Saturday, October 10, 2015

Lately, 10.10.15


Making: A second canvas from the Kelly Rae Roberts course I started over the summer, a banner for our newest Baby G, and currently focusing on finishing my latest fiber piece. Pictures posted soon as I progress a little further.

Layer 1 of the latest multi-media painting ( a little larger canvas this time). I'm really loving the color on this one.

Layer 2. This is definitely where it goes through an "ugly" stage.

And then it gets pretty again! Detail of layer 3. Love this section. I'm planning on keeping it visible through the next several layers. The little shot of yellow really stands out.

Drinking: the usuals :) I really need to try something new.

Eating: not the filet mignon from Aldi's! I bought it and M. realized it is full of MSG, disguised by the name 'autolyzed yeast extract'. Close call! That would have cost me a day of work, for sure. Sister recently shared this article with me, though, so at least Aldi's is headed in the right direction.

Watching: the movie, Philomena- SO good!

Reading: this blog, with tons of good ideas, tips and tutorials.

Listening to: Still stuck on the original, "Please Come to Boston". Enjoy this oldie-but-goodie, below :) And this song by Need To Breathe.

Thinking: that I am in yoga heaven right now since I found all of my DVDs that have been missing since our move 18 months ago. I only kept a few standards with my computer when we moved and packed the rest away in a box. I have been looking and looking and finally came across them a couple of days ago. Can you tell I'm a Rodney Yee fan?!

Laughing at: Peanut, showing me his new Lego guy and telling me he, "looks like PawPaw M. with a happy face"! If you know M., you know why this is funny :)

Disliking: I'm keeping "Positive Vibes Only" and choosing to skip this section :)

Love my new print from A Beautiful Mess.

Loving: My students this week. They have been SO well-behaved. Maybe they sensed that I've had more than my fill of disrespect lately. What a relief to enjoy them so much. And today, I loved seeing a former student at a stop light, 50 miles from where I teach, with half of his body hanging out of the window just to get my attention and wave to me. Little things like this make me love my job over and over and over again.

Also... a little update on my plan to possibly teach some classes/paint nights/workshops, etc. at Blumenhof. I've decided that my heart just isn't in it right now, as I already spend 35-40 hours each week teaching art and barely have time to work on my own art. BUT, the good news is, someone else is going to do it! An experienced "paint and sip" instructor contacted M. recently, and since I had already decided not to do it, I readily gave him my blessing to invite her in. I'll post all of the info on it later, but I've heard good things about her, as she has been holding classes at other local wineries for a while now. I'm hoping it will be a good thing for the winery.

Well, that's my "lately".  Have a great week!  Juli

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Inspired by..."With What You Have", 10.3.15

Over the past few months, I've been inspired by a series titled "With What You Have" on the Assortment blog (one of my favorites),which began with this  post.  It's a subject I'm pretty familiar with, as having to be content with what I have seems to be a running theme in my life. When I was a kid, money was always tight in our household, so I would often make do with what I had- turning my closet into my own "room", turning boxes from the grocery store where my dad worked into "stores" or "kitchens" or "cribs" for my dolls and, of course, wearing hand-me-down clothes from my sister. As a younger adult, money wasn't quite as tight, but Ruben J and I didn't really know how to handle it, so in the midst of raising three kids, we often, inevitably,  had to make do with what we had. And now, with M. and I both working in professions that are not quite known for their high incomes, we know how to handle money, we just don't have enough of it to handle! So, here I am, mid-life, still finding myself making do with what I have. And, you know what? It's okay. The trade-off ,at this point, would be M. and I changing our careers and not spending every day doing something we love. For us, that is not an option.

I used to kind of resent making do with what I have, but now, I consider it a creative challenge and I'm pretty proud of finally being satisfied with it. As a result, almost everything in our home has a story. A few of which are shown below: (Please excuse the poor quality Iphone photos- photography is not one of my talents!)

This 1960's Ethan Allen daybed is what we use for our couch/sofa in the living room. The "70's couch" (what the kids called it before we knew it was actually a "60's couch!) used to be in the basement. Everyone would fight over it because it was the most comfortable couch to lounge on. I kept it in the basement because it was a bit of a quirky piece of furniture and had ugly cushions. Now, I embrace the quirkiness and I proudly display it upstairs  (with some linen fabric covering the ugly cushion!). It was a hand-me-down from M.'s dad and step-mom and it's kind of cool to look back at old pictures and see his family members (some of whom are no longer here) sitting on our 70's couch!

This console stereo has been in my family for several decades. I'm not quite sure when my parents purchased it (probably with Eagle stamps!), but I know that it has been around for as long as I can remember. It was always the backdrop for my sister's and my annual Easter picture. And I remember my mom having it on almost all the time and hearing songs like Joy To the World (aka-Jeremiah was a Bullfrog), American pie and Horse With No Name. And of course, my favorite, the Andy Williams Christmas albums. Tons of memories here. But now, in our home, it's main function is serving as a T.V. stand and it's doing a wonderful job :) 

My Grandpa Albers' chair. It's made of luxurious "pleather" (haha) but it is in absolute perfect condition. Again, a quirky piece, but it's part of my Grandpa's story, so I'm embracing it.  I'm not sure how old it is, but I'm guessing over 50 years. They took very good care of things, obviously. (Actually, most of his and my grandma's furniture was covered in plastic, which I always thought was super weird!)

And our table. This table has been in Ruben J's family for several generations.  I believe his uncle acquired it from his grandparents. (When Ruben J and I were dating, we used to spend many Friday nights, sitting around this table with his uncle, talking for hours. Very fond memories for me.) When his uncle passed away, it was given to his mom, when his mom passed away it was given to Ruben J and when Ruben J passed away it was given to Little Man. So I guess I'm really just holding this piece for Little Man, but that's okay. It's kind of crazy to think about how many memories were made around this piece of furniture.
So, there you have it- stories of just a few of my hand-me-downs and how I make do with what I have. Exciting, I know! There are more, believe me, but I wouldn't want to bore you even more than I already have!

I'm off now to work on some art, as I have the rare weekend day with nothing planned and nothing to grade. Have a great weekend!  Juli

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lately, 9.16.15


Making:  I'm finally settling into a routine now that we're back at the Little House on the Big Hill, which means I've been making time to work on some long overdue art projects. I finished the multi-media collage painting and have two more in the works, using my mantras from the summer. (You can read about that here, in case you missed it).

Be Steady. Be Still. Be True. Acrylic, cotton, gel medium and paper on stretched canvas.

And I'm slowly plugging away at the fiber piece from the summer. I'm thinking I'd like to add a lot more layers to this one, but my hands can only take stitching through very thin fibers. So, that is my challenge right now. Trying to brainstorm through it.

Drinking: Decaf Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee coffee and my standards- green tea, red wine and water.

Eating: Just finished the last of the bruschetta, made with the only homegrown tomatoes I've had all summer, thanks to my co-worker (the "M" of MK Designs and Photography). Thanks, M.T.!

Watching: the movie, A Walk in the Woods. The book, by Bill Bryson, was one of the few books (maybe the only book, now that I think about it) that both M. and I have read. (M. is an avid reader, me- not so much!) Anyway, it was fun to watch this movie together. But, I do have to say that the book was so much better than the movie. Don't get me wrong, the movie was definitely worth seeing, but the book was over-the-top good. SO funny! A definite plus for the movie, though, was Robert Redford. I'm a huge fan ;)

Reading: Love the work from an old high school friend, who recently started writing again.  Check it out on Instagram @begreat_a3k

Listening to: Podcasts. I love listening to podcasts in the car- mainly art, art business or art education. I've recently added The Slow Home to my list, though, so I'm looking forward to that.
I've also been in the mood for country music lately and this is my current favorite:

Thinking about: New blog content. As I mentioned earlier, I have two more mixed media collage paintings to start, and I've decided to document each step, along with my thoughts about each one as I progress. That way, if anyone out there wants to try it for themselves, they can. (The original content comes from Kelly Rae Roberts, I will just be writing about things I changed up in order to make it my own.)
Also, I just signed up for an online meditation course (actually an IPhone app) by Dan Harris. I loved his book, 10% Happier, so I'm anxious to see how I like this. The book is all about meditation, but I have yet to actually practice what he preaches. Anywho- I'll be posting a few reviews about the meditation app as well.

And, I've really been interested in the routines of creative people and how their motivation is affected by their daily routines and their physical environment. I've been reading posts on a couple of different blogs, Daily Routines and My Morning Routine, and plan to put some of these ideas to the test for my own motivation. As I've mentioned here before, I've become a much more routine-oriented person over the last few years and I think having a specific routine for my "making" days will help me be more productive. I'll be reporting on what works and what doesn't. ;)

Laughing at:  Hmmm... M. and I were just talking about my lack of the ability to "play". I have a hard time letting go and just "playing". Even as a little kid, my idea of "play" was "playing house". And since the age of 17, I've been doing that every day- for real. Taking care of my babies was really all I ever wanted to do, even before I had real babies! So, I'll be working on playing. And laughing!

Disliking: Lack of communication and the resulting, misunderstanding.

Loving: Everything about my life right now. Feeling very content :)

Have a great evening! Juli

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lately, 9.2.15


Making: Plugging away at the hand stitching on this piece.

And added another layer of cut paper and fabric scraps to this multi-media collage I started over the summer.

Drinking: Red wine, ginger-lemon tea and lots of water

Eating: Pistachios, almonds, chicken sauteed with onions and mushrooms (so good!), ice cream and yogurt. Still trying to choke down my daily 5 cups of greens that my doctor recommended, but, man, it's hard! 

Watching: Since the move back to the Little House on the Big Hill, I've been craving familiar movies. Lost in Translation, Mad Men, Julie and Julia and Horse Whisperer have been on my rotation lately.

Reading: Lots of Art Education blogs, trying to find new ideas for my classes.

Listening to: Need to Breathe, The Fray, the original version of Please Come to Boston by Dave Loggins (even better than the Kenny Chesney version), and an oldie but goodie, There's a Girl in Texas by Trace Adkins

Thinking about: Ways to make this house our home again. I've gotten a lot done in the last week or so, but, really, I'm taking it pretty slowly. I don't want to end up with any amount of clutter anywhere so I'm thinking a lot before doing anything. So far, so good. It's coming along and feels much more open and spacious than it felt the last time we lived here.

Made some progress in the Grandkids' room, but still a few things to do. A tent/bed is in the works and three more buntings- one for Baby G. and two for the twins :)

Reuben J and I bought this furniture 22 years ago. Between us, Sister and Eddie, the separate pieces have been back and forth between 7 homes and is now all back together again in our basement family room. Sister was very happy about that! There are lots of memories attached to this furniture. (Oh, by the way, the lone picture above the couch will soon have some mates. It just had to be in the picture since it's always been with the furniture. haha!)

Laughing at: Our Wednesday art department meetings. When you don't teach a core subject, sometimes your department meetings are actually fun! Today was one of those days :)

Disliking: Disrespectful teenagers! And, boy, do I have some this year. Not the greatest start to the school year, but I'm hoping it gets better. The respectful ones far outweigh the disrespectful ones, but those few can really drain my energy. But only if I let them, right?!

Loving: Having an unexpected get together with pretty much my entire family at a rodeo last weekend. The only ones missing were Little Man and his girl. Which brings me to something else I'm loving right now- this boy of mine is making some very grown up decisions lately and he's making them on his own and learning some really valuable life lessons in the process. I'm so proud of him.

Well, that's my lately! Until next time- Juli

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