Friday, May 25, 2012

Blog on Hiatus....

This blog is doing a little soul searching for the meaning of life (or blogging) for the next month and hopes to be back soon with better purpose and better content. Please stick around while it is taking some time off and read or re-read a few of its past oldies but goodies that can be found under the writing tab above. And doen't hesitate to join FACEBOOK to keep up on latest news and art from the original Monkey Queen, artist, writer, dreamer, positive thinker, retro-feminist and queen of the house - Kellee Wynne Conrad. Thank you for your support and we'll all be back soon!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Happy Hour: Starts and Stops

It seems my creative life has been a continual cycle of starts and stops. Full of motivation and inspiration one week. Painting, drawing, writing and putting all I’ve got into it. Followed by two weeks of sitting on my ass watching sitcom reruns. Clear vision of what I want and the ability to act on it followed closely by a busy schedule that leaves me with little time or energy to pick up a brush. I haven’t mastered the fine balance of domestic goddess and professional artist. In fact the going and slowing is indicative that I am still stuck somewhere between hobbyist and the desire to go full blown O’Keefe. Is it fear or laziness or simply not knowing how to find the spark at the right time?
I have been ignoring my studio for the last few weeks. I’ve had the desire to (self) learn oil painting for over a year now and a little bit of anxiety creeps over me as I try to find the courage to follow my ideas through. Building the momentum to open a tube of oil paint and learn how to mix colors without making mud. But I took the plunge! After much debate and research over the toxicity I settled on water mixable oil paint to avoid using turpentine or mineral spirits. I have nothing to gauge the water soluble paint by so I can jump in without bias. And I think I love it…
This has been the best week ever because I stopped mindlessly surfing the internet and got something done! Here are a few other reasons this was the best week ever:
·         I went out with the girls for a spontaneous chips and margarita night.
·         Gavin rocked the goalie position in the most thrilling soccer game I have ever watched. You should have seen him dive for that ball!
·         Beautiful, perfect, sunny weather. We’ll be dining Al Fresco again tonight.
·         Summer plans are all scheduled. I think this is going be our busiest summer yet.
·         Did I mention that I finally broke out the oil paints? I even painted a little California coastal scene.
·         Date night is always my favorite night!
So, tell me, what has you starting and stopping and not fully committed to following your dreams yet? What will you do to take the plunge and make it your best week ever?
California Coast practice painting, oil on paper, Kellee Wynne Conrad

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hello Monday! Hello Awards!

I’ve been honored with two blog awards this weekend. No, I wasn’t nominated. There was no big ceremony. No drum roll or big cash prize. But it’s exciting to participate in something that is bigger than myself; it’s the magic of how the world wide web supports itself. Through blogging friends I’ve made over the last year, I have noticed that we can help one another get closer to our goals by supporting each other through active blog participation. So, I am excited to participate in these two blog awards today and pass on the good fortune to other bloggers that I believe produce great content to their readers.
Now that I am participating, here are the rules given for my first award:

The Sunshine Award
·         Thank the giver of the award.
·         Write seven random facts about yourself.
·         Honor ten bloggers with the award.
So thank you  very much Katharina from My Writing Journey
  1. Right now is the happiest I have ever been, so I have no idea why I still get grumpy.
  2. I never color my hair. But last year people kept asking me where my kids got their red hair and I was fed up! So I started using Sun-in to lighted it and bring back the red highlights. No one asks me that question anymore.
  3. I don’t own diamonds, I don’t wear diamonds, I’ve never wanted diamonds. Even when I was young and had no idea where they came from.
  4. My favorite book is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  5. I get easily overwhelmed, so I rarely put more than one or two things on my schedule for the whole week. Except for soccer,  I am always at soccer.
  6. I still don’t own “skinny” jeans and I am very excited to see flares come back to the stores. Maybe I’ll be back in style soon.
  7. My boys give me such a rush to the heart. That magic twittering is still a daily occurrence with all four of them and that is how I know I am the luckiest woman alive. 
New Sunshine Award Recipients (of which I only have 7):
Nora MacPhail at Nora MacPhail - Artist

Tina Mahron at Paintings by Tina Mahron
Erika Bunda at Lancerika
Rukshana Afia at Rukshana Afia's Blog
Ray is Writing at Chaotic Lit

Josh Walden at Real, Vital, Urgent

Mendy Hunter at Mother is a Verb

The Kreativ Award:
·         Thank the giver of the award.
·         Answer the questions and share ten random facts about yourself.
·         Honor seven bloggers with the award.

So I thank Diane Carlisle from Are We There Yet? for honoring me with this award.

My answers and random facts are:
  • What is your favorite song? Sweet Surrender by Sarah McLachlan
  • What is your favorite dessert? rootbeer float
  • What ticks you off? religious hypocrites
  • What do you do when you are upset? I never get upset ;)
  • Which is/was your favorite pet? my dog Echo
  • Which do you prefer black or white? black in the winter, white in the summer        
  • What is your biggest fear? death and disease
  • What is your attitude mostly? every day is a new start, after I’ve had my cup of coffee
  • What is perfection? my children laughing
  • What is your guilty pleasure? Dr. Pepper

  1. I’ve never worn a bikini.
  2. Even when I was in the Army and could run 2 miles in 14 min. 52 secs, do 56 pushups and 84 sit-ups in two minutes each and was in the best physical condition of my life, I still never wore a bikini.
  3. I have never written a fictional story, but I’d like to one day.
  4. I was boy crazy starting in Kindergarten and straight on through High School. My journals are covered in hearts. I wish I had had a better hobby.
  5. Sometimes, I’m a hypochondriac.
  6. I still want to visit India.
  7. My husband and I do not exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Anniversaries, Birthdays, or any other holiday except Christmas. It’s saved us a lot of money and undue pressure over the years.
  8. If I hadn’t joined the military, I’d probably be a California hippie living in a trailer on the side of a mountain still to this day. As romantic as it initially sounds, I made the better choice with a much more fulfilling life.
  9. I want to learn to Kayak. Whitewater, sea, through the Everglades, all of the above…
  10. Thor is my favorite Avengers Super Hero. It should be obvious why I’m attracted to a Viking God.

And the New Kreativ Award Recipients:
Valerie Bishop at Right Here, Right Now
Amy Coose at My Day-to-Day Life
Jennie M at Scrappy Wife, Happy Life

The Elf Queen at Elf Paper

Claire Tet at Adventures in Singapore

Tara LeClaire at taraleclaire

Teka Cochonneau at Teka's Little Blog

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Happy Hour: #PlansForTheSummer

Gettysburg on a Hot Summer Day, pastel on Wallis sanded paper, Kellee Wynne Conrad

Oh to be young and foolish. I was on Twitter, yes I’m tweeting, and I was shamelessly following the trends this morning in a desperate attempt to have something new to say on my blog. Everyone is talking about summer. And when I say everyone, I mean all the youngins without a care in the world or a preschooler to wake them the moment the sun rises. And for some reason the best they can think of is “get drunkkk” and “sleeeeep” or “be thin as a ghost and tan as toast.” They have no idea that they are missing the best years of their lives being half conscious and uninvolved. But, hey, that was me once, too.

If I knew then what I know now…yes, I just said that…but the truth is that I see life more clearly as the years fall behind me. And now summer has a new meaning. It’s a time for family and fresh air and discovering the place where I live. Growing vegetables, cooking outside, and lots and lots of sunscreen! Summer is a time to savor…

And summer is a time to share. Today I am very grateful to a generous friend for making our summer more than we had planned it to be. A gift was given and I feel the best way to repay it is to pay it forward. Instead of making this summer all about “parties at the beach” and “staying up all night fangirling over One Direction,” I think this might be the summer we spend a little time doing something nice for someone else. I challenge you to put it on your summer bucket list as well because you don’t have to wait until the Thanksgiving food drive to start making a difference!

Because I can smell summer in the air and we are making plans, this was the best week ever and here are a few reasons why:

·         We’re anticipating a few visits from family members from far away.

·         The boys plan on swimming all summer long.

·         The annual visit to Gettysburg National Park.

·         I see lots of blossoms on my little strawberry plants. Now I’m ready to turn my yard into a growing jungle again.

·         Time for house projects that have been ignored for months.

·         I will be painting, in oil, en Plein Air, without a doubt.

·         My heart is full of gratitude and I am looking forward to passing it on and turning someone else’s summer into the best summer ever!

How about you? What are your #PlansForTheSummer? How do you plan to make it the best summer ever?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hello Monday! Hello Thief!

FW Acrylic Ink on Paper, Kellee Wynne Conrad

FW Acrylic Ink on paper, Kellee Wynne Conrad

By now you must have heard that nothing under the sun is new. We take from what we know, have seen and heard, and all that has seeped into our subconscious and turn it into what we call “original.” We creative types especially suffer from stealing from one another without even realizing it. I don’t think I have said anything new in the five years I have been writing this blog. In fact, I may have begun to repeat myself. But I know one thing: whatever I have managed to soak in and spit back out, I’m doing it on my own terms and in my own voice with the intent to connect with you and hopefully share a little bit of something wonderful about life in the process.
Also, I’ll admit, I’m stealing a bit from the “Original Thief,” Austin Kleon, who wrote the book Steal Like an Artist. It’s simple, but powerful enough to help anyone make their next creative step. Come to think of it, this isn’t the first time I have “stolen” from him. Remember when I wrote THIS blog post when I decided I would just “fake it until I make it?” Yep, saw it first in Austin’s book. Also, of the ten ways shared in the book about being creative, I would like to point out number two: “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.” I’d probably die waiting, so I am grateful for this reminder. It's a great book and I think you should pick up a copy for yourself so you can get going on following your dreams already!

Yes, today I am stealing! Not just from Mr. Kleon himself, but from my four year old son. I told you nothing is original and the two experimental paintings I am sharing today are the result of watching my boy play with the paint and let it drip all over his paper. But I’ll be honest I think his original turned out better than my stolen ideas! Ha! Hope you have a Happy Monday and go steal some ideas of your own….you never know where they will come from next!
FW Acrylic Ink on paper by Finn, 4 yrs. old

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Happy Hour: Not in a Rush

The canvas is calling and ideas are piling up. My notebook is full. I want to experiment with oil paints and new watercolor techniques. I want to go study with contemporary masters. I want to write down all the stories I dream of before they’re gone. I’d love to steal away to the mountains and throw my whole heart into a project only stopping when I am too tired to write another word or dab another stroke. I want to turn this blog into the premier destination for anyone seeking a creative life. There are galleries and book publishers I plan to meet with someday. And speeches I am preparing for big conferences! Yes, I have grandiose thoughts about the possibilities of my future. I have made big plans I tell you. I have big dreams.
But I am not in a rush. I’ll give it time. I’m busy enjoying the moment because I’m currently seeing other dreams I’ve always had come true. I’m watching my boys turn into young men and a romance that continually grows into something better with my husband as the years keep coming at me in lightning speed. And as much as I am ready to be a full time artist and writer, I am not ready to see my current place in life come to an end. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a day without mouths to feed and a trail of dirt to sweep up. It’s hard to imagine making breakfast for two instead of five and I refuse to think about the fact that my baby is almost too big to carry off to bed. So, I will not rush past these very moments.
But I have not given up on my DREAMS; it’s more apparent than ever that I know what I want. But I know it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. So, though I am not putting any plans on hold, I am fully aware that I must take it one step at a time so as not to miss the greatest days of my life. What makes this the best week ever? Knowing I can have it all, just as long as long as I do it a little bit at a time. Also, there are a few other things I’m enjoying at this very moment:
·         The boys all took the time to draw this week. They’re not just smart, but talented, too.
·         I finished reading the Paris Wife about the life of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. Amazing to read about that time with all my favorite writers, but certainly sad to see such passionate love end.
·         We had a night out at a local legendary diner followed by a stop in the comic shop where everyone came away with full bellies and something to read.
·         Lots of playground time with the beautiful weather we’ve been having.
·         I finished a new pastel painting.
·         A new grill means my husband has been cooking dinner. The best dinner I’ve never had to make.
·         Did I mention it’s a house full of boys? Yes, we’ll be seeing Avengers this weekend!
How have you enjoyed the moment AND followed your dreams all at the same time? Tell me how have you had the best week ever?