New lens, new focus

Somehow African Violets survive in my home. 
I think they like to be neglected, or they like the light
in the room where they live. Or maybe I got lucky.
I just took this photo this evening and totally love the 
velvet look in the green leaves, contrasting with the blossoms.
Have you ever noticed that these little gems actually glisten?
Okay, I have to confess, there is more than one reason that I took these images. 
I have a new lens. 
A Tamron 70-300mm F/4-5.6.
For my photographer friends out there, you must know
that I’m doing a happy dance!  And scratching my head…
trying to figure out just how this works.  Oh well, more
practice, more photo excursions, whatever it takes…
And I want to share a bit from my gratitude journal / art journal
that I worked on yesterday.  My heart is full of gratitude for 
all those I’m connected to, that vast web of people 
both at work and in my personal life,
in my biological family
as well as “adopted” loved ones near and far,
 who affect me in positive ways.
That new lens allowed me to focus on just those words,
“Love being connected!”

Thirty Days of Thanks – Second Week

Being intentional about giving thanks, about living from a place of gratitude can be challenging. What gets in the way is the business, the change in routine, the negative news or attitudes of others. That is what I have learned this week. My whole idea of gratitude is changing in all of this. Have you had that experience, too?  
This is not just about writing lists (for me, anyway). My friend Valerie emailed me a few days ago to share her experience and wrote these words: 
“More and more I come to realize how seeking the beauty that this moment holds (and therefore the peace, grace, and joy inherent in it), being creative in whatever way speaks to you,  and living from a place of gratefulness are all intricately bound together in a way I had never fully realized.  I think I’m still realizing it. An appreciation of one these can’t help but deepen your experience of the others.  They all lead to each other and a deeper appreciation of the Divine.” 

Her wisdom sums up what I, too, am learning on this part of the journey. My art journal is evolving, and this week I chose to take a few photos of details of my pages to share with you, along with my main thoughts for each day.
Here are a few snapshots of my Thirty Days of Thanks 
project and art journal from the last few days.
Love that Endures was the topic 
of my gratitude on November 4th. 
What touches my heart is that love comes to us
through so many wonderful people all through our lives.
Saturday, November 5th found me reflecting on
the vast abundance that we enjoy. Our friend, Jim, said
“If there is a need, fill the need…”  How can I not share 
from such plenty?
Sunday, the 6th, as I wrote in my journal I thought of 
the freedom that I enjoy, in so many ways. There is that 
freedom to choose to live life the way I want. And, more importantly,
the freedom to get myself unstuck from choices that 
maybe I regret.  I’m free to fly.
Monday, the 7th. How blessed we are to have a home, 
a safe place, a sanctuary, our own nest where we 
can relax and be at peace. 
Some days it is hard to be grateful. That’s how it was 
for me on Tuesday.  Just as I was thinking to myself that I could not
write anything for that day, Yeller came begging for affection and sat 
on my lap. How is it that something as simple as petting the cat
can change your heart?  I melted. And I was so glad that Yeller helped me
come back into that moment.
Wednesday, the 9th. More challenges to trying to be in a mindset 
of gratitude. The random water colors reflect the frustration of that day.
But I did find that I can find something good in the negative.
Thursday, the 10th, is Mark’s birthday. We have been honored to 
have his parents here from Missouri, who came out so they could 
take us to dinner to celebrate! When you consider that they are both in their 80’s,
it’s pretty amazing that they could come for a couple days.
Pretty special people, who brought this wonderful man into the world.
I’m so so so thankful to be his wife.
Thank you for stopping by, and for sharing your gratitude here and with others.
  

About that Art Journal

In my opinion, an art journal can be whatever you want it to be. That is how I am approaching it for my Thirty Days of Thanks journal.  There are many examples out there of art journals, instructions, so much information that it took me a while to find a source I understood and liked.  One of the reasons I like it is because the author gave me a good idea of what an art journal can be. 
IMG_0601Pam Carriker (of www.pamcarriker.com) wrote “Art At The Speed of Life”. Basically she says to work on this journal while you do your art projects; in other words, while I am making a mixed media piece or a collage I take my small scraps of stuff or my little bits of paint on the brush, and I create sort of a miniature of the bigger thing I’m making.  She even shows how to make an art journal from paper that you have on hand rather than buying one – if you like to do that sort of thing. I actually started an art journal fitting her description. This time, for my gratitude project, I purchased a spiral bound art journal at my local hobby and craft store.  The paper in it is suitable for all kinds of stuff to be used on it, paint, water color, pen, marker, etc.

Another book I dearly love is Kelly Rae Roberts “Taking Flight” (see www.kellyraeroberts.com). Her book inspired me to get started with making a collage in new ways.  Together with Pam Carriker’s book I have learned a lot.  Maybe you have a favorite book or blog you can share in the comments that will help, too!

My favorite supplies are shown here: from left to right, top row: water color crayons, blendable water color markers, colored pencils. Bottom row: baby wipes, matte gel (better than Elmer’s glue), and my cheap little bottles of acrylic paints.

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Water color crayons and markers are more expensive that regular crayons or markers, but you can do such cool things with them. Here I have drawn a heart with the blue water color crayon.  Then I have used a paint brush that has been dipped in a little water, and have spread the water color crayon as you see.  This makes for some great back ground and accent coloring. And it is fun!

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About the baby wipes…I use them to clean my hands, yes, but more than that I use them to spread paint on a page or thin it out or create some shading. Pam Carriker’s book taught me that.  You can even let the messed up baby wipes dry, cut them up and use them as part of a mixed media creation. 

Once I start on a page I just keep going until it looks right. The main thing is To Start! Just put some color on that page and the ideas will flow. I truly believe that. Sometimes I put scraps of paper onto the page, other times I don’t.  But when I do use other papers I definitely use the more expensive gel medium, which I found it the art supplies part of the craft store. It really works well with lots of stuff for collage and mixed media.  I also use regular glue on occasion.

The other day I used my printer and printed one of my gourd photos on plain paper, cut it out and put it onto a page of my journal. My gratitude that day was for Abundance and I wanted to show something from the harvest. I have also added a little paint and color to the page, but you get the idea here. Most of the time I have written my gratitude stuff first in ink, then done my creating on top of that. On some pages I can still read what I wrote, but on others it is hidden.

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What amazes me is that each and every page is different.  What I thought I was going to be putting in this journal has not even appeared there.  Taking each day and being grateful for the gifts of that day is turning into a life changing experience. And I am so so so glad that you have been reading this and responding! Some have emailed, some I get to talk to in person each week (yay!), and many of you have left wonderful comments about your experience. It moves me to read what you are all grateful for.

Here is my disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert in any way on art journals or mixed media or any of that.  No doubt there are many other great resources out there on the Web and in your favorite book store. What I’m sharing here is just what I have found and what is working for me at present. I hope that you find it helpful!

Thanks for stopping by!