Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jack o' Lantern Cards

A couple of weeks ago, I found a link to a blog where the woman had made pumpkin cards out of leaves.I cannot find that blog now. I thought I'd seen it on One Pretty Thing. Nope. Pinterest? Nope. Google? I tried: "pumpkin cards", "pumpkin leaf cards", "jack o' lantern cards", "halloween pumpkin cards", and I CANNOT FIND IT. (The woman who runs the blog is a freelance TV producer. She has two kids. Help me find it!!!!)

Anyway, I made some, too. Here they are. When I find the blog, I will post HER link so I can give her credit. She is the smarty-one. Not me.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Restorative Time

Since I have started doing my watercolors again, I have had such a sublime sense of peace. Several years ago I was diagnosed with OCD. It manifested itself in my not being able to focus on anything for very long, huge bouts of free-floating guilt and in forgetting things because of being distracted easily. I've taken medication since the diagnosis, but in the past few years, have grown more uncomfortable with the idea of being dependent on it.

Please understand that when I began taking the medication (10 years ago?) my whole life changed. I GOT my life. It was wonderful to be able to concentrate on one thing at a time. Guilt levels dropped (don't ask me why, but I always felt guilty). I got more stuff done. I progressed.

Recently - maybe the past year? - I've noticed a growing sense of return to the "old days" before the medication. I've been scattered and unfocused. I worried a lot. My house has become ... scary. My doctor upped the dosage a while back, but I noticed some disturbing side effects - mostly that I was sleepy all the time. It could have been related to the other stuff going on (sleep is a way of escaping) or it could have been growing tolerance to the medication itself.

Through a long a convoluted process of searching for answers to Life, The Universe and Everything, my studies led me to meditation. I'd always rolled my eyes at the idea of sitting in lotus position, chanting away. The stuff I looked into was more okay (see my gooder grammar?) and less weird for me. I tried it. Amazingly, I was focused. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.

I continued with my self-study and thought a lot about being mindful, focusing on the present (rather than dwelling on the future or the past), taking care of myself (so I could function) and not putting off doing things that make me happy (so I can function happily!). I love art. I put it off all the time for what I perceive as The Greater Good.

Unfortunately, the Greater Good is actually leading me to the insane asylum. So I started letting myself do art. I've been watercoloring. It's rather like meditating. I even involve Kenneth with me (he has his own paints). He talks incessantly, but I don't mind. 

And I love what I'm coming up with. I found my watercolors from college - ones that received GREAT acclaim from my professors, but I love what I'm doing now so much more! I see now how I've developed from those early paintings (I'll try to post some another time) and have GROWN.  I judge a painting of mine as 'good' if I still like it a substantial amount of time later. While I still like the older/first ones, I like these so much more... I imagine that in 20 years, I'll like these just fine, too, but will (hopefully) have continued growing and like the ones I'm doing then so much MORE, too.

A few things have happened in the last week that have troubled me. I have been touched by death in close friends' lives. I've also had a worry about my tutorials. It's funny how you can get 100 people who love your work and are so grateful for it. They might notice an error in your work and give you a heads up with no criticism - a "Hey Girl! Just wanted to let you know!" thing. Then you can get another person who notices the same error, gives you a list of other things they think you should change about your work and  then demands restitution. All of this is labeled as "Constructive Criticism". And they hope I know they don't mean to offend but they want to help me succeed. Do I remember the 100 positives when that happens?

Regardless of how people choose to act towards me, I want to choose correctly in acting towards them. I have been relying on the meditation - either the quiet breathing kind or the art kind to be restorative for my heart, soul, spirit, whatever. While there is still pain, the bitter stings haven't lasted as long. The desire to lash out retreats more quickly. For that, and many other things, I have been grateful. At the end of the day, I'd rather have peace than revenge.

I've been off my OCD medication for more than 3 weeks now and I feel the same as when I was first on the meds - except better. I'm not reliant on something and I LOVE it. Perhaps I will use the medication again someday (I'm still getting the prescription filled just in case), but that day is not today and it feels good.

Now, to just get off of my chocolate habit. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

If I Fits In It, I Sits In It

When my mother-in-law died, she left behind a lot of really wonderful things, one of which was a leather satchel/suitcase thing. The other day, when I was preparing to go out of town, I found the satchel held my watercolor stuff perfectly. Like it was *made* for it. I showed Brian what I'd put in the case and his face kinda fell. He was jealous that I'd grabbed it first... hahahaha! It has a certain steampunk feel - all leathery and old-fashioned looking.

So, I was sitting out on the patio last night, as I am wont to do in the still-sunny evenings, with my new-found portable art studio case and had set up my little painting area when I went inside the house to get something.

I came back outside to find this:

What is it about things that cats think to themselves -"I fit! I sit!" So sweet Ginny kept me company while I painted.She drinks my paintbrush rinse water, too.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Before and After

I thought I would show a watercolor in the different stages. This one I'd been working on for a few days and the gray green area above the grass green area just wasn't working out. Too dark. I couldn't do anything to get more contrast. So... what to do about it? I could tear another piece of watercolor paper to cover it and then start over on that part, but it would stick up from the first piece of paper too much. Hmmm... (tap on chin)

Aha! Put a piece of book page paper (I love Harry Potter - that's what this one is) over it. I'd planned on watercoloring over it, but liked the contrast of the whiteness against what I'd already done. Other than putting a few more layers of color over the sky and grass areas, I left the book paper pretty much alone. I added some highlights of metallic paint for the stars, the horizon and the windows of the house. I took this picture outside and it's REALLY bright today - the colors aren't quite so garish in real life!

Here's a detail of the house. Can you see the glittery doorknob? I'd love to be invited to this home.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Doings

It's *finally* autumn here - that means the temperatures are below 80°F - and evenings out on the porch are pleasanter than ever! No more dripping sweat onto my work! 

This weekend was spent watching General Conference with the family here on the Internet. Brian has the computer hooked up to the TV screen and the connection was so smooth it was just like watching real live television. Woo hoo!

We are instructed to prepare for Conference by praying for answers to questions we have. I had had a lot of questions I was listening for answers for. (I have a master's degree, but it sure ain't in grammar!) Although I heard a lot of wonderful things, there were no obvious answers to my wonderings about some things. Oh well... gives me motivation to meditate, ponder and pray.

Speaking of meditation, I've been practicing doing it. The first night after I had practiced stilling my mind both in the morning and in the evening I had the worst nightmare I've had in forever, the kind that stays with you all day. It almost made me not want to meditate again - why would I want to still my mind so it would play host to bad dreams? 

I have been given a new Visiting Teaching route - I am now the letter-writer to a list of seven women in the ward. I admit to a bit of trepidation about this - what you have to do is write a note every month to each of these women - complete strangers, most of them. I started looking around on Google to see if I could find any tips or ideas on how to do this. I didn't really find anything helpful, so I'm going to have to go it alone for now! Any ideas from anyone else out there?

Here is one of two watercolors I have in progress. Yeah, more houses. And lots of open space. It looks quiet and I really crave peace right now.

The nice thing about Conference is that it reminds us of Jesus Christ which brings to mind the phrase from John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you..."

Peace to all of you this week. :)