painting

She comes to life

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!

Gentle heart, Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille
Gentle heart, Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille

First, a peek at my portrait toolkit!

portrait toolkit
portrait toolkit

And then,  it all starts like this...

Steps 1 & 2
Steps 1 & 2

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.

Steps 3 & 4
Steps 3 & 4

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...

Steps 5 & 6
Steps 5 & 6

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...

Steps 7, 8 & 9
Steps 7, 8 & 9

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: final version!
Step 10: final version!

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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0AXpk4cXQM

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

Busy autumn

Catching up... it's a busy autumn!

Hi everyone! I have so much catching up to do! A magazine publication, stuff happening on Facebook, lovely greeting cards in the shop and an art show coming up! So here we go:

First: I am so excited to have an article in the Fall issue of Somerset Apprentice! Featuring my mixed media painting "Rise" with stepped out instructions. A big THANK YOU to the editor Jana Holstein!

And... greetings! I have restocked my Etsy shop  with new, beautiful greeting cards, ready to carry your love around the world or simply add a soulful touch to your home or your studio: they loooove to get framed! So do the new art prints  I have prepared just for you: they are home printed, archival quality and signed by yours truly. NB: About the greeting cards: quantities are (very) limited so make sure to grab your favorites now   for the holidays!

fragile elusion

fragile elusion

ladies x2 cards

ladies x2 cards

Also, I am sharing a work in progress (a portrait!) on my Facebook page these days, so come on over and join the fun! And I'm answering your questions all along...

painting 1WM
painting 1WM

And finally... an ART SHOW! I have the great pleasure of exhibiting my work alongside sculptor Jacques Cancre next month in France, at the Pavillon Heller in Ballan Miré (a beauuuutiful little venue). If you happen to be visiting the Loire Valley, please stop by! The opening is on Saturday 15th at 6:30 pm. Mark it on your Facebook calendar HERE!

I think that's it for now... I hope these will all be opportunities for you to get inspired and add more art into your life!

Light & love ♥

Inner truth

Inner truth... a new painting

These days are days of transition.

Inner truth - Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille
Inner truth - Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille

Letting go of what needs to go.

Inner truth - Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille
Inner truth - Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille

Opening up the gates and letting new energy flow.

Days of introspection.

Inner truth - Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille
Inner truth - Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille

Turning inside and re-connecting to inner truth.

Inner truth - Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille
Inner truth - Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille

On trust and not doing it all

On trust, welcoming the unexpected and NOT doing it all...

Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper

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.

Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper
Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper

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.

Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper
Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper

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.

You belong, Life Book 2014, page 1, warm up exercise, © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper
You belong, Life Book 2014, page 1, warm up exercise, © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper

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.

Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper
Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper

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!

You belong, Life Book 2014, page 1, warm up exercise, © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper
You belong, Life Book 2014, page 1, warm up exercise, © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper
Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper
Trust, Life Book 2014, page 2 (Inner artist guardian lesson) © Laly Mille, mixed media on watercolor paper

Studio tour!

Studio tour!

studio tour 5

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).

My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com

The room is rather long and narrow. The painting area is on the left...

My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com

... and the reading / blogging / printing / sitting /musing / washing area is on the right:

My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com

In between is the music area with my husband's piano, so he can play while I paint...

My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com

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.

My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com

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 creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com

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!

My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com

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!

My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com
My creative space! Come visit my artist studio - Laly Mille, mixed media artist, studio tour, www.lalymille.com

 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...

Pam K. Varacek: healing waves

Once upon a time

Pam K. Varacek

healing waves

 

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."

Pam's creative space

Pam's creative space


Pamela K. Varacek is a native of Long Island, New York, where her love for the beach, ocean and Great South Bay has been a major source of inspiration for her.


More guest artists:

The Wishing Tree

Wishing tree... another painting from the Bloom True class

Hi friends! I'm adjusting to this new life now that I'm a "student" again. I'm going to school one week a month and the rest of the time I'm an intern at a local culture and youth center. Fortunately, my schedule allows me to have some mornings off so I can keep painting, yay! Of course I have less time for social networking and blogging. I have decided to stop updating my Google+ page for now, and even my facebook page might get lost in limbo from time to time, but I'm still here and more than ever appreciate your comments and support.

The Wishing Tree, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
The Wishing Tree, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

It is a time for new projects, new dreams, new wishes, sending positive intentions into the Universe for this new life, this creative life that is slowly taking shape.

The Wishing Tree, detail, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
The Wishing Tree, detail, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

These past few weeks, dreams have grown onto the canvas, hopeful thoughts have revealed themselves in every color of the rainbow, layer after layer. And the tree that had started to emerge on this quiet riverside, has been whispering in the wind: "Make a wish..."

The Wishing Tree, detail, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
The Wishing Tree, detail, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

This is my second canvas started in Flora Bowley's Bloom True e-course. At the end of the post you'll find a summary of the different stages it has been through: the first layers, done in Flora's class following her techniques, have given the painting it's direction. Then, once the tree had revealed itself, I let it bloom in my own style.

The Wishing Tree, detail, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
The Wishing Tree, detail, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

Now, I'm closing my eyes and blowing wishes into its branches, of abundance, health and love for each and every one of you...

And you, what are you wishing for? Let us know in the comments!

The Wishing Tree, evolution from Bloom True, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
The Wishing Tree, evolution from Bloom True, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

Ginger Deverell: the joy of creating

Once upon a time guest series

Ginger Deverell

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.

Ginger face collage

Ginger face collage

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.

Ginger's studio

Ginger's studio

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:

Big news + we have a winner!

Big news + we have a winner!

Thank you so so much everyone for coming up with so many awesome names for last week's painting (my first completed canvas from Flora Bowley's Bloom True course)!! And above all thank you for all the energy, the enthusiasm and the warmth of your comments here and on facebook, you guys rock! But before I tell you the title I have chosen among your many inspired suggestions, I've got news...

...I'm going back to school!

Art boots
Art boots

Last week I just started a 16 months program to train as a professional cultural activities leader (I'm not sure if that's the right way to put it in English, it's a typically French degree) Basically it's at crossroads between art workshops facilitator and community service, something like that. So, one week per month I'll be going to class, and the other weeks I'll be working (and learning!) at a youth and cultural center near where I live. It's going to be a big change in our family's daily lives, and in my creative life as well. My priority, in my spare time, will be to focus on my art, but I'll keep posting here as often as I can. And I'll definitely be blogging about this new project! + for more frequent updates on my journey, you'll find me, as always, on my facebook page (and by the way, you don't have to have a facebook account to view it). I look forward to sharing this new adventure with you!

Firelight, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Firelight, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

So now, the title! First, here are all your wonderful suggestions that I've collected, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have and, who knows, you might feel inspired to borrow a title for one of YOUR paintings! I do have a few favorites that I'll surely be using in the future...

Dream Bubbles... Dream Visions... Creative Dreams... Celebration... Release... Uplifting...

Tangerine lotus dreams... Celebrate... Heart Song... Revelation... The Magic Hour...

Festive Baubles... Festive Balloons... Creative Visions... Coloured Dreams... Dreaming in Colour...

Christmas Lights... Montgolfières... Open your eyes and Look to the Heavens...

Open your eyes and see with your heart... Open your eyes to the colors of your life...

Sending balls of Light into the world... Rebirth... Love rising... Floating in the light...

Pink garden & light... Come Into the Light... Ascending Light... Wonders of Light...

Illumination... Autumn Light... Winter Light... Floating on Air... Soul on fire... and...

Firelight

Firelight, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Firelight, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

Thank you Dawn Rae for this beautiful title! It has infused the painting with a new energy and has inspired me to make a few changes, adding even more movement and light to it! *** GRATEFUL*** (I'll be sending you your print, as promised, as soon as it stops raining and I can get a better quality picture outside...)

Talking of giving thanks, stay tuned for a new "blog circle" post on Gratitude next Thursday! And I also have 2 new "Once upon a time" guest posts almost ready. I can't wait to introduce you to these 2 wonderful women and artists very soon!

Light your soul on fire today!

Firelight, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Firelight, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

Blooming true: first painting complete...

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!

blooming true canvas 2 complete © 2013 Laly Mille
blooming true canvas 2 complete © 2013 Laly Mille

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...)

blooming true canvas 2 complete © 2013 Laly Mille
blooming true canvas 2 complete © 2013 Laly Mille

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!

canvas 2 evolution

canvas 2 evolution

And the finished painting:

blooming true canvas 2 complete © 2013 Laly Mille
blooming true canvas 2 complete © 2013 Laly Mille

Winter songs : two new paintings for the cold days...

Winter songs : two new paintings for the cold days...

Brrr... it's been getting really chilly here in the past few days. Samhain / Halloween, the threshold of the cold season, is just behind us, and today we've taken the winter coats, mitains and scarves out of the closet. And Xmas preparations have already started to make their way into our conversations. Winter is on its way... So today I would like to share two "twin" paintings that I completed a while ago - some of you might remember glimpses shared on my Facebook page. I guess they were waiting for the right season to show themselves on the blog... They are inspired by my walks in the woods, one of my all-time favorite things. I call them "Winter Songs".

Winter Song 1, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Winter Song 1, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

Do you know that feeling when you take a walk into the woods? Just walking, the crunchy sound of dry leaves under your feet. No goal, no destination. The white sky showing through the interlacing branches above your head. Just walking...

Winter Song 2, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Winter Song 2, mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

And then a song... Tiny fragments of a melody at first, making their way to the surface of your mind. Humming...

Winter Song 1 (detail) mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Winter Song 1 (detail) mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

 Then a few words remembered. Whispering... There's no one here, only the birds chiming in, only you and the Universe. Smiling...

Winter Song 2 (detail) mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Winter Song 2 (detail) mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

 And the song wants to be sung. And the words want to be spoken. You can feel their warmth in your throat, in your belly, in your feet as you start kicking the dry leaves. Playfully...

Winter Song 2 (detail) mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Winter Song 2 (detail) mixed media painting on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

And then another song weaves itself into the first, and little by little the well-known words make way for your own. A prayer, a poem, a conversation. Harmony...

Here in this sacred refuge, you are known, you are heard, you are loved.

Winter Song 1 & 2, mixed media paintings on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille
Winter Song 1 & 2, mixed media paintings on canvas © 2013 Laly Mille

Blooming true: 3 weeks already and 3 paintings in progress...

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!

Canvas 1

Remember that solar energy whirlwind from the first layer?

Here it is after a layer of cool colors:

 And then more warm colors:

White layer:

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:

Canvas 2

This was the first, warm layer:

Cool layer:

More warm and cool layers:

White layer:

Black layer (a bit Xmas-y I guess...):

More colored layers and a bit of collage, that's it for now!

Canvas 3

(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:

Blooming true! First week in Flora Bowley's class

Blooming true! First week in Flora Bowley's class

Hi guys! This month I'm taking Flora Bowley's "Bloom True" e-course! Week one is almost over so I thought I'd share a bit of the experience with you!

First, what is this all about? It's about painting (+bonus: living) more intuitively. Flora uses only acrylics but I can already see how what she teaches us would work really well with collage, inks and lots of mixed media techniques. I had loved her book "Brave Intuitive Painting" last year and was ready to learn more. Plus so many friends had been delighted with the course that I was really intrigued and felt it was time to see for myself! Here is a lovely little video showing you what this is all about...

... and a link to Flora's book:

Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, creative space
Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, creative space
Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, creative space
Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, creative space

First layer: working with warm colors, moving the paint around, spraying and dripping. At the end I felt like adding this big heart because it is all about painting from the heart. It will probably end up completely covered by the next layers but I'll know it's here and that's what counts!

Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, layer 1
Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, layer 1

 And then the second canvas: blindfolded finger-painting while dancing to music, woohoo! That felt awesome. And I was SO suprised at the firy energy whirlwind that just "came out"! I'm not often that bold with color and it really gives me an idea of all that is hiding inside of me and wants to come out... Talk about blooming! The canvas has been sitting on my easel since last Tuesday and I can't help smiling every time I enter the room...

Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, layer 1
Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, layer 1

We have done many more inspiring things this week like setting our intentions for the course, what we want it it be for us, how we want to feel:

Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, intentions
Laly Mille Bloom True with Flora Bowley, intentions

We have also created a deck of affirming words. I didn't know where to begin with that project and was starting to procrastinate (this is one of my biggest issues) but I surrendered to my intuition and this little voice told me to just grab a pen and write. I filled up the page really fast, no thinking, one word leading to the next very organically and here they are! (I just noticed LOVE is in there twice, well, I guess I know my priorities...)

list of words
list of words

The "hard part" being over, I could spend the rest of my time just having fun playing with paper, scissors and color!

And I'll leave you with this "self-love self-portrait" that Flora encouraged us to take yesterday. I think this girl is having fun and blooming true!

Have a lovely, blooming week everyone!!!

Art show!

Art show!

Hi there! Just to let you know that 2 of my roses paintings (which you can check out HERE and HERE) are currently exhibited at the "Salon Artistique de Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine", which is open until Oct.6th. If you're around, come see them for real! I've been tho the show's opening last Saturday and it is so beautiful, with lots of truly amazing art.

Entrance is free and the show is open 3pm - 6pm every day. Sundays and Fridays 10am-12pm / 2:30pm-6:30pm

Address: Place du Maréchal Leclerc, 37800 Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine (France)

Web page: http://www.sainte-maure-de-touraine.fr/editorial/18/salon-de-peinture-et-sculpture.html

And tomorrow I'll have the great pleasure of sharing with you a new "Once upon a time..." post! Guest artist Sara Naumann shares a beautiful mixed media piece and a story of Serendipity...

See you tomorrow!

Trust your wings and Rise...

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.

Rise, mixed media painting on canvas, 2013 Laly Mille
Rise, mixed media painting on canvas, 2013 Laly Mille

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)

Altered book holiday project #1

Altered book holiday project #1

It's my second day in my "nest" and ideas are flowing! I thought I'd share a few pictures of what I have started today. On Sunday I'm leaving for 3 weeks of vacation but I'm determined that it won't be 3 more weeks without making any art! So I came up with a project that should be easy to carry around and will allow me to use the many "treasures" I'm sure to collect in the country and at the sea side.

For a long time I've wanted to try my hand at an altered book. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's an artist book made from a regular book, "upcycled" as an art piece! I love books and I love this idea of giving them a new life. I started a Pinterest board about book art, check it out to see some cool examples!

So, what have we got here? A sturdy children's book that my kids are too old for now (they're 6 and 4).

altered book 1
altered book 1

What I like about it is tabbed, both at the top and on the side. Pretty cool!

altered book 2
altered book 2

The first thing I've done is to peel of the printed layers of all the pages. They came off super easily:

altered book 3
altered book 3

Here is the "naked" book:

altered book 4
altered book 4

Then I've coated every page in gesso. The raw paper soaks up the moisture really fast, so I watered it down a bit. This way it was easier to apply. After coating each double page, I gave it a quick blow with the heat gun to speed up the drying.

altered book 5
altered book 5

And here is my brand new blank book, almost dry!

altered book 6
altered book 6

Next I plan on starting some backgrounds so I won't have to start from scratch every time I want to work on a page during the holidays, because I won't have that many supplies at hand. I'll keep you posted as I go!

I'm very new to this book art thing so if you've got any resources, ideas or blog posts that you'd like to share, please don't be shy and let us know in the comments! Thank you!

Jessica Brogan: a journey of self-discovery

Once upon a time guest series

Jessica Brogan

a journey of self-discovery

 

Dear friends, I am still up to my knees in dust, plaster and paint as the Nest studio is taking shape!! We're almost done painting the walls, "white canvas" style for now... As promised, I am preparing a post to show you the progress of the project, but in the meantime, I have the great pleasure and honor of bringing you a new "Once upon a time" story... Those of you who are catching up and haven't read the first episode might be wondering what this is all about. Well, it started as an idea for a blog series/artist profile/art showcase project. But as I started receiving your beautiful art and words in my inbox, I soon realized it was much more than that. This project, this space, it is a place where we can share our stories, the ones that are so meaningful to us, that come from such a deep place within our hearts that we have let them flow through our fingers and turned them into art. Creative journeys that have helped us grow and that, hopefully, will inspire others to stretch their wings too...

Today you get to meet a beautiful soul, a passionate traveller and a dear friend of mine: Jessica Brogan. Her story is about coming home, a journey of self-discovery...

 

" Once upon a time, I stayed home with my baby boy Liam, attempting to be content as a stay-at-home mom. My marriage wasn't making me very happy, but I was trying to ignore it, focusing on the day-to-day needs of my little one. However, over those two years, I felt an ache growing inside of me, not all that different from the ache I felt to have a child. I felt something missing, and growing within me at the same time. One of the things that "no one tells you" is that sometimes, the most amazing addition to your life - the birth of a child - can force into the light any unhappinesses that you have so far been adept at ignoring. Indeed, this is what I experienced when I brought home my baby boy, Liam, although it did not happen right away. It took two years for this ache to grow into a roaring growl to rediscover my own identity.

 

Just before Liam turned two years old, my mom, Liam and I flew to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. We traveled there with a specific intention: to bathe Liam in the ocean, at a specific beach, and say prayers to the spirits we believe in there. A baptism of sorts, echoing the ritual my mom had performed for me when I was that very age, while we lived on the island.

During the visit, I was flooded with memories of myself as a child there. I was also enchanted by the colors, scents and the abundance of inspiration. I realized that this was my home, in my soul, and that it was full of color and joy.  Two things that I was missing gravely in my home life at home. And more importantly, I felt more like myself than I had in years. Full of recognition of my true self, desires and needs, all of which had been laying dormant for far too long.

When I got home from that trip, I wanted a way to hold on to the happiness I'd felt in Hawaii. I couldn't live there, so the next best thing would be to try and recreate the colors and images I'd absorbed. And so, I began to paint.

 

I say "paint," but now, looking back, I realize, I wasn't just painting, I was healing myself. I used colors that reminded me of joy. I chose things intuitively: scraps of calendars, vintage books and dried flowers picked from walks with Liam. The more I painted, the more of my own true self I uncovered, dusted off, and brought into the light.

 

And, correspondingly, my marriage deteriorated further. This may sound sad, but it's not. Painting gave me the window into my true self, and once I saw it, I could no longer ignore the things in my life that were making me unhappy. I called for an end to my marriage, and I continued to paint through every stressful moment, every brush stroke and color laid down encouraging and supporting my true self to come to life.

With this specific painting, I created intuitively, as usual but instead of being a random painting of color, it seemed to become a journal as I created it; almost a vision board of what made me, "me." I included a favorite photograph of myself, to honor the feeling that I recall having in that moment, in a small Spanish coastal town, feeling feminine and free, staring off into the blue Mediterranean.

 

I laid down all the colors that suggest warm, vibrant locales, which make me feel at home. There were nods to my love for travel sprinkled throughout, as well as scraps of text. One of my favorite exercises is to tear out text without looking at it, and then to find phrases once I've glued it down. The phrase I found in this piece was: "You are also yourself, wayfarer." I laughed outloud when I found it: of course! I am a mama, first and foremost, but I am also myself, a travel-loving, paint splattered woman on a journey, of spirit and in travel.

 

Jessica and I would love to read your own thoughts and stories of self-discovery and how creativity has entered your own life... Leave us a comment!


Jessica Brogan is a creative entrepreneur, and guide to women seeking truth in their lives.


MORE GUEST ARTISTS:

Shelly Penko: She dreams in color

Once upon a time guest series

Shelly Penko

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.

Shelly Penko, she dreams in color
Shelly Penko, she dreams in color
 

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  little girl
Shelly little girl

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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