Monday, April 30, 2012

Hello Monday! Hello Experimental!

It was just one of those weeks that I just needed to get in the studio and play with paint, water, and paper. To brush it on and let it flow from one end of the paper to the other and then back again. To let the hues run into each other and drip into puddles. To splash and splatter the colors without any objective in mind. It was just one of those times I was feeling experimental.

See, simple and fun. I'll probably use them in other projects someday, but for now they were a paint in the moment thing. When was the last time you made a mess and just played with paints? It's a great jumping point to learn the feel of watercolor without the pressure to perform. Go on - you've been thinking about trying it out - so get some cheap cardstock paper and a small set of watercolors and let yourself play! Let me know how it turns out! Hope you have a Happy Monday!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Happy Hour: Unplugged

In a little cabin in the woods the loudest sound echoed down the stream valley. Three boys filled with the freedom of exploration and unaware of how far their voices carry, adapted to organic matter as entertainment in a matter of minutes. They had no other choice; this was a world unplugged. These were the longest sun-filled, fresh air days in recent memory and the perfect anecdote for our electronic lives we left behind.
But this little lesson in disconnect was good for the mother’s soul as well. I had no idea how badly I needed to be unplugged. No cell signal, no Facebook, no Pinning, no Netflix or the mindless data stream constantly uploading right to my brain. Nothing to distract me from my own thoughts and living life in the moment. And I didn’t miss it for a second because it wasn’t right there staring me in the face. In fact at the end of the fourth day we were nearly convinced to extend our trip and extend the moratorium on a signal free existence.
But we packed up and headed home and sure enough as soon as our fancy phones received half a bar of reception, we were plugged in once again. I know it’s who we are, or who we have become as a society. I accept the fact that my social skills have been dwindled down to status updates and text messages. I know that if the boys have a choice between xBox and kicking a ball around outside, they will usually choose the former unless restriction have been put in place. And I am fully aware that I have to leave and go to the woods if I want restrictions put in place for myself. But, unfortunately, I see my life’s hours ticking away in the form of virtual data and useless dribble.
I look forward to returning to the cabin one day soon. I have mind to make a regular retreat and to continue the connection with the great outdoors.
To send boys off to explore and get dirty without interference:

To teach a boy to fish…and watch him sit quietly for hours:

To allow dangerous pastimes:

To tackle a mountain of sand? Yes, a mountain of sand:

To cross the river banks on a fallen tree:

To watch a grown man play with food and fire for a good portion of the day:

To listen to the quietness of trees and feel the stillness of the earth:

But until we can find time to fit this in our schedule once again, I will use these memories as a starting point to voluntarily make the choice to unplug.
This is the best week ever because I have been given so many ways to connect in our electronic age and the mind to know when to turn it all off. I can go one more week without a status update, one more week without checking my e-mail twenty times in one day, and one more week without surfing the world wide web mindlessly for pretty pictures instead of making them myself.
So, my dear readers, how will you turn it off for a few hours or a few days and go out and connect with the world? How is this going to be your best week ever?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hello Monday! Hello Studio!

My little hideaway, my thinking place, my creating space….I’m very lucky to have a room to myself. I have finally finished re-organizing and designing the space to reflect my current goals. I’ve boxed up a bunch of supplies I will no longer need and filed away a few old favorites to make way for my brushes and pencils to take center stage. It is no longer a “craft room;” it is officially an art studio. It dawned on me a few months back that as long as I was staring at alphabet stickers and pretty ribbon all the while digging in the closet to find paint and canvas, I would never truly be able to make the transition.  So it’s all out in the open just like my intentions. I am an artist and this is my studio!
A window. Most important. Everything else is mostly IKEA:
 kitchen hanging racks filled with printing ink, color pencils and painting mediums.
Our old kitchen island, bookcases and boxes full of old scrapbook supplies.
And a good selection of books and magazines for inspiration.

I just added the wire and clips to put up new work, what currently inspires me, or quotes.
Also, I love the new little shelf with all my new FW Acrylic Inks. See the clip board
in the corner? That has upcoming events and hopeful shows I would like to enter.

An easle. It was a gift that sat in a box for almost a year before I was
brave enough to use it. For fun I collected some milkglass vases at Goodwill
to hold brushes, paint tubes and other supplies. The window is where all my
color sits - glass bottles found from all over. The rest of the room I try to keep neutral.

I want to point out the old wooden box and compartmented container resting on top of it,
both bought filled with treasures found in Europe.  

I'd be a fool to think I will have this room all to myself. This is where the boys hangout
and make a little art of their own. The closets in the background span the width of the room
and shamefully are pack to the max with all the things I can't part with or believe I will use one day.

The main desk from another angle. Yes it has storage and is full, too.
So is the wire rack to its right. Adhesive, ink, punches, paints, cutting implements, etc.
I am proud to say that the baskets on top now have sketch books and works in progress.

So, what am I’m I really thinking and feeling when I enter this room? First panic. It’s a lot of pressure to walk into a room with the hopes of creating something new and hopefully good. Then I breathe and start cleaning and organizing to relax. Ahhh, good, now I will open my notebooks or sketch book or pick up a reference photo to make the next step in creating something. Sometimes I am lucky and already have a plan in place and can just get to work, but most of the time the ideas get stuck somewhere outside of my studio and I need to drag them back in. But once I’ve set on a project or painting I’m good, until about 20 minutes into it when the boys beckon my attention! But as long as I get in there and inhale a moment of creativity, I feel like I’m still moving forward on that long path. Thank-you for walking with me for a moment and I hope you have a Happy Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Happy Hour: When You Face the Monsters

Beachcomber Collection #1, watercolor on Arches hotpress paper, Kellee Wynne Conrad

The fear and anxiety. The doubt nagging the back of your quiet thoughts. The negative, self-conscience voice of comparison. When you face the challenge head on and don’t back down, then maybe, just maybe you’ll have a chance to see your dreams come true. But if you never try, then answer is always no.
So what are you waiting for? What have you always wanted to do? You don’t have to jump off a cliff, just take a step off the curb and start the long walk. Write the first page, take a class, join the group, put in the time, make your intentions known, share your hard work and then be prepared to be rejected. Then do it all over again.
Face the monsters, face your fears. Risk Everything! It’s the only way to see your dreams come true.
This was the best week ever because I took a risk and submitted my art into a national juried art show. I won’t know if I had even one piece accepted until next month, but I already feel braver and more confident that I can be part of the art world. And I am following my dreams one step at a time.
Tell me, what are you doing to follow your dreams? How will you make this the best week ever?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Happy Hour: Make Your Smile Last

How about a slogan my middle boy made up? He wrote it, I saw it, and I snatched it up right away! Well, I asked for permission to use it on my blog and he just beamed with excitement! Of course he is my happy-go-lucky child and certainly the least temperamental of all of us. Don’t get me wrong, he does have a fiery side, but compared to the whole brood of us redheads…he is mellow. And he smiles a lot because it doesn’t take much to make him happy.
So, there you have it – this week’s theme taken from a true expert , a nine year old boy, is to make your smile last. So, go find something special and hold on to it. Stop and smell the roses. Open the windows and let the sun shine in. Search for the silver lining. Whatever cliché you can afford to use and make your smile last a little longer, I suggest you implement immediately. Because every week is the best week ever and every week we can find a reason to smile. Here are a few more reasons:
·         We finally got lost in the woods. Well, not lost, just out of touch with all electronics for a few days, and it was blissful.
·         Soccer, soccer, soccer. But they are getting so good at it.
·         Girls’ Night Out, with a like-minded friend. We talked until 1am!
·         New stories are coming together and might one day take form as an actual book.
·         Did I mention we spent a lot of time outdoors?
·         My husband sure can cook. Mmmm, campfire griddle biscuits.
·         I have joined the Maryland Federation of Art, which means I will be participating in more local events and maybe submitting art for exhibits soon. (Wow, did I just say that!)
So, tell me, what makes your smile last? What makes this the best week ever?
My middle son is the one with the biggest smile....naturally!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hello Monday! Hello Blossoms!

It's beautiful outside. I am inspired. Happy Monday!
"Cherry Blossoms" 8"x10" Pastel on Wallis sanded paper, Kellee Wynne Conrad