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Monday, January 19, 2015

Daily Painting and the High Pointe, 1.19.15

Third coat on, painting finished. There is only so much you can do with a small (8 x 10) painting of two bottles, so it didn't take long. But, like I said, it's good practice- basic shapes and forms, odd angles and playing with the color a bit.

Even though I haven't had time to paint for several days now, I'm setting a new goal to paint for at least an hour a day, most days of the week and hopefully more on the weekends. It's hard to say how many paintings I'll finish each week, as there are so many variables, but that isn't really the point anyway. It's all about practice. And practicing on a regular basis. Because that is the only way to get better, right? My goals- to be more confident with color, to be more confident with my brushstrokes and to be confident enough to play and experiment with the paint. I've been painting for a long time now (off and on) and teaching it for 10 years, so I'm confident with the basics. Now I'm looking for a style to develop and that will only come with consistent practice. I'll be documenting that practice here, so be prepared. I'm sure there will be some stinkers along the way! haha

This is the start of the second painting in this series. I thought I'd show how I start the under painting with very basics shapes that will become the eventual forms. Also, how I measure the placement of the shapes against the canvas by marking the half way points, vertically and horizontally.

I've been really inspired by the Carol Marine Daily Painting book that I got in the mail last week. She talks a lot about her daily routine, how she made it a habit to paint every day, how she sets up her painting space and what inspires her.  I've been looking for a book like this for quite a while now-SO glad I found it! A few more tips I've learned from her book- how to avoid 'muddiness' in a painting, how to clean your brushes with Murphy's Oil Soap (it cleans and conditions your brushes at the same time. Love it!) and some tips on colors for your palette.  I was glad to learn that Carol uses a pretty limited palette and that most of the colors that she uses are the same ones that I use. Yay! No pressure to go out and buy more paint. (It's expensive!)

I'll leave you with a collage of a cute little theater we went to yesterday in Clayton, MO, called the High Pointe. We've been there a few times, but it's been a few years and I had forgotten how cool it is. It was built in the 1920s and almost everything in it has been kept the same over the years. It's definitely like stepping back in time. Only one screen (yesterday they were showing Mr. Turner. Click here to see the official trailer) and tickets were only $5.00! If you are in the area, you should definitely check it out :)

Have a great week!  Juli

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wild and 10% Happier, 1.11.15

Nice title for a blog post, huh? Well, there is an explanation, as we saw the movie "Wild" last night and I got the book "10% Happier" in the mail this week (along with my Daily Paintworks book, which I  LOVE! And which I will discuss along with my next painting post). The connection here is that "10% Happier" is about calming your inner voice and "Wild" uses the main character's inner voice as the narration for the movie. So I feel like there is a little bit of a theme going on here this week. And I can totally relate to that ever-present, sometimes nagging inner voice.

The movie "Wild" was SO good. I highly recommend it, as I think anyone can relate to at least some of the things, on some level, that Cheryl Strayed has gone through in her life. Promiscuous behavior and dabbling in drug use as a young woman, ruining her marriage, losing a loved one and then setting a goal and making herself better to prove something to herself and to ultimately honor that loved one. Yep. I can relate. On what level and how much of that I can relate to, I'll keep to myself :)  The only thing I couldn't relate to is setting a goal to hike the Pacific Crest Trail... by myself! Absolutely no way!! But I admire anyone who would.

And, so...onto  that inner voice. Again, "Wild" is heavily narrated using Cheryl Strayed's inner voice. And you can sense the healing that is going on through this inner voice. At the beginning, it's all about beating herself up for her mistakes. By the end of the movie, it's about lessons she's learned and how she is healing. The 10% Happier book is all about taming that inner voice. I haven't had a chance to read much of it yet, but I have read many articles by the author and I love his writing style and his insight into this dreaded disorder that so many of us have- anxiety. I have only had two full-blown anxiety/panic attacks in my life (literally feeling like you're going to die because you can't breathe), but I deal with  anxiety on a daily basis in the form of some lovely symptoms like digestive disorders, ruminating thoughts (yes, that inner voice) and heart palpitations. But, I think it all goes back to that inner voice - choosing what you think about (keeping it positive) and learning how to just turn it off, if and when you need to. 

Well, I hope this post will be helpful to someone. I'm in no way, shape or form qualified to be a critic of anything, but I'm a sucker for a self'-help book and movies based on someone's REAL life, so I thought I'd pass the info along.  Again, I hope it's helpful because that's what it's all about. Right?!

Have a great week!  Juli

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!, 1.1.15

It's a new year! I kind of hate to see 2014 go, as it was such a great one. As  a way to reflect on it,  I thought it would be fun to share this. Here are a few of my reflections:

Day this past year that I would live over and over - There were so many good days this year- Eddie and Falicia getting engaged, a weekend trip with all of my kids, a day at the zoo with all of my kids and my mom...but if I had to pick just one day, it would be June 18th- the day we met our newest family member, Gray Jameson (aka, Baby G.) Love his name and love that boy!

Best conversation I had this year- A conversation that I had with Little Man while we smoked cigars on the patio over the summer. I won't give details, but I'll never forget it.

Most memorable moment in pop culture- Easy. The day Robin Williams died.

Biggest lesson learned this year- To say much LESS (and be very choosy about who I say things to) and to listen MORE. 

Favorite song this year- Well, seeing Bob Seger in concert was a highlight of my year, so ALL of his songs are always at the top of my list. But, if I had to pick a new song it would be Sara Bareilles- I Choose You. Listen here.

Biggest piece of advice I got this year - Well, I didn't get it this year, but I'm continually working on this one- "LIVE IN THE MOMENT". (Wise words given to me by my sixteen year old boy, in November 2011.)

A late birthday/Christmas gift to myself this year.

Now, looking ahead. To 2015. I'll be continuing to pare things down to the basics. This means that, yes, I'll continue to focus on the reduction of "stuff" in my life.  But not just physical "stuff". The mental and emotional "stuff", the "stuff" that bogs me (and I'm sure most of us) down is just as important to get rid of as the physical "stuff". Either way, I've learned over the years that it's a constant give and take to let stuff in and then weed stuff out.  As part of this process, keeping priorities in mind is always the first step for me. Here they are:

First place- Family, always. And I include myself in this category. Taking care of myself is just as important as anything else. If I'm not healthy and happy, then, what's the point, really? And how will I be of value to anyone or anything?

Second place- My day job, teaching. It is what I was meant to do. It took me a while to figure that out, but the timing was perfect. I see teaching as an extension of being a mother. I really do.

Third place- This space and all things creatively related to it. Just as I see teaching as being an extension of being of mother, I see this space as being an extension of teaching.

Hopefully, upon retirement (in ten years!), this space will be a solid second. So, in order for that to happen, I'll be continually plugging away at it, hoping that, along the way, someone out there in blog land will find it useful, enlightening, motivational, etc. And if not, that's okay. It will still be a place for me to document what I've been doing, what I've been making and and what I've been thinking and that's a great way for me to continually re-assess where I've been and where I'm going. (I highly recommend it, by the way!)

I've also come up with a word for 2015.  My word is LEGACY. (Gosh, I hope I didn't pick that word last year! haha! Oh, well. If so, my word is still "legacy"!) Since I'll be turning the big 5-0 at the end of 2015, I thought it was a fitting word for the year. A reminder for me to always consider what I'm going to leave behind.

Happy 2015!! Have a great New Year's Day!   Juli

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rediscovering Instagram, 12.30.14

You have no idea how great having this little break from work has been. Sleeping past 4:45am every day, staying up till almost midnight every night re-watching seasons of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, pouring over new books and my British Edition of Country Living magazine (SO much better than the American version), going to the movies, watching movies at home, drinking tea, starting a scarf (for MYSELF!) etc. has been such a nice break from the routine of the school year. Insert a huge sigh of relief here :)  Not that my school year has been bad in any way, it is just nice to have a break from it. I'm sure anybody reading this knows exactly what I mean :)

Anyway, having time to just chill out has given my brain time to come up with a few new ideas for the blog. And one of them is to start using Instagram again. Jane Brocket, author of The Gentle Art of Domesticity (one of my favorite books and one which I've mentioned here several times before) wrote a pretty enlightening blog post here. In it, she states that she has disregarded many social media sites, but uses Instagram to " ... simply take photos of things I like, do, make, notice, and of places I visit." I like her simple explanation. I have used Instagram off and on for a few years, but honestly don't know all of the ins and outs of using it. I just liked editing my IPhone photos with cool filters. So I'm going to try learn more about it.  I know for many blog readers, it's all about the photos. Well, I've never had a decent camera, and don't see myself getting one in the near future, so I'm going to try my best to get better with what I do have- my phone.  Each month, I'll re-cap with a collage of photos from that  month. It should be fun! Here is a preview, from the past week:
Please don't judge- I'm learning! haha

Stay tuned later this week, as I'll be starting another painting on my brand new easel!!

Thanks for reading!  Juli

Thursday, December 25, 2014

From Our Home and Family To Yours, 12.25.14

Another wonderful family Christmas (minus Peanut getting sick on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day). From our home and family to yours... Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Keeping it simple, 12.14.14

On my way home from work Friday night, a bit of panic set in. I realized that Christmas is thirteen days away, but what I didn't realize is that MY Christmas (Christmas with my kids) is actually only 8 days away. (When you have an empty nest, then more family members, you have to get creative with the timing of your gatherings!) Anyway, at this time of year, 5 days less is HUGE! So, I took a detour, and instead of heading home, I headed out to get some shopping done. But, when I got to the VERY crowded stores, my Christmas spirit fizzled. So frustrating. So, I headed back home, took a bath and settled in with my computer to get some shopping done my favorite way- on my couch, with a cup of tea and a Christmas movie on TV (The Santa Clause). Talk about stress free shopping! I love it! Online shopping (and Amazon Prime Two Day Shipping) is definitely one of the upsides of the online world we live in now. Especially for people, like me, who absolutely hate to shop.

Online shopping is just one of the ways I'm trying to keep it simple (while still trying to enjoy every minute of this season. It is, and always has been, my favorite time of the year). Here are a few more:

1) Switching it up from NPR to Christmas music in the car. Instead of hearing about riots, racism and war, I get to hear about peace on earth, joy to the world and silent nights. Much better to get into the holiday spirit, don't you think? Along with my old favorites like  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I've discovered a couple of new favorites: Winter Song by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson and for some reason I'm really noticing John Lennon's So This is Christmas, even though it been around for years.

2) Watching my old standard Christmas movies: One Magic Christmas (first watched with Sister when she was four years old and watched every year since), The Santa Clause (one of Eddie's favorites), Christmas Vacation ( as Little Man would say, "Classic!"), Prancer (LOVE Sam Elliot reciting Yes, Virginia), Saturday Night Live Christmas (yeah, I know it's not a movie, but we always have to get our Schweddy Balls fix!) and, of course, It's a Wonderful Life ( M's and my Christmas Eve tradition, every year since we've been married).

3) Less baking. For the past few years I've gradually scaled back on my baking and now just make an Albers family tradition-Apricot Pastry. The kids have kept up their dad's tradition of taking them to several of his mom's friends on Christmas Eve, so making them is well worth the effort. For all of the other baking that I used to do... well, I just don't do it anymore. I'm not ashamed to admit that bakery cookies are my new standard.

4) Putting up a smaller tree. Last year, I thought going the artificial tree route was a good way to simplify. It just wasn't for us, though. This year, since we have a small place, we have a small (live) tree. And I love it. Easier to put up, less space needed, less ornaments needed, less lights needed,etc.

5) Reducing the decorating.  When the kids were little, I wanted the whole house to be a magical place, so I put up a lot of decorations. Then, over the past few years, little by little, I've cut back. And since I've been in downsize and simplify mode, I've given away a lot of decorations. Now, I feel like I don't have enough! Since Peanut is getting to the age of really noticing and realizing more, I want my house to be that magical place again. Oh, my. Now I have a situation. If I want more decorations I either have to buy more or make more. Hmmmm...Oh, well. I'm sure I'll figure out the right balance, eventually.  Pinterest  helps :)

6) Trying to really focus on the joy of giving. Since joining the Art Abandonment group, I've secretly abandoned 12 pieces of art so far this month. It feels so good to do this. As far as buying for the people that I know- I'm really trying to be thoughtful and consider how this will affect the person that I'm giving it to. Will it just be another burden of another thing in their life? If so, I won't buy it.

Well, this has become one long winded post! So, I'll leave you with a video of another one of my all time favorite Christmas songs, Little Drummer Boy by Bob Seger (who I got to see in concert last night and it was AWESOME!).

Have a great week! Juli

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thankful and Thinkful, 12.01.14

Yeah, I know "thinkful" is not a word, but there are so many things to think about lately, that's how I feel- think-ful! So, besides thoughts about work, Christmas, etc. here is something else that I've been thinking about...

...that it's time to overhaul the Etsy shop-again!  The purpose of the shop is to make a little money on the side, but it doesn't seem to be working that way. I'll be removing  most of the fiber pieces from the shop because by the time I buy them and/or make them and then stitch them (each one takes about 3-4 hours) I'm really not making more than a few dollars. I love making them, but I'll be saving them for friends and family. So, you're probably wondering what I'll do with all of those fiber pieces that I have in my shop. Here's the story. On Saturday,  Sister and I were the proud "finders" of a piece of art, (a handmade fiber doll) left by one of the members of the Art Abandonment group, on a bench in Troy, MO. So cool!! The first thing Sister said to me was, "Mom, you should do this!" And so, I will! All of the fiber pieces and maybe a few small paintings will be removed from my Etsy shop and abandoned in various places around Washington, Wentzville and Troy, MO.  Sister will be helping, starting off by passing along the art we found to Millstadt, IL. I'm really excited about it. We will be passing on some good cheer and giving my Etsy shop a fresh start for the new year :) (Expect to see more paintings and painted 'ware', as I will be rejoining Daily Paintworks in January.)

 Well, that was my "Thinkful" list.  And this is my "Thankful" list (a slightly delayed "Thankful" list in honor of Thanksgiving):

Of course, I'm thankful (always!) for family, friends/coworkers, health, happiness, etc., but to be more specific, lately, I'm thankful for:

*Thanksgiving spent with family.

Grandpa M. with Baby G. on Thanksgiving day.

*A very unexpected one day extension (a snow day) of our Thanksgiving break. It was like an early Christmas present for me! I brought so much work home with me over the break that I feel like I didn't really have a break. And on top of that, I didn't get all of the work done, so I felt like I was going to be starting the week already behind. But, not anymore! Man, I got a lot done today. It feels great!

*Spending the entire day with 3 of my 4 favorite boys this past Wednesday. Eddie was working/sleeping at home and came over to say "hi", but Baby G., Peanut, and Little Man were all here, all day!  Loved it!
Little Man has been learning to play the piano at school (in this case, a keyboard). He's getting pretty good. Here, he's showing Peanut what he knows :)

Peanut and his painted chalkboard/school desk.

Happy Baby G.

...with Grandpa G's eyelashes!

Peanut loved watching it snow.

He spent a lot of time at the window that afternoon.

A new toy at Bibi's house.

Asher's and my afternoon project. Never again!! Time consuming and sticky!

Peanut wore himself out watching the snow :)

*Having a nice weekend with M.- an overnight stay at a nice hotel, dinner at a nice restaurant, breakfast at our favorite coffee shop and pretty much the entire weekend at the Missouri History Museum for the opening of the Utopia exhibit and documentary.

M. and Peter Roloff, the director of the Utopia movie and project.

A perfect museum day.

The view out of our hotel window. Very seldom do you see this out of a hotel window!

Dinner at the Cheshire Inn Restaurant. Nice!
And our room at the Cheshire- one of our favorite places to stay in St. Louis.

*Coming home from our weekend getaway to find out that Eddie got to come home after 5 days from his duty in Ferguson with the National Guard since he was needed at work. SO THANKFUL FOR THAT!

*The person/persons who broke into my car only took an old camera that doesn't work very well and didn't steal my car!  Well, they didn't "break in" because I left it unlocked. I know. Very stupid.  I'm stuck in "living in the country" mode since that's where I've lived for most of my life and I'm having a really hard time developing that "door locking" habit! I think this car incident has cured me, though.

Also, so thankful for Christmas movies, homemade kettle corn, Christmas music, yoga pants and tunic sweaters, my ability to sew and mend clothes, the girl who does my hair and knows exactly what I want every time, a garage that is now clean enough for my car to have a spot away from the thieves, etc.
I really have a lot to be thankful for :) But, I think that's it for now!

 I'll be updating you soon on our Art Abandonment project!  Until then, have a great week!  Juli