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Packing, Prepping, Painting


[continued from previous post on May 10, 2017]

I was panicky for a month after I signed up to go to Mexico on my {non refundable} trip but the holidays came quickly and I didn't have time to over think it.  In fact, having something exciting to look forward to made the holidays a little less painful as I wished the days past so I could be on the other side of them.

I decided to do what I used to do when I traveled with my husband in the past - I created an art journal/sketchbook to document my journey and prepare for the adventure.  It was harder than I thought because the process always brought about excitement just thinking about all the fun things we would do.

This sketchbook would be different . . . it would be about me and my first solo trip. I remember clearly I made a very conscious decision at that moment.  I could sit every day for the rest of my life and merely exist OR I could TRULY LIVE.

I choose to live

I choose to live.  Fully.  Happily.  Wholeheartedly. It is how my husband lived his life and it is how I know he would want me to live out mine.  More importantly, God created us to be creatures of JOY.  He wants us to be joyful. I choose to live joyfully {as best I can at the moment . . . but I have faith it will come}.

So, here's a few peeks at my travel journal.  I'm doing this.  I'm going to Mexico! Starting this journal, warming up to an artistic life again, all positive steps forward.

I created the cover by hand lettering in pen and coloring in the designs on each letter and the sombrero with Tombow Markers.  I love the way they bleed a little when I wet them with my waterbrush.  I love this festive decoration on the front of my journal!

I decided to work on loose pages for this trip to make it easier and lighter to carry around.  I I tore sheets of watercolor paper and folded them to create folios.  I like texture in my work, so I used Saunders Hot Press Rough 140 lb watercolor paper. It holds the pigment well and even though it is a little bumpy for writing, I like the imperfection. I have a sweet little Schmincke watercolor travel set and I use a Pitt Pen (size .05) for sketching and writing.  Once I get home, I will bind the pages together.

For every trip, I like to draw a little map of the area or where I'm going.  It sort of sets the stage for the adventure.  I also like to create my packing list right inside my art journal.  As I think of things, I write them down and also make little drawings of items to decorate the page.

Finished prepping!  Now all I have to do is get on that plane!!!

{to be continued}

Two Bob's and an Impulsive Decision

[continued from previous post on May 4, 2017]

The sight of a paintbrush and palette excite my brain and arouse my senses.  The messier and juicier it is, the more stimulated I am. I seemed to have lost this desire to create so as I drove to North Carolina, I was hoping that somehow I would find my {he}art again.

It was nice to get in the car and drive for 14 hours . . . I highly recommend it for privacy, quiet time and the ability to get away from distractions.  Road trips are essential.  I listened to an audio book for hours {a luxury} and I sobbed out loud at times {a gift to allow myself the private time to do this.} I prayed and I pondered and I stopped to stretch and to eat and to refuel.

I checked into my hotel, slept soundly and got ready for a day of art classes. I was looking forward to disappearing in the crowd of other students.  I knew no one, and not a soul knew my story. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

I chose my classes based on technique that I wanted to learn - especially loose and painterly styles.  I have been so closed up lately that I wanted to free myself from the choke hold that my life had on me.

Good luck with that

I started the first class and found I was immediately stuck and uninspired.  The paintbrush felt foreign in my hand and I created mud when I mixed colors.  I wanted to get up and walk out but I pushed through it and by the end of the day I was feeling worse than when I started.  Maybe I just wasn't ready.

The next morning, I considered packing up, skipping the rest of the Expo and driving home. I decided to give one more class a try . . .  

Enter Bob #1

Bob Burridge started his morning class by telling everyone to take everything off of their tables.  Get rid of the cups of paintbrushes, the totes full of art supplies and anything else that would only get in the way of expressing ourselves freely and with abandon. My heart raced a tiny bit.

Paint was squirted directly onto our plastic-covered tables and we were given heavy watercolor paper.  We were allowed one fat brush and a paper towel or two.  And our fingers. That's it.

I instantly loved Bob #1

There is no way to accurately describe his giant personality except to encourage you to go to his website HERE and check out his FREE weekly Bob Blasts and sign up for his newsletter.  I don't make recommendations about other artists and classes lightly, but in my search for professional instruction - this was the closest I had come to being expressive in the way I wanted to be.  He made me recognize that Art was FUN and it was okay to HAVE fun.  Hours later, I realized that I thought about nothing else except creating art.  I forgot who I was and how I felt for FOUR HOURS. I didn't care about a single piece I created or how good or bad it was.  I was so lost in the process that the final outcome had no importance and I realized that the beauty is in the creation.

I changed my schedule around the next day to take a second class from Bob.  His enthusiasm was contagious and I felt walls that had been built around me begin to crumble.  Whatever was happening, I wanted more of it! Hours and hours of creating and at the end of the session, a guy walked into the class and Bob #1 interrupted everyone and said, "hey guys, I'm teaching in Mexico in a few months . . .

Enter Bob #2

Bob #2  (also know as Bob Masla) proceeded to tell us about a very special place called 'Casa de los Artistas'" and the retreats he hosts in Mexico for artists.  They had me at Artista.  I signed up at that moment {and then quietly freaked out!}

[to be continued . . .]


We Interrupt This Feed . . .

Dear Friends,

I recently received an extremely negative comment from someone who asked me to remove them from my "ridiculous" blog and stop sending it to them!

Hey, it's okay . . . I have tough skin and everyone is entitled to their opinion!

I do want to say, though, that if you are receiving this blog post or a newsletter from me, it is because you signed up to receive it or you "follow" me on my feed.  I do not have the ability (nor would I) to add anyone - it is strictly voluntary. I would also never sell my mailing list to anyone!

If you would like to stop receiving my feed or any contact from me through this blog, please simply click "unscubscribe" at the bottom of this post and follow the instructions. I won't even know that you did it!

I write this blog for me . . . and if somewhere along the way it touches or helps someone else, then even better!  I want you here because you want to be here!  No hard feelings if you don't!

Sending out peace and good will to everyone on the receiving end of this and thank you all so much for sending it right back to me!


The Journey South - Part Two

{Continued from Previous Post}

In the summer of 2015, I decided to attend Art of The Carolinas in the Fall of that same year.  Art of The Carolinas is an expo hosted by Jerry's Artarama in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I was so excited to go spend a few days to take some classes from Artists that I admired, and to see what was new and exciting in the art supply world.  I went through the catalog and filled my 5-day schedule from 8am until 8pm each day with every possible class I could take.  Keep in mind, these professional classes are NOT cheap but I wanted to focus on being a student and finding out what really moved my creative spirit and invest in my gifts and talents.

The hotel room was booked, the classes were paid for and the drive was mapped out.  But the Fall of 2015 was not to be the year I was to attend this expo.  My husband unexpectedly passed away the week before the trip. When I was able to call and cancel, I was informed that I could not get my money back.  In disbelief, I questioned the lack of compassion on the part of the event coordinator. Losing $1600, although an enormous amount of money, was very far down on my "worry" list but the fine print did say no refunds and I had no choice but to accept it.

Accept everything.

Trust me, I said and did a lot of things I am not proud of in those first few days and weeks after my loss.  I guess one gets a free pass during a time like that, because I lashed out at a lot of people who graciously took it from me. I cringe now when I think about it, because that is not my typical demeanor, but then again, I just wasn't myself.


A few days later, I received an email from the coordinator offering me a credit for the following year. "Well that's just great," I thought. "Like I'm really going to feel like going a year from now."  I thanked her and forgot all about it.

The rest of 2015 and most of 2016 was a fog of worry, stress, and fear. While I just can't write about any of that just yet {if ever}, suffice it to say that art and travel were so far off my radar. Battles were fought, work had to be done, and the future had to be, well, let's just say, 'readjusted.' I spent so much time reacting and responding to everyone else that I ceased being "me." 

God's plan for me would unfold in HIS time, not mine.

In late October of 2016, I had a particularly challenging day.  One of those days where you think you just can't take another step. That feeling of wanting to run away from my life as I knew it was ever-present.  Late that day, an email landed in my inbox reminding me of my credit to Art of The Carolinas.  I couldn't believe it had almost been a year and I thought to myself,

"I'm not ready to go."

But something made me pause and think for a moment.  Just for the heck of it, I went to the website and started looking at the classes.  The art was exploding off the page and something stirred deep inside and I thought, "I can do this.  I need to do this. I am allowed to do this."

“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.” 
― Bryce Courtenay

So one year and one week after my husband passed, I was heading North on Interstate 95 with my art supplies and suitcase in the trunk, a heart full of trepidation, and a tiny shred of hope.

You are probably wondering by now why I am heading NORTH when I said this was a story about traveling south to MEXICO.  Patience friends.  All roads lead somewhere.