Day 30

A little progress on this piece. Just a little, but everyday is busy. A little bit each day has added up to quite a bit of art. Thank you √Člena for the inspiration to paint everyday! It's been fun. Ellie and I went to the greenhouse today and bought some flowers and veggies. Field day at school was rained out. I ran carnival games. Just got back from a Daisy Girl Scout Hannah Montana Beach Pool Party. Very sweet, only 6 girls showed up. 


Day 29 - Looking Up

Looking up of
"Looking Up and Looking Closer"
or "Plum and Locust"

I sat in on painting class tonight. As much as I've gotten used to working independently, it is great to be surrounded by creative people. (Most definitely my favorite part of my day job, too.) Of course, positive feedback from Tom is always encouraging.


Day 28 - Mandala card

A card of gratitude and prosperity
that will go in the mail tomorrow.
I can't believe I've painted 28 days in a row!
I'd say only 3 more to go, but I shouldn't stop.


Day 27 - Plum and Locust

This is one of two pieces that will go together.
Thought I might call them "Looking Up and Looking Closer",
but I just don't know about titles?
Maybe I'll just call them "Plum and Locust".

• • •

I haven't been thinking about Illustration Friday much since
I've been on such a roll with my fine art.
Ellie said she did "just a little doodle"
for the topic of "Worry"
and wanted me to post it to her blog today.
I am so very proud. You have to check it out.
Click here to see the very pretty blog.
(and maybe leave a comment?)


Day 26 - One hand washes the other.

Random Rambling. I got my stitches out today and after 9 days of not getting my left hand wet I have a greater appreciation for the expression "one hand washes the other." I am especially looking forward to washing my hair with two hands tomorrow. I painted on the patio today. Something I never would have considered until my outdoor landscaping class last summer. I might as well sit out there and paint all the new flowers I've planted. Finally after 9 years I am filling in with lots of perennials. A few weeks ago, I bought some indigenous plants at the local nature preserve. They should be hearty and helpful for the ecosystem.

Sitting underneath the plum and locust trees which inspired this abstraction. After painting I tried a new running route today. What I thought would be about 3 miles was confirmed exactly 3 miles with Map My Run. (thanks 'becca.) Ran by your house. I was tempted to yell "honk. honk." but I wasn't feeling quite that crazy. My run was not so good. My calf cramped up yesterday after my first run in a long time - my I-Pod battery pooped out after the first mile - there were not enough trees - catching a glimpse of what I look like when I run in the storefront windows is not a pretty sight - and I ran home straight into blinding sunlight. It makes me sad that my beautiful route of 9 years is closed so that hundreds of hundred year old trees can be killed in the name of progress. I thought I could breathe a little life into my little downtown if I ran there instead, but it's the sprawling and new construction that leaves downtown less than desirable and the property values less than they once were.


Day 24 and 25 - Move Along. Nothing to See.

I painted yesterday and today. Tomorrow, I'll set this aside and start something new because how many times does someone want to see the same thing? It doesn't look much different because I am just adding a second coat to the white flowers.

I am not comfortable with this painting because I impulsively changed my idea when it came time to paint the white flowers and now it is not what I wanted it to be at all. Maybe it will grow on me, maybe someone else will like it. Ellie tells me it's my best work ever. I think it's a little loud and flashy. What I do find interesting is that the flowers now look like neurons firing synapses and the large brown circle looks like a cell and nucleus.

I'm finding this painting tedious because my mind has already moved on to my next body of work. I am also wondering if I could take on a new daily habit and maintain painting everyday. Now would be a good time. Darrin and the girls will be on summer break in a few short days and so there will be less running around and less parental responsibility for me. Although, I was going to pick up a few more hours at the office.

New daily habits I would like to develop: eating healthy and regular exercise. People who know me think I really already do this, but I don't. Healthy food and exercise are sporadic. It dawned on me yesterday that 3 or 4 weeks ago I decided to train for a 5k in July. Before today I don't think I've run since that day. And before my 2-1/2 mile run at 11:30 a.m. all I've had to eat so far today is coffee and brownies. Not good. Surprisingly I feel great!


Day 23 - Unfolding

Not finished yet, but I like to hang paintings in the living room and live with them between painting sessions.


Day 22 - Blooming

This painting was going to be "Dormant"
but it doesn't want to be.
It's "Blooming".

• • •
Last night after the hosta I couldn't stop painting.
I finished the Rhododendron.


Day 21 - Hosta

I planned my show in threes.
- 3 watercolor mandalas
- 3 acrylic mandalas
- 3 acrylics, stars and black hole series
- 3 nature pieces from my last show
- 3 nature pieces on wood
I have 2 square nature watercolors that I thought would be nice to add to the show and so here is a piece I painted today to make it a set of three. I really should put all 18 on flicker. Is that easy to do?

Day 21 - So is it officially a habit now? I have to say, it's definitely a new mindset. Painting everyday is far less difficult than I had imagined (even if it's just something very little) and I feel like I am taking myself seriously... finally.


Day 20 - Rhododendron

Busy day:
full 8 hour day at the office,
a T-ball game,
and I started a new painting.


Day 19 - Tiny

Having taken this challenge of Every Day in May has brought me great focus. The instructions stated "they can be tiny". I picked up a brush today and dispelled the excuse that I am too busy and I don't have time. I rearranged my work schedule today so that I could make it to the kindergarten field trip to Lincoln Park Zoo. Which means I left the house at 7:45 am, returned at 2:15 pm, left for work at 3:30 pm and returned home at 11:00pm. So here it is. Tiny, but fun, and I created it.

Even tinier.
• • •
The trip to the zoo was fabulous!


Day 18 - Progress on large Mandala

This was going to be called "Dormant"
but it's starting to bloom so that might change.
Lots to say, but 8 digit typing is too difficult.


Day 17 - An Eventful Day

Painting was my first priority, I'm glad, because I might not have gotten to it otherwise. A little more progress on a large mandala.

The weather was absolutely perfect for gardening.

1. my little veggie garden plot covered with creepy little weeds
2. forgotten strawberry plants. happy surprise
3. veggie garden turned by hand with a shovel. good exercise
4. transplanted unwanted raspberries from the neighbor. yay!
5. my little robin friends enjoyed all the worms I dug up
6. trimmed one evergreen bush
7. second one only halfway done
8. large, sharp, electric hedge trimmer
I was using when I cut my hand
(5 stitches between 2 fingers)
9. peace (and healing) after 2 hours in urgent care*

*sitting in the waiting room with a blood drenched white kitchen towel does not get you moved up in line.


Day 16 - The start of the end

This is the beginning of the last painting for my show this summer. (36" acrylic on canvas). I went to the Towle Theatre to check out the space yesterday. 15 pieces will be sufficient, although there is room to fit a lot more. I'm wondering if I could include a few other pieces I have, or if I might keep painting right up til then?

I painted for 2 hours this morning and the rest of my day will be tidying up my studio (and the rest of the house). Also, I want to get outside and dig in the dirt. May 15, they say is safe for planting here in the midwest, although these days who can say? After the first 2 T-ball games I realized what it takes to dress warm enough to sit out at the ball field. Last night: 2 shirts, wool sweater, winter coat, scarf, wool socks and long undies under my jeans. Geez! Didn't I just say it was the middle of May?

When I was in the mode of making excuses of why I couldn't paint everyday, I used to use this famous one "I don't have any room". This was before I actually claimed some "studio space" in my house. I did have a large drafting table (that I've allowed Eleanor to claim as her own), but I would pile it high with clutter and couldn't begin unless it was clean and organized, which was never. Here is my space this morning. No room to work, you'd think, but this is the result of creating everyday!


Day 15 - Canvas 3 of 3

Death and Resurrection . 36x24. acrylic

My work is described as "so spiritual" yet I am not comfortable enough to talk about my spiritual beliefs for many reasons. First and foremost, I do not want to offend anyone. I respect different religious and spiritual beliefs of all people. I do not want to tell people what to believe, and I do not want them to think I am asking them to believe what I do. Also, I'm not always sure I know what I believe and my beliefs are subject to change at any moment.

To a Christian, this painting, "Death and Resurrection" may appear to be solely about Christ. Personally, it had little to do with Christ, although it seems to be filled with symbolism that was purely accidental. It certainly makes reference to being nailed to a tree, there is suggestion of the crown of thorns and, of course, the resurrection. The black hole is also very much like the tomb where Jesus was buried.

This series of 3 paintings evolved from my initial paintings of mandalas. After having painted many circles I then began to think of spheres and holes, then onto stars and black holes. We all continue to try to describe the metaphysical in physical terms and so we speak in metaphors. The star and the black hole, to me describes experiences of the soul.


Day 14 - Electricity - Illustration Friday

Earth Hour 2008. On March 29, the girls were thrilled to turn every light off between 8 and 9 pm in observance of Earth Hour. We ran outside at 8 pm sharp to see if there was maybe one other house on the whole street with the lights out. Not. Our house would be the second from the left with the candle in the window. They were so excited they wanted to do it once a week (sit in the dark). So far we have not done it again, but on the first warm Saturday of the year (about 2 weeks later) we were all outside all day. I ran in the house to grab something and found every single light on in our house during broad daylight hours and no one was even in the house. Guess we gotta work on that one.

Of course I have criticisms of this piece. A little rushed and muddy, but I did it in one hour from start to finish (drawing included). I was going to stop at the first wash and post that for progress of the day, but I dried it by the space heater and kept going. I was going to crop the picture below, but that's Junie B. Jones and Kurt Vonnegut in there.

I was also planning on leaving it all blue and yellow and loose, but added more colors and tightened it up. Still a learning experience.

I win! I win! I win!

: )

Much gratitude to Geninne for having a giveaway. And, much gratitude for the Universe to be smiling on me. I guess when I read the title "This one's for you..." I really believed it was for me. Out of 196 comments left, I was picked! I was amazed to see the number of comments grow so fast. I wondered if I gave away a mandala how many (just a few?) people are reading my blog? I will do a giveaway because I would like to pay it forward. Maybe whoever wins my giveaway could also pay it forward.

peace and gratitude.


Day 13 - Sand Dollar

This reminds me of a sand dollar, even though I wasn't thinking of anything in particular when I started. The colors are a little lighter and brighter because I soaked them off of the paper. What I mean is: I drenched the paper with clean water, let it sit for a few minutes, then dabbed the water off with a paper towel to remove some of the paint. (A technique learned from classes with Tom) Not only could you lift watercolor off of the paper, but it leaves an interesting effect. The paint that remains appears to be more a part of the paper than sitting on the surface. I also cleaned it up a bit with copper and white acrylic.

Painting everyday is really feeling like a habit. I worked a 10-1/2 hour day at the office today, came home - had to put on the roller blades because I promised Ellie - then straight to painting. I am in the mode of "just do it", not "maybe I will" or "I just don't know what to paint." Painting everyday has taken the pressure off of creating something profound, perfect, or complete. I feel more playful and ready to make mistakes.


Day 12 - Maybe

This is the beginning of a small mandala (6").
I was trying to be spontaneous and trying
to hurry it a bit too much.
In the next couple of days we'll what this turns into
when I have more time to focus.


Day 11 - Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day
It was fabulous, despite the fact that I went out in 50˚ pouring down rain and high winds to grab my mom a gift. She's totally worth it! And, I just spent more than five hours on a Girl Scout project for tomorrow's meeting. Not to sound like a martyr - I procrastinated, that's all.

The girls were thrilled to serve me breakfast in bed, then surprised me with a great gift. Rollerblades! I kept saying I was going to buy some because was the only one in the family without. I think it will be great cardio and will strengthen my legs without too much impact on the knees. Also, fun for the whole family. My apprehension might have been from the skateboard accident last month. I'll be careful.

Tonight I am exhausted, but determined. I am still not fully prepared for the Daisy meeting tomorrow, but I had to stop and paint. I am hoping by the end of this month that a day without painting feels like a day without brushing my teeth. (Not that I would know what that feels like because that is just gross.)

I didn't pick up the brush til 9:30 pm, the paint is still wet in the photo. It is quick and simple. Quick and simple proves to advance my watercolor technique. For example, where the bud meets the stem is what, I feel, watercolor is meant to do. I've been striving for even flat washes for so long. Dropping color into wet areas is so magical!

Further comments on Patrick's further comments are coming. I want to mention that I am truly grateful to have someone interested and asking questions. My journey stems from being skeptical and wanting to question. (My work may resonate with you for that reason) I could not have responded on the spot if someone had challenged my ideas face to face. I am glad I have put my thoughts together. I didn't feel terribly offended. Almost all of it was strangely complimentary, yet questioned the validity of my ideas.


Day 10 - More about mandalas.

Eclipse. Watercolor . 12 x 12.

A symbol is a thing that stands for or represents something else. Any visual representation, description or portrayal is a symbol. How is it defined? I think the creator has an intention, sometimes the meaning is effectively communicated, sometimes it needs to be learned. Sometimes a symbol only has meaning to those who understand the intention. Symbols may gain authority if collectively they are understood and the meaning is agreed upon.

A mandala is a symbol of peace and healing. It may be a symbol of peace because the repetitive pattern comes together in balance and harmony. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I do not believe that an image of God can be created, but perhaps it reminds us of God because it has no beginning and no end. This may also represent the universe. No beginning. No end. And with its parts and particles in spinning motion. The earth, sun, Milky Way, and not to mention the microcosm of cells, atoms, molecules, and so on and so forth.

It is a symbol of healing because to heal means to make whole and the cirucular shape is whole. It is complete.

I do not say this with empirical certainty. These are just ideas I choose to explore because I find them interesting.

May you live a life of peace and healing.


Day 9 - Almost Done

Believe it or not, I'm still going to add a few finishing touches to this one. I wanted to finish it today, but ran out of time. (you may click for a closer look)

The following is in response to the comment from Day 4
(earlier progress of this piece).
You needn't be skeptical or have any patience to appreciate it. I've never asked anyone to believe anything about my mandalas or mandalas in general. I have tried to educate people as to what one is so that they may begin to recognize they they appear everywhere, usually in spiritual context. I am happy to have found my subject matter and I am no longer concerned with the question "Where is the power in it?" and "If I am not a shaman, a monk or a spiritual expert, can I create something sacred? Something that has the power to heal?"

I could tell you that every mandala I create is an image of God, The Universe and Everything. Then, I would have to throw my head back and laugh, as Tobin Girls like to do, because doesn't that sound hilariously ridiculous?

Does it require patience? Mandalas are used in many different cultures for meditation. I never thought of looking at a mandala as requiring patience. On the other hand, if you were to use a mandala to focus on during meditation you might find that meditation requires less patience than without a focal point.

All mysticism aside, let's talk about art. Traditional composition suggests that the viewer should be led into the painting. The subject matter, or objects, or contour of the landscape, should lead the viewer slowly and comfortably all around. After that, the eye should be led out of the painting, perhaps so then you could get on with your busy life.

Radial symmetry is not common for this reason. I expected people to look at this repetitive circular composition and think "yeah, I know where this is going." But, no. I am intrigued by the fact that without any explanation of my intentions the response of many people has been "I feel so peaceful looking at your art."

Is it a symbol that refers to something beyond it?
All art is that.

Where is the power in it?
Where is the power in any piece of art?

Does it have the power to heal?
All art has the power to heal.

I will further expound on the spiritual, psychological, and mystical, but my conscious and subconscious mind is telling me to go to sleep.


Day 8 - Periwinkle Tooth Fairy

What color was your Tooth Fairy?
Ellie lost a tooth 2 days ago. She didn't put her tooth under her pillow two nights ago because she fell asleep before bedtime (if that makes sense). Her friend came over to play yesterday and said "Ellie, what color was your tooth fairy?" Ellie explained she didn't leave her tooth for the fairy yet, then asked "What do you mean? No one has ever seen the tooth fairy. How would you know what color it was?" Her friend explained, "You put your tooth in a glass of water and the tooth fairy has to dive into the water to get it. The next morning, you know what color the tooth fairy was because the water turns that color." Simple explanation. The tooth fairy was periwinkle. Very exciting! And of course, the picture above is just my artist rendition of what the tooth fairy might possibly look like. The rough sketch spurred some discussion as to how big do you think the tooth fairy is? We agreed a little larger than a large dragonfly. And, very mysteriously, "how did she get the cash underneath the glass of water?" I think she carries a magic wand and could lift the glass with the wand.

keep smiling

Homework: Make a flower.
Ellie had an awesome homework assignment. Purely creative. Of course I was overly involved, but she was the art director. I shared several possible ideas that she shot down. She had the final say-so and cut almost all of the petals, did all the gluing, decided to use buttons, and insisted on including the blue ribbon.

The assignment: Work with someone at home. Fun work! Make a Flower. Size - 12 inches tall. Materials - cotton balls, noodles, cloth, newspaper, construction paper, ribbon, glitter, buttons, tin foil, paint, felt, markers, wrapping paper. Have Fun! Be creative! Make it 3-D!!! Make the flower flat on one side, so it can be hung on the bulletin board. Thanks.

You don't have to be in kindergarten to do this assignment. Try it!


Day 7 - Watercolor Doodle

Sharpie and watercolor in my sketchbook. Working on different papers really effects the way I put the paint down. And, of course, a quick doodle can be a lot looser than trying to paint from life. Perhaps I should paint from life, but let the colors bleed.

Life size.
This morning Ellie found the hosta leaf lying in the living room. I showed her my painting and when we held the two next to each other, I noticed my drawing was the exact size and shape of the actual leaf. It looks as though I could have traced it, but I didn't.


Day 5 - Hosta

I hope I can make it the whole month. This is a very simple and quick watercolor sketch because today is a busy day. I do love hostas at this time of year more than when they fully bloom.

I have so much to say in response to Patrick's comments on mandalas. My mind is racing and I don't have time to put into words all I have to say. I will say this... as much as Patrick loves my mandalas, I love that he said he feels agnostic about them.

My art and my spirituality are not about knowing or about believing. It comes from a curiosity that I am exploring without certainty.


Day 4 - Watercolor Mandalas

Day 4 of "Every Day in May"
Progress on 2 watercolor mandalas.


Day 3 - Seed - Illustration Friday

I haven't posted for Illustration Friday in a while, but I've been very busy painting. I have been posting the paintings I've created for a large show coming up in July/August. Check it out.

Today is day 3 of the "everyday in may" challenge.