What will I do with it?

Hi friends!  Yesterday I took a photo of a pretty bouquet at a funky restaurant and I decided I wanted to paint it while it was fresh in my mind. I wanted to use a large sheet of really nice watercolor paper and just express the colors from my photo. I quickly started to gather my supplies before the Practical Party Pooper (aka the PPP) could chime in. I am sure you have heard the “PPP” before. That that voice in your head that says “What will you do with that after you make it?” or “What’s the point of that silly project?” Often the point in in the creation! Do children wonder what they are going to do with the mud pies after they make them? No! They have fun and play in the dirt. The joy is in the process!

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I went to the bookstore with my sister a couple of weeks ago and I was pondering the choices in the art and craft section. I saw a wonderful book on bookbinding. It’s called Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden and there were like 100 different binding techniques and ideas.  I was delighted by the projects and photography and I knew it was something I would enjoy reading as well as trying the projects inside. I almost didn’t buy it because of the PPP. “You have so many sketchbook and journals, what’s the point of making more?” and of course the old classic “What will you do with the handmade books after you make them?” And I thought you know what?  I don’t have to “do” anything with it. I can make it because I enjoy it. I can give it away. I could put it in my next craft fair booth. I can set it on a shelf and look at it. I can store it. I can use it or it can just be. Your art does not have to have another purpose other than to make you happy. Art is meant to be created. An artist creates. That’s what we do. What happens to the creations after we are done is not as important as the process we go through to create it. That in itself is enough. Nobody asks a musician “What are you going to do with that song after you play it?” They just play it! Musicians play, actors act, runners run and artists create! Enjoy the process. Sure, we all want something to show for our effort. Nobody wants to feel like they are wasting time or materials or feeling like our creations are useless dust collectors but if you think of the “product” of our art to be personal enrichment and education you can let go of that pressure.

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It’s why I like working in a sketchbook so much, even if the art isn’t anything I want to display I can keep it stored compactly and look at it later to see how much I have progressed. But don’t let that stop you from making something big and impractical once in a while. The real waste is art supplies and our creativity going unused. I think one of the downsides of going through the Konmari method (the decluttering technique from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo) and paring away excess is that I have avoided making some things that I really enjoyed because I didn’t know what I would do with it afterward.  That that is the main “Con” of Konmari LOL! Everything in moderation, especially moderation! Go make something fun and frivolous and til next time Happy crafting!

PS I will share that big painting of the bouquet I mentioned with you on Wednesday with a tutorial, sneak peek of the first layer above:)

Got Cabin Fever? No Creative Mojo? Try Frictionless Crafting!

Hi friends! As I write this it’s snowing and already we have about 6 new inches of snow atop what we already had. It’s pretty, I’ll give it that but come March I am pretty stick of cold weather and being stuck inside. Short day and cold temps can have you feeling tired and unmotivated. In today’s video I’ll try to help you overcome it!

It occurred to me that many times when I was lazing on the couch watching TV that I would much rather be creating. Instead I might scroll through my phone hoping to be inspired or start the next episode of a show I am watching. Why am I spending my doing these passive activities when I really want to go make something. The reason is simple. These actions are frictionless.

To start a new project I need to leave the room, think of an idea of what to make, gather supplies, clear a space to work, make the thing and then clean up afterward. It can seem much more appealing to stay put and keep scrolling but you can engineer your crafty time to be more frictionless. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and yes, even YouTube have engineered their platforms to be easy to use and consume more and more. The good news is that you can apply this trick to your crafting!

Overcoming our own blahs…

Complaint: I’m too tired to get off the couch and start a project.

Solution: Keep a portable project kit next to the couch. It can be a knit/crochet project, stamped images and coloring tools, a small set of watercolors or watercolor pencils and a waterbrush and sketchbook or even a subscription box if you have any. That what you can create and not miss an episode of Friends!

Complaint: I don’t know what to make!

Solution: The next time you are scrolling Instagram and a project looks fun stop and go to your supply closet and see if you have the stuff to make it, pull those supplies and save the inspiration photo for reference. Then your workspace will be set up when you have the time to create.
Tip: A great time to pull materials is when you have a 15 minute gap of time like you are preheating an oven or waiting to put laundry in the dryer. Use those “too small to do anything” scraps of time.

Complaint: I hate looking at the white canvas, I don’t know where to start.

Solution: Find a photo of something you want to paint and draw (or trace) it on your canvas. It will be more fun when you return to it if the drawing is done and your materials are laid out.

Basically you are removing as much friction between you and starting that project. You can do it! Think about how easy it is to go on amazon and order craft supplies. It’s frictionless. *Tip, I remove my payment info from my account so if I want to order I have to go find my credit card, see it works both ways LOL! I hope this video inspires you to create today and til next time happy crafting!

My #1 Art Tip!

Hi friends!  Want to improve your art? The way is simple, I’ll explain in today’s video!

So the next time you feel like you are afraid that you will ruin a painting go for it anyway. You succeed or you learn! Don’t get stuck in a rut. Art is here to bring you joy and growth is the way to happiness and the way to avoid burnout in your hobby.

Just a reminder, if you feel like you want some help along the way with feedback on your current art projects check out Critique Club. I give personalized feedback on your paintings and you get two real-time tutorials per month in the group. Click here to learn more or sign up!

Happy crafting!

No time for art?

Hi friends! The other day I got an interesting comment on a video and it was food for thought. I discuss it in today’s video!

If I waited for the perfect time to create…

  • I wouldn’t have a blog.
  • I would never have uploaded a YouTube video, much less have 1900+ videos in my archive.
  • I wouldn’t have volunteered to teach art in schools.
  • I wouldn’t have been published in art and painting magazines.
  • I wouldn’t have illustrated two children’s books.
  • I wouldn’t be making my living as an artist.

I would be unhappy, anxious, and full of regret. While all of my projects may not be perfect the time spend making them enriches my life and hopefully others. It is a crazy proud feeling to see work that someone has done from one of your tutorials. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you inspired someone else to take action and create something. There is no perfect time for art, in fact often if I get a whole day to create what I want I a struggle with “analysis paralysis” because I have too many options on what I can do. If I only have 30 minutes I jump in and pick something. Fun fact: That’s what I start my drawing course with 30 second timed sketches-no time to worry about perfect!

If I worried about having enough time to do everything perfectly I wouldn’t exercise, clean, volunteer, have friends over or make art. I don’t want to live like that, do you? …are you?

You can get so much done if you abandon perfect and take back those scraps of time and spend them intentionally.

And while we are at it let’s stop comparing our art with other people’s art (or judging other peoples art because when you point the finger you have 3 pointing back at you.) We can be inspired by scrolling through social media and looking at the lovely things others have created and that’s great but if you find yourself feeling bad or jealous and down on yourself because you haven’t made anything in a while (ot because their craft room is prettier than yours) it’s time for a break. I get it though, it’s easy to pick up your phone and scroll when you are not feeling like you have enough time to get anything done, but before you know it 20 minutes is gone in a flash and you have nothing to show for it. It seems like we have less time because it is so easily snatched away from us without us realizing it. We need to take back those scraps of time! I remember back when if you wanted to be social and share art you packed up your supplies in a rolling tote and met at a local scrapbook store and created together. All of out supplies fit in one bag and we got so much more done! How about a little more social and a lot less media?

I didn’t intend to go on a rant today and I don’t want to take up any more of your precious time my dear friends:) Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and let me know what you are going to work on the next time you have 20 minutes. I bet you have some good ideas! I want to wrap this up saying that you should spend YOUR time however you want, it’s yours. Be intentional because you only get one chance on this crazy planet so make it a good one! Have a great night and til next time happy crafting!

The Old Coat…

Last weekend I did a bit of sewing that I didn’t share. Honestly, it wasn’t that interesting to anyone by me but I thought I’d share the story as it might motivate you.

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Twenty years ago I was fairly fresh out of college and working in my chosen field of radio broadcasting making about $5.50 an hour, working odd overnight and early morning airshifts and the odd DJ gig at various bars and roller skating rinks. If it sounds glamorous let me assure you it was! I was being paid in fun and for a 21-year-old you really couldn’t ask for more. I needed a nice winter coat and it had to look smart because working in radio in the 90’s with deregulation and small stations being bought up by larger companies you never knew when you came in for work each day if you would have a job or if your station would have new owners and would have fired everyone. Hence I had to look good for my constant hobby of interviewing for new jobs. I went into TJ Maxx on a mission and found the most beautiful burgundy wool coat that was tailor-made for me it seemed. It was double-breasted, knee-length with a fabulous weight and the perfect color. It was also $60 so I thought long and hard about buying it as it was easily half of my take home pay that week. I bought it and never once regretted that purchase. I rarely carry a purse so my keys would rip holes in the pockets which I mended. I replaced buttons after they gave out from getting caught in the holes of my laundry baskets from my pre house owning trips to the laundromat and later getting caught in shopping carts lifting my kids for cart to car seat. That coat saw me through many adventures.

About 2 years ago I had to face facts, the pockets could no longer be mended and the lining was in tatters. Mending might not be able to cut it this time. Feeling fairly competent I bought a couple of yards of burgundy satin (for $8 at Mardens-a local discoutn fabric store) and a matching spool of thread and decided I would sew a new lining for my coat. Now, I am the type of person who needs to jump in and do a project the moment I get inspired because If I spend to long thinking about it or researching different ways to do it I get overwhelmed. I read too many tutorials, I asked to many proper sewists how they would do it and ultimately I did nothing.  The coat sat in my closet unworn while I grabbed lesser coats to wear outside. Because I felt fat and dumpy in my other coats I didn’t want to go out often in the cold. I didn’t pop into the library to grab a book and chat with the librarian when I was out, I didn’t feel good about myself in those coats so I would simply wait in the car to pick up my kids, heaven forbid if anyone saw me. All that wasted time, even if it was just a few minutes it was wasted.

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As you know over the past year I had held each of my possessions in my hand and asked if they “sparked joy” and my old red coat still made me happy yet I kept those other very “unsparky” coats because I needed something I could actually wear outside (and quite frankly if you are going to do any serious work or play outside in the snow you want a machine washable parka.) Because of undergoing the Konmari method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I had fallen down the rabbit hole of other mindfulness and minimalism bloggers and last Saturday I happened to be reading an article about fast fashion. The article referenced a documentary on Netflix and I had a burst of motivation. I grabbed my sewing kit, beautiful coat and fabric and set to work on mending my coat as I watched the documentary. I started by cutting out the pockets and using them as templates to make new ones out of satin. I sewed them on my machine then hand stitched them in to my coat. I examined the lining which was the most overwhelming task and realized that most of the tears were on seams so I hand stitched the small awkward rips and machine sewed the rest. Turns out it was not as big of a project as I thought! By the end of the hour and a half documentary (which was not that great) I had a fully functional coat! I dug out my Dryell home dry cleaning kit that I haven’t used in over a decade and cleaned my coat (and I was super excited to see they still make Dryell! It is such a fantastic invention!) and it looked fabulous. I realized it had lost a button at some point but I had a matching one in my stash so I stitched that on and it was as good as new. Maybe better than new because the satin I made the pockets from was thicker and sturdier than the original. It also made me glad I didn’t rip out the lining because I think the satin might have been too stiff to work as a lining fabric. Here is my 22-year-old coat as good as new and still my favorite!

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The old saying goes: “They don’t make them like they used to…” and in this case I agree. I had tried on other coats over the years thinking that I could just replace my old beloved red wool coat but the coats I found felt cheap, flimsy and just didn’t feel right or make me feel the way I wanted to in them. I think we often try to buy something because we think it will rekindle the feeling we had when we bought a similar thing. That’s why fast fashion has such popularity, you can buy something new and cheap to replace something old and dull but the novelty soon wears off. I think that the amount of thought you put into a purchase is related to the enjoyment you will get out of it.

I have grown a lot over the past year of decluttering. Two years ago when I bought the fabric and spool of thread to take on this project I thought I was being smart and thrifty. Turns out I already had a spool of thread in the exact color I needed and I only really needed enough fabric to make pockets and not replace the entire lining. I could have done this repair with 1/4 yard of fabric at $1 vs the 2 yards of fabric plus spool of thread for $10. Also I would have actually done the project quickly because I would not have been hung up on what I thought I needed to do instead of what I really needed to do.  Still its way less wasteful and less expensive than buying a new coat of that quality which would cost about $200. I hope this post inspires you to tackle a task you have been meaning to do but overwhelmed by. Do what needs to be done and enjoy life now. It’s usually less work than you think it will be and always worth it because even if you mess up a project you learn something new! What are you going to do today? Let me know in the comments below and til next time happy crafting!

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