Sunday, November 28, 2010

Something a little new

Happy Sunday!
Hope everyone is enjoying a lovely weekend and for my American friends, a lovely Thanksgiving long weekend.  For today's post, I thought I would try something a little different.  I promised to have a holiday story to post on Thursday, December 23 and that's coming along nicely.  But, for today, I wanted to share with you a little story that has been in the writing process for over three years.  This is one of the stories that I have had stuffed on my bookshelf that has been calling to me to work on it and let it be read by others.  So, finally, one day last, I decided to try and finish it. You are the first ones to read my first story.  While it is one that could be read to children, I would suggest it would be best for those in the 8 to 10 year old range.  With proper explanations, it could be told to younger ones, but perhaps not under the age of 5.  Without further delay, let me take you into my first story, one that is very dear to me because it has been in the works for so long.

A Very Special Gift
by Rutheemac

You and I know that there are many things that happen that cannot be explained.  I am about to tell you a story that is just like that.  While the story cannot be explained by scientists, doctors or other specialists, it does not mean that the story is anything less than it is and what it is, is a story about how a little black kitten and her new owner became the best of friends.

Once upon a time, not so many years ago, there was a great flurry of activity in a part of Heaven that was devoted to the production of a variety of puppies and kittens that would be sent to good homes on earth.  In these new homes, the new puppy or kitten would be loved and taken care of by their new family or owner.

On this particular day, the angel known as Annie came running to her supervisor, another angel named Bethany.  "Oh Bethany, we have a problem, a slight shortage in supplies" cried out Annie,  Annie was known for getting overly excited and so Bethany stopped, and smiled at the anxious little angel.  Bethany had been an angel for hundreds of years.  That would be like counting all your fingers and toes, over and over, all day long and then through the night for all the days of the week and still not reaching the exact number of years.

"Annie, whatever is the matter?  I am sure we can solve your problem" was Bethany's reply.  "Oh Bethany, we have a shortage of black fur and are short one hind paw, yet we need to make up a black kitten to fill today's stock orders" Annie said breathlessly.  "Well, I think the solution to that would be to make a very special kitten, one that will require a very special home" Bethany said thoughtfully.  She then gave Annie some very specific instructions and sent her back to the workroom to take care of this order herself.

Back in the workroom, Annie pulled a little roll of black fur off of the shelf and stroked it gently as she hoped the special human owner would do.  She gathered up all the other components needed to make this little kitten, a very special little kitten.  Filling up her basket with three tiny paws, two chocolaty brown eyes, that could magically turn bright green, two little ears, whiskers, along with all the other bits and pieces, Annie sat down on her stool, sewing basket by her feet and made an adorable little kitten, one with only three paws, but admittedly, the loveliest little kitten that Annie had ever made.

Bethany checked in a while later to see how Annie was progressing with her special project.  When she saw what Annie had put together, she was truly pleased.  "Annie, you have done a wonderful job" exclaimed Bethany.  "This little black kitten is just perfect."  "But Bethany, I could not make a complete right hind leg and had to finish off right at the joint where the hind paw would have been attached" Annie said sadly.  Bethany gently brushed the tears from Annie's eyes.  The tears dropped ever so softly onto the little black kitten who then started purring, ever so quietly.  Bethany smiled.  "Your tears and compassion for this little creature have brought her to life.  She is no less perfect than all the other kittens you make every day, but then in other ways, this little furry one is more special and I have found just the perfect home for her."  Annie smiled and felt much better and handed the littlest kitten that she had ever made over to her supervisor after she had cuddled it one last time.

Bethany scooped the little kitten up in her arms.  This truly was an adorable little kitten.  The wee furry creature looked up at Bethany and patted her cheek with a tiny paw.  "Not to worry my little friend, I have found a perfect home for you.  You will be very happy there and the person who takes care of you will love you with all her heart."  The kitten responded with a lovely little purr.

Bethany went into her office and reviewed the prospective owner's file.   The new owner's name was Jeanne, a single lady who worked at various jobs and lived in a tiny flat.  Jeanne had been very ill when she was a child and as a result had a lot of problems moving her joints, especially in her legs.  But, after a long stay in the hospital and a lot of care, she was able to carry on with her life and worked hard to support herself.  While her flat was small and plain, it was noted on her file that she was very much in need of a kitten, one who she could love with all her heart.  A heart full of love was ever so much more important than a large flat Bethany thought.  "Yes, this is the perfect home for a special little kitten."

Later in the day, there was a knock on Jeanne's door.  She hurried to open it and found a special delivery person standing there smiling.  "Delivery for you miss, no signature required."  After saying this, he handed over a small wicker basket that had a large red bow tied to its handle.  Jeanne was startled.  "But, I have not ordered anything and it is not my birthday or any other special day."  The delivery person smiled, "Every day is a special day miss.  Maybe today is even more special than you ever thought it might be."  And with that, the delivery person skipped down the stairs whistling.  This was not just any delivery person.  This one had wings embroidered on the shoulders of his blue uniform.  Golden wings indicating that he was a special delivery angel from Heaven.

Jeanne carried the basket carefully into her tiny front room and placed it down on a table.  Sitting down in the chair beside the table, Jeanne gently removed the red bow from the basket and set it aside.  Opening the lid of the basket, up popped the head of the tiny black kitten.  "Oh my" breathed Jeanne, "you are so sweet."  She ever so gently picked up the little kitten and cuddled her wondering who would ever send her such a lovely surprise.  She looked carefully through the basket and the note she found had one simple little message.  "Love me with all your heart."  Tears filled Jeanne's eyes and the tiny kitten reached up to pat her cheek.  "I will love you forever little one, do not ever worry about that my little sweetheart."  Forever sounds like a very long time.  It can be for many days, many years or many decades.  But, forever is never long enough when it comes to loving someone or something as wonderful as a little black kitten from Heaven.

What to name this little furry bundle who was now tentatively exploring the flat.  The little kitten crawled awkwardly around and it was then that Jeanne noticed the missing hind paw.  "Oh sweetheart, what has happened to you?  Never mind, I will take care of you and we will be very happy together."  Thinking carefully about kitten names, Jeanne thought of one in particular that she liked.  "Minou, that is what I will name you.  Minou suits you perfectly, it sounds like such a sweet name for a very sweet little kitten."  And with that, the little kitten curled up for a nap in Jeanne's lap.

Bethany and Annie, along with the delivery angel were watching all this from high above, in Heaven.  "Well done Mathias" said Bethany.  "Another delivery handled very nicely indeed."  Mathias smiled, this job was one that brought him much joy.  He had other delivery jobs that were not so pleasant, but he did not want to think about those now.

Jeanne and Minou lived a wonderful life together.  Both loved the other so very much and as the years went by, their love and understanding of each other was such that no words needed to be spoken by Jeanne for Minou to know how much she was loved.  Love was in every brush stroke of the black fur, every bowl of special food put out for her and in every cuddle she received from Jeanne.  Love filled the little flat and Jeanne, along with Minou, felt very blessed.

As Jeanne got older, she moved more slowly, her joints giving her a lot of pain.  Minou would see this and cuddle up to her human on the bed and purr gently into Jeanne's ear and Jeanne, hearing this musical, soothing sound would drift off to sleep quickly.  Waking up later, she would find her best friend, Minou, laying beside her, watching carefully for the moment Jeanne would open her eyes and smile at her little furry friend.  Every day started with a smile and a cuddle.  Then, on to the kitchen to get Minou her breakfast and always a few little treats in a special bowl, a blue and white one that was only used to hold treats.

The years continued to go by and Jeanne and Minou both noticed that the other was not well.  Minou had a lot of tummy aches and was frequently ill.  Jeanne was in so much pain that she was barely able to walk and had to get special devices to help her move around the flat or to leave it to go to work or do the shopping for food for the two of them.  Minou worried about Jeanne.  She knew her human could not go on like this much longer.  And not too long after this, Jeanne could no longer work and had to spend a lot of time at home resting.  Minou, being very wise, knew that for Jeanne not to go to work each day meant that she really was not well.  At the same time, Jeanne saw that Minou was not as active as she had been and slept a lot more than she usually did.  Plus, Minou's tummy aches were more frequent and she often had difficulty eating her meals.

Jeanne telephoned Minou's doctor and made an appointment to bring her in and have her regular check up by the kindly veterinarian.  The day of the appointment came and Minou curled herself into Jeanne's arms as they waited for Dr. Brown to come into the examination room.  When he did, he smiled.  Here was an older woman cuddling a very furry black cat who was looking up into the woman's eyes ever so lovingly.  "Well, it is so nice to see an owner and their pet so comfortable with each other.  You two have been together for a long time, over twelve years" commented Dr. Brown.  Jeanne smiled nervously, "I am a bit worried about Minou.  Her tummy aches are more frequent and she does sleep a lot more, actually, we both do.  I am no longer able to work because of my health, so the two of us spend a lot of time together resting."  Dr. Brown made a note of this on his cart and said "Well, let me take a look at this young lady and see if we can find out what is bothering her."  Dr. Brown gently touched Minou's joints, looked in her ears and mouth, listened to her heart and then started probing at her tummy.  Minou sat very still through all this with Jeanne's hands holding on to her at all times and talking to her little friend to make sure that she would not become overly upset.

Dr. Brown finished his examination and sat on a nearby stool.  "Jeanne, I am so sorry, Minou has a growth in her tummy, some type of lump about the size of a spool of thread."  Jeanne blinked back the tears.  "How serious is it?" she asked quietly.  "I would think that you and Minou should have a year or so together yet" was his response.  "I will have you bring Minou back in two months and we can see if the growth has gotten any larger."  Jeanne agreed and a note was made on Minou's file to make an appointment for that time.

Looking down from Heaven, Bethany, Annie and Mathias watched what was happening.  They had checked in over the years and had watched while Jeanne and Minou played little games together.  They had smiled when they looked down and saw human and kitten sleeping, curled up together.  Now, what they saw concerned them.  Bethany was the first to speak.  "I will check with Admissions to see if they have a date set for Minou's return.  Mathias, I will let you know when you will have to go and bring Minou back to Heaven"  Mathias sighed.  This was the most difficult part of his job.  Annie had tears in her eyes.  "Is there anything I can do to help?" she asked quietly.  "I feel so badly for Jeanne and Minou.  Jeanne will be lost without her little friend."  Bethany thought quietly for a few moments. "No, Annie, we will have to wait and see what is to happen.  Then we may have a thought on how best to help Jeanne."

Time seemed to go quickly and yet slowly.  Jeanne and Minou spent every moment together, each letting the other know how much they were loved.  On good days, the two of them would play their little games together, just as they had always played them over the years.  But, now, they both knew that they may not have as much time left to be together as they each wanted.  You can never have enough time to be with the one that you love, whether they are human or a creature of nature.  All are loved in the same way by those living above, in Heaven. 

Just before it was time for Minou to go back for her appointment with Dr. Brown, Jeanne noticed that Minou had not touched her food or had been to her water bowl to drink.  The little treats had been left untouched in the little blue and white dish.  Jeanne was very worried.  She knew how important it was for Minou to eat, but even more so to drink.  "Minou, sweetheart, try to drink a little bit of water, please" Jeanne begged her.  Little Minou just laid on the bed that she had slept in with Jeanne for years and looked back at her human sadly.  Jeanne sat by Minou all that day, watching anxiously.  She knew her little friend, the one friend who she had truly loved for so many years was slipping away from her.  Jeanne sat up all that night, talking to Minou, telling her how much she loved her just as she had always done every day for over twelve years.  Above, the three angels watched anxiously.  Bethany, Annie and Mathias knew what was to happen over the next twenty-four hours and they worried not only about Minou, but also about Jeanne.  Jeanne, herself was very fragile.  She had lost a great amount of weight and looked very ill.  This was a very sad time.  Through the night the three angels watched and listened as Jeanne prayed for help and talked to her little kitten. 

Even though it is generally true that any cat older than the twelve months that make up a year is no longer called a kitten, Jeanne still thought of Minou as a kitten, her little kitten that had arrived to brighten her life so long ago.  This is just the same way mommies and daddies think of their grown children, even though the children are now mommies and daddies themselves.  No matter how old you are, in your parents' eyes, you will always be their little son or daughter, the little one who came to them so many years before to make their family complete. 

And so, now through the night, Jeanne knew what was going to happen.  The angels watched lovingly as Jeanne told Minou that she was very ill and that when a kitten or puppy is very ill, an angel will come to take them home to Heaven.  Minou listened and tears fell from her eyes.  She too knew that very soon an angel would come for her.  Jeanne explained how Minou would no longer feel ill when she went back to her first home.  Her little tummy would no longer hurt, she would be able to run and play again.  But, Minou worried about who would take care of her Jeanne.  Jeanne sensed this and assured Minou that she should not worry about this, that she, Jeanne, would be very sad, but that one day the two of them would be together again.

The morning came and Jeanne called Dr. Brown's office and talked to his assistant, telling her how ill Minou had become and that she thought that maybe she should bring Minou in to see her doctor.  Very soon, Jeanne and Minou made their way to Dr. Brown's office.  He was waiting for them and quietly escorted them to the examination room.  Jeanne explained what was happening, tears running quietly down her cheeks while her little Minou girl curled up in her arms.  Dr. Brown looked very sad.  He knew that Minou had very little time left to be with Jeanne and after checking her all over, gently probing her tummy, he knew that he could not help with any medicine.  He brought a blanket into the room and placed it on the metal examination table to make Minou more comfortable.  Jeanne gently placed her friend on the blanket and sat beside her reassuring Minou that she should not worry about her human. 

Far above, in Heaven, Bethany, Annie and Mathias watched silently, all with tears in their eyes.  Bethany looked over to Mathias and nodded her head.  Mathias knew what his task was without being told.  Just as Santa can slip into your house and leave presents without being seen, Mathias could enter a room and bring the soul, the very essence of a creature whether they be human, kitten, or puppy, back to Heaven.  And even though the body of the creature was still on earth, their soul would be back in the place from where they had come.  Their earthly body remained on earth, but back in Heaven, they were complete again just as they had been, a beautiful, loving creation that no longer felt any pain and was no longer sick.  Here they would wait patiently for their human to join them when their time came to return from where they had started their journey through life.

Mathias stood by quietly as Jeanne kissed the top of Minou's little head and stroked her soft black fur.  Minou opened her beautiful chocolaty brown eyes one last time to look lovingly at Jeanne and saw Mathias waiting for her.  With one last glance at Jeanne, and sighing with that wonderfully magical purr, Minou closed her eyes and her little heart stopped beating.  Dr. Brown could see that his little patient was no longer a part of this world.  He nodded at Jeanne and quietly left the room to give her some time alone with her little one.  Jeanne felt the hot tears run down her cheeks, landing on the silky fur of what had been her best friend for so many years.  She continued to talk to Minou, knowing that her soul could hear Jeanne's heartfelt words.  Words that told her again and again how much she was loved, how much better she had made Jeanne's life.  Mathias too, had tears running down his cheeks.  He knew that he had to take Minou back to her Heavenly home, but he felt Jeanne's grief as if it was his own.  Gently he stroked some tears from the woman's face and whispered in her ear, "Be strong, have faith, the two of you will be together again one day."  And with that he gently guided Minou's soul back to Heaven.

It has been just about two years since all this happened.  Minou romps happily through Heaven and stops every so often to gaze down at her beloved Jeanne.  She hears Jeanne talk to her as if she were still with Jeanne in the tiny flat they shared for so many years.  And, while Jeanne's heart is still very sad, she continues on, waiting for her day to join her little Minou girl.  Both know that this will happen because they have faith in what they believe and their faith makes them strong. 

This is not a sad story, even though two friends have been separated.  This is a story of hope, faith and knowledge that the two will be together again. This time when Jeanne and Minou are together, it will be for eternity and eternity is a very long time.  A time that has no end, a time that you cannot count on your fingers and toes.  This is a time that both Jeanne and Minou look forward to, but neither one knows when that time will be.  In the meanwhile, Jeanne carries on, reading books, painting pictures and loving Minou.  Jeanne's memories of her furry little friend comfort her and she knows that her little Minou girl is happy, free of pain and well cared for in her Heavenly home.  How does she know this?  Mathias took a moment to whisper this in Jeanne's ear before he left with Minou that day.  And although Jeanne cannot quite put into words what was said, she knows in her heart that it is true.  Deep in her heart, Jeanne can still feel Minou's love and as she drifts off to sleep each night, Jeanne hears Minou's wonderfully musical purr coming to her all the way from Heaven.  This is how Bethany, Annie and Mathias decided to help Jeanne and this gift is one that she cherishes, one that comforts her and reminds her that one day an angel will come to escort her soul home to Heaven, the place from which we all began our journies.

I hope you enjoyed this story!  Please take a moment to click on "comments" at the end of this post and let me know your opinion.  This was a very different journey that I took this week.  It was not an easy story to put into words, I hope you can feel that in your hearts.  The truth is, that if you do feel it in your heart, you know that while life can be bittersweet, you also realize that in order for you to enjoy life, that there has to be moments of sadness, sometimes intense sadness, in order for you to truly appreciate the happy times.  There is no shame in shedding tears when you are sad, but not to shed those tears would be wrong and deny yourself the opportunity to grow with each event that you encounter in life, be it happy or sad.

This story and artwork that accompanies it has been created by myself, Rutheemac.  No part of the story or any of the artwork will be allowed to be shown on other sites without prior consent and full credit given to me as the author and artist. 

**Pictures will be added to the side panel thoughout today, Sunday, November 28.  Hopefully, by Monday evening, all thirteen illustrations will be completed.  These couldn't be completed ahead of time as the story was not fully developed until early Saturday morning.  And even then, it changed a little as it was keyed into the computer.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Starting all over isn't a bad thing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone who is celebrating Thanksgiving today is with their loved ones, their immediate families or their extended families.  Celebrating together makes the day even more memorable.  Take pictures, create memories that will last a lifetime and then some.  These are the moments that your family will pass down from generation to generation, telling the stories of the baby putting her hands right into the pumpkin pie and smearing it all over her little face or Uncle Bob telling the same jokes that's he's told at every Thanksgiving that you can remember.  These all become part of your family's history and the holiday just wouldn't be the same without these memories.  Every time you celebrate, you create more memories.  Keep that in mind when silly little things happen.  It doesn't matter if the place mats aren't quite as festive as you had hoped they would be, or if the stuffing has pecans in it instead of walnuts.  Those are trivial details that can be forgotten and trust me, no one is really going to sweat the small details in twenty years time.  Just enjoy being together with the people you care about the most or if you are visiting your newly extended family for the first time, you're helping start up a whole new set of memories, ones that include you as part of this particular family.  Just remember, give thanks that you have such a wonderful group of people with which to celebrate.  That's really all that matters.

Last Sunday, I posted some pictures that I had done on black card stock.  I told you that I wasn't really happy with them and that I would do them again and let you see the results done on a light background.  I've taken the picture of the rabbits, ladybug, and other wildlife watching a tiny faerie sleep snuggled up in a fallen leaf.  I started working on it earlier today and have taken photographs of it in three different stages as it was being painted.  At this point, it's almost done.  Just a few more touches here and there, plus adding the faerie child on top of the leaf and the painting will be done.

I'm much happier with this version.  I've changed the placement of certain elements to balance the canvas.  The colours appear much richer because of starting off with a white background.  Truthfully, it's made a world of difference, even though I haven't gotten to the point of finishing. 

I'm going to post the three photos I've taken of the revised painting and include the original photograph of the coloured pencil version done on the black background.  I'll let you be the judge of which one you prefer and I'd love to hear your opinions as to which you prefer and hopefully, the reason(s) why.

I'm going to continue on with the painting through the day and take a few more photographs as I make my way to the final brush stroke.  But, I wanted to have this post up for the early birds who log in to read new blogs first thing in the morning.  So, here is where I'm leaving it for the next few hours and I'll add to the post as the day progresses and let you know when the painting is well and truly done.  Starting over wasn't a bad thing, but it was the right thing to do.

The first picture just didn't feel right with the colours coming out so muted.  The picture lacked life, it was just flat, no depth or interesting area to look towards.  Now, I feel that the painting has come back to life.  The greens are deep and woodsy like they should be.  The rabbits guarding their little charge have taken on new importance because of the increase in their size and in their placement in the scene.  It's still not a perfect painting, and I doubt that it ever will be.  But, it is a vast improvement over the original one.  I'm looking forward to spending a few more hours on it to complete it and put it up on my gallery wall.  Sometimes just by looking at it for a few days, you discover what it is that is lacking.  That's how I found out what I needed to correct from the first try.  I'll look at this one too once it's done.  Maybe after a few days, I might see somewhere that I should have added something else or maybe I'll think that there's too much going on.  It takes time and distance to form the final opinion.  I'm learning more and more to trust my instinct, but even then, I know that I'm going to have a piece that just doesn't cut it no matter how I try to change or improve it.  The main thing is to try to remain objective in order to see where you derailed or went off the tracks.  We all have days when no matter how hard we try, what we paint just isn't true to ourselves.  That's when starting over isn't such a bad thing, not when it leads us to clarity and understanding what went wrong the first time.  That is artistic growth, a valid part of any journey.

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

P.S  I'd love to hear your comments on the progression of the revised painting!  Please click on comments and a window will open and you can key in your thoughts.  While you're at it, why not sign on as a follower of this blog?  I'd love to see some more faces join our group of followers!  Share with us some of the problems you've encountered with a particular painting and how you remedied them.  Or, is there one painting that you just leave in a corner, turned away so you don't have to look at it?  We're here to help each other, so there's no shame attached to anything.  We are all here for the same reason, to take a journey to learn more about the artistic things that we each do.  Again, comments are welcome, I only ask that you are commenting in a postive way so that we all learn where we ( I ) went wrong.  This is a friendly discussion and I will post all comments whether they are liking what they see or not liking at all what they see.  Just remember to be objective and say what it is that you don't like and why.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What are you passionate about?

According to, passionate can be defined as "having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling.  There are a few other sentences in their definition, all basically saying the same thing.  Passion can be both positive as in being passionate about one's work, i.e. expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling, or negative, as being easily moved to anger, being quick tempered.  For the purpose of my post today, I think I'd like to stay with the positive line of thinking for the purpose of today's post.

I'd like to think that everyone is passionate about something positive.  Jeff Katz (@jeffkatz1946) sent me a tweet saying "@rutheemac My passion: finding new ways to have "Cave" be loved by another as much as I love it. #passionate #aboutart .  Take a look at Jeff's painting and see for yourself why he is passionate about "Cave." It truly is a wonderful painting and Jeff clearly shows his passion in his work, which in this case is art.

Owen Dearing (@mugmkr) responded "@rutheemac I am passionate about handmade coffee mugs!"  Taking a look at Owen's picture with his profile, you see him holding up a tiny mug, which is exquisitely done.  I can't imagine the work involved in getting each detail correct on such a small scale.  Definitely passion running through his veins.

Being passionate about something can mean many things to everyone.  Many of us are passionate about living life to the fullest and embrace every opportunity to try something new whether it's skydiving, rock climbing or playing the violin.  When an activity brings you such joy that you want to spend every free moment involved in pursuing that activity, then you are most definitely passionate about it.  But, you need to be careful to not allow this passion to overtake your life.  We've all seen pictures of people who have had a passion to collect salt shakers, Elvis memorabilia, or books.  Their homes are full of the items collected as a result of their passion and it's gone from the point of a harmless activity to requiring a full out intervention by family and friends to control, if not stop the madness.  

It's possible to be passionate about more than one activity.  Sports minded people are often involved in more than one sport or may find that they are also passionate about reading.   Variety is good, it gets you involved with different sets of people, you learn different skills and just having the variety in your life keeps you motivated each day because no two days are the same.

My passions are art, reading, writing and Molly Cat.  Don't tell Molly that I placed her fourth on the list as her little heart would be broken.  Truly, she does rank first in my life and in my list of activities.  I wake up to her looking in my face each morning and go to bed at night with her sleeping beside or on top of me.  We have a comfortable existence and enjoy each other's company.  As for my other passions, art would be next on my list.  I live, breathe and must do something pertaining to art each day or I feel that I've missed something that is an intrinsic part of my life.  Reading is an activity that allows me to gather more information about artistic pursuits, provides details as to how to approach different types of art.  But, reading also allows me time to destress, time to travel via the book, either back in history or draws me into a story unfolding right before my eyes.  When I read, I lose all track of time and if the book is a good one, for me, it's as if the scenes are actually taking place and I'm there to see the plot unfold.  I'm actually there, a participant in the story.  That is truly passionate reading.  Now writing, that is one passion that I left by the wayside a few years back.  I lost my passion for it somewhere along the line and stopped writing all together.  Lately, I've been thinking a lot about it, probably because of writing two posts a week for this blog.  By putting together the words to communicate to you what each post is about, I'm reaching back into that mental file cabinet that I closed so long ago and pull out the information relevant to each post.  I think about what I want to say, how I'm going to say it and then think about the resulting string of words that I've put together.  I wonder if any of it will be of interest to people who stop by for a read or if I'm just putting words down on paper that are disposable and of no interest to anyone.  Truthfully, I care about each and every post that I write.  I believe in what I say or I wouldn't put the words out there for everyone to see because these words are my thoughts being communicated for all who care to read.  That's pretty scary stuff and so I take great care in what I put down in a post and review it, revise it and when I'm sure that it accurately says what I want to say, I publish it.

Writing is one of those paths on my journey that is taking me through uncharted waters.  I haven't written anything of any great significance in my life.  But, now I am actively writing out what I hope will turn out to be a book suitable for children.  I've written out a synopsis of what the story will be and I'm now at the point of giving names to the characters and fleshing out the details of what is happening in each scene.  It's one of those little stories that I told you about that was languishing on a bookshelf calling out to me every time I walked by.  I can't ignore it anymore and I need to write out the story so that it can be shared with others.  It's funny how things happen in your life that connect to what you are doing and it's purely out of chance.  Someone I worked with about three years ago has written his first book and he sent me a copy.  The arrival of the book set off bells in my head.  Maybe it is possible for someone like me, to write a story and actually have it published.  My friend's book is under 100 pages, doesn't have any illustrations and when I read through the pages, I hear him telling me the story, his story.  He's not one to embellish on the details and what he wrote in his book, he wrote sincerely.  His sincerity shows on every page.  So, if this young man can write a book that is of interest to a wide audience, I wonder if maybe I could also write out my story and have it appeal to a much younger audience?  I'm going to give it a try and see where this path ultimately takes me.  I'm prepared to put a lot of work into writing this story.  I hope to illustrate it as well.  I truly want this book to tell a story that I've been thinking about for several years and I want to share it with others.  

This is all part of my artistic journey.  Artistic journeys can involve passions as wide and diverse as the passions of the readers of this blog.  Julie Anne is passionate about cooking.  Mary-Jo is passionate about making interesting jewelry.  Liza is passionate about painting pictures of faerie folk and Claudia is passionate about painting scenes filled with folk lore from her heritage.  Vance paints with a passion that comes out every time he puts brush to canvas. Picassoesque perhaps in style, but still uniquely his own, Vance pours passion into his paintings and if you are at all receptive, you feel it when you look at them.  All these people are artists, all in their own way, all expressing themselves sincerely, openly and with great passion.  I too am passionate about painting.  I enjoy it to the point where I would sometimes rather spend money on paint supplies than to purchase new clothes, groceries or other things.  But, I am also passionate about my writing.  I figure if someone half my age could write down sincerely what he really felt and be published, then maybe this is a sign to me to stop ignoring the words calling out to me and finally write them down and see where the journey goes next.  Truthfully, I never work on just one thing at a time, so I will continue painting, I will keep reading as many books as humanly possible, but, I am going to commit to setting aside two hours each day to work on my children's book.  The nice thing is that at some point, I can start working on the illustrations to go with it, but for now, the words need to take precedence.  I need to know how the story unfolds before I can begin to illustrate it.

I hope you think about what it is that you are passionate about.  Even more, I hope you take steps to welcome this passion into your life and take the time to work on it.  Whether it's reading, painting, sewing, or perhaps writing, take the time to pursue it and breathe life into it.  You might be surprised where your personal artistic journey takes you.  Maybe our paths will cross and we can compare notes on what we have discovered in our travels.

I've added two pictures to this post, both part of a project that I'm working on.  I love faeries, faerie tales and anything to do with the other realm beyond our own.  These two drawings done on black card stock make use of coloured pencil, markers, both coloured and some metallic.  These are preliminary drawings that will ultimately be done in both coloured pencils and in acrylics just so I can see the difference in the two looks.  I'm not entirely happy with the use of black card stock.  While it does lend an interesting touch to the drawings, I think ivory card stock would be better as well as to eliminate the use of the metallic markers.  I'm going to redo both of these on ivory card stock, hopefully this week.  But, part of my promise to you was to share with you what worked and what didn't work and hopefully tell you why.  These two drawings don't work for me.  I want to do them again and see what turns out on a different coloured paper.  I know that I can do better.  But, I wanted to share these with you so you know that I'm true to my word.  This was one experiment that didn't work in my eyes.  I'd be interested in hearing what other artists have to say about these rejects.

Wishing you an artistic week in which you find the time to do something creative.  It doesn't matter what it is that you do.  As long as it makes you happy and you take pleasure in not just the final results, but in the process, then it was time well spent.

Sincerely,  Rutheemac 

P.S.  I'd love to hear about your passions!  Write a comment and share with all of us what it is you do that you enjoy so much.  I'll post all the comments and you never know, your passion just might inspire someone else to try to follow a dream that they've wanted to pursue for so long, but didn't feel that they could.  Let's encourage others to follow up on their passions.  I think that we just might be helping some other people find out what passion is all about and the pleasure that it can bring.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flying by the seat of my pants!

Happy Thursday Everyone!

It's been an amazing week this week!  Monday was the usual day of tidying up, laundry, organizing my life and what I wanted to accomplish during the week.  That all went by the wayside when I got online late on Monday and saw that Cate (@ShardArtist) had tweeted and left me a message about a Twitter Art Exhibition.  That got my attention quickly and I read the post by David Sandum, an artist in Norway, who wanted to help raise funds in order to purchase books for the children's library.  The children's library had their funding cut and were not going to be able to make any purchases unless another way was found to pay for the new books.

David came up with the idea of artists, who had Twitter accounts, donating a painting or piece of their art which would be part of 140 pieces of art (representing the 140 characters allowed in a tweet) to be sold from a display at the library.  While David had hoped he could find 140 artists willing to help, he was overwhelmed by the response and at last report had well over 200 artists answer the call and more still jumping on the bandwagon as word of the exhibit spread through the many artists with Twitter accounts.

The exhibit will run for 2 months, starting December 01 with a gala evening.  While David is taking care of coordinating the lists of artists sending in their work as well as the PR, the government is helping with supplying lighting and workers to help put the display together.  Picture all these postcard sized pieces of art displayed against a white wall, accented with proper lighting.  It's hard to imagine over 200 pieces of art, all different colours, styles from artists representing the globe.  It's said that it takes a village to raise a child, well, here we have many artists from around the globe helping to put books in a library so that children will have what so many of us take for granted, a book to read.  I'm a believer in children being encouraged to read at an early age and beginning what should be a life long enjoyment of books.  That's an incredible journey for our young ones to embark on.

So, after reading Cate's message, I e-mailed David to advise him that I would love to participate.  He responded almost immediately with the information as to where to send the artwork.  Already, I was trying to imagine what I could come up with so quickly without having the time to take a run to my local art supply to get some inspiration.  What more could I possibly need to inspire me?  I always have extra art supplies on hand so it was just a case of coming up with an idea or two or three that could be put together quickly and sent on its way.  I started off by cutting up some watercolour paper to the size I was comfortable working with.  Postcard size is pretty much open to interpretation and I felt that 6" x 9" would work nicely and give me a sufficient work area to paint on.  But what would I paint?

By Tuesday morning, I was still running ideas through my mind and decided that it was best to begin right at the beginning, think about colours.  So, reaching for a vivid shade of green that I especially like, I splashed on a solid background.  The vibrant background called for some equally vibrant colours in subject matter.  I love the look of a bright cyan blue against a bright green and thought that maybe a blue bowl of fruit might just be the answer.  Everyone knows that I'm a lover of texture and like to indulge in thick applications of paint in order to bump up the volume.  Consequently, some rotund grapes, luscious red apples, amply accented with bright oranges, a plum and a fresh yellow banana would fill my blue bowl.  But, my bowl looked a little plain and I just had to add some white daisies, one of my favourite flowers.  The colours were crisp, clean and accomplished what I wanted.  Adding a blue stemmed goblet to balance out the small canvas completed my little piece.  A bit of shadow here, some silver highlights there and it was done.  I felt a sense of let down.  I needed my art fix to continue longer and so it did.

Later in the day on Tuesday, I thought a collage might be in order. So, printing off some Victorian ladies from my collection of clip art (courtesy Somerset Studio), I scoured through my bins finding a pendant, some ribbon, a rubber stamp of a small oak leaf, gold ink and a selection of coloured pencils in colours to set up my vignette in sepia tones and I was in collage heaven.  The background colour was quickly painted in and left to dry while I set about cutting ribbon, colouring the clip art, searching wildly for my glue dot runner.  If you haven't worked with one of these, you have to give them a try.  They operate much like the white out dispensers that have a ribbon running inside to lay down the amount of coverage needed.  With a dot glue dispenser, you get a finer application of glue which in turn makes for a neater, easily managed collage.   One tip, it's wise to have one of the squares of "residue" remover to pull up any unnecessary glue.  When gluing ribbon in place, it's very easy to overdo the application of glue and need to pull it up off of the canvas without damaging anything.  Easily accomplished with the square of putty like substance.  When the edge of it looks nasty, you just cut it off to reveal more clean area to work with.  By the dawning of the first colours in the east, my collage was complete and left to dry.  Another moment of let down.

Okay, I'm just not someone who can do just one piece for a submission, especially when it's for a good cause.  So, by 8 a.m. I was busy trying to put together ideas for a third and final canvas.  I sketched a black cat, but that didn't appeal to me.  I looked at my supply of coloured candles and silk flowers to see if anything called out to me.  Yes, I heard an audible meow.  Meow?  I tossed the cat idea in the garbage.  Right, Molly was demanding some attention and while I was at it, maybe some breakfast.  That taken care of and Molly having her tummy rubbed, belly filled and loving comments of "if you tap dance on the table one more time . . ."  You know how that goes.  In order to get more attention, said kitten decides to walk over recently painted, glued and embellished pieces and somehow manages to elude being captured and banished from the kitchen.  I admit it, I bribed her with treats in order to gain just a few more hours to accomplish one last piece.  My love of trees, devoid of leaves and showing their amazing wealth of  tenacious branches reaching for the November sky went into overdrive and in a reasonable amount of time, an autumn walkway painted itself on a postcard sized canvas.  I felt fulfilled, happy that I had managed to pull three ideas together in such a short amount of time.

Was the past 48 or so hours well spent?  I think so.  Mind you, I've been flying by the seat of my pants in order to get all this done, but that's what some journeys are all about, taking a leap of faith on your ability to make something happen quicker than you thought possible.  My journey took me to a children's library in Norway.  That's a nice little jaunt, didn't really cost me anything other than my time and the use of art supplies already in my possession.  I've run to the postal sub station and sent my package off with fervent hopes of a successful fundraiser.  Maybe you would like to follow David Sandum's blog for updates of this amazing artist's devotion not only to his art, but to his community.  Take a look at to read about this art exhibit or take a stroll through David's art web site at . I know that from what I've read from other artists who are participating in this fund raiser, this journey was taken by many, enjoyed by all who did participate and we're all looking forward to see what a difference you can make with a postcard sized piece of art.

Just as an update, I'm still reading A Course in Weight Loss-21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever by Marianne Williamson.  It's a difficult read because there was so much emotion when I started going through the first lesson, that I have had to go back and reread the lesson a second, then a third time in order to process the information and put it in context with my own life.  I highly recommend the book and urge you to read it and join Julie Anne Rhodes (@JulieAnneRhodes on Twitter) at her blog found at where she and her readers are discussing the lessons and how they are affected by them and by the problems we all encounter when trying to lose weight.  Julie Anne is a personal chef who has a world of experience in so many areas of life as a mother, advocate of healthy eating and has appeared on Food Network's Food Challenge where her recipe for Jewel's Turkey Burgers got rave reviews from the panel of judges and ultimately from viewers who have downloaded her recipe, one of the top ones to appear on Food Network's web site.  Her blog is updated twice a week and sometimes more often when this wonderfully warm, talented chef has something to bring forward for discussion with her viewers.

Have a great weekend!  Hope you find some time to be creative, but most of all to have some fun.

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

P.S.  Question of the day-Are you passionate about what you do? Tell us about it! Love to hear from others who are passionate about what they do.  Do you have a passion for blogging, painting, gardening, cooking or something else?  Share your passion with us and tell us about what you do that makes you lose all track of time or that you make a point of saving any extra pocket money to put towards your hobby, craft, or art.  Click on comment at the end of this blog and I'll put up your post for all to read and maybe get some creative ideas from some of our readers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Taking time to smell the roses!

Happy Sunday to all!

Hope you made it through the week with a minimum of chaos and a maximum of creativity. Did you find some time to decorate holiday cards, make place card settings for Thanksgiving or maybe decorate cupcakes with sprinkles, swirls of frosting and a gum drop or two?  As long as you do a little something, then you're making progress.

Claudia and Sergio Olivos are getting ready for an open house on December 04.  See their blog at to get an idea of what they are working on now and maybe get some hints as to what they might feature at their open house.  Claudia and I tweet back and forth through the week, encouraging each other, venting and always looking for positive things.  I have to admit, Claudia is much better at that aspect than I am, but with few butt kicks from Mary-Jo from MerCurios Jewels, I'm learning a little more quickly than I might normally.  I am not a Pollyanna, but I am starting to find a lot of "happy" or "glad" thoughts in each day.

Each day is 24 hours and we need to make the most of this time.  Consequently, we fill up as many hours as possible, scheduling meetings, attending parent/teacher get togethers, shuttling the kids to hockey, dance practice and the dog/cat to the vet for their shots.  It's a full day and by the time we finally haul our butts into bed, hopefully before midnight, we're exhausted and just don't think of taking a moment for ourselves.  What has this got to do with our artistic journey?  Everything!  You need to find some time, even if only a few moments, each day to just enjoy the moment.  I refer to this as smelling the roses time.  A moment when nothing else exists in our world, we are free to mind travel or just simply clear our minds of all the superfluous junk floating around in there, sit back and sip on a cup of tea.  Try to sip the tea, notice the scent, Earl Grey, jasmine, green tea - they all have their special scents, blends.  Breathe in the steamy scent and let it calm you, take you to that happy spot in your world. 

Do you remember a commercial from at least 20 years ago where it showed a woman, alone in the bathroom, enjoying a scented soak in a tub?  Do you remember her son banging at the bathroom door calling for her, saying his sister was being mean and then the camera panned over to a little brat of a sister calling her brother "hamster brain, hamster brain" over and over?  Meanwhile, mom sat quietly in her warm tub of fragrant water (courtesy of Calgon, if memory serves me right), oblivious to all the commotion outside the door.  This was a woman who not only knew where her happy spot was, but was smart enough to lock the door so no one could intrude.  This was a woman who knew what she needed and knew how to get that time.  Okay, so it was only a commercial, but the premise is still the same.  You need to know how to find your happy place and to go there to rejeuvenate for a bit every day.

For me, taking the time to paint is the necessary part of every day.  I can be in a really bad way, but if I pick up a paint brush and start working on a canvas, I calm down.  My breathing becomes slow and even.  I listen to music and I'm almost painting along with it, rhythmically, happily.  I'm taking time to smell the roses, in my own way.  I definitely spend more than a few moments at this each day.  I need to.  If I go a day without painting or making some kind of artistic statement, I feel like something is missing and it is.  The very essence of my soul is lacking a vital component.  Art is medecine, that is recognized by doctors everywhere.  Art is a kind of therapy that brings peace of mind to the troubled, allows a social worker to see into the mind of someone who is too young to say what is bothering them, but the picture the child draws will tell the story.  Maybe, when something is troubling us and we can't quite put our finger on it, we should all run for our paints and paper, paint what we feel and then we would have an idea of what it is that put our psyche in the trouble zone.

In the past two years, I've been able to spend more time making art than most people.  I've needed this "therapy" to help me let go of the past and look forward to the future.  I've come to accept that there are certain things that I will never be able to do.  But, I've also found that there are things that I can do that I thought I would never be able to do because someone told me that I didn't have the talent for it.  If I had listened (and I did for some time) to this, I would never have bought paint supplies and tried to teach myself something that brings me a lot of happiness.  This journey is taking me through abstract, pop art, still lifes and so much more.  I paint, make cards, decorations and now I'm getting back into writing.  Writing these posts has helped me loosen up and putting pen to paper or allowing fingers to stumble over the keyboard in preparation for my posts makes me open to seeing new things, reading new books, trying new products and so much more.  This journey is helping me keep active mentally and physically.  Physically?  You betcha!  When Molly decides to dance on my palette with ultramarine blue paint and then tears off when she sees me coming, I get my exercise trying to capture the little brat and then give her a wash up in the bathroom sink.  There is nothing more angry than a kitten who has just had a bath.  Well one thing, a kitten who has chased the water down the toilet bowl and gotten wet in the process.  LOL  Yes, I laughed, despite the blue paw prints on the floor, it was funny.  A couple of years ago, I probably wouldn't have laughed, but now, I find things funny, enjoy a wider variety of activities and surprisingly, have turned to listening to the radio while the television sits silent in the front room.  I watch so little television these days.  I turn it on to hear the weather so that I plan my outings on days when I won't get drenched or chilled to the bone when I head out for supplies.

Something else has changed in my quest to smell the roses.  I've become a person who takes a great interest in others and what they do.  Whilst I'm still a quiet person, I am more likely to ask about a particular book that I see someone reading or ask about how something was made if I'm at a craft display.  I take time to watch puppies being trained to be service dogs.  There is a group that gets together at a local shopping centre once a week for this exercise that is run by a professional trainer.  They do this at a shopping centre so that the puppies get used to being around people, especially people in wheelchairs or scooters.  I try to make a point of scooting by their practice and then sit off to the side to watch.  This batch of puppies is doing well, they don't take any notice of me now as I drive by.  They will make someone a fine companion in a year or so.  Meanwhile, they make me smile as I enjoy their little antics to try and get another treat from their host family. 

I hope that you take the time to smell some roses this week.  Literally or figuratively, hey, whatever you've got, make use of it.  The time you take for yourself will make you feel more alive, more interested in life and just maybe pursuade you to pick up a paint brush and try your hand at some free style painting.  You've got nothing to lose.  But, just think of what you might gain!

Have a great week!  Take care of yourselves and each other.

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

P.S.  I'm reading a few good books right now.  I never do anything one at a time.  There just seems to be so much I want to read, to do, to try.  So, on my bedside table right now are copies of Vegan with a Vengeance (Isra Chandra Moskowitz), Vegan on the Cheap (Robin Robertson), Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists (Carla Sonheim) and A Course in Weight Loss - 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever (Marianne Williamson).  The cook books are great, wonderful recipes that do make satisfying meals.  While my doctor probably wouldn't agree, I feel the books make sense and that we do rely too heavily on meat, processed products and so on.  Whether you turn totally vegan or just want to try some vegan meals a few times a week, these two cook books will give you a good start on some healthy meals that taste great.  The art book, I'm just getting into it and it seems to be a good one for getting you to loosen up and generate new ideas.  The last book, the one on weight loss, is heavy duty.  You need to read a bit and then sit back and think about it.  I'm taking it a chapter at a time and have just finished Chapter One.  It's an excellent book to read even if you don't need to lose weight, but have recently lost weight and want help in keeping those pounds from coming back.  Julie Anne Rhodes who writes a blog at The Roving Chef ( ) will be going through the book starting in another week and writing about her perspective on what she has read.  Marianne Williamson, the author, may write a guest column and will answer questions as we all make our way through the book. Julie Anne writes a wonderful post twice a week and includes recipes you will want to try, I guarantee that!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Are we there yet?

Do you remember going on family vacations, or any family outing for that matter?  What was the one question that was asked over and over, the first time usually as soon as ten minutes into the adventure? "Are we there yet?"  I can see every parent reading this post either smile at the memory or shudder because the last expedition still makes them tremble at the thought.  Well, I have a journey in mind for all of us.  It doesn't involve anything more initially than making a cup of tea, sitting down in a comfortable spot away from all of life's distractions and letting your mind wander any where or any place you would like to be.  Be open to the possibilities and just let yourself relax and do some mental travelling.

I do this little exercise frequently and have gone to the most wonderful places.  I've been down to visit Liza's faeries, taken a jaunt into Mary-Jo's studio and watched over her shoulder as she made jewelry, watched Claudia paint vivid, colourful scenes on canvas.  I've been to Paris and sat at a sunny, outdoor cafe table and sipped a cafe au lait whilst writing in my journal about where I've been and where I plan to go next.  I've also taken a little jaunt to Japan and sat by a koi pond complete with water lilies floating on the surface and thought of Monet's many paintings of water lilies, bridges, and fields of sunflowers.  Just for a little variation, I scooted down to South Africa and walked through jungle areas replete with hanging vines until I reached an opening and there I found the most . . . Well, I can't tell you everything or you won't want to see the paintings when they're finished.  You see, instead of taking photographs, I take paintings.  I make mental notes that turn into actual writing, scribbled on pieces of paper.  If I'm feeling somewhat meticulous, I'll tape these scraps of paper into a journal that is labelled "Projects" and glance at others also taped into place.  Why I don't just write into the actual journal in the first place is beyond me.  I guess because it would make sense and I want to avoid becoming too predictable is the reason.  As a secretary, I was famous for arriving at meetings with a notebook in my bag and took my own notes even though there was an official minute taker.  I wanted to make sure that everything was documented.  As an artist, I'm somewhat freer in how I approach things and don't want making notes to become a dreaded task.  So, I fly by the seat of my pants and hope that I will remember every detail of the scenes that flash before my eyes.  One of the few rules in mental travels is to just relax and not get involved in other activities.  Just sit back, relax, and dream.

A lot of people find this difficult to do during the day when so many other activities claim their attention.  I agree, it is hard to focus on the amazing length of a giraffe's neck when your toddler is swinging from the cupboard doors in search of where the biscuits are hidden this time.  So, you need to find a time when you can be by yourself and just let your mind wander freely.  Some find this time while doing the dishes.  You know the kitchen is going to empty itself of humanity any time that a human life form, old enough to safely wash a dish, might be coerced into doing the wash up.  Let that time be your mental vacation of the day.  Dream freely.  Go to places that you've only imagined and not seen pictures of or viewed in films.  You are in charge of your travels and if you want to pop over to Paris to see couture fashion shows, then on to Italy to lounge in your villa's courtyard sipping a glass of whatever beverage you fancy and then onto Scotland to traipse through a castle, then just do it.  No one has to know about your secret travels unless you care to share the details with them.

Once you've landed safely back in your own home, make some notes about what interested you.  Maybe jot down some ideas that you would like to look up on the computer just so your vision is clearer and you have a better idea of what to look for the next time you visit.  And you will want to visit again and again.  These little journeys keep you fresh and alive, feeling like life is one big adventure.  Once you have your ideas somewhat in order, try to put them down on paper or canvas.  Where did you go and what did you see?  Can you illustrate that quaint little cafe in Paris?  If you're not sure, take a look at a few on the internet and then go back to your travels and imagine yourself sitting there, in that cafe.   Imagine the smell of the coffee, perhaps the aroma of freshly baked croissants, the chatter coming from the various tables in different languages and let yourself drink in all the atmosphere, let it soak right into your core and envelop you in this coffee scented dream.

Be just as open to illustrating your dream.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Maybe you would feel better starting off sketching in a book that you can tuck away out of sight.  But, if you have a canvas handy, why not put your dreams on it and hang it somewhere to help you go back to that wonderful adventure any time you wish.  You might even want to do a series of paintings about your travels.  Have fun with this and let your imagination run without restraint wherever you want to travel.  This is a wonderful exercise just before you drift off to sleep.  If you're lucky, you might find your night filled with travels that even you were unaware that you wanted to take.  This is part of the joy of being an artist, you are open to what your imagination brings forward and have just as much enjoyment in putting brush to canvas to bring your little scenario to life.

I've posted one canvas in progress.  My recent trip to South Africa is still a canvas in progress.  I've painted a background in blues on another canvas which I suspect will become a koi pond with water lilies or perhaps an underwater scene with a mermaid swimming along with all types of underwater creatures.  I have a few other canvases sitting around the room drying, the background colours in place, ready for splashes of colour to tell another story of where I've been and what I've seen.  There's a collage started with Victorian ladies wearing hats.  I'm certain that I must have been at a tea party in the Victorian age with these interesting women.  The colours are all in sepia tones and lend themselves well to the images that I've found in clip art and from my mental files.  It's okay to combine the two.  That's what mixed media is all about.  Mix, add, create, use paint, glue, whatever it takes to put your ideas and dreams down on canvas.  And, the best part of all, there's no little person asking "Are we there yet?"

I'd love to hear about your imaginary travels!  If you would like to share these with us, just click on "comments" at the end of the post and a window will open for you to type your scenario into. You can submit using a name other than your own if that makes you feel more comfortable.  Or, select "anonymous" from the options given.  I think we would all like to hear about each other's thoughts and dreams.  I know I'm not the only dreamer around.  Every artist, no matter what medium they work in is an artist.  I feel like I'm in good company and am happy to tell people what influenced me to paint a particular scene.  In fact, I can't wait for my next adventure.  I just need to add a few colours to my supply box, clean my brushes and I'm all ready to head out.  And you, my friend, where are you travelling to and when you return, what will you paint?

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

P.S.  Just a little after thought of something I'd like to share with you.  My last post about finding magic seems to have flooded my psyche with images, words, thoughts.  One of my "little stories" is actively in the works.  I'm hoping to have the story written within a few weeks and hopefully work on the illustrations as I work on the actual story.  I've put a end date on this project to make me work harder and make a dream into reality.  If I'm able to keep on target (fingers crossed), the post on Thursday, December 23 will be a special one with the debut of this special story.  I'm invoking a little extra magic and asking all my little faerie friends to sit on my shoulder as I write/type and illustrate.  It's a fun, but demanding project that I hope you will enjoy.  Remember, Thursday, December 23!  Look for a special post that just might make the holiday season a little more special. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

We all need a little magic!

I was on Twitter the other day tweeting back and forth with another artist.  As I was signing off, I tweeted to her to keep painting and that we all need a little magic.  As I typed those words, I thought that was going to be my next post.  We all need that little bit of magic to keep us feeling alive.  Yet, so many of us deny ourselves this much needed addition to our lives.  Why do we do that?  I think back to when I was younger and believed in magic, faeries, and all things magical.  When did I stop believing?  When do we all stop believing that something wonderful could happen for us and why?  I wish I had the power to make us all look for a little magic every day in our lives.  If you look hard enough, it really is there!
We plod though our lives, day after day, following a routine that we generally establish on our own because it suits our lives and gives us boudaries with which we guide ourselves.  That really does work for most people and I would include myself in that group.  The problem is, that if you don't allow a little room for some unexpected fun, you end up feeling trapped and that your life has been sucked out of you.  It took me years to realize this and I'm sad that it did.  I really needed a wake up call to get me living a real life, not the scripted one that I used every day.  That wake up call came, my confidence in routine dipped and I wondered how I would live out the rest of my life.  Would I be stagnant, living quietly alone and not growing or could I turn what was perceived by myself as a full stop put on living, into a reach for something better?  I didn't have much to lose so taking positive action was my choice.  I started painting, reading about painting, researching everything and anything art.  I read other people's blogs, got interested in music, reading for the joy of it and just going out to have a coffee for no reason other than I wanted some fresh air and needed a little excuse to get out for a possible hit of  magic.
You're all thinking, "where is she going to find magic by going out for coffee?"  Well, magic is everywhere and you have to have your eyes and more importantly, your heart, set on finding it and putting it to good use.  When I go out for coffee, I ride over to a nearby mall on my scooter.  That's magic in itself.  I'm outside on a sunny afternoon, when the truth is, without my scooter, I wouldn't be out at all.  Pure magic!  I'm outside breathing in fresh air and seeing whatever is happening out on the street.  I ride into the mall and troll through looking at new window displays, imagining what I would look like wearing some of the new fashions.  That's always good for a chuckle or two which puts me into a pretty chipper mood.  Then, just loud enough for me to hear, there is the patter of little feet on the mall floor, dancing happily behind me.  I stop slowly and look behind and find a toddler running after me to get a look at my means of transportation.  Believe me, there isn't a toddler out there than can resist running after a scooter if given the opportunity.  I love to stop, have a little chat with my new wee friend and show, that yes, I do have a horn on my ride.  I do have headlights and red rear lights.  Amazing!  We part, waving goodbye to each other, both having had a few moments of magic.  You might wonder how that can be magic, it was only an encounter with a child.  Every child is magic personified.  They believe what they want to believe because they are so open to what is happening around them.  They explore and want to know the why and how of everything.  They are overjoyed to encounter new experiences and grow with each one.  How can that not be magic?
Finally, I get to the coffee kiosk where most of the staff know me.  I've finessed my driving so that I can turn quite nicely into the line as it weaves its way up to the counter.  I always get a smile from the person taking my order.  There's something about taking an order from a person on a scooter that makes them smile.  I catch the twinkle of laughter in their eyes and tell them that it was so nice to lower the counter and make the kiosk into a drive through for people like me.  That always gets a big smile.  Just by stopping by for coffee, my magic scooter and I have made someone smile and taken a routine shift into something different and more fun.  Truth is, it's as much a touch of magic for me.  I'm out, on my own, enjoying a coffee and seeing what is happening in the world around me. 
I watch people hurrying through the concourse, wondering who they are, why they are in a hurry and imagine what their lives are like.  More than likely, they all go through the day's activities with little thought as to what might be different.  If only they looked with their heart instead of their eyes, they might feel the difference, see the magic.  It's all around you, every day of the week, but you have to consciously be open to feeling it.  Magic isn't so much what you see as what you feel.  You feel magic in an encounter with a stranger who just might turn out to be a new friend.  There's magic in every encounter.  Two or more people sharing ideas, thoughts even if only about a transaction in a vendor's premises can be such a positive part of your day.  I'm lucky and have met some really interesting people at the cash out counters.  People working there from all over the world and ready with a smile and a quick chat about the day's events.  You learn so much about others even in quick conversations.  Sometimes, if you're really open to it, it's a magical light shining right from their soul.  
Today is Sunday, the first day of a new week.  You have the opportunity to go about your normal routine and just live your normal life.  Or, you can open your heart, take advantage of any magic that you encounter and follow it down the path to its origin.  You might find yourself at a new art display, attending a concert of music that you wouldn't normally listen to or you might just find yourself sitting having coffee with a new friend.  It's all up to you.  You can look for the magic that's there in each and every day or you can choose to deny that it exists.  I hope you choose to live the magical life and embrace all things new, even if just new to you.  Keep making magic and it will keep you alive and more importantly, feeling alive. 
Have a wonderful week!  I'll try to make some magic by painting this week.  Last week, I met up with a "bug" that kept me in bed for most of the week.  I'm starting to feel like I can sit up for more than an hour at a time which is always good when one wants to paint.  LOL  The good thing is, I feel better, got more rest than usual and have again encountered some magic.  The magic is the realization that feeling good is something we all take for granted and need to work a little harder at accomplishing.  Take care of yourselves!  Find the time to rest and rejeuvenate yourself physically and mentally.  You'll feel the difference, body and soul.
Sincerely,  Rutheemac
P.S.  I'm really hoping to start working on some new projects in the next few days.  I have the ideas and need to flesh them out a bit more before putting brush to canvas.  I'll let you know as I put new pictures into the online gallery and hopefully will have some pics to share with you in Thursday's post.  While I feel that I lost a week due to being ill, maybe I gained a lot of insight into what I want to paint and accomplish artistically.  I'm going with that positive thought!  All that down time has to mean that a period of accomplishing new things is on the horizon.  There's a little more magic for you! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Does the Journey Lack Purpose?

Do you ever have days when you wonder what you're doing and why?  I've had a few of those this week and wondered if my artistic journey was worth the effort.  I had a great debate with myself, going back and forth trying to convince myself that pursuing visual arts is something I should be doing with my life.  Is there something more important that I should be tending to or am I neglecting part of my life that I will live to regret?  Does anyone care about whether or not I take this journey or should I plead temporary insanity and crawl back into my shell and pull the blinds down to keep out the light.  What light?  Any light that might "enlighten" me and make me think about and realize what I'm doing.

What am I doing?  I'm sharing the details of my exploration into the realm of visual arts.  I'm emphasizing "visual" arts because there are so many aspects of art, such as dance, poetry, writing, and music to name a few.  My journey takes me through areas of visual arts that I think I should try just so I can see if it's something I might consider pursuing and ultimately enjoy enough that I make it part of my artistic routine.
Yes, I do have a routine.  That statement might come as a shock to some, but I really do plan out my days and don't just wander around, cup of tea in hand and gaze out the window, watch a little telly and so on until it's time to turn out the lights and crawl back into bed.  I get up, shower, feed Molly, grab a quick breakfast and take my tea with me and log in on my computer.  I check my various e-mail accounts, do any banking that might be necessary, read through Twitter to see if any tweets directed to me require a response and then I grab the paints and get to work.  I rough out mentally what I hope to accomplish that particular day and ultimately through the week.

Sounds like a pretty typical day for me, but there are other things going on behind the scenes.  I keep paper and pen handy to jot down notes as ideas come to me while I'm painting.  My paper could contain anything from things I need to purchase at the art store the next time I'm there, ideas for other paintings, possible topics for future postings, phone calls I need to make and so on.  Again, nothing earth shattering or of great interest to anyone other than myself.  As I paint, I listen to classical music on the radio.  I find this less jarring than loud rock music and less intense than opera.  I'm definitely not a lover of opera.  I have to turn the radio off when the blue grass music is played on the weekend.  Can't handle that.  I like the jazz that is played on weeknights and Saturday night.  It's good music to paint to and keeps me engaged with both the music and the subject of my painting.  For the most part, my journey has focussed on painting or making cards.  I need to branch out and try more things or at least try different types of painting.  I need to try abstracts and see what colours show up on the canvas when I paint in that fashion.  What will emerge if I try to do a portrait?  Will landscapes enthrall me or cause me to wince when I look at them?  So many questions to which I don't have answers yet.

I also have to admit to a secret longing to write and illustrate a children's book.  I mentioned this in an earlier post.  Well, it's more than just a secret longing.  I do have two stories started, but sitting collecting dust on a shelf in my studio/bedroom.  What a shame, two lovely little stories that need to be fleshed out, the story scribed on pages enlivened with some colourful pictures, just sitting there calling to me each day to bring them out and see if maybe this is the day that I turn the corner and keep on writing until I have a completed story written out and finally start to rough out the illustrations.  What is holding  me back?  Why am I ignoring my inner writer/artist and denying its existance?  I have the answer and it embarrasses me to tell you, but I want to be open and sincere in what I write, so I will tell you.  I'm afraid.  I'm so afraid that my little stories that I love so much will be laughed at and cause me to feel less.  Feel less?  What does that mean?  It means that I'm human and I make mistakes and that I feel you will think that I must be some kind of fool to think that I might possess the talent to write.  What I think might be a lovely little story may make someone else laugh with derision and wonder if I'm for real and how could I be so foolish as to think that anyone would be interested in a children's story?  That would break my heart and more importantly break my spirit if I let it. 

Fear holds us back from trying so many things that we really want to try.  We might want to try a particular recipe, but we don't because we fear our family or guests will laugh at our attempts.  But how are we to learn if we don't try?  We need to lose the fear of what others will think and choose to think that this is a wonderful path to wander down and while we're doing this, we'll grab a few new spices, paint colours, ideas off of the shelf, put them in our basket and when we reach our safe spot, try them out.  Our safe spot, hmm, what or where might that be?  It might be our studio, our kitchen, a nice little nook where we have a desk and computer set up or any of dozens of places in our homes.  It's the spot we retreat to when we have some serious or not so serious things to mull over.  Everyone should have a safe spot.  Call it whatever you like whether it's your studio, office, kitchen or den, it's still a spot where you feel safe enough to open up your soul and bring to light new ideas.  It's the spot where no one is watching over your shoulder and laughing at you for trying.  You feel safe, comfortable and in control.  You feel that maybe, just maybe you're ready to take that next step and try that something that you've wanted to do for so long, but haven't had the courage.  You feel that now is the time and at this moment you commit to giving it a try.  If you don't try you won't ever know if your project could become a success.  At this moment, you need to think how good it will feel to finally start and make progress on this journey.  Envision the end of that path.  You've finished the story, the painting or tried that special recipe and maybe it didn't turn out quite the way you had hoped, but you know that with a little tinkering here and there, that you will have a completed project worthy of being brought out into the daylight for all to see.  You might not win an award for what you've done, but you commited to something and have taken it right through to the end.  That my friend, is an accomplishment in itself. 

I'm in my safe spot as I type out this post.  Molly is dozing behind me, every once in a while mumbling kitten sounds as she sleeps.  Leave it to me to have a cat that chatters in her sleep.  But I do and it makes me smile every time.  Maybe this is something to consider putting in one of my stories.  I've been thinking a lot about these stories and many other things artistic over the past few days.  I pondered if I should write about my doubts in this post.  Finally, I decided that not to write about what I was thinking would be dishonest.  My thoughts are as much a part of my journey as the actual activities.  What I think about and put to page is just as important because they show the progress of my mental journey and hopefully add more for you to consider as you read this post.  Hopefully, my thoughts are something of a starting point for you in your journey.  I hope that you are as honest with yourself about what you are avoiding trying as I have been here with you, but more importantly with myself.

Back to my original question of whether or not this journey has a purpose and is it a worthwhile journey.  My answer is a resounding, YES.  After all my doubts and internal rumblings, much like thunder during a storm, the sun has come out and the mist cleared.  I see the purpose of the journey is as much to learn about myself as it is to learn about all things artistic.  I feel the need to let you know that I have the same doubts that you do.  I am very much an artist learning what is down this unmarked path and willing to take the chance to see where it leads and what I learn.  This is a journey full of promise and to pursue it will not only possibly teach me a new craft, but will teach me many things about myself.  But, I have to be willing to take the challenge even though I don't know the outcome or if it will please anyone, but more importantly, if it will please me.

So, will my children's stories come down off of the shelf and will I take the chance to make them come to life? The final answer is yes, I will take the chance.  I will work on them thinking of the smiles that they will bring to a child's face.  That child is in all of us, so when I feel that the stories are ready, I'll share them with you and hope that you too will feel that these stories were waiting to be told and passed on.  Hopefully, I'll be able to show you the illustrations, most likely in my gallery.  But at some point the story and illustrations will come together in book form, ready to be shared with many others.  That will be what I will leave behind when my time comes to go to the next level in life.

Let me know what you think about this post or any other post I've written.  I've shared the very essence of  me with you and hope that it encourages you to take a chance.  But, like any author of a blog, I need some feedback from you in order to know what you would like to hear about and where you hope the journey goes next.  I'm seeing some pretty interesting ideas show up in my notebook and I'll try to put them to life on canvas so you can see what ideas come to me and how they came to be.  Every canvas has a story.  Claudia (@oliviosartstudio) knows about some of my potential projects and my initial fears about them.  But, that's a whole other post to come.  Meanwhile, take a look at Claudia's web site, the URL is to the right of this post under the heading "Some other sites you might find interesting."  I can guarantee you that you will find her site more than interesting.

Take the time to stop and enjoy life and its challenges.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured, that I know for certain!

Sincerely,  Rutheemac