Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #20 ~ Heartfelt Helen Keller

Blue Tulips by Sandra Martin ~ #HappyThoughts365
"The best and most beautiful things
in the world cannot be seen or even touched,
 but must be felt with the heart." 
~ Helen Keller

I created this graphic using one of my photographs of tulips. I manipulated the color in Photoshop. I also added a water ripple to the image, which looks like a pool of water. By using unexpected colors, I think it captures that feeling Helen is talking about in the quote...that we need to learn to see things with our heart.

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #19 ~ Don't Stop Believin'

Don't Stop Believin' ~ Polyvore Collage by Sandra Martin #happythoughts365
This collage is a bit surreal, with a touch of Alice in Wonderland, and a nod to the 80's band Journey. 

It seems that every so often I am engaged in the same old battle....unable to believe in myself or my talent. I think all artists deal with this. One minute we're in love with our work and the next minute we want to throw it in the garbage. Or we feel pretty good about ourselves until we start comparing our work with a fellow artist and then our work suddenly feels crummy. 

So if life seems stacked against you, or someone tries to rain on your parade (even your own negativity), remember to keep the faith. Fight to maintain your position in that realm of wonder. 

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #18 ~ Dance in the Rain

Dance in the Rain ~ Polyvore Collage by Sandra Martin #happythoughts365
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Be sure to check out my Pinterest board "Singin' in the Rain." 

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #17 ~ Dreamer Never Sleep

Dreamer Never Sleep ~ Polyvore Collage by Sandra Martin ~ #happythoughts365
Lately I've been playing on Polyvore again, mainly playing with images found on Pinterest. I enjoy making these mashups, especially pulling together pictures with the same color palette. I think the ballet shoes are exquisite, but I cringe when I think of all the hard work that goes into ballet. Ballerinas performing at the top levels probably do lose sleep as they endure grueling practice and do all they can to make sure they keep their positions. And yet they make their graceful movements look so easy. I think it's the same with art. If you do your job well, it will look effortless to your audience. They may never know the blood, sweat and tears you put into a piece, and really...that's OK. Sometimes hard work is its own reward...and that can even make one happy and satisfied for a job well done. 

You can view more images of my Cotton Candy world on Pinterest

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #16 ~ Life is Better with Rainbows

Life is Better with Rainbows ~ Polyvore Collage by Sandra Martin ~ #happythoughts365
If life has you down, just pull out your rainbow tutu! Or draw with crayons...or eat gummi bears. Celebrate your life in living color! 

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #15 ~ Simple Life

Simple Life collage ~ Created on Polyvore by Sandra Martin ~ #happythoughts365
The older I get, the more I realize I'm happier with LESS. This is especially true when backpacking. Your whole life consists of what you can carry on your back, and where your feet can take you. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #14 ~ Take Time

Take Time to Do what makes your Soul Happy ~ Wallpaper ~ #happythoughts365
Write a letter. Draw a picture. Dance in the Rain. Take time each day to do something that makes you HAPPY!

This collage was created using favorite photos from my Bright and Happy board on Pinterest. I created the graphic, but do not own the original photos. You can view the images here

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #13 ~ Find the Kingdom

It is the Childlike Mind that finds the Kingdom ~ Charles Fillmore ~ #happythoughts365
Here's another photo collage of some of my favorite pastel images from Pinterest. You can view my Cotton Candy board here

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #12 ~ Celebrate Life's Moments

Celebrate Life's Moments ~ Pinterest collage ~ #happythoughts365
Lately I've been spending an obsessive amount of time on Pinterest, focusing on creating color boards. My board featuring pastels is called Cotton Candy. I created a couple collages for Happy Thoughts 365 using a few pins from this board. This is a bit of a departure from the usual bright colors I use in my art and collages. But it still makes me very HAPPY!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #11 ~ Imagination is Everything

And She Flew ~ Digital Collage by Sandra Martin  ~ #happythoughts365

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy Thoughts 365~ #5 ~ Challenging the Inner Critic & Tapping into Creative Glee

"My best IDEAS have always been HAPPY accidents"

When I decided to start my Happy Thoughts 365 project, I had no idea how difficult the first couple weeks of 2014 would be! I've experienced a lot of sickness and dark moods, and I can honestly say my heart isn't bursting forth with Happy Thoughts in a semi-depressed state. The cynical, critical part of my nature which believes it is so wise whispers, "Why would you waste your time engaging in such a fluffy topic? Get your head out of the clouds in the real world, which is full of pain, problems and suffering."  But the more I engage in adding the "happy thoughts" to my blog, the more I feel the cloud of depression lifting, and the "inner critic" is silenced.

Besides a hard-nosed cynicism, the "inner critic" has a secret weapon of choice: cold perfectionism that squelches the happy inner creative child. Julia Cameron once said:
“Perfectionism doesn't believe in practice shots. It doesn't believe in improvement. Perfectionism has never heard that anything worth doing is worth doing badly--and that if we allow ourselves to do something badly we might in time become quite good at it. Perfectionism measures our beginner's work against the finished work of masters. Perfectionism thrives on comparison and competition. It doesn't know how to say, "Good try," or "Job well done." The critic does not believe in creative glee--or any glee at all, for that matter. No, perfectionism is a serious matter.” ~from Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance
This reminds me of the evil White Queen in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. She creates a frozen world where it is "always winter, and never Christmas." Essentially she has removed the lighthearted joy and feasting from Narnia, making her subjects conform to rigid standards of her cold ideology. Perfectionism is the same cruel master that tries to freeze the warm, creative impulse flowing inside of us. 

In order to overcome perfectionism, we have to be willing to not only do terrible art, but also embrace some of the "happy accidents" that happen along the way. If you start to hear the inner critic raise its ugly voice, remember the words of Bob Ross:

 "We don't make mistakes; we just have happy accidents."
Let the ideas flow. Sketch your ideas, and don't try to edit them immediately or toss them in the trash can. Give yourself room to BREATHE and experiment. And allow yourself to feel creative glee. :-)

Enjoy this video featuring Bob Ross. I pray it opens up your childlike faith and imagination. 

"Let's build a happy little cloud. Let's build some happy little trees. There are no limits here. Start out by believing here (your heart). "


Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #4 ~ Opening up to Infinite Possibilities

#happythoughts365 ~ Sandra Martin ~ Creative Currents
Transcription: Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, 
but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is. ~ Maxim Gorky
2013 brought a lot of grief and change in my life, the biggest heartache being the loss of my mother last March, for whom I was a primary caregiver. Since then, I stepped into a new chapter, but I feel much like I did in my early 20's...trying to decide what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. I walked a portion of the Appalachian Trail with my husband shortly after she passed away (something we had planned prior and my mother had even given her blessing), and that began to open possibilities that I never imagined. We've opened up ourselves to the idea of leaving our humdrum existence in Indiana, traveling the road in an RV or camper trailer - a huge change of perspective for a shy Hoosier home bird like me!

I shared the inspiration here why I decided to start the Happy Thoughts 365 art project. I floundered for the first few days wondering how I would create art for this project (size, material, etc.) Things began to come together when I revisited a mixed-media art journal I began a couple months ago. I saw how most pages dealt with happiness (and a couple with the other side of the coin...grief). Here's an early shot of one spread that deals with the theme of Transformation and New Beginnings:

I love the light colors very much, especially the greens and oranges. But I began adding layers and quotes to the spread for the New Year. The butterfly has darker, jewel-like tones that resemble a stained-glass window. (The lighting isn't very good for this shot, so it doesn't "shine" as much as it does in person.) On the right, you can see a couple quotes I added for Happy Thoughts #1 and #2

I believe 2014 will be a Year of Transformation. Some of my struggles lately feel like I'm emerging from a cocoon and trying to test out my wings in some new areas. On dreary, dark winter days, it's sometimes hard to see the bright visions of our future. They do seem to be hidden and just out of reach. But I know deep inside they're not impossible to reach. I have only to look at my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail. It took four years to see that dream begin to materialize. I took the tentative first steps, feeling like a fish out of water, and enjoyed the transformative journey. I spread my wings on the mountaintops and enjoyed the 360 degree panoramic view. I breathed the fresh air and opened up to new experiences and friendships. I experienced clarity to see further ahead on the trail, and that possibility of being a pair of "wandering gypsies" looking for new adventures. 

At this very moment, I feel old fears creeping into the edges of this bright happy vision, and the reality of the hiking the AT seems distant and unattainable once again. My view of life has narrowed again. I feel I have become shortsighted. The elf-like Legolas vision has dimmed. 

But deep inside, I know that I am loved by a God of the Impossible...a God of Infinite Possibilities. I believe He gave me these big dreams to start with, and He will help see me through. I am encouraged by something Brenda Craig shared in her Journals of the Heart (God-whispers she has recorded and shared with others). 

I have so much in store for you in the world of adventure as you prepare for the continuation of your journey Home. As I direct your heart and gear all your dreams—all your visions for My Kingdom—you will ride in the soft touch of My protective arms while I smile, laugh and sing over you (Zephaniah 3:17). I am opening up portals in heaven and sending great visions I wish to accomplish through you. Yes, all things beyond your wildest imagination shall come to pass. The time of going forth has come.....Visions, visions, visions . . . they will hound and follow you to no end until all comes to pass and My plans for you have been completed. Yes, My perfect plans for the one I love so much (Jeremiah 29:11). You are My chosen one and I delight in you more than you will ever know. No one can fathom and measure My infinite love for you. I am your God of Infinite Love and Goodness!!! Indeed, I am who you say I AM.
Happiness is a choice, just as faith is a choice. I choose to believe in Infinite Possibilities for 2014. How about you? What vision do you have for this year? What possibilities do you see? 


Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #3

Digital Collage created on Polyvore by Sandra Martin

Here's a video of the legendary Aretha Franklin singing "Oh Happy Day." :-)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy Thoughts 365 ~ #2

Happy Days are Here Again ~ by Sandra Martin #happythoughts365
This is a snippet from my art journal, using the lyrics from the famous song. I also wanted to share this video of two brilliant women ~ Barbara Streisand and Judy Garland singing Get Happy/Happy Days are Here Again. Hope it brings a smile to your face. :-)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

365 Happy Thoughts ~ #1

"The first step towards Happiness is to Determine to be Happy." ~ George Hodges

365 Art ~ Catching UP!

I hope everyone is having a good new year. I have an optimistic outlook to how 2014 is going to turn out, but boy...the first week has been such a struggle! I was sick the first few days with abdominal pain (most likely a candida overgrowth), and I was too ill to even begin my 365 Art Project. Being doubled over in pain I certainly wasn't thinking "Happy Thoughts"! 

Indiana saw the Frozen Vortex, which meant close to 13 inches of snow, business and school closings, and wind chills 20 to 40 below zero! My husband was home Monday and Tuesday, which I love, but I couldn't really focus on my art. I have to have huge amounts of QUIET to think. :-)  My creativity has consisted of doodling and organizing my Pinterest boards (a neverending job). I baked some gluten-free cookies for my hubby (and a couple for me) and drank some herbal tea,  and caught up on some TV shows on Netflix, like that brilliant fairy-tale mashup, Once Upon a Time I'm also revisiting a favorite novel I read as a young teen called Beauty: a retelling of the story Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley.

Alice in Wonderland Vintage Get-Well Card via Pinterest

One thing I decided today is that I'm changing the rules on my 365 Art Project. Originally, I thought I would do one quote a day from the Beautiful Thoughts about Happiness book, as I shared here

But as I looked more in-depth at the quotes and realistically considered my own patterns, I knew this wasn't the right approach. While some of the quotes are inspiring and full of good old-fashioned wisdom, not all of the quotes {{{resonate}}} with me. This is an important part of keeping up enthusiasm for such a long creative endeavor. So...I decided that my 365 Art Project would be more free-flow and spontaneous, which is more in keeping with my playful artistic nature. 

I returned to an art journal I started a couple months ago, which already had quite a few pages dedicated to happiness. This was a jumping off point into the realm of Happy Thoughts...for what is more enjoyable than playing with paint with abandon? 

My goal is to create daily, but I know even this isn't always possible. Things happen (like my sickness). But no matter what, I will share 365 Happy Thoughts with you! It may be a quote on happiness, or it might be a happy discovery I make throughout the day. I may share favorite things that make me happy, or lines from movies or songs that inspire a joyful outlook on life. I believe this is more fitting to the project than trying to strictly follow a rigid pattern, because happiness is never forced. It comes when we're least expecting, in a beautiful moment of serendipity! We just have to have eyes to see. :-)

Stay tuned for my first offerings. I hope to post weekly, but will share more often if time allows.