On Learning Curve and Kindness

21 November 2015 writing notes to myself in the corner of the page

21 November 2015 writing notes to myself in the corner of the page

” A messy start is simply a messy start not a failure”  

Be kind to yourself as you learn something new.  That was my mantra today.  Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself. I started a new bullet journal after weeks of researching planners and systems.  It was a rough start.  New things always are.

Especially when we’re not great at what we’re activating.  I mean, it’s hard enough to incorporate something new when you have mastery.  Even though I had some parenting skills under my belt, the truth is when Baby #3 was born, our world shifted and I had to learn new things.

Adding new components to a system AND acquiring new skills simultaneously is hard.  Extra Hard.  That matters a ton and it doesn’t matter at all.  In other words,  we can recognize and validate the difficulty level, but it mustn’t keep us from forward motion.

In teaching art and journal keeping over the last two decades, I’ve walked hundreds of people through the process of learning something new.  Hundreds.  I have seen two groups of people when it comes to dealing with learning curve:

  1. Those who move through the messy parts of learning and adjust as they go.  These people shake their fist or tuck their head down or don’t talk or they say all the words, and at the same time, THEY DO SOMETHING.  They start moving and figure it out mess and all.  Their motto is Steven Pressfield’s:  “Start before you’re ready.”
  2. Those who engage in complex methodologies to look good as they learn.  These strategies include:  never starting, keeping their hands super clean, erasing over and over and making complex plans.  They want things
[spaces, plans, process, skills and even people] to be perfect.

Clearly there’s more beneath the surface of each approach.  These strategies exist not only in art they show up in life.   At the end of the day,  we must remember that every new acquisition of skill and territory requires both the head and the heart.  It’s not enough to know what skill you want.  You also have to be willing to pay the full price.  Here’s the deal:

  • Learning is messy.
  • Other people are probably watching.
  • Mistakes cost time and money.

If you are wrestling with anything on that list, it’s a matter of the heart.  I know what I wrestle with; that’s why I’ve had this quote up in my studio for years:

There will be many times when we won’t look good to ourselves or anyone else. We need to stop demanding that we do.  It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time.  

~ Julia Cameron

And this one:

“The shortest answer is doing the thing.”

~ Ernest Hemingway

 

12 November 2015 spent the day with some fabulous humans at the studio talking superhero capes and breadcrumb trails through the dark woods. Oh, and we moved some paint and found some words. #artandfaith #journalasaspiritualpractice #soultending #centerforglobalaction

I hope you’re doing something new.  Life is rich when we shift and explore.

I hope you’re being kind to yourself as you learn.  Exhort yourself.  Resource yourself well.

And most of all, I hope you’re doing The Thing that you were born to do.

 

BE in your life,

Betsy

By |2016-10-19T14:20:30-04:00November 22nd, 2015|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Behind the Pages: On being an Empty Page Ninja

Untitled

 

“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.”

Jack Kerouac

 

Monday, September 17, 2012

In my ever-evolving journaling practice, I am discovering the power of the Empty page.  I  like to differentiate between a blank page and an empty page.

 

A blank page, can be daunting.  A blank page is demanding; it uses obnoxious tones or bellows.  Quite frankly, it can be a bit of a bully.  And bullies require push back and fighting skills.  Which some days, I just don’t have…
Untitled

 {origami paper, acrylic paint, 2×2 postal pix, watercolor, graphite, Sharpie pen fine}

But an empty page says, “Hey there, your mind looks full.  Why don’t you put those words and ideas over here.  In this box.  On this pretty paper.”

Untitled

{tissue paper, acrylic paint, graphite, 4×4 postal pix}

and, “Look at all that brilliance; this corner has been waiting for just that very thought.”  An empty page is a good friend who knows exactly what you need.

In my practice, I set aside a day, every 7 to 10 days, to create empty pages.  Safe places to tuck words, images and ephemera.  Empty pages, by my definition, are pages that are started.  Pages with soft edges that don’t screech with blankness, but instead with a calm voice, point the way to expression and life.

I like to create more pages than I think I’ll need, so that I don’t worry about space or rationing.  For me, that’s about 6 – 10 double page spreads in one session.  And then, I put away most of the supplies.  The magazine pages and the paints, tuck away and I settle into a quieter method.  At hand, I keep a pen, a glue stick, a sharpie, something that writes in white and my ever-present watercolors.  With prepped “empty pages” in my bag, I’m free to carry only a glue stick and a pen or two. 

[If I’m traveling, I’ll add Inktense pencils and a water brush.]   In that simple place and pace, I’m able to put my energy into capturing rather than creating from scratch.

Untitled

{paper tape, magazine cutout, 2×2 postal pix, Inktense pencil}

 Once I’ve made a handful of pages, I even free myself from writing things down in order.  I just find the empty space that matches what I have to say…or glue, or sketch.

One of the things I talk about extensively in workshop is the fact that my journals are not art journals.  The pages aren’t planned with emphasis on the final product.  They are a vital part of how I process life.  They are part of my spiritual practice and they ultimately inform my art, as I don’t differentiate between the two.  I write lists, draw, glue things down and capture thoughts.  In the pages and with a camera, I am in my life and listening to the Holy Spirit.
Let Go

{paper tape, white Jelly Roll pen, ink pad, tissue paper, acrylic paint, magazine cut out, stamps, graphite}

Empty pages create space and safety which ultimately allow me to be victorious over the Blank Page Bully.  Empty pages make my practice more contemplative and less like a battle.  Well, maybe still a battle, but one where I’m a ninja not a stormtrooper.  Here’s to climbing over fears, worries and stalls, one empty page at a time.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00September 17th, 2012|Art in the Crevices, Behind the Pages, Journals|8 Comments

On leaving space

Secure in your love.

Secure in your love.

{Security envelope hearts.}

Tuesday {Valentine’s Day} was a day full of cut out hearts and sweet words to share.  Wednesday left me with a lot of empty hearts – but only in paper.  I’ll be sharing them tonight with the folks in my Hug Your Story workshop – along with the question:

Ask: What is in your heart?

{Derwent Inktense pencils, Tim Holtz paper tape, school supply watercolors, acrylic paint on bubble wrap}

Send a bird to ASK.

What is in your heart?

Always nice to make space to figure that out.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00February 16th, 2012|Behind the Pages, Journals|0 Comments

Mandala Monday: Mandalas for conversation & processing.

Mandala9Jan2012

“The crucial variable in the process of turning knowledge into value is creativity.”
John Kao

Last week was a big week for processing.  {And that sentence is just too small to contain the shift and movement that I know are coming!}  It’s actually been a HUGE week for processing.  Which means lots of time in the pages and a couple of long conversations with my long-time, heart friend, Candi.  These mandalas were drawn while she and I were having epic phone conversations.  {One of those times was literally in the middle of the night, when we realized that we were both awake.  Thank you twitter.}

I often draw during conversation or when I’m taking notes.   The rhythm of drawing mandalas soothes my bouncing brain and keeps me present.  Of course if something strikes me, I write it down, thus these mandalas are surrounded by lists of books to read, wisdom and insights from dear friends and the thoughts and dreams that ultimately emerge in the entire process.

Mandala 5Jan2012 {acrylic, paper scraps, Pilot Precise V5 extra fine, Derwent watersoluble Graphitone & metallics}

Today’s list – January Books:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron {re-visiting w a friend.  Still full of wisdom and movement.}

The Mandala Workbook by Susan Fincher {I think I’ll just keep cycling through these exercises.  Beautiful & deep}

The book of Ephesians by St. Paul {Oh, I love to study…}

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor {The Bluestocking Babes are reading short stories}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00January 9th, 2012|Journals, Mandala Monday|4 Comments

Mandala Monday: A mandala for starting

Mandala for starting

“Winning starts with beginning.” Robert Schuller

Starting a new journal is simultaneously exciting and intimidating.  All those blank pages…

Not ever knowing how to start, I usually skipped the first few pages of a new journal, until I read a wonderful post by Stephanie Smith over at Rhodia Drive about her practice of adding a mandala at the front of each journal that she begins.  The idea of blessing a book with intention resonated with me.    It was such an epiphany.  Mandalas are beautiful & contemplative and after drawing/painting them for years, flow easily from my finger tips.

I recently finished both a morning pages painting journal and a my-story-all-in-one-place book.  So, this morning, found me with a new Morning Pages book full of nothing but white pages.  I painted a mandala on the inside cover, entering the book with intentions of honesty & consistency.  Here’s to showing up to the pages.

Good Morning

{Derwent inktense pencils, watercolor, India ink w brush, acrylic, Tattered Angels glimmer mist}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00September 12th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|3 Comments

Art is Life is Art: Interview by Dawn Sokol

I was honored last month to be interviewed by Dawn Sokol for the Journal Fresh portion of Create Mixed Media site.

Here are supplies and text details for the pages included as part of the interview.

Freedom

“No one is free when others are oppressed.”  There are more than 27 million slaves in the world today.

(stats from Zach Hunter of Loose Change to Loosen Chains}

{Tim Holtz® Distress inks, stamp, sticker, Sakura Pigma® Micron® pens}

blue nest

{Gesso, acrylic paint, tissue paper, origami paper, watercolor crayon, shipping label, nest sticker, graphite}

Magic Hour at the barn

{Gesso, stamp & ink pad, Derwent watersoluble graphite, 4×4 PostalPix print, dip pen & India ink}

my brokeness has come together to form the wings that have given me...

{Ink pad, torn painted paper scraps, Sakura Pigma® Micron® pen}

...definition and flight

{Ink pad, torn painted paper scraps, Sakura Pigma® Micron® pen}

Life makes me sizzle

{Watercolor, Sakura Pigma® Micron® pen, butterfly sticker, ink pad}

You can find the interview HERE.

Enjoy!

~b

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00September 6th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|2 Comments

A manadala for prayer & poetry

Recently attended this conference w/ R and two of the boys.

Mandala for poetry

There were prayers, discussions & questions and a lot of space made for prayers, discussions & questions.

this is your day to explore

bring an Expectant Heart

There were blessings and wise words spoken by David Taylor, author of For the Beauty of the Church. I asked that my copy of his book be inscribed with a pastoral blessing. I confess I’ve re-read the inscription several times.  Blessings are like that… easy to return to, as they give us clarity and gumption.   Wonderful to have poured over our heads or put into words to keep close by.

photo-13

{May God grant you the grace to discern the specific contours of your calling pastorally and bless you to expand beauty upon the earth.}

Habits define us.

choose and rechoose and rechoose

The evening wrapped up with a poetry reading and some beautiful music; and as is often my habit when listening, I drew.  Anya Silver’s poetry put me in mind of trees with deep roots & the regular things, that in their simplicity, capture hearts.  I came home with a slim volume of her poems called, The Ninety-third Name of God. The impact of these words has been anything but slim…  Attend again next year?  Yes, please.

Mandala for poetry

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 25th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|2 Comments

Art is Life is Art: July – Bird

red bird 490x180

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

When I shared this watercolor WIP with some creative friends, one asked about my process.    These days getting to art is nothing “pancy” as my sweet little Goddaughter would say.  In my world, getting to art is all about carrying a book and catching ideas, then guarding the time to execute said ideas.

Before I share the details of my process,  I have to tell you that my 5 year old niece, Ruby,  is one of my artist heroes.  She makes incredible amounts of sparkly art, full of color and movement, from her window-walled corner table.

IMG_3434

She helped me decorate my travel journal when I stopped at her house on the way to London.  {Note the blue squares and gold chocolate wrappers that she glued in the book for me.}

IMG_3510

And this past holiday season, she spent some time down in the studio with me playing and creating.

Scanned Image 112290000
It was a delight to watch her work.  She wasn’t worried about how to use materials properly or whether or not there would be more supplies.  She just joyfully made stuff – all kinds of stuff.  She literally hugged her work before during and after its creation.  Even now months later her energy and inspiration still linger in the room as some of her work hangs there and I talk often about her wide open approach.

So, when in the ongoing collaboration with Meghan Arias, we landed on the word BIRD as July’s word, I entered a sequence of thoughts & events that went something like this:

  1. July’s word is Bird… wonder what I’ll post.
  2. I call my kids, “birds”
  3. I call ALL kids, “birds”
  4. When I called niece Ruby a bird, she said, “I’m not a bird; I’m a guurl.”
  5. That Ruby… I love her.
  6. Sentences for poem burst forth into brain.
  7. Run to journal asap and to write words down.
  8. Keep the poem on ice for weeks waiting to paint the perfect watercolor bird.
  9. Kick self into a reality check and just get idea captured.
  10. Put bird with on poem in journal.

My ideal end project is a series of small watercolor paintings that have corresponding poems.  I currently have bits and pieces of poems and sketches for a Morning Bird, a Song Bird, a Wren and an Elusive Bird.  But for now I have a poem and working sketch of a chubby Red Bird.

Red Bird

Ruby eats crayons for breakfast 
and DANCES on a whim.

Inspired

She reads stories at night 
knowing that she will write her own some day.

She WAVES banners that say 
ARTIST. Dancer. Rubythinker. THE BEST.

She makes declarations that change the world.

She tapes her pictures on the wall; people stop to look and fall in.

She paints flower forests and castles.

Scanned Image 112290001

Her crown is always shiny 
and when she hugs her life and sings her ruby songs

People find their own voices.

Red Bird

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 17th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|10 Comments

Behind the Pages: Message from an empty page

May, June and July were sort of empty.  I mean, there was no shortage of activity.  The Brilliants are Coming and Going and Becoming and Excavating.  It is a collective household sort of thing, as R and I, in our season of a full-nest-that-is-about-to-burst-into-emptiness, are Becoming and Excavating too.   This all bleeds into my creativity and creates holes and spaces.  Things feel blank.

Empty, but not quiet.

Empty page door

Things are turned inward to a place of questions and consideration.  The necessary contemplation of what’s-coming-next?   I am in a deep study of the shift.  Wondering which doors to open and close and walk through…

As I pulled out the camera to share pages, I felt conflicted about what to capture and share.  Most of the words are too private for my introvert-self to comfortably share, and several of the pages are decorated but blank.

Empty, but not quiet.

Funny, it still catches me by surprise when my journey emerges on the pages.  Even though this is what I believe and say aloud to other people.  I’m pretty fond of saying, “If you approach the pages honestly, they’ll tell your story, even if you don’t know it yet.”

So, here are some blank pages.  Things are shifting and re-defining themselves.  I don’t have many words yet, but I’m Coming and Going and Becoming and Excavating.

Empty, but not quiet.

Empty page pink

Empty page pink

{scrapbook paper scraps, decorative packing tape, white acrylic, pink ink pad}

Empty page doily

Empty page doily

{doily, gesso, graphite}

Empty page scrap

Empty page scrap

{gold acrylic, scrap from paper that I put behind journal pages when I’m painting them, notebook paper scrap}

Empty page leaning

Empty page leaning

{magazine image, gold acrylic, gesso}

Empty page iris

Empty page iris

{packing tape transfer of photo from the front garden, origami paper, paper tape}

Empty page blue floral

Empty page blue floral

{scrapbook paper, origami paper, paper tape, masking tape, gesso}

Empty page bird

Empty page bird

{acrylic paint, gesso, origami paper, Derwent watersoluble Graphite, paper tape}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 9th, 2011|Behind the Pages, Journals|0 Comments

Art is Life is Art: June – Rest

Rest.

It’s been the order of the day for the past few weeks…

Rest.

When Meghan shared June’s word for our collaboration, I was surprised, but not really.  The word Rest, was already all over the pages of my journal.  I think that the spontaneous writing of the word was a prayer of sorts – a longing bubbling to the surface of my knowing.

Rest

Rest was June’s word and now August is here.  My blogging sabbatical is officially over.  The sabbatical that was originally going to be a week until it stretched into two weeks and then, became two months.

Rest.

I confess, that after pretty consistently showing up with words and images for the past 5 years, I needed a bit of an artistic nap.

I used to ignore my body and my needs.

Push through.  Be tough.  Git ‘er done.

I was tired often and hurt a lot.  Both inside and out.  So now, I pay attention.  I believe that concrete sensations like hunger, thirst, aches and pains show the way.  As we listen to the subtle {and sometimes not-so-subtle} internal messages that come to us via our body, the next steps emerge.

Exhaustion and anxiety often lead to revelations & minute course corrections.

Slow down or take a turn.

Adjust your pace or give way.

Move quickly or turn around.

Walk away or press in.

If we can’t tell from facts and figures, often our bodies will get our attention and put us back on the path.  Of course now I have a huge queue of photos and posts and prompts and projects to share.  Plus, some slight adjustments and new things.

All in good time.

blue nest

One of the many blank pages created during June & July’s season of rest.

{gesso, packing label, tissue paper, origami paper, water color crayon, ink, acrylic}

p.s.  July’s word = BIRD   August’s word = TBA

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 2nd, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|4 Comments

Behind the pages: May

For many unexpected reasons, May turned into a blogging sabbatical.   However,  it wasn’t a page sabbatical.   Here are some May pages & posts.

May calendar

Also, as mentioned at the beginning of the month, the word for May is Redemption.

I have a WIP that turned out to be larger than I thought it would be, and thus is taking longer to complete.  But don’t worry.  Meghan’s blog post was on time and should be savored. Make a cup of tea and GO HERE for a lovely view of the word Redemption and then come back to peek at some pages.

Magic Hour at the barn

Magic Hour at the barn

{Postal Pix print (my new favorite journaling material), gesso, stamp, ink & Derwent watersoluble Graphite}

visit to the zoo

A day at the zoo

{gesso, tape & the Panda stamp from the zoo}

Family Meeting

Family meeting

{gesso, ink, stencil & white gel pen}

Where do I stop & start - Boundaries

Boundaries

Write

Write

{magazine clipping, ribbon & Pilot G-2 0.38}

Master List

Master List

{masking tape, Rhodia graph paper, paper scraps}

sometimes I make my own storm

sometimes I make my own storms

{watercolor, black gel pen, Derwent watersoluble graphite}

It was a good day for talking in circles

It was a good day for talking in circles.

{paper scraps, gummed reinforcements, acrylic paint, Derwent watersoluble graphite}

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

{security envelope scrap, seed packet, gesso}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00June 3rd, 2011|Behind the Pages, Journals|3 Comments

Mandala Monday {on Tuesday}: A mandala for discussing

a book discussion mandala

I recently spent a long weekend with my book club, The Bluestocking Babes.  We’ve been meeting for 6 years and have a nice list of reads to our credit.  We’ve also been delighted to find that, in addition to discussing books, we can easily be together.  We are mostly morning birds;  so by 7am, there is coffee brewing and by 10pm, one of us has fallen asleep watching a movie.  In short, we have the same basic rhythm to our days, so we’re up early, out the door to find an antique shop or two and back “home” to cook for each other in the evenings.  {On a side note: I have yet to get them to watch a Jane Austen movie with me… I think they are frightened by my selection skills as I have chosen the highest number of We-Didn’t-Like-This-Book-At-All books.}

I doodle when I chat

During one of our late evening dinners, we discussed The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf.  Thus far, it is one of our 2011 favorites.  I love that when we talk books, we talk life.  Yes, we usually have a guide and some questions, but we “rabbit trail” off into wonderful conversations.  And we laugh.  Oh, my goodness, if you’re going to start a book club, make sure that at least one person is funny.  I think one of our best qualities as a group is that we laugh.  It makes the bad books redeemable and gives the good books extra dimension.

April calendar & mandala

Of course, while we excavate, I always have my journal out.  I doodle or take notes and often document the hilarious or profound things that get said.  This time round there was a blank page next to my April calendar and the conversation was a mandala discussion.  As we discussed foreshadowing and characters, it was easy to enter into the rhythm of drawing and turning the page around and drawing and turning the page around.

We talked.  I sketched.

I'll find a place for you...

On the way home we made one last antique store stop.  One of my finds was a little bag of buttons.  Some of them are broken and some of them still have old thread.  None of them match.  But I came home and put them in a tea cup to stare at for inspiration.  Later in the week while chatting with my good friend, Candi, I added buttons to the page.  {I’ve made a deal with myself that if I’m on the phone, I have to be doing something with my hands.  I usually unload the dishwasher.}

focus on my favorite button

I love how the page turned out.  {My favorite button is the cat-eye mother of pearl on the right.}

Do you doodle when you chat?

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00April 26th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|3 Comments

Art is Life is Art: Show up for today

The following is part of a response to a discussion at the wild thyme creative facebook page

“…much of my current artistic work is in the capture of little moments. While I paint large scale and create mixed-media pieces on a regular basis, my daily practice involves what I call Art-in-the-Crevices. It’s the sketches and songs that happen because I carry my journal EVERYWHERE. It’s the partial poem I pen while I’m waiting and the photos from my phone.  Too often we get caught up in our expectations of the perfect environment and miss the beauty and truth all around us in the little moments. Honestly, it’s those little bits and pieces that keep me sane and present in my “real life”. Ultimately it’s the small captures that inform and birth the larger work.”

The little moments are where I’m living these days.  Concerning wild thyme creative,  I am both processing my archive and making plans for the future.  {This very much mirrors what is going on in my personal life too…}  I’m simultaneously reading old blog entries full of my emotions and thoughts from the past and  planning & dreaming for the future.  All necessary and exciting, but sometimes, I find it a challenge to just show up for today – to experience what it’s like to be in my skin, here and now.

I used to take these little “life bytes” for granted – now I give myself credit for capturing them and count it as my art.  My daily prayer is that I simply show up for what’s in my world today.  Here’s a tiny list {surprise!} of things I do to Stay Present:

* Write down {or draw or paint} exactly what I’m feeling at least once a day.

this is how I have felt for days...

* Go out in the garden barefoot.

I think it’s super important to feel the ground under your feet, where you are. I go out and tune into the following:

~ what I see around my feet

~ what I feel under my feet

~ what I hear around me

{I generally stay and breathe and observe until I can feel my breath all the way down to my toes…}

* Take a photo & notes based on your observations. {I write things down because I like to remember, but the point is to tune in.}

LEE_9785-1

This photo says:

* It is cold & wet.  But I am not afraid of inclement weather or events.

* There are weeds in the garden & I need a pedi.  It’s time to slow down and tend to self & home.

* The birds are singing.  I have a voice.

* The ground is solid.  I have a place to stand.

I am petite.  But I am not small.

Things are a little messy.  Discovery & expression are found in messy.

Drips and Mistakes you don't scare me anymore

Awaken

“Magic happens just by being present in your body.” Baron Baptiste

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00March 28th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|4 Comments

Behind the pages: What is the difference between Flee & Retreat?

Flee & Retreat

What is the difference between FLEE & Retreat?

{a page from the Pilgrim’s Progress Journal}

I know it’s been quiet here at wild thyme creative.  No, nothing wrong.  It is simply the quiet of dormancy and processing.  To be honest with you, I didn’t realize that I’d gone silent until a dear friend asked if I was okay.

I have not fled.

My windows are wide open.

open window

{When I want to run away or depression hounds me, the curtains are closed.}

No, this is a retreat.  An intentional pull back.  This quietude is simply part of a cycle.  A part of the reset that has to come after a huge influx of information.  The last few months have been incredibly rich with change and depth, matching the cycles in my garden.  There is huge growth happening under the surface; I can feel it about to burst and I’m preparing for it.

For the something coming.

There is needed change and a returning to old passions

There are insightful conversations and honest assessments

And there is no fear…

What is the difference between Flee and Retreat?

Flee is what you do when you run for your life from a predator.  When, for safety, you have to get away from something – by running as quickly as your adrenaline-laced muscles will take you.  A retreat, however, has intention and is to preserve life and find peace.  You can walk when you retreat…and breathe.

cherry blossoms

This current season of retreat is a lovely quiet with the soft sounds of birds singing, typing rhythms and pens scratching paper.  There are sketches and words.  Plans and confirmations.  There are new things coming, but they’re not here yet.  For now, I am immersed in peace & contemplation.  Visions and dreams are coming to fruition even as I bump into my awkward imperfections.  Imperfections that are perfect for the Lenten season with its invitation to enter into the wilderness with Christ.

I am learning to trust The Quiet – this season that doesn’t have much product, but is connecting me deeply to my true heart.

Speaking of returning… I’m back to lists.

I am not:

jumping through hoops

staying busy just to move

dwelling long on expectations or outside opinions

I am:

occasionally picking up my “real” camera

daily documenting with my phone camera {@wildthyme on instagram}

making honest pages

walking often

visiting the garden

listening to birds through open windows

writing daily

planting seeds

breathing all the way to the bottom

leaving my hands open

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00March 23rd, 2011|Behind the Pages, Journals|8 Comments

Behind the pages: Morning pages, paint and BIG thinking

About to wrap up my participation in this class with Connie Hozvicka:

It’s why things have been quiet here.  {because I’ve been painting like mad!}  I can’t wait to share more about the process and the class and the paintings, but the process and the class and the paintings are taking up all the extra space in my world.  Literally! For now, here’s a Connie quote that I’m chewing on.

“Don’t feel like you need to justify it; just paint it on the paper.”

Until I heard that phrase, I hadn’t really stopped to consider, how much I consider.  I analyze most every move I make when I paint from technique to design – to content and color, I’m always thinking… and wondering what other people are thinking.

This class has me feeling when I approach the page.

Engage {morning pages}

The art looks different.

{Probably because I am different.  I am making a shift…}

I Dream Bigger {magnet at my desk}

Here are a couple of Morning Pages from this week.  Note the paint.  I’ve been adding paint to my mornings and I LOVE it.

green hair girl {morning pages}

butterfly girl {morning pages}

I am large spaces {morning pages}

“I am large spaces waiting to be filled.  I am boxes to burst out of.  I am well-behaved, but that is changing.  I am boundaries falling in pleasant places.”

{acrylic paint, Pitt pen}

…more soon.  ~b

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00February 11th, 2011|Behind the Pages, Journals|3 Comments

Mandala Monday: {or Thursday} sketches in journals

2011 marks the fifth time that I have begun the calendar year with an extended fast.  These fasting experiences have been life-changing.  And while I’ve been delighted with the physical and emotional benefits of feeling light and clear; for me, it is first and foremost, a spiritual endeavor.  The first year that I took up the journey, was full of victory.  Quite frankly, because of my intimate connection with food, I emerged, delighted that I even survived!  I managed to cook for my family, make it through blood-sugar ups and downs and deal with my grumpy self.  I substituted verbal prayer for food and came out at the end with a huge sense of accomplishment and perspective.  It wasn’t until it was over that I realized I hadn’t really documented the journey very well.  No journaling, photographs or epiphanies, just survival and jeans that were a little loose.

3175690976_d104256968-1

In the subsequent years, I have been more proactive about journaling/capturing the insights and clarity that come during a fast.  And, for the past four years have also chosen a Word-for-the-Year.  {Although it feels more like the words choose me…}

3284655035_7bb16d7f1c-Edit-2

Somewhere amidst the writing and words, I also started using images and drawings to capture the insights that come when food is out of the way.   Unbeknownst to me, art journalers all over the world were already combining everything like this.   But for me, to stop compartmentalizing my art world and my word world, was a new discovery.  The fasting, in it’s clarifying, back-door way pointed to the “everything journals” that have become part of my daily practice.   In the last two years, the images and sketches have included mandalas.  They are my go-to sketches.  I love how, whatever my actual level of awareness, they seem to capture mood and place.  Whether it’s facilitating the start of a drawing or relaxing to let the word flow begin, mandalas are all over my pages.  Here is this year’s word ACTIVATE with matching doodles and mandalas.  Hey 2011, I believe we’re off to a good start.

Activate - doodle 1

Activate - doodle 2

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00February 2nd, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|0 Comments

List it Tuesday: January Books

I like to open up my journal whenever I’m on the phone to doodle and capture anything important that gets said.  This is a page in my everything book with a list and some phone call doodles from a chat with my friend Candi.  {Sharing the list over at Artsyville for List it Tuesday}

January Books

{stationary scrap, ink, Acrylic, Pilot G-2 Ultra Fine 0.38}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00January 18th, 2011|Journals|0 Comments

Mandala Monday: More Qualities of the Circle

Mandala_Workbook_cover

Circle

Continuing to move through Susan Fincher’s The Mandala Workbook with more Circle exercises.  The bleed through on the paper, in this handmade journal found on Etsy, was initially a source of frustration.   But I am incorporating the bleed through into entries on subsequent pages and learning a lot about working with what I’ve got in front of me instead of putting a ton of energy into something that I can’t change.  The following two mandalas are a case in point.  The circles and dots in the teal mandala were created around the structure of the bleed-through from the spider web mandala.  The quote from pg. 42 really spoke to me as I am in a the midst of an extended fast.

“The mighty task is to submit to the unknown within and without and allow yourself to be transformed by the experience… Fasting, going without sleep, and separation from the community were often part of these rituals of transition.”


spider web mandala

when the other page bleeds through

Moving forward.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00January 17th, 2011|books, Journals|5 Comments

Mandala Monday: Qualities of the Circle

This year, finds me revisiting a favorite book from last year.

The Mandala Workbook by Susanne F. Fincher is a workbook full of activities for exploring mandalas via various types of artistic mediums.  When I realized that my read through the workbook last year didn’t begin to scratch the surface of this hands-on guide, I decided to take a more systematic pass through the book.   This year, I’ll be spending a month in each chapter adding the paintings, drawings & collages to my “everything” journal.  I decided against keeping a separate journal, because I want to see the mandalas in the context of my personal journaling and life details.

Qualities of the Circle

January 7, 2011

Qualities of the Circle, Variation II

{drawing circles using both dominant & non-dominant hand}

“Respect your limitations” Written with my left hand,  {I’m right-handed…} the text that ended up on this page came from a phrase that stood out in my morning yoga practice.  Drawing with your non-dominant hand not only changes line quality, but ability to control.  The journaling that followed this exercise led to some personal insight into the way that I approach mistakes and limitations.  I had to spend some time working with my non-dominant hand before I was comfortable enough to be creative.  Eventually, I even forgot which lines came from which hand.   Am also working in a handmade journal that has relatively thin paper.  To compensate, I’ve shifted to more pencil and less worry about bleed-through.  Am finding more and more, that despite the fact that I like to function in strength when I create, there is wonderful art to be born out of response, learning curve & discomfort.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00January 10th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|0 Comments

Behind the pages – A year in journals {2010}

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

A year in journals

2010 was a year of journal experiments filled with new artistic ways and explorations.  2010 brought:

*   everything all in one book {mostly because I was losing things and having trouble w/ the upkeep of multiple journals.}

*  different kinds of paper/journals {my favorite was the Exacompta}

new places to journal {the bookstore becoming my favorite studio-away-from-home and the basement becoming my new place to spread out.}

* classes {I started teaching again – just a couple of workshops + some creative coaching.  <3 it, but I’m moving slowly… }

* more pages & less photos {here lately they’re combining more & more.} like this:

Rain, rain Don't go away...

I have a songwriting friend who periodically goes back through his journals to “mine for treasures” in the pages.  When he shared his process at our latest songwriting circle, I realized that I don’t often go back and look at my pages.   So, I’m spending the next few days with my 2010 journals & a camera.  In the meantime here are a few page photos that made it to flickr.

Enjoy.

A year in journals

2010 Journals

{top to bottom}

hand.book square {April – June}

Exacompta Sketchbook {Jan-April}

Picadilly unlined {to answer questions in The Artist’s Way}

handmade from Baghy’s Journals – a Mother’s Day present {June-August}

handmade file folder travel journal {July}

Picadilly Large graph {x3 used for morning pages}

Canson Mixed Media {August-Nov}

handmade file folder Christmas journal {Dec 1-31}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00January 6th, 2011|Behind the Pages, Journals|3 Comments

Behind the pages: NaNoJouMo 5-8

“The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.” Anonymous

Have been journaling with the NaNoJouMo prompt every day this month, but I’m still catching up on photographing and posting pages.  Partly because we’ve had painters and plumbers and extra projects going on here at the house getting ready for the Christmas Journal Workshop.  Despite the fact that I’ve been feeling the stress of deadlines and extras, I’m excited.  We’ve put together some really great give-aways for the attendees and the studio is looking great!

I’ll share more in the next couple of days, {seriously excited about what’s coming for Christmas!} but in the meantime, here are some pages.

Day 5:  EQUANIMITY

EQUANIMITY {NaNoJouMo 6}

{watercolor, Pitt pen, Staz-on black ink & butterfly rub ons}

Added definition and text to an existing mandala page.  The color on the page started with blue, but the orange made sense.  Text reads as follows:

“e-qua-nim-i-ty

[ee-kwuh-nim-i-tee]  noun. 1. mental or emotional STABILITY or composure especially under tension or strain; CALMNESS; EQUILIBRIUM.

I don’t think I possess this quality… Rands does.  I usually crumble with an almost audible IMPLOSION.  I wish I responded to life with equanimity… I don’t.   But I also believe that my “SENSITIVITY”  is part of my art and how I do life.  It’s WHO I AM WHEN I TUNE IN.  Actually, Life makes me SIZZLE.”

Life makes me sizzle

Day 6:  ESOTERIC


ESOTERIC {NaNoJouMo 6}

oh hey scary thoughts... page detail

Earl Grey tea tags

ESOTERIC mandala detail

{index card, masking tape, tea tags, Crayola crayon, watercolor, 6B pencil}

Hit some deep {and private} thoughts in my journaling, so I taped them up…  Text reads:

“Oh hey DEEP & SCARY thoughts.  Sometimes you creep up on me.  I want to keep you, but I think I’ll use some tape.”

Day 7: MOMENT

MOMENT {NaNoJouMo 7}

MOMENT detail

MOMENT detail

{gesso, watercolor, gel transfer, ink, Tattered Angel Glimmer Mist in Graphite w paper towel press for texture, tissue paper and scrap Excel doc as underlayers, acrylic scraped w credit card}

Day 8: VIRTUE

VIRTUE {NaNoJouMo 8}

{masking tape, Pitt pen, security envelope scrap, gesso, gel transfer}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00November 16th, 2010|Journals|0 Comments

Art makes a difference

Here are my Friday night plans.

REDEEMED CONCEPT BLUE NO BLEEDSREDEEMED CONCEPT BLUE NO BLEEDS 2

Because I believe that art = change, I donated  this mixed-media piece and decorated journal to Gift Card Giver Art Auction.

LEE_3166-1

LEE_3173-3

Gift Card Giver is an organization that uses gift card balances and full cards to make a difference in the lives of those in need.  Check out their story HERE.

If you’re in the Atlanta, GA area come buy some original art.  Your walls will thank you {and so will that child who needs a winter coat or food.}

Hope to see you there!

~betsy

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00November 12th, 2010|Art|0 Comments

Behind the pages: NaNoJouMo 3&4

NaNoJouMo prompts for Day 3 & 4:  FORTUNE & QUARTER

a tea tag FORTUNE

“Do not live by emotions; instead live by intuition and consciousness.”

{watercolor, ZIG marker, tea tag}

QUARTER square triangles

Quarter square triangle - detail

Design based on “Card Trick” quilt block which uses Quarter-Square-Triangle units.

{6B drawing pencil}

And a bookstore doodle around a quote from an Artist’s Way friend.   11/4

the path

{ZIG marker}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00November 5th, 2010|Behind the Pages, Journals|0 Comments

Behind the Pages: NaNoJouMo 1&2

in-cep-tion n. The beginning of something, such as an undertaking

checklist

{watercolor, ink, stapled NaNoJouMo checklist from Daisy Yellow, Micron pen .30mm}

LOOK

{watercolor, gel transfer, date stamp, Micron pen .30mm}

CHOICE {NaNoJouMo 2}

{watercolor, iPhone photo on copy paper, well-earned I’m a Georgia Voter sticker, Micron pen .30mm}

“To live is to choose.  But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for; where you want to go and why you want to get there.”

Kofi Annan, 7th secretary-general of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00November 3rd, 2010|Behind the Pages, Journals|4 Comments

Behind the Pages: Moods and Mandalas

“An eye can threaten like a loaded and levelled gun, or it can insult like hissing or kicking; or, in its altered mood by beams of kindness, it can make the heart dance for joy”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Mandala:  Spiky and Mean

Have been drawing mandalas in my art journal for the past several weeks.  I think mostly because my brain is so full of to-do lists and details that they’re all I have the space for.  Mandalas are “no-brainers” to me; and once eased into, are rhythmic and soothing.  The Girl told me that it’s easy to tell my mood from my pages.  I hope that’s true.  Not that I show all of those unfiltered pages here, but I’ve been coming to the pages authentically and unfiltered. It’s a relief not to be constantly editing myself for an unknown audience.

Mandala:  Spiky & Mean

Today I Feel Spiky and Mean

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00October 26th, 2010|Behind the Pages|0 Comments

Behind the pages: A rough draft

Thought I’d share a little of the process on this day.  Today’s morning pages ended with a couple of collages and a poem.  Too often as writers, we hide our first drafts – our disjointed thoughts and not-quite-right word choices.  It’s easy to forget our awkward starts.  Easy to create the illusion of ease in arriving at the end.  On the back of this scrap is a poem.  I actually forgot about the first scribble and started to cut up the words on the back for a second collage.  Ooops.  A little glue and tape saved the day.

The Thoughts

First Draft

I’m all about word pictures and metaphors.  Flowing streams; walls and windows; and birds in flight are all infused with meaning in my world.  Everywhere I look, I see information about how the world works.  As if the universe can’t help but reflect and reveal itself.  So pencils whisper of the trees that formed them and buildings come and go proud, and then aged and crumbling just like their builders.  Today, I am a collage.  Aware of the torn pieces that have come together to make a new life – an artistic expression of forgiveness {and} redemption.

The Metaphor

my brokeness has come together to form the wings that have given me...

...definition and flight

“my brokenness

[misspelled] has come together to form the wings that have given me definition and flight.”

The Poem
I am a woman of words and flight
of transformation and glory
Beauty and grace rise from the ashes
of mistakes and sabotage

I am a woman of words and flight
No longer cutting-anger-of-my-wounds,
but story-encouragement-and-gift
No longer skillful-retreat or running-away-before-you-hurt-me,
but airborne-to-new-destinations

I am a woman of words and flight

By |2016-10-19T14:20:39-04:00September 9th, 2010|Behind the Pages, Journals|2 Comments

A list and a page

Things that make me happy and sad {at the same time}

* my chipped coffee cup

* our blind German Shepherd Dog {rescue}

* sunflowers & echinacea {in September}

* my mother’s slow walk

* my aging face

* stacks of books {the ones to give away}

* rainy days

* a good argument

By |2010-10-16T00:21:41-04:00August 30th, 2010|Journals|8 Comments

Behind the Pages: TRUST

A few pages into the Canson Mixed Media book.  This is the first time that I’ve journaled extensively in a spiral bound book.  Wow, I didn’t realize how often I create double page spreads;  I’m having to get used to the wire in the middle of the page.  {Although so far, I love the weight of the paper!  It’s been great for both watercolor and acrylic.  Want to see how it handles marker soon.}

This spread is for a weekly prompt group on fb created by my friend Lee Ann.  It’s called Joy in the Journey: Art Journal Prompts.  Lee Ann is a dear friend from college; a natural creative who is relatively new to art journaling and is handing out weekly prompts to dive into her journal.

This past week’s prompt was the word TRUST.  I’m posting these almost finished pages, so that I can share supplies and technique with the group.  As you can see, this was one of those pages where I had to work around the wire…

TRUST

{background is Winsor & Newton Phthalo Blue Red Shade It’s from the Infinity Artists’ series, but I mixed it down with white craft paint and water and applied it like watercolor over a layer of tissue paper.  The tissue layer is adhered with matte Mod Podge.  Just a note – paint, especially when watered down behaves differently on the surface of the sealer, so you’ll get a different color and texture than on the neighboring unsealed paper.  I added an thin white layer on top of the sealed tissue to create contrast for the text.  Top layers:  Pellegrino label, stickers, torn paper sack and bird punched out from a piece of saved stationary.  Black lettering:  Ultra Fine Point Pilot G2 0.38 and white lettering: ZIG Opaque Writer

Text reads as follows:

It is amazing to me that I have boarded an airplane and crossed over the ocean when {I DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND} the intricacies of aerodynamics…

I believe the information on a nutrition label. {or is it that I ignore disbelief?} I will even eat in a restaurant without ever examining what is behind the kitchen door… but I don’t trust you.

Are we born without trust? Or do we have it and then lose it?

How do you move from here {nest} ———> to here {flying}

Trust

...but I don't trust you.

TRUST.  How do you move from here ---------> to here

By |2016-10-19T14:20:39-04:00August 21st, 2010|Behind the Pages, Journals|0 Comments

Art is life is art: chartreuse labels

When I went downstairs for coffee…

these juice labels were on the counter.   Someone in the house left them for me. {I suspect The Girl because she currently has kitchen duty.}

They make me happy – happy – happy.  Happy because:

*  after running through a dishwasher cycle, the labels faded to a fabulous chartreuse color.

*  empty jars are my next DIY project

*  ephemera/labels on the counter and not in the trash = I am known in my house.

By |2014-11-06T17:14:12-04:00August 18th, 2010|Art is Life is Art, Journals|4 Comments

Behind the pages: Move.

A very dear college friend has discovered the world of art journaling.  {Yay! LA} And she jumped into the deep end of the pool by creating a facebook group that gives weekly prompts.  She’s asked me to help administrate, which I am joyfully doing!  This past week’s prompt {and the first of this journey that she and I are sharing} is the word, MOVE.

I had a decorated page with no text that was waiting at the very end of my current journal, so I used it.  {since today is Saturday and LA is giving us a new prompt tomorrow.}

MOVE

The written text reads as follows:

“I am a thinker and a planner.  I like to UNDERSTAND before I take Action.

just MOVE ——->

sometimes I will think and plan AND NEVER START.

I don’t like mistakes and seemingly perfect people really freak me out.  Which is all a jumble of the same idea.

Nothing will ever be PERFECT.

{Detail added to background word PLAY:  On a side note, I forget to play.}

"Nothing will ever be PERFECT"

on a side note, I forget to play

Materials:  Background painted with Delta craft paint color Territorial Beige, layered with Windsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours and Staedtler Watercolor Crayons.  {the black circles are from the bottom of the watercolor crayon twisted dry onto wet paper.} Grey circles are from the dirty water swirled around on the page.  The green collage element is torn from a yoga magazine and glued in with matte Mod Podge.  The gold is tissue paper.  {Even  though it’s matte sealer, the page is still shiny and hard to photograph…}  Pens used:  ZIG Opaque Writer in white and a Pilot G2 {0.38}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:39-04:00August 14th, 2010|Behind the Pages, Journals|3 Comments

Art is Life is Art: It’s all about space.

If you’ve ever been in one of my classes/workshops there are three things you know right away.

*  I talk with my hands.

*  I rabbit trail in very quirky ways, but {almost always} come back around to the main point.

*  I have a deep belief that art principles are life principles.

Conversations with me usually involve “word pictures” and/or a sketch or two.   When talking about any given topic over coffee, I usually have to pull out a napkin or my journal and draw, or describe a scenario that illustrates the point.

So, last week when Aussie Brilliant #1 called with some time management challenges, we ended up in a conversation about “margin”, which launched me into an art lesson about positive and negative space – that, was really not an art lesson at all.

Because after all, you can form something by shaping it or by leaving room for it.

In my son’s world, this means showing up to several things that are in the Form-of-Self.  Things like classes, job and his volunteer work.  There are a million things that “shape” us.   From the people that we meet, to the discoveries we make, to our preferences & adventures.  They come to us from the outside in and add shape to our lives.

The SHAPE of YOU

In addition to what shapes us, we are formed by other things.  These things, while just as important, are more ethereal. They are those things that we leave space for; and they are also in the Form-of-Self.  Things like writing songs, making art, reading books, thinking/processing time.  Personally, I think you have to fight a little harder for these things.  It is tougher to make space than to be formed.  But that is another conversation…

The SPACE of YOU

Imagine my delight this morning, when I received the following email.  The subject line read simply:  Mom!

Dude!

I just got out of a fancy pen shoppe! :). The lady gave me an impromptu handwriting lesson!  And you know what she said??!!?

“It’s all about space.” She then pointed to the jar of ink.  “the letters are all there, waiting for the spaces”

dude!  She kept talking about pens but i I fumbled to write down what she said.


Private Reserve Ink - Avacado

Ah, thank you pen shoppe lady for the beautiful word picture.   I hope I get to meet you someday.  When you, in the middle of your fancy pen shoppe in Sydney, took the the time to show a college student the beauty of lettering, you not only sold a pen, you unwittingly reinforced one of the powerful life lessons that show up in art.  {The same message coming from home in Georgia…”It’s all about space.”}  I hope that your Generous Heart  and Love of Beauty circle back around to bless you in large ways. {And that would be REPETITION & UNITY...}

P.S.  We’re sending that young man back to you to buy a pen, because every songwriter/scribe should have a beautiful instrument.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:39-04:00August 12th, 2010|