Monday, April 14, 2014

Continuation: A Trip through a Curious State - A Story

Are you ready for the opera? As you open the front door, step out and smell the dewy morning air, feel the bright warmth of the sun and hear the crunch of the gravel underfoot as we start out.

The curtain rises on the stage of open fields, with the backdrop of sky and forest.   Do you hear the chorus of birds singing with the melody of the breeze?  Do you see the butterflies dance and spin along the top of the grassy carpet?

As your eyes take in the landscape, watch the waves in the grass as the breeze moves through.  The wide open space runs up to the edge of the forest, but from here, you can see the sky without obstruction.  As you gaze into the expanse of sky, see how the change in the shades of blue gives a hint to the curve of the atmosphere, and leaves you to wonder how, just beyond that darkest blue, the stars wait for their turn on stage when the sun takes its final bow of the day. 

Let's walk on.

If you pause beside the stream that babbles next to the path, listen to the water telling of how it makes its way from the sky to the top of the mountain, down to the valley, stopping to water the grass on the prairie, then moving on to the stream, to the river, to the ocean, and back to the sky.

Here we are at the edge of the forest.  The variations of the brown and green colors is amazing!  The canopy provides some welcome shade as we enter this new landscape. . .

This is part of a story I have been working on.  My goal is to work on some images to go with the story, but for now, use your imagination to see the landscape.  Create some images of your own as you seek out your adventures.

What beauty can you see as you go out into the world?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Paper Love - Tutorial: Tissue Paper Flower Lights

 I worked on this project a few years ago, as we were making plans for a surprise anniversary party for my parents.  I was trying to come up with some pretty, yet simple decorations that would be easy to transport (we were driving from Massachusetts to Michigan).  As it turns out, I didn't bring this particular strand of flowers along, but it was hung up in the girls' room for a several years, and held up well!

This is how I made the tissue paper flowers on a strand of small white Christmas lights.

**As a precaution** I would NOT recommend leaving the lights on for any extended period of time.  They are great for adding some pretty, soft lighting to a room, and though the lights don't get extremely hot, you should be careful and unplug them when not needed.  (It is paper, and a heat source. . .)

  • White tissue paper
  • floral tape, which can be found at the craft store in the floral section (I used green to match the color of the light cord)
  • scissors
To begin, cut the tissue paper into strips that are about 2 inches wide by 18 inches long.  You will need one strip for each of the light bulbs on your strand.

You may also want to cut or tear pieces of floral tape, in 4 to 5 inch pieces.

Taking one of the tissue paper strips, begin at one end (of the light strand and the tissue paper) and wrap the strip around the base of the light, gathering and scrunching the tissue as you wrap.  

When you reach the end of the strip, take a piece of floral tape and wrap the tape (stretching as you go to be sure it sticks to itself) around the base of the tissue paper flower to hold it together and in place.

Continue this process for each of the lights on your strand.        
 Now hang your beautiful strand of flowers, plug them in and enjoy the soft glow.  You could certainly try other colors of tissue paper for a different look!
Here are paper flowers of a different kind, that I also made for the surprise party.  These actually made the trip.  The instructions for these can be found here: How to Make Simple White Paper Flowers

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paper, How do I Love Thee. . . Let Me Count the Ways

I have always loved paper.  I don't recall a time when I felt otherwise.  Maybe it borders on obsession, which is why I haven't gone to the craft store for some time, because if it is on sale. . . I'm done.  If there is one type of paper I can easily part with, it is the rag kind that comes from the government as "legal tender". . .
(Vintage wallpaper)
There are seemingly endless possibilities for things to do or make with paper. Here are just a few possibilities. 
(Small handmade books)
(Paper Little Red Schoolhouse Ornament)   
 (Crepe Paper flower on a strand of small white lights)

Some things are really simple, some a bit more complex.  I thought I would walk through some of the projects I have made, sharing the process, hoping that you will take some of the tutorials and make some unique items, gifts, and decorations. 

This will not be an exhaustive list, but it will be a good starting point!  If you have any questions, or if you have ideas for paper projects, let me know!  I would love to hear and see what you have made, or are planning on making! 

In fact, I have a Facebook page, and would love to share some pictures of your work!
 (Gift tags)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Introduction: A trip through the Curious State - A Story

Welcome!  Come in and sit for a minute as we prepare for our excursion.  Let me start by telling you a little about myself:

I travel within the sprawling borders of the State of Learning, whose nickname is the Curious State.

I meander over hills and down paths and choose more and less traveled roads looking for inspiration, and answers to questions that bounce around in my head.  I look for the strange and the beautiful, the beautifully strange, and the strangely beautiful things that might be overhead, underfoot, right in front of, or  just around the next turn.

I observe the everyday, but perhaps with a different perspective than some.

I look for details and listen for the stories that things have to tell.  For the unspoken as well as the spoken. 

I wonder about possibilities: things that were, things that are, and things that might be. 

As your guide, I will ask questions as we travel.  I will point out the obvious and not-so-obvious.  I will ask you to take your time, look around and truly look at your surroundings, taking in all the beauty.

Well, why don't we get started.  Your packing list for this trip:  your sense of sight, smell, touch, hearing, wonder, and your curiosity and imagination. 
To Be Continued. . .

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dream BIG - A Letter to My Daughters

The girls and I were talking about an exercise they did at youth group.  They were first asked to select a picture card that best showed where they felt they were (in life) at the moment.  Then they had to describe how the picture reflected that feeling.  After, they chose a second picture showing where they hoped to be in the future, and then describe the how and why.

I listened as they explained their thoughts, and as I did, I felt a nudging to be sure they know how to dream big, and not settle.

How do I do this?  How do I try to explain or show that this world is filled with so many possibilities?

Well, the best way to start, is to start!  So here is a letter to my daughters:

“you are never too old to set another goal
or to dream a new dream.”
c.s. lewis
 Hey Girls,

As we talked about the conversations at youth group, and you each shared what you wanted to, or maybe tried to share with your friends and leaders, I was excited to hear about your deeper thinking, your hopes, dreams and fears.  

I want you to have a place to share those thoughts, those ideas.  It may not always be with me, and that is okay.  But I do think you need to find someone or more than one, to confide in, dream with, discuss the endless possibilities that wait for you.

I want to encourage you. . . no, stronger than that. . . I want to be sure you know the possibilities truly are endless, without limit, vast. . . you get the idea.  Don't limit yourself by what you think might happen or what probably won't happen.  Don't limit your thinking to only what is practical.  Yes, there are responsibilities in this life, and we choose those (carefully, I hope) but there is also an enormous world out there with people, places, sights, sounds, tastes, textures all waiting to be explored!  What can you learn?

Know that you can dream.  Dream big!  Know that you are able.  Yes, it might take some hard work, and there may be rough spots, but you are intelligent, strong, capable of so much if you put your mind, abilities and work ethic into play.  

Feeling scared?  That's okay.  Fear is something that we all live with, live through, and hopefully, hand over to our heavenly Father.  Don't let it rule over you.  What are you afraid of?  This is where talking with others can help.  Many times we have a fear that seems so strange that no one could possibly understand, but if you are willing to talk about it, you may just find someone with the same fear, and by talking through it together, you may find a solution or at least a new friend to lean on when those fears come up!

Feeling tired?  You need to rest, to take care of yourselves, be sure you aren't holding on to something that you shouldn't, and if you are, let it go.  Keep moving forward.

Feeling stuck?  Pray.  Listen for God's voice and direction.  It might not be a thundering voice or a bright, blinking arrow that points you in a direction, it might be your abilities, an opportunity that arises, or just a gentle nudge from inside.  Take a step and see where it leads.  Trust that God will direct your steps.  A wrong turn isn't the end of the world.  It is just a detour.  What can you learn from it?  Learn, find a new way and keep moving forward.

Feeling alone?  Seek out those friends. You know, the ones you share your thoughts and ideas with?  Maybe you haven't talked with them for a while, but reach out and reconnect.  Sometimes we can't wait for others to reach out to us.  Sometimes we have to take the first step.  If there were feelings hurt, don't be afraid to just say hello and see how they are doing.  Maybe it requires an apology from you for something said or done.  Maybe it was just a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared.  You won't know unless you try to reach out.

**Now, I know this isn't easy and could invite some hurt.  I know that sometimes others aren't willing to forgive or reconnect.  But as you are able, always be gracious, kind and forgiving, even if there is no reciprocation.**

I'll end for now, before this becomes a novel. . .

Life is an exciting adventure, not a dull chore. Dream BIG!  Work hard!  Keep Learning, and Don't Settle!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Outside the Fence. . . Open the Gate!

Thoughts have been running through my head the last couple of days - let me start again, because there are ALWAYS thoughts running through. . .

Specific thoughts have been running through my head - of taking the fences down from around my thinking.  Thoughts about letting myself think in a bigger way, understanding and accepting and moving on the idea that I might have a circle of some influence established, but that doesn't have to be the boundary.  That fence row isn't the end of the possibilities, it is just a marker, and a stopping point to survey the horizon, consider my options and chase those sparks beyond the fence.

Can I reference a popular movie that is out?

Fear kept abilities, strengths, gifts. . . inside the gate.  Fear didn't allow anyone else to share the happy memories, the joy that those abilities could carry.

My reason for opening the gate is different in that I don't want to hide this ability behind a facade of strength, I want to learn to appreciate it.  I am not looking to go off and build and ice castle away from everyone in order to do that.  I want to share this with those who care about me, but I also want to learn to explore, stretch myself and see just what I am capable of doing.  

I want to stop living in the scarcity mindset and understand what I can contribute to others.

I want to be willing to hear my calling, to step out and step into what I am made to do, who I am made to be and where I am meant to go.  I want to focus my pursuit on the One who loves me, created me and supplies every need. 

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Watercolor Farmer's Market - A Quick Walk-Through and a Project

I love the look of watercolor paintings.  There are a wide variety of styles and techniques, and they are a fun medium to work with.

One Saturday this past summer, a group of friends and I got together for an Intro to Watercolors class.  We met at a local park to enjoy being outdoors, while the weather still allowed!  We went over some of the basic things like the different forms watercolor paints come in and the different types of papers that are available.  After that we talked about colors and the color wheel.
Then we started a simple project - painting farmer's market finds. . .

A few basics when working with watercolors...
  • They are not opaque, so they will not completely cover a dark pencil mark or darker colored paint.  
  • If you want the brightest highlight, use the paper color - meaning don't add any paint to the place you want to be the lightest.
  • You can use water to "erase" much of the paint - before it dries. It really stains the paper, absorbing into the top layer of fibers.  You may be able to make it a bit lighter, but not completely remove it, unless you use gouache , or scrape the top layer of paper fibers off.
  • Have fun!  Experiment with how the color moves with water.  How you can push it, swirl it, mix it right on the paper, depending on how much water you add to it.
Walking through a Farmer's Market can really lead to a harvest of colors and inspiration for some quick study paintings (and maybe lunch)!  Are you up for a field trip?

Okay, here we go!

I picked up a few items that caught my eye.  I tried to pick a variety of colors and shapes.

For our class, we arranged some vegetables in front of each group, and they worked from that arrangement.

I did not have any veggies in front of me for this project, so I was working from my memory. . .and lightly sketched it on my paper.  Also for this, to add some interest, I measured out grid lines which I then "masked" or covered with something called watercolor masking fluid.  It simply covers the area that you want to leave white so you don't have to worry about coloring inside the lines.  This fluid shows in the photo below as the darker grid.  When I am finished with the painting, I simply need to rub off the mask to reveal the white places.

I decided to try the watercolor pencils.  I haven't used them before and figured there is no time like the present!  They look like colored pencils, so I began coloring in areas of the sketch leaving some areas white until I saw how they covered once the water was added.
For shadows, instead of simply adding more color or shading with black, I sometimes use the complementary colors.  Very simply, these are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.  There are three primary colors - colors that cannot be created by mixing other colors together.  These are Red, Blue and Yellow.  Secondary colors are Violet (Red + Blue), Green (Blue + Yellow) and Orange (Yellow + Red)

The complementary of Red is Green, of Blue is Orange, of Yellow is Violet.  Mixing them creates darker tones for shadows.

Here is my progress so far, though I will need to finish adding some contrast and work out the background color.

All-in-all I am having fun with this, and hope to work on some more watercolors soon.  I do have other projects that are on-going and will share those as they move along. 

What is something new that you have tried recently?