Monday, January 30, 2017

Sometimes There's Only Time for a Snail

Sometimes all I have time for is a quick sketch. On another day, I'll start the watercoloring process and stop to let the initial layers dry. Somewhere down the line, I'll take another day to finish painting and maybe another to add shading in graphite. Working in this way, it has taken me nearly three years to approach the end of my "Sparks of Madness" sketchbook but I am there...just a few more pages and then it is onward to "Volume 2." Never trivialize even the smallest amount of time in your studio; it all adds up!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Soul Stories: Tune In to Yourself

"Soul Stories" entry: June 2016
As I mentioned in my previous post, I'll be posting images from my journal "Soul Stories" over the next few weeks as I return to this journal project, an altered book journal that I began way back in 2007. If I have time, I'm going to try and go back through my archived posts to tag the "Soul Stories" posts from long ago. However, since I now have a much better camera, I'd like to revisit some old projects with a new, improved eye. If you are a longtime reader, you may see pictures of spreads that I've posted about in years past and I apologize in advance for the repetition. There have been a lot of new followers since I last posted about this journal so I suspect the pages of "Soul Stories" will be unfamiliar to most eyeballs currently visiting Lost Coast Post.

This is the lone page that I completed in this journal in all of 2016. I think I fully intended to do much more in "Soul Stories" at the time I did this page but then I was waylaid by all the other things I needed/wanted to do. Then again, maybe all I needed was this one entry. As is typical with most pages in this journal, I write quite a bit and then surround that with some art, mostly in the form of collage. One of the reasons I drifted away from "Soul Stories" is the fact that its pages are predominantly collage-focused, a medium I have deliberately tried to avoid in the last few years in order to develop my illustration skills and find my own unique visual voice. Collage still feels appropriate here since in this journal, the art is subordinate in importance to the thoughts I am trying to document.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Returning to Soul Stories

"Soul Stories" title page
When I first started journaling (around 2003,) I wrote a lot and surrounded all that writing with a small amount of art. As the years progressed, I wrote less and did more art, ultimately arriving at journals that were almost completely visual with little to zero writing. I think maybe I just ran out of things to say and felt that the visuals (and the process of creating those visuals) said everything I wanted to communicate. However, those older journals are still on the shelf and the uncompleted ones are there, waiting patiently for my return.

One of my first journals is a large altered children's poetry book that I began in July 2007. It is named "Soul Stories." As with most of my ongoing, unfinished projects, I started off enthusiastically. I worked fairly regularly through the last half of 2007 and most of 2008, here and there in 2009, and then skipped 2010 and 2011 entirely. I returned in 2012 for four pages and then I abandoned the project again until June 2016 when I finished just one more page. This January, I felt the pull of "Soul Stories" again.

"Soul Stories" entry - Jan 15, 2017
"Soul Stories" is perhaps one of my most personal journals, a place I visit when I need to extensively document my thoughts, joys, fears, self-encouragement, discouragements, and triumphs. After my recent foot surgery, I needed to return to a verbose style of art journaling as my head felt painfully full of thoughts that needed to find their way onto the page. I'll continue on in "Soul Stories" as long as the words need to flow and then I'll tuck it away again.

In the last ten years, I have undoubtedly posted pictures of this journal's pages but I am too busy to go back through the archives and dig up links to those postings. So, as I post images from "Soul Stories" here and there, please forgive any repetition that you recognize. (If you have actually gone through ten years of Lost Coast Post posts, then go get yourself a cookie immediately and give yourself a pat on the back!) I'm sure many newer readers will be seeing these pages for the first time.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Looking Ahead

2017 is so far proving to be a strange time. In some ways, it feels as if the new year has gotten off to a snail's pace start. Recovering from surgery is a slow, tedious process with steps forward and then back, forward a little bit more then back again. At the same time, I feel like the month has slipped through my fingers. I'm not sure I have a whole lot to show for a month's worth of living save a narrowing hole in my foot (one of the incisions is taking its sweet time closing) and a calendar full of doctors' appointments. Still, I am trying to regroup and make the most of the next few months before the specter of more surgery looms again.

Each December, I typically make an exhaustive list of resolutions which I use actively throughout the new year. I love wish-listing my hopes and goals for the annual fresh start that January brings. This year however, I made a very simple "Do More of This/Do Less of This" list. As always, I have big plans; it's just that I didn't spend so much time detailing those plans for myself. I guess this lengthy blog post will serve that function.

Word of the Year:
I am continuing with "story" as my guiding word/theme/inspiration. In truth, I feel like I could continue onward with "story" for many years to come. I dipped my toes in "story" in 2016; I really want to dive deeper into story-crafting and illustrating in 2017.

Online/In Person Classes:
I did a bit of planning/thinking for my first ever online classes but again, my health challenges pushed some of that to the background. As I continue to heal, I am beginning to refocus my life on teaching, both in the classroom and hopefully online as well. In terms of online classes, I am most stymied by the video component that I want to do. In the end, I'm just going to do the best I can with what I know and have. As far as specifics, I can tell you that there is a trilogy of classes on the drawing board with monster creation as the central focus. I also want to return to teaching in person art classes to adults, something I stepped away from 11 years ago to teach kids in the school system. I'm not leaving the classroom but rather expanding my reach back into the adult artist audience.

Art for Sale:
Throughout the life of this blog (ten years now!) I have kept sales of my art in the background for many reasons. I don't ever want this space to feel like a carnival midway with me barking every other post about things I have for sale. The reality is, however, that I need to make a bit more from my art-making to compensate for increased health care costs and decreased work hours due to lengthy recoveries. I am planning to reopen my Etsy shop and/or offer more work for sale here at the blog. An online class (or two) will help bring in some income as well. I am toying with the idea of opening a Patreon account. Most money-making ideas are still in the planning stages as I have been so focused on my health in the past two months. 

Finish the Unfinished/Begin the Long Planned For:
I have projects that have been languishing in the "unfinished" pile for some time and I am going to decide whether those projects are still relevant/interesting and move them towards completion while discarding other ideas that have lost their gleam for me. In addition, I have a select few projects that have been on the back burner for years, ideas that I've actually done an incredible amount of groundwork on but that are not yet truly started due to my own insecurities. No time like the present to set aside fear and doubt and just jump in!

Take Better Care:
While this isn't strictly an art/blog-related topic, how well I care for myself physically, emotionally, and mentally directly impacts how often I am able to be present in this space and certainly determines how much art I get to do. Self-care has long been my Achilles heel; I am absolutely miserable at it. My body and brain are starting to rebel and if I don't make some real changes, there will be consequences that will complicate not only recovery from any necessary procedures but also daily living. It is time to eject old tapes and craft the life, internally & externally, that I have always dreamed of. It won't happen all at once - everything is a step-by-step process - but it certainly won't happen at all if I never begin.

Regarding This Space:
This is the first January in a while where I had zero doubts about continuing Lost Coast Post. Last year felt like a good blogging year to me and I am going to build on what I started in 2016: posting as regularly as possible, providing more informative content, cultivating more conversation and interaction. I am looking forward to being here and hope that you will join me, bringing your encouraging comments and thought-provoking questions. Together, let's carve an uplifting, creative path through 2017, no matter what trials and tribulations the year throws in our way!

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Belated Blog Beginning for 2017

As the calendar flipped from 2016 to 2017, I kept telling myself "I'll blog when I feel better" or "Once I turn the corner, I'll get back to posting." Well, I finally decided that I needed to jump back in regardless of health circumstances. I know that the longer I am away from something, the harder it is to return.

My foot surgery was December 13 and I am still battling my way through complications, both related and unrelated to the surgery. My slow recovery has involved some invasive and painful procedures that leave me drained and disheartened. I am still off work and minimally weight-bearing on my foot. Art has happened in very small, erratic bursts so I don't have too much to show for the last five weeks. Yesterday I had my first lengthy and focused art session in the studio since the surgery so hopefully that milestone heralds the coming of the "corner" I needed to turn. (And to think I might be going through this all over again in July...*sigh*)

While I haven't made a lot of art, I have done a great deal of thinking about art. I've watched many movies and shows that speak to my artistic sensibilities. I've read books about art and artists. I've visited artist websites and blogs. In between doctors' appointments, procedures, bandage changes, wound care, pain meds, and naps, I've tried to infuse my thoughts with beauty, color, and inspiration. I've been sowing creative seeds and I hope that when my body is ready, I'll be able to reap the bounty of projects that I've been nurturing in my brain.

Things get tough. That's the way life goes. After 12 surgeries, I know that I always go through a very physically difficult/emotionally fragile time that usually runs from right before I get stitches out to about three, four weeks after physical therapy starts. I cry a lot and get extremely frustrated with life in general and my less-than-healthy body in particular. However, I have hope that the main complication - an infected incision - is on the mend. I had my first post-op PT evaluation last week so I'd like to think that the hardest days are dwindling. I am very lucky that I have an incredible medical team that has been providing my care for years and who are familiar with the intricacies of my health challenges. From my primary care doctor to my surgeon, hospitalist, pharmacist, and physical therapist, I feel heard, cared for, and supported. I also have a wonderful boss and coworkers who stepped in to make sure I am not wanting for food or company. So it is just a matter of patience and time.

All in all, I thought I jump back into blogging even if I'm not quite back on my feet, even it is just to let you all know I haven't forgotten about you, dear readers, and that I am eager to get back to this space.

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