Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Legend in My Own Mind

Calamity Jane was quoted as saying, "I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one".  

I've always loved that quote.  I mean, really, why not?  It's like the popular tag line, "Just Do It".  

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time on Pinterest.  A. Lot. Of. Time.  I've been pinning home decorating ideas to my At Home boards, funky miscellaneous photos to my Love This board, beautiful fiber arts to my Stitchy Goodness board...and a lot of inspiration to my Art I Love, Journal Inspiration, and Color Me Happy boards.  As I'm pinning the last categories especially, I often find myself whining, "waahhhh, I want to paint like that!"  

I've painted before, but it has always felt a bit uncomfortable to me.  Like work.  Like I'm out of my element.  Definitely out of my quilty, stitchy comfort zone.

Still, I can't put this feeling away that I want to paint pretty pictures.  But I'll tell you what: it has scared me to death.  The starting.  And yet, I keep pinning work by the masters, like Matisse and Picasso, and more contemporary artists like Kathe Fraga and Karen Fields, and my friends Syd McCutcheon and Pam Garrison.  

Then I found this book: Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon.  Brilliant book.  Read it, you must.

And I created a safe place to paint - an art journal.  Friends, it has given me so much FREEDOM!!

Try this on for size:  Austin Kleon writes, "What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere.  All creative work builds on what came before.  Nothing is completely original."

I've often thought that.  Maybe not to that detail or in exactly those words.  But when you look at artistic movements like The Renaissance, or The Impressionists, or Outsider Art, you realize those artists' works are very similar.  And yet each artist has retained his or her own sense of individuality.  How exactly?

Well, let me throw this out to you.  I decided to experiment.  To play around.  I pulled images of paintings of those I admire and had them handy for reference.  And I got out my art journal.  In the past, I've painted straight onto the canvas.  What I've learned is that for me, if I'm going to paint directly onto canvas, the shit better be good!  So, I wanted to remove the pressure of that ridiculously high and stressful expectation, throw it out the window as a matter of fact, by creating a painting journal, just for play.  Then I got out the paints and the brushes, and got after it.  And guess what happened?  I painted !  I started, not with a master or peer artist actually, but with the coaster that my water bottle sits on.  That was my starting point.  Gradually, I looked at other paintings and continued my work play.  What I noticed was that I was painting.  I was making something out of something else, and it was evolving into its own something.  (Wow.  I know...deep.)  But truly, it was really quite a thrill!  To have let go of all that fear and expectation, and just give myself permission to copy something and play around with it...well, it was, in a word, AWESOME!  I can hardly wait to start my next journal page. 

I figure if a girl wants to be a painter, she should go ahead and be one.  You can quote me on that.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If it's January...

...I must be reading this.  I read it every January.  My mother bought it for me the Christmas after I returned from studying in Provence.  I left the day after New Year's, my senior year in college.  It was a grand adventure.  I was the first person in my family to study abroad.  The world was bigger then, with no cell phones or internet, my weekly calls home taking place at the PTT, or post office, in Avignon.  I can almost taste the warm pain au chocolat from the patisserie near my school.  It was quite cold there in January, but the sky was always brilliant blue, the perfect complement to the rust colored tile rooftops.  I loved Provence, and look forward to my next visit there.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying it from Mr. Mayle's perspective, which I pepper with my own memories and snippets from my journal that I kept while I was there.  It's truly a little escape for a few minutes each day during this cold, grey month in the Pacific Northwest.

The warm croissant with jam and butter goes a long way, too.  A bientot!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Getting My Groove Back

It's been a bit crazy around here.  But things are beginning to get back to normal, and I'm getting my groove back again.  It feels really, really good.   And new, in spots.  A newer, slightly improved groove, perhaps.  It's hard to explain, friend.  I wish I could let you inside of my head.  There is all sorts of good stuff going on up there, that hasn't quite figured it's way out.  I'm being patient.  It feels like it's going to be worth the wait.  In the meantime, I'm doing things that make me happy.  For example, I took Mary Ann's Remains of the Day journal class recently.  I'll do an entire post about it soon, because I must tell you, I absolutely loved it.  You may already know about it, it's been around a few years.  I'm a little late to the party.  But so glad I finally made it.  So inspirational.

And I'm eating comfort food.  This was my lunch today.  I admit to a grilled cheese addiction lately.  I'm balancing it with lots of fruit and water.  Haha.  I'm enjoying some of my treasures that I've found in cupboards and pantries.  The plate is a square luncheon plate that was my great grandmother's.  It's Mayflower by Spode.  I have a gazillion different pieces, and have brought it out for everyday.  It makes grilled cheese feel really special.  The small quilt is one my mother made.  It sits on my dining room table.  Love the colors, and the feedsack cloth reproduction fabrics.  So sweet.

I'm getting out and about, meeting new peeps and seeing old friends.  My very first book group ever started last week!  I've been looking for a book group forEVER, and this one found me towards the end of the year.  We met on Thursday to discuss Stephen King's Joyland.  It was a great book.  I read several Stephen King novels when I was younger - The Shining, Carrie, Firestarter, and some of his other creepy stories.  I loved them at the time.  I think they'd freak me out too much now.  This book was nothing like those.  I was a bit hesitant to start it, but it was a great mystery!  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it if you like mysteries.  And if you've not read Stephen King in awhile, like me, this is a great book to re-introduce yourself.  (Also, did she choose the best napkins, or what?)

Um.  Have you tried this?  It's ridiculous.  So delish.  Go.  Get yourself to Trader Joe's and get one now!  It will set things right in no time flat.  

And the best thing ever to get back into the groove?  A sunshiney aftternoon in January!  I put the top down on Maude the Pod and ran a few errands.  Nothing better to beat the winter blues than a little bit of sunshine to generate that beautiful vitamin D!  Hope all of you are doing well in your corners of the world.  Cheers, from mine!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Happy National Popcorn Day!

Here's my favorite way to pop it:

Add two swirls of olive oil in a pan on your stovetop.  To that, add one kernel of popcorn, and cover the pan with a lid.  Turn the burner on to medium-high, and heat the oil until the kernel pops.  When it does, add 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels.  Once those start popping, turn the burner to medium and let that corn pop!  Shake the pan frequently to avoid burning.  Once the popcorn has finished popping, dump into a bowl.  I salt mine lightly.  Sometimes I add a little grated parmesan and oregano, if I'm feeling adventurous.