Appreciating the ordinary

Grateful Artistic Guru
Aleta’s still life

Appreciating the obvious by connecting

Connecting with the world around can seem painful if we rely on our left brained thinking to interpret what is happening “out there”.  It’s important and vital to practice and create a new way of connecting to turn a personal life experience to joy when everything else around you say’s “it ain’t so”.  

“My boss was talking to me the other day and I couldn’t stop looking at the fascinating shape of the shadow under his nose.  It was a bluish color and a beautiful undulating form”.   She was so enamored with the shape, that Aleta was afraid her boss would notice her staring.  She had cultivated a deeper way of connecting with ordinary things in how she had trained her eye to see.

Even though her boss was telling her all the work she had to do, she was in the present moment, her right brain was connecting her with the world of seeing differently, calmly and beautifully.

After just a few short lessons in drawing based on Betty Edwards, Aleta was changing the way she responded to the visual world.  She had more appreciation and fascination for more things more often, even when stress swirled around her.

The zone of timeless being

Wouldn’t you love to find yourself appreciating something so deeply that you enter a zone of thoughtful and timeless reflection?  We all do it when something innocent like sunlight dabbles on a leaf that draws our attention and holds us.  We are connected with the larger world in these moments.  “We” are just being.

Are you with it or without it?

You know what I’m talking about.  After a while you realize you’ve been staring at something, and yet nothing in particular.  You feel completely at rest.  Then you “wake up” and wonder where you’ve been.  You might even feel silly for not being more ‘with it’.  You spaced out.

You were ‘with it’ completely, as if you and ‘it’ were one.  You were not spaced out but ‘spaced in’.   You may think you are spacing out when in reality you are connecting, engaging and in communication with nature.   Your inner space expands as you connect to the thing you “see”.

Seeing is a revelation

To “see” means to have something revealed to you that had not been known previously.  Art is a form of ‘seeing’.  It is the practice of allowing revelation to occur as you hold the door open for your sight to engage with something more than the physical, yet through the physical.  Yeah, art is spiritual.  That’s because seeing for real, is spiritual.

Grateful Artistic Guru
Aleta’s drawing of coffee

Restoring your energy from work

Being in the zone, means you are held in focused appreciation and concentration without effort.  Aleta’s full-time job as a translator required her to fully engage her left brain all day.  As she learned a new language the rest of her her was disconnected.  You probably have a job requiring the same type of brain power, left analytical thinking.  It doesn’t feed you.

Grateful Artist
Aleta’s drawing of Tate bag

Using the left brain too much saps our mind, emotions, and energy.   It’s not really brain power but a brain drain to do that type of work.  Recovering means finding balance on the right side of things.

Even if you are retired or a stay-at-home mom, our daily lives consist of things to do, places to go, people to talk to.  These left-brained  activities involve words, speech, numbers, analyzing and categorization.    Connection is not a left-brain function, although it seems that way when we put things into categories.

grateful artist
Aleta’s drawing of garlic

Aleta recognized an important lesson for us all:  balance for each side of her brain was necessary if she was to be successful at her full time, left-brained job.  Art provided the restorative practice needed to recover her sense of connection to life, the world around her.

You too can renew your energy by engaging in right brained activities when you get up, during breaks and after work.  Or just by taking an art class.  Learning to see what is right in front of you, means being present.

Seeing is deeper than looking

In drawing regularly, Aleta was building pathways in the right side of her brain which she could then began to easily access  as she became more observant to the things she was looking at, like her boss.  Connecting with your right brain means you build connecting pathways to things you see, music you hear, the feeling, knowing, wisdom within part of you.

Left out and Right in

Think if it like this:  left brain stuff keeps you left out.  You and the world around you are more than a name to be filed, analyzed and categorized.  Don’t be left out like that.

You will fit Right in, when you take time to be, feel, connect, go to that part of your brain that your left brain can’t deal with.  Your right brain feels the music, see’s the deeper meaning, knows what it knows, you fit Right in there like green on grass, a hand in a glove, a heart that loves.

Art changes what we think

Art changes how we think because we are more than what we think. Seeing is a brain function that art deepens.  It brings us easier access to a more restful way of seeing and being in a state of higher awareness and appreciation by connection.

hanging jacket
hanging jacket

The right brain notices, explores, is attentive, appreciates and becomes curious and even in awe.  It holds us in a zone that is open for expansion, which is the unending creative story.

We become appreciative as we engage our right brain by  setting up for creativity right at home and practicing the art of noticing, connecting and engaging.  

I’ll be posting fun art you can do anywhere, anytime to help you activate the right brain function of opening up, calming down, going within, connecting.  Follow me, or just be by my side to explore.  It’s great to be in good company.

Follow this link to a fun drawing exercise you can do now to help you move in the  right brain direction.  See if you notice the shift during the exercise.  If you don’t notice the shift, you are probably working too quickly-that would be your left brain saying “I don’t have time for this, I have more important things to do”.

Reward yourself Artfully

Art is just one way to practice  balance in every-day life.  Yoga, music, meditation, exercise,eating healthy are all activities that came be done in combination to reach the optimum benefits.  Art is unique in it’s ability to engage the connection directly through seeing clearly.

Join me in transforming the world we live in.   I’m not asking you to change the world, just your own, if you want to, so you hold more appreciation for ordinary things, are happier as an individual, less prone to be thrown off course by distractions.

No matter what else you do for a living, you can live a life that is creatively balanced, energized, keeps you focused on the good in you and at peace with whatever else is going on “out there”.  The real life is inside you, so go there often and be grateful for all you have and are.  

Aleta’s drawing of a dog

Further explorations:

Betty Edwards Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain transformed my art life and it can do the same for you.  Best to enroll in a class and not just read the book on your own.

Art League School Alexandria VA has many opportunities for the beginning artist.

This is a wonderful video easily explaining and showing one of the first Betty Edwards exercises you can do right at home now!



Invest in your Creative Self

Watercolor painting, Uplift Me

Every time you spend a moment or two creating your own art, is time you invest in the vastness and beauty of yourself.  Think of it…YOU are the value needed by others – no one else CAN be you or IS you.  Since we all need that little special something that only you can give, it makes sense that as you invest in yourself, everyone wins.

Art is a process of letting go (of old bad thoughts, habits and beliefs), getting out of the way (of the real you, that spark, light and goodness that wants and needs to come though).  It is polishing or learning a skill, exploring a new technique and surrounding yourself with  the colorful, fun and fabulous results.

Artistic Living
Floating in Space and feeling free

The Grateful Artist is the practice of discipline in joy through art.  It is prayer, as it is mindful presence.  It takes you outside yourself to look back at yourself  so you can  discover yourself anew and see yourself clearer.

Art is ever evolving- like you, it is never ending-like you, it is completely open to being whatever it is without judgement or criticism, the way you want to feel and the way you are naturally.  In our truest sense of self we are open, innocent and complete love, without fear.  Art is a way to find it, explore that truth and revel in the joy it fosters.

Watercolor Lines

Health increases in those who practice artful living.   You are a creative person and so engaging with your creative juices is empowering and brain energizing.  You become connected and engaged again with your vital self, your environment and the world around you.  Art is healing.

Student in drawing class
Student in drawing class

You need to feel great about who you are because you are a wonderful and beautiful person.  I will benefit from your happiness.  Art is a tool for transformation that is lasting.

Joyful Figures

Get out your materials and start today by committing to yourself to create the beauty in your life you want.  Your own art will lift you up as you learn and grow creatively with a grateful heart, pure and simple.  I will be sharing fun and totally doable art lessons you can get started with so follow me and lets get creative together.

Paste Paper House Book
Paste Paper House Book

Creative Art and Coffee

Coffee and Art are stimulating ingredients for creativity

coffee and art

Coffee and art go together.  Whether you get your flat white at Cassatt’s, a bubble tea at The Chill Zone or just hanging all day at Northside Social (dirty Chai Latte with double shot – yum), coffee, work and art make stimulating and fun places to hang out.

If you don’t know about these places yet here is a little info on my favorite coffee places: Cassatt’s hosts a change of art every month with the Arlington Artists Alliance, find it near the intersection of Spout Run and Lee Highway.   It’s a great mix of coffee and art, new every month.

The Chill Zone, located next to the Safeway on Harrison Street is designed as a work of art itself, it’s worth checking out.   The place is designed by the owners brother who thoughtfully filled little spaces with interesting floor space and design elements to delight.  It’s coffee and art in an intimate setting.

Northside Social vibrates with the Clarendon crowd, the menu is local farm sourced and the coffee is awesome.  Art changes every few months.

While you are out enjoying coffee and art in your hood this little creatively exercise will help boost your creativity quotient and it’s fun to do with friends.

Around the world and in your pocket

Imagine the possibilities for what you could do with a piece of paper.  You can:  draw on it, wad it up and play catch, throw it away, tear it up and blow scattered pieces to the wind, roll it into a cylinder and put a tea-light in the center of it to use it like a lamp.  This is the start of ideas we call brainstorming.

This is the power of working with and transforming limited thinking.  This is what artists do to make art.  This how artists think outside the box.  Brainstorming is uncensored ideation. For example, you could use the paper as a temporary car mat, or send it in the mail around the world, or stick it to your forehead as a shade from the sun or just to look stupid because you want to.  Get the idea?

25 Things

Make a list of 25 things you can do with an ordinary piece of paper.  Don’t censor, be creative, write everything down, be quick, try not to think too much (that usually involves censoring).

Anytime you feel stuck, think of an item and brainstorm the ways it can be used.  Then think of the problem you are having and do the same exercise-be ridiculous, outrageous and imaginative.  You will enjoy the feeling of thinking creatively and allowing for all sorts of possibilities to present themselves.

Drawing it out 

The line drawing exercise for starting out drawing when you think you can’t even draw a stick figure is a great ice-breaking drawing lesson.  This next one has one slight variation so the challenge is just to keep you taking baby steps if you feel you “can’t” do art.

Make lines that are curved(not necessarily a circle), angular, or a combination of the two.   Consider balance, variety (in width, length and size, line weight), as well as unity (does it seem to hold together as one piece of art).   Make as many or as few lines as you would like.

coffee and art
Circles and Triangles

While your sipping your coffee here is an at the dinner table creative exercise.  Take a salt shaker with salt, a plate and a napkin.  Make a work of art from these three items.  Brainstorming means be ridiculous and trying several things.  The more you push to come up with ideas the more ideas will come.

Nature and the Sun Print

Sun prints
Yellow and white delicate flowers

Today I had to get out the chemicals and paint myself a sun print.  Called a cyanotype for it’s blue color, this sun art is commonly bought in pre-treated small papers wrapped in light proof black plastic bags.   Objects are placed on the paper and exposed to the sun.  After exposure, the objects are removed and the paper is rinsed.  The paper turns blue and a white shape is left where the object was.

In college I took a class called alternative processes where cyanotypes were one of those different ways to do photography.  After meeting Alison Duval in art camp during her photography class this summer, I was inspired to order the ingredients to coat my own papers and revisit the cyanotype process.

After easily ordering the two bottles of Solution A and B for my sun art,  I mixed the two ingredients together- just enough to coat a few pieces of paper.  After the solutions dried, I placed flattened garden flowers and leaves on the paper. To flatten it down and keep it in place, a piece of glass is placed on top of the paper before heading outside.

In collage and in Alison’s class we experimented with other items to be made into sun art.  For example: take a large photograph or drawing and copy it onto transparency paper.  Use the transparency paper on top of the coated paper to expose to the sun.  I have also found clothing, especially transparent fabric like panty hose can result in very interesting designs and patterns for a sun print.

Sun prints
Unexposed cyanotype with obejcts on top and before glass on top

The solution is a yellowish green when first applied.  It slowly or quickly turns color when exposed to ultraviolet light.  The paper must be coated inside and preferably not near a sunny window.

Sun print
Large cyanotype in the sun

After exposure for around 20-30 minutes it’s time to go inside, take the glass and plant material off.  Because I used large paper, I rinsed off the solution in the bathtub for 5 minutes.

Sun print
Cyanotpyes drying the the bathroom

As they dry the blue color deepens to a beautiful indigo.  The sun art or sun print is complete.

Sun print
Cyanotype with garden plants

My intention is to use this for other collage works of art.  Having interesting papers like this with patterns, forms, and textures can  be an inspiration for more art.  Like the garden ideas are always growing in interesting ways.

Setting up for Creativity

Setting up a creative space welcomes art and a healthy practice in your home every day.

creative space in the kitchen
A creative space in the kitchen is enticing to the appetite of imagination and play

Put yourself first and you will be more available for others.   Just a few moments throughout the day will add creativity and color to your life as you increase your mental, emotional and personal well being.   Art is a health inducing habit.  You will feel more generous and gracious as others ask for your time and attention.

Looking at art you have created yourself is empowering.  You are the decision maker for the choices in each work.  The colors, lines and textures you put into a work of art are based on what is important to you.

Setting up a space to work is key to ensuring you will have fun and be playful instead of waiting for the right time.  Set up a space to work that is visible, convenient, inviting, and inspiring.  When you walk past this space, you will be inclined to take a minute or two for creativity.  You will find an excuse to spend just 30 seconds, each time you walk past your welcoming  art space.  A little creativity at a time will build to something substantial and rewarding.

A creative space can be anywhere

Choose a central location or a wall you walk by frequently.  I am in the kitchen more than any other room in the house so there is the potential for me to work there more than any other place.  I have a set of watercolors, watercolor paper, brushes and a jar of water on my favorite ceramic tray.   Keep your set up simple.  Place your art tray on a beautiful piece of cloth, use one of your favorite cups to rinse your brush in.  Make it inviting and special because you really are creating a very unique place in which you are engaged with your own desires, choices and creativity.

Go on an art trip when ever you get in the car

I keep a large plastic bag with watercolors, paper, pencil, brush and small container for water in a travel tote bag by the front door.  This reminds me that I can choose to do art anywhere I am going at any time.  Parking lots, appointments, playgrounds are all opportunities to turn bla into aha!

mobile creative space
mobile creative space

The lessons on my blog are ideas in art that anyone can do.  They are designed to be simple but rich, fun activities geared toward the non-“artist” as well as the seasoned artist.  Art is a doable and viable practice for anyone. Lessons can be for children, grandparents, adults of all kinds.  Art is a safe way to express our feelings, share our thoughts and ideas and connect with others.

Celebrate the ordinary things you do each day

Make the things you do every day a ceremony.  Create a grocery list from watercolors, spelling the words with color.  Add a few designs so when you shop you can read from your own awesome and artful list.  It will elevate shopping to a new level of appreciation.

creative space inspires art in everything
Everything can have a creative touch

Remind yourself of the things you are grateful for, record your favorite inspirational passages from your favorite spiritual teachers.  Write encouraging words adorned with colorful designs.

creative space on a wall
creative space on a wall

Walls as easels

Hang a large piece of paper on a wall in a well used hallway, by your bed or another well traveled area like right next to the front door.  Make available a pencil, pen, or any other marking device near the paper.  Each time you walk past the paper make a mark. Find ways to make a line differently each time.

Creative space is for doing things a little off beat.  With the paper on a wall, use your opposite hand, use your mouth to hold the crayon, close your eyes, etc.  If you have children make a creative space for them too.  Your paper can be higher up and put theirs below yours.  Be sure to remind them not to draw on the wall.  Add tape around the border to remind them when to stop, or curl the edges. Use large paper because it’s more fun and you will have more room to move.

Creative space for parent and child
Putting art by the door puts your creativity in a central and open place inviting comments and conversation.

Committing to creativity means making a time each day when you agree to show up.  Everyday at 7:30 a.m.  I go to my art space and spend  5 minutes looking out the window and drawing what I see, or what I’m thinking about.

For the rest of the day I can say “I made art”.  Now that my paper is on the wall and paints on the counter top I am a lot more creative.  I generate ideas and feel better with easy access to materials.  Color and ideas come and go freely and I don’t censor.

The easiest time to commit to working on anything for your heart is when you first wake up and the last thing before retiring.  Even if you wake up and just draw a heart, a smiley face, a flower, a bird.  You have gotten your creative intention stated before your feet hit the floor.  Write a word or sentence with each drawing and it helps solidify intentions for the day.  Gratitude words help us to sleep better.

Leda and the Swan, 1962 - Cy Twombly
Leda and the Swan, 1962 – Cy Twombly

Setting up creativity space ensures the opportunity to make art gets results.  Art can be as simple as a scribble and if you think that’s too childish consider the artist Cy Twombly whose scribble art sells for as much as 70 million.   Mark making can be cathartic as well as masterful.

Joan Mitchell painted from her feelings and memories  making lines, scribbles and non-descriptive shapes.  She was a pioneer expressionist artist and her work is full of emotion.

Tilleul 1978 Joan Mitchell
Tilleul 1978 Joan Mitchell

Everyone can make art, you don’t have to aspire to be a great artist.  I can paint a realistic portrait, animal or flower.  I have paintings that have taken me weeks to complete.  My greatest joy, however is playing with materials and working spontaneously.  I love to teach because I have to come up with lessons people can accomplish in a short amount of time and feel good about what they have made.   My most fulfilling art is very simple.  Yours can be too.

I made the drawing below just before leaving the house the other day.  I was not feeling like the woman in this picture, however after drawing a happy person, I too felt like my drawing for the rest of the day.

Every day is new
Every day is new

I invite you to be an artist with whatever medium speaks to you first.  Play and try it out and if it calls you to take a class or get more involved in some way, For now, set up for creativity  with some drawing and painting supplies on hand and see if you don’t start smiling just a little more and feeling your heart sooth a bit.  Being creative helps you focus on the positive and possibilities that are within you.

All the best to you that a creative life has to offer,

Jean Frank Stark

Make Art a Way of Life

Hold on to creativity and art

Element of Line in Art
Element of Line in Art

Her hand braced against her heart,  her eyes looked directly into mine “I’m so excited about this class.   I’m almost 60 and I finally get to do what I’ve always wanted”.

My heart melted.  Why do we wait so long? She was coming home after being away for a long time.   Art was always in her heart as it is for many of us.  We believe art isn’t practical unless we have a special gift or talent. Hold on to the creativity that wants to grow within you.

Just do it and love it

You don’t have to wait years to make your own art. The heart is at home where it feels most welcome: free to express whatever is inside and to do so without criticism or judgment.  Art and artists throughout history have come into their own because they followed their own vision.  You can create your own little space and time to nurture your vision.  You will feel good,  focused and connected with what is important to you.

lines and shapes based on Kandinsky
lines and shapes based on Kandinsky

Make the choice to say yes to the creative arts

I chose to be a teacher because I knew I needed to have art every day.  When I go without drawing or painting, I get sad.  I find time to nurture my creativity because not all jobs support this vial part of who I am.  It’s who we all are – creative beings.

Listen to you

Connecting with your body and all the wisdom you carry in your bones, heart and hands is what being abundant and wealthy means.  Making art is a fun and engaging way to make that heart, mind, hand connection which will create the plethora of feeling like you have a million dollars in your back pocket.

watercolor straight lines
watercolor straight lines

Drawing and painting are for everyone

I cook, travel, garden, read, meditate and do yoga. They all inject creativity and peace into my life. There is something about drawing and painting, however, that creates a special  type of connection.  There’s plenty of research proving art is an overall health booster.  I don’t think about my health when I draw and paint, I do it for joy.  I reap all kinds of benefits I am not planning or thinking about.

Here are a few facts about the benefits of making art:

  • Art has been shown to stop Alzheimer’s  Disease because it increases brain plasticity.
  • It lets you lose a sense of time when you feel connected to everything,  flowing in movement with something greater than yourself.
  • Creativity is grounding as your thoughts become focused.  If your thoughts are scattered or too much in the air, art will bring you down into your body.
  • Looking at art has been known to have healing affects, that is why many hospitals incorporate art into their design and architecture.
  • Art has been known to alleviate depression. Many times in life when people feel stuck, unworthy or unwanted, art helps them to see opportunities and outcomes where before there were none.
  • Art brings hope when we “see” our own desires, intentions and voice brought to light.  We all need to feel hope coming from within.
  • High Schools who have an art focus see higher test scores, less drop-out rates and higher self-esteem among students.
  • Making beautiful colors, texture and lines as works of art  reinforces your resourcefulness and self-reliance.
line art drawing
line art drawing

Surpassing your own standards

When I see a  student go beyond what they thought they could do, that’s when I get my “teachers reward”.   At first a student may be afraid, even a little paralyzed.  At the end, they feel totally confident, in control and with a sense of achievement in themselves.  That’s why I teach.

You don’t have to be a great artist to draw or paint. The fact is anyone can make a mark and marks can be wonderful works of art.  Understanding a few principles and elements of art like contrast, balance and unity will help you know how to make the simplest of marks look like  beautiful pictures.

line art flower design
line art flower design

Dare to Draw the line

Try this creative lesson.  It is an exercise in creativity as well as a fun way to be introduced to an element of art: line; and the principles of contrast, balance and unity.

On your next coffee break, or when you first get up in the morning, grab some paper and get your creative, meditative, yogic fix on an 8 1/2  x 11.  No coloring book or costly markers needed.

Start by drawing a line, then make  another.  Enjoy how your pen moves on the paper.  Make small adjustments to each consecutive line so each one is similar yet a little different than the last.  One line might be a little longer or thicker than the previous one.  Let go and let it flow.

As you consider the possibilities  for types of lines you can make, you will automatically increase your vocabulary of line. You will feel good about the endless and creative ideas you can come up with. Being creative means you have more ideas than you can possibly put to use.   When the ideas and possibilities are endless, so are you.

Once the contrast (in size, weight, shape) is working for you on paper, check out the unity.  Are all the thick, dark lines in one area or are they spread out to create a balance and sense that everything is working together?

You can do this exercise on copy paper or tape larger paper to a wall and add a line every time you walk by.

Your heart needs to express ideas.  It’s  natural to create.  It’s who you are.   Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) said something like this: “Be willing to make a bad work of art rather than do no art at all”.

Now let’s get out your pencil, pen, or marker and paper.   Dare to draw the line.  Make time for you, inspire yourself by your own willingness to show up every day.  You will reap the benefits of helping yourself in ways that improve your mood, focus, brain activity, creative muscle and vision.

Here is a worksheet on line if you need a jump start with your creativity:

Types of lines for creative ideas

The drawing below was greatly enhanced after I started teaching children about making lines thick, thin, close together and far apart for variety.  After taking my own advice my cat drawings are greatly improved.

art drawing of cat
drawing of cat

I’m looking forward to creating every day and I hope you will join me.

Plants, Imagination and Clay

clay sculpture of bug eating flower
clay sculpture of bug eating flower

Connecting our vision with outer form

Forming clay with our inner eye seeing it, not yet knowing how it will turn out and then seeing it form.  Evaluating how we like it and want it to be so it becomes for us the beautiful image we held, or even more lovely than we imagined.  I call that a creative work-out.

Nature and creep

Imagination can really go places in art when forming shapes to make bug eating plants.  We focused on open petaled plants that close up when lunch drops in.  Students made a choice to leave the petals open or close them up, add insects or just paint the clay in beautiful and creative ways.

Air Dry or kiln?

The air dry clay used in camps is great stuff, looking and feeling like the real thing.  No need to worry about creating air bubbles that might cause the art to come apart in the kiln.  This material lets students understand how to form shapes, twist, bend, pinch and squeeze  and connect.  Once these skills are familiar it’s much easier to use earthen ware that gets fired in a kiln.

Air dry sculpture being painted
Air dry sculpture being painted

To appreciate nature the best way is to get out in it.  There is no substitute for the textures, smells, temperature, and being present with the energy and vibration of the natural world.  The next best thing in art class is to find points of interest to help hook students into the subject they are working with.  Maybe they will get curious and want to learn more.

Carnivorous plants are exciting, weird and totally whacky when it comes to nature.  The many ways used to capture their prey tells of the intelligence that is inherent in all of the natural world.  This short article has great images and quick text to peek your further interest.

clay sculpture of flower with paint
clay sculpture of flower with paint

Artist, Dan Corson makes some very cool and fabulous art that I would love to see in person.  His colorful and interactive public art can be seen on his website as inspiration for travel and creative ideation.

For more nature clay  inspirations see this post on making an outdoor house for your garden critters.  Even crickets like a nice couch to lay on.

Looking to take a class to work with clay?  The Art League has many opportunities for beginning potters to work on the wheel or hand building.  I enjoy the quite concentration, imagination and beauty of the art and people at the Art League Ceramics Studio.

Or pick up a bag of air dry clay and get to work inventing your own creative art that takes you into your unlimited imaginative universe today.

Creative art – painting from a feeling and memory

Paintings with feelings in line and color

Creative painting based on memory and feeling
painting based on memory and feeling

Painting is a great way to get in touch with good memories and feelings.  Close your eyes and imagine you are in a beautiful place where you feel safe, loved, happy and cared for.  For some of us that place is in our imagination, for others this place comes to mind along with memories of being at the ocean, in a forest,  or with someone who loves us very much.

Using paint to make the connection to that place with line and shape adds meaning to our paintings.

painting from memory and feeling with watercolors
creative art paintings from memory and feeling with watercolors

We can feel in color and lines

I easily connect with the colors green and brown,  after a hike at Potomac Overlook Park in Arlington.  My favorite bike path between Roosevelt Island and National Airport brings colors of blue  flowing lines.  And time with my husband is always in a soft yellow and gold cloud.  When I use these colors in my painting, it intensifies the feeling and experience.

Marks carry energy

The marks we make as we tune in with our memory of experiences carry a vibration with them.  I believe we can scribe our energy of these memories into our marks and that others can “read” this.  Sharing our positive experiences with others is one way to lift our spirits in and through art. Painting in marks is a great way to paint without pressure.

To create this non-representational painting (art that does not represent a person, place or thing) we used our watercolors and repeated lines or shapes to capture the feeling of our experience.

Painting by artist Joan Mitchell called Closed Territory 1073
Closed Territory 1973

Joan Mitchell  (1925-1992) was our inspiration to paint with colors and memory.  She is important to the art world for her active role in art as a woman and expressionist painter.

Try it at home

With a few simple art materials you can create a variety of beautiful paintings based on feelings of a place and time in which you expand and radiate joy.

I used Strathmore 300 series watercolor paper and prang 16 set of watercolors .   To make the art function for more than a wall hanging I scored the paper so it folds like french doors.  It can then stand in a window for light illumination from the sun or a candle.

Alternately, it can be used like a folder to hold art, poetry or any other paperwork.  For more exploration in  spiral shapes and monochromatic color as you paint check this out.

Painting with feeling and memory
Painting with feeling and memory

Art League Children’s Art- Making their own creations

The last Fundamentals of Art class at the Art League School ended with a Bang!   POW!   Zam!

Looking back on the spring classes lines and dots were a theme:

With all those lines and dots we had to come up with a project of our own that related to one or more themes: dots, lines, portraits, spirals.  These were inspired by our artists Van Gogh, Kusama and Seurat.

Sunday’s class highlights:

In addition to the pictures above Jamie made a really great book about how to make a sculpture.  It included pictures and actual illustrations with words.

Here is what we came up with in Thursdays class:

Megan's spiral pages
Megan’s spiral pages

Megan made a series of pages for a book filled with a subject of her choice and lots of spirals.

Sasha's animal book
Sasha’s animal book

Sasha’s made a book of animals from dots.

Leonardo make an artists' book
Leonardo make an artists’ book

Leonardo made an artists’ book where the pages are all about color, lines and dots.

Luna's art of the cat
Luna’s art of the cat

Luna Made a diorama featuring her cat chase.  She used lots of lines for fur.


Art League Children – Yard critters need a place to stay

clay sculpture by Erica
clay sculpture by Erica

The weather is beautifully inspiring along the Potomac, in the D.C. parks, all over Alexandria, Arlington and wherever you and your child travel from to take a class with me at the Art League.

So inspiring is this beautiful spring that I was encouraged by a bag of clay to make homes for outdoor critters.

All the children delved into the tasks of turning a very large piece of clay into a ball, pressing it, rolling it, cutting, shaping, scoring and attaching pieces.  It was great fun to see the results be as unique as each young and eager artist.

These toad houses are made from air dry clay and will be ready to place outside in a couple days.  They can be painted or left all natural.  Crickets, cicadas, toads, frogs and ants may all rent these cozy retreats.  Some homes come equipped with a bed, nightstand and lamps for the best in creature comforts.

children critique their art work
children critique their art work