DAY # 355 – HEADS UP

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I’m feeling a lot better today. Yesterday I began to panic over everything Christmas! I had presents to deliver, places to be, kids to collect, a little art to make, a blog to write… I sort of lost my cool.

Now that all of yesterdays tasks have been accomplished I feel a whole lot lighter.  My shopping is complete.  I gave my house a good cleaning, the crazy hours of theatre end tomorrow, it may actually be time to sit back and enjoy a little bit of the holiday.

My only worry is what could I do artistically without any semblance of a schedule?  My kids will be home until the new year, we have quite a bit of traveling to do and we will be hosting guests as well.

When I woke up today that worry had gone away. Every day this year would have been a panic if I actually stopped to think about them.  What has gotten me through is taking one day at a time and not thinking about it.  Any time I have tried to plan ahead, eek something out ahead, anything that wasn’t absolutely present, has failed. I woke up today and reminded myself to go with the flow.

Now this would have been one of those rare mornings where I could have slept in, but no.  My youngest snuck in to snuggle at 5:30am and by 6am my husband and I were officially up.

I seized the moment and sat down to paint.  I cut up a bunch of 7×11″ pieces of watercolor paper. My plan was just to let the watercolor flow. I figured if I put some paint down an idea would spring from it and it did.

I began to see a face emerge.

I thought to myself “how fun” and “how free”.  I love this small narrow size and I love letting watercolors roam freely as they do.

It occurred to me that I could accomplish a few of these a day.  A moment here, a moment there. Plus, I was having fun which is important.  This is supposed to be something I love, not a chore.  If I turn it into a chore even in my last week of creating for an entire year, I will lose.  I will remember burning out at Christmas and that is not the memory for me.  I want FUN.

So in the upcoming days I will probably post about upcoming festivities, fun things I’m doing with family, but I also will be creating these wild head paintings.  My idea is to take a big bunch of them and combine them into one large work at the end.

My true objective is to let loose and play with color. It’s my first love. It’s my true love. I figure if I focus on color and I focus on fun the next ten days will be a breeze.

Now that’s how I want to go out!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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DAY #354 – AND MAY ALL YOUR CHRISTMASES BE BRIGHT

#354- May all your christmases by bright

Oh man. I would love to wake up one morning and see Fruity Pebble colored snow!

That would make for a Very Mary Christmas!! Ha ha ha. That was bad… I know… I know…

It’s funny, when I started this 365 challenge, I had absolutely no idea how it would end.  I’ve lived every day thus far “one day at a time”.  It is only occurring to me now that I have given absolutely no thought to how I am going to make it through the next ten days. I start traveling to be with family for Christmas starting tomorrow.  Packing, gifts, cleaning, becoming Santa, driving, hosting, trying to have a meaningful moment with each person in my life… How in the heck am I going to create something daily for my 365 and simply try to survive what is already the most stressful time of the year for me?

I’m pretty sure you couldn’t hear that giant sigh I just made.

The answer is – I have no idea!

The answer is I will most likely have to work small, I will have to engage my family in whatever I come up with and finally, I’m going to have to give myself a little bit of a break!

That is hard for me because if you asked me a year ago how I would like my 365 to end, I would have said “fireworks”, better yet “I could run through a hand-crafted finish line”  or best “I could sit on Oprah’s couch in Maui and reflect on a great year”.

More likely I will not have showered for three days, my children will be shooting me with Nerf darts, my house may become condemned for the amount of crap on the floor and I will finish out the same way I began, with a few good friends giving me a pat on the back.

Reality isn’t ever as good as my imagination. This is why I chose to create!

So I warn you, if I post a photograph of a pretty swirl in my coffee, a mustard stain on a cocktail napkin or Jesus on some toast, go easy on me!

I am going to try my best, but I have to tell you, I just can’t see how I’m going to make it to that finish line!

I’ll do it though…I’ve come so far, I can’t quit now.

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DAY #353 – MARGOT

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I remember the first time I met Margot.  She was about two years old.  She walked into a bustling library story hour wearing this giant purple fur coat.

At age two she was rocking a giant purple fur, striped tights, some sort of crazy boots, an extra sweater, a feather in her hair, mardi-gras beads, you name it.  I simply found this kid fascinating.  Of course she had me at striped tights and purple fur, but as I have watched her grow over the years I’ve also enjoyed watching her style evolve.

Now I probably cannot go any further without mentioning her bigger sister.  She is queen of cool.  I’d imagine like many second-borns, Margot must struggle to fill her sister’s shoes. But I don’t think she does, she is very distinct and very unique. What separates the two is Margot is a little more quiet.  As I watch her I’m always wondering what she’s thinking. What I do know, is that Margot beats to her own drum and I SO DIG THAT!

Today’s collage made with tons of tiny cut up painted acrylic papers is a celebration of kid style.  Kids are so free. So funky.  I find them way more entertaining than TV!

I love that just like snowflakes, each one of our kids is so very different, one of a kind, unique.

PRECIOUS!

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Why does my cat sit on every piece of my art?  Why?  Is it her stamp of approval?

DAY #352 – KIDS

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As the days of my 365 challenge dwindle I tackle yet another item on my bucket list.

Swirling around in my head are two concepts.  One, I want to create some collages and two, I have these strong visuals of  kids I’d like to portray.  Kids. There’s nothing more fun than that!

Now this is a tricky topic.  If I choose one kid how come I didn’t choose the other? How about siblings? Do I have favorites?  This first kid isn’t even my kid, so we can take playing favorites off the table right now OK?

Quite simply, what it comes down to is that I have three kids in mind.  The only basis for picking these kids is that they really produce visual cues for me, meaning with just a mention of a name, characters come to life in my head.  I picture something instantly. Now I am working on a crazy tight time frame, so if these kids I am picking come natural to me then that’s the direction I am going in.  I’m starting to get a little brain fry here!

Now PARENTS – and I know a lot of you, don’t even start! It’s that simple.

Plus I don’t even know what I’m doing so you may not want your kid to be part of this anyways!

Ok. Back to the process because that’s why I’m creating this in the first place right?

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I first began by hand painting and texturizing paper with acrylic paints. I used rice , a fork and a brayer to create different textures.

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After I created a nice assortment of papers I sat down and began to cut. Now I have a concept for this piece which I will share with you tomorrow, but for today, I was just trying to lay down the foundation.

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In fact, I haven’t even decided on a head shape yet!  I’m not trying to create a real-life portrait, instead I want to choose each shape to work for & against the other shapes. You know, curves vs. angles or straight vs. tilted. I want to keep moving everything until the composition is interesting.

So this is only the beginning. I have quite a few layers I’d like to add.

We’ll see if I can get some of the ideas in my head to manifest or whether this is simply going to be a chopped-up papery mess…

I never quite know when I try something new. I’ll hold my breath as usual!

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DAY # 351- A CUP OF AWESOME!

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I was holding my breath the entire way into pottery class.  Would I be disappointed? Frustrated? Discouraged? or would the mugs I spent hours on have turned out OK?

drum roll…..

…I… I… I love them!!!

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The long-winded story was that my first set of mugs were too dark and brown for my personal taste.  So I painstakingly designed new mugs and fretted over brighter& lighter glaze choices.

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I’m thrilled with the results. I totally think it was worth it! The mugs are a lot more stream-lined and lightweight. That’s what happens when you try again, you learn from your past experience and everything improves.

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Now, Do you like my hats?

Actually, I took this picture to try to explain my process.  I am making bowls very similar to my mugs.  I begin with the bottom of the bowl being thrown on the pottery wheel and the top of the bowl being hand-built with flat slabs of clay.

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I gave these wide lips for holding on to.  It’s my favorite shape for soup bowls.  I plan on making three more bowls next session for a set of six bowls and I want each bowl to be different and unique.

I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere!

Well, now that I think of it, it has been a full year since I started pottery classes.  I started a couple of weeks before this creativity challenge.  I have come a long way in a year.  If you asked me if I thought I’d be where I am now at a year I would have told you no way!  Pottery is too hard! When I started, I couldn’t even center the clay on the wheel for the first few months. I also couldn’t choose what I wanted to make, I had to settle for creating whatever was left on the wheel after I mangled multiple lumps of clay.  A full year later I can center clay, I can hand-build, I can come to class with an idea and accomplish it and now hopefully I can have a little success with glazes as well (we’ll see, it could have just been a fluke!).

I look forward to looking back after this challenge at all of my old pottery posts and observing my progress.  I’ve never been one to journal so this year will be a great gift to myself.  A little time capsule of all my thoughts and angst!

I’m glad I found pottery as an outlet for creativity. I can’t tell you how many years I had excuses for never even trying.

OK. Off to cook dinner. Thank you all for joining me on my journey!

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DAY #350 – AS GOOD AS I CAN GET

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Wow, I never thought such a little painting (11×14″) could be such a challenge.  The next time I have the great idea to grab ten highly reflective things and attempt to paint them, someone stop me!

I truly thought I’d be able to finish this watercolor in two hours and then start something else.  Five hours later, I just put down the paint brush.

The inside of the large ball proved to be the greatest challenge.  It’s an example of a reflection within a reflection. It’s also an example of a total nerd because I loved every moment of it! I love trying to figure those little areas out.  I bet if I tried this painting all over again I could totally nail it.  Too bad my attention span isn’t long enough.  Of course I want to move on to something else…that’s just the way my energy flows!

I  have pottery tomorrow.  I am biting my nails wondering if my glazing experiments have worked out.  I’m so nervous!

So pottery play tomorrow and then I will figure out something new to begin on Wednesday… Hmm. time is ticking, what shall I do in my final days???

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DAY #349 – GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST

 

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Here lie the ghosts of Christmases past.

I had this funny idea to make a wreath out of all those little toys you find on the stairs, under the bed,  and tucked in the car seat. It’s an homage to the bane of every mothers existence, crap toys! 

I have to say, I did have to ask my girlfriend for some of the junk off of her floor because as I began to create this wreath, my children began shrieking in protest! “I need that” “this one is my favorite” “that has sentimental value” –yeah right I say!  It’s the reason us moms have to dispose of this stuff when the kids are not around.  The old motto “out of sight, out of mind” is so true! My kids didn’t even know they had it until they see it again.

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To create the wreath I cut a circle with a hole out of a recycled cardboard box.  I then took six paper bowls and hot-glued them on to the cardboard.

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Now I had a steady base for compiling my toy wreath.

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Again, if you are a parent there is no short supply of toys.  I swear I didn’t even buy these.  How do my kids get them?  How do they multiply?  It’s like magic…or a curse!

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I started with the biggest toys and the stuffies.  They were the first to be glued into the bowls. From there I hot-glued in my favorites, meaning the toys I wanted most visible and then finally I glued in the smallest/filler toys.

Now my kids don’t have to cry because Mommy threw all their toys away.  For one month a year they will be able to revisit them!

Silly huh?

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Here are my Keith Haring gingerbread men.  Sorry they aren’t super creative.  I simply didn’t see the point since two minutes after baking I had already bitten off their heads!  My kids stuck all their left over Halloween candy on their gingerbread men.  Let’s just say after all the chocolate melted, they weren’t exactly photo worthy.  But a Kit-Kat to the head couldn’t have been such a bad way to go!

It’s 11pm and as usual everyone is already tucked in as visions of sugar plums dance through their heads. Visions of sugar plums or running gingerbread men?

Hmm.  Not sure. All I know is I’m ready to join them!

Nighty night!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#348 – MAKE IT TWINKLE

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What was I thinking taking on such an ambitious subject matter?

I am attempting to paint vintage glass Christmas ornaments, incredibly sparkly ones at that.

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First I attempted to paint in all of the painted patterns on the ornaments. I thought they’d be brighter if I painted them in the first layer as opposed to over three layers of darker colors.  Not sure this was the greatest approach.  It broke up the flow of paint on all of the ornaments. My aqua blue water-color paint is a bit grainy as well.  It sticks in some places and not others making it difficult to create the illusion of transparency or reflection.

So I am going very slow.  This painting is going to take quite a few layers of watercolor to produce depth and light. I knew I should have just painted a snowman.  You know, a white snowman in a blizzard (aka. a blank sheet of paper!) .  I should have painted two coal eyes and a carrot nose and called it a day!

I have another project I wanted to do for tomorrow too. Wish me luck on getting both done with the kids home and hopefully some sled riding in our future! Tomorrow is gingerbread man baking day as well. Plus we wanted to go see the movie Frozen. Maybe I should just stay up tonight and push on through to morning.

The snow is coming down outside. Everyone is asleep.  It’s quiet.  Now it’s really beginning to feel like winter.

How does it go?  “Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap…”

Nap. Hmm. I can’t think of anything better!

Goodnight to All.

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DAY #347- SIGNS OF CHRISTMASES LONG LONG AGO

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I went wandering through the house this morning looking for elements for a still life.

First I chose a Santa mug, a couple of candy canes and a snowman snow globe. It was cute, but almost too cute.

Next I was traipsing through the neighborhood collecting holly, berries, and pine sprigs.  Funny thing was, they just weren’t Martha Stewart caliber.  I wound up stuffing them in my hedge and heading home.

I came back in the house a little disheartened.  I’m feeling like I want to paint something Christmassy, There is Christmas stuff everywhere I look, yet nothing seems you know, right.

I made a cup of tea and quieted my brain.  I asked myself the question “If I did paint a holiday painting what would I actually hang on my wall?”  The answer was not much!  I don’t want santas, reindeer, snowmen or elves.  It would have to be prettier than that.  It would have to be colorful….I began to finally get somewhere…I started to look around the house with fresh eyes…when I gazed at my Christmas tree.  I didn’t want to do a tree painting, but the ornaments, the ornaments, each one of them is prettier than the next.

I pulled some off the tree and began photographing.

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To me vintage ornaments have a quality that simply cannot be matched by our present day adornments.  That icy blue, minty green,  and cherry red are so crisp and illuminating.

They quite simply make me happy.

My friend Kim gave me the large blue ball as a present.  It’s an antique.  The blue pine cone ornament came with my family from Hungary two generations ago and the others I have slowly collected, treating myself at antique shops and sometimes scoring big at thrift shops.  I adore each and every ornament and yet they are so fragile, so perishable, so hard to retain.

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Now how cliché is this?  I actually pulled a toy football and broken ornament off of my tree.  How many times do you have to tell kids “NOT IN THE HOUSE!!!”  That’s something I’ve learned about ornaments over a lifetime.  They break.  I have broken a hundred I’m sure.  I will break many more, but just like fine china, if you don’t use it every day it sort of loses it’s purpose and if you’re not enjoying it every day, then what’s the frigging point?

I use my vintage finds, I enjoy them, they break and instead of feeling bad about it, I get excited.  It means I now have a reason to hunt for another new treasure!

I love today’s photographs.  They make me want to fill my entire house with this color palette.  They make me want to eat grandmas butter cookies, listen to Bing Crosby, drink cocoa, jingle bells, partake in  a little rum punch and why not, eat a little fruit cake!

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It took me a little time today, but I found my inspiration.

  I sketched out the foundation of a painting and tomorrow I will attempt to capture a little bit of that Christmas magic.

Is it even possible to capture twinkle?

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DAY #346 – MY WIDDLE WILLOW

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Today was another first.

This is a pastel drawing on black Canson paper 19×25″.

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Here lies one more art medium I haven’t had the pleasure of working in.   Of course since I haven’t really worked with it, I’m going to find it somewhat intimidating and if I  find it somewhat intimidating then it really should be part of my creativity challenge!  It wasn’t too bad actually. I found it moves along faster than other mediums.  Most likely because nothing has to dry.

Above is a wonderful treasure trove of artist pastels handed down to me by my illustrator grandfather after he passed away.  Some of these materials date back to the 1950’s- 70’s.  He’d be happy that they weren’t thrown away and were put to good use.  I just love the old boxes.  They make me think of his artist studio.  My grandfather used quite a bit of charcoal and pastel.  He drew illustrations for King Features Syndicate in NYC.  Many of them were for magazine articles and stories.  The most memorable were murder mysteries.  The drawings were great.  No one else knew that it was his wife posing dead on the floor or his children shrieking in fear! Every year he would gather all of his grandkids and pose them in all sorts of crazy positions. A few months later these magical Christmas cards would emerge.  All of us kids would be pointing toward the North Star, There was Grandpa and his little angels, little drummer boys, he was so creative.  I’m lucky to have been born from such a creative and supportive family, really blessed.

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I began by mapping out the lights and darks of my furry friend.  From there I created the patterned Afghan, and then went back and added some finishing touches to Willow.

You have to know the blanket’s my favorite part, however I do love to watch my little kitty all snuggled up cat-napping.  Willow loves to sit on ALL of my papers, mostly my artwork.  If I leave the room for even a minute, when I come back she’s lying on my artwork.  Today wasn’t any different.  I came in and Willow was sitting on my pastel.  Do you have any idea what damage a cat can do with pastel?  I had little blue kitty tracks everywhere! She’s lucky she’s so cute and soft, that’s all I gotta say on that matter.

Which brings me to my final thought.  Can anyone out there give me advice on how to work with pastels neatly?  I made such a mess!  My table was covered, my floor was covered and I was covered in very richly colored pastel dust.  When I added water to the table, I added an extra 20 minutes to my clean-up detail.  It became a colorful spackle!  I brought out the vacuum for the floor and myself, but something tells me I only got half of it.  How do pastel artists set up and walk away unscathed?  I’d love to work with this medium again, but something tells me I may need to invest in tarps and a Hazmat suit!

Wow, I actually finished with an hour to spare today.  That hasn’t happened in months.

As a special treat, I am off to do a little local Christmas shopping.

I hope you all are having a Merry!

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