Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Been a while

Sorry it has taken me so long to add another post.  I wanted to be more consistent, but I also wanted to get a certain project finished before I posted again.  Needless to say, it is going to take much longer than I anticipated, so I am going to show you a sneak peek today!  It's the whole reason that I have been waiting to post!  However, until I show you what it is, I wanted to share what I have been doing in my spare time.  This past weekend I went to visit my best friend, and earlier last week my husband, daughter and I went to the zoo.  I have some great pictures and thoughts to share, so hang on and have fun reading!

Scott and I decided to stay home during his week of vacation instead of going on a trip.  It was a nice break for him, and it was fabulous to have him home.  However, we did decide that we wanted to do a family day trip, so we took Ava to a zoo that is a couple hours away from our home.  It was so much fun!  Ava and I got to feed the giraffe's, and I got the closest to a live lion that I ever have.  We also visited work camps (simulated) of African safari's.  The day was a total blast, and we were all exhausted by the time we got home.
Ava and Scott in a Safari tent

Ava and I feeding the giraffes

I'm a Leo, so it was awesome to be so close to an actual lion!  He was gorgeous!

For the past four days, Ava and I have driven to the other end of the state to visit with Betsy (best friend since sixth grade) and her family.  We had such a relaxing and nice time!  Ava and I were so sad to leave, but we missed home as well.  Just sitting with Betsy in the evenings made me realize the evolution of friendship.  She and I have bee through so much in the twenty-some years we have been friends.  But now it comes to being comfortable in our skin and our lives and learning about being an adult.  We laughed (so much) and talked about everything (which we usually do).  We vented and told jokes, as well as enjoyed all of the kids.  I am so thankful for her friendship.  I don't think anyone quite gets me like she does.  :)

Betsy and I on pride rock

Okay, now for the project I have been working on all summer so far.  It is a very involved project.  I am making my first sculpture!  It's a wire tree with canvas, hand-painted leaves, and a log base.  The structure of the trunk and branches was really fun to do!  It took a couple of hours, but was completely enjoyable.  The leaves are what have been taking forever.  I made what seemed like a bazillion of them, but after attaching many of them I realized that I don't even have half of what they need!  Each leaf is hand painted and hand shaded.  They take forever.  Plus, I figured putting the leaves on the tree was going to be the simplest part and not take very long at all.  Boy, was I wrong!  Not only do I need to attach it with metal glue, I also need to put a stitch in each leaf to keep them from moving around while they dry.  This project is taking quite some time, but I am completely enjoying the process.  Check out what I have so far and let me know what you think!
Me working on the tree.  If you look closely, you can see the base of the tree, and a couple of leaves that have been added.

The structure of the tree.

Next time I will post better pictures of my progress, and keep you updated.

Hope all is well wherever you are, and that your creative passion is bursting forth to the world!  Peace ~S.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Going Back to Childhood

I had a very blessed childhood.  No, we didn't have lots of money, and no, we didn't take lots of vacations, but it was a happy and healthy childhood.  I did the simple things.  We lived in a neighborhood and played with the other neighborhood kids.  It was safer then, and we would roam the neighborhood, playing hide-n-seek, tag, kick ball, baseball, ghost ghost in the graveyard.  We spent most of our time outside playing.  Catching salamanders and frogs was one of the highlights, as was splashing in puddles when it rained. 

Even though we do not live in a neighborhood, and my daughter is an only child, I try to give her as much of that fun as possible.  I am her playmate a lot of the times, but we also have friends over for her to play with.  We go camping with my husbands parents or by ourselves, and we have family gatherings with my parents and sister's where we play baseball and things like that.  I feel like she is getting a good, well-rounded childhood.  During this summer we have spent a lot of time outside.  A bird built a nest in Ava's bird feeder and we have watched the birds hatch.  They are not growing very fast, but we are keeping tabs on their progress.  We also have senor and senorita frog who live in our window well, and do every year.  The other day, Ava had her best friend Chloe spend the night, and the next day it poured for a while.  In our backyard, there are some low areas where water gathers.  The girls started running through one of the puddles.  At first I was a bit upset because Chloe's mother was going to come and get her, but then I realized that Ava had never had the joy of just running through puddles, so I let them continue for a while.  Chloe's mom is pretty laid back, so I wasn't really worried.

I also realized that the fun of being a teenager comes back around as you get older!  My parents, who I thought while I was growing up had no life, now stay up later than us and hang out with their friends more.  I am to the point where I don't really go out or stay up late.  It's funny.  Anyway, my mom and her best friend Rita got to feel like teenagers today.  My little sister and I went with them to take pictures of Peter Reckell (Bo Brady from Days of Our Lives).  It was great!  My mom has watched that show for years!  I remember it being on when I was little.  I watched it for a while but don't any longer.  Anyway, she was so spazzy and antsy right before it was her turn.  It was hilarious!  I thought about how many times as a child she let us go and do things like that, and now her turn is back around.  It was so fun to watch!  I love my mom, and have realized that I am much more like her than I ever realized.  I tried so hard not to be like her growing up, but I'm so glad I am.  It's an honor to look like her and to be like her.  She's a great mom!

My mom and Peter Reckell (Bo Brady).  She's so cute!

Life is truly good!  It's the simple things that make life worth it.  That's why chronicling life is go important.  The following is one of a series of three pictures I am doing.  My friend Bryan has left his job at the school where I work to go to the Administration Building.  As a gift, I am doing a series of three pictures of his daughter.  I have completed  one using pointillism, and one in graphite pencil.  The following is the beginning of the colored pencil one.  I'll share all three when I am completely finished.  This is the first time I have ever done a series like this.  It has been really fun! 

I hope you all look fondly upon your childhood, and are making great childhoods for your children (if you have any).  May your days be blessed with the simplicity that counts in life.  And don't forget to look for the simple things and cherish them!  See you next time!  Peace! ~S~

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beauty of Life

Well howdy everyone!  Happy Father's Day to those of you who are fathers.  Okay, so some of you are dying to find out who would win the print of Dearest Heart.  And the winner is....Shondra Brown!  Thank you to everyone who responded either on my blog, twitter, or facebook.  I appreciate the support.  Stay tuned for future giveaways.  Congratulations Shondra!

Now, I'd like to share a project with you that I have been working on.  It's my first 3D painting, and I was so excited as I watched it come alive!  Quite some time ago I painted this canvas red, and I had initially envisioned a flower on it, but not the one I ended up painting.  I had envisioned trying a more traditional painting, not mixed media.

Then, one night I was journalling about my Life is Music and Music is Life paintings when the idea for the Musical Flower came into my head.  I wanted to do something that stood off of the canvas more, but the petals had to be fairly sturdy.  I couldn't just use regular painted paper.  I was afraid that the paper would droop and not hold its shape well.  I also wanted it to be fairly sturdy so that I could make it stand up well.  So I chose antique music sheets for the petal.  I put a couple of layers of gloss on it before painting each petal with acrylics and using the paint and colored pencils to add shading.

After the painting and shading, I added another layer of gloss.  The petals underneath did really well.  But they did not need to stand up off of the canvas.  While the top petals were thick and sturdy, I couldn't get them to stand up as well as I wanted them to.  So I attached each petal to a small piece of wire with metal glue.  This type of glue dries fairly quickly, but does not completely set for 24 hours.  I let each petal dry so the glue was no longer sticky, but not completely set either.  Then I bent and positioned each petal carefully.  I did ruin one petal that was no longer usable by trying to pose it before the glue was completely dry (but not set).  Once the petals were in place - again using metal glue, I sewed them onto the canvas at the base for extra support.

Next was the center of the flower.  I wanted the center to stand out, but not be the focal point.  I found a white and brown streaked button and added a few layers of yellow acrylic wash to it.  I also used acrylics to shade it.  Then I sewed it in the center.

This also added more support for the petals.  Once the center was painted, I added a couple layers of gloss.  Then I took my acrylic paint, darkened it, and added the shading around the flower's center.

After the flower was assembled, I took a shipping tag, stained it with ink, applied the words I had ready, and added embellishments with colored pencil.  I believe God has truly given us a beautiful piece of art in the world, and I find awe in it every day.

The last thing I added were the ribbons.  The green symbolizes the earth, and the white brings out the petals more.

This project was so fun to watch come to life!  I would say that my first 3D painting was a success, and that there may be more to come!  Stay tuned, because in keeping with the nature theme, I am making a mixed-media sculpture that I would LOVE to share with you all!  Until then - have a blessed time!  Peace ~S

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Revamping the Old

Do you ever get the feeling that something is not finished, but you cannot quite put your finger on it?  That's what happened with my "Dearest Heart" creation.  It hung on my bedroom wall, waiting for more.  Months and months went by before I realized that I needed to add the red tissue paper to make the words stand out,  and the wire wind behind her wings.  It was amazing to go back to one of my favorite pieces and add to it.  I knew it wasn't finished, but I had to be patient and wait for the clarity of what needed to be done.  I am still not quite sure that it is a finished piece though.  It needs to hang on my wall for longer before I can determine that.  But that's what creations are.  The begin as a seed and grow into a creation that was only a sketch before.  It's an amazing process to be a part of.  I pray that everyone has something like that in their lives.

Dearest Heart

So please leave me a message and let me know if you think this piece is complete or not.  Leave ideas, comments, thoughts, and you could win a 5X7 matted print of the piece!  Every entry's name will be put into a drawing.  The winner will be selected on Saturday June 18, 2011.  Good luck!  It's my first giveaway, and I am so excited!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What is the Best Part of Creating - Process or Product?

Happy summer!  I am finally on summer break (second week in), and I have been creating like crazy!  Doing art every night has been so relaxing and amazing!  My inspiration antennae is up and running at full strength!  Before and during my creating process I have been journalling.  I journal every night about whatever is in my head.  The last part of the entry always ends up being about whatever project or projects I am working on, and new ones that pop into my head.  During several of these journal entries, I have contemplated an important question that I had never really given much thought to before; Which do I enjoy more-the process of creating, or the outcome of a piece?  For me, I have found, that it depends on the day.  However, I do lean more one way than the other.

Do I love the pieces that I create?  Yes!  Have I learned to be more fearless and forgiving with myself as I create?  Yes!  Do I enjoy trying out new techniques and products?  Yes!  But it has taken me quite some time to get to this point.  We are our own worst critic.  We tend to cut ourselves down and look for errors and mess ups.  I have switched my focus.  I pay more attention to the process than I used to.  Never before have I sketched out ideas and thought through the materials I am using and the look and feel of those materials.  This, however, has become my greatest ally.    This has also brought my focus more to the creation of pieces and not so much on whether they come out perfectly.  I enjoy the process of making art much more now.  I worry less about whether or not my skill is perfect, and more in the curiosity of  "what would happen if I did this?".  Each night when I journal, I think about how I can continue with the piece that I am working on.  I think about the stage I am in, the parts that make the piece a whole, and whether my plan is what I really want to do.  Sometimes I contemplate what materials I could use to present certain parts of the piece.  Sometimes I contemplate how best to place objects or focal points.  This has opened up my inspiration and creativity more than anything.  I look at other artist's creations, make notes in magazines about things I want to try, or like.  All of this "research" plus the slowing down of journalling through a piece has made me so much more confident in my creations; and it has made me love the outcomes! 

I should state that the sketches that I make for my creations are not the end all be all.  They are guides.  They are the baby bird that needs to grow.  And grow they do!  My end piece, while the integrity of the design is in tact as thought of in the sketch, it has morphed and grown into a more beautiful reality.  So, I guess you would have to say that I love the process for watching my ideas grow and morph into their full potential!  In the words of Life is Good (, "Do What You Like, Like What You Do!"

The following are twin paintings that were born one right after the other.  I planned them, thought them through, and enjoyed every moment of their birth.  I hope you enjoy them as well!  ~Peace~ S.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Remembering Friends

Hello everyone!  It's been a while since I have posted anything.  Sorry about that, but you know me.  As always, I need to work on that.  Summer break is in three and a half weeks, so hopefully I can become more organized and get a post in every few days.  That would be nice because I miss doing it.  I can't believe that summer break is almost here!  The school year went so fast.  My sweet little girl, who is growing so incredibly fast, is going to be done with first grade!  Snif snif!  She's already 4 ft. 2 in. - just a foot and and inch shorter than me!  Was I that tall when I was her age?  Maybe Scott was.  I know I was pretty short.  Anyway, it's time to start planning my summer days.  I know I want to spend much time in my flower and vegetable gardens as well as flower gardens.  Art will be a daily occurance.  I need to reopen my Etsy shop and possibly create a web site.  That would be amazing!  I hope you are all enjoying the slow transition to spring.  It's been pretty grey and chilly here, but the warmth will be here soon!

Anyway, the title of this entry is remembering friends.  I have started a new project (just one of a few), and it will ultimately end up in the hands of my best friend.  Also, I gifted a present that I made for a friend who just finished her chemo treatments for breast cancer.  Friends, new and old, are fabulous parts of our lives, and they should be cherished and celebrated.  I am lucky that my two best friends from my school days still hang out with me four times a year.  Even though we live indifferent parts of the state, we still make time for one another.  Besides texting and talking on the phone, we make sure to have a ball every time to get together.  I know that I don't talk to anyone, or share things with anyone like I do them.  They are amazing, and I am so grateful to have them.  Betsy is one of my oldest friends.  She and I have been close since sixth grade.  We have shared so many crazy memories.  We roomed with one another for two years in college, were bridesmaids with one another, and probably know one another better than almost anyone.  She has been there for me when I needed her, and has brought me so joy.  We laugh and laugh and laugh whenever we get together.  I laugh harder with her than anyone else.  It's amazing.  So, I decided to create an art journal for her.  Within this art journal will be mementos, memories, trivia games, other games, photos, and art, art, and more art!  Below are a couple of the pictures I have created so far.

Hilarious moment!

I love flowers!


Then I also gifted the paintings I made for a friend of mine who was undergoing chemo for breast cancer.  I would like to keep her name private.  She is an honorary sister along with my other sisters.  We all love her.  During her chemo, I regretably did not keep close contact with her.  She is closer to my older sister.  However, I did talk to her a couple of times.  But she was always in my heart and prayers.  I thought of her often, and that is what inspired me to create the following paintings.  She is an amazing woman who takes everything with grace, has a positive attitude like nobody I have ever met, and creates joy in the lives of those she knows.  So I created these paintings as a reminder of her joy, and the positivity which she bestows on others.  I think I have already posted these, but I iwll post them again for context.  So far she is tumor free, and will have a double mastectomy later this month.

So, the point of this entry is to remind you to cherish and enjoy those who have been there for you, whether they are new or old.  Thank them for their love and support.  Let them know how much they mean to you.  You never know when they may not be there.  Enjoy life!

Until next time, may there be peace and happiness in your life ~S.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Art Journaling

Happy Thursday everyone!  It's not even seven in the morning, and I am blogging!  We have a two-hour-delay at school this morning, so I thought I would get some blogging done.  It's a pretty good morning, but I can't have any coffee because we have no milk.  I'll have to make some when I get to school.  But I didn't write to tell you about my delay or my lack of caffeine.  I am writing because I want to share some of the work I have been doing in my artistic journal.  Be warned that most of these pages are no where near finished.  I have recently given myself the grace to start pages and not have to finish them right then.  It's actually very freeing.  I have found that by doing this, I can switch topics and subjects and add as I feel necessary, or as the spirit moves me.  So let me know what you think.

I needed to start my new journal with a representation of myself.  It had been so long since I had drawn myself anyway.  But I was pleased with the turn out.

These two are part of my proverbial garden.  They are flowers of my own design.  I have been fascinated by flowers for years.  Each spring I tend my flower gardens and cultivate them carefully.  Maybe this summer I will not only draw flowers of my own design, but will choose to draw real ones from my actual garden.

This one is titled jumble.   I love to just doodle lines and see what comes of them.  Plus, it's very theraputic when I've had a stressful day.

Personal motivation is very important to me because I need to push myself forward.  If I don't, who will?  I shared this one with my students.

My daughter was recently sick with the flu.  I did this page about her.  I call her my bird, and I use her image in much of my artwork.  She inspires me.

Another motivational technique.  I need to be more bold in my life and stand up for myself and my beliefs.

These are some of the things that are important to me in my life.

I know, I have been busy.  But here they are.  Don't worry, I still have other things to show you and discuss -I've been adding a few new forms of media to my artwork.  I have two finished pieces and one in the works.  Maybe it will be finished by the next blog.  We will see!  Excitement, excitement!  Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking, or if you have been inspired.  May you have a peaceful day ~Peace~S.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Hello everyone!  It's been a while, but I'm back!  My computer had issues and had to be put out of it's misery; so now I have a beautiful new little laptop named Betty.  She's very pretty.  I am enjoying setting her up and taking her for a spin.

As for my creative side, there have been new developments here as well.  I have been working almost daily for about a week, and I have two finished paintings and many pages started in my artistic journal.  I am looking forward to sharing these all with you.  Once I have gotten back to journalling in the mornings and evenings, it has really helped to push my creative side again.  She just needs some opening up and regular practice to keep going!  We've been ill here as well.  A few weeks ago I had the respiratory flu that is going around, and now my little bird has it (daughter - Ava).  She is getting over it, but now she has a dreaded cough that has turned into bronchitis.  Stinky!  This has not been the healthiest of winters for the Steele's.  But we are on the mend.

Since I am not completely set up with my computer, I am not capable of scanning new artwork in.  The printer will be set up by tomorrow, so stay tuned to see new work!  I hope you are all doing well and have stayed healthy this winter!  See you soon!  ~Peace~Stephanie