Free Spirited

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After doing the monotonous painting of a large sunflower field (which I haven’t yet shared here) I felt like doing something really fun and free and colorful. And this painting became the result of that feeling.

I initially planned to sit down and told myself I would complete this in one session. The reason why is because I love to paint wet on wet. When you wait days between sessions the areas you have worked on began to dry and are mostly unworkable once they are dry. Unless, that is, if you’ve applied the paint very thin as an undercoat, perhaps. Anyway, I think this painting ended up taking me at least 5-6 sessions. I suppose it will take a lot more practice for me to be able to do the work more quickly and complete in one session.

I’ve been working on palette knife paintings for about 6 months now. With every painting I learn a bit more. And with every painting I have learned that I must stop trying to work areas after they have dried. The results are almost always dissapointing. But its a temptation hard to resist when you notice something in the dry areas that you did not notice when it was wet, or sometimes a scratch, or even hair or fibers land in the paint before has dried.

Dust and fibers landing in your wet paint as it is drying is a constant battle for me. You should move everything around that your going to before you start painting to avoid kicking up dust, hair, or fibers. But even as you work these pesky little nuisance find their way into the paint. You can try removing them as you work. I’ve been leaning my easel quite a ways back with the painting facing inward and down to avoid this while its drying. I also have a large flat screen TV box I can put them in when their drying. I’ve read though that this is a battle many oil painters face and people have said they are visible in the works of famous painters if you look closely. I guess that helped ease the obsession toward the issue some: knowing even the greats couldn’t stop them.

Anyway, my point is the more I practice, the more I learn. And hopefully I am improving my skills along the way.

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Road

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16×20 oil and palette knife painting

Every year when the summer is coming to a close it becomes a bit depressing. However, the joys of the fall make it much more bearable to part with sweet sunshine of summer.

One of the best things about fall are all the beautiful colors. The colors are here already in Illinois, but not quite enough for the photos I’ve been looking for. In a couple more weeks I’m sure I’ll be able to get some photos for a beautiful fall painting. But I couldn’t wait for that because the changing of the leaves already had me anxious. So I found a picture on the internet that inspired me to paint “Autumn Road”. I was really happy with the way it turned out. I love the colors which isn’t a surprise since the beautiful colors of fall were the purpose of the painting to begin with. Also, with all my paintings, I apply the paint very thick because I love the thick textures that can be achieved with the palette knife.

I am currently working on a large painting of a sunflower field. Its taking me a bit longer than I would have thought it would. But I am hoping I will have my colorful fall photos once I am done with the sunflowers. 🙂

Overcoming Self Doubt

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I’ve just finished my most recent oil and palette knife painting. I’m pretty pleased with it. However, as humans, or artists, or whatever, we tend to be our own biggest critics. I pick out every little thing that I could have or should have done better. I compare my work to other palette knife paintings and I feel like mine isn’t as good or that it looks too cartoony. I know that’s not a word but you get where I’m going. I feel like I can’t or won’t ever be as good as others or good enough to sell my paintings. I feel like maybe this is stupid. Maybe I am wasting my time. My friends and family will think its a joke me devoting so much of my time to painting, rather than working.

Self Doubt is something that stops many people from pursuing and/or realizing their dreams. This is something I have to keep reminding myself of. I remind myself that I enjoy this and it doesn’t really matter if people think I’m crazy or don’t believe in me. I have to remember that I am trying to do work that I love and I love to paint. I have to remember just to keep going, and keep trying, and keep practicing. Self doubt is always going go be there no matter what dream or goal you are trying to pursue. The key is to learn to overcome it and keep going.

Something that does help me some is to read inspirational messages. I follow many inspirational pages on Facebook. I like to read inspirational articles or quotes on Pinterest as well. A lot of the messages go to show you that you are not alone when you have self doubt. Many of the messages are telling you that if your are experiencing self doubt that you are most like on the right track. There are many quotes and messages from famous artists of all kinds reminding you that they were once where you are now: an amateur who lacks confidence in his or her work. Here is an example of a pin I saved to my phone:

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Things like this do help to keep me motivated. Whatever works to keep you motivated and reaching for your dreams are definitely worth your time or observation. Do whatever you need to do to motivate yourself to chase that dream. There’s no reason that you can’t write that book, or become a pianist, or chef, or veterinarian, or lawyer, or whatever it is that you aspire to become. If anyone else in the world has done it, and it is a passion of yours, there is no reason that you can’t make it happen for yourself. Its all about the love of the dream, practice, persistence, hard work, motivation, and overcoming self doubt. We can all be who we want to be. And if for some crazy reason we can’t, at the end of our days we will know we tried and gave it our best!

Pursuing Your Passion

Are you pursuing your passion? I realized that the reason I couldn’t find total happiness is because I was not. I had great jobs, but hated them. They didn’t make me happy. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile. I felt like, although I was working, I was wasting my life away. I think as human beings we need to feel meaning and purpose in our lives. And I just didn’t.

Everything else in my life was great, except the way I made money, or spent my productive time. After reading a few different (self-help) books, I accidently figured out what was missing in my life: passion and purpose. Have you ever heard that saying that if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life? Another question that I came across and asked myself: if there were no such thing as money what would you be doing with your life? And another concept that led me to pursue my passion is the concept of flow: “In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)).

Ok so what do I love to do so I would not work a day in my life? Art and cooking, these are my favorite hobbies. If there were no such thing as money I would love to open up an artsy themed restaurant with great food. The walls would be covered with a ton of artwork, including my own. And finally, what produces that feeling of flow for me? Again the answer is that I totally loose myself and track of time when creating art or cooking. So to me it was finally obvious what would most likely make me happy. I chose to pursue art, painting actually.

It actually worked out that I got laid off of my day job. I still have a part time job at night so I could get by and spend time in the day painting. I haven’t completed as much as I would have liked to by now but I am definitely getting some practice time in. This is what I call everything I’m doing now since I am learning, practice. I am very inspired by an artist named Leonid Afremov who paints the most beautiful, colorful pieces with a palette knife. I am determined to become a pro at palette knife painting. It is a very difficult painting style to learn. However the vibrancy of the colors and the thick textures you can achieve have me obsessed with mastering this. I hope to one day sell my paintings online.

This is the first oil painting I had done in many years. Only the water is done with a palette knife.

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These two are complete, and completely done with a palette knife.

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And these are two that I’m working on now

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And I did have one that was kind of a flop because the paint cracked in the cactus’s. Apparany this is due to applying thinner layer over thicker layers. Oops!

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Thanks for visiting!😆

A Day Late

I promised myself and my blog ( I would say followers but I really have none) that I would finish the book I’m reading:The Book on Writing, by Paula LaRocque. Although I was supposed to finish it yesterday and blog about it, I did not. However, I did finish it today.

I learned a lot about proper writing from this book, and I highly recommend it to any writer. I will not sell off this book; I will keep it as a handy reference guide when questions or confusion on writing comes up.

Now that I have finished this book, I will go on to begin another book called The Food Babe Way, by Vani Hari. Although I have a stack of books in my bedroom begging to be opened, The Food Babe Way was a gift from my boyfriend. He keeps asking me why I haven’t read it yet, so I guess I’ll read that next. It is an informative book about the way we eat and what is really in the foods we are eating. I love to learn and try to be healthy, so I look forward to reading it. I will definitely update my blog with what I learn from it.

Again, with Aspiration and Dedication

Hi. I am writing today simply because I feel like journaling. Aside from that, I haven’t blogged anything for awhile, or much of anything at all really. I was so excited about the idea of blogging when I first got started. What happened? What happens to any idea that we get so excited about, can’t wait to get started, take off running with it, aspiration and dedication in our hearts, and before we know it the project just falls flat.

Maybe I’ve taken on too much all at once? I got laid off from my job and decided to dive into some hobbies. I was thinking I would spend time doing things I love. I was thinking maybe I could get really good at one of those things, or maybe a few of those things, and even make some money in the process. Eventually.

However, I’ve been laid off for a month now. I’ve finished only one painting. Haven’t finished reading one book, but its almost finished. Haven’t written much of anything, hardly at all. And one is the magic number I guess, because thats how many times Ive practiced playing my guitar too. I have been cooking and cleaning plenty though! I do enjoy cooking so… at least there’s that. And I’ve been hiking some too, which I love.

My boyfriend is also laid off at the moment. So between him wanting me to hang out with him, the kids, the housework, and the cooking I don’t have much alone time. Sometimes I wish I could just have a few weeks alone in a cabin. I’d get so much done! Hmmm…

Anyway I think my problem is that I’m a scatterbrain! I’ve got all these ideas bouncing around in my head. I need to find a way to organize these ideas and perhaps focus on one at a time. Set goals. And complete them.

So here goes. I shall focus. I made a post on March 19th about a great book I had started: The Book on Writing. That was over a month ago. Theres really no good reason it shouldn’t have been finished by now. My goal is to finish that book. Today! Yes today! It can be done. And I will do it!

Goal #2: I’ll report back tomorrow on my progress!

So I am off and running now, again with aspiration and dedication in my heart! :mrgreen:

Painting Again – sock monkey acrylic

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So, I just recently completed my first acrylic painting in probably 7 years. I asked the kids for ideas and my daughter asked for a sock monkey painting. So I chose to do the painting in acrylic and went to it.

I used to paint. I used to take time out to do things I enjoy. I fell off of that a long time ago. I’m trying to get back into painting. For my first painting in several years, it’s okay I suppose. I guess we are our own worse critics, but I feel like I have a lot of practice ahead of me to get where I want to be. With all things, practice makes perfect! So I will be painting a lot and sharing my work on this blog. Let the fun begin! 🙂

10 life lessons I’d tell my teenage self

I am quickly approaching my 35th birthday. Shouldn’t one have it all figured out by the age of 35? I confess: I don’t. In my younger days when I thought of my 30-something year old self, I just assumed with time I would magically have a wonderful and stable existence with all the answers to life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and thank God for my blessings everyday. God has been good to me. However, I am far from having it all figured out. But the fact that I have gone through life’s ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, I have learned some things about life along the way. There are things I would have done differently. There are also things that have happened to me in life for a reason: to either teach me a lesson, open a door, or close a door. Those things are bound to happen. They have to. Because, we don’t really know what were doing. Well most of us don’t anyway. Were all working on it though. If I could go back and share some of the wisdom I’ve gained through the years with my teenage self, I would tell her these 10 things:

1.) To never, ever, ever touch a cigarette

I started smoking at the tender age of 14. Yes 14! Why? Peer pressure is the single and only reason that I ever started. No one pressured me to smoke, but you know, all my friends were doing it. Guess what though? Its not cool. It never was and it never will be. “Cigarette smoking causes about 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States each year” (www.CDC.gov). Blah, blah right? That’s what I always thought as a smoker when I heard those statistics. However, by this time of my life, I have witnessed evidence of these statistics. I quit smoking about 4 and a 1/2 months ago after losing my dad to a massive stroke. My dad was only 59. He was also a smoker.

2.) To listen to your parents; they want the best for you more than you do

Parents have lived a lot more life than you. They have already made mistakes and learned from them. Parents want nothing but the best for their children, even more than the children want for themselves. They aren’t just laying down rules for the hell of it, or just to be mean and nasty like kids might think. They want their kids to be the best people they can be and have the best lives possible. That’s not an easy task for a parent. I cant even count the number of times I’ve thought to myself: “I should have listened to my Mom/Dad”. Trust me, they know more than you, regardless of how smart you think you are. I remember what my dad would say to my sisters and I when something we had done or said upsetted him: “You girls think your so smart!” We did. But we weren’t!

3.) Birth Control, Birth Control, Birth Control

Every junior high student has eventually had the sex education class. These students learn about protecting themselves from STDs and obviously that is very important. Condoms and birth control will not only save you from catching a deadly or life altering disease, they will protect you from becoming a parent before you are ready. I have three older sisters that got pregnant as teenagers. We were raised by our dad. Although he did the best he could, he wasn’t so good at having these types of conversations with us. I got pregnant at 17. My son is actually the same age right now. I am not going to be so naive to hope or believe that he is not or won’t be sexually active. I would rather let him know that if he needs anything (condoms), he can come to me. I will not get upset. The same goes for my daughter, who is only 14 now. I strongly hope this is an issue for a few years down the road for her. However, she can come to me and talk to me about birth control when she needs to, and she knows that. Better safe than sorry, right? There’s plenty of time to have a family later, when the person is mature and responsible enough to handle one.

4.) Read books, lots of books

I have learned so much on my own just from reading books. Ive learned a lot by reading fiction and non-fiction books. Reading is enjoyable and educational. I have read several self help books that have helped me learn a lot of things. For instance, I’ve read several financial books. I learned a lot of things that they don’t teach you in school, things your parents forgot or neglected to teach you. I’ve read books about finding happiness, finding the career your meant to have, how to find your flow, flipping houses, starting a business, etc. There are books out there about every topic. If you want to learn about something, anything, read. It is a much better way to spend your time than watching meaningless reality TV, for example. Here are a few books I strongly recommend:

“The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey

“Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success” by Nicholas Lore

4.) Definitely go to college, but ONLY if your absolutely sure what you want to do with your life

I’m totally an advocate for going to college and bettering yourself. However, you could throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars going to college for a career that is not suitable for you. I didn’t go to college right out of high school because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. A year later I decided to take on a 10 month course in computers (network administration). At that time computers and the internet were just starting to get big. I completed the course and it cost me $5,000. I never became a network administrator, but the computer background did get me some clerical jobs. A few years later, when I was 24, I enrolled at the community college for the graphic design program. I thought for sure this is what I wanted to do. About a year in I became anxious about the prospects of actually landing a job in the field of graphic design. I live an hour and a half from Chicago but really didn’t want to make the commute every day.

I noticed that they were always looking for accountants in the local newspaper. I had enjoyed my introduction to accounting course and thought this might be a better career to get into. I ended up getting a bachelors degree in accounting. Looking back I think I really should have stuck with graphic design because art is much more suited for me. Currently, I am a bartender. Why? I could never land an entry level accounting job. I believe it is because I lacked the confidence in numbers that I may have had for art. I’m $50,000 in debt for school loans and I probably will never use that accounting degree because it simply doesn’t even interest me anymore. But hey, at least I’m educated right?

5.) Get a debit card, but forget about credit cards.

Everyone (well adults anyway) should have a debit card. A debit card allows you to purchase plane tickets, hotel rooms, shop online, or swipe it for your groceries at the local grocery store, for example. It is like a credit card in this way but you don’t have to pay a ton of interest on your purchases because you should already have the money in your bank account to cover it. I had a rough financial start to adulthood taking out loans or credit cards that I wasn’t so good about paying back. Now, when you don’t pay your credit card bill on time you rack up late charges and of course the interest. The longer you don’t pay, the more charges that rack up. After reading “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey, I got my financial fitness on. With a nice tax return, I knocked out all that credit card debt and vowed to never open a credit card again. A Couple years later, I fell into the department store trap: “You can save 15% on your purchases today if you open up a store credit card with us”. I was making a large purchase and figured I’d save quite a bit with that 15%. Oops! Stupid! 7 years later, I am still working on paying off that card. Now, when I’m offered this wonderful offer at checkout, I simply say: “No thank you, I’m pretty sure I’ll pay way more than that 15% in interest with your credit card” The cashier usually chuckles, agrees and gives me my total.

6.) Buy a slightly used car rather than brand new.

I’ve owned two brand new cars in my lifetime spending about $20,000 on each one. Imagine the interest I paid over those 6 year loans. I won’t bore you with numbers here, but I’ll tell you it was substantial. What if I would have bought the same car, maybe a year older instead. As soon as you drive a brand new car off the lot it depreciates 15%. So if my brand new car is $20,000, once I drive it off the lot it is now worth $17,000. Was that new car smell really worth $3,000? Probably not. Many slightly used cars also still carry a warranty since they can transfer ownership of the warranty from the first owner. Many people frown upon buying used cars because they may require more maintenance. But by doing your homework on the car and finding out what kind of problems it may or may not have had is very beneficial. You can decide then if you will buy or keep looking for a car with less mechanical issues.

Here is an example to show you how buying used may be beneficial to you.  I bought a brand new Pontiac G6 in 2006 for a total of about $22,000. Don’t forget all that interest I paid over those 6 years. My payments were $370 for 72 months, so I paid a total of roughly $26,640. That would be about $4,640 in interest ($26,640-$22,000). My payment had been late a few times over those 6 years too which resulted in a $35 late charge each time. I paid it off a few years ago. It now has 124,884 miles on it and is in fair condition.

A month ago my boyfriend used his tax return to buy a car. He bought a 2007 SAAB 9.3 for $5,000. The car is in excellent condition and only has 83,000 miles on it. That car brand new in 2007 would have cost the first owner between $26,000 and $43,000. Do you see where I’m going with this? I must say I am a little envious that his car is 1 year newer than mine with substantially less miles, needs less maintenance than mine, and cost him thousands of dollars less than what I had spent. I paid almost as much in interest as what he paid for the actual car that he bought. 

7.) Learn the basics any driver should know

With anything, the better you maintain your vehicle, the longer it will last. When I got my very first car I had no idea that you were supposed to change your oil every 3,000 miles. To this day I’m not sure why my dad and I hadn’t talked this over. He was working and raising 4 daughters on his own so I suppose I’ll give him a pass on that, ha! But anyway, when my check engine light came on I went to buy oil to dump in my car for whatever reason. The gas station attendant suggested that maybe the computer in my car was damaged. I liked that suggestion and ran with it. As I was driving down the interstate one day shortly after speaking with the wise gas station attendant, there was a small explosion under the hood. Turned out I blew up my engine. Main reason: not changing my oil. Replacing that engine cost half of what that car (which I was making payments on) cost me. So, if your going to drive a car you should definitely learn the basics. I found an article for the 6 things every driver should know This article covers the basics that I’m referring to pretty well. The only thing I would add is that you not only need to check your oil to be sure you have enough, it needs to be changed every 3,000 miles, or so. I know experts have increased that number over the years though depending on how old your car is. Your car’s manual or your auto mechanic should be able to help you determine how many miles your car can handle before it needs an oil change. Anyway, learn these basics.You will most likely find yourself in a predicament at some point if you do not know these things.

8.) Save, Save, Save

Im going to go ahead and assume that many people struggle with this one as much as I do. It is very hard to save money, especially when you don’t have much. But it is possible. Experts suggest having an emergency fund to cover 9 to 12 months of expenses. This will come in handy if your car breaks down, if you get sick and have to be off work, or if you loose your job, for example. There are many different ways to save. You can have a percentage automatically deducted from your paycheck and put into a savings account, for example. Doing this with an online account may be even more beneficial because the funds are not as quickly accessible. You will also want to look for a savings account that earns the highest interest. What I am currently doing that has been working out great for me is saving cash and coins in a large pickle jar. I admit, I am not good at saving. Therefore, I super glued the lid onto the jar so it is more difficult for me to get at. It has been fun to watch the money pile up inside and to guess how much might be there. When it is full I will cut the top off and put it into an online savings account so it can earn some interest.

It is also important that you begin at an early age to put money into your company sponsored 401K. Usually your company will match your contributions or add a certain percentage of what you contribute. The earlier you begin saving for retirement the more your money will grow, and the more comfortable you will be at retirement age. If you would like more information about how a 401K plan works, click here.

9.) Life is to short to stay in an unhappy relationship; there are plenty of fish in the sea.

This one shouldn’t require much explanation. However, all too often I speak with people or know people who are totally miserable in their romantic relationship. Why don’t they just move on? They’ll claim it’s because of money, the kids, their marriage vows, or some other connection that they are too fearful to break free from. I understand trying to save a relationship that you are fully vested in. But if it can’t be “fixed” with counseling or some other effort, you need to move on so that you can be happy again. Some people will also claim that there is no one else for them, or no one else will want them. Come on! There are over 7 billion people on Earth. Certainly you are not with the only person that will ever have you or be a good fit for you. And if you are unhappy with or fighting constantly with your current partner, he or she is not a good fit for you anyway.

I admit that I have stayed too long before because I was so afraid of hurting the other persons feelings. Until I realized that my feelings are important too. Why should I suffer for the other person to be happy? It is not fair to me or to the other person, actually. Not to mention when people are not happy in a relationship, they may begin to stray. Staying in a relationship for the kids, or whatever, and having an affair on the side isn’t right either. That is an explosive situation. Just move on already people and end the misery.

10.) Life is also too short to stay at a job you hate

I don’t care how much you make, or how much time you have invested, or how great your benefits are. If you hate your job, you simply must move on. It seems unnecessary to give you a bunch of statistics on how much time Americans spend at work. It is obvious that we spend the majority of our waking hours at work from Monday through Friday, and some people even on the weekends. Why do you want to spend any portion of your life on being unhappy if there is something you can do about it? You should work hard to find your true calling so that you can do the work that you are meant for. There is nothing wrong with trial and error. Go back to school if you need to(but only if your positive about what your going to do). Read carer coaching books, research different careers your interested in, go to career seminars, job fairs, etc. You can even research, save up for, and start your own business if that is feasable. Yes, all of this seems like a lot of work, but this is the only life you are going to have. Make it a happy one all around.

Using Simpler Words in your writing

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I just began reading “The Book on Writing”, by Paula LaRocque. I’m only about 25 pages in and have already learned a couple of things about making your writing more readable and understandable. One thing the author suggests is to keep your average word count at about 20 words per sentence. Another thing she suggests is to use simple words instead of complicated ones when possible. The author gave an example of high school students who were given a writing exercise. In the writing exercise the students were to write an essay using only one syllable words. This was interesting, so I thought I would give this exercise a try. For simplicity, here is a short summary of my day yesterday (in one syllable words):

My day was great. I went to work at the start of my day. Work was a breeze and went by quick. When work was done, I went home and picked up the house some. I was about to go buy some food to fill up the fridge, but then thought that the fridge should be cleaned first. It was in dire need! And so I cleaned it. It took me a good hour or so to get it cleaned up real good, but it looked great in the end. So then off to the store I went. I went to two stores. I got a ton of food. I got home and then had to put it all away. Ugh!  Then I was in need of a break. I plopped down on the couch. I watched the tube for as long as it took me to drink a nice cold beer. It was late in the day so I thought I should cook some of that food up. I made tacos and boy were they good! We had rice as well. That was great too! By this time, all were full and tired. We watched a show or two on the tube and then it was time for bed. It was a good day.

Okay so I had two words with two syllables (away and tacos), but I think I did pretty good otherwise. Of course there will be times when the words needed are just bigger words and there is no simpler substitute. That is fine. The idea is just to keep your words and sentences simple and readable overall. I have always been one to go to the thesaurus to make my words more interesting. But it makes perfect sense that the reading is much smoother and more understandable when the reader doesn’t have to deal with a bunch of gobbledygook and long, complicated sentences. That last sentence was long, right? The author suggests that when you must use a long sentence, to use a short sentence before and/or after it. Great advice! Anyway, I’m really enjoying the book and the author’s advice so far. I would definitely recommend this book to any beginning or skilled writer: “The Book on Writing”, by Paula LaRocque.