Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Step Three: Clarity...

Dear Fi,

There were a few ideas I consider for my post today:

1. a surprise for a dear person, who has no idea that this blog exists (actually, I think that at this point nobody even knows that we are meeting here each Tuesday!)
2. a small piece for Patti Digh’s “call for artwork” I signed up for last year and it finally landed in my inbox two days ago!
3. a small tag with my word for 2010 which is {clarity} for Lis’ weekly reflection

As you see, I didn’t know that I would end up working with my “clarity” face. Ironically, in total opposition to what I have wrote under my picture I love the unknown but only the unknown of our Tuesdays ;)

Actually, I just realized that it is not in the opposition, it is exactly what I was writing about, a perfect example. Because the clarity I’m searching for is not about mental knowing, it is about inner knowing. About trusting the process (and myself). About listening. About being involved in the “now” to the point of forgetting/not needing to know “what’s next?”


In the end I’m happy that I unexpectedly created this altered photo of myself for myself. There is an old saying in Polish “the shoemaker always goes barefoot” (it has a different meaning than “the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot”, it doesn’t involve neglecting a third person, the shoemaker is the one without the shoes). Wait a second Fi, where was I headed with all of this? The next time I cannot wait with writing until everybody in my house has fallen asleep, because my brain isn’t working properly at these hours, not in English, not in Polish, not at all! Anyway, the point was I’m the barefoot shoemaker and usually I don’t have the shoes I’m making... (now I do!)

Right now I’m dreaming about a hot bath with one of my favourite essential oils. But before I go I want to tell you something. The first thing I drew today was the inner eye on my forehead, then I added more eyes floating in the air. Later on I realized that even though my eye perfectly symbolizes the inner knowing and I drew it spontaneously, the floating eyes came to existence from the influence of another artist I discovered recently. I feel like these eyes belong to me, but the idea of floating eyes doesn’t. It is not mine and I’m clear about this. I just needed to say this.

So, Good Night - off to bath ;)



Look what I just found (almost in my tub!): “Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.” {Eckhart Tolle “Stillness Speaks”}

Step Three: Lost and Found

Good morning, dearest Sylwi!

Tuesday already! Can you believe it?! :-)

This week is all about recycled paper! I receive so many envelopes in the post that have beautiful colours and patterns on the inside. It seems such a shame to just recycle them - this week I wanted to do something to honour them! :-)

I thought that creating a hardback journal would be a challenging, but fun way to use them up. Plus, I love journals and could spend a fortune on them, so I was interested to see how hard it is to create one and how much money I can save myself! :-)

I found great tutorials for making journals on YouTube, put together by a lovely lady called Baronessnz. There are 5 videos which guide you through the process, from start to end. You can find the first one and links to the others here! (you will find videos 1-4 and one that I almost missed, called video 2b!)

I used 32 envelopes that I've been saving especially for the pages and then, I had a good rummage through my box of scrap paper, looking for a suitable cover.

I decided on some lovely wallpaper samples that I've had kicking around for a few years. These are samples from Louise Body's wallpaper collection. I came across her by chance on the internet about 3 years ago and fell in love with her hand printed and painted cushions with vintage fabric on the back.

For the cover, I really wanted to use the naked lady swinging from the chandelier, but I made a mistake with the paper sizes, so I ended up using the charcoal lace print instead. Not quite as quirky, but just as lovely! :-)))

Last week, when I was painting, I found that I was generally frustrated and my desk was a complete mess, from start to finish. This week, I really enjoyed having a tidy desk throughout the project and when things went wrong, it didn't seem to matter to me at all! In fact, the imperfections, like slightly ripped edges and little crumples, added to the end result. Here's how the envelopes looked as pages all together (I also used some brown parcel paper, saved over from Christmas)...

When I began this adventure with you, one of the things I was hoping for was that I might find my 'signature' style... or at very least, a certain crafting direction that I was interested in focussing on. I know it's still very early days, but today, I realised that I have a real love of paper. Maybe this is the direction I should head in? :-) There's something extremely satisfying about folding, cutting, gluing and shaping paper. More than that, though, I really love old paper. Paper that has had a previous life and is now looking for a new purpose. The different textures and thicknesses. The myriad patterns and colours. It is so satisfying to create something pretty (or useful) out of a pile of paper that was destined for the bin!

I am really happy with how it turned out! At just under 12cm x 17cm, it is the perfect size for a handbag... or for sticking in polaroid pics, with room to write under and beside them (the coloured pages make gorgeous frames for the photos!)

The best bit of all, is that it is totally guilt free! All of the paper and card that I used was recycled and I didn't spend a penny! ;-)



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Step Two: Something fresh...

Dear Fi,

I didn’t have any problems with starting my project today. Against my predictions I was quite relaxed and excited. I would say that the first post must have empowered me he, he. But no - my Dear - it is not why I did two pieces! The second piece is the effect of the crisis I had in the middle of the process.

The crisis? Instead of making a few sketches of different ideas floating in my head I started a spontaneous drawing. It shouldn’t surprise me, that soon I found myself in a trap of horror vacui, and you must know Dear Fi, that it was a very unpleasant discovery, and only the beginning of my troubles.

Even before I started this piece I knew that I wanted to use strong colours (as in my inspiration). However, after adding the second part to increase the empty space my mood switched to a totally different set of colours and I couldn’t decide what to do. I took a break. I went to dance class with my daughter, ate dinner and put my children to bed. Then I looked at my project and chose to stretch my comfort zone again. I decided to mix different moods/colours together and see what happens.

It is too bad that you cannot actually see the “true” colours, they changed slightly in the scanning process, especially the gold. Also, it is hard to see the details, but at least this is not a problem - just click on the picture and it will zoom in.

My Dear Fi, I have nothing more to say. Maybe except... that I wish I could write something more interesting and more coherent today, but I spent too much time on uploading these images properly to a blogger (I’m not sure if this is me, or the blogger is not the most user friendly). It’s late, and I’m tired, but at least I feel great. I feel great because it’s Tuesday and I did my part ;)

You know... I think that posting once a week is a good way to strengthen my self-efficacy ha, ha ;)



Step Two: The art of keeping going!

My dearest Sylwi,

This week's creation has been quite a learning curve... in many ways! :-) Surprisingly, after last week, I found sitting down and getting started a dawdle. It was getting through the middle and onto finishing that was hard this week! Mostly because I liked the concept, but once I began, I started to dislike the execution! ha ha! By then, it was too late to turn back, so I had to stubbornly carry on. If it wasn't for our blog rendez-vous today, I doubt I'd have bothered finishing it and would have filed it in the bin... so actually, you've made me very happy! If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have learned as much as I did! 

I've decided against 52 cranes...for the moment. I may change my mind! ;-) Mainly because I have so many other areas I'd like to explore. This week, I was hooked on the theme of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). Described as mini works of art, they are small cards, measuring 2.5 x 3.5 inches... and well that's pretty much the only hard and fast rule. You can use whatever techniques you like to decorate the card. More info can be found here on the original ATC website or in books, like this one, Artist Trading Card Workshop.

My idea for the ATC (I'm going to use this one for a Valentine's card) was a free swinging bird box with two little love birds against a background which says, "the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return" (so wonderfully worked into the movie Moulin Rouge - eek! makes me nearly cry everytime! sniff! ha!) 

I'm not very happy with how it turned out... although, I must say it looks a teeny bit better in real life than it does here in these pics! ;-) I was thinking today that I must learn how to take better blog pics during the course of this year! I know there are some really good articles on photography specifically for blogs (on some of the blogs I follow), so I'll track them down and share them soon, if you're interested.

I guess I found it hard this week, because I really struggled with what materials to use and how to use them. I mostly messed around with acrylic paints, watercolour pencils, pva glue, a craft knife, brush marker pens (which are awesome to draw with and to use to ink stamps) and stamps that I found at a treasure trove of a shop on Etsy, called Nothing Elegant. (She's on holiday right now, just for a few days, so her shop doesn't have much stock today... usually, she has thousands of styles of stamps and all sorts of great stuff!)

I also realised that I have little grasp of colour and how to use it, so there's another thing for me to learn! How do you choose your gorgeous colour combinations? Do you have an idea before you start, or do you develop them as you work?? Please share your secrets... I love your work so much - you're the queen of colour! :-)

I have a sweet little book called Colour Index (Jim Krause) which was recommended to me a while ago, so I think I shall have to do some studying! ;-)

Anyway, whilst I was doing this week's... er... I keep wanting to call it a 'challenge' - it's kind of how it feels at the moment! ha! It's definitely not coming naturally, all of this creativity! Hopefully, during the year, it will begin to feel easier and I also hope to see myself improve! 

Anyway, whilst I was doing this week's "Step" ;-) I also realised, that if we hadn't started this blog, I wouldn't be sitting doing anything creative at all this week. So, here's a big thank you cuddle for being there to push me along on this messy journey of discovery! {big squeeze}

Can't wait to see your Step Two! Hurry up and post! :-)

Lots of love

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Step One: From being scared to being alive...

Dear Fi,

I woke up one morning recently with an image in my mind, I saw colours, shapes, everything. I grabbed a pen and drew what I saw, I described the colours, and the feelings. “This is it” I thought, “My first post for this blog”. Honestly, I got so excited about how great it will look. I even bought some special beads and the paper I wanted to use for my dreamy project. And then, Oh! I got even more excited.

However, when Tuesday came I started to feel overwhelmed. Thinking about how many different things I will need to do for this “perfect” project I panicked. Then I became paralyzed with fear. At first, I was scared because I realized I won’t be able to do what I wanted to do in this short period of time. Then I was scared that I won’t be able to come up with anything else. Finally, I got scared because I understood that I actually “must” do something and I had no idea what.

I sat. I breathed for a few minutes to calm myself down. It worked. I took a different sheet of paper. Different paints. Some small beads. And the needle I bought yesterday. I didn’t have one at home and I needed it for my “perfect” project. (Btw, the last time I used one was probably... more than 20 years ago). To procrastinate a little more I started taking photos of the things I planned to use for this piece.

It didn’t take me long (about ten photos ha, ha) to see that I’m doing everything I can to avoid doing what I was supposed to be doing. And, my Dear Fi, that was the breaking point in this process. I dropped my expectations (for something special to come out of it) and I just started to cut the paper. Soon I disappeared. I don’t know for how long I was floating somewhere between the worlds but I know that when I’m truly in the process of creating something then time doesn’t matter.

I finished my work when I felt that there was nothing more to add. Then I started to laugh. Seriously, out loud. You know why I laughed Fi? I laughed because I saw a tiny scrap of paper with a nice button attached to it, and believe me it wasn’t the masterpiece my ego wanted to create. But even though it wasn’t a masterpiece it was OK. Somehow, it felt so right and authentic. The first tiny step in my journey.

If I learned anything from this experience Dear Fi, it was the fact that from now on, come Tuesday I will be scared (hopefully this fear will lessen around the 49th post). Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and choosing to do unfamiliar things doesn’t feel amusing at the beginning but in the end it is worth it. It is a transformation from being scared to being alive. It brings joy and freedom, and a sense of accomplishment. Even as tiny as today’s piece.



What a huge post for such a tiny piece of artwork, and I thought I had nothing to say!
Fi, I was so excited to see your post!!! It was a true surprise. Your crane is beautiful, it looks so royal (even without the head!). I love the fact that you designed this paper from a scratch (so you!). 52 cranes sounds as great as 52 different projects does. I’m curious what you will decide (maybe I should do 52 buttons? ha, ha). Isn’t it funny that we had such similar observations, about letting go of expectations and having fun? The journey has began, and hopefully as every journey it will bring some understanding and some changes to the outside and to the inside...

I cannot wait until next Tuesday, to see what we come up with :)

Step One: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. {Goethe}

Good morning, sweet Sylwi! :-) Surprise! I actually did something on the blog! This first post was harder than I thought! I have so many ideas in my head of things I'd like to create, that choosing one and actually just sitting down and doing it proved to be quite a challenge!

There's something very exciting and yet, strangely intimidating about a blank piece of paper... and a blank blog too! :-) It feels like there's so much potential and so much possibility! This blank page could be turned into anything, it could be the best thing I've ever created! All that's needed is a great idea... and then, of course, great execution of the idea...

My mind then wandered on to imagining myself sitting down to create something with my paper and I began to realise, it could also turn out to be a disaster, a complete failure... a waste of time! I wondered if maybe it's better to wait, to sit and think of a better idea - get a really clear plan in my head first and then begin?

Subsequently, the ideas got bigger (overwhelmingly so) and the list of tools for the job got longer and before I knew it, a whole week had passed and I'd done nothing but bore myself silly with all of my thinking!

It was at that point that I came across this quote, "you have everything you need to begin!" It was so simple and yet so perfectly true. So, I took my blank piece of A4 paper and a black ink pen and began to draw some patterns of flowers.

The inspiration for these initially came from Indonesian batik patterns. I developed a complete obsession with tjaps whilst searching the internet. I'd love to buy some just as decorations for the house! Anyway, in researching them, I accidentally came across Persian carpet patterns and then... I uncovered a whole host of beautiful, inspirational books that I never even knew existed! You'll see what I mean if you search for 'motifs and designs for artists' at your favourite bookstore. So, I used a combination of various sources and styles as a first stab at drawing pattern. I thought if these patterns were developed, they could make such beautiful wallpaper or textile designs, all coloured up... but that's a whole other project for another week, year, or maybe never, but you know what I mean! ha! :-)

Once I had finished inking the paper, I folded this origami paper crane. The art of origami (an ancient Japanese art of folding paper) simply fascinates me. I'm looking forward to exploring it more this year.

Cranes are a symbol of loyalty, honour and peace and I really enjoyed creating this one. So much so, that I even wondered if I should do 52 weeks of differently designed cranes, but I'm still undecided about that comittment! ;-) 

Anyway, you can find instructions here if you'd like to learn how to fold your own. 

As a side note, my dog ate my crane during the night! ha! :-) What a monster?! I found my poor little crane first thing this morning, all gnarled and soggy in the bottom of Sophie's basket. It was a gruesome discovery! She had bitten its head clean off! ha! :-)

I can't be cross with her as she gave me the guiltiest looks and made beautifully wide 'forgive me!' eyes when I started squealing at what she'd done. I'm such a sucker, she totally worked me!

I guess the one thing I did learn from this whole experience, along with  never adopting a dog from the shelter again... er, not leaving precious belongings on the table at night, ;-) was that this blog, which I began as a weekly commitment to being creative, might just be about to teach me so much more about myself.

As I gathered up all the pieces of my bird, I did, initially, feel a slight sense of emptiness. All of my hard work and effort had been destroyed. But then I thought, no! Creating the crane was the most liberating and fun thing I've done for ages. It was the angst of creating something 'perfect' and my own procrastination that had made it 'hard work'!

I guess this week has been about 'letting go' for me! Letting go of expectations, perfection, control and worries of what other people might think. Just creating for the sake of having some fun, with no pressure on what the end result must be. Enjoying playing just for the sake of it again. Somewhere along the way, I think I forgot how to do that!

Another lesson I've learnt this week is that all of my dreams, all of my imaginings - none of them felt as wonderful as it felt to just begin!

(I got the drop cap from the wonderful Jessica Hische's site - so much fun!)

Lots of love