BALANCE

balance BLOG

It seems the trend to pick a single word for the year instead of making a list of resolutions.  Only a handful of letters to sum up a whole catalog full of needful improvements.  Two months into the year, I have finally figured out what word would quiet my vague groanings of unrest with the status quo. BALANCE.  A busy and messy house, a fledgling business, a large family and now grandchildren too, and ministry opportunities all tumble and tangle together, each vying for more than its own share of my limited time and energies.  Balance just seems so elusive in my life.  Whatever my current project is tends to clamor most urgently and consume me to the exclusion of all else. Then, when the neglected areas protest, I turn and focus my attention there to avert some small disaster.

So, BALANCE is my word of the year.  Like the tightrope walker with arms elegantly spread, balance requires constant, tiny, readjustments to maintain.  It is an action more like breathing than a place one arrives.  The continual small, slow, and steady readjustments on the journey down the rope are much more effective than a periodic thrashing of the arms when you are about to fall.  So, my goal for the year is to try not to be overwhelmed with the big corrections that need made, but to daily, constantly, be aware of staying balanced in all things.  Taking time for the important, being diligent to the necessary, staying faithful to my God, and becoming my best self. There is no time planner that can give me the perfect schedule to accomplish that.  It just requires that constant awareness of where small adjustments are needed before balance is lost. The small things, over time will get me where I want to be and I will look back amazed at the journey. Balance.

DIY Chunky Art Panel

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If you have ever priced the popular chunky style blank canvas in an art suppy store you know that these can be pricey little guys!  Yet, I love the look of the thicker canvas and the way you can either hang it on a wall, or sit it on a shelf.  As I was putting away used shipping boxes to reuse in shipping items sold in my etsy shops, I realized that some of them had the same square shape and depth as those expensive panels.  Hmmm….

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I set some aside, and enlisted my daughters help in taping them closed, then covering them with book pages.  You could also use newspaper, wrapping paper, a retired road map…

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I used Mod Podge to stick the pages down smooth onto the box, and then covered with another coat to make a nice finished surface.  On the ends fit the paper to the box just as if you were wrapping a present!

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The result was a stack of “canvas” ready for my artwork.  I use these just as I would a regular canvas, but it is fun to leave some of the words showing through here and there.  Seal your artwork well on all sides. To hang, attach hooks or sawtooth hanger of your choice with a strong adhesive.  These panels are also lighter than the ones you would purchase.

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Feels good…. not only the dollars saved, but to reuse what I already have!

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It’s What You See

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There are ten of us in our family, my husband and I and eight children.  Most of the kids are grown now and when we get together the kids tend to reminisce about their growing up years.  As I listen to them, I notice a lot of diversity in the accounts of the same events.  The memory banks of some have stored away good and happy recollections of the event, while others tend to file things away in negative colors.  Neither is probably entirely accurate to the reality, but what we remember becomes to us the truth.  The memory of the event becomes more “real” than the event itself.

That got me to thinking about how I want to record life in my own memory files. Some things are undeniably bad, and cannot and should not be seen as anything else.  Other things are unquestionably good.  But what about all those in between things, or those everyday sort of tossed salad events that have both savory and unsavory ingredients?  What lens do I want to look through as I record my life?  Easy peasy decision – I want to store up joyful memories in larger quantities than unhappiness.  I will choose to SEE what is true, but also good, lovely, noble, trustworthy, excellent and worthy of a fond recounting when we are dishing up memories at our next family gathering.

Be Brave, Love Well

 

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it seems impossible to check my email, read a newspaper, or even buy a hamburger without an encounter with the topic of love. It is such a familiar term. After all, I love so much! Sunrises, chocolate double fudge brownies, good books… But what does true blue (as opposed to pink with cherries on top) love really entail? The answer is tough, and much more than is easy to give as I soon find out when my precious grandchild is throwing a temper tantrum, or my teenager is acting ugly, or for that matter when I feel like acting ugly and throwing a tantrum myself. It means caring about the stranger when I want to be selfish, or biting back a sharp retort to a family member. Love takes real grit and determination far beyond the stamina of the syrupy version. To really love means allowing an element of exposure and discomfort. It means dropping my guard and taking a risk. It means putting aside the protective armor and taking a chance on people. To love well takes a great deal of courage.

That is the lesson that I’ve endeavored to express in this mixed media piece “Be Brave, Love Well”. I have used a background of scrapbook paper on a 12 x 12 panel. The heart is a collage of my own painting of a heart with magazine clippings, a suit of armor, and an acrylic painting of scissors cutting away all the stuff that makes me feel “safe”. And out of that brave loving flutters a butterfly set free to love better and live bigger. Brene Brown in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, says it well:

“To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living….Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”

Reframed

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Going green can mean so much more than just dropping something in the recycling bin.  It is an attitude of using what you have in new and creative ways, bringing the concept and responsibility of reusing and recycling home as a fun and doable reality.  Here are DIY instructions for upcycling your own thrift store frame with a variety of inexpensive embellishments.  Make one as a Valentine gift for that special someone!

Materials:

  • Frame, a flat front will be easier to work with

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  • Papers of your choice, book pages, maps, pattern tissue, etc.

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  • An assortment of found “junk” – bottlecaps, rusty nuts and washers, coins, keys… a good time to clean out your junk drawer, or a neighborhood parking lot!

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  • Mod Podge, or your own mix for decoupage (more on this later!)
  • Sponge brush, scissors
  • Optional—stencils and spray inks
  • Glue, all purpose adhesive, and super glue

Process:

1.  The first step will be to cover your frame with the papers of your choice.  I used book pages, road maps, and pattern tissue.  Other ideas: phone book pages, magazine pages, junk mail, newspaper…..This will require cutting and piecing, then using your Mod Podge, homemade or otherwise, to both adhere the paper to the frame, and to coat on top of the paper.

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Make your own inexpensive version of matte finish Mod Podge by simply mixing a white glue (like Elmer’s) in equal parts with water.  Then, use the pennies you saved to give a patina with vinegar and add to your embellishment stash!

2. The next step is to take your covered frame (don’t worry if its still a little tacky) and add a bit of color if desired with spray on alcohol inks.  Splatter spray, or lay a stencil over your frame and mist it—or both!

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Alcohol inks are really fun, but can be a little pricey. I make my own version by mixing 91% isopropyl alcohol with a little liquid fabric dye in a small spray bottle.  For a little over $1, you have a nice size bottle of alcohol ink!

3. Set your frame aside to dry, and start picking out your embellishments.  Think about where you will place them on your frame and just start playing with combinations of elements.  Use super glue to attach one piece to another.

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TIP:

If you can’t find enough rusty metal bits and want to rust your own, soak your bottle caps and other ‘rustables’ in a mix of salt and vinegar for some speed aging.

I like to use soda cans in my pieces because they come in a variety of colors and are easy to cut and work with.  To add a red heart, I took a Coca-Cola can, cut it to lay flat, and used a ball point pen to draw a heart on the back side.  I cut the can about 1/4 inch outside my drawn line, then cut notches so I could fold in the sides to eliminate any sharp edges.

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All ready for gifting!

Creativity

“In a sense, our creativity is none of our business.  It is a given, not something to be aspired to.  It is not an invention of our ego.  It is instead a natural function of our soul. We are intended to breathe and to live.  We are intended to listen and to create.”

Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way Everyday

A Woman of Many Words

I’ve always loved words.  I suppose it was because I was surrounded by them at an early age.  Old and new books huddled together on the shelves in the living room, the colorful covers hugging so many magical words inside.  Scientific American, National Geographic, and Reader’s Digest lay scattered on the coffee table, poised to deliver a dose of words at a moment’s notice.  My mother’s handwriting filled pages of letters, lists and ledgers.  My father stored boxes and boxes of clippings, articles, and his own notes written in his distinctive hand.  More words, now audibly spoken, accented and flavored every meal, consumed more hungrily than the food.  Words ask questions, deliver information, announce decisions, and express wonder.  It is words that record, define, change, and inspire the world that they are loosened upon.

So, I am a word lover. I love to read words, write words, hear words, and think about words.  I even enjoy the visual beauty of letters clinging together in words.  It is not just what they say, but what they ARE in all their beauty, power, and potential.

I suppose that is why this mixed media piece, a Woman of Many Words, came to be.  I used Citra Solv concentrated cleaner to dissolve the ink on National Geographic pages.  I thought what emerged looked like trees.  Trees made of dissolved words.  Hmmm.  A world made of words, the perfect world for that woman like me, a woman of many words.  The background is made of dictionary pages, lightly painted over. The landscape is the work of more Citra Solv.  On top I painted a woman, clutching her words, lines from book pages.  One of them reads, “the perils of the literate” a subtle caution that there indeed lie dangers in this world of words.

This artwork was the Grand Prize winner in the CitraSolv “Inspire Your Heart with Art” Contest!  Visit the Citra Solv Artist’s Gallery to see more Citra Solv artwork.  http://www.citrasolv.com/art/artists.html

To order prints of this piece, visit my etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/fromvictoryroad