Monday, June 20, 2011

Sometimes on Sundays I get a little lost in my day

Sundays are a day of rest, relaxation, prepping for the upcoming week, and with a little luck, some time spent in the studio.  I find I try to get a lot done and somehow get lost in the work to be done without reaching items on the to do list that I had hoped to make time for somehow.  Today was no exception!

Today, I lost time due to having a late night Saturday night and thereby requiring some extra down time to pull myself together once I was able to pry my eyes open Sunday, a little before noon.  I had managed to get up a few hours earlier than this to feed the ever exuberant Molly Cat.  She had been running in the bedroom, making sounds that spurred me into action to head into the kitchen and fill up bowls with treats, kibbles, and fresh water.  Satisfied with seeing her bowls newly filled, Molly Cat sat on the window ledge in the diningroom and hid behind the curtains to peek out at visiting birds who are chirping on the balcony.  For me, it was time to head back to bed hopefully to catch just a few more moments of down time.

Shortly after noon, I finally could get up and head into the shower to really get myself into the waking up process.  A wonderful grapefruit shower gel pulled me into an awareness and slathering the coordinating body moisturizer on my arms and legs completed the sensory process necessary for me to become somewhat alert after a not so restful night.  Fragrance is an important part of every day.  The aroma of freshly brewed coffee gives me an immediate jump start.  The scent of shower get can either assist me in finding some sleep on a turbulent night or lift me into consciousness if that is what my soul is requiring at that time.  Later, the smell of fresh laundry, the aroma of fresh muffins in the oven or the tantalizing smell of soup bubbling away for that night's dinner hour tells me that I can rest easy and move on to an artistic journey should that be something I am hoping will transpire.  The fragrances, aromas or scents that I encounter all lead me down pathways on my journey that eventually lead me back to my key focus, my artistic journey.

Looking at my time versus what I needed to get done made me knock a few things off of my list and I proceeded to make a quick shopping list of items needed over the next 24 to 48 hours.  I know that I need to head over to the shops to pick up some fresh items for meals in the first few days of the week so I could cut down what I really had to purchase late on a Sunday afternoon.  Even then, I was running much later than I had planned and I knew that finding studio time was not likely going to happen especially if I was going to put up a blog at some point today.  The posting of the blog meant a lot to me and so here I am late in the day, tapping out some thoughts about a journey gone astray on not only this particular day, but through the previous days of the week just past. 

Going astray seems to be more and more part of my life these days for some reason.  I lose focus of what I want to accomplish only to be overtaken by something that needs my undivided attention right away.  I wish I could stay on track with what I originally plan to do each day, but somehow, I run into obstacles that hold me back.  These obstacles can be appointments, trips to the shops for a few items that I need to make it through to the next pay week and the subsequent shopping for items that are purchased on a monthly basis.  Other obstacles can be unexpected visitors showing up at my door, a plumbing crew who gives me 24 hours notice that they need to access my unit for building upgrades only to not show up on the appointed day or on the next day when they promised they would be in bright and early, appointments with specialists who are looking over my medical issues or trips out to shops in outlying areas that sell art supplies.  These art supply shops are also sometimes sourced out by online searches for specific supplies mentioned in blogs that I follow or by other artists who chat with me online.  While I try to get as much done as possible each day, it seems to be the unscheduled interruptions that take me off track much to my dismay.

I mentioned previously that I am working on making a template for an art submission to be done on a specific Japanese paper.  The paper has been ordered, but has not arrived as yet due to some unexpected delays.  This means that I cannot develop a method for cutting the paper into layers or colouring it with specific progressions of shades of paint.  What I can do is work on putting together what the first concept of the design will look like and what colours will be used and the progressions of each colour to hopefully enhance a three dimensional effect.  It sounds like a lot of dreaming and it may prove to be so if I am unable to put the ideas into concrete procedures to produce what I see in my mind.  The exact layout or design is still being debated by a team made up of Molly Cat and myself.  I have the deciding vote but will seriously consider anything that Molly Cat might come up with should it look something like I have depicted in my sketch books.

So, here I am late on a Sunday night or early on a Monday morning depending which side of the Atlantic you reside on.  I am trying to sort through which Dover publications I will peruse later once I have had a few hours of sleep and worked my way through a quick but thorough tidy up of my flat.  These books will be set aside and I will work on some sketches of what my mind thinks I should incorporate into my Japanese submission for the art exhibit in a few months time.  The week is looking like another write off due to another doctor's appointment along with the plumbers promise to return on the same day as the appointment.  The building manager has promised to accompany the plumbing crew and make sure that Molly Cat is safely placed in my art studio so that she cannot adventure into any holes cut into my walls for the upgrades.  She did this once in our old flat earlier this year only to stick her head out of one of the holes in response to my worried calling of her name.  Cobwebs strung ear to ear on her little head, I have to admit that while I can see the humour now, I can also see the potential for danger of a little furry body exploring and getting caught up in some obsolete pipes or whatever lies behind the walls of this older building.

I will try my best to get some artistic work done in between these scheduled and unscheduled interruptions, but I have to be ready to jump and take advantage of any quiet moments in which I can sit down with a box of watercolour pencils, oil pastels or whatever medium calls out to me at that time.  I will work on developing my art submission, I will bring reading material to any appointments and I will promise to make the most of my time.  I will continue on my artistic journey and make some new discoveries whether they pertain to colours that coordinate despite my misgivings or find new ways to play with paper.  There is so much out there that I want to discover for myself.  This is the week that I declare war on losing my focus and grab any allotments of time that present themselves.  The journey is going to get back on track even if I have to roll up my sleeves and talk firmly to some tardy plumbers or visitors who show up unannounced.  I control the progress of the journey so I need to put some ground rules in place.  While I have to accept that there will be some delays due to unexpected events taking precedence in the scheme of life, there are other equally non negotiable times when I can and do have the power to say "no" and I will.  Now, I just have to work on my will making me as strong as my determination to progress.

I hope you all have a productive week in any and all things meaningful to you!

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sundays are productive in so many ways!

Good Sunday to everyone!

I love Sunday! For some reason, I seem to get more done on that day than I do on any other day.  I try not to sleep beyond 8 a.m. if possible and get up to prep meals for the week ahead and whilst everything is in the oven, crock pot or whatever kitchen gear that I might be using, I head into my studio.  Julie Anne Rhodes (@JulieAnneRhodes) has me hooked on her personal chef approach to meal preparation.  This plan rocks and gets me working for a couple of hours on prep work and end up with dinner ready for later in the day and entrees to freeze for subsequent meals.  Right now I have a soup bubbling away in the crock pot, a whole chicken ready to roast a little later along with a tray of meatballs to go in the oven with the chicken.  I package everything up in meal sized containers after they are fully cooked and cooled, then off they go into the freezer.  I do this every couple of weeks and end up with a balanced meal that I might not normally put together if left to cooking a full meal each day.  When you live alone, I find that you lose the motivation to cook real meals for yourself.  That is so wrong!  Even if you live alone, you still deserve to have a good meal to look forward to and a healthy one at that.

Julie Anne is a personal chef in California, U.S.A. and cooks up meals for her customers so that they can pull out the prepared entrees and just reheat.  The instructions are provided for the clients and Julie Anne meets with them for a consultation about their food preferences, allergies, any foods that they do not especially like and so on.  From there, she develops a menu personalized to that particular client, cooks up her amazing food, packages it up and voila, a weeks worth of food is ready.  Imagine being able to go to your fridge and pull out the containers for the evening meal, heating up the food and sitting down to a family dinner.  That is such a nice thought to me and many others.  So, Julie Anne has started up a new web site that includes her blog and so much more.

If you sign up for a membership at, you get access to a week of menus which change each Wednesday so that you can get the ingredients you require and take some time on the weekend or whatever day you choose to do your prep work for the recipes you plan to make.  The web site also includes other recipes such as the Bright Eye Muffins that I plan to make this evening and freeze.  I love being able to go to the freezer and pull out a single muffin to take with me when I am out for an afternoon of appointments.  That along with a frozen juice box is handy to have when you are waiting for a doctor's appointment that always seems to be delayed.  Vending machines are expensive and usually do not have a healthy choice amongst their contents and what selection of goodies contained within generally costs an outrageous amount of money without the benefit of even being remotely healthy.  I am so happy with this new approach to getting meals on the table.  I am eating better, including meat and some vegetables that I might not normally consider.  I do not have to do anything major to make a meal each day since I have an assortment of single meals all packaged up in my freezer.  Just by spending a couple of hours on Sunday morning and chopping everything I need in one go, I can multi task and have soup bubbling away with other entrees cooking in the oven.  This is getting the most out of your time and surely is the best way to plan your meals for the week or for me, even longer.  Julie Anne has me hooked on her personal chef approach and I owe her big time for making me realize that I am worth the effort to put a good meal on the table.  Even single gals need to eat and should make healthy meal choices.  Check out her web site and join in on the chatter about recipes, learn about meal planning and read her wonderful chatty blog that keeps you up to date on Julie Anne's adventures.  This is a blog and web site that you do not want to miss!

Sunday is also a day when I seem to have more clarity with regards to my artistic pursuits.  I can spend hours in my studio puttering with paints, collages and reading about some techniques that I want to attempt.  Right now I find myself mesmerized by some amazing Japanese papers and am playing with them to see what I can create using them.  Right now, I am impatiently waiting for a small shipment of special papers to arrive.  In this little package is a special paper, etchu hagaki.  This is a thicker Japanese paper that is the required medium for an exhibition that I plan to participate in later this summer.  It is wonderful to have enough time to develop an idea, experiment and then work my way to the final version.  I cannot wait to actually feel the texture of this paper and to be safe, bought a few extra sheets of it to have on hand.  I am not sure whether my project will be painted, collagedetchu hagaki.  When I have some samples ready on less expensive paper, I will put them up for you to see and maybe get you to tell me which piece you prefer and why it calls out to you. 

I have also been playing with other artistic ideas.  For some reason, I love coloured pencils and have a collection that is truly varied and encompasses the spectrum of colours.  Coloured pencils can be inexpensive like the ones most of us used in our school day projects or once you get your hands on some of the better pencils, you get hooked on the creamy flow of the artist quality ones.  Prismacolour and Derwent are the tools of choice when coloured pencils capture my attention.  It is so easy to put a grab and go bag together along with a sketch book and off I head to the mall for a cup of coffee and some time playing and working on new ideas.  It may sound a little strange for a grown woman to be entranced by her coloured pencils, but I am not really concerned with what others may think.  Coloured pencils are a legitimate tool in the art world and there even exists a society devoted to art work done in this medium.  I have found out that the colours can be blended nicely, either with the pens made especially for this or, if you are on a budget like me, just use a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab and run it over the area that you are working on.  It is an inexpensive way to get the same effect.  The nice part about working with coloured pencils is that you can mix the brands you use.  Sometimes you find colours amongst the cheaper pencils that work nicely in a piece where you have been using the more expensive counterparts.  Never think that you have to start off with the best quality when you are starting out with any medium.  You can work your way up to artist quality over a period of time and add to your collection gradually.  It has taken me a few years to put together my collection and coloured pencils last for a long time so you do not have to get replacements as often as you would when using tubes of paint.  Economical and effective, what more could you ask for?

I have not been making greeting cards for a while and feel an urge to devote a morning or two this week to making up an assortment of them to have in reserve for unexpected birthdays or any other occasion that might require me to send a greeting.  E-cards are convenient and can be sent so quickly when you hear of a last minute occasion that necessitates a greeting.  But, I like to make a card that reflects what I see in the recipient, uses colours that they enjoy and is truly personalized.  I find it sad that so many people do not send greetings or even just a well written note through the mail.  To me, a card or letter is such a treat to receive and I usually save them in a special box set aside for special memories.  I will pull out cards that I have received and read them again, feel the texture of the card stock and feel the same delight that I felt when I opened my mail box to find this particular greeting.  So, in order to encourage family and friends to embrace something from days gone by, I send greeting cards fairly often, sometimes just to tell someone that I have been thinking about them and inviting them over for tea.  Yes, I think this is the week to make a box of greetings to have on hand.  I can use up all sorts of scraps of paper along with paint, rubber stamps, coloured pencil and maybe a few small embellishments to add another element of design.  It is so satisfying to sit back and see that I am prepared for any occasion or no occasion at all.  I am predicting that card making may take up a significant amount of time this week.  At least until the Japanese paper arrives and my attention wanders over to prep work for the exhibition piece.  My attention span is easily swayed by the prospect of working with another type of paper or a complete turn to a different project. 

I hope you have found some time to work on something that appeals to you.  Try to find that time in your day to just dream and then capture those dreams in a sketch, a painting or even a greeting card.  There is something satisfying about making a dream into an actual piece of art.  So often we forget about taking time to do something we enjoy whether it is making art, baking some cookies or a cake just because we enjoy doing these things.  We focus, with great concentration, on getting projects from the office completed, rushing to get to appointments, making the most of our time doing all the chores that life requires of us.  But, should we not devote some time to doing something just because we enjoy the process and even more, the results?  Setting aside time to work on our dreams, to make them into reality is important, just as important as it is to set up any schedule that keeps us in sync with the requirements of daily life.  Please do something this week just because it interests you or is something that you have put aside because life has taken up too much of our personal pursuits.  You will feel refreshed and ready to tackle balancing the cheque book and just might find yourself looking at some of the many things you think must be done and re-evaluating how necessary they are in your life.  You just might find yourself setting aside some time each week to get back into your studio, making a library run or just kicking back with a cup of your favourite beverage on your patio watching a spectacular sunset.  Now, that is living life the way it is meant to be lived.

Have a wonderful week!  I would love to hear what you are doing to make your life more an expression of who you are underneath the business suits, business casual attire or uniform.

Sincerely,  Rutheemac


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Back online and back in the studio again!

Hi there!  Happy Sunday!

It has been a rough ride for the past while and I have had to fight a few battles along the way.  For some reason my computer has been acting up and when my anti virus program had to be updated with a new version, my online access to many of my programs had to be reestablished.  I was not amused and it has taken me a lot of computer time to get connected again.  One evening, I spent over three hours with an online tech support team trying to help me get back into an e-mail service so that I could retrieve a temporary password that would expire shortly and make it necessary to go through a whole download process again.  I was so not amused!

After a lot of time setting up new passwords and accessing my files, I am back online and able to access my blog through another server.  I highly recommend Firefox as a backup server.  Downloading it to my desktop has literally saved my sanity this past week or so and I have been able to retrieve my blog.  All my other programs seem to run well with this server, but I still use Internet Explorer for a lot of my computer work.  Both Internet Explorer and Firefox (also known as Mozilla) are considered to be secure servers, but as in all cases, you need to ensure your safety online.  Use difficult passwords that utilize both lower and upper case letters, numbers as well as symbols.  Change your passwords periodically and don't use the same passwords on other programs.  Each time you need to use a password to log in on a program, make it unique to that program and not a password that you have used on another program.  You risk a lot by not following this advice and should read up on internet security every so often so that you know what is happening in the cyber world and what to watch for while online.  Check out any information that your anti virus program has available about current risks and make sure you update your system at least once a day and run a virus scan.  Back up your documents and do not take risks with your data.

Now, enough with the preaching about internet servers and back up plans.  I have managed to find some time here and there to play with some acrylics, canvas and other supplies.  Three mixed media pieces are in development at this point and hopefully, I will find some down time to play with these pieces more this coming week.  Last week was devoted to cooking for dinner guests who were coming for their first of many meals at Chez Molly.  Both nights of festivities went well and now I am caught up on entertaining for a while and back in art creativity mode or so I hope.   I cannot say where these pieces are heading artistically, but they are moving along slowly but surely in a most interesting way.  For some reason, the mixture of colours and the way they have spread out on the various canvases has me thinking about textures, three dimensional effects and most intriguing to me, dreadlocks.  I am not completely sure how I will work dreadlocks on the canvases or whether they might only show up on one canvas.  I am completely torn which way to proceed with this project, but I will proceed and work out what seems to be a puzzle or pattern in early development stages.  I am enjoying feeling totally engrossed in art again.  It has been a long time since I felt this in sync with a project and it is a good feeling, so fun to feel this way again.

Life is moving along slowly but surely at this point.  I am feeling comfortable in my environment and capable of working on artistic pursuits again.  I thought that I had lost that initially when I moved into the new flat, but I think now that I was just transitioning and had to make myself develop a routine to encompass the work to maintain the flat, a plan to run errands even when I did not feel like going out to shop and most importantly, I needed to work on a plan to make time for playing with my artwork in a studio that I have been wanting for so long.

That is how my life is playing out right now.  While I am working slowly in the world of art, I am happy just to be putting brush to canvas and thinking about other interesting elements to add to my work.  Mixed media is calling out to me as are certain colour palettes.  I am feeling more in control of where my life is leading me, in fact, I feel that I am leading the way and developing life on my terms.  That is a good feeling to have and one that I have not enjoyed previously.  Maybe this will be the year that I make some strides forward artistically and manage to draw more interest to my work.  That is what I am hoping will happen, but I have to work on this development and growth persistently to get results.  I think this is doable and I am willing to put in the sweat equity.  I will try to post weekly now that I am back online and hope to show you some of the works in progress when they reach a point of being something worth seeing.

Sincerely,  Rutheemac