Fall In Love With Stick Figures Again

This week was long, tiring, and freakin’ awesome.

I’m so amazed at the changes taking place in my life right now. I wanted to end the week by sharing with you this week’s artistic accomplishment, and also share a little bit about my life changing, soul fulfilling events.

To begin I want you to think about stick figures. Yes, the round headed, lines for body doodle. Remember drawing him in elementary schools or the occasional Hangman game?   Well, take everything you remember about it and throw it out the window. Really, this is going to blow your mind, and possibly get you addicted to drawing stick figures.

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This week’s Lifebook lesson was taught by the amazing Mandy van Goeije, a Dutch illustrator, artist, and teacher. She introduced us to a brand new spin on stick figure drawing. So whether you can draw or not, you will be able to create this simple doodle. The surprising part of doing so is the therapeutic message these little stick figures can add to your life. Mandy encouraged us to add as little detail as possible while creating a small storyboard consisting of two or three frames. In each frame, stick figures would depict our story, message, ideas, anything really. At first I thought “Hmm..really? How can I tell a story with so little detail?” Well, you can, and it turns out that letting stick figures depict your story is much more powerful than filling a whole page with words or painting a masterpiece. Below are some examples of my stick figures.

16195630_10155000430091323_3536615251610619902_nDrawing them made me feel like a five year old again….and for all the right reasons. You see, you NEED to approach art with a child-like innocence to express your true, raw, meaningful stories. When we grow up we have to become “responsible”, “sensible”, “wise”…and we tend to lose our child-like imagination. Art doesn’t work well with stern, methodical approaches. It yearns to be free, simple even, always expecting nothing but your true self.  When I connected with my fellow artists and we exchanged our stick figure stories, we saw how this process unlocked so many emotions.  Some expressed and processed grief in their drawings; others expressed gratitude; everything was simple, raw, and yet incredibly powerful.

I was so inspired by this process that I created a journal where I can add all of my stick figure stories, short frames telling about my feelings, my day, and my dreams.  And yes, even the silly and mundane moments, because they all matter and they add up to this thing we call life.

So why don’t you give these little figures a chance to enter your own life?  But I must warn you…they’re highly addicting.  You may find yourself drawing dozens and dozens of storyboards, stick figures becoming what words can’t express and the neatest companion you ever had.  Please share your stick figure storyboards with me, I would love to see what they have to say 🙂

And finally, I must say I’m so incredibly thankful for the events unfolding in my life right now.  I recently joined Devorah Spilman’s InStory group, where I have a mentorship for my creative visions, purpose in life, and soul calling.  Being mentored and supported by people who get me is an unbelievable feeling.   I have so many projects ahead and for the first time in a long time, I am confident in all of them, knowing that they’ll enrich my life, connections, and soul in so many ways.

And…..to add more sparkle to my life, I have also signed up for Over The Rainbow, Jane Davenport’s newest 8 week long art course, where I’ll be making Emerald City come to life, with all its darling (and some a little evil) characters.  I’m so excited.  Join me on this adventure, connect with me and other artists, and find your tribe.

 

Till next time, love yourself and others, honor the calling, and create like a child. XO

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Emerging From The Mess: The Person I Know Best

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What a week this has been. Throughout the hectic schedules and running around to a million places, I knew I had to complete this week’s Lifebook lesson. Of course, I didn’t have to, but I am at a place where I have to dig deeper within myself and pursue my passion, challenging any excuse or time stealer.

As I followed this week’s lesson, “The Person I Know Best”, taught by the talented Misty Mawn, I knew I was in for some trouble. Her lesson asked to paint a portrait of ourselves, not focusing entirely on depicting us perfectly in every feature, but bringing forth the person we are inside, or the one we want to bring to life. This portrait signifies the connection we have within ourselves, knowing we’re never alone as long as we are in tune with who we are. That itself wasn’t a huge challenge, but a task I welcomed entirely. The problem was the call to work primarily in acrylics.

Now, I love my acrylics, I really do. They are smooth, rich, and full of life…if you know how to master them. Misty worked with them in such an effortless way, merging shades and hues in harmonious connection. After my initial sketch, I selected my colors nervously. An hour into the portrait and I looked down at the paper with horror. My painting was streaky and plastic looking; graphite lines were blending with each color stroke; the entire portrait looked like a mash of shapes and blobs of paint.

IMG_4214.jpgI began resisting the process. How could I be expected to do something so advanced in only week three? I thought of my familiarity with whimsical painting, where your subject needs to look less realistic and there’s more leniency in using different mediums. I sought refuge within my art group, fellow Lifebook participants. I voiced my concerns and frustrations, which many shared as well. But there was also positive encouragement, a reminder that it’s about the process, not the result. I posted a picture of my early picture, showing them just terrible it seemed to me. Should I scrap this? I asked. The answer was a resounding no. A fellow artist told me to push through it, see where the process leads me, and learn from it no matter the outcome. I decided to listen to them, but first I needed to walk away from the project entirely.

I couldn’t stare at her, the girl who was supposed to represent me, without a pang of anxiety. I did want to scrap her; but I was also drawn to her. She looked messy, cracked, and flawed. But so was I, at so many points of my life. She was endearing, asking for help, asking me to see through all that streaky noise, where her true beauty waited. So I left her on the table, thinking of her often and wondering if she’d ever come to life.

The next day I visited my art desk again, where she waited patiently. As the streaky mess had dried into rough patches, she had a different look about her. She was still flawed, but those rough spots showed a resilient, thick skin. Where the paper had peeled and shredded while wet, it was now whole and harder. The shadow lines that lined her features seemed more like layers of years lived. The sad smile, the dull look in her eyes, somehow they seemed to reflect a certain wisdom about her, as if she held the entire meaning of life. She was still there, flawed and cracked, but beautiful nonetheless. So I went back to work.

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The next few days I worked in several layers. Coating after coating, I watched her transform. She was reddish and dark at first; then she turned a mild yellow with shades of brown; her features kept changing, her chin straightening out; her eyes growing a little more vivid with splashes of gold; her smile turning less sour and more peaceful. I watched her evolve and finally it hit me. She wasn’t always beautiful or wholesome or perfect. She kept changing, molding day by day, doing exactly what was asked of me: give life to the person I was, am, and will always be. I realized that just like my portrait, I am this strong, flawed, solitary, ever changing human being with a story to tell. So she isn’t perfect. That’s what makes her beautiful.

I have learned so much during this process. Perseverance through the dark stages of painting—or life—can show you exactly who you are. Embracing the ugly mess, loving every flaw, not giving up at the first challenge, not only makes you a better artist, but a better human being.

I started not knowing who the girl in the painting was. I thought it wasn’t me, it couldn’t be. I didn’t recognize the features or who she was trying to be. By the end of it, she told me exactly what I needed to know. She is, after all, the person I know best.

 

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The Hummingbird: Positive Affirmations Through Art

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The second week of January comes to an end and as promised I’m journaling my experience with Lifebook. Last week I introduced you to Lifebook, a new journey of mine, a yearlong workshop hosted by Tamara Laporte, that teaches about mixed media and guides you through a self-exploration voyage.

This week was the beginning of a breakthrough for me on so many levels. I began the week diving into the first bonus lesson, “Taking Flight-The Song of the Hummingbird”. The main theme for the week was positive affirmations. The hummingbird flies into 2017 with personal confirmations of love, self-care, belief and determination. Each artist was asked to take some time and think about his or her inner needs, focusing on positive affirmations needed to nourish the soul.

When creating my hummingbird, I chose a bright and pinky color scheme. As many artists do, I pick my colors in a certain way as to relay the emotions and message housed in my work. I’ve always found that pink, turquoise, and purple express a sense of peace and restoration. My hummingbird flies into 2017 with a purpose of renewal, hope, and positive expectations.

The feathers hold a message, a visual reminder of those positive affirmations. As I begin a new year, I’m determined to reconnect with my soul, to draw inspiration from within, to seek the inner peace that will develop into my purpose in life.

As I log onto my Facebook account, my feed has been swamped with other Lifebook participants posting their own artwork, experiences, and emotions as they embark on the same journey. I can’t tell you how touching and inspiring it is to see what others are going through as they create not only art, but their lives around a sense of renewal.

There is also a lot of hurt, the one hidden in deeper levels that you have to poke at to break through. Sometimes in order to renew yourself and rebuild your life in a positive direction, you have to touch on emotions that aren’t pleasant. Some participants have shared their own emotional rollercoaster, an important step in healing. It is through connecting with others, persevering through those tough emotions, and continuing to let art guide our souls that we can heal and grow into who we need to be.

As week two draws to an end, I’ve also been meditating a lot more, on my own and through Soul Driven Summit, a series led by Devorah Spilman. This course is designed to let your soul drive your life’s direction, listening closely to the inner purpose. So far, it resonates with me in many ways. I plan on writing a separate blog on my experience with this course, so subscribe and stay tuned if you’re interested in learning more.

989e5fb46b363fd5677cae430c7bc482It has been an emotional, inspirational, and uplifting week. I will dedicate this weekend to the second bonus lesson given by Lifebook: creating a positive affirmation card deck. My teenage daughter and I are tackling this project together and I can’t wait to share our experience with you.

I ‘ll catch up with you all next week. Until then…love, believe, and create.

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Amy Oestreicher in “The Age of Bold: Women Gathering Courage, Wisdom and Strength.”

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For the first installment of The Age of Bold: Women Gathering Courage, Wisdom and Strength”, I’ve selected someone with an incredible life story. I first learned about Amy Oestreicher when I wrote The Connection Between Art and WritingAmy is very familiar with the power of art, as her own life journey has been healed and inspired by it. Amy’s story is extraordinary. Having gone through twenty-seven surgeries, a coma, sexual abuse and a decade of medical trauma, she has been able to persevere through it all. On her personal website, Amy says, “Every twist and turn has made me who I am today—a bold, resilient woman with a deeper purpose.”  […READ MORE]

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