Oh The Places You'll Go!

I hope you enjoy this older post as I gradually merge my three blogs into one!  You can read about my travels and art journals under the Wanderer pic at the top of this page.  If you want to share inspiring stories and how I intend to change the world one heart at a time - just click on my Dreamer pic!  And of course, my Artist pic documents my life in art!  Enjoy!

{Re-post from September 2, 2012}

You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So . . . get on your way!
— Dr. Seuss

In less than 24 hours I will be sitting (hopefully sleeping) on a plane bound for Barcelona where the real Empty Nest Adventure begins.  "Am I packed?" you ask.  "Why, no.  I'm not packed yet. In fact my room looks like this right now:

Totally adorable, but impractical shoes - my favorite kind!

Don't judge me.

Me, the expert packer, organizer, chief cook, laundress, and do-er of all things motherly am sitting in this giant pile saying, WTH?????  For some reason, I am a bundle of indecision as I try to organize outfits and pack for a 45 day adventure that will take me to 6 countries and at least 2 different climates.  Eeegads - I'll be up all night.  Why am I so disorganized lately when I am used to juggling so much and handling it like a pro?   I'm still struggling with my new role as "Empty Nester" and don't quite know what to do with myself!  My big dilemma now is eliminating some of the 20 pairs of shoes I have set aside that are oh so cute and match all of my new cruise outfits!  Like I said, don't judge me.

At this point I should add a disclaimer:  Ahem.  While I know it is not wise to announce that I will be traveling for the next 6 weeks, I am giving all readers fair warning that I have a very ferocious cat that is staying behind to watch over the place.  Oh yeah, and she will be accompanied by my 320 pound ex-bodyguard, bouncer and his friend who are house-sitting.  'Nuff said.

So back to the trip . . . a trip of a lifetime and I am happy to go with very little plans, lots of spontaneity built in, and besides my massive suitcase full of adorable Lilly Pullitzer and shoes galore, I am also bringing my art journal.  I love this book - it is chunky and thick and I could just lick it because it is THAT good.  Handmade watercolor pages and hand-tooled leather cover - I couldn't wait to get some things in it.  You can get your own HERE.

So I guess it is safe to say that I am a little excited and I've decided to go with the flow and move on!  And now - Off to Spain!  Adios!

Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.
— Dr. Seuss, From 'Oh the Places You'll Go!'

Stop to Really Listen

{Repost from April, 2010}

Twice weekly, I attend oil painting classes at a lovely little studio in my neighborhood.  I usually go in and set up my little spot and keep to myself.  It is like a retreat for me and I get into my "zone" and disappear into my painting.  Most of the clientele in the studio are retired men and women and I've noticed that they have a strong bond and it seems to be more of a social event for them rather than a technical lesson on oil painting.  Throughout the class time there are many conversations going on around me and these other students usually walk around and admire everyone's work and stop to chat.  I keep my head low and smile when it is appropriate, but I try not to engage anyone else.  I really joined so that I could learn to paint properly and sometimes I find myself annoyed at the interruptions.  After all, this is an indulgent treat in my ordinarily hectic life and I am very protective of these precious hours. When one of the group would stop and look over my shoulder, I appeared so deeply involved and would nod at their compliment, but tried hard not to engage in any way.

But my selfishness kept nagging at me.  I'm not a rude person (or at least I didn't think I was.)

Today, I realized that I was missing the point.  Sure, I was learning to paint but I definitely wasn't learning much about relating to others.  What a snob I must have seemed to the people around me.  On this day, I forced myself to look up from my work and take stock of those around me.  I have never bothered to get up and compliment anyone else's work.  In fact, I've never done more than just smile politely and look away.  Disgraceful.  I got up and walked around the room today and admired the beautiful artwork around me, but I especially noticed the lovely people for the first time.  I stopped to chat with an elderly woman who comes in every week carrying an oxygen tank with her.  She was painting a portrait of her granddaughter and I mentioned what a beautiful girl she was.  The woman's face lit up and I could see the pride and love she had for her granddaughter and she began to tell me all about her.  I became genuinely interested in everything she had to say as she described her family and how excited she was to be able to travel to her granddaughter's high school graduation and she hoped to finish the portrait in time to present it to her as a gift.  I was reminded of my own grandmother who passed away just a few months ago and how she just loved to visit and to talk.  We chatted for at least 15 minutes and unconsciously, I had performed my ARK (act of random kindness).  In those brief minutes, I had stopped to truly listen to this woman and I could tell she was overjoyed to share.  More importantly, I made a new friend today and learned a valuable lesson.  What good are my art lessons if I can't take a moment to enjoy my surroundings and the people I come into contact with.  Art is all around me, not just on the canvas, but on the faces of those whose paths I cross every day!  At once, I was embraced with the friendship of everyone in that room and not only did they see me through different eyes--I saw all of them for the first time.

***  Just a few short months after I wrote this blog post, I learned that this dear woman passed away.  I never learned if she was able to make the journey to visit her granddaughter and to gift her the portrait.  I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to be a friend to her.

 "I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?"  ~ Mother Teresa

Say "Cheese!"

May Theme
Touchy Feely (Texture)
May 23 - Week 21
Art Challenge:  Cheesecloth
Journal Prompt:  Say Cheese

I LOVE to use cheesecloth in my mixed media work!  Don't have cheesecloth?  It's readily available in hobby, hardware and even grocery stores!  Inexpensive and versatile, cheesecloth adds great texture and flexibility to your art work!

I thought I might try this week to recreate a fresco type painting similar to ones I saw in Florence.  A lot of the fresco's were covered in textured plaster so I played around with some ideas and came up with this sketch of an angel.  I cut the cheesecloth in pieces that were a bit larger than the wings and didn't bother to follow the outline - I just cut "chunks"

Using gel medium and a flat brush, I dabbed at the cheesecloth and moved it around to fit in the outline of the wings.  When I was happy with the placement, I painted more gel medium over top and let the wings dry.  I also painted the entire angel in white gesso.

I used gelatos for the face and body of the angel - remember, I was going for a 'fresco' look, so I left it very rough.

I painted several coats of different shades of acrylic over the background.  When it was dry, I took sandpaper to the entire page and sanded off a lot of color - giving it a worn and old look.

Golden makes a gorgeous line of iridescent acrylics and I lightly painted the wings with a pearl color.

At the last minute, I thought the pearl was a little much, so I added watered down Payne's Gray fluid acrylic to the wings.  I'm not sure about - I've put both pictures up so I can keep looking at them to decide how I want this picture to look.  I do that often.  I can always paint over the wings again and cover the blue with the pearl.  Hmmmmm - going to have to take a few days to decide!

So excited to see how you all say "CHEESE" this week!  Happy Documenting!

For more information on this week's challenge you can find us here:

Instagram: #documentedlife #documentedlifeproject

Looking for previous challenges? click HERE

Visit our blogs: Sandi Keene, Roben-Marie Smith, Rae Missigman

Join us on The Art to the 5th™ Academy™ - a thriving "community" and classroom for "The Original" Documented Life Project™!  Find us on Instagram: #documentedlife

Wandering Aimlessly

{Repost from September, 2012 - Chronicles From The Empty Nest}

I survived my first week and am starting to get in a little groove now.  It helps that my husband surprised me with an "Empty Nest Trip" after my son got his first college acceptance letter so with the trip rapidly approaching, I have been busy with planning, researching and organizing.  This has prevented me from feeling sorry for myself.  I mean, poor pitiful me - I have to go on a trip for the next 5 weeks to Europe.  Waa-waa-waa.

     Two days after we dropped our son at college, we had to take our daughter to the airport to head off for her senior year.  For a moment I was thinking that in just 9 months she will graduate and be back home with us (!) but I believe she will be a career student with plans for law school next year.  {Sigh}.

     After leaving the airport, neither my husband or myself were ready to go home to an empty house so we took a little detour to Barnes & Noble for some reading material . . . 

All of this should keep me busy for the next 10 days!!  As I was sitting on the floor of the book store, I was pouring over the books and starting to feel a little excited.  Oh my gosh, am I allowed to feel that way yet???  Hey there must be something to this empty nest stuff.

But back at home, I wandered through the empty house and could not believe how quiet it was!  Like picking at a scab, I had to walk through both of my kids' bedrooms and pause for a few tears and a lot of memories.  Oooh, don't think I will be doing that again for a while.  There were no wet towels and clothes to pick up off my son's floor and no makeup scattered all over my daughter's vanity.  I thought of all the times I yelled, "clean your room" but now they are clean and I don't much care for it that way.

     Down in the laundry room there were only a few scattered pieces to wash instead of the mountains of dirty clothes that usually reside on the floor in there.  Yep, neat and tidy and NOTHING to do.  I decided to dig into those travel books, but glanced at the sink as I walked by...

Pretty pathetic, huh?  Who would have thought I would be longing for a sink full of dishes.  I can't tell you how many times my husband and I checked our cell phones for missed calls and text messages, but there just weren't any.  SNAP OUT OF IT!  We have GOT to get a GRIP!  And just as I started to worry about not hearing from the kids, I got this picture in a text message from my son:

I had to smile . . . he had found his way to Publix, got the necessities - a half gallon of milk and a box of fried chicken and I realized he was going to be just fine!!!

Cool Tools

Just had to share this adorable AND amazing pencil sharpener my daughter tucked into my Christmas Stocking this past year.  She loves to get my kitschy little things for my studio and I have a collection of fun and artsy items she has found.  Little did either of us know that this pencil sharpener was actually functional and PHENOMENAL!

I purchased a lot of expensive sharpeners over the years and I use different types for different pencils; charcoal, graphite, lead, colored pencils, etc.  Some worked really well and others were, well, crap.

Today I couldn't find a sharpener so I reached up on my shelf for this little cutie and much to my delight, it put the sharpest and longest point I have ever seen on a pencil!  I seriously have never had a sharpener like this.  So not only is it adorable and fun - it exceeded performance of any sharpener I own!  And who doesn't love a newly sharpened pencil?

Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.
— From the movie, 'You've Got Mail'