Sunday, July 29, 2012

Art as a way of healing your soul and spirit

I am going to be straight up honest with you right now.  June and July were not the best months for me in terms of health.  For some reason, my stomach has been acting up and the nefarious pink eye incident turned into the plural form.  In fact, looking at my eyes today, I can safely say that the whites surrounding the pupils are actually white for the first time in way over a month.  Maybe we are making some progress.  As for the stomach problems, stress and too many Vitamin C tablets may be to blame.  When you think about it, Vitamin C is ascorbic acid and too much acid or a combination of acids such as a vitamin with cups of coffee, tea, cola drinks and such probably overloaded my system.  So, I am cutting back on the Vitamin C and trying to limit my coffee consumption.  That is contradicted somewhat by my ordering coffee for my specialty coffeemaker, but I will try to behave and limit my consumption.

So, what has art got to do with all this nonsense?  Good question and I will try to answer it.  Sometimes when I am feeling really rough, I will grab a book to try and lose myself in it and work past the nausea or whatever is ailing me.  One night a week or so ago, I grabbed one of my recipe card booklets and started drawing what I was feeling, writing in words, colouring different areas of the card and so on.  It actually took me a couple of hours to finish the piece.  A small 3 inch by 5 inch piece of card stock.  Unbelievable, right?  When I look over this minute piece of art now, I am surprised by the words I wrote on it and they made me take stock of what is important in my life.

For some reason, I have been having a difficult time in terms of inspiration and motivation.  Add to that the physical problems and you have a pretty good idea why there has not been a blog for the past few weeks.  I think I am moving past this stage right now and if I can go another week without the colour pink surrounding my pupils, I just might get myself back on track.  My sleep patterns need adjusting as I slept a lot over the past few weeks.  That was probably to combat the weeks before when sleep was a scarce commodity.  Let us just say, I think the worst is over and maybe I can get back to the business of living and that means making art in all forms.

I did keep up doodling on index cards during this time as well as doing a fair amount of braiding.  Reading kind of went by the wayside for obvious reasons.  It really is difficult to read when your eye is dripping fluid.  But, this did not keep me from quick bursts of colour and patterns on the index cards. Another plus, I finished a braid last night that has taken over 8 hours of braiding.  What I have learned from that braid, measure your embroidery floss to the size you really need for an actual piece.  I thought making an extra long cord that would turn into 2 or 3 bracelets was being time efficient.  The reality of this is that I am goal oriented and I like to see results.  Consequently, I just threaded the bobbins for my kumihimo loom with shorter, bracelet length pieces of a dark blue ribbon.  I have a story about the ribbon too.

I did manage a trip to the supply shoppe to pick up some items that were on sale.  One of my downfalls is that I love ribbon and when I find it on sale and know how I can use it, I stock up.  Really stock up!
So, I was walking around the store looking at all the eye candy and a young man came up to me.  He had obviously been watching me tear through the ribbon department and was extremely curious.  He stopped me and pointed to my stash of colourful ribbons and had one question, "Why?"  I had to laugh at his face, he was obviously floored at the number of rolls of ribbon.  I explained to him that I made bracelets out of ribbon and all this would soon be wearable art.  I am not so sure he believed me about the "wearable art" aspect, but he sure had a new appreciation for how much damage one woman could do in the ribbon department.  By damage, I refer to my pocket book.  I am a responsible shopper and am known to tidy up store shelves as I shop.  Weird, I know, but I just have to do it.  Maybe deep down, I do not want anyone to think that I caused the chaos.

Anyway, I am back and starting to feel more like myself.  Or what passes for myself, some days I am not so sure.  I seem to be constantly changing in reaction to what I see, hear and feel.  I try to get those feelings down as colours, designs, and/or words on small pieces of card stock.  Hopefully, I am going to move forward enough to keep the momentum going.  I have a few ideas in mind, but I will share those with you in another post.

Have a great week!  Drop me a comment if you would like to start some dialogue on art as a way of healing.  How has it helped you or would you be willing to give it a try?

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The days of summer

It is now summer and with the longer days of daylight upon us, one would hope that there would be equally more time in the studio.  Such is not the case.  I wrote previously about having a problem with my eyes, a case of pink eye to be exact.  Just when I thought it was gone after coming back to haunt me, it has returned yet again.  I am guessing that this will warrant a trip to the doctor or at the very least to the pharmacy to see what they have that will get rid of this problem.  The problem with most medications is that you can only use them for three days and have to stop.  I suspect if I had continued for another couple of days, I might have conquered this problem.  Oh well, not to worry!  It will take a lot more than three rounds of pink eye to keep me down.

I am still braiding using the kumihimo loom and I seem to be addicted to this form of weaving.  In fact, I keep two of the round looms threaded up and ready to use so that I can  always be doing something with my hands even when listening to a newscast or some music.  End caps seem to be an expense that I am not really willing to think about and so I have ordered some wire from a beading supply company.  Using the wire, I should be able to make my own end caps and then be ready to make up the many pieces of cord that I have made thus far.  I am quite excited by this and looking forward to moving on to the next stage in production using the braids.

Jewelry has always been something that interested me.  I never really wore any whilst working in florist shoppes.  Since I was usually plunging my hands into buckets to retrieve my knife or working to prep a mountain of roses for the display case, wearing jewelry just was not practical.  Even when I worked in an office, I still refrained from wearing anything decorative so that it was not in the way when I was typing, doing inventory, or any of the other duties my position entailed.  But, at this stage in my life, I find that I want to wear interesting pieces that stand out from the norm.  At this point, I have only made bracelets and have cords ready for necklaces.  But, I want to get further into the discovery of what might be possible and have been doing a lot of reading and viewing videos on YouTube.  Rings seem to be a logical next step as do earrings.  There are so many things to learn and it seems daunting on one hand, but on the other hand, I cannot wait to try new techniques.

Patience!  That has never been a virtue that I have had in any quantity.  I want to learn everything and try every technique as soon as possible.  Learning to do things properly is making me take my time and proceed with caution.  My budget is also making me take my time learning since I can only allow myself to spend a certain amount on beads, wire, books, and all the other items needed to proceed with the making of jewelry.  I want my jewelry to be fun, alive, but at the same time show that I know what I am doing.  I want to think that what I make will be something that someone might want to wear.  So, a certain amount of refinement will be necessary in the creation of all things bejeweled.

Refined, that word makes me smile.  No one would ever accuse me of being refined.  For the most part, my daily wardrobe consists of one of the few pairs of track pants I own, paired with t-shirts that I inherited from a friend.  The t-shirts all have stripes on them, for the most part shades of orange with a few with blue stripes just to add a little variety.  My friend loves stripes and that is okay with me.  She gets tired of her shirts and knows that there is a good home for them.  I wonder if the fact that the shirts are all striped might be the reason why she gets tired of her collection so quickly.  Just a thought that I am putting out there.

Back to the subject of jewelry!  I should be working on end cap tutorials later this week, once the wire arrives.  So, that will take me to the next stage in the process.  Once end caps are mastered, I am on to closures and that entails a lot of different styles.  Yes, you can purchase pre-made closures, but what is the fun in that?  I want to learn how to make my own just because it is something that I should know how to do.  Once I get past all the learning stages, I might take some short cuts and use closures that I purchase from a craft shoppe, but for now, I plan to take every chance that I can and learn by doing all these little bits of the craft.  I know that I will never work in a jewelry shoppe or be considered a jewelry artist, but at least I will have another skill to put down on my mental resume. 

For now, my artistic pursuits seem to be scattered all over the map, much like my thought process.  My mind flits from one subject to another much like the bees in the garden making their way from one flower to another.  I am just hoping that the ideas I pick up from so many places will gel and take on some formation or shape.  Whether it is on canvas, worn around someones neck or some doodles on an index card, it is all art.  I can be happy with that and satisfied that I am making progress.  Maybe a little slower than I would like, but as long as I am learning and having fun on the way, I am okay with the speed.

How are your artistic pursuits coming along?  Has summer inspired you or slowed you down due to the many social activities all taking place during this short span of time?  It is okay, take your time, but try to be true to yourself and find just a little bit of time to be creative.  Baking cakes, cookies and other goodies count as being art, edible art.  Just look through the many web sites showing amazing cakes decorated with flowers, borders, and other interesting ideas.  Anyone who can put a show piece together that looks like a master baker was in their kitchen is definitely artistic.

Have a wonderful week! 

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Starting up again slowly

So, it has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote to you about what was happening in my life and in my studio.  I dropped out of sight, leaving dust to accumulate in the studio and my beloved books, art supplies, and paper to sit in the storage closet.  I knew something was wrong, I just was not feeling the drive I would normally feel when contemplating new projects.  Feeling down, I just let life move on whilst I tried to catch up on sleep which never seemed to come.

Well, this past week, I found out what was brewing in my body when I woke up one morning to find my right eye running fluid with the white area a nasty shade of pink leaning to red.  Oh yeah, pink eye in all its glory.  Just to make the day even better, my sinuses decided to add to the symptoms and by late day, my left eye had joined the right one and I had a matched pair of running red eyes and I looked somewhat like the zombie from the other world.  Pretty, not so much!

I am looking much better today!  My eyes are returning to normal, but I am on high alert and ensuring that all hard surfaces are sterilized and that I keep my hands away from my eyes at all times.  I use paper toweling to wash my eyes, put a fresh towel on my pillow each night and just in general try to observe every rule of staying healthy.  I am sharing this with you for a reason.  When it became clear to me what was happening, I e-mailed friends advising them to be on the alert for pink eye.  The next day, one friend e-mailed back saying that he had woken up with one eye swollen shut and oozing clear fluids.  Well, on the bright side, he knew what had happened to him in his sleeping hours and was able to pick up the required meds on his way into work.  I am just saying, it is always good to be aware of what "bugs" are out there and ready to strike during any particular season.

The good news is that not only are my eyes looking and feeling better, I seem to have gotten a fresh look at how I need to proceed artistically - slowly, but with determination.  Quinn Mcdonald has written a wonderful book, Raw Art Journaling, which helps by giving you ideas on creating prompts to help you get your thoughts, dreams and such into a journal by using creative prompts and the use of art.  You do not need to be an artist to start journaling!  You just need to have a desire to put your ideas down on paper in some form, whether it be using paints, coloured pencils, cutting out words from books, magazines or other publications you have handy.

Quinn also writes a wonderful blog and somehow manages to put up a post every few days.  I am so impressed!  I struggle to write something that I hope gives you ideas of what I am trying to accomplish once a week.  To get a post up more often would have me struggling to find the words.  And maybe, that is where my problem comes from.  Maybe I need to focus on just putting marks on paper and let my inner artist out to play.  A few words to prompt a thought or idea would be the icing on the cake!  So, I need to set my sights on smaller pieces for the moment until I get my feet wet in the artistic waters again.  By the way, you really should sign up and read Quinn's words of encouragement.  Read up and sign up for her blog at:

In a blog this past week, Quinn met up with Tammy Garcia, another creative soul at the Great American Scrapbook Convention that was being held at Arlington, Texas.  Tammy told Quinn about something she called the ICAD Project --> Index Card a Day Project.  In this project, you use index cards to build up pages to put together for a journal.  Take one small card a day and decorate the border.  Tammy's idea is that a blank card even as small as an index card can be as much of a block to  someone as a 16" x 20" inch canvas or a standard 8.5" x 11" piece of paper.  What do you draw on the paper or index card?  Tammy's idea of starting by decorating the border and corners of the cards and maybe come up with a colour theme for a series of cards.  Once you have the borders decorated, it will make it easier to come up with ideas on what to put in the center of each card.  This makes so much sense!  Quinn suggests putting your scrapbook ideas in place, use your coloured pencils, pens, markers, add some other paper accents and grab your paper punches.  Get your series of cards together and see where they take you artistically.  That is so what I need right now and I am eager to give this a try today!  Seriously, read Quinn's post, take a good look at her examples and ready, get set, get rocking a new look for a small journal of manageable proportions.  No intimidation!  No stressing!  Just simple doodling, making interesting marks and add some embellishments.  Then, you are so ready to write something interesting or provocative on your pages.  Whether you share your journals with others is up to you, but half the fun of journaling is sharing ideas with others working with the same medium. 

One of my nagging fears with journalingDonley and DeAnn Singh.  In this book, the authors encourage us to use anything to make marks on paper, try forming your letters in different ways.  Not to worry!  There are a lot of samples to give you some ideas and the letters are formed on grids so that you can duplicate these and learn how to work on each pen/marker stroke.  At last, I just might be able to come up with a style of lettering that means something and is personal to me.  I feel empowered at this point and think that making a small journal is doable over the next week.  I will not pressure myself to decide on a topic at this point, I plan to enjoy putting coloured strokes together to make interesting borders and perhaps even work a few stamps into the designs.  Once I get a supply of the index cards decorated, then I can progress into what words I want to add to the pages.  Hopefully, by next week, I will have a journal or two to share with you.  I am so hoping that this is what happens!

Meanwhile, yes, I am still deep into the kumihimo braiding and it appears this is going to be an all consuming form of art for me to work on and learn to work the braids into pieces of jewelry, bookmarks, lanyards and so on.  I am so hoping to be able to work on a bracelet with beads worked into the braids.  I know I need to be patient, but this is consuming me and even when my eyes were at their watery worst over the past few days, I still managed to braid for a few hours each day.  I am determined to make an amazing bracelet, but I will be patient and get my speed up on the braiding and then start working on the beading aspect.

I hope you are finding some time to be creative and pursue ideas that have been percolating in the back of your mind.  Take a chance!  Try something that you have always wanted to work on and go for it!  Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do this, just go for broke, put your supply kit together and find a quiet spot to work on your dream.  You just might surprise yourself.  I hope you take a look at Quinn's book "Raw Art Journaling" to get some amazing ideas and then let your creative juices get flowing with Marci's and DeAnn's book, "Hand Lettering."  I think you will forget your fears and be able to ignore that nagging voice in the back of your head that tells you that you cannot be creative.  Drown out the voice with some wonderful music and start making your marks, letters, your own creative way.  Just start with the borders and work your way inward when you feel ready.  It really is that easy!

Have a wonderful week!  Let me know what you are working on, I would so love to hear.  But, at the very least, make a start, even if it is a small one, but it will lead you forward.

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A challenging week leads to another

So, last Sunday, I decided to run out and visit a craft supply shop and dropped a bit more cash than I had really budgeted to spend.  Sadly, that is not uncommon for me when in the midst of art nirvana and after getting back home, I decided to issue myself the ultimate challenge:  go the rest of the week without spending any money.  Right, we know where this is going, do we not?  Well, actually, we, the "royal we" not only managed to follow through, but it really was not as difficult as I thought it might be.

I was very frugal for years and years, never buying unless I could pay for something up front.  Whilst I would put a purchase on my credit card, I would then go to the bank and transfer funds to cover the statement within a day or two of the purchase.  Once I got a computer, I could transfer funds from the comfort of my home.  I did go off the tried and true path at one point and that caused me several years of hellish nightmares.  Mea culpa!  I did it to myself in order to preserve the image that all was well when that was really far from the truth.  My mobility was getting from a slight problem to moving into being a major issue and traveling to work was my nemesis.  Suffice it to say, through the help of a concerned sister, I managed to work my way to solvency and swore that I would never end up in such a position again.  And I definitely will not!

So, I put the brakes on my spending last week and aside from the scheduled payments that automatically go out of my operating account to pay the mortgage, condo fee and such, I am happy to say that I did not make any purchases through to and up until this very day.  I am not deep in despair at not going out and buying as I normally would and found the week a good time to use up what was in the fridge, items that were in the studio and so on.  Molly Cat had her requisite treat dish filled daily, but perhaps the treats were doled out a tad more carefully.  That is not a bad thing!  Both our girlish figures will thank us for being careful with treats and when we do indulge, we will enjoy them more.  At least that is my thought, Molly may not be quite as content with a simpler life, but she will survive, as will I.   

Thinking that the week would be a bit of a doze, I really did not set an agenda for myself and found that my mood was a bit off.  But, it was not the lack of spending, it was more the lack of going out and doing something or meeting up with a friend at the coffee kiosk.  So, in order to continue such a challenge, I would have to come up with some creative ways of socializing and motivate myself to spend more time in the studio.  I am still working on these two issues, it will take some time to work out the bugs and implement a plan of action.

Meanwhile, I did not purchase any books, resolving to read what is already in my personal library, either in physical presence or loaded on my e-reader.  I did not buy any goodies from the online art supply vendors that are my normal budgetary vices.  Not one thing was purchased.  I do feel that I accomplished something by challenging myself in this way.  I will look at items differently now and decide whether the purchase is emotionally driven or a true necessity.  How long this lull in purchasing will last will be determined by my resolve to eliminate unnecessary items and stick to putting only truly needed items in the shopping basket.

I am not going to eliminate my coffee kiosk visits too dramatically as that is my outing for the week in many cases.  Where I need to watch myself the most is when I am online looking at web shoppes.  Be very wary of purchases made after 11 p.m.!  I can attest to the fact that most of my online purchases are made late at night and my new plan is to make a note of what I want to buy, then go back in the light of day, preferably in the early afternoon and review what I was looking at and determine how much I really need those items.  Sound like a plan!  Now, I will have to see if I can hold myself to it.

So, how is your week playing out?  Are you ready to try the no spending challenge?  Let me know how you make out if you give it a try.  It really does make you look at your spending in an entirely different way and can help you recognize the signs of emotional spending.  Not pleasant to acknowledge, but it really is a wise person who can sit down and put a stop to it.  I wish you well if you give it a try and can give you some pointers if you contact me.  But, the first thing is to put your mind to it and put the credit card/debit card away in a safe place.  Meaning one that you have to work on to get into.  Eventually, you will hit your stride and not have to go to such lengths to avoid spending, I promise!

Have a great week!

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Another month bites the dust

Can you believe that the month of May is almost done?  That makes me sad in some ways as I do enjoy the spring weather.  But, it is more truthful to say, that any month in which I can escape outdoors without a jacket or sweater is a month to be savoured.  So, I will not allow myself to be sad that the month is coming to a close, but will celebrate that a few more months of lovely weather will follow.

May was a good month for - a  me in terms of getting things done or learning new techniques.  The kumihimo braiding was something that I had wanted to try for a long time and now that I have mastered the basic steps, I find myself braiding at any and all hours of the day when I just need to sit down and refocus my mind for a bit.  I found a few balls of crochet cotton in a bin in the studio and have set them aside to try on the loom in the upcoming week.  One ball is a glittery gold colour which I think could be turned into an interesting braid to wear around the neck once a suitable pendant is found for it.  I have a package of black lacquered bamboo tiles, about an inch long and half of an inch wide, that could become a pendant once I either paint a pattern or decoupage an interesting decal onto.  When I am out and about, I tend to look through sewing/craft departments and often find interesting bits such as the tiles.  One of my most recent finds was in a discount bin containing discontinued items - a small package of ladybug buttons.  Looking at these now, I can picture them being sewn onto a flat braid, likely a black one with hints of red peeking through.  I suspect that this is going to be my next project on the braiding loom.

My mind seemed to be on overload for the better part of the past week and I have made a lot of notes to follow up on with more than a few projects on the horizon.  Looking at one particular web site that I enjoy,, I found that Marisa has added some wonderful neon accents to her product line.  Washi tape, stickers, paper tags along with a few other items found their way into my cart and I am looking forward to playing with these pieces and adding them to some collage ideas that have been percolating in my mind.  Marisa writes a fun blog that you would definitely enjoy, especially the ones put up on Mondays entitled "Monday Eye Candy."  Pictures of different paper crafts and such are put up for all to enjoy and will definitely make you smile.  Having a look at the blog will certainly entice you into her web shoppe and I can pretty much guarantee that you will be wanting to pick up on some of the lovely washi tape.  I suppose I mention that because that is one item I am always drawn to admire and most times to buy a few rolls.  Adding the tape to cards, envelopes, loot bags and such is an easy way to bring them up to the next level and to colour coordinate these items to a particular theme.  If you see something you like, best be quick about ordering them as they fly off of the shelves! The nice thing about overindulging in the goodies from Omiyage is that they are calorie free and will not go to waste whilst waiting for you to decide which project you want to use them in first.  But, do use them!  How sad to buy these items and not put them to good use as soon as possible.

Now, what else has been percolating in my busy little mind?  Percolating may not be the most wisely chosen word since I found myself making a lot of coffee over the past week.  But, maybe that was why I made so many notes to follow up on!  I am starting a project that I may have alluded to previously, a new journal with larger paintings or collages to follow based on the journal pages.  Since I am progressing using Suzi Blu's book, "Mixed Media Girls," the idea of doing a journal containing pages of children, faeries and other majickal creatures has again crept into my conscious mind.  Suzi's book is a wonderful guide on how to achieve the winsome child faces that I hope to draw.  Her idea of basing your proportions using graph paper is spot on and I now keep a book of graph paper nearby so that I can practise at a moment's notice.  I still need to work on the body proportions, but feel that the work on the first page of my journal will commence soon.  I am working on selecting colours, patterns, and other elements to make it special.  The subject will be a little girl dressed to the nines in all her faerie splendour, complete with the requisite wings, trying her best to turn the family feline into an elephant.  Molly Cat has informed me that she will not pose for this particular piece, feeling that it is below her dignity.  I will just have to make do with pictures of Molly in her various poses in order to capture the correct posture of the sleeping cat I see flopped out on the chair.  As soon as I complete this piece I will share it with you so you will have an idea of where my mind flits to when it escapes a mundane afternoon in the flat.

May was a good month in which I managed to finish reading a few books.  Friends brought me over a copy of "Fifty Shades of Grey" which I plan to start later today.  I also have a few other books loaded on the e-reader and am anxious to start.  A few pertain to the art of writing and an equal number will hopefully teach me some new techniques to try in the studio.  So, it would appear that June will be a month of learning again.  But, every month should be one in which we learn new things.

With just a few days left in May, I still want to enjoy each one of them rather than just dash into another month without a thought.  I will make notes regarding which books I should keep handy to refer back to for artistic tutoring and I also need to make notes on which balcony plants need to be replanted.  I did not get around to replanting the rosemary and must do that this week to ensure that I have a good crop to put away for the winter months.  The geraniums are blooming nicely, but I have yet to go out and pick up the pansies that I really would like to see sitting on the outdoor table just outside the slider doors.  If the weather is nice and I have the scooter charged up, I just might make my way to a vendor on Monday that I know to have a nice selection of plants.  Getting my treasures home could be a bit tricky, but I will make sure that I bring a few bungee cords to tie a flat down to the cart on the front of the scooter.  Surely, if I drive slowly, carefully, a flat of assorted plants will survive the short ride home.  Then, it will be back to the shoppes to pick up another bag of soil and a few more pots to provide homes for the plants.

With all of these activities/ideas floating around, I wonder if I will accomplish all of them?  I really hope to do so in order to make the most of each day.  The prospects of colourful plants on the balcony, journal pages to complete, and cords to be braided, all call out to me saying that I need to complete this first rather than something else.  Just so much temptation and only so many hours in each day and I hardly know where to begin.  But, as with any journey, it all begins with one step.  What step will you begin with this week?  I would love to hear from you about what you are beginning or finishing, if that be the case.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Making progress slowly, but steadily!

Another week has passed by and I have to wonder where all that time went.  Is it not strange that those days, with untold potential, could race by at the speed of sound and leave so little done behind?  I try to make the most of each day as best I can.  Some days, moving around is difficult, so any tasks requiring me to walk for more than a few moments or to stand too long, will be left to deal with at another time.  This past week was one in which I managed to capture some extra time to read, practise drawing, work on braiding as well as deal with the day to day activities that demand my attention.  So, the week was a success in a manner of speaking.

I am watching my little garden develop slowly, but surely.  From what I am seeing, the rosemary plants will need to be replanted as I obviously did not get enough water to them.  This time I will plant the seeds in larger pots which will hold the moisture longer.  The parsley is off to a good start and I should have a fairly generous crop of different types of basil.  No sign of flowers as yet so I might break down and buy a few pots of pansies to lend some colour amongst all the greenery.  One the tomatoes get going I can look forward to splashes of red on the balcony.  Hopefully the naughty little birds that come to perch on the railing mind their manners and leave my crops along.  But, just in case, I have my water squirting bottle handy to reinforce my rule of leaving my crops alone.  Sounds mean, but in another flat, I had some creature toss my plants about, taking them right out of the soil.  I never caught that thief at work, sadly.  So that little garden did not end happily.

The books on my night stand are growing each day as I delve into different artistic pursuits.  Suzi Blu's book "Mixed Media Girls" is definitely a favourite go to book already.  She has such a nice way of giving you the information in stages to help you to build up the skills necessary to draw your own version of how you envision a character to appear.  One of the best tips that I have learned this week is that balancing the positioning of the eyes is key to making your character look realistic.  So, Suzi's advice is to use graph paper to work on and practise placing eyes in the correct position.  My thought at this time is also to practise the different looks depending on how low the eye lid is placed.  It is amazing how just a slight difference in where the eye lid is can totally take your character from appearing bright and eager to slow and contemplative.

"Mixed Media Girls" comes along with an instructional DVD with Suzi giving some lessons on making your mixed media girls along with some great tips on how to achieve some great looks with your mixed media pieces.  Covering the final piece with beeswax will seal and take care of the edges that might otherwise detract from the look.  The warm wax is spread across the canvas and settles around all the edges of material that you may have glued to your piece. Once the wax is dry, you buff it up with a soft cloth and the effect is that of giving a softer look, almost ethereal to your piece.  I am all up for that!  So, this week will be spent in the studio working on my mixed media girls.  And, thanks to Suzi, I have a project in mind that I will share with you once I actually get down to working on it.  For now, I need to perfect my drawing skills and get face proportions figured out.  But, I think with this book beside me, the skills I have not been able to develop just might have a chance to allow me to put together some quirky little ladies.

Of course the kumihimo braiding is still a force to be reckoned with in my life.  I have become addicted to it and I now automatically keep the loom ready to go with the warps in place so that should I sit down to watch the news on television or listen to some music, I can start making another braid.  I tried making one out of one quarter inch ribbon and it turned out very nicely if I do say so myself.  I am going to get some end caps made to finish off the braid and add a pendant to my newest necklace.  Two other braids that I made were done with embroidery floss which makes for a much finer piece of cord.  Truthfully, even though the embroidery floss takes much longer to work up into a braid, I still prefer working with it because of the end result.  The fineness of the braid just is more feminine, dainty and I can envision sewing a few strategic pearls to accent a delicate pendant at the focal point.   Kumihimo is definitely a skill to master if you want to work on something without having to follow a scripted pattern.  Once you get into the rhythm of working with the warps, auto pilot goes on and the braid just happens.  You can be having a zen moment and be totally relaxed by the time you finish with your session.  My problem is, I do not want to stop and have actually spent an entire afternoon working on one of the braids.  Like I said, this is addictive, so be warned if you decide to give it a try.  I still have not mastered adding beads to the warp threads, but I will get to that point.  I think I just need to focus on the braids for a bit, see how the square loom produces a flat cord.  Plus, I hope to try the round loom with sixteen bobbins which should prove interesting.  I picked up an extra pack of bobbins for this reason and will let you know how that little project turns out.  I suspect that once I get into the rhythm of moving the threads and turning the loom just slightly to make my way to the next pair, I will be able to produce braids that should be somewhat thicker, but still maintain their daintiness.  Again, this is something I need to do in order to figure out how it all works together in the scheme of things.  You know, the worst thing to happen would be for me to not like the look of the braid.  That does not deter me from trying since I would still be learning whilst working on the project.  As long as you learn something from what you are doing, you are not wasting time.  

A few friends will be dropping by later in the week.  They were supposed to come last week, but a death of friends father had them traveling in the opposite direction to attend the services.  So, brownies, cookies and something else, not yet determined will be baked off mid week.  I suspect there will be chocolate brownies along with butterscotch ones since one of the lads coming has a particular fondness for that particular variety.  The main thing is that I will spend some time with three of the people I love the most in the world.  We have been friends for thirteen years and just seem to know when the other needs to hear from one of us.  So I will be spending an evening with three of the people I love the most in the world.  Here is hoping that we are still getting together over platters of brownies in another thirteen years.
I hope you have an equally satisfying week!  Take some time to learn a new skill, plant some flowers or read a good book.  Anything that gives you some personal satisfaction and relaxes you would be perfect to get you to your zen place.

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What are you reading this week?

 I have to admit, I am totally addicted to reading and cannot leave my flat without bringing either a hard copy or my e-reader to keep me busy whilst waiting for an appointment or sipping a coffee at a kiosk.  Reading is so much more than a luxurious way to spend my time, in fact I cannot think of going through a day without spending an hour or two curled up enjoying some form of a book. 

Although I enjoy good fiction, lately I have found myself reading two well written books pertaining to business.  Arlene Dickinson's "Persuasion" and Robert Herjavic's "Driven" are both loaded on my e-reader.  Both authors are panelists on the Canadian version of Dragon's Den and prove themselves to be adept as authors and business leaders.  I have finished "Persuasion" and found the book to be a very personal account of Ms Dickinson's ascent into becoming one of the top CEO's in Canada, her company Venture Communications being a leader in coming to the aid of companies needing assistance in turning their image around.  Whilst I am just over half way through Herjavic's "Driven," I can see that this is a book that I will likely go back to reread again and again.  While he writes about how his early life as a young child arriving in Canada from Croatia, he transitions his story into an outline on starting up and running a successful business.  Both books provide a lot of life lessons that will be beneficial even for those not planning to start up their own business and I can definitely say that both books are top reads meriting five star ratings.

Moving on through the books spread out on my coffee table/night stand, I am also working my way through "Braiding with Beads on the Kumihimo Disk" (Karen DeSousa),  "Doodles Unleashed" (Traci Bautista) and "Mixed Media Girls (Suzi Blu).  I am hoping that the first book will help me learn the beading techniques and patience required to work tiny seed beads into some jewelry that I am trying to produce.  Yes, I am still deeply intrigued with Japanese braiding and whilst I have a long way to go before I would deem myself proficient in the art, I have to confess that even though I have torn apart several braids to rework them, I am not disheartened. The braiding involves a fair amount of concentration, but at the same time seems to make me relax.  The dancing bobbins of thread attract the attention of one very lively little kitten who desperately would love to capture and run away with one.  So far, I have managed to keep Molly Cat from tearing apart any of my work in progress, but keeping tabs on completed braids is proving to be a chore.  For some reason, Molly loves to play with the completed braids, tossing them into the air, catching them and I suspect she is pretending that they are little critters needing to be banished from our little home.  No damage has been done and I have to admit, I do laugh at her antics which only encourages her to be even more naughty.  Regardless, I will work my way through the book and hopefully be adding beads to my braids successfully within the next while.

I have acquired a square kumihimo loom which produces a flat braid as opposed to the round braids that make their way off of the round loom.  I guess that makes sense when you think about it, but then, I have never used a loom before and this art form is new to me and anything could result from the continuous moving of the warp threads.  Please note that "warp" is referring to the threads and not to the speed at which I am producing the braid.  I have been using embroidery floss to make the braids and this makes for a very finely woven braid, very appealing I have to admit.  I am not one who is drawn to chunky jewelry, but that could change once I try something different.  Finding some coarser crochet cotton left over from another project, I suspect that I will give this a try to see what kind of braid results.  Any time spent working on this and learning is time well spent to my way of thinking.  My line of thought being that as long as I am learning something, the time I spend "playing" is really adult education of some sort.

The other two books are hopefully going to help me in my quest to learn how to draw with better accuracy whilst still encouraging me allow the free spirited artist within to just "go for it" and have fun.  Traci Bautista and I seem to be cut from the same cloth in that we both find art tools in every room of the flat.  The pattern of paper towelling can be transferred onto card stock, plastic lids from different jars can be inked to make circles on wrapping paper, and straws, stir sticks and skewers can all be used to scratch patterns on your mixed media pieces.  "Doodles Unleashed" provides a lot of ideas without telling you how to make a piece of art.  The prompts are there for just that reason, to give you an idea to try something different just to see how "your" piece of art develops.  You learn to save those odd bits of paper, thread, and crayons and pull them out in front of you to see just what you might come up with on any particular day.  The point is to have fun with your art, not to set out to make a predetermined piece that everyone else might also make.  Take some basic guidelines, and just let your piece develop the way you see it and with the colours that you feel like working with.  That is my kind of art!

But, I still would like to learn to to draw faces of a somewhat realistic nature but still have a certain whimsical charm to them.  Just to be clear, I am not aiming for the clown like faces sporting dunce caps on them, I find these just a tad too over the top.  I enjoy simple faces that have a natural but doll like look if that makes sense.  I am not trying to draw or paint portraits, just to give the idea of a face without too much emphasis on detail.  Express emotion, have some realistic qualities, but at the same time be fun and allow me to personalize them according to how I feel on that particular moment.  "Mixed Media Girls" encourages you to find the look that is authentic to your style of art and make interesting mixed pieces that incorporate all mediums to come up with textured art that appeals to you visually and emotionally.

Sounds like quite a lot on the go right now and yes, it is.  But, I love being challenged, tempted and eager to get moving every day.  Reading has that capability about it.  Amazing how powerful the written word can be and where it can take you if you let it.  What books are you reading and where are they leading you?  Will you try a new recipe this week or think about putting pen to paper to build a start up plan for a business?  Take time to read for at least an hour each day, whether it is fiction, an autobiography or whatever appeals to you.  It really is time well spent and you never know where your journey might take you.  You know, we might even cross paths!  Now, that would be fun and possibly dangerous in the best of ways.

Have a wonderful week and take some time for yourself to curl up with a good book.  I promise you, it will be time well spent!

Sincerely,   Rutheemac