Choose >>> Joy

“Finding JOY in the Midst of Chaos” by Lynda F.

Isn’t this artwork gorgeous? This is the card Lynda F sent with her response to Love Notes 26, Prompt 2, “Choose…” Lynda wrote:

Choose  >>> Joy
Start with a small step.
What little things bring you exquisite joy and happy-ness?
Try one. Then another. Then one more.
Try to do at least one joyful thing for yourself every day…
You deserve it!
Find your happy place!

Can we pause for a moment and talk about how much I need Lynda’s words?

I’ve been trapped in a season of work, work, work, and more work, getting next to no sleep and finding no time for the “little things” that add joy to my days. In the seconds between tasks, I’ve been dreaming about ignoring the to-do list, making Valentine’s Day cards, trying some of Diane’s photo collaging techniques, and taking long, long walks with my camera. At this point, I’ll settle for playing with stickers and my planner!

The office manager in my department mentioned today that she feels out of sorts if she goes too long without working with her hobbies. I exclaimed, “Me too,” and decided that I would do something–anything–this evening for balance and for joy.

As I mentioned in one of my 12 Days of Christmas Postcards posts, the word “joy” is significant to me, so the card is even more special. In fact, Lynda and I were in sync for this prompt; when I read the prompt, my response was also “choose joy.” No matter how much I tried to “shake joy” and find something else, joy insisted. So I encouraged Lynda to choose the steadying foundation of joy. I’m sure she did.

For more Lynda-art check her out on Instagram–@ladyfishpirate. Warning: You will be inspired to drop everything on your agenda and spend the night (or day) creating beauty. If it gives you joy, why not? 😉

Sunflower Field in Autumn

“Sunflower Field in Autumn” by Diane W. aka midteacher

there is peaceful.
there is wild.
i am both at the same time.

nayyirah waheed, “sum,” salt

Today’s sunflower comes from my photographer friend Diane–midteacher on swap-bot. She continually inspires me with her beautifully crafted photos.

For “Sunflower Field in Autumn” Diane tried a creation process she had just discovered.  For this project she:

  • “gessoed” watercolor paper
  • pushed pearlized crackle paste through stencil
  • allowed to dry overnight
  • Used INFUSIONS color stain on background
  • allowed to dry overnight
  • glued photo; adhered paper and ribbon
  • allowed glue to dry
  • added sewing
  • glued cardstock to backside and trimmed

I get to be the “guinea pig” for many of Diane’s experiments with new techniques. Lucky me–especially when sunflowers are involved!

Thanks for the sunshine, Diane!

Sunflower Story: The Sacred Joy of Creating

Detail of Sunflower by Tyhara Rain

If you looked closely at the sunflower wall photo in my previous blog post, you might have noticed a sunflower sculpture adorning the space.

Tyhara Rain, a student whom I introduced on the blog a few months ago, created the sunflower for me. Isn’t she the best? Initially, she painted a sunflower, but even though I thought it was beautiful, she refused to give it to me because she was not satisfied with it.

Sunflower by Tyhara Rain

Before I give you an “up close and personal” view of the sunflower sculpture, I thought I’d share Tyhara’s words regarding her journey:

I’ve been doing art since I was 6. I dabbled in pencil/charcoal sketches, oil paints, even photography, but I felt I lacked passion and inspiration for it. I never considered myself an artist because I literally didn’t even enjoy doing art! It was something I could do because I practiced so much. This year, I begged God to help me find a medium I enjoyed. Even if I didn’t believe this was a talent, I understood that God expected me to use any abilities I had for His honor and glory. One of my favorite professors had a wall full of sunflower themed art and I really wanted my piece for her to be special. I remembered how much I enjoyed the process of trying to sculpt a tree last year–but it broke and I totally gave up–and since I had an idea in my head for a clay sculpture of a hand holding a sunflower, I decided to go for it!

Before Painting: Tyhara and the Sunflower

Tyhara shared much of the creative process via Instagram stories–very late at night. Sometimes during sleepless nights, I’d tune in and listen to her chat and watch her create for a few minutes:

When she finished the piece, Tyhara carefully walked through campus to deliver the sunflower to me before a Shakespeare class session. When she unveiled it, she learned that one of the petals had tragically fallen off during transport.

Two more petals followed. It sat in my office while waiting to be repaired:

Then, she visited one afternoon and repaired the sunflower while we chatted:

After a little artist magic…um skill…the sunflower emerged stronger than ever!

In her words–

[Creating this sunflower] was the beginning of a wonderful journey I’ve decided to embark on as an artist. (I finally feel comfortable calling myself that). I’m incredibly thankful for this talent God gave me. Not only did He help me find a medium I enjoy but He pushed me so far outside my comfort zone and far from the mediums I grew up using that I could never again deny that God blessed me with a talent to create as an artist and desired for me to find joy in creating just as He does.

Tyhara has created many, many sculptures since making the sunflower for me–each one more intricate, more detailed. Here are a couple. The vintage album piece is absolutely stunning–and I’m not just saying that because of the sunflowers. [Click an image for a closer look].

Tyhara’s inspiring “journey to the sunflower” underscores an innate desire to create that resides in all of us. Made in the image of the Divine Creator, we are drawn to the creative process and have an almost sacred urge to make our creative mark in the world–no matter how big or small. It takes different forms–art, music, a poem, a story, dance, food, a theory, a lesson plan–but the act of creation involves and allows us to share beauty, love, and light. Joy is the precious outcome.

Creative Conundrum

I’m on break for seven more glorious days (including the weekend). I desperately need a mental break, so I’m trying not to slip into my old “Thanksgiving Break” habit of spending the entire time grading papers, catching up, and updating my grade book.

There is a pile of books on the floor in my crafting space, paint, ink, and a bin of stamps begging for attention–not to mention the words, words, words in my head needing to come out!

So many things to get into, so little time.  But…I’m determined to get my hands stained with ink and paint and stuck to something this week.

What about you? Are you planning any creative adventures this week?


The Lamb, the Tyger, and the Lion

I was organizing files last week and ran across an interesting drawing done by a student in a Survey of English Literature course. The assignment was to artistically interpret two of William Blake’s poems (companion pieces from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience).  Students could use any medium, and they were assured of full credit regardless of skill level. I was more interested in their effort and their enjoyment.   I imagine I was a little confused when I first saw the sketch below:

"The Tyger" by Charmaine W., EN 212 Spring 2013

“The Tyger” by Charmaine W., EN 212 Spring 2013

This piece is based on “The Lamb” from Songs of Innocence and “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience–poems that speak of two different aspects of the God of Creation and that lead readers to the realization that the God who crafted the innocent lamb is also the God who put the fire in the tiger’s eye, and that this same God embodies those meek and fierce attributes Himself.

But…um…that’s a lion, not a “tiger.”

Charmaine was cute, though.   She added a note to the back of the drawing labeled “artistic license.” Her explanation is that this still represents a visual interpretation of the “contrary” poems since Jesus is both lion and lamb–animals obviously perceived as having very different characteristics. And indeed, she is correct. Jesus is described as the Lion of Judah and the [Sacrificial] Lamb.

I ran into Charmaine a couple of days ago and let her know that I rediscovered her drawing.  We both laughed because it was after she drew the lion that she realized it should have been a tiger.  While she got the drawing “wrong,” she was accurate in visualizing what Blake would have questioned as contrary conceptualizations of God.  He is not one or the other, but both at the same time, and thus (perhaps) something other.

The assignment was inspired by Blake’s own illustrated works.  I wanted students to do more than read the poems and look at the pretty images.  I wanted them to deeply connect with Blake’s works. Sometimes that connection comes not through written critique or analysis but through creative work.  They have to understand the work(s) enough to render an honest visual interpretation.

Here are Blake’s own images of the two poems:

Enjoy and have a happy week!

 

 

My First Washi Tape Postcards

How did I unwind this evening?  I made not one, but two washi tape postcards!

Washi Tape Postcards-1

This (above) was the first one I made.  They are simple enough to make–washi tape and a sturdy backing.  I used The2Buds adhesive postcard backs.  I’ve been using them for years and they’ve not let me down.

Washi Tape Postcards

I haven’t decided yet whether this will be “all” there is to the postcards.  I’ve been experimenting with adding letters and images.  I will probably keep the pink and green one “as is.”  We’ll see about the red and black one…

What did you make today?

Month of Letters: More Postcards!

My little one is ill at the moment, so I’ve placed plans on hold to get some of my personal letters out in the mail.  I did manage to meet my mail commitments for February 4th and 5th–thanks to swap-bot and Postcrossing.  Three postcards–one an advertising card–hit the “mail stream” the last two days.

Aerial View of the French Quarter in New Orleans.  Interestingly, this was sent to a swap-bot who lives in Alabama but wants to move to New Orleans some day.

Aerial View of the French Quarter in New Orleans. This was sent to a swap-bot who lives in Alabama but wants to move to NOLA some day.  I wonder what she’ll say when she learns that I’m a New Orleanian who recently moved to AL! 🙂

And here’s the advertising card I sent out:

Matine Chaisson Gallery presents NIAGARA:  paintings by JACK NIVIEN.  This is from a late 2010 exhibition.

Martine Chaisson Gallery presents NIAGARA: paintings by JACK NIVEN.
“The Woods” by Jack Niven, 2009, Oil on Canvas

If you’re planning to visit New Orleans, the MCG is located at 727 Camp Street.  If you’re thirsting for more of Jack Niven, an artist who lives and works in New Orleans, check out his website.

That was yesterday.

Today, I sent a “Happy Animal” postcard to a Postcrosser from Kiev (Ukraine).  I’d forgotten all about our private swap, until I received a postcard from her (see below).  Eek!  “Feja” likes animals and Winnie-the-Pooh, so I thought she’d appreciate a cute animal.

Happy Animal Time by Junzo Terada

Happy Animal Time by Junzo Terada

According to the bio provided, Junzo Terada is an Osaka-based artist.  He designs and illustrates a wide variety of products that can be found in the Comes Mart store he owns in Osaka, Japan.  The Happy Animal Time collection of 30 different postcards is published by Chronicle Books.

Here’s the awesome card “Feja” sent to me:

"Woman's Strength" (my title)

By Smugasta

I “heart” this postcard, but I really can’t tell you much about it because everything is written in Russian or Ukrainian.  You can find more of the artist’s work at Smugasta or at Smugasta’s Live Journal.  Even if you can’t read a word, the artist provides a lot interesting, amusing, quirky and fun illustrations for  your visual pleasure.

That’s it for now!  See you tomorrow–maybe!