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.


Hanging with my Peeps

Hanging with my Peeps Journal PageI’m all packed up to go on a road trip with my quilting friends. We are heading to a Christian Retreat Center in Ellenton, FL. for four days of quilting, chatting, eating and relaxing.  I’ve got my hand quilting, my Ott light, my sewing machine and a prepped quilt I am making for my niece. I always pack way more projects than would be humanly possible to finish. If I’m lucky, I won’t pick up another new project while I’m away. That happens sometimes when I’m with my friends. Lots.

Art Journal - One FriendOther than stitching buddies, these are my Trues. These are the women who know me best. They have been with me through my life for about 10 years now and I have been with them.  We hold each other up, make each other laugh and we are all able to just be ourselves. I am so blessed to have them and am so thankful beyond measure for their friendships.

To celebrate my friends, I painted this drawing of some birds for my art journal.  The birds are like my friends, some are silly, some are shy and some are bold.  They are my Peeps.  I can’t wait to see what adventures we get into this time!

Fearless Flying Geese

When I was learning to quilt, about 20 years ago, I had no idea what I didn’t know. I did not know the difference between appliqué and piecing. I didn’t know what a 1/4″ seam was or why I even needed to know how to make one. That never stopped me from making my first quilt. I sewed up scraps from a friends huge scrap pile and made a ton of flying geese as instructed. I did not use a pattern or template. Yikes. My friend, Davina, was a bold, free-style quilter. She taught me how to make those first pieces and how to put it all together. Somehow, it all worked. I didn’t know I was doing it “wrong”. I thought it was lovely.

Fearless Flying GeeseI made this beauty because my dear husband did not like a scratchy blanket that we slept under. So, the idea of creating a beautiful quilt and putting the heavy acrylic blanket inside as batting seemed a perfect solution. Ah, the innocence of a newbie!  Yes, I basted that blanket between my beautiful flying geese top and some sale fabric from Joann’s. Then, on a machine I borrowed from my cousin, I proceeded to machine quilt this full sized quilt.  Her machine actually smoked as I struggled to quilt through the layers. I just let it cool off and went back to it in stages. I think I cut my binding about 5″ wide and proudly stitched it on. My husband and I slept under that very warm quilt for years.

Meanwhile, I took classes at a local quilt shop and joined a guild. I learned with every class and every project. Now, 20 years later, I know what I didn’t know. I also know that I don’t know it all. There is always something new, a new pattern, or my favorite, a new technique. Quilting has become more of a lifestyle than a hobby. It is where I have met most of my close friends.  We constantly lead each other into starting new projects and always share new techniques and ideas. Quilting sparks my creative heart.

All of this I gained because I was fearless enough to make something when I didn’t know how and because someone took the time to tell me I could and helped me to start. So, if you have a creative skill, share it and inspire someone to try. You could change their life forever!  This is why I share, this is why I teach. I hope to spark your creative heart.

Finding balance

Your Living Canvas JournalIn an online class, Your Living Canvas, with Christy Tomlinson and Art McCracken, we are taught about creating a life that is balanced. I found a few areas that need some work and some areas that I could let take a bit less of my time and still be okay. The goal is to have a more balanced life. This is kind of easier said than done.  The six areas we are discussing in our class are Faith, Fitness, Family, Fun, Finances and Friends – the Six F’s.  To help me remember this lesson and to have some of that Fun, I have made my journal entry to look like balloons. Watching a balloon float sort of reminds me of a fragile balance in the air. That’s sort of how life feels sometimes – in a state of fragile balance.

This is such an inspiring class – artistically and for life. We are learning to live our lives by design, on purpose. Love it.

Journal Start Day

I love journals. There is a little heart-skipping moment when I purchase a new journal to start a new project.  I have never, ever finished a journal. They are where I work out designs, sketch little thought snippets, practice new techniques, play with colors and have so much fun.  I have several journals that are created for a particular project, usually for a class. My desk almost always has one of my journals propped open for display for motivation.

This weeYour Living Canvas Journalk, I am starting a new online class called Your Living Canvas by Christy Tomlinson and Art McCracken. This class is part journaling, part artwork and part life coaching. So I get to start a new journal. Hooray!  After watching the amazing class videos, I am inspired to create my journal title page. I can’t wait to see what our next assignment will be!

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.

Chicken Vane

Chicken Vane Mixed Media CollageI am starting my adventure into discovering my happy place. I have been a quilter for almost 20 years.  I love choosing the colors and fabrics for a new quilt.  I am definitely more of an applique girl than a piecer. This background has really helped me with my new creative venture in making art. This adventure has changed my life. I can feel the wind of change happening in my life. This happy chicken weather vane canvas was one of my first commission pieces.  This was made for Vicki, who loves roosters.  My plans are to interpret this into a quilt design as well.  I love it that the old quilting pieces of my life are merging with the new pieces in my art. I look forward to seeing where this takes me.

Brave Mama Birdie

A couple of my trues and I were looking for a way to help one of our gals with a mid-life challenge. We decided to take a class from Melody Ross of the Brave Girls Club, called Soul Restoration. This six-week online course really helped me to focus on my life and what is important, what is good, what is right and what I want in my life. In our class, the bird symbolizes our Truthteller, or God. Since God is the Source of all, I created this painting to show this nurturing provider. It’s been a very Brave Girl year!

Thanks to MBrave Mama Bird collageelody Ross and her team at Brave Girls Club for teaching me to put on my big girl boots and make some positive changes in my life.