Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Free Quickie Mixed Media Art Demo: "Moon and Stars"


I've been wanting to do more fast art demo videos for you and, now that I'm getting a bit of energy back post-first trimester, I have!  It's fun to do these quick videos for you, with minimal editing but (hopefully) a good bargain of inspiration for just a few minutes' of watching time.  I really enjoy watching other artists' fast painting videos, and I hope you enjoy this one.  And if you are hungry for more art-in-motion videos, you can find the rest of mine here.

Here is the finished version of this painting, entitled "Moon and Stars" (and prints are up for grabs in the shop here):

https://www.etsy.com/listing/215667527/fine-art-print-moon-and-stars-9-x-12

Thanks for watching!

I Believe in the Night {On Decembers}


There's something about December.

I've long resisted it.  The depth of night . . . the buzzing of the holidays . . . the overabundance of delicious and bad-for-you things in all the places. 

I used to say that this was my least favorite time of the year.  And that was before my baby was stillborn days before Thanksgiving.

But this year feels different.

Maybe it's that I'm resting with the hibernating earth, staying away from the manic hustle and bustle of holiday to-do lists and presents and unnecessary obligations.  Maybe it's that I'm doing the holidays my way, perhaps for the first time, and choosing only what is nourishing and enlightening for my spirit.  I feel like I'm wrapped up in a cloak of star-marked night, breathing in time with the bears sleeping winter away in their mountain dens.

Maybe it's that I'm pregnant -- a time that always makes me feel more visceral, more embodied, more sexy and sacred.  Maybe it's my body waxing around the seed of life in the darkness within that makes me appreciate this time of thick, cold night.

Or maybe it's that it's my fearless year (just for a little while longer now), and I'm reaping the benefits of challenging myself to find treasures in winter's darkness. That I'm learning to not run from the dark, but slowly turn my face toward it and invite it in for tea.

This year is different.


I hope next year is different in the same kind of way, too, more and more different-in-a-needed-way, as I learn to trust this soul of mine, and the feeling coursing through my marrow. 

I hope I never forget to honor these long, dark nights. 

I believe in the night, when dreams run free across the stilled landscape.  When the moon wanes and waxes and wanes above, her eternal dance that tells us so much about ourselves.  When the stars play behind the wandering clouds, and all the earth is a question.  When I teach myself again and again, and sometimes learn, to surrender to myself, to this body, to rest.  When slumber makes us children again for a time, trusting in what is, if only for this night.

I nestle into December's darkness and try to heed the quiet throb of my own heart's pace.

"You, darkness, of whom I am born–
I love you more that the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illuminates
and excludes all the rest.
But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations–just as they are.
It let’s me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night."
- Rainer Maria Rilke, from Rilke's Book of Hours*

Your turn: how is your December different this year?  Is it a welcome kind of different, or something less desirable?  How would you like it to be different next year?  Let your thoughts wander over how you can make December 2015 a good-different for yourself.


*affiliate link

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Making Memories: A Simple Holiday Ornament Tutorial

http://allthatlovecando.blogspot.com/2014/12/12-days-of-christmas-day-eleven.html

Today I am over at All That Love Can Do for the wonderful RaeAnne's 12 Days of Christmas, a series that provides support for babyloss parents during the holiday season.  I share a few words (sneak peek below), and a simple tutorial making your own memorial ornament for your tree or simply to adorn your home.  I'd love for you to join me over there!

"I don't have much advice on how to survive the holidays as a grieving person, except that you do what you need to get through it.  Avoid parties, cards, people, and whatever else if you can't handle them.  Let yourself ache.  Invest in a massage or see a therapist for extra support.  Boil life down to the pure essentials.  Journal angry/sad/silly/lonely/dizzy.  Make art.  Sleep a lot.  Eat some chocolate, watch a lot of reality TV.  You have permission, no matter what anyone else may say.  Your allegiance is first to your own heart."
 
Looking for more support for a difficult holiday season?  Check out my 2013 blog series Hurting For the Holidays, featuring many writers' gentle wisdom for achy hearts during this sensitive time of year.

My Fearless Year: Farewell, For Now


Well, my dear Fearless year, we've had quite the time, haven't we?  We crashed into 2014 together, intent on growth and success and soul-knowing.  And we did it.  We grew.  We saw some successes (and some failures).  And today, I know my soul far better than I did at this time last year.

It's been quite the year.

I wrote a book.  And published it.  And then wrote most of another book.  And a book of poetry (coming soon, I hope). 
I did a lot of things to my hair, intent on discovering what is most me-ish.
I pierced my nose, after much dreaming, and made plans for future tattoos.
I made art.
I made love.  I enjoyed my first orgasm.  And then a bunch more after that.
I fought for my marriage.
I fought for my soul, reclaiming it for myself from all those darn shoulds.
I fought depression
I released.
I said hello, hugged beloved kindreds.
I said goodbye.  And it hurt.  A lot.  Especially when my farewell went unnoticed. 
I traveled (twice!!).
I went down a scary water slide . . . and liked it.
I said no.  And yes.
I explored.  I found a cave.  I found my self.
I thrashed.
I burned
I howled at the moon.
I said hard things.  I said nothing.
I made mistakes.  A lot of them.
I cursed more.  I listened harder.  I tried to love better.
I wore real lipstick for the first time, and loved it.
I charged forward, and stepped back. 
I rested.
I healed.
I danced wild. 
I (with some help) gave a new person life within me.
I whispered "I love you" an extravagant amount of times into my beloveds ears.
I was afraid.  I did it anyway.  And sometimes I didn't.

Quite the year.  I've never lived a year so full, I think.  Not ever. 

What I've loved about my Fearless year is how I went after it, sometimes aggressively, went after the life I longed for, the self that I wanted to be, the way that I wanted to walk in the world.  I went for it.  And what I found difficult about my Fearless year in hindsight, is, um, that selfsame aggression.  Sometimes I went too hard (and sometimes not hard enough).  I was not always the most nuanced in my awakening.  I stepped on toes, quite a few of them.  For that I am sorry.

But

I also pulled my own toes out from a number of different heels, of things that snagged my soul and kept my knotted up and small.  So, for all my mistakes and stumblings, it was worth it.  I look back at my Fearless year and am satisfied.  Because I went for it.  And that is, if not everything, then a lot.

Thank you, my Fearless year.  You taught me a lot about how I want to be, and how I don't want to be, and who I'd like to walk with, and where.  You taught me that fearlessness is not a state of walking without fear, but a state of being fearful but daring to walk anyway.  You taught me about the nature of courage, and how sometimes it is loud and sometimes it is soft, and sometimes it can look a lot like sleeping, which was unexpected.

I felt so young this year, my Fearless year, so full of life.  And then sometimes I felt excruciatingly old.  That was harder, but you had lessons for me there, too.  You taught me more in the art of turning the everyday into magic that is no less sparkling for its mundanity.

You taught me to be me, and you taught me well, I think.  And now it is time to say goodbye, my Fearless year, to release and renew and rediscover.  I'm sure I will meet you again one day, and perhaps even one day soon.  But for now, we part.

Thank you and thank you and thank you, my Fearless year.  I will never be the same, and I will never stop being grateful for that.










 





Thursday, November 27, 2014

Five Days of Holiday Yum Starts Saturday! {Holiday Art Specials}

Just popping in here for a moment before heading off to some Thanksgiving festivities to give you the heads up on Epiphany Art Studio's holiday discounts and deals, which start this Saturday, November 29.  Introducing, Five Days of Holiday Yum!  Here's what's going down:


Starting on Small Business Saturday (November 29), Epiphany Art Studio customers get to enjoy five full days of major discounts, bonuses, and freebies.  There will be a new deal each day from November 29 through December 3, and each one is pretty dang sweet.  Stop by the shop to take advantage of what's happening.

 Please note that each deal lasts for 24 hours only, meaning that you can't get Saturday's 20% off on Monday.  Once it's gone, it's not coming back (well, until next year, perhaps). 

And now I shall go eat some turkey and pie.  Well, mostly pie.   You know how it is.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When Art is Everything {Introducing Healing HeARTs}


I'm not sure that I came to art journaling in the usual fashion.  I didn't start with that deliciously freeing, fast and loose visual alternative to handwritten journaling that I hear my friends describing their introduction to art journaling as.  Instead, I used an art notebook of mixed media paper to learn how to paint faces.  I'd signed up for an online art class and needed to practice.  But painting on canvas felt too scary (and expensive), and loose paper annoyed me.


So art journaling it was.  I filled page after page of the art notebook with full-on paintings of women.  I painted for the distraction, to have something to think about other than a dark, dark time that I was enduring in my battle with an eating disorder.


But it wasn't long before I reaped more benefits from painting than mere distraction.  Instead, I found emotion pouring out of the end of my brush, and within a startlingly short amount of time, I was making major forward progress against the eating disorder -- something that I had literally given up hope for.


Painting became self-preservation, self-healing, self-care.  It filled me with purpose, a sense of an accomplishment, and joy.  I could lose myself in painting for hours and hours.  I had never experienced anything like it, and I will never stop being grateful for the powers and coincidences that brought art into my life.  It turned me back into a person at a time when I thought that living as a shell was the best I could expect, and continues to be a healing and illuminating force for me.


So when I heard about what my friend Anna is doing with her program Healing He[art]s, I was more than a little excited, and wanted to tell you about it . . .

www.annameadearts.com/healing-hearts.html
Healing He[art]s is a mechanism to put art supplies in the hands of women who are struggling. The vision is for women to give the gift of art to other women. Because we know that art heals. We have lived it, and we would like to pass along that encouragement to others.
Anna and her supporters are gathering art supplies in order to assemble and donate 144 art journaling kits this holiday season.  Each kit costs $25, and contains some basic supplies, such as paints, pens, papers, brushes, and, of course, a journal.  

I love the vision of this project, because I know the powerful healing effect that art can have.  You start painting, pretty sure this art thing is going to amount to a whole lot of nothing, and then all of sudden you find that you're painting your fractured soul back into wholeness for the first time in forever.  

If you'd like to donate to Healing He[art]s, you can do so here (major credit cards, Paypal, checks and money orders are accepted).  And stay updated with the kits' progress here.

www.annameadearts.com/healing-hearts.html

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Novembers {Life After Stillbirth, Three Years Later}


I keep waiting for it to get bad.

I mean, three years and one week ago, my baby died inside of me and my world shattered and I didn't think I'd survive the day, much less make it out of the dark places.

I never thought that Novembers would start being not-hard.

But then, there's still a week to go until my girl's third {still}birthday, so I guess anything could happen.  I don't want to speak too soon.  I don't want to jinx myself.

Still, based on previous Novembers, I expected to feel memory's cold fingers stealing over my shoulders, pressing, clenching until I could hardly breathe.

 

People keep asking me (thank you, thank you, thank you for remembering) how I'm doing.  And I have to shrug and say, not sure how it can be, that I think I'm doing okay, actually.

That truth sounds strange coming from my own tongue.  But that doesn't make me less grateful for it.

I guess I thought that, if I ever got to this place where November doesn't sting like it used to, I'd feel guilty.  That it would make me less of a mother to the daughter I never got to raise.

But I don't feel that way.  Mostly I just feel glad.  Maybe a little confused, and a bit nervous, afraid that November 20 is going to hit like a hurricane.  But aside from that, I'm glad.  Because even though I love her, I don't want to spend the rest of my life losing a month or more of my life each year in a black hole of grief's resurgence.  Not on top of the grief I've already traversed.  Not when I have so much life to see to.


Maybe it's just pregnancy hormones, protecting me somehow.  They do that with my depression, after all.  Somehow, though, I don't think that's it (although I guess we'll see next year, huh?).

And I hesitate to saw why things are different this year.  Maybe it's just the passing of time.  Maybe it's how deep into the darkness I let myself descend.  Maybe it's the art journaling, or the questioning and pondering, or the sea of tears my eyes have poured out over her name.  Maybe it's how grateful I am for the life she's given me -- I will never stop wishing she could have stayed, but treasure the many, many gifts she left for me with her absence.


I don't know.  I don't know.  I don't know.  

I don't know what next week will bring.
I don't know how I'll spend her day.

But I am glad. 

I am glad of her.  I am glad of the me she birthed with her death, the greatest paradox I have yet to know.  And I am glad of this calm and unexpected loveliness, three years later.