Dia de los Muertos

Close up of Sugar Skull art journal pageI love fall – the colors are my colors, the cooler weather finally comes, my birthday happens and the holidays truly begin with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The time for family and being together and celebrating really starts when the weather breaks. There is one more holiday in the fall that is lesser known in the United States – Dia de los Muertos. Day of the Dead. This holiday gets a bad rep because it sounds morbid and is typically celebrated with dancing skulls dressed like mariachi’s and hat dancing ladies. However, this holiday is really about celebrating and honoring those we love that have passed. It is a day to remember them and tell their stories to our children and friends. It is a day to celebrate the lives of our loved ones.

This fall, along with stitching pumpkin table runners out of luscious hand dyed wool and deciding what creepy or silly costumes we will wear for Trick or Treating, I have made an art journal page. I painted a sugar skull to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. Sugar skulls are a favorite candy in Mexico for this holiday. They are everywhere. I thought it would be fun to paint one and spend that time remembering my family members that are gone. As I painted, I thought about their smiling faces, the way they laughed, jokes we shared and all the wonderful times we shared. It was an artful way to honor them and celebrate their lives. It was a great way to take some time to remember how lucky I was to have them in my life.

Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead

I was inspired by Effy on Wild Soul Arts. She made a free video showing her technique for making a sugar skull art journal page spread. If you would like to paint or stitch a sugar skull, there is a free template available online at http://silverravenwolf.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/magick-notes-dios-de-los-muertos-sugar-skull-template/

I used neocolors, acrylics, ink, rubber stamps and gesso to create this sweetie. Enjoy the day, honor your people and celebrate life!


Be your wonderful self

Your Wonderful Self Journal PageThere are times in life when we get so overwhelmed that we forget to take care of ourselves and take time to simply be. We can easily get distracted by projects at work or school or even by joyful events like a new baby or a new love. Eventually, our soul reaches a place where it feels off and we need to recenter.

My lovely daughter Amber is off at college. We did not get into the nitty gritty details of what’s going on with her college life but it sort of sounded like she needed to take some time to just be her wonderful self. So, that was all I said that day we texted and spoke. I am learning to be empathetic and listen, not to judge or try to solve her problems. She is grown and I’m still learning how to be the best parent I can be. I still have my son at home and we have several years of practice ahead.

Close up of Wonderful Self BunnyThe next day I checked in with her. I needed to hear her voice and so we talked about the weather finally cooling off and how much we love fall. She felt better that day and had taken some time for herself. I emailed her a copy of my journal page inspired by her. We are both arty and our art is a huge bond between us. She told me on her last visit home that she was so grateful to have been raised in an artistic home. So now, I have my journal to remember the day and she has a copy to remember to take time to be her wonderful self.

Blooming my own way

My collage from week 1 of Brave Girls Art School
My collage from week 1 of Brave Girls Art School

I am learning to let the flowers in my art be funky and bright.  In my Brave Girls Art Class, we are making art from our souls. We are just letting go and playing and making imperfect, fun and fabulous art. It is such a blast and such an honor to share this class with an amazing group. We are learning art techniques and so much more from the incomparable Melody Ross and her team. Brave Girls Art Class is about more than just the art. It is about being okay with yourself and where you are and deciding what you want in your life. That’s what Brave Girls do.

I’m well on my path to the Brave life that I really want. I learn something every day.  I am looking for what’s right and good in my life.  I am nurturing my arty soul and blooming my own way.

Close up of textured flowers

My Etsy Store is OPEN

My Etsy Store is finally open! I am so humbled by this huge big leap. I am excited, nervous and mostly feeling like I have made a major milestone in my artwork. This is brave stuff. Putting your artwork out to the world takes big girl braveness.

Here is a link to my shop: etsy.com/shop/PiecefulSpirit

I would like to thank a few people for helping to make this possible. First, my family for their love, support and tolerance of an arty, messy home. Also, to my friends who have encouraged me to be brave enough to actually sell my artwork and for actually buying some as well. It gave me such a confidence boost. I would like to thank a few artists and teachers that have taught me so much and helped me to develop my art – Melody Ross, Christy Tomlinson, Junelle Jacobsen. You ladies totally rock!

Ok, now it’s time to get arty and get busy making some pieceful stuff. Woo hoo!!

Take Time to Whoot

Art Journal - Time to Whoot
My art journal page, Time to Whoot

We all need time to nourish our souls. We need to rest. We need to play and laugh. For years, I took care of everyone else. I did not take time for myself. My priority was always my family, my job, my home. I felt guilty if I took even a little time for myself. Eventually, I just forgot who the real me was. I burned out. Finally, a wise woman explained to me that I had to take care of myself so I would be able to take care of everyone and everything else. I was told to do something for myself, something small, every day. It was so hard. So, I started small. I think I did something crazy like buy a bottle of nail polish.

So – fast forward about 15 years. I am so much better at taking care of me now. I take trips with my girlfriends, I take time to make quilts and art, I read, I take art classes and take time to have lunch with my mom and sisters. My soul is so much happier. I have learned to laugh again.

My quilting group, The Nite Owl Whooters, went on a five day retreat. We stitched, we were silly, we talked and, best of all, we laughed. I came home feeling refreshed and ready to face my busy life. My spirit was renewed again and refueled with creative ideas. All of this because I took some time to Whoot with my friends.

So, take some time for yourself and go Whoot! Your spirit will thank you.

Dancing on a Fencepost

School’s back in session. This means I get to engage in the hustle and bustle of finding just the right colored pronged file folders, notebooks and all the other back-to-school paraphernalia. It also means we must pack up our lovely daughter and drive her back to her college campus. Amber is a sophomore this year studying architecture. She has a wonderful, natural artistic eye and is also good in math. She is so passionate about her field and we are so proud of her and thrilled that she has found her passion at such a young age.

We had a wonderful summer together and truly enjoyed having her with us. We knew we only got to borrow her for a few months so we all treasured our time together this summer. This year, driving her to school was a completely different experience. Last year, as a freshman, she was ready for us to drop off her belongings and drive away, leaving her to run off and jump into her much anticipated college experience. She grew up so much that first year. She learned to appreciate all we taught her so she could be successful as a student and living on her own. She gained a new appreciation for how to handle money and the value of a hard earned paycheck. She worked hard, made many friends and got the grades to earn another year of college. Woo hoo!

So, this year she knew what to expect. She is savvy at dorm life and has a group of friends. She is rested and ready to plunge into her sophomore year. We made the five hour drive to her college and unloaded her belongings. This time, we were invited to come in, stay and help unpack. Then, we went to lunch together, bought groceries and stopped at a pet store to help her pick out a new beta fish for her room. There was no rush to push us on our way. Once she was all unpacked and her whole room was ready, the texts began. Her friends were also ready. It was time for all good parents to take their leave.

We were less sad this year, knowing our sweet girl has learned to balance many new life experiences. She has learned to work hard and play hard. I’m sure she is having a blast in college but she also knows she must put in the hard work required to earn another year in college. College is an experience that teaches you balance. I picture her dancing on that fence with her arty flair and learning to stay balanced.

Breaking boards, building character

My 12 year old son, Logan, is in a summer camp run by his karate dojo, Authentic Martial Arts in Largo, FL. Towards the end of the day, they put on their gear and have a 45 minute karate class. This is a great way to help the kids focus and wind down after a day at the park or swimming or whatever outing they had that day. We have had Logan enrolled for 4 years now and it has transformed his life. He now has his Junior Black Belt and it has taken lots of practice and time to achieve this goal. In addition to the physical requirements, the kids also have “Character Booklets” that they must read and do activities in as part of the requirements for their belt promotions.  Our dojo has always promoted the character development as a part of the karate program.

Click for a larger imageLast week, I picked Logan up early so he was going to miss out on the afternoon karate lesson. One of the Senseis, Shawn, asked us to wait and he ran and got a board for Logan to break. He knew Logan would not want to miss out on the board breaking session they were going to have that afternoon. Logan dropped his backpack and lunch box and immediately went into his karate stance and punched the board in half. Shawn gave him his board to take home and Logan left grinning with his board pieces in hand.  That thoughtful gesture by Shawn really showed Logan he was important and a part of the group. Sensei Shawn grew up in our dojo and is a fine example of the character being nurtured at Authentic Martial Arts.

As we drove home, I asked Logan if I could have his board. Since this was not his first broken board, he freely offered it to me. I used it as a canvas for my painting “Breaking Boards, Building Character”. I am so proud of Logan and the fine young man he is growing up to be. They say it takes a village to raise a child. In our case, it’s a village that includes a dojo.

Christmas with my Nite Owl Whooters

I am so lucky to be able to meet with my quilting friends, the Nite Owl Whooters almost every Tuesday. My quilting friends are so much a part of my life. They are there for me when times are tough, they share the happiest of life’s events and they truly have carried me through so much. I love them beyond measure. Each one is different and I love them all for their differences. As a group, we are so diverse and stronger for our diversities.
We have a secret pal gift exchange each year. Usually, we make each other a quilt or something handmade for our Christmas party and then have a big reveal exchange. This year, I made this Christmas Owl painting for my dear friend, Linda. I was so excited to make this for her. She loves (I mean, crazy loves) owls. I couldn’t bring this in to show my friends ahead of time so it has been secretly living on my fireplace mantel for about a month now. Last week, we had our grand party and Linda got to open her gifts. I gave her a small quilted hanging and her painting. I loved watching her excited face when she opened up her gifts. She is a bright light in our group and I am so lucky to have her friendship.

This special Christmas party really jump starts me for the holiday. There is nothing like spending a day with good friends.  Merry Christmas to my Nite Owl Whooters!

Stretching the Muse Muscles

Mixed Media Collage with pattern paper, acrylic, inksI love the challenge of commissioned art pieces. On my own, I would never dream of creating chickens, sea turtles, mermaids or fairies. (Ok, maybe I would have dreamed of a fairy piece.) Each time I take on one of these challenges, I am surprised at what comes out. I love it when I have to stretch my muse muscles and try something new. Being fairly new to art, I don’t really have my own “thing” yet. I am still discovering my artistic voice.  The more art I make and the more designs I create, the closer I get to that place. Growing artistic muscles takes a lot of practice and patience to learn new techniques. I don’t think it will ever end. I hope not anyway.

Mixed Media Collage Fairy GirlRecently, I was asked to make a painting of sea turtles. I loved figuring out how to make the sea grass and picking pattern papers for the little sea turtles. This piece was so fun to paint and I wish I had made two so I had one to keep. The painting actually reminds me of the calm, peaceful feeling you get when scuba diving.

I was actually asked to make two paintings of the same fairy.  I like to work spontaneously so it was a bit of a challenge to make two almost identical paintings.  I love the fairy girls and their pretty whimsical wings. This would be a great series to work on sometimes. Yes, those muse muscles are stretching again!


Art is better with friends

Chica for NormaArt is even more fun with friends. My friend Norma and I had an art day. She came over and we worked all day long on art. So much fun! It is amazing how two people who have learned the same techniques can make art so differently.

I made a background on a canvas and hated the background color I had chosen. Seriously. Baby poo colored mess covering my lovely collage papers. Norma said she liked it so I gave her the canvas to keep. Really, just take it. Ick.

Norma takes it and splashes some of her stencils and colors that I would never have chosen and now it’s really so much better. She gifts the canvas back to me. Now I have something fun to work with again and I add more of my own painting, stamps, rubons and then paint a fun girl. I had to make her a Latina Chica in honor of our combined art and Latin ethnicity. Norma’s birthday was a couple of weeks later so I just had to give her the Chica painting framed.  Happy Birthday my friend.