We have a long weekend coming up.  Three and a half days of summertime play! (At my office, we get to go home early on Friday when it's a long weekend.)  And the weather is finally cooperating.  Summer seems to have actually arrived here in Portland, Oregon.  Hurray!

I am going to be gone for part of the long weekend, so I'm taking it a bit easy this week for my experiment.  I hope you'll be off having summertime fun, too, and take it easy with me!

I've been following a gorgeous photography blog lately--Words to Shoot By.  Every two weeks they post a word, and the participating photographers post three photos using that word as a theme.  I'm not one of the photographers, but I'm going to play along anyhow.  And, you guessed it--the word right now is "summer."  So this week as I'm out and about, I'm going to try to capture my own beautiful, evocative summer photos.

Have a great week and weekend!  I'll be back Monday with results (a day late due to traveling).  See you then!

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14

Finally it's time!  The Mad Tea Party 2010 has arrived!  I'm so excited to tell you all about it.

Of course, I've been preparing for ages. Ages!  I packed the basket to carry the tea party into the woods--I've heard that's where all the best tea parties take place.

Hmm...what's that?  It seems someone has added a bottle of something to my basket.

No matter.  I'm sure it will look quite nice on the table.  I do wonder who it's talking to, though.

Maybe to the Hatter.  I see he's arrived while I wasn't looking.

Might need to give him a table of his own...

The Cheshire Cat must be here, too!  Who else could have snuck in and rearranged the tea pots so?

And indeed it was the Cheshire Cat.  Here he is now.

And I've just heard that the Caterpillar will be here as well.  This should do quite nicely for him--I hear he's very fond of mushrooms.

I believe that's everyone now except Alice and the White Rabbit--they're never on time, you know.  I think we'll put on some music and dance while we wait.

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing in the whimsy and nonsense!  I hope you'll stay for the dancing and join us again next time.  Until then...

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I found a few more thoughts after posting about my Alice project.  I mentioned in that post that I felt I wasn't getting enough whimsy lately.  And I need my whimsy--I love the fanciful, the fairy touched, the dreamy.  I need them in my life.

Whimsy and joy are two big reasons why I do what I do.  I do this for the joy of playing with colors and papers and inks and paints.  I do what I do for the joy of stringing words together to say something that is mine.  I do it for the joy of sharing this with other people who are seeking their own creative paths.

If you are reading this blog, you know the joy of your own creativity, or you at least believe that there can be joy in it.  I am doing this Alice project for my own joy.  And I'm here to remind you that we must seek our joy.  It is what will keep us alive and vibrant. And joyful.  So just remember (and I say this to myself as well as to you): as you seek out projects, activities, things to spend your time and heart on,  remember to always do it for joy.

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2

Some of us more so than others...

Edit: For Tea Party visitors, the actual tea party post is here.  Enjoy!

I have a confession to make.  I love Alice in Wonderland.  Really love it.  Unabashedly, unreservedly adore anything and everything Alice.  I was nearly beside myself when the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie was announced.  I'm currently working on an Alice themed art project for a swap. Which is why, when I saw this project, I sensibly decided not to get involved.

The problem is, I didn't really have anything planned for this week's experiment.  And I kept running across references to that Alice project that I was not going to do, no way, no how, I don't have time, I'm not doing it.

But it's Alice!  And there's magic there.  And whimsy.  And I think maybe I've been a bit short on whimsy lately.  And it's Alice!  So I'm doing it.

If I had just given in to this a few weeks ago, I could do something really fantastic and fun. Now, with only a few days to go (oh, and a newsletter to wrap up), I'll have to keep a tight rein on myself and disregard most of the wonderful, whimsical ideas floating through my head.  But there will be a tea party, oh yes there will!

See you for tea on Saturday!

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So my doldrum week turned out to be quite productive.  I'm very please with my results.

What did I accomplish?  This:

  • Four art journal backgrounds
  • Threads and materials for a new embroidery project bundled together
  • Files begun for a rewrite/finish on my 2006 NaNoWriMo novel

I can't show you the design and things for the embroidery because it's for a gift.  I will show it off after it's completed and presented.  And files...well, they're computer files, so not much to show here.  I do have pictures of my art journal backgrounds, though:

This one is just a painted background with some torn magazine pages glued on and then a light layer of gesso brushed over it.  Simple, but I like how it looks; it's very inviting to me, and I can't wait to create a page there.

This one was hard to photograph--it's still looks a bit blurry.  The sparkly paint I brushed over the first paint layer just messed with the lighting.  Still, it's a nice, simple page that should make a good collage background.

Again, the sparkly paint was problematic, but I love this one.  I think it's my favorite of the four.  I don't know if it's going to become a collage background or if I'm just going to journal over it as is and leave more of it showing.

I intended to do more than a glued on piece of paper and a bit of paint when I started this page, but I ended up really liking the way it looks, so I left it alone after the second step.  I love how the oranges in the paper and the orange paint I use blend together.

So, that was my week of creative downtime.  What did you guys make this week?  Send a photo or a link--I'd love to see it!

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4

This week, I'm feeling sluggish and stressed and not very creative at all.  I am definitely in the doldrums.

I know we're not always at the top of our game, energetic and inspired and ready to be geniuses, but this is still a hard place to be.  I think somewhere in my mind is a voice telling me that this isn't supposed to happen to me.  I'm the teacher, the coach, the one who helps others out of these tight spots. I'm not supposed to get into them myself, right? Ha!

Of course, we can optimize things so that we have more regular bouts of uber creativity (I'm working on how to make that happen) with fewer slumps, but sometimes you're tired.   You're a little under the weather, you're frazzled and harried and don't quite have what you need to take on a full blown creative project.  But you still want to keep your hand in the game and do *something* creative, make something, do something.  If you're like me, that process of just taking a bit of time to make something small or simple really helps me feel better.  Sometimes I really need to make something to get back in the flow, but at the same time I just don't have the energy and oomph I need to figure out what project to start on.

So what can we do when we don't have the energy for a major project but we still want to do something creative?  Prep work.  Wait!  Don't turn off the screen just yet.  Prep work isn't a bad thing at all.  We need to do it.  The Prep Work Fairy is *not* coming over to do it for us (she called and told me she isn't).  And prep work doesn't require us to be at the top of our game, so it's perfect for the doldrum days.  Plus, if the prep work is done when you *are* fired up and ready to go, you don't have to use your precious, high octane creative energy on the tasks that don't need it.

What are some of the things you can do for prep work?  Of course that depends on your art form or forms, but here are some ideas:

  • Paint and/or stamp backgrounds for art journal pages or collages
  • Wind and sort threads for a needlework project
  • Cut out fabric squares for a quilting project
  • Sketch design ideas
  • Cut or tear pictures and words from magazines for collages

This week, I am going to do a bunch of art journal page backgrounds.  (I won't say I'll do one a day--I know I have a busy weekend coming up, so I know I won't do it.)  I've been wanting to get to my journal more regularly, so maybe having some prepared backgrounds will help with that.

What can you do this week to pave the way for your creative work?

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I'll admit, I wasn't completely enthused about this week's project.  I loved the little books and big paintings iHanna made, but this abstract, big painting isn't my usual sort of painting.  If I'm being really honest, I even dragged my feet on getting started with this.

So, I set out with the idea that I would just completely cover the paper with one paint color and then maybe do some shapes, paint some flowery looking things, maybe even break out some of my bigger rubber stamps.  I started laying down a layer of purple, and I discovered that the brown paper really wants to show through (I did have the paint thinned, so that probably helped).  I was frustrated and ready to add more paint to thicken it up and get more coverage, but then I noticed that the effect was actually kind of cool.

I turned on some Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ("Red Right Hand"--I love that song!), and I opened up more paint colors and started brushing them on, and the next thing I knew I had something I liked.  An abstract, streaky sort of  painting that reminds me of a storm coming in during those last moments when there's color in the sky before full dark.

I decided that for side two I was going to go a little more structured.  I started out with the same sort of streaky background because I really like that, but then I added blocks of color.  I figure that when I fold this piece into a book, those color blocks will make good frames for text or maybe even some pictures.

And here's the little book I made.  Sorry, no photos with the pages open--they kept coming out blurry, and I finally had to concede.

I'm thinking books made from brown paper paintings would be great for a deco or friendship book.  Maybe after summer we should have a swap.  Anyone interested?

Anyhow, I hope you'll give this project a try.  It's fast and easy, and the results don't always go exactly how you think they will so you get some surprises.  Try it out and let me know what you make.

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I recently ran across a really cool blog by iHanna, and I also found a really fun looking project to try--painting on big pieces of plain brown paper.  How cool is that?  Brown craft paper, so no fears of ruining "good" materials.  Just freedom to smear and smoosh paint all around.

And as if that wasn't enough, she took her big, brown paper painting and made a little journal with it!

My plan for the week is to paint on the brown paper, both sides, early enough in the week that on the weekend I'll have time to create one of the little journals. Wish me luck!  See you Sunday with photos.

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I really enjoyed looking at my scraps this week, thinking of things I might do with them instead of just tossing them.  I had way too much stuff to use in one project, so I got to pick and choose, too, which is always good.  I also realized that quite a lot of the little bits and pieces and scraps will make really good layering pieces for making more fabric paper.

I ended up using part of my desktop calendar page from May as the background.  The image in the middle is cut from a page of my daily calendar.  I call this drowning in fears:

I'm working on fears in the Kelly Rae Roberts "Flying Lessons" course I'm taking right now (more on that in my other blog), so this journal page ended up tying in with that work.  It's funny how, when you're really focused on something, it seems to show up everywhere and color everything you do, isn't it?

Did anyone else make something out of things they were going to throw away?  If you did, post a link in the comments.  I'd love to have a look.

More Tuesday...

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2

I had a different experiment in mind for this week.  Then, last night, I saw a tweet from Aisling d'Art with an idea for an art journal page.  She wrote, "Journal prompt - Embellish a journal page with something you'd usually throw away."

My brain started working, wondering what I might throw away during my days that I could use for this project.  I usually save interesting scraps already, so I want to find something else, something I was actually going to throw away.  I wasn't sure I was going to find much since I really don't want to use food scraps or used paper towels in my journal. Then I got to the office.  So far today, I have my daily calendar page with cute animal pictures--I have a couple of these because of the weekend, so it's sort of a bonus.  I have the sticky note with my "to do" list on it.  If I stop somewhere for lunch, I'll have a receipt.  There's the magazine I've already culled pictures from that was headed to the recycle bin--maybe I can find something else in there to use.  There's a lot of stuff that might just work!

So, what are you throwing away that you might be able to do something with after all?

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