Saturday, October 22, 2016

Current Art Projects and New Supplies!

My goal the last couple weekends has been to spend time creating with lessons from Life Book 2016. For the last month, I've been working on the lesson called Roots and Ground, Wings and Earth taught by Tamara Laporte. I have enjoyed every second of this lesson! Due to lack of time it has taken me quite awhile to complete it, but I think it's finally done.

I was able to use some of my favorite materials which include NeoColor II watercolor crayons and Posca Pens. If you haven't tried either of these materials, they are well worth the investment. Posca Pens are a little hard to come by, but can be ordered on Amazon. I have two sets, one which I recently ordered that are extra fine tip and another that are medium tip. Both sets are amazing and have incredible ink flow. 

While I was browsing for new supplies, I was hoping to find a white gel pen that would write over watercolors/acrylics/etc. and actually work. I've tried multiple pens without success until I came across the Uniball Signo. Wow. Very nice pen with fluid ink that nicely works over a variety of surfaces (at least the few I've tried so far). I ordered a pack of three with a variety of colors (white, gold, silver). Amazon has many different options for whatever you might prefer. 

After finishing the above lesson, I started the sketching portion of another lesson by Tamara. After much erasing, editing, re-sketching, I think I am ready to add some paint. I'm taking a few pictures of the work as it comes along from the beginning to the finished product. 

I hope each of you have an opportunity to do something creative everyday....even if it's only a few minutes.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Life, Life, Life!

Life, life, life....positive and challenging things have taken place over the past several months, and I'm just now getting back around to my blog. I've missed it!

For some time now, my mom has been in a lot of pain with her back, knee, and leg. After x-rays and MRI's, the doctors finally discovered that her hip was in terrible shape. Her doctor said it was one of the worst hips he had ever seen. Wow. In March, she had a total hip replacement. While mom's pain is significantly better, the road to recovery has been a long one. She is doing great, but recovery continues for at least a year while she learns new ways to bend, move, and get around places. I'm thankful for her doctor, who was awesome, and the fact that she isn't hurting so much every day.

Shortly after spending a week at my parents' house, helping with my mom's recovery, Roger's dad became very ill. Over a two week time period his health continued to deteriorate, until he passed away in April. He was 82 years young and a seriously funny fellow in his younger days. We think of him often and are thankful for the good memories that we share of his healthier days.

May brought the end of the school year at my new school. While I truly enjoyed it, I really missed my old school, Washington Irving. Change is hard, but can also be good. It was nice to have a break and have a few summer adventures.

Once school was out, we made our annual trip to Bolder Boulder with the Emerson family. As always that was a lot of fun!!! This year we ran the 10K not just once....but TWICE! The first time through was to see how fast we could run it. The second time through was all about doing the fun stuff....slip and slide (which I am evidently terrible at doing), hanging with Elvis, photo bombing local celebrities, and holding a SNAKE. (yes, a real, live, giant anaconda). This trip is one of my favorite "welcome summer" get-aways!

Rog and I before the run.
While we didn't take any pictures on our first trip through, we took a TON on the second time around. It was difficult deciding which ones to share. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Local celeb, Ryan Van Duzer, thought Roger wanted a pic of him. Little did he know...

I was busy photo-bombing his pic! LOL.

Roger with the giant of the few pictures I got of him along the way! He was all about encouraging me to do the crazy things. Although he was quite good at the slip and slide. (I wasn't fast enough to get a good pic of that.)
More photo-bombing...this time with a group of firefighters.

The craziest one of with an anaconda wrapped around my neck. As you know from previous posts,
I'm not afraid of snakes. 

All of us after the run and the show...I think we may have been the last ones there!

In a nutshell, June and July brought time with our families, much needed de-cluttering projects, painting projects, organizing and updating my art space, and so much more that did not get quite finished. The days seemed to fly by and before we knew it August had arrived with the return to school.

While summer was wonderful, I am very much looking forward to cooler air. Autumn is my most loved season and I can't wait to get out and enjoy it!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Art Progress

How long does it take to complete one Life Book lesson? Apparently for me it takes nearly a month! I started the first LB lesson about three weeks ago and I am still working on it. Part of the problem is finding time to actually sit down and focus on the creative process. I feel like it takes me a good hour before I'm "in the creative groove." By that time something always comes up and I'm de-railed from any further work. I haven't solved the problem where to squeeze in more art time. I've heard others who have creative time before or after work, but I lack the energy to do this. (Maybe I should learn to love coffee??) I'm hoping I can start to put aside more time on Sunday afternoons. Personally, I vote for three day weekends for everyone! How do you find creative time?

Below are two of the LB lessons that were taught by Tamara Laporte in January. The Zentangle butterfly lesson titled "This Year I'm Letting Go of..." and the "Happy Traveler" lesson are pictured below. While the butterfly is complete (yay!!!) I'm still working on my traveler and will post final pictures when I have completed her. The third lesson is one I started last week, "Finding Centre with Madalas," taught by Faith Evans-Sills. I had time to add the first layer of mostly paper, but not much else. I'll take some pictures of the progress on that one and share them in my next post. I've watched ahead on her video and am loving the process she has used so far. It will be my first time creating something with spray paints!!

Top pic: Zentangle Butterfly, LL: Happy Traveler, LR: Collage for Mandalas project
I created the above collage using the Live Collage app. There are quite a few options for photo arrangement as well as some fun fonts! I'll definitely be playing more with that as I add future pictures. 

Have a creative weekend! :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

LifeBook 2016

Hello everyone! It's been a LONG while, but I am trying to get back in the groove of blogging and being creative once again. Life gets so busy! I have found that I am SO MUCH happier when I am creating something. Over the last year, I worked on some original mixed media pieces that were gifts to my mom and sister. I'm currently working on a few other pieces for my home, as well as some others that I hope to print as cards. (Still learning how that entire process works!)

Below is a short slideshow I created with a couple of the pieces I mentioned above. It's the first one I have made, so it is very simplistic!

I found that over the las year I missed being part of an art community. In 2013 and 2014 I had participated in LifeBook classes with Tamara Laporte and many other wonderful teachers.  Last year I did not sign up thinking that I would "catch up" with the lessons I missed in 2014. I laugh a little, just because I didn't actually end up doing that and my books from both years still aren't bound together! (Which is completely fine...they will get done one day!) This year I have a new plan going into LB 2016, and even though I'm already behind on lessons, I'm not going to worry about it. It's about the creating when I have the opportunity, enjoying the lessons, and meeting/interacting with the other awesome "Lifebookers."

This is a short post today, but I am off to create my first lesson in LB. I'll be sharing it soon!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Journal Page Play

I finally finished up one of Tam's lessons from LB 2014.  I'm gradually getting back into doing some journal pages and paintings! It's been a challenge to keep up with creative projects with work and marathon training lately. Last weekend we had an extra day due to some ice that cancelled school, so I took advantage of it and started another journal page! 

The page below is the lesson, Sacred Inner Eye by Tamara Laporte. It was primarily created by using Dylusions inks and Posca Pens. I chose to write a quote versus what Tam had us do in the lesson, so my page turned out a little differently. I like the bright colors, but think the eye might be a tad on the creepy side. ;P Either way, it sure was fun using the Dylusions inks. I love that product and think that the colors are incredible!

Journal Page FINISHED! 

The following page is the result of a lesson taught by Mika Diaz. I learned so much in this lesson!! I loved the collage elements, additional layers, and the use of tracing paper (who knew tracing paper had so many uses??) It didn't quite turn out as I had hoped and the end result is a little zombie-ish in appearance, but it was fun and I learned a lot. I would use this technique again, but would definitely not try to do too much on top of the tracing paper once it was glued down. So...what do you do when a journal page doesn't turn out quite right? I with it in various photo apps and make it look even quirkier!

Here's the original. Not only does she look like a zombie...she appears to be a very sad
one too!

Let's give her a little twist. I created this using the Pic Lab if that wasn't obvious. :)

How about a "stache" and a little hat to put a smile on her face???

Washing away all the color....hmmmm?? 
For the last two I can't remember which apps I used with each picture, but I did use PIC TAP GO and Pixlromatic. I just kept playing with various filters and messing around with the original until I came up with a quirky version I liked. 

Creating anything is all about experimentation...whether you end up loving the final version or if it was just a learning experience. It's all about play!! 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Journal Page Beginnings and NEW BOOKS!

Last weekend, I started one of the lessons from my Life Book 2014 classes. While I haven't finished the entire lesson, I did make a nice start....

Beginning of a new journal page. This lesson is taught by Tamara Laporte

I have taken two years of the Life Book classes and loved them, but didn't sign up for LB 2015 since I wasn't even able to finish last year's lessons. My goal this year is to finish my 2014 classes and experience various activities in a couple of new books I purchased with gift cards over Christmas.

 Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces by Jane Davenport was just released and came recently in the mail. It looks fantastic! I'm looking forward to starting the lessons inside this title. I've starting reading it today and have been learning a lot about different types of supplies. I took a moment to flip through the book and was amazed at the step by step process that Jane uses to show students how to create whimsical faces. Not only does each facial component receive a detailed explanation, but there are also tips on keeping things symmetrical, in proportion, and various types of shading. In addition focus is given to skin tones and various hair styles. Wow. I'm amazed and I haven't even started using this book yet. I think it is going to be one of my new favorites! Looking forward to sharing some things from this one very soon.

Jane Davenport's new publication, Beautiful Faces

I've had my eye on 20 Ways to Draw a Tree, by Eloise Renouf, for quite awhile. It's actually a workbook  that provides various things from nature to illustrate with blank pages for practice throughout the book. I've done a little doodling of mushrooms, birds, and flowers so far. There are several other titles in this series as well, such as 20 Ways to Draw a Tulip...a Butterfly....etc. It's a fun book to get the creativity up and running!

Time to Doodle!

Finally, I also purchased How to Draw Cool Stuff by Catherine Holmes. It's actually a guide for students and teachers, as well as hobbyists and self learners. The guide provides step by step instructions for drawing a variety of things from shapes and forms to animals and even a few lettering techniques.  I think this book will provide some fun sketching opportunities...not to mention I know I will be learning some new things.

Let's DRAW!!
Hopefully it won't be too long before I can share some of the great things I'll learn from these titles. Looking forward to doing some creative work very soon!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Houston Half Marathon, 2015

This past Saturday, Roger and I flew to Houston to run the half marathon. This year we actually made it in time to visit the Expo and check out various vendors. (Last time we barely made it to pick up the packets!) A group of us wandered around checking out shoes, running stuff, and sampling all kinds of great treats. Afterwards, we drove the course...which I think actually took almost as long as running it. There was SO much traffic!!! I'm glad we drove the course because I missed so much of it along the run. (Yes, I was that focused...on the ground and making sure I didn't trip!)

L-R: Courtney, Roger, and Jason...picking up packets at the Expo.

Since we had been up early (4:00 a.m.) that morning to fly out, it wasn't a problem to go to bed at 8:00 that evening.  It wasn't long and the alarm was going off to get up and around for the race....yes, you guessed it, at 4:00 a.m. again. We met up with fellow runners around 6:00 and headed over to the convention center to drop off our bag. Closing time for the corrals was 6:30, so we had a brief jog over (and a few warm up drills) along the way.

Check out the cool signs Jason's family made for all of us!! Thanks Shanna, Keri, and Mason!

I had not really 100% decided what I wanted to try and run. I knew I wanted to beat my previous half marathon time at Route 66 in Tulsa, which was 1:49. Roger said I should line up and run with the 3:20 pace group. I kinda thought he was joking, but the thought stuck with me. (That's a 1:40 half finish time, which I've done before, but not in several years.)

When it was 5 minutes till start time, I left behind my "toss away" top that was keeping me warm till we started. The temp was perfect for running, about 50 degrees, but a little chilly for just standing around! It didn't take long to warm up, maybe less than a mile, and I was tossing off my old gloves too. The 3:20 group ran alongside me and their pace didn't seem too I just kept running with them.  I thought, "Why not?" I decided I would just give it my all and run with them for as long as I could. It was tough during the water stops because they just kept going and I had to slow down to get water, then really speed up to catch up again. (Water stops were very organized, but MAJOR congestion moving through them.) Right around mile 5-6 I started feeling it, I was getting tired. I had trained for a little slower pace than what they were running and could tell that I wouldn't be able to keep it up for the rest of the way. I decided that I slow down a little and just pay attention to doing what I could the remainder of the run. The marathoners ended up splitting off not too long after that point and the crowd was not so packed, which was nice!

Roger and I after the run....I'm looking and feeling super tired!
Glad to be finished and headed towards breakfast.

It wasn't too long before I reached mile 10. This is where we had seen the baby sized "CITGO" sign when we were driving the course. We had been joking about it and comparing the little sign to the giant one you see along the course in the Boston Marathon. I was thinking, "Just one more 5K and I'm done!" I was really feeling tired, but tried to keep my thinking positive. (Each step I take is another step towards the finish line!) Even so, that last 5K seemed to go on FOREVER! Somewhere towards the end I started running with a guy that was going a decent pace, so I was able to pick it up a bit, but that didn't last long.

Our friends who had come to watch had made signs with each of our names and were cheering along the last 1/2 mile of the course, but I totally missed them! :( I was really focused on finding that finish line and completing the run. I was even able to run harder once I saw it as I was trying hard to break that minute mark! I ended up with a 1:42:56, which is not a PR but a great accomplishment after many half marathons with mental blocks and other stuff going on. I needed that mental boost and confidence that I have lost over the last couple of years. I was also really glad that I didn't have that pukey feeling at the end. Almost every time I've run a challenging race, my body wants to puke at the finish line. Not this time. Awesome.

Roger and Jason after the run. They also ran well...must have been those
neon orange shoes! 

After the run, we were all directed inside the convention center to pick up our t-shirts and have a tasty breakfast (eggs, biscuits and gravy, and ice cream sandwiches). Sounds like a balanced breakfast, right? We visited with some other runners from Florida and Texas and then made our way out to meet with friends. The sun had come out and it had turned it to a beautiful day. We spent quite a bit of time just hanging out in a grassy area and walking around the booths outside of the convention center.

Time to eat!!
It was a quick trip and all of us enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend this event as it is well organized, has a great course (very flat!), and excellent crowd support along the way. I would also recommend staying at the host hotel, Hilton Americas, as it is very close to the start and finish line.
Registration for next year has already opened up! If you think you might be interested, check it out at the Houston Marathon website.