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!

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. 

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 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!

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). 

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. 

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