The magic of wax... Translucent... sensual... textured... natural... luminous... raw... layered... dimensional... luscious... soft... warm...
She comes to life... a portrait step by step
Have you been following the "work in progress" portrait on my facebook page last week? It has been such fun painting and sharing the process with readers at the same time. A challenge for sure, but very exciting... On Facebook I only shared the portrait part of the painting. I've been working on the background some more and it's finally done! So today I'd like to share the whole painting with you: it's called Gentle Heart.
Below you'll find slide-show and a recap of all the different steps from start to finish, including techniques. And as always, I look forward to reading your comments and answering any questions you may have, technical or otherwise. Enjoy!
First, a peek at my portrait toolkit!
And then, it all starts like this...
Step 1: I start with lightly sketching the main features with a pencil, then add a light wash of white acrylic paint to the "skin" areas.
TIP: if you're not comfortable drawing, take a photo you like and print it the size you want the portrait to be. Roughly cover the back of the paper with a 2B or 3B pencil, then place it on your canvas (image facing you) and trace the features with your pencil on the photo: they will transfer to the canvas.
Step 2: Roughly shading with "walnut stain" Distress ink, using my fingers.
Step 3: Awakening her soul right from the start... Watersoluble black Stabilo All pencil + matte gel medium on a super fine brush.
Step 4: More shading, again with Distress inks in "walnut stain" and "old linen", using fingers and a small brush. I love the transparency of those inks, which allows the text underneath to show through...
Step 5: Shading some more and adding color to the lips with Pitt Artist pens (B, brush tip) #189 & #169. These are India ink pens. I add tiny touches of color, then move it around with a super fine, wet brush. And highlighting some areas with a white Posca paint pen and a paintbrush. At this stage the nose is way too round for my taste!
NB: Distress inks are water-soluble, which means that you should work with a dry brush or finger. BUT you can also use this to your advantage to create different effects. For instance if you want to add more definition to the eyebrow, you can add just a little bit of water or gel medium to your brush: you'll get a watercolour effect + variation in the color of the ink (walnut stain becomes more yellowish).
Step 6: Outlining the face and hair with the watersoluble black Stabilo All pencil and a wet brush. At this stage, she's really got her true soul...
Step 7: Hair and make-up + nose-job... using the same techniques as before.At this stage I was happy with what she had turned into. And yet, because the painting is part of a series, I put her side by side with the previous 2 paintings and found that her skin was much darker. And after a while it started bothering me. So...
Step 8: ... I thought maybe I could lighten it just a little bit... Bad idea: in seconds the face lost some of its freshness and transparency. As a result, the lips now seemed too big and the nose looked weird...
Step 9: ... which led to more messing up and making her seem older... I don't dislike this more mature look, but it's just not who I feel she's wanting to become. Make-up removal is in order...
NB: It's been so interesting for me to get all your comments and perspectives at this particular stage. What's most important to remember is that at all times I keep trusting the process and waiting to see "who" is finally going to emerge on the canvas. What I mean to say, about "messing up", is that at some stage I have felt like I knew that girl, felt connected to her, and then I didn't recognize her anymore. But she's on her way...
Step 10: Here she finally is... I'm happy with how the innocent and more mature looks blended together. I have removed some of the paint on her skin and in her hair to reveal the book pages again, gone back to the first shape of the mouth and painted it a bit lighter, lightened the eyes too...
TIP: To safely remove layers of paint I use hydroalcoholic gel on a cotton bud.
As promised, here is the video showing you the whole portrait coming to life, from start to finish!
I hope that you enjoyed this process and that it will inspire you to try your own mixed media portrait... Remember to let go of any expectations regarding how the face is "supposed" to look. Let it unfold and bloom naturally, and once you get a glimpse of the soul behind it, take your time, let it sit aside for a while if you need to, don't rush it. But also know that "mistakes" are part of the process and that, like all our experiences in life, they shape who we become and allow us to learn and grow. They will eventually give your portrait its own unique character once it is fully born on your canvas. And of course you can ask me any questions here in the comments or on Facebook.
NB: Enjoyed the video? HERE is another one from last year that you might like: it's a mixed media floral painting, full of blooming roses...
Have a beautiful week-end!
Light & Love
On trust, commitment, and leaving the battlefield
Hi there! The blog is finally back after having been down for several days, due to a very nasty spam attack. All is well now and I am very thankful to my webhost who helped solved the issue. I have put so much time, energy and love into building this website from scratch. Feeling "under attack" for no reason at all, with the threat of losing it all because of some unknown hostile person, that felt really awful. And I am so relieved and thankful that it all turned out OK. The whole thing has once again led me to think about Trust (my "word of the year").
What does it mean, to trust, to believe, to have faith in something, in someone, and especially in oneself? What does it mean, to commit to one's dream, to one's own truth, to try and stay strong in the face of adversity, or even plain hostility?
In the past year, I have made decisions and taken new steps on my journey: going back to school, working with elderly people, learning new skills that will make me more able to share my passion for creativity with others, gaining experience, pushing against some boundaries, widening my horizon. I committed to this training for a year and a half, and I'm determined to see it through, even though the price has been making very little art for what seems like eternity. It has felt so painful at times, as if I were losing sight of who I am, of the little artist girl inside.
But the hardest thing, since starting this new adventure almost a year ago, has been to encounter the full-blown hostility of several people along the way, and having to spend a lot of energy protecting myself, fiercely protecting my "inner child", like I would any of my kids. A lot of energy that, therefore, didn't go into making art.
I'm an optimist. And it's not "just the way I am", I'm not some naive dreamer who thinks the world is coated in sugar. Being an optimist is a conscious, deliberate choice, a decision I make every single day, a commitment to myself. It's NOT easy. It's a bit like climbing up the slide: it's not the easiest thing to do, but remember how good it felt, when you were a kid and you reached the top?
But as it turns out, when you are moving forward, and working hard, trusting your wings and starting to see the results of your efforts, well... some people don't like it. Those are people who might have had their own dream some day, but for some reason, at some point they got stuck. Maybe they even gave it up completely. And they probably suffered, and did whatever they could to numb out the pain and forget. But being around someone who hasn't given up, who is working towards their own dreams, it makes them uncomfortable. Because it puts them face to face with their old dream again, with a part of themselves that used to be alive and joyful, long ago.
For some people it can be the little spark of inspiration and hope that they needed to try again. But for others it brings all sorts of negative feelings to the surface: sadness, helplessness, cynicism or just plain anger. It feels like a threat they must eradicate.
I get that. I understand that. But that doesn't mean I should selflessly let myself be trampled upon. Nor does it mean that I should spend even more energy fighting back, wrestling and thinking tactics. When diplomacy fails, it can be so tempting to retaliate. And it would be so easy to let myself be dragged into a battle that, fundamentally, isn't mine. Speeding down the slide, away from my goal. Except that I know where I'm standing on my path, and I know where I want to go. I've made a commitment to myself, with clarity and intention. With trust. Sometimes it is absolutely essential to fight, and sometimes it is equally important to know when to leave the battlefield.
Which I have. And the moment I made the decision, my whole energy shifted. Joy and freedom came back and a new painting was finally born. The last one dates back to April, so I know it's a good sign that I made the right choice.
This is one more experience I am learning from, getting strength from. I feel even clearer about my priorities now, about my goal and intention. It's a life commitment, "forever"...
Life Book 2014 : my January pages and more
Friends, I've told you that I'm doing Life Book for the first time this year (yay! thank you Santa ♥). And I've also told you that my blogging time is going to be very limited this year (and why it's all OK!). So, after some pondering (and a hot bath), I've decided to give you a simple, monthly update in pictures. How does that sound?... So without further ado, here is my Life Book January!
"Inner Artist Guardian" with Tamara Laporte
(with my word of the year: TRUST)
"A Happy Affirmation" with Micki Wilde
(in 2014 I want more energy!)
... and to this end I tried my first green smoothie: yum!!
"Creativity & Play" with Carla Sonheim
(I haven't finished all the exercises yet but loved the found poetry!)
"Be True to You" with Kelly Hoernig
(journaling about 3 things I love: Travels (and especially England), cherries and spring!)
Voilà! We'll see what next month brings!
On trust, welcoming the unexpected and NOT doing it all...
Where does time go? Where does it hide?... I've been trying to keep up with the roller coaster that the beginning of this New Year feels like, doing my best to meet deadlines, to keep doing all the things I have patiently and passionately built last year: first, making art, making art, making art, taking classes, experimenting, reading, learning.
Writing this blog and documenting my creative journey, taking and editing pictures, hopping from one language to the other, solving technical problems, running my little shop that allows my art to carry joy and inspiration into the homes of others around the world, connecting with other creatives on social media, helping each other and sharing daily discoveries, meeting deadlines for art show commitments, magazines and book submissions, so that my creative dreams don't stay small and hidden in the nest of my studio...
This has been a lot of work, this is a lot of work. Good work, real work, work as in answering your soul's calling and making it come to life. Work done with joy, dedication and hope.
And yet, right now all this needs to make room for something new.
I told you earlier that I was going back to school this year, to learn a new job (because, believe it or not, all this creative work does not, for now, put bread on the table - well ok, a few crumbs). Just before Xmas I decided to leave the youth and cultural center where I had started my internship a few weeks before. Spending my days stuck at the front desk was not what I had expected and I just had to move on, trusting I would find some other place where I could truly learn and feel useful.
My heart's whispers, which I had been ignoring for way too long, led me to a nursing home. I'm so glad they did. I just spent my first full week there and feel such gratitude for all I have learnt already, all the little miracles I have witnessed and sometimes been part of, the humbling sense of being truly useful, the gift of standing at the side of people who are so much further on their life journey than me, but now depend on others to keep walking their paths.
So for now, I need to accept the fact that I simply can NOT do it all. At the end of the day, I come back home with my head and my heart full, but exhausted and longing for my bed as soon as the kids are in theirs. Plus I have essays to write and homework to do! This means that a good part of my creative work must be put on hold for a whole year. Those of you who are faithful followers of my art page on facebook might have noticed it's been very quiet lately. And I am far from the 2 weekly blog posts I used to write before. I can't paint every day anymore.
But I trust it will be OK, it will turn out just as it is supposed to. I trust this journey I'm on, even though I don't have a clue where I'll stand in a year's time. I know that being an artist is at the heart of my life's calling, that I am not leaving this part of me behind at all, but that it is going to unfold in new and unexpected ways for a while.
And I am taking the Life Book 2014 e-course, with weekly prompts and art lessons to keep creating all year long. It's going to remind me to keep creating in a stress-free way, even if I only have one small session a week. In the first lesson, the first week of January, we chose our "word of the year". Mine turned out to be Trust. It has already helped me a lot and I know it will be an everyday source of inpiration and serenity.
Until next time, and until I find a moment to work on last week's and this week's Life Book assignments, here are the first two pages of this year-long journal I have started.
Have a beautiful week everyone!
In our home, we've made it a tradition to put away the Christmas decorations on New Year's day, to tidy up the house, sometimes rearranging the furniture a bit: a clean start for a fresh new year! And so I finally took the time to rearrange and clean the studio, my little creative nest... With lots of drawers for all my little bits and pieces, cherished treasures and inspiration, I'm happy to say it's ready for new projects and I can give you a (long overdue) tour! (if you're curious about the attic to studio conversion, check out THIS blog post) Upon climbing the stairs, you'll be welcomed by a whimsical cat and garlands of heart-shaped leaves. My apron invites me to get to work and get my hands dirty! When I get back from a walk, I can drop any gifts from nature into a large basket (lovingly embroidered by my mom a few years ago).
The room is rather long and narrow. The painting area is on the left...
... and the reading / blogging / printing / sitting /musing / washing area is on the right:
In between is the music area with my husband's piano, so he can play while I paint...
So first, the painting area: my faithful kitchen table has followed me into this new creative space!With a big skylight above it and a large glass palette, it's perfect for medium and small paintings, assemblage etc.
The sewing and jewelry supplies are stored nearby in the white drawer units, along with my sewing machine. For larger paintings I turn to my easel. I like being able to adjust the height of my seat depending on where I work (although I just stand most of the time).
My painting supplies are in the blue trolley and on the chest of drawers, a vintage find that I have customized with printed papers. I always keep a canvas nearby where I can apply any unused paint at the end of a session. It will become the background for a new painting some day... And I simply love my inspiration wheel! It's a bicycle wheel I found on my street one day. With some ribbon, tiny pegs and fairy lights, it's perfect!
Now, when we decided to turn the attic into a studio, a sink was at the top of my list. I just can't do without it, it allows me to get very messy and is a must when working with plaster and such (+ I always have a nice cup of tea ready!). There are lots of birdies in my "nest" and this one is especially dear to me: it used to be in my grandparents' house and reminds me of sweet childhood memories.
Across from the sink is a small couch (I love that it's called a love-seat in English, I don't think we have any romantic translation for it in French...) and what I like to call the "blogging corner" (that's where I'm writing to you from!). That's where my art books, notebooks, folders and magazines are, as well as a regular printer for everyday use and an Epson printer for art prints. Two large drawers contain most of the supplies for my Etsy orders. We don't watch regular TV but we do have a large computer screen that can be connected to a DVD player, the laptop or even our old VCR to watch movies etc. The 3 little clocks help me keep track of the time in different time zones where friends live!
Voilà! I'm ready for a new creative year! And actually, 2014 is off to a great start because my Prince Charming/Santa has signed me up for 2 online courses, the first of which is Life Book, and it has already started! (but more on that in my next post...)
In the mean time I wish you all a beautiful, joyful and magical New Year...
Once upon a time
Pam K. Varacek
Today I am very honored to be featuring the story and artwork of a very dear friend and talented painter from across the wide ocean: Pam K. Varacek. Last May I've had the great pleasure of spending a whole day in Paris with Pam and and another of my "Flying Sisters" (the group of ladies who took Kelly Rae Roberts' Flying Lessons last year, if you've been reading my blog before, you know the story!). How often do you get to spend a day with two supposedly complete strangers, and in less than 5 minutes feel like you've known each other for years? I feel very blessed indeed. So without further ado, here is Pam's "Once upon a time"...
"This piece was a particularly tough one for me to put onto my canvas. It represents depression. Depression is something that runs in my family. It is a condition that many people suffer from, and most of us have felt a bout of depression at some point in their life, but it is one that is always difficult to discuss.
For me I compare the feeling of depression to that of drowning, to feel the water envelop me as I sink into the depths. This is what I wanted to project in my piece.
What is difficult is that I also see water as a calming, soothing symbol. I head to the bay near my home every morning for that. I enjoy listening to the waves lapping against the shore.
I have actually had people reach out to me to tell me the painting is not so much drowning but waving. That's what they see when they look at it, more like "Not Drowning, But Waving". That is actually a very healing thing for me.
Once upon a time, a girl felt very isolated, thinking that this depressive state was something no one else could relate to. "Not Waving, But Drowning" has helped her get her story out and has helped her see that she is not alone. She lives happily ever after."
More guest artists:
Today is blog circle day and this month's theme is "thanks giving". To me it is an opportunity to express gratitude for all the good things, and also the not-so-good, because they are all part of the journey.
Thank you family Thank you friendship Thank you Love
Thank you betrayal Thank you heartbreak Thank you disappointment
You make my heart grow
Thank you rejection Thank you failure Thank you frustration
Thank you creativity Thank you inspiration Thank you serendipity
You make my path clear
Thank you self-care Thank you tenderness Thank you energy
Thank you complexes Thank you fatigue Thank you pain
You make my body heard
Thank you doubt Thank you blindness Thank you abandonment
Thank you spirit Thank you guidance Thank you Truth
You make my soul fly
This post is part of the Flying Lessons Blog Circle. For an inspiring journey into gratitude, I invite you to follow the circle by visiting the next blogs:
(Laly Mille) > Debbie howard of Texasdaisey Creations > Robin Heim of Seasons of Grace & Wisdom > Lulu Bea > Amy Riddle of On A Journey Back To Her Wings > Sandy Mair Art > Michelle Hill Designs > Vickie Martin > Karrlin Bain > Kathie Gadd of Lavender Chalet > Lisa R. Ullrich of Heart Soul Create > Monica Martin of The Artsy Girl Studio > Nancy Lennon of Rainbow Light Angel > Ginger Deverell of Red Pear Creative
And you, what are you grateful for today?
NB: This blog circle is an international group so it’s a bit of a challenge to coordinate the different time zones. If you find that the circle is not yet complete, please check back later today!
Once upon a time guest series
The joy of creating
As promised, here comes a new "Once upon a time" guest post! Maybe you are discovering this blog series for the first time? Well, if you are in love with art and inspiring stories, if you enjoy discovering new artists and sharing their creative journeys, you've come to the right place. In this safe and cosy space, creative souls come and share one favorite piece of art, its story and the special meaning it holds for them. Through their art, they let us catch a glimpse of their heart. And today I am super thrilled to welcome an artist who is very special to me, whose spirit and creative journey I feel very much connected to, a creative sister from across the ocean, the lovely Ginger Deverell...
Once upon a time… she felt peaceful
"This painting, titled Breathe, marks a time of huge personal and artistic transformation for me. After many years of art being on the sidelines of my life, it was the first open acknowledgement of who I am, and of my dreams. I put all my loves together in a way that felt true to me (art-making, paper, emotions, words, color, texture, pattern, layering, femininity). I learned that creating peaceful, soft, yet intense art is what I love to do.
The process was very intuitive. I took an online mixed-media class by Danita Art to experiment with new techniques, and the rest just poured out of me. The ease I felt was new to me. I knew right away that I had stumbled upon something that would change my life. And it did. It is. One of the most beautiful things to emerge was my love for the feminine parts of myself. Allowing myself to indulge in softer colours, purer emotions, and more feminine elements—this has set me free.
I love to paint faces. Always faces. The emotions, truths, strength, tenderness and vulnerability we experience, it’s all there in our faces, and it’s what connects us, lets us feel and belong. It’s what it means to be human. Colour, pattern, texture and typography are four favourite elements of mine. Tumbling type, swirling letters and carefully chosen words make my heart flutter and leap. Type never made it into this piece interestingly enough. It was quietly complete before I ever got to layering on the text I intended for it:
The small moments of tranquility and vulnerability are the most real and meaningful in life.
My colour palettes range from vintage tones of turquoise and sea foam green to creamy off-whites, peachy oranges, fresh farm greens and chartreuse, rich coffee browns, striking blacks, and of course pinks—both soft and hot pinks, especially when combined with orange.
I have a passion for paper—using paper in my art, designing patterned and coloured papers, running my fingers over the textures of papers. It’s a dream of mine to have my art featured on paper goods—giftwrap, cards, journals, stationery products and so on. I love mixing my own paint colours, using heavy-bodied and soft-bodied acrylics. And carving my own stamps has become a new creative joy of mine, from sketchbook scribbles to finished stamp. And of course gel mediums. They have transformed how I create.
I grew so much in those weeks of working on this piece, as a person, a woman, an artist. I found a new gentler strength, a soft femininity. I felt peaceful for the first time in my life.
I could breathe."
Living in Vancouver, Canada, Ginger Deverell is a mixed-media artist and designer who paints for beauty and healing. She feels there is such power in beauty, in growing, in being and knowing yourself. Creating is her way of processing her experience in this world, a journey of self-discovery. She expresses this in her art with the hope that others will use it as a mirror to see and celebrate their own beauty and truths. Ginger is also the talented creator of Red Pear Creative, a boutique art and design company producing exquisitely simple designs coupled with eclectic and colourful art.
More Guest Artists:
Blooming true: first painting complete..
Happy monday everyone! Today's a bank holiday here in France and I've been making the most of it to finish the first of my three paintings from "Bloom True", Flora Bowley's class (read my other posts about the course here). It was actually canvas 2, for those who've followed the previous episodes...
This painting has been the most laborious one in its early stages, a bit dull, as if I were resisting letting color in. It's been through many "awkward teenager phases" before turning into a renewed love story with color!
It has been about opening up, trusting the process and making it my own, blending together Flora's teachings and my favorite techniques and tools (it seems I just can't give up collage and writing all over my canvases...)
Below is a little look back at most of the phases the painting has been going through. Now it's "almost" complete... but it still needs a title!
And that's where I need you guys: help! Tell me in the comments how the painting makes you feel, what you see or how it inspires you... and if a title comes to mind, please share it! I would love to read your ideas and pick a title from them. And as a thank you, the person who comes up with my favorite title wins a signed print!
I'm looking forward to reading your ideas!
Have a beautiful and inspired week!
And the finished painting:
Blooming true: 3 weeks already and 3 paintings in progress...
Hi there lovely people! Week 3 of Flora Bowley's Bloom True class is over already and it's time for a little check-in!
I have been busy on the jobsearch/training front so haven't been painting as much as I would have wished these past 2 weeks. And there is so much amazing content in Flora's class that I'll need to go back to as soon as I can. But anyway, this intuitive painting process is taking me to new territory and I thought I'd share a few pictures with you!
For now it's all about layers: alternating warm and cool colors, black and white, and translucent paints. And above all it's about working on the inner plane to "dance the paint": yoga, meditation, music, movement, intuition and letting go...
Here is the evolution of the first two canvases I was showing you in my previous post, plus a third one I've started on top of a collage background from last summer. As I was saying, my painting time was limited and as I still wanted to keep up with the course as much as possible, I didn't do as many layers of each type as was suggested, but I've still been having lots of fun!
Remember that solar energy whirlwind from the first layer?
Here it is after a layer of cool colors:
And then more warm colors:
Black layer: a face emerged! (I could actually see 2 faces back to back in the white layer and chose to go with this one)
Transparent colors layer, then more white, warm and cool colors. This is where I'm at now:
This was the first, warm layer:
More warm and cool layers:
Black layer (a bit Xmas-y I guess...):
More colored layers and a bit of collage, that's it for now!
(on top of a collage background started earlier this year)
That's it for now... I hope I'll get the chance to paint a little more next week... For those of you who would like to find out more, below is video presenting the course and links to Flora's ecourse and her book.
See you soon!
... and a link to Flora's book:
Once upon a time guest series
a path scattered with promises
Friends, it's been a few weeks now since the summer break is over and the kids are back to school, and I am amazed at how truly at home I feel in the studio now. I have moved into this new space, Body and Soul, and every morning I walk up the stairs with my cup of tea, still hot because I just can't wait for breakfast to be over to get up there... I'm back on track! Painting away, experimenting, letting things happen and evolve and surprise me, and having fun with it all! Talking of experimenting, you're in for a treat today because it's time for a new Once upon a time guest post! Meet the lovely Sara Naumann and her Serendipity story, where she shares her thoughts and a few creative experiments. And if you feel like trying out new techniques and letting your inspiration run wild, I invite you to stop by her website and Youtube channel: Sara has some very cool art tutorials in store for you!
Once upon a time, a woman walked along a slender green path scattered with promises…
" I've always heard that when you find a feather, it means you're on the right path. It can also mean you need to lighten up a little and trust that things will be all right (this is a big one for me!).
At the time my toddler daughter found those feathers, our family was going through a lot of change with an international move from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Sopot, Poland. Although we're American, we felt very much at home in Amsterdam. We'd lived there 5 years, and our daughter was born there. Making the decision to move was incredibly difficult (we changed our minds every day, it seemed, for months), although it was ultimately the right one.
Moving anywhere can be a challenge, yet I also love the opportunity to start fresh...to discover new things that are wonderful and amazing and to add to your list of favorites. You make mistakes, you miscommunicate, you get lost, you get frustrated, you are helped by strangers and you discover things you adore. This is true for any big life change, not just moving... I found myself in the same situation after becoming a mother!
So sometimes it's comforting when a series of unrelated items come together in an unexpected and serendipitous way in an art piece. I love the word « serendipity », its meaning and the way it sounds when you say it. It really fits this piece because the assembly was a fun sort of accidental combination!
For example, I played with several paint colors for the background, didn’t like it, and put it in my “for later” box. It wasn’t right for the project I was doing at the time but three months later it found its purpose in this piece!
The tape is an experiment I did with alcohol ink and a “tape lifting” method that also ended up in the “for later” box.
Then one day my babysitter returned from a walk with my daughter and they had found these beautiful feathers. I knew I wanted to use them in an art piece, and it was exciting because I had never worked with feathers before! I picked through my “for later” box and found just the right elements to go with them.
The symbolism of the feathers was very comforting for our family at this challenging time. I really believe our paths are filled with possibilities and promises. Sometimes you know exactly where to go on the path, other times you have to pay more attention to the way the path leads. And sometimes, the promises come in disguise. But if we just march along, we can miss all of the amazing things life has for us right this very second!
What about you? How do you deal with change? Do you have any serendipity stories? Share your thoughts in the comments!
More Guest Artists:
Trust your wings and Rise...
There's nothing like a bit of Disney magic... Tonight I watched a little bit of Dumbo with the kids. I hadn't watched it in years and fell in love with this scene at the end where the chubby, clumsy little elephant loses his (fake) magical feather that was supposed to give him the power to fly.
He panicks and falls and falls and falls but at the last second, cheered on by his little friend the mouse, he finally finds the strength and faith to trust his own wings, and gracefully rises. He becomes who he was always meant to be.
Well, that's what this little painting is all about: trust your wings, take off and rise higher than you ever thought you could... (+ an elephant's weight of gratitude to all the little mice... LOVE you guys).
(this painting is dedicated to Yves, his family and all who loved him. Peace and Hope)
Once upon a time guest series
She dreams in color
You guys I am SO excited about this! Ever since I started blogging, a little over a year ago, I've wanted this to be about sharing. I was a bit shy at the beginning, didn't always feel comfortable showing my art, not to mention talking about myself, the "artist". At the beginning it was hard for me to dare call myself that. But thanks to YOUR wonderful support and encouragement, I have been walking this creative path towards my dream day after day with more confidence.
A year ago exactly, I was doing my very first art show, making it real for the very first time. And one of the things I have realized this past year, is that the art and the artist are one. That when you paint, sculpt, dance, write or sing from your heart and soul, from a place of authenticity, then you are part of the art that is created, and it is part of who you are. So today I want to take it all one step further, not just sharing my art, my journey, but those of other creative souls. That's why I am starting a new "artist profile" series here on the blog!
But we're not going to do this in the regular interview style. Instead, we are going to focus on one art piece, one that has a particular significance to an artist, a special story, and let the voice of the artist be heard through the tale. The series is called "Once upon a time", and I am truly honored to have a wonderful artist and friend open it today: meet Shelly Penko!
Enjoy the story and we will both be delighted to read your comments!
Once upon a time, there was a dreamer.
When I began this piece, I didn’t feel like painting. Life was feeling bleak and dark and scary. Sometimes big endings feel that way. I was afraid there was only sadness within me, so I decided it would be okay to paint the sadness, or whatever came up. I gave myself permission.
This painting was intuitive, begun without a plan, no final product in mind, no idea what the subject would be. I painted colors and marks with detached abandon, just making marks and enjoying the colors and movement of the paint. I was squirting water, watching the paint drip, making marks. The colored ovals drew me in, so I made more of them, painting directly with fingers rather than a brush. The swallow appeared next, swooping in as swallows do.
Swallows nested on my front porch a few summers ago and impressed me with their teamwork and ingenuity. When the young hatched, several adults worked tirelessly to feed the brood. The babies grew until it was a marvel that they all fit in the nest…becoming sleek and beautiful. For several days, the juveniles fearlessly practiced acrobatic flying under the watchful eyes of the adults lined up on the edge of my roof. Then one day they left the nest for good to make their way in the world. The swallows made an impression on me with their dedication, community, grace, and courage. When they showed up in this painting, I realized they had become a sort of talisman for me.
The face of the woman appeared next. It was a dark face, which was unusual for me. I’m usually all about contrast and light. This face seemed shrouded. I let her be. More flowers, more color and glowing shapes followed. As the painting evolved, I realized she was dreaming…and her dreams were bright and colorful and happy.
It reminded me that when darkness is all we see, a light still burns inside of us. For me, that light is creating. From the time I was a little girl, I always wanted to paint or draw or decorate anything I could get my hands on. It’s a part of me. A part I had shoved aside all too often to take care of “more important” things. This painting reminded me to dream big and to dream in color. It also reminded me that I don’t have to do it all alone. I can have a community. I’ve done a lot of paintings since I completed this one, but this one marks the beginning of my journey back to myself; the woman who is part of a community of like-minded souls, the woman who is a dreamer and a creator. Now that I’ve found her, I’ll never shush her again. “She Dreams in Color” wasn’t about endings after all, it was about beginnings.
Shelly Penko isa contemporary artist, living and working in Austin, Texas. Shelly likes to use beautiful colors and soulful imagery to reflect her joy in the simple beauty of life, family and friendship.
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What I've been up to... art and announcements!
Hi friends! There has been much going on lately! So here is a visual peek at what I've been doing lately (although I won't be including pics of my stay-at-home-with-sick-daughter days...) and a few announcements!
First announcement: I am so proud and excited to be a contributing artist to this beautiful book, which will be published next October! And it's already available for preorder from Amazon! For those of you still wondering what mixed media really is all about, this should be an excellent place to start!
Below is an affiliate link, which means that if you purchase the book from my blog, I get a little gift certificate to buy more art supplies! Thank you for supporting my creative dream!
My mom came over on Monday so we could try our Gelli Arts printing plates together. What a fun day! It is such a blessing to be able to share our passion. If any of you have creative parents and have never tried creating alongside each other, I really encourage you to try it! It's a great way to (re)connect, share "a-ha" moments and see our parents in a different light. When my mom made her first sheet of marble paper, she screamed in delight and I got a glimpse of the little girl in her... priceless!
I've been working on 2 paintings lately, one of which was pretty much stuck last January but is now starting to unfold:
The other one is a commission for some friends and the theme is travel and old trains. Why you ask? Well, their guest room has this incredible wooden floor made of old train wagon planks, in rich brown and red tones... Look how gorgeous it is:
And here is what the (almost finished) painting has been going through. There was a moment when I thought it was finished, but something was missing, still is actually. Since then I rotated the canvas and erased the black letters, it's coming together... patience...
On Sunday night, out of the blue a new assemblage "had" to come out. Although it might seem all nice and cute with its Little red riding hood pictures and vintage look, that one was hard. It pushed and pulled me until I unearthed some difficult memories and experiences and faced them. It's going to be part of the "winged keys" series, but I'm not yet sure it's going to have a key at all, maybe just a key hole. I don't know, we'll see how it evolves. What I do know is that its title is "Innocent".
So lots of work in progress! The spring break starts this Friday here, and we're going to Brittany. I probably won't have any internet for a week, but please please please leave me lots of comments, I'll read them when I get back!
And second announcement: next month you're in for a treat! I'll be starting a new blog series that will introduce you to some gorgeous art, amazing artists and beautiful stories! It will be called "Once upon a time..."
♥ Thank you each for your continuing support and kindness ♥
♥ Have an inspired week-end and week! ♥
New blooms! a sister painting...
The painting we did together in the "step by step" project has a little sister! I still haven't found a name for these newborn lovelies, but here they are anyway!
The new painting:
The 2 paintings together: I'm thinking I should sell them as a set, don't you think?
And I even had a little fun putting them side by side in a "virtual room"! They need a home now...
Have a beautiful week!
Let's bloom! step by step painting (part 2) "How to" let art come to life
Well everyone, first I want to thank all those of you who have been following my "work in progress" on facebook. Your response has been amazing and it really was like you were by my side while I painted! Thank you for your support and for making it so much fun!
Now, today is the 3rd Thursday of the month, which means it's Blog Circle time! And guess what this month's theme is? "How to..."! Talk about synchronicity. I think several of the Circle ladies are planning to talk about "how to" find inspiration, how to plant seeds for your creativity and your life, how to bloom! So as I share with you my finished "blooming" painting and the 2nd part of the process, we'll talk about that too, and I'll show you a little video!
But first, here is the newborn painting! It hasn't got a name yet and I think it's waiting for all of you fairy godmothers/fathers to find it, so please leave your suggestions in the comments!
So, "how to" go from the white canvas to this? I've shared the techniques on my facebook page (and you'll find images of all the steps at the end of this post), but if it were for techniques alone, it would never work. They're the visible part of the iceberg. And here is the very important "invisible" stuff :
- Feeling safe: to me this means that the blank canvas must go from intimidating white desert to fun familiar playground. In this painting it translated as putting some colors that I already like on the canvas, by randomly applying the left-over paint from my previous painting. And then writing whatever positive words came to mind all over the canvas as encouragement! And by using photos of real roses as guidelines so I don't have to worry about "how do I paint a rose???"
- Playing: when I paint, I go back to my childhood self, to this little girl who likes to play and believes in magic, who dares to just have fun, losing herself in the moment. Randomly sprinkling color, spraying water, moving the canvas, this is all so much fun! A little bit of this, a little bit of that, never over-thinking it... And this time it was also so much fun to have you all as playmates!
- Trusting and daring: by now I know that it's not all in my hands, that our art, just like a child, doesn't "belong" to us. It is born from us, we are the vessel through which it comes to life, we give it the best we've got, but eventually it has a life of its own, a place in the world that is not ours to "control", a purpose that we may never fully grasp. And once we accept this, what a relief! I like these words from Alanis Morissette : it's "the best platform from which to jump beyond myself" Yes it is! This sense of trust allows us to let go and dare! In this painting it translated as choosing a large canvas, writing intuitively all over the almost-finished painting with white-out, loading a brayer with white paint and covering many of the flowers even though I liked how they looked, blowing droplets of black India ink... And of course the scariest part was to share the process "live" while having no idea how it would end up! But scary + exciting = good!
So, here is a little video showing you the evolution of the painting, coming to life, from start to finish!
And then you can head over to fellow artist Jean Wagner's beautiful blog and read her "how to" on happiness!
Have a lovely blooming day!
I'm looking forward to reading your feedback and title suggestions in the comments!
Let's bloom! a step by step painting project with roses (part 1)
Hey beautiful people! As some of you know, I've started another "step by step" painting project on my facebook page! Twice a day I post pictures of a painting in progress, explain what I'm doing and answer your questions in the comments...What an adventure! OK, I am a few steps ahead of you, but it's still pretty scary and exciting at the same time (the best kind of scary then!). The project started earlier this week and we're going to finish it by the end of next week (yes we are!). So in the meantime, here is a little check-in on what we have done so far (with some extra pictures...)
Here is what we've got so far:
And how we got there:
Bloom with JOY! A new floral painting
Here is the first completed painting in the floral series I'm working on! I love how joyful and alive everything is in spring, so I've called the painting, very simply, "Joy!" I'm pretty much in love with that one actually... And if you want to see this painting's big sister come to life, check out my facebook page! I've started a "work in progress" project there last Saturday, which means that every day I'm posting pictures of the process and you get to ask me everything you want to know in the comments! I'd love for you to join me on this adventure!
And don't forget to leave a comment on my previous post to enter my very first giveaway! Tell us your favorite quote about love, dreams or nature and you'll get a chance to win a lovely surprise package full of homemade, vintage and artsy goodness (no, I'm not telling!!!)
Have a very JOYful week!
A few close-ups...
Floral frenzy! Painting my way into spring
Hi guys! It's been a while! The kids are back to school after a 2 weeks holiday, and it feels like spring already!
Yesterday was one of those wonderful "new beginnings" kind of days. It was monday and, although I do get Garfield's point, I really love mondays, the sense of a brand new week full of new possibilities... The sky was bright blue and the air was warm for the first time of the year, and as I was at the playground with the kids after school, a huge gathering of cranes came circling above us before flying off to a nearby lake. It was such a magical sight!
It all really felt like springtime, which put me in a very "floral frenzy" mood. So I thought I'd share some of the fun with you!
Here is what my kitchen table looks like in full "artist studio" mode! I started 2 new floral paintings:
So tell me, do you get "flower fever" too?