Image

Choose Your Own Adventure

Clearly, I am going to use this brick stencil A LOT.  It is just so effective and provides the perfect background for so many things.  It also saves me a lot of time because normally I would be faffing about looking for a suitably patterned paper to use as a background, or mixing up (and wasting) lots of different colours of paint.  Plus, the best thing about using this stencil is that the less precise you are, the more it looks like real bricks.  Yay!

I wasn’t sure what phrase or words to put on the sign, but kept coming back to “Choose your own Adventure”.  It just seemed right.  It almost looks like she is encouraging people to climb through the hole in the wall and find out what lies beyond.

I’m not quite convinced about her hand – I generally do cartoony-type hands (quite often with only four fingers) so I was going out on a limb trying to do a more realistic one.  But, hey, it’s not too bad.  I hope.  Try not to focus on it – Look away now! 🙂

Thanks, as always, for popping in x

IMG_3950.JPG

Advertisements
Image

Bee Happy (and a bit about Laughter Yoga)

Hello, everyone 🙂  I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break.  Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus).  It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid.  But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses.  It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!

One of my tasks today was to write a book review.  The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life.  As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings.  But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.

There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved.  Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.

Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits.  Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals.  It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!).  You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE

All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend.  At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing.  Sometimes we’re just NOT, right?  Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps.  But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds.  It’s kinda like faking it til you make it.  Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on.  And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?

Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling.  No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not.  That’s way too much pressure!  I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth.  It’s such a vague concept.  No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?

But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds?  The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now.  So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.

Easy to say.  But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try.  I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.

Be happy today.  And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow.  Hang in there x

IMG_3944.JPG

Image

Close your Eyes, Clear your Heart

Oh, how I fiddled and faffed around with this one!  I couldn’t make any wording fit and I was having a bit of a hissy fit.  I put it aside and left it alone for a while.  I stencilled the “bricks” on to the patterned paper as an afterthought, and I quite like the effect.  The wings are a bit wonky, but that’s ok.

IMG_1600

But the words!  Ugh!  I could not make anything work.  All I knew was that I didn’t want to stamp them directly to the background because I was sure to mess them up, and it would be really noticeable due to the straighter edges of the brick pattern.  So the words had to be stuck on, either stamped onto paper and then cut out, or using existing text.

So, in the end I found a quote on a sheet of scrapbooking paper that seemed to fit well with this image (actually, the original quote said “Let Go” at the end, but I changed it to “Dream” – it just seemed more appropriate) and quickly glued it on before I changed my mind.  I think it works ok…..

I need to add some detailing, paint the edges of the canvas and varnish it, etc, but it can wait until I am doing a few others at the same time.  I get to the end of a project and I just want to move on to the next.  By the time I’ve been fiddle-faffing around for hours on one thing, I get a bit sick at the sight of it and want to start something new.  Are you the same?  Do you like the entire process of creating something?  Or do you get fed up half way through and just want it done?

I probably need to close my eyes and clear my heart and just let the art happen.  But I’m not that trusting yet.  So things can take longer than they should.  But then I suppose there really isn’t a “should” when it comes to art and creativity.  It’s supposed to be intuitive and free, not structured and following some sort of plan or timeline.  I should try to please myself more, not keep trying to make something that will appeal to others.  But I need to learn to do that with myself too, and not try and be what I think other people want me to be.  Which is tricky, right?

Hope you are happy being YOU today – keep dreaming 🙂

x

IMG_1605

Image

Serenity Now

Some more weekend crafting…

I must admit, I played around with the background on this for ages, splodging paint on and swiping it, dotting it, mixing different colours etc.  Then I got fed up with my efforts and covered the whole thing in dress pattern paper.  When in doubt, stick some paper over it.  The fine tissue paper of the patterns covers nicely and gives that crinkly, textured look.  I rubbed a bit of white paint over the top to tone it all down to make the text and lines a bit “gentler”.  Then I discovered that I had put the paper on THE WRONG WAY UP, so the hanger at the back of the canvas was on the bottom, instead of at the top.  D’oh!  I haven’t done that sort of silly stuff up for ages.  Oh, well, I will sort it out later 🙂

IMG_1732

Next, I sketched in a head shape.  I was actually really pleased with this one.  I wanted to stop right there, before I spoilt it…

IMG_1733

Then, I added the basic colours to the head, hair and body.  My Mum gave me a pile of paints on the weekend, so I had some extra colours to play with…

IMG_1734

After, drawing and re-drawing the face about a million times, I settled on this one.  It is by no means perfect, and I am still frustrated that I have such trouble with facial features, but it will do.  I have to keep practicing and hopefully improving with each piece!  The only way is up, right?

IMG_1740

I added stamped words and some wings and a crown.  At least I am getting better at putting wings on straight now 🙂

IMG_1745

I wasn’t totally happy with the bigger letters, so I added some swirly details to them to balance it all a bit more and not make the lettering seem so harsh.  I did some outlining, and added a stamped border (kinda wish I hadn’t used black as it is also a bit harsh, but I’m not changing it now – will use a different colour next time that is softer and more in keeping with the rest of the piece).

The “Serenity Now” makes me laugh a bit because of its Seinfeld references, but I still think it is appropriate.  She looks fairly serene, and with the week I’ve had, I could do with some serenity, to be honest.

Overall, I was quite happy with her.  I just really need to work on those faces!

Hope you are having a calm, peaceful day, and if not, hope you can find some space to have a little bit of serenity now x

IMG_1747

Image

Dream Queen

I managed to do a few paintings / collages on the weekend, after my crafting ban of the prior two weeks.  It was actually good to have a break from it, to clear up a bit (a bit…) and also refresh my brain and start on something different.  I am trying desperately to get better at painting – my Mum and brother are brilliant but I, sadly, am not – and find a style that sits comfortably with me and my abilities (or lack thereof).  I’m also trying to just DO, rather than over-thinking things.

So, I started this painting, which turned out to be a mixed-media piece in the end with the addition of some collaged “extras” and, although she’s not perfect, I’m fairly pleased with her.  I’m trying so hard to not judge my work too harshly, because it hinders the process and makes me have unnecessary tantrums.

This lady got a nice lace collar….

IMG_1613

…and a bit of a rotund face.  A bit too round for my liking….

IMG_1614

…so I trimmed it down a bit, so she’s got a more angular look…and she got a crown too, and some wings (naturally)…

IMG_1616

…I added a stamped border and stamped “dream” letters, anddid a bit of outlining to highlight some details.

IMG_1618

…and she’s done 🙂

I’m still not very good at faces (and I kinda wish I hadn’t made her face less round now), but I am hoping the more I do, the better I will hopefully get!  My other plan was to give up entirely and just paint/draw all my people facing away from me, thus negating the need for faces at all!  Hooray!  But that’s cheating, right?

Thank you for dropping by and having a look at my funny, imperfect art 🙂

Image

Love the Moment

Hello everyone 🙂  I have been on leave for a couple of weeks and placed myself under a strict no crafting ban.  I knew if I got stuck into making things (and, therefore, making a mess) I would never get tidy and organised.  So I had two weeks of sorting and culling and making my home fit for human habitation.  My craft room was going to be last on the list as it is an area I close off anyway and doesn’t get seen unless I want it to!  Needless to say, it is still in a mess.  I just didn’t time to complete the tidy up in its entirety.  But the rest of the house looks good now.  I even had some visitors during my leave and I wasn’t embarrassed to have them in my space.

On my final two days, I let myself do some crafting.  I figured it was my reward for doing adult stuff like dusting and ironing (ugh!).  I started with this canvas – a freehand painting with acrylic paints.  I drew a design straight on to the canvas, which is something I don’t normally do and did not incorporate any paper or mixed media elements.  I decided to just go with the flow and not think about any of it too much.  The worst thing to do is start comparing your work to someone else, so I tried really hard to just enjoy the process, regardless of whether the finished piece was good or not.

IMG_1609

I was pleased with the final outcome.  I don’t mind that she’s got a big head and ridiculously long neck, or that her hair resembles a teddy bear hat.  I am just glad to have had a go and not fussed over it all too much.  I’m not normally brave enough to put a design straight on to the canvas, so this was new for me.  Normally I draw it out first and often draw and paint the person on a piece of paper, before cutting them out and gluing them to the canvas, after I’ve worked out the background.

I had some issues with the wording – it took me forever to decide on the words and I just couldn’t make anything work.  I had this “Loving the Moment” stamp that I had picked up in an op-shop, and it seemed to fit the space perfectly.  The design itself didn’t stamp out very well, due to the non-flat nature of the canvas, so I had to fill it in afterwards, but it looks ok.  I’m not sure exactly what “moment” she is loving (best not to ask a lady these things!) but I’m going to say it’s representational of me just enjoying some peaceful, creative crafting time, all to myself.

So, I am pleased with this one.  It isn’t perfect, but that’s ok.  I’m going to keep practicing and trying to find my own style.  It’s the only way to get better.  And, in the meantime, I am enjoying the process and the moment 🙂

Thanks for stopping by x

IMG_1612

Image

Bloom Collage

Hello everyone!  How was your weekend?  Did you get up to something nice, or did it fly by before you had time to even wind down from the week’s efforts, and before you knew it, it was Monday again?  It sometimes seems like it is always Monday, doesn’t it?

I had a mixed-bag weekend.  It started off with a migraine, then there was a funeral (not related to my migraine!) and an MRI (very much related to my migraine), a lovely craft show, some op-shopping, and ended with a relaxing afternoon at home painting and collaging.  My Mum stayed with me (the funeral of a long-time friend had been upsetting and she didn’t really want to be on her own) and we talked about lots of things, drank far too much tea, and tried to stay warm (it was freezing this weekend!).

I managed to complete a couple of little canvases, that I am fairly pleased with.  This first one has been a while in the making, as I painted the lady some time ago but couldn’t figure out how I wanted to use her.  She was a bit darker than some of my other ladies, and none of the backgrounds I tried worked with her.

IMG_9167

Until I found this charcoal-coloured, wallpaper-like paper.  She seemed right at home there so I stuck her down before I changed my mind, gave her a crown, added some paper flowers and a bit of detailing, and finished it off with some bunting.  A tiny bit of text and she was all done.

IMG_9818

So nice to get something completed.  I haven’t been doing much due to my headaches and general feeling of blah.  Must try harder.  The craft show we attended on the weekend gave us lots of inspiration and ideas and we stocked up on supplies and arty goodies, so I have no excuse for not getting stuck in.  Watch this space!

Hope we all manage to bloom just a little bit this week 🙂