Sunday, June 25, 2017

Epic Adventure Painting at the Grand Canyon


Happy Birthday Michael Mayes!
In 2015 and 2016, I spent part of my summer working at Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Besides the breathtaking views and numerous opportunities to hike, I got to know some great people in this laid-back atmosphere. It was one part summer camp and one part living at a college dorm. Park friends became family in this environment.

One of my beautiful friends from Russia named Ilona commissioned me to do a special portrait of our co-worker Michael. His birthday is on June 25, and she asked me a few days in advance if I thought I might create this surprise birthday gift. Normally, I wouldn't do a portrait at such a short notice, but I agreed and set to work.


Beginnings of an "Epic" Painting

On the tiny table in my employee dorm room, I set up some my art supplies and began a small sketch of Michael looking at the Grand Canyon at sunset. I also began the background of the painting on my XL Canson Mixed Media pad, using a combination of acrylic paint and collage materials. Even though I travel around the country, I try to carry some art supplies with me. It might seem like "too much" to carry bits of collage fodder, but these seemingly insignificant things play an important part of my art journaling process. It feels worth it to carry some of these scraps along with my paints, pencils, art pads, etc.


Old Sheet Music circa 1920's


In the bottom right, I adhered a piece of old sheet music from a song called "Cabin in the Valley of the Pines." I believe it came from an antique hymn book from the 1920's. It was very fitting, since Michael, along with the rest of the housekeeping crew, worked so hard to clean the cabin rentals for Grand Canyon guests each day. Most of these cabins were built in the late 20's .North Rim is unique, as it is considered a "sky island" with a beautiful towering forest of Ponderosa pines, aspens and pinions. All of these magnificent trees are protected within the Kaibab National Forest and GC National Park. They are old growth trees that have never been logged. Although it can get hot in Arizona, we rarely saw the 100+ degree temps that others suffered through in the arid valleys. We also experienced monsoon season, which helped bring much-needed moisture and cooled things off. It also helps that the North Rim is at 8,297 ft elevation!


Towering Ponderosas, Grand Canyon North Rim
Photo by Sandra L. Martin - @creativecurrents
Sky Island of North Rim Grand Canyon, August 2015
Photo by Sandra L. Martin - @creativecurrents

Quivering Aspen in front of Western Cabin at Grand Canyon Lodge, Fall 2015
Photo by Sandra L. Martin - @creativecurrents
Around the horizon line, I added this little worksheet left by a younger guest in one of the cabins we clean. Children can become "junior rangers" by doing different learning activities with the Park Rangers. I also found a poem in some literature that speaks of the mighty Grand Canyon which I cut into a cloud shape and painted pink.
The kid's handwriting adds a lot of character to this mixed media piece. 


At the top left, I added these fun doodles I found in Real Simple magazine. They reminded me of our adventures in housekeeping. The smiley face reminds me of Michael's great attitude. Although managers would lead morning stretches, Michael would often volunteer to lead the housekeeping team. No matter how stressful the day or how tired he was, he always had a smile on his face. Once we were done stretching, he'd clap his hands and say "Let's F**K today UP!" and everyone would laugh. 
More sheet music from an old Exodus worship album that speak of the stars and rising sun - perfect for the sky
I held up my tiny sketch of Michael to see how large to paint the figure in this scene. I had to adjust the composition a little bit from my reference photo, which is at the bottom of this blog post. 
The magic of perspective makes this tiny sketch look much larger. This helped me visualize the final painting. 


Adding color. Same tiny sketch in corner. 

When I paint pictures like this for people, I see it as more than a paid commission. Since I paint intuitively, I focus my energy, prayers and positive thoughts into the painting. As I painted the purple shadows on Michael's back, I actually cried a little bit, full of emotion. I thought of how hard Michael worked, and how he showed not just physical strength but strength of character. I remember how he shared how he also took care of elderly people at times, which showed his love and compassion. Peeking from his shoulders is the word "Unwaivering". As I looked at the purple shadows, they echoed the shape of the Grand Canyon itself. I prayed that Michael would continue to have the strength of the Grand Canyon throughout his life, even as he helped others with the burdens they carry.
Unwaivering devotion

A quick look at more of the collage imagery I chose:
A black and white journal card peeks out of the Canyon with a reminder to "Spread Your Wings" and "Be Adventurers." A line from another vintage hymn speaks of "Traveling On". 


The yellow star ticket came from an employee party or possibly the Chuckwagon Cookout.

Be WILD! 

In the pic above, you can see the word WILD carved into a wooden table. This reminded me of the picnic table behind housekeeping headquarters (good old 500) where housekeepers over the years have left their mark, carving names, writing quotes and drawing pictures. This includes students from Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and many more countries. 

Housekeeping Graffiti behind 500 Building - many memories there

Park Family relaxing after work with hookah and live music

Hiking on Transcept Trail, North Rim - Spring 2016
My "last" sunset before leaving the North Rim one year ago

Me and my best friend/husband Shannan, enjoying our "last" North Rim sunset with friends, June 2016

When I painted this picture of Michael, my husband and I were preparing to leave the Grand Canyon to hike in Maine. All those emotions found their way into the work, and when I handed the finished painting to Ilona, I could barely speak. The painting was birthed quickly, with collage and paint layered on like the rich layers of the Grand Canyon. I thought not only of the past two summers and all the people who I continue to carry in my heart, but also the echoes of Native peoples like the Havasupai who consider the Grand Canyon their sacred home and birthright. Months later, as funding has been cut for National Parks, I worry about the future of the Grand Canyon, 

Michael enjoying the "epic" North Rim sunset with friends - original reference photo

View from Bright Angel Trail, Summer 2015
Photograph by Sandra L. Martin - @creativecurrents




I feel like I've been carrying this great secret for a year now, as I've never shared this painting publicly. It is nice to finally share this picture with you, and also give a little insight into the process. To my Park Family - managers, co-workers, friends - you are part of the layers of my heart and I can never truly be separated from you, no matter the distance or the differences between us. To Ilona, thank you for the opportunity to create this special commission and for your friendship. You are beautiful in every way. And to Michael Mayes, I hope that today your birthday is just as EPIC. Thank you for being an example of unwaivering devotion and making our days a little brighter! 

Happy Birthday!!!



Stay creative!
Sandra xoxo 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Self Possession: How a Painting Taught Me to Swim Confidently Towards Love & Acceptance





Self-Possession - Intuitive Art by Sandra L. Martin - AVAILABLE for PURCHASE


It is fitting to share my new painting on International Women's Day 2017, a labor of love I've worked on for the past month which helped me emerge from a dark cocoon of shame and self-doubt with a bit more boldness and confidence - to be an empowered woman who understands her worth and has something valuable to offer the world. This new creation is titled, "Self Possession."

self-pos·ses·sion
noun
  1. the state or feeling of being calm, confident, and in control of one's feelings; composure.
    synonyms:composureassuranceself-assuranceself-controlself-command, imperturbability, impassivity, equanimitynonchalanceconfidenceself-confidencepoiseaplomb, presence of mind, nervesangfroid;
    informalcool

As a highly-sensitive intuitive artist, I've always struggled with anxiety and worrying about how others perceive me. For most of my teen and adult years, I looked outside for validation from others. This is a precarious place to be for an introverted creative who sometimes feels unsure of herself. When people can react unpredictably, or project their own baggage - their issues and insecurities, how does a person navigate through all that positive and negative energy?

I swim through social media seeking "likes" and acceptance from others, wade through anti-aging and weight loss commercials that make me feel inferior, or look at the lives of successful people from my little fishbowl of a tiny existence, wondering if I will ever make a difference. And that's just it. I've allowed myself to think so small in an age where females are supposed to be empowered and able to do anything they set their mind to. Surely I can't be one of those. I am not smart enough. Rich enough. Beautiful enough. Just not enough.

Around Christmas, I gave myself a gift. For several years, I talked myself out of it. I couldn't possibly afford it. Or maybe I didn't even deserve it. But I took a deep breath, announced my plans to my husband, and hired an art coach for 2017.

I didn't just dip my toes in the water. I took the plunge into self-discovery, and I don't think I've hardly come up for air. My Creative Life Coach Pattie Ann Hale has helped me stay immersed in a daily practice of intuitive doodling, and special homework assignments that are birthed from the symbols and themes that emerge from this consistent practice. I had three choices for art coaches, but I chose Pattie because she works from her incredible intuition and authentic spirituality. I had already "known" her for several years, and also took an online class she co-led called "Unlocking the Heart of the Artist." I am already seeing an unlocking and transformation in my own life - a holistic change that includes a change in my whole perspective and not just my creative process.

For "Self Possession", I first approached this painting in a very abstract way. This is often my approach for intuitive art, allowing the painting to speak to me along the way and unlocking the mystery. Part of my homework to prepare for this painting was to watch two short films on Netflix from the Moving Art series. Moving Art: Oceans and Moving Art: Underwater. The main emphasis was on the underwater ocean life, since there was an underwater and submerging theme in my daily doodles. I took that information to inform my process when I began to lay down blocks of color on the canvas. I could almost feel the ocean waves as I scraped paint on the canvas with a palette knife...back and forth....back and forth. I wondered what mysteries awaited in the deep of the painting.

Beginning the journey into the deep, finding my way through the currents. 
Discussing the work in progress with my art coach, we looked at the painting from a variety of angles, even turning it upside down. In the early stages especially, an intuitive artist has to keep an open mind! We discovered two figures in the painting, shown in blue and in coral, and when I thought about it further, I realized it was a dance of male and female energy. In the original orientation of the painting, the blue figure was actually composed of cascading water, like a waterfall, and this "Living Water" felt alive and energetic. The coral figure had a muscular strength and stretched her arms upwards towards a beautiful cresting wave. Her body appeared to be made of tightly woven DNA. A closer look revealed a yellow birthing sac, and the watery figure appeared to help her in this birthing process with a nurturing, supportive presence. The peachy coral is a color of healing trust in my personal color language. I relate it to the total surrender that happens in the womb, when the baby feels fully loved and protected. It was a "breakout color" in this composition that started out with familiar sea blues and greens, and a declaration that I was trusting this intuitive process in unchartered waters (I learned a couple weeks later that intuition in Icelandic is Inn Saei, literally "the sea within")

The dance of creativity & the birth of something new

By now, I hope you haven't turned away, as I share my "birthing pics" with you. Maybe at the beginning of this painting process, I might have been too embarrassed. But this "birth" was actually the beginning of a wonderful transformation in my life, and I am not ashamed!

My "baby" - aren't all creative works our babies? 

Because I don't have an easel where I currently live, I painted this canvas on the table and sometimes held it on my knees. It felt more intimate painting this way, a deeper connection with my creative offspring.

But from those nurturing beginnings, the painting became a place of darkness. I wrestled with a male figure in an all-night painting session, much like Jacob wrestled with an angel one night long ago. For a little while, the figure actually was an angel with beautiful wings, but as time went on, the figure became more a source of negativity. I felt the shame that comes from being told by the media that I am not good enough, or recalled past instances where I was judged harshly or felt weak and powerless by the "male gaze." A painting often goes through an ugly stage where the artist even loathes it. This was the "dark night of the soul", a dark cocoon that felt oppressive and represented the worst of patriarchal structures (including some found within religion) that have bound women for centuries. A face emerged in the top right corner, with a huge gray tear and a broken butterfly wing, tormented like one of Picasso's weeping women.

Dark Night of the Soul - dealing with shame from the "male gaze"
I had to let the painting rest a couple days before I could work on it. The all-night wrestling left me spent. I felt the loathing strongly, which I knew was part of the loathing I may have felt towards myself all these years. I needed to reconnect with the painting, so I did that through the sense of touch. I touched the painting with hands of love and transferred love back into the painting and the suffering female figures, the sound of my hands moving across the canvas sounding again like waves, bringing back alignment.

video

But the dark night of wrestling soon passed, and the female figure began to overcome and dismantle this negativity that was infecting her very womb - her sacred space of creativity and dreams. She was at peace, as my art coach said, "swimming in the cosmos."



Swimming With Confidence - Feeling Peace Within


I still wrestled with the composition, but it was trying to find a pleasing balance to the painting rather than dealing with the epic wrestling of that "dark night." I decided to bring back the Picasso-like face for a little while, but now she celebrated her transformation and no longer wept. The overall feel is carnival-like. I liked the fish that emerged as part of her face and some sly hidden imagery that was a response to surprising information I learned while studying Picasso.

A Celebration of Boldness & Response to Picasso

But as much as I enjoyed this face, I felt it overpowered the composition, so it had to go. Who knows? I will use it for future inspiration, and remember how she made me smile, and her overall boldness. I feel these changes happening internally in my own life, little by little. And the fish, a sign of abundance and fertility, later made an appearance again, as you can see in a later stage below.

I played with various color combinations and tried unifying different elements, including the caterpillar figure on the bottom right. I added a seagreen color and then all of a sudden disliked the dullness of it. I decided to do something different to make the painting come alive again, and that is when I added some raised stenciling with gel medium. The mandala shapes and texture began to harmonize the composition. I especially liked the white pattern in the middle of the piece. It resembled a dream catcher. I could see the beginnings of feathers in the composition as well, and a few streamers. This symbol seemed to fit perfectly with the celebration happening in my painting, and the dreams and transformation I was expressing.
Raised Texture Made the Painting Come Alive

As I moved into the final stage of the painting, I decided to return to a darker background. But the dark color, a mix of ultramarine blue and Payne's gray, didn't feel oppressive. My unashamed female figure swam in the moonlight, Her head, which might almost appear mask-like, is actually a picture of her true self. It has a Van Gogh quality, reflecting a Starry Night.  Her womb now pearlized and full of light, with a tiny green transparent leaf growing inside. The dream catcher moves with the breath of angels. The bulb in the bottom left reminds her of her many-layered soul, beautiful and multi-faceted. She is liberated. She is free.


Another look at Self Possession, AVAILABLE for PURCHASE

If you are interested in purchasing this painting, please leave a comment or leave me a message on Facebook.

Painting Info:
Self Possession
Acrylic Painting
18 x 24 inches Gallery-Wrapped Canvas


xo Sandra

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In Plain Sight ~ Spiritual Art Journal Painting

Hello Creative Friends!

It's been ages since I updated my blog. In April, my husband and I began our nomadic lifestyle. It happened quite suddenly, but after a bumpy start, we are very content living a life of constant change. We've lived in Arkansas, U.P. Michigan, and two national parks - Grand Canyon (AZ) and Big Bend (TX). While my artmaking has slowed way down due to so many moves, my creative tank is filled from all the beautiful scenery. This summer, I was able to do a little plein air painting, but mostly I've photographed scenes from road trips, hikes, etc.

I recently ordered some new art supplies to help jumpstart my creativity. Last week, I had a chance to play with my new Qor Watercolors and mediums. After doing a few experiments, I spontaneously painted this picture in my art journal. It started from my imagination, but as I completed it, I referenced a few of my recent photos from Big Bend.

In Plain Sight ~ Sandra L. Martin


As some of you know, art is part of my spiritual practice. I view it as a physical act of worship and prayer. I often pray before I paint and listen for additional insight through the process. It is safe to say that the Holy Spirit is my Muse, giving gentle guidance and divine inspiration.

At first, I was simply capturing the desert landscape. I had fun using dimensional grounds to add texture to the grasses and sagebrush. I painted some interesting clouds I saw recently. Then a special cloud came rolling in on the left. I thought of the cloud of God's Presence that covered the Israelites in the desert, shading them from the heat and guiding them to the Promise Land. Before I knew it, I also drew a clay vessel in the middle of this desert, pouring forth colorful rivers of paint. God reminded me of John 7:38 -
He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (NKJV)

There is also a related passage in Isaiah 44:3 -

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. (ESV)

I knew also that I was to add a square to the landscape, almost like a viewfinder. Later, it morphed into a plein air easel. The painting blends in with the surrounding landscape. It's there in plain view. I prayed about what to name the painting, and heard "In Plain Sight."

Later that evening, I went to Bible Study. A friend shared an app with me that had several faith-based movies. My eyes grew wide when I saw this title:



Here was a field, with a broken woman who found redemption. I saw the correlation between the broken clay vessel in the desert landscape, also with similar color grasses. I felt God was calling me to pray for those caught in the sex trafficking industry.

Just wanted to share with you. Has the Creator given you direction through your artwork? Has an art journal piece helped unravel a mystery or help you deal with some emotions, work through a problem, etc.? Feel free to share if you're comfortable in the comments below.

For more information on the documentary, In Plain Sight, visit their website.

To read more about the symbol of the Broken Vessel in my artwork, check out my testimony.



Monday, March 16, 2015

"Learnings" from Week One Right-Brainers in Business Summit 2015

Last week I joined in on the 5th Annual Right-Brainers in Business Summit hosted by author an Artizen Coach Jennifer Lee (March 9-20th). The summit features several successful and soulful creative entrepreneurs. Each weekday, Jennifer shares live and pre-recorded interviews, answers Q & A, and announces prize giveaways. I am so happy to report that I won a fabulous prize by Mari Pfeiffer - a workbook to help write amazing web content ($37 value). Creative friend Bill Cearbaugh won Jennifer's book the day before. I think I was even more thrilled for him, since I invited him and fellow group members to the summit.

Prizes aside, every day I look forward to learning from professionals who are making an impact in the creative world. Every day, Jennifer encourages us to tweet or share our learnings and take-aways on Twitter and other social media. My Documentation Journal is FULL of notes from last week, and I often watch the replay at night for anything I may have missed while chatting or multi-tasking!

DAY ONE
The very first quote that resonated with me was from Lisa Congdon. She said quite simply to:

Build and Sail Your Own Boat

I immediately grabbed a Jelly Roll pen, and added the quote above the Sailboat on the front cover of my documentation journal. It was meant  to be there, as I move "Beyond This Place" towards new experiences and moving into uncharted waters.
Build and Sail Your Own Boat  Lisa Congdon Creative Currents Mixed Media Blog

Winter has been a real transition time for us. We had this inkling that we were supposed to move, but it wasn't clear exactly where. This past weekend we received the answer, and now we are preparing to move out of state and start a new life. It's scary and challenging for both myself and my husband, but in a way it's a good kind of fear. Lisa also shared that even as an introverted artist, she spends every day trying to Live Outside Her Comfort Zone. I felt courage that I can be brave, too, as we move to a new place and make new friends. I am excited about new possibilities. 

DAY TWO
The RBBIZ summit is interesting, as it brings together people with different spiritual beliefs and values. One of the speakers on Day Two, Amethyst Wyldfire, spoke about Coming Out of Your Spiritual Closet. Jennifer thanked her for that advice, as it gives us permission to be our authentic spiritual selves even in the marketplace. 

Can I share a confession with you? The past year I've struggled very hard to come out of my Christian bubble of like-minded believers and interact with the art community at large. While I am mature in my beliefs and values, I was conscious of the fact that I separated myself from others in a kind of spiritual ghetto. My breakthrough came through joining several art groups and workshops online, and participating in swaps and art challenges which allowed me to spread the love and rub shoulders with peace-loving creative souls. 

I've written a great deal more on this mixed media blog in the past year than my website CreativeCurrents.net which houses my musings on art and faith. During New Year reflections, I realized that I need to work towards integrating my blog about creative process with the spiritual truths that I hold dear. I am letting go of fear that I will offend others who may judge me for being a Christian, as that term carries a lot of baggage. I've never been ashamed of following Christ, but I think I was compartmentalizing a little bit too much and hiding who I truly am at times. Does that make sense? I could write loads more about this shift in perspective, but that will wait for the new website!

DAY THREE
Corbett Barr of Fizzle, an online learning library for entrepreneurs, shared last Wednesday. Since then, I've listened to a few of the hilarious hipster-style podcasts by Corbett and his cohorts in "Portlandia." He shared so many practical nuggets, but the one that stand out is figuring out your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This is basically working intensely for a short-term launch of your product or service before it's reached the pinnacle of perfection. It's about not waiting until every bug is worked out or every piece perfectly in place. It's releasing the product/service and allowing your first round of customers to help you make the needed changes. Since it is a trial, you may give a discount since they are providing helpful feedback. I believe this advice may be helpful if I launch any learning modules or e-courses in the future. 

I also loved that he tries to choose business partners that have an opposite style. He's an introvert right-brainer, so he may partner with an extroverted left-brain. In fact, that's exactly what he did when he chose his first business partner for Fizzle. Corbett loves the synergy that happens with this kind of "odd couple" partnership (my analogy). 

DAY FOUR
I had a moment of synchronicity on Day 4, when Jennifer interviewed Sam Bennett, author of Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day. Wednesday night, I was reading over all the great notes from the summit and thinking about my goals. I also watched an entertaining lecture by Lisa Congdon on YouTube (yes, Lisa from Day One) called Small Things Organized Neatly. Later that night, during a bout of insomnia, I felt like getting a dose of inspiration before working on my goals again. I knew I really needed tips for organization, not the typical left-brain advice I've read so many times - but advice geared toward right-brain creatives. I googled "Organized Artist", and this is what popped up! Here's the screenshot I took:


Now, first I was thrilled that such a company existed, but I also was struck by the thumbnail images below (part of the Google Image search feature). Lisa used the same images in her lecture I had watched just minutes before in a talk given to graphic designers in San Francisco. Most of these are from the Tumblr blog, Things Arranged Neatly

I checked out Sam's site and watched a few of her YouTube videos, too. I kept nodding my head in agreement and tickled pink at Sam's warmth in her delivery style (she has a background in acting). So when Day Four rolled around, I couldn't believe that she was the guest speaker. Remember, I didn't go Googling her from the guest list, but just had that searching in my heart. 

She shared oodles of good things, but towards the end, she spoke about "search terms". Paraphrasing, she said we need a good website to showcase what we do because "there are people searching for YOU."  She used the vision of someone walking down a dark corridor tiptoeing with a candle, searching, searching for something. And sometimes that something is YOU. There were ladies in the chat crying when she shared that. And it didn't really hit me until I wrote this blog that I was searching, too. And lo and behold, God used his GPS (God's Positioning System) to direct me to Sam to answer some of those questions in my heart. 

DAY FIVE
I have some nuggets to share from Andreea Ayers (yes, two e's), but I seem to have misplaced my notes. Sorry! 

This weekend I was having RBBIZ withdrawals. In fact, I forgot it was Saturday and had my notebook ready and tried to log on to Livestream! You can still get a "free ticket" and join us. Remember, the summit continues through Friday, March 20th. Be sure to look for me in the chat, CreativeCurrents. Send me a tweet @Sandra_L_Martin with your favorite learnings, or share in comments below. 



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Coming out of Your Shell ~ A little Inspiration for Sunday

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Documentation Journal (inspired by Daisy Yellow & Milliande)


The past few days, I completed a studio purge and I'm ready to get down to the business of creating again. I was in my "sweet spot" of consistent creating last fall, and then other projects crowded in, taking priority. I don't know if it's spring fever, but I feel this new creative energy welling up inside of me, and I'm fighting to build creative momentum again. Winter blahs, health issues and depression have kept me down long enough! It's not even March yet, but I'm entering this season like a roaring lion! Hear me ROAR! 

One way of entering this new creative phase is gathering my thoughts, goals and ideas that seemed to scatter like snowflakes in the blustery winter wind. (Yes, that's a bit poetic, but maybe you'll relate!) I checked out Daisy Yellow's Prompt60, and the first prompt totally caught my attention. Tammy suggested making a documentation journal to record those odd moments of inspiration, trivia and practice doodles and creative ideas. Nothing too precious, but something you're not afraid to attack with glue, staples and washi tape. (My favorite go-to is also hot glue!) I chose a cheap composition book, one of many purchased during the back-to-school sales last August. (In hindsight, I wish I would've bought more of the notebooks with graph paper!)

I decorated the front cover with a sailboat image, some scraps of a vintage book dust jacket, a paper bead with similar colors, ledger paper, etc. The vintage novel was called "Beyond this Place", which perfectly describes what I'm trying to accomplish in this new season. Moving on...pushing past old patterns of negative behaviors...overcoming fears. A little sailboat staying afloat on top of all this chaos. 



The cover, like the rest of the notebook, is a work in progress. I'll probably go back in with more textured collage and maybe some paint. But the notebook is ready to house new discoveries! 

The composition book is also inspired by the artist Milliande. She encourages artists to have a variety of portfolios to house their explorations. This includes a simple composition book for documentation and notes. She mentioned how these composition books are difficult to find in the UK, but she made a graphic to add to her plain notebook as well as other portfolios to give the same feel. 

So far, I've added a few smashing journal and collage elements, and added a splash of color with my Derwent Inktense Blocks. 

Be Colorful! Be Bold! Be Memorable! 
The page above is my favorite. I took some notes from an interview with artist Michelle Ward (The When I Grow Up Coach). She's also an actor, and spoke about how frustrated she was that people weren't remembering her or that she didn't seem to be the right fit for parts. So she decided to wear polka dots from head to toe, or take profile pics with bright blue backgrounds (to make her face pop). This bold move paid off. She received more callbacks and coaching clients than ever, and grew in her confidence. I found this image in my stash of a woman dressed in classic polka dots with the phrase "Confident Style." It fit perfectly. I also paired it with a large crayon box from an ad to remind me to be colorful and not to be afraid to color outside the lines! Playing it safe just isn't cutting it anymore! 

A few more pages. Most of these focus on selling tips for artists. I added Monopoly money a pen pal sent me. It reminds me not take marketing and money issues so seriously. I need to develop a lighthearted approach to promotion, and enjoy the business side of art. It doesn't have to be sleazy or slimey. 



The left page is ready for favorite quotes. The iconic image of the little girl with the red balloon is one of my favorites by Banksy. The funny pic of George Washington blowing bubbles is from a medicine ad for Advair. I love how whimsical George is, and it's another reminder not to take marketing so seriously. Below I quickly added some clippings from a local alternative newspaper on arts and culture. I included tabs throughout (adhered with hot glue). Also pockets for more ephemera and journal tip-ins. Looking forward to adding more notes and maybe some of the #Prompt60 projects. 




Sandra Lee




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Art for Africa ~ Soak Up My Atmosphere, a Painting about Abundance


It's after midnight, so officially today is Thanksgiving. There are 2 1/2 days left on the Charity auction at the time of this writing. I thought it was appropriate to share about the painting above, which points to blessing and abundance. 

This painting was created as another class assignment for Unlocking the Heart of the Artist. In this exercise, we were to focus on a verse in Psalms and simply let ourselves flow with God in a time of spontaneous art or whatever our creative expression happened to be....music, dance, etc. I chose to paint at my easel. I began with a canvas I had previously covered with texture paste and painted. I didn't like how the old painting turned out, but I really liked the texture. So I knew this was perfect for this project. 

At that time, I was really drawn to the symbolism of fish, which I immediately associate with abundance. A famous biblical example is when Jesus multiplied the little boy's lunch of a few loaves and fishes and fed an entire multitude of hungry people. And afterwards, there were still baskets of food left over. 

I also had a dream about fish floating around me, like thoughts or creative ideas. It's funny because when I look at the finished painting, in some ways it suggest the top of a colorful brain within the swirl of fish and DNA strands. The silver accents add to that idea of "gray matter." 



One fish, two fish, RED fish, blue fish
The original composition was inspired by a rough sketch I did during a prayer time with friends (including kids), which contained words and phrases written in a free flow of thought. The childlike drawing was made with crayons and markers. Here's the original:


When I prayed about what to do for the class assignment, I felt I was to use this sketch as the jumping off point. I spent at least eight to nine hours on this painting, bringing out the mass of flapping fish swimming in swirling waters. The texture paste really suggested the movement of water and ripples. 


Detail of texture
I see many hidden things in the picture. My husband saw a hidden shark amongst the fish. I also see that some of the shapes suggest kernels of wheat, too. Maybe another visual of loaves and fishes? I'm not sure. 

The colorful varieties of fish also remind me of humanity, and how we come in different colors and shapes and personalities. This work is finished off with a black edge and "grungy" frame style...another couple hours worth of work. 

At 14x11 inches, it's a nice mid-sized work. We displayed it in the dining room for the past year and it received a lot of compliments. Different details stand out depending on the light or time of day, as some of the paint has a metallic or pearlized quality. 

You can bid on this painting here, or see the other paintings here

I've shared in-depth about two other paintings in the charity auction: