Tuesday, August 4, 2020

THE JOURNAL THAT WAS MEANT TO BE

This is the journal that was meant to be...the one that started writing itself. Perhaps, when I explain how that came about, you'll understand why I had to go back to make these additions to its cover.



You see, I've always kept agendas -- to keep track of where I need to be and when -- but my art journals were something else altogether. Last December, when the holidays were coming to an end, I still hadn't purchased my 2020 agenda. So, when I spotted this "Mindfulness Journal" on the magazine rack at Costco I just grabbed it, even though I'm not really into yoga and meditation stuff. I just needed a place to jot down the appointments I'd already made for the coming year.


A few weeks later I was doing my annual purge in the bedroodio, trying to make room on the shelves for the artsy Christmas gifts I'd received and space on the art table to actually do some work, when I came across a book I had been soooo excited to purchase, then somehow forgot all about. It was Gina Rossi Armfield's No Excuses Art Journaling book. It shows you how to use a desk diary or agenda as the basis for an art journal, to capture the moments in your days, and was just what I needed to get me out of my creative rut. How's that for synchronicity?


I started out dutifully following her weekly and monthly instructions, adding her insert pages and envelopes with colorful washi tape, and it actually did manage to get me in the groove. Before long, however, I no longer needed the prompts, and had segued into just doing my own thing, and loving it. Then...along came Covid-19!  


On the inside cover page there was a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke that I didn't give much thought to when I first saw it. It said "And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been." How prophetic was that? Later, I made my own addition to the page, asking "You mean things like COVID - 19?" Still later, I started adding words and phrases like Social Distancing, Flatten the Curve, and Self-Quarantine. Before long the "Things That Have Never Been" were coming at us from every direction, from Antifa to Zoom, and the page was almost full!


So THAT, my friends, is how I ended up with a Mindfully Synchronistic Pandemic Art Journal, and the year isn't over yet. Let's hope I don't have to insert a whole 'nother page of "things that have never been"!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

SAME OL' SAME OL'

Not much has changed since I talked to you last -- part of the reason I go so long between posts. We're still staying hunkered down here at home, other than a couple of doctors appointments and a couple of trips to the garden center by Dear Hubby. He's very good about wearing his mask, however. The only problem now is that it's getting a whole lot harder to stay upbeat about doing all this, and not getting to spend real time with our kiddles, when the rest of the world seems to be running amok! But, all the more reason to do it.


I'm still sending pen pal cards to my little grandson.


And though I don't get many in return, I always get an immediate facetime call, with him jumping around and waving the card in the air, to tell me how excited he was to get it.

We're still doing puzzles too, and getting totally obsessed with them. Hard to believe, since we never did them at all prior to quarantine. This has been our favorite so far, since it brought back so many great memories.

Barcelona
This next one was pretty nostalgic as well, since my sister put herself through college working at Kip's Big Boy in Dallas, and we all spent a good bit of time there.


I'm still getting my monthly art lesson subscription from Lucy Brydon. This month we took all those tips we learned about glazing and layering leaves and put them to use making floral wreaths.




Loved this lesson. I am not good at particular and precise, and with these wreaths, it seems that the looser and messier you got, the better they turned out! Next up? Fun, funky little birdies.

The one thing I never tire of, however, while being stuck here at home, is the view from my windows.




Even when the little rascals sneak into my garden and nibble my plants!


Monday, June 1, 2020

KEEPIN' ON, KEEPING ON

Despite our governor's edicts about opening up businesses and getting back to normal, Hubby and I are still staying home, other than curbside pick-up orders and a couple of doctor's appointments. Considering our age and health issues, and the fact that people just don't like to follow rules about mask wearing and safe distancing, common sense told me to stay in a while longer, to see if the death toll numbers flatten out, or continue to rise. But, believe me, it ain't easy!

Hubby and I seem to take turns having really bad days, where it feels like maybe humanity isn't worth saving, usually as a result of spending too much time on Facebook! But, there are lots of good things to be found there as well, so though I sometimes have to avoid it for a period, I haven't given it up completely. For one thing, that's where author friend Katherine Center, whom I met at Lucky Star Art Camp, started sharing her "Three Good Things" posts. She believes that no matter how bad things get, if you look hard enough you can almost always find at least three good things in your life. And, if you seek out and focus on those things, you will start to feel better. So I started looking, and of course, found a whole lot more than just three!


Yes, I was kind of sad about not being able to go out for a nice Mother's Day brunch, but then this gorgeous, color-mad assortment of Harney & Sons teas, complete with honey straws, showed up on my doorstep, thanks to dear Austin and Areej. Know what else showed up there? Alexis! She didn't come in, but we got to talk through the door. Plus, she left me with some wonderful books...


and a piece of artwork our little Calvin made for me.


And yes, it was pretty sad that Calvin couldn't have a traditional birthday party to celebrate turning four, but he got at least three porch visits from family dropping off gifts, and got to make his very own birthday cake and do lots of other fun stuff his folks had planned for him, and he told them several times that he really liked no-people-birthday-parties! I'm thinking we may have yet another introvert in the family.


We are still sending pen pal letters back and forth, and based on his reactions to the two Transformer cards I sent him...


I decided to let Optimus and Bumblebee go stay at his house until quarantine is over, and he can start visiting Mimi's and Papa's toys again.


As I suspected, he was more excited about this than his actual gifts!



Although we really miss our Friday Date Days, with lunch out and a movie, we have discovered several very bingeable TV series, including one called Bosch that had lots of seasons. Add a little popcorn and Junior Mints, and you've got a pretty darned good Date Day!

Artwise, I had a fun new monthly lesson from Lucy Brydon show up in my mailbox. This one was all about glazing with water colors -- or how to overlap sheer layers of paint so that one shows through the other.



Since not one of the many puzzles Hubby ordered online back in early April had ever shown up, we decided to get back in touch with our new favorite independent bookstore, Patchouli Joe's, up in Leander. Within a few days, this Gustav Klimt puzzle was on our doorstep.


I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Turns out, it was also the most difficult! It had us so obsessed we couldn't do anything else -- until we got to the point where there was nothing but about 500 tiny identical white pieces left.


When we realized we just weren't having fun anymore, we gave ourselves permission to pack it up and move on. So now, we're working on this!


And then there was this sunset, every bit as brilliant as the color-mad puzzle above.


So, yeah. Seek and ye shall find -- possibly a whole lot more than you expected.



Wednesday, May 13, 2020

WORKING ONE'S WAY OUT OF A SLUMP

I don't know about you, but my journey through this Covid-19 experience has been full of hills and valleys. You can always tell I'm in a slump, feeling like maybe mankind isn't worth saving, if I haven't posted anything here at Seasonality in a while. Fortunately, I'm optimistic by nature, and always manage to crawl out of that valley before too long. Here are some of the things that helped me this time:

1) Sending And Receiving Snail Mail



This is the last card I sent to my pen pal Calvin. Last time my best buddy Paula was here, she brought a whole sackful of Transformers that had belonged to her grandson. Instead of giving them to him all at once, I decided to do two at a time. He got a firetruck and a police car on his last visit, and that's all he's talked about ever since! I set out Optimus Prime and Bumblebee for the next visit, but then along came Covid-19. Although drawing stuff like this is most certainly NOT my forte, I was told this post card made one little boy extremely happy. Bumblebee is in the works.



2) A Great Jigsaw Puzzle


My Hubby is not really a puzzle, cards or board game person, but when I saw an article on line, suggesting great audio book/jigsaw combinations, and one of the books was a Sci-Fi selection, I had to give it a try. Turns out, neither one of us is good at multitasking, and it was either do the puzzle, or listen to the book, so we opted for the puzzle -- and had a blast! We will save the audio book for our next car trip. The only problem with the puzzle was it completely absorbed us for two days, then left us feeling totally bereft. We already had several others on order, but they are taking way too long to get here. If quarantine is over when they arrive, they might never make it out of their boxes.

3) Starting A New Art Journal


Some of my favorite things I've ever painted were a couple of little girls. Unfortunately, they both ended up in other people's journals, when I participated in a "Circle Journal" project where our journals moved from one person to the next around the country, with each person adding something to them, until they finally maid it back home to us. Luckily, I at least thought to snap a photo of them before I sent them off.




Coming across them when doing a purge on my stash-basket reminded me of how much I enjoyed painting them. I also found magazine pages I had torn out and saved, showing the work of some favorite inner-child-artists.




Next thing I knew, I had a new art journal in the works!



4) The Everchanging Menu Of Wildflowers Popping Up In My Yard



So, what keeps you going these days?



Monday, April 20, 2020

WEEK SIX OF JUST WE TWO

Spotted From Our Balcony Porch Just The Other Day

Well, I can't believe it. We're into our sixth week of sheltering here at home together, and we haven't even been tempted to strangle one another yet! In fact, I think we've actually grown closer, despite the fact that he made me get a new computer in the middle of all this. However, I just now noticed that several photos have disappeared from previous posts, for no reason at all, so the jury's still out on that. 


We had a serious scare last week, when I got a message from my best friend saying her hubby woke up convinced he had a fever, even though their two very old thermometers both said he did not. Still, he couldn't risk passing anything to her, since she has a heart condition, so he had isolated himself in the bedroom, and she was leaving food at the door. She mentioned, however, that he had a lot of congestion, and had been doing a lot of work in the yard. Sure enough, it turned out to be really bad allergies, but it got us all to thinkin' -- about what it would be like to lose someone now, not even being able to be there with them as they pass, or to grieve with other loved ones surrounding you, and to have to continue on alone. It gives you a different perspective, doesn't it? Yes, Easter was a bit of a downer, not getting to be with my grandbabies, and with nary a Cadbury egg in site, but we have soooo much else to be grateful for!


For instance, I think one reason we seem to be so content in this unusual situation could be that a lot of outside stressors are removed when everyone is on lockdown, and you have a legitimate excuse not to do all those things you don't actually want to do. Then there's the fact that you become more and more aware of what is really important, and what just isn't, the longer your confinement lasts. I know I have! To still really like the person you've been with for more than 45 years, in such a "That's it, I'm outta here!" era? To have kids and grandkids who are all healthy and happy and actually missing us? That we are all fortunate enough to be doing ok financially, and won't be left destitute, as so many others will, losing not only their loved ones but also their jobs, businesses and health insurance? Yes, I'd say we are very, very fortunate. And, I think I am most grateful for the fact that all my friends and loved ones took this thing seriously, right from the very beginning, so hopefully none of them will get sick either.


Oh yeah, and one other thing I'm grateful for? Online art classes, and art supply stores! I have artist Lucy Brydon to thank for her little mini class on mushrooms, and can't wait to see what she has to offer next month!




Friday, April 17, 2020

SNEAKING OUT OF THE HOUSE

So sorry for the long lag between posts. It was my Hubby's fault. Apparently my computer acted up one time too many, and the next thing I knew, he had ordered me a new one. Some people get excited about things like that. I do not. It's only taken about 40 years for him to catch on, but he's finally glommed on to the fact that I learn differently than he does. He always wanted to be sitting at the helm, typing away at lightening speed, calling instructions out to me over his shoulder. Not only could I not see what he was doing, but anything I heard was going in one ear and straight out the other. Then there was the fact that every time he transferred stuff from one computer to the other, I either lost months worth of recipes I had typed into the computer, or ended up with duplicates, then triplicates, of every photo I had ever imported. So, every time he announced that he had bought me a new phone or computer, I cried. This time it was different. He actually let me sit at the computer, and gave me time to take notes that I can refer back to when I have forgotten how to find or do something. I learn by doing, and by repetition. Give me two or three years and I'll have this down pat! And he'll be shopping for my next one...

Anyhoo, a week or so ago we had a pretty adventurous day, at least by Covid-19 standards. First I had my weekly meet-up with my Muses, via Zoom rather than coffee shop (Aaach, more new technology!). Then I actually got to go for a car ride, which led to a bit of synchronicity. Squeee! It started with daughter Lex sending us a message saying she had sewn some masks for us, and if we'd like to come get them, she could leave them out on the porch for us. Since we had a big box of diapers we needed to give her, we said "Heck yeah, a porch swap would be great!" I knew that Calvin would be pretty sad that we couldn't come in and play with him, and was wishing I had a little surprise I could take to him. So, I went to dig around in Mima's Magic Closet and found a fantastic book full of pre-decorated pages that you pull out and fold into paper airplanes. Perfect!

Lex and Calvin came to the window when we got there, and when I held up that book and pointed to him, you should have seen his face light up. In fact, he started to run to the door to throw it open, and Lex had to grab him fast, and remind him that we can't be together right now. That was hard. Really, really hard. But, on the bright side, as we were driving back home I reached into the sack to pull out a mask, and discovered a new letter from my little pen pal was in there as well!


Shortly after I discovered it, I got a text from Lex saying "Calvin really loves his paper airplane book!", so the two things got me to thinking -- about paper airplanes, and about what I should paint on the next card I send back to Calvin. That's when synchronicity struck. Suddenly a memory floated up, of a class I took online with Danielle Donaldson a while back, called Wild Blue Yonder, where we painted skies full of clouds and suns and birds and paper airplanes! I dug around in my stash when I got home and, sure enough, there was a little painting, just the right size to turn into a post card for my favorite pen pal. How lucky was that?





This week I started another art class online. This is a monthly subscription class, where I get new lessons each month, so it ought to keep me busy for the duration of this pandemic, and beyond. It's being taught by one of my favorite artists, Lucy Brydon, who lives in Scotland. I sometimes wonder which I love more, the way she teaches, or the way she talks! So, I'm off to paint mushrooms now. Catcha later!


Saturday, April 4, 2020

KEEPING SPIRITS UP

Well, guess I'm overdue for a blog post, huh? Being confined at home, it takes a bit longer to accumulate enough worth talking about and the photos to go with it! Guess I'll start with the bad news and get that out of the way. Our little town finally has its first confirmed case of Covid-19. I guess we are lucky to have held out this long, huh? Oh, and we finally watched a couple of episodes of Tiger King, just to see what everybody was talking about. A couple was more than enough, since it just reminded us how many crazy-stupid people there actually are in the world. Which is why this plague has spread across the U.S. like a wildfire out of control, even though we had plenty of warning and could have been sooo much better prepared, if only we'd acted quickly and decisively on what we learned from the countries who were hit first.

I let myself wallow over it all for a couple of days, but, being a bit of a Pollyanna by nature, I couldn't stay down for long. Before I knew it, I was thinking about all the positive things that have come out of this, and the way people here jumped right in and started helping one another, just as they did a few years back when we had that tragic flood. And, even though I miss seeing my friends and family in person, it hasn't kept us from staying connected. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Apparently little Calvin is loving this whole pen pal thing I started. I finally got my first letter from him, accepting my invitation.


I immediately sat down and made this new card for him, inspired by the time he got a head start on his preschool teacher and dived straight into a big muddy puddle on the playground.



A couple of days later I got a video chat from him and daughter Lex. Calvin was super excited about the Peppa card, and wanted to assure me that he was going to send me another letter. He then turned to his mom and said "We should go do that. Right now!" She replied "We're talking to Mimi and Papa right now." But no, it could not wait.

My best friend Paula and I have spent most of our lives in separate cities, but ever since she forced me to learn to text, we've been talking to each other all day every day -- so much so that I often forget how long it's been since we've actually seen each other in person. We especially like talking at dinner time, about what we got from Blue Apron, or new ideas we've come up with, or what we could or couldn't get at the grocery store. She still can't get toilet paper, but the new Cooper's BBQ place that just went in near her house is offering a free TP roll with each food delivery. They are eating lots of BBQ!

As for the Muses, Hubby just added the Zoom program (which I had never even heard of pre-Covid) to both my phone and computer, and we are now able to pick right back up with our Tuesday morning coffee meet-ups, albeit virtually. The first one was a doozy. We had so much to catch up on!

As for that wallowing slump, it reminded me that I'm a person who needs purpose and routine in my days. So, I came up with a loose sort of schedule, just to insure that every day doesn't turn into a jammy day! And, one thing I made certain was on it, was a couple of hours of creative time each afternoon. It can be reading, writing, painting, working in my journal, making cards for Calvin, or anything else I can come up with. But, I must do something. Yesterday, it was an acrylic painting on a gelli print which I had inserted into my mindfulness agenda -- inspired by one of the many hummingbird carvings my dear mother-in-law Theda suddenly got the urge to make in her 60s and 70s, after a lifetime of being a painter.



Just goes to show, it's never too late to try something new!