Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Adventure, Week 1

The new season of the Get Messy art journal challenge started this week, and this time around many of us have committed to posting pages from our art journals each Thursday (hence the Get Messy Thursdays).  You know I love a deadline, so count me in.

Rather than sharing a whole bunch of pages at once, I’ve got just one to share today.

Get Messy Thursdays | Adventure, Week 1

Materials used: Small sketchbook: Faber Castel Pitt Pens (1.5 and XS), Sharpie pen, Liquitex Professional heavy body acrylic in light blue violet; Art journal: Golden liquid acrylics, Winsor & Newton gouache in permanent white, Le Pen in periwinkle

This new phase of life (like any other new phase of life) feels like an adventure of its own.  I had a mini identity crisis earlier this week when updating my LinkedIn profile.  I’m not what I used to be before (in terms of a job title, at least), so what the heck am I?  I felt much better (and less melodramatic) after taking a nap.  

Anyway, I felt like that internal adventure was a good place to start, so I grabbed my paint and brushes.  A quick sketch of the human body resulted in some webbed hands, a wonky knee and an arm shaped like an hour glass.  On the upside, I think I captured my broken toe quite beautifully.  If you can’t tell, it’s the one that looks broken… in other words, it could be any of them.

I’ve been doodling in my mini Bison Bookbinding and Letterpress sketchbook, and thought this page was a nice compliment to the art journal page.  So hey.  There it is.

The quote is from one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems, 5 AM in the Pinewoods.  I like the idea of swimming inward.  I’m sure I’ll get around to actual adventures (and real swimming!) in future weeks.  Until then, happy Thursday, friends.

Want to see more of my art journal? Love, Weeks 1 + 2 | Love, Weeks 3 + 4 | Love, Weeks 5 + 6 | Love, Wrap Up + Blog hop | Brave, Weeks 1-3 | Brave, Weeks 4-6

Also On Tap for Today:

Got any adventures planned for the summer?

Today: My morning reading list.

If it’s morning and you’re in bed, and you’re reading this on your phone… thank you. I always appreciate your being here. But please, put the phone down.  Let’s meet back here in a few hours.

One of my worst habits?  Letting other people decide what I am going to think about in the morning.  And by other people, I mean my phone.  If you’re looking to get up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed, grab your phone as soon as you wake up and get flooded by such things as:

  • Tweets about chemicals in your favorite foods
  • An Instagram post informing you that the Frenchie you insta-stalk died of a mysterious illness (True Life: This is why I don’t follow random dogs anymore.  At least 5 dogs I followed have died in the last year.  Which is both weird and sad.  Also, I am convinced I cursed them all.)
  • Emails from your boss sent at 11:44 PM, 2:06 AM, and 4:18 AM
  • Facebook pictures of your friend’s cousin’s college roommate’s ultrasound
  • “Breaking news!” about Taylor Swift’s most recent break-up
  • Actual news about any of the upsetting things going on in our world
  • Weather reports about 900 feet of snow

It’s a tough habit to break (tougher than Diet Coke, I think… still working on that one… again), but if you can hold off on the Insties and Twitters for even a few minutes — just enough time to choose what you first consume — it can work wonders.  It can set your day on a happier, calmer, more inspired course.  I was going to type, “It will change your life!” (and I kind of believe that), but I don’t have proof.  So let’s just stick with this: Choosing what you read in the morning can have a really wonderful affect on your day.

You might already have something in mind.  A mantra, a prayer, a favorite quote, or line from a movie.  It doesn’t have to be complicated (and given that this is likely pre-coffee, perhaps it shouldn’t be complicated).  I keep a few scraps of paper in my bathroom cabinet and in a notebook in my dresser drawers– my favorite things to read are right there when I wake up, ready to keep me from the glow of my iPhone.

Looking for somewhere to start tomorrow morning?  Here are a few of my favorites.  You’ll find the full text by clicking each title.  Oh, and feel free to print any of the images and stick them to your mirror.

My morning reading list

Mary Oliver’s Five A.M. In the Pinewoods: I love everything Mary Oliver has written.  This poem, in particular, feels very meditative to me.  

A Precious Human Life, His Holiness the Dalai Lama: I’ve read this one so many times, I know it by heart (I love that expression).  It is such a beautiful way to start the day — mindful, kind and well-intentioned.

Dr. King’s “Life’s Blueprint” speech: Last spring, I heard this speech recited by a group of eighth grade students in Washington, D.C.  It was their middle school graduation ceremony and each student had memorized a few lines of the speech.  While I’d read it before, I felt like I was hearing certain parts for the first time.  It was moving and beautiful.  By the time they got to “I would say to you, don’t drop out of school,” I was crying.  The speech ends like this: “Be the best of whatever you are.”  Yes.

The Guest House by Rumi: You have to read the full poem.  It’s a perfect reminder in the morning (and in the afternoon and the evening) that we may not be able to control what or who comes into our lives, but we can choose our response and attitudes.

Okay.  It’s safe to pick up your phone again.

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you start your days?

Today: Get Messy Art Journal | Weeks 1 + 2

You know how I feel about making time and space for creativity.  (And if you don’t: I think it’s, like, important.)  When things get busy or frenzied or it snows seven feet, I forget to take my own advice.  I do laundry instead of doodling.  I do more laundry instead of painting.  I do even more laundry instead of writing.

When I imagine my ideal day and my ideal life, though, I somehow manage to get the laundry done and then I have so much fun creating that I get ink of my pants and that’s why I end up doing more laundry.

Making time to get a little messy helps me maintain order in the rest of my life.  It helps me process things and come up with new ideas and solutions.  There’s something about making, creating and producing that just makes me feel… well, proud.  Satisfied.  Energized.

Left: I took this photo in Detroit (fall 2013) — there was something about this house that really crushed me.  I’ve seen it a half dozen or so times since, and it always makes me feel… well, feelings.  I felt like the little guy needed some protecting, so I laminated the photo using these self-laminating sheets.  And then I became obsessed with laminating and sealed a bunch of my favorite ribbons to use as bookmarks and/or added flair.  Right: I split one of our engagement photos so that it could be opened like a door and tucked a little message inside. The background is gesso with watercolor.

My mom is a talented artist.  When we were little, we’d ask her to draw all kinds of things.  She’s quickly sketch these wonderful drawings on yellow legal pads, or napkins, or whatever we’d hand over.  I think there’s still a “coloring drawer” in my parents’ kitchen, filled with crayons and pencils and paper.  I love that this– the opportunity to play with art–was just a normal part of growing up for us.  I want that for Grace.

Detail of second page: Peek-a-boo! Or whatever.

So.  Anyway.  I recently learned about and joined the Get Messy community (you can learn more about the program here – and sign up to join! Do it!).  I’ve written plenty of sappy journal entries (oh, how I wish I had saved my middle school diary — what an ego check that would be) and filled countless sketch book pages, but I’m totally new to the world of art journaling.  So in most ways, I have no idea what I am doing.  Which is terrifying. And also, kind of fun.

It was -600 degrees when I worked on these pages, and was clearly channeling summer.  I used some scrap paper to back a photo of Grace and me in happier warmer times and then wove pieces of washi tape through the remaining paper.  The background is a random grid of watercolor with some black paper hearts I punched out when I probably should have been doing something more adult.  Like vacuuming.

The week before I learned about the program, I was listening to an interview with Mary Oliver and she talked about the need for writers to be disciplined. That you need to set aside time every day and just write.  That you’ll make plenty of mistakes.  But you need to be disciplined.

 Materials used: magazine clippings and scraps of paper, heavy body acrylic paint in silver (applied with a brayer), paper punch, micron pens, washi tape, needle and thread…. and glitter.

My main reason for joining the program was to work on becoming more disciplined when it comes to drawing and painting (and creating, in general).  I’m excited to see how a daily or weekly or weekend-ly practice (workdays sort of fill up on their own) will help me develop and grow.  

But beyond that, I am quickly seeing that the process is its own reward.  All that opening up and letting loose and forgoing perfection and putting whatever comes out down on the page?  It’s touchy feely and hippy dippy and good.  It’s good.

Did I mention my obsession with laminating pouches?  YOU GUYS, I LAMINATED GLITTER.

The program’s weekly prompts (the current theme is love, which is hopefully obvious — the theme changes every 6 weeks and new prompts are issued each week) and link-ups provide both motivation and accountability.  Each month there is a public link-up, complete with its own prompt — this might be a good way to get your toes wet if you’re interested.  

One of the art prompts for this week was sewing.  I swooned over the stitch work of the other participants before deciding less is more (especially when me + needles are involved).

After two weeks, I’ve already learned a great deal from the tutorials.  I’ve experimented with different materials and techniques.  And I am working up the nerve to share a bit more of what I’ve thrown together.

Left side: Another laminated ribbon bookmark thing, a list of 100-ish things I love, gold gouache (applied with a brayer, which is sort of like a miniature handheld steamroller… sort of), a Polaroid notecard (Target coming in hot, per usual), label maker, and gold glitter washi.  Right side:  One thing I like even more than laminating: reading Rumi. Materials used: black cardstock, detail brush and black watercolor, random stamps, yellow watercolor, micron pen, letter stamps with pan pastel.

So before that nerve disappears… I’m sharing some of my pages from the first two weeks of the challenge.  If this isn’t totally weird and/or boring for you (and please tell me if it is), perhaps I’ll share a peek each week.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • It only took 13 months: Grace finally slept through the night!
  • Such a smart idea: Watercolor pencil paint palette
  • Hoping Clark has a speedy recovery — poor little dude had to have surgery last night 🙁

Did you keep a diary as a kid?