Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lately, 8.13.15

Making- new fiber pieces (one finished, two more in the works) and a multi-media collage painting (in progress, since I had to stop working on it in order to pack boxes). I'm loving this process and plan to teach certain aspects of it to my students.

Drinking-iced tea, Ranger IPA, a 2006 Ridge Grenache that we opened Sunday night to "celebrate" our move.

Eating-oh, my, gosh- everything! Except MSG, that is. The more I read up on this stuff, the more I understand why it was making me sick. It is SO bad for you. And it's hidden in so many things. Kinda crazy.

Watching - Top movies of my summer: Selma, The Butler (so good!) and  About Time (this movie has such a good message at the end, that I sent a copy to each of my kids. Definitely on my all time favorite list now).

Reading-Yoga for Life by Colleen Saidman Yee: part autobiography, part yoga book. For some reason, I felt like I had to order this book and now I know why. I think people are instinctively drawn to stories that mirror their own and I discovered in the first few pages that I can relate to so many parts of this woman's life- troubled teen years, divorce, re-marriage, the ever-changing challenges of motherhood, etc. and how a yoga practice keeps her grounded. I highly recommend it.

Listening to: Riding with the King by Eric Clapton and BB King, Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, Tibetan Singing Bowls (love this)

Thinking about- not much, but at the same time, too much. Not a lot of down time lately with the move, but yet, SO many things to think about, especially with the new school year starting TODAY! And there are many new things to think about this year, which I am so happy about. This will be my 11th year teaching and it's nice to have some new ideas to kick around and integrate into my routine.

Laughing at- anything that Jimmy Fallon has to say. That's one thing that's bad about school starting again- I can't stay up late enough to watch The Tonight Show :(

Disliking- Going through withdrawals- from Starbucks and Dierbergs (they are no longer right around the corner) and the extra Peanut and Baby G. time that I get in the summer. 

Loving- Having my front porch again, with the addition of  the awesome wind chime that Little Man surprised me with a few weeks ago. (That boy is so sweet.) And walking into Sister's house and seeing the cardboard bowling alley she made for her bowling-obsessed, four-year-old. Sister was put on this earth to be a mother, there is no doubt about that.
Oh, and the rainbow we saw from the front porch the first evening at our old (new??!) house! We took it as a good omen :)

Have a great weekend!  Juli

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Scavenger Hunt and Collage Progress, 8.5.15

I shared a challenge on Facebook yesterday- a scavenger hunt challenge posted by Courtney Carver of the blog, Be More With Less. (You can find the "rules" here.) I kind of thought it would be hard to complete this since I have been getting rid of stuff right and left for the last year or so. But it took me all of an hour! I guess that means I could really be doing a better job on the decluttering, minimalizing and simplifying front! I won't bore you with specifics, as you can read all about the process on the Be More with Less blog, but here are a few of my thoughts on specific challenges as I went through this process:

* 3 items of clothing that don't fit and 1 item with the tags still on- This was hard.  I continually assess what is in my closet and am always throwing items into the Good Will bag, so I didn't have anything that didn't fit and nothing with the tags still on.  So, instead,  I got rid of 3 sweaters that were questionable as far as still being 'in style', (Are shrugs still in style?? I hope not, because now I don't have any!), and one scarf that I have never worn.

* 2 winter coats-I just took two winter coats to the resale shop last month, so I let myself off the hook on this one.

* 2 pieces of art- Album cover art probably doesn't really qualify (well, maybe it does), but 3 of them went into the giveaway pile.

* 5 things from a junk drawer- This was also harder than I thought, since I just cleaned out the one junk drawer that I have. But I did find a ping pong ball (??? we no longer have a ping pong table), a very over-sized paper clip with a flower on top (never used, had for years, but cute!), multiple broken golf tees, a damaged golf ball and a used tea bag holder in the shape of a tea pot that I thought was really cute when I bought it, but that I never use. So, see, even though I just cleaned out that drawer, I still found items that I should have thrown away the first time around. Life lesson from a junk drawer??! I think so :)

* 2 tools- This was hard, too! Not because I don't have many tools, but because it seems weird to get rid of perfectly good tools. You never know when you might need a pair of rusty wire snips, extremely dull scissors or more than one hammer (I actually had four in one drawer). So, I got rid of the dull scissors and a miniature hammer (??). I couldn't part with the rusty wire snips.

*10 books- This was EASY! Thanks to M. we have a ton of books and already had 4 boxes in the garage ready for Good Will.

*A collection of unused hobby tools- Easy. A calligraphy set and my multiple sets of knitting needles. I've always wanted to get really good at calligraphy, but, seriously, I've had that set for 10 years and have never opened it. And remember my goal for last winter- knitting? Well, it never happened and it probably never will so I probably don't need the needles. 

So, that was my fun for this morning! I highly suggest doing this, especially if you have been considering some serious decluttering. This is a great way to get started. It really makes you think about all of the stuff you have that is taking up space in your home and that you really don't need or use.

Switching gears a bit... this afternoon I watched more of my Kelly Rae Roberts' multi-media class demos and completed one more step. It really is a process! I had no idea. Hopefully I have something worth keeping when I finally finish. I've collaged together the first few steps below.

The top left was step one, the bottom right is the latest step. Kelly Rae says it's normal for your painting to go through "ugly" stages (thank goodness!). Next, I'll be bringing in more of the browns from my original layer and trying to calm it down a bit before I add imagery.

Have a great day! I'm off to pack more boxes, as we're moving on Saturday. Bittersweet time, for sure.   Juli

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More on Mantras, 7.30.15

So, more on those mantras I mentioned on Facebook yesterday. As I've mentioned before, I'm working on a mixed media e-course through Kelly Rae Roberts' website called Hello Soul Hello Mantras.  The first step in the process has nothing to do with painting. The first step is to 'quiet the noise' in my head and come up with a series of phrases that speak to me at this specific moment in time.
So Kelly Rae's instructions were to 1) write some statements about a specific situation relevant to me right now and 2) write the names of two people whom I admire and then write down what it is that I admire about them. 
After I filled 11 pages in my journal (she encourages you to really take your time and write a lot), I then went back to look for key words that really spoke to me or words or phrases that show up several times. When I finished, I had this series of words: trust, fear, forgiveness, worry, brave, love, steady, confident, positive, calm, authentic. And these words led to these statements or mantras:

And these mantras will become part of the mixed-media paintings that I started today. This is the first layer of the first one. I'll show the layers (there are a lot of them!) as they progress in another post.

What I love most about this, is that it's an ongoing process. If I want mantras to be a part of a painting (whether it's actually on the canvas or just inspiration), it will always be different and I will always have something new to draw upon. And even if nothing is created with these mantras in mind, it still helps with the 'mental sorting' process. Does that make sense? I hope so. And I hope you'll check out Kelly Rae's courses. So much fun! Even if it really isn't your style, you can still learn something. Again, you can find them here.

Oh, and the happiest of birthdays to my "baby" boy- who turns 20 today. Happy Birthday, Little Man!!

Till next time- Juli

Monday, July 27, 2015

Changes!, 7.27.15

More changes are coming our way. Oh, my. I'm ready for things to settle down a bit. I've been writing about the stresses of this summer and we've finally come to a decision that will, hopefully, take some of the stress away. So here's the scoop. We've been renting from my son for over a year while trying to sell our house, which means that we have had to keep up payments on two places for the past 16 months. Our best case scenario was to sell our house within a few months (it's never taken longer than four months to sell any house that we've ever sold in the past) and we would be able to take our time to find a new place, while at the same time saving money for a larger down payment, thus a smaller house payment. We knew we could keep it up for a year without any issues, but it has now been 16 months. So we had to get serious about what we were going to do. We were getting to the point of losing a significant portion of our original down payment. So...we are moving back into the house and taking it off the market for now. There are many things that we don't like about this decision, but we have to focus on the good things. And many circumstances led us to the conclusion that the good points in moving back definitely outweigh the bad.

One really good thing is that I will now have a dedicated studio space- a whole room to myself, just for painting, sewing, dyeing, etc. I'm super excited about it, as I've never had more than a corner of a room before. I think it will make a huge difference as far as getting things done and being more organized, consistent and productive.

My previous thoughts here on expanding Olive and Ash to include classes, workshops, etc. will have to be put on hold for a while, as getting classes and workshops set up in the first place will take resources that I don't have right now. But it is still in the works (if only in my mind, for now!). I'll be focusing on getting the studio set up, doing some serious making when we get settled again and working on some home improvements which will enable me to have small groups of people in the studio.

Another good thing about moving is having more space in general, which I will need by the beginning of next year because I will suddenly be not only the Bibi (Grandma) of two, but the Bibi of FOUR! Yes, my Doublement Gum commercial in my last post was a hint that my son and his wife found out they are expecting identical twins! I still haven't really wrapped my head around it yet, as we have never had twins in our family before, but I'm sure it's going to be so much fun :)

I'll leave you with some images (some of you may have seen them on Instagram and Facebook already) of the new studio space in our 'little house on a big hill' and some inspiring quotes on change by Kelly Rae Roberts , whose words have made a huge difference in my outlook lately. Enjoy them!

I was able to hang the vintage handkerchief banners and strings of mini lights in the studio- something I've always wanted to do.  This space started out as a garage, converted to a game room, then became a storage room. I think it was always meant to be a studio, though. It has great, natural light coming from the north through the french doors that replaced the windowless garage door. And just up the steps is my favorite spot to relax- the front porch.

Have a great week!  Juli

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Being Grateful, 7.15.15

I have to admit, I've been absent from this space lately because I just haven't had much to say. This summer has been pretty stressful in a lot of ways. I've been much better at handling stress lately (yoga, breathing and taking my son's "live in the moment" advice), but when the stress comes out of nowhere, I have a harder time with it. And this time, it knocked me on my ass for a couple of weeks. only knocked me on my ass because I let it. I'm now forcing myself out of this pit I've been in by doing the following:

* Reminding myself that no one died.

* Reminding myself that no one is sick.

* Reminding myself that I'm so lucky to have very supportive family members who are always there to listen when I have something to work/talk through.

* Reminding myself that even though no one wants to buy our little house on a big hill, that we are lucky to have it.

* Reminding myself that I'm lucky to be able to go to work with M. a couple of days a week during the summer (and earn some extra money!).

*Reminding myself how lucky I am to have M.

* Reminding myself how lucky I am to have summers off and that I love my job so much that, by mid-July, when I see school supplies in the store, I get excited about going back to school, just like I did when I was a kid.

* Reminding myself that even though I haven't been as productive as I had planned to be this summer, that I'm lucky to have this creative drive that keeps going and going.

* And reminding myself that I'm lucky to find things (people, blogs, websites, quotes, movies, etc.) that lift me up just when I need it most. This ALWAYS happens to me. And I am so grateful for it. Just when I needed it, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an offer for an online workshop through Kelly Rae Roberts' website. It's a three part workshop: Mixed Media Painting, a 30 day e-course called Wear Your Joy and an e-book called Flying Lessons (tips and tricks for a creative business). So far, I've gotten to day 20 of the Wear Your Joy project and I can't tell you how nice it is to sit down and read Kelly Rae's words every day- always inspirational, uplifting, thoughtful, positive and motivating. I highly recommend, at the very least, bookmarking her blog. I think you'll love it.

And speaking of creativity- I have been crawling out of my self-pity pit enough lately to get some work done on these fiber pieces. One is almost finished and the next two are started. I am having such a good time working on them and I'm hoping there is an audience out there for them.  If not, that's okay. It's like therapy for me, so all is good!

I'm trying out hand painting the backing for this piece instead of tie dyeing.

This piece is near completion. At this point, it is drying (you have to soak it in water to remove all traces of the marking pen), then I just need to sew on the backing, attach the little pocket piece to the front and hang it.

And this shows the next two pieces just after I transferred the designs on the light table (weird effect with the lights, huh?!)

And, I'll leave you with one more thing that I am very grateful for, but it's still kind of a secret at this point. I think. Anyway, it's not my secret to talk about yet, but I think it will be okay to leave you with a little hint.

 Here's to being thankful. And grateful. And knowing it.

Till next time ~ Juli

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Facebook and Surprise Inspiration, 7.2.15's kind of a dirty word around here, lately.  I've written before about the many pros and cons of Facebook and my love/hate relationship with it definitely continues. I even recently tried to cut way back on "Facebooking" by starting a new page with just a few friends and family members. But, even with those changes, as of late, Facebook seems to be mostly "cons". There are just too many ways for things to be interpreted (or misinterpreted). So, in response, I deactivated the second Facebook account. The problem with that is, you have to have a personal page in order to manage a business page. And my Olive and Ash page is very important to me because it's a direct link to this space. And I'm not willing to let that go. I've said before that this blog began as a way to document my art work, but it evolved into more of an online journal of my general, everyday musings- sometimes on art, sometimes on life and sometimes both. I've come to find out that talking is only a way for me to muddle through ideas, problems and thoughts. Writing, for me, is much more constructive. It's actually extremely helpful to me. And I've always hoped that it might be helpful to others, even if it's just one person who may relate to what I have written on a particular day.  

So my very supportive, generous and kind daughter came up with a solution to my problem. She is allowing me to manage the page from her Facebook page. Can you imagine a child (albeit, she is my 31 year old child!) giving their mom their username and password?! I know! I am crazy lucky to have her. So, I will still be able to alert you to new blog posts and post updates on the Olive and Ash Facebook page. Yay!

Now, enough about the drama of Facebook and onto some new work that I started this week. In my last post, I shared some inspiration pieces that I found online (taken from my Pinterest board). But, much to my surprise, I was more recently inspired by my own work. (I know! haha! That never happens to me!) You may remember it from this post.

The perfect spot was found in the sales room at Blumenhof.

I made it for M., for Christmas, a couple of years ago. It has been hidden away in the winery office since then, as M. is not the decorator and didn't know where to hang it. Last week,  I suddenly had my mind set to find a perfect place for it.  When I pulled it out of the office and into the light, I was reminded of how proud I felt when I finished it. And how it incorporates all of the things that are important to me- fiber, painting, stitching and words. And how it's cool that it requires a light source from behind to be fully seen and appreciated. I have been struggling, lately, (as I'm sure you know from my last few posts) to be inspired.  I am constantly going from stitching, to painting, to stitching, to painting. Back and forth. Back and forth.  And I have always thought that combining the two would be my "thing", as I really don't see much of that type of work out there. I can't tell you how good it felt to see that piece again and have that light bulb go on in my mind. I immediately thought, "Why haven't I been doing this for the last couple of years? What led me off track?" I don't really have an answer for that except that we have had a lot going on the last couple of years, so I've been a little distracted. But, it really doesn't matter. Inspiration hits you when it's least expected. I should know that by now. And I'm running with this one. This past week, I've been  working on some sketches and plans I have for three different designs incorporating figure drawings. This one, Lost in Translation, began to take shape yesterday.

Machine piecing, marking and stitching have begun. More layers after that.

I'll save the others for another post, as I just realized how long this one has become! So, 'till next time- thank you for reading! Juli

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lately, 6.24.15

First of all, I apologize for the delay with this post, as I thought it would be finished Monday. Life happens and here it is on Wednesday! First of all, I'm making some changes to my social media and I'm going to try to attempt keeping this blog going without a Facebook page. If you'd like to continue being alerted about new posts, just sign up as a follower or, if not, just bookmark it and check back in from time to time. We'll see how this goes :)  In the meantime, here is my...


Making: painting, embroidering, sewing, refurbishing
A two hour challenge painting. I'm not super happy with it (brush strokes need to be much looser), but since I had a time limit, I'm not going to be too hard on myself.

Baby G's first birthday pillow (Peanut got one on his first birthday, too). It has a handle (which is barely visible here) and embroidered pockets (Ruben J's jean pockets) for small books, toys, etc.
Pocket detail (in progress).

I intended to paint this chair, but decided on making a cover instead. Since it's made of cedar, I wasn't sure about the paint sticking like it should.

Drinking: Still stuck on Starbuck's Flat White, and now, peach and ginger green tea.Yum!

Eating: Still staying away from processed foods and foods with too many ingredients and/or "mystery" ingredients. And I still feel great!

Watching: Cake- Jennifer Aniston was amazing, but the movie was pretty much a downer. Don't watch it if you're depressed!

Reading: Finished the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up". The author seems pretty obsessive about being organized (which I can't relate to- at all!) but she has good tips. And I was really motivated to clean up/clean out when I finished reading it.

Listening to: some classics- Danny's Song by Loggins and Messina and Carolina in My Mind by James Taylor

Thinking about: How fast the summer is flying by.

Laughing at: Peanut at the bowling alley for the first time. His phrase for the day- "oh, gosh!"

Disliking: our lawn maintenance people weed-whacking my brand new peony bush! So mad!

Loving:  All of us piling into a pick-up truck (don't worry, it was just on the cemetery road!) and heading to the cemetery to release Baby G's first birthday balloons. And the picture, below. I'm so glad to have captured that exact moment when everyone was looking up at the same time.

As far as studio news, I'm very slow to start this summer (which I hate), but I've been inspired lately by some painted fiber pieces with lots of layers. And since experimenting with mediums is on my summer list, that's what I'll be working on next. Hopefully something good will come from experimenting and playing and not being too hard on myself.

Here are some examples of my inspiration pieces:
Jette Clover
Artist information here

spirit cloth Jude Hill
Artist information here

And finally, my very best wishes go out to my niece and her husband, as they had their itsy bitsy ( 5 lb. 9 oz.!) new little girl yesterday. She is our newest family member, their first baby, our family's first little girl in a long while (16 years!) and another little Baby G! And she is the cutest little thing :)

Have a great week!  Juli