded.  Stay tuned to see what other ramblings come from this wacky mind (because you ain't seen nothin' yet!)...See you soon!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Away We Go!

Hello everyone, or anyone, or whoever!  You're all welcome!

Well, I'm finally getting my first entry down; I can't believe that I'm finally doing this.  I've been waiting for a while to start posting.  I think I was a bit afraid.  Afraid of what you might ask?  Well that's just it.  I don't really know.  But that's okay, because whatever it was, I am standing up to it.  :)

The whole purpose of this blog is to chronicle my artistic adventure over the past year, as well as to chronicle into the future.  This past year has been one of amazing inspiration and creativity.  In this blog I will sometimes name other artists and authors.  If I do this, I will post a link to their blog or website.  For instance, right now I am taking a class by Kelly Rae Roberts.  It's an amazing class that I needed to take because it was the next logical step in my adventure, as is this blog.  Let me give you a little background about myself...

I have always been artistic, ever since I was young.  My earliest memory of being artistic was drawing pictures of people that looked like Cabbage Patch kids.  This was during the first reign of popularity for the dolls. I was in third grade. My neighbor drew a picture in my style and taped it to our door with a note that said it was from my secret admirer.  I just remember how excited I was that there was someone else out there who created in much the same style that I did.  Imagine how disappointed I was when I realized that it was just my neighbor, and she was just imitating my work to let me know that I liked it.  Ever since early time in my life, I was always looking for like-minded people to share artistic endeavors with.

All throughout grade school, middle school, and high school I took art classes and found my niche in graphite drawings - mostly of people.  I became pretty good at drawing people.  But I had a very limited repertoire.  When I got to college (my first time around), I was not sure what I wanted to do or be when I "grew up".  At that time I was more into writing than drawing, but I wanted to do both.  I became an English major with an art minor.  It was during this time that my artistic hopes were completely crushed.  I was taking a multi-media art class and we had the assignment of making an insect out of wire.  This was not an easy task for me, and the insect I made (which I no longer have) was not a pretty sight.  So the professor, instead of helping me figure out how to make my insect better, told me that I had no business being in art classes.  After that class I was crushed.  I thought she was right.  So I gave up my artistic dreams.

That happened many years ago, around 1995.  Since then, I never took my art seriously.  In fact, I pretty much stopped doing art altogether.  I mean, occasionally I would pick up my pencil and draw a picture, but I never held out any aspirations of becoming an artist.  In 1998 I got married to my fabulous husband.  When we got married, I would draw and create every once in a while.  He liked my work, and that made me happy.  But then I decided that I wanted to be an English teacher, so I went back to college and got my degree.  My art practice pretty well went on permanent hiatus, and did so even more after my daughter was born.

That was six years ago.  So how did I get from completely leaving art out of my life to letting it shower me with love and inspiration?  Well, as I began teaching I began to get very depressed.  I was always working, and when I wasn't, I would just watch t.v.  Finally, on a whim, I took a painting class that I fell in love with.  My husband let me turn one of the rooms in our house into an art room (which would later turn into my daughter's toy room).  But my painting practice did not last long.  By the time I got all of my painting materials out after work, there wasn't really enough time to paint and put everything away before it was time for bed.  So eventually I gave that up too.  But I had realized that I needed something creative to help me cope with everyday life. 

Jewelry!  Beading was something that I could do and get put away before bed.  Earrings were quick to make, and I could make at least one necklace in a couple of hours.  For a while I was appeased with jewelry making.  I even sold a few pieces to co-workers.  But eventually I still knew that I wasn't getting to the creative retreat that my brain so needed!

So, at the end of last summer, I became inspired!  My younger sister and I were perusing the shelves at Barnes and Noble (we have a weekly trip) while my older sister entertained my daughter in the children's section.  We often meander around the whole store, picking up and looking at books that may entertain or stimulate our brains.  After making our way to the crafting section, I picked up a book that would launch me into a whole new creative world.  Journal Bliss by Violette completely rocked my world and made me look at art in a completely different way.  That afternoon I sat in my hallway (don't ask me why) for two hours and read through the entire book.  I even marked projects that I wanted to try.  From that moment on, I was completely immersed in the creative world I had so long left behind.  It felt so good to spread my wings after they had been stored for so long.  While they were a bit rusty, I could not give up my creativity again.  Since then I have lived in the creative world...but it hasn't always been easy.

Stay tuned to read my next post "The Kinks in Creating" to find out how I battled my obstacles...

See you soon!