Monday, March 20, 2017

BREAKING THE SILENCE...

So much has transpired over the last year that I don't even know how to begin to explain my absence from this blog.  Losses to mourn, changes to adapt to, new opportunities to explore, challenges to overcome, care giving to be done, a much needed respite to be taken, it feels as if I lived the entire third chapter of Ecclesiastes within the span of a year and its brought me to the here and now and the final verse of that chapter (v. 22 NIV)..."So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot.  For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?"  And that is exactly what I have been doing over the last several months, enjoying my work. This past year has been my time to be silent and now is my time to speak, putting the past behind and pushing forward. 

I started a new adventure into the world of online teaching.  It seemed easy enough, create a tutorial, step it out, then film it (which I delusion-ally thought had to be way easier than still shot tutorials), upload it, and a class was born...not so much.  Soooo, I have spent countless hours learning the real ins and outs of creating an online class.  First I had to learn to use a digital video camera, learn about lighting and angles, smooth transitions for close ups as well as how to use an SD Card and remember to actually put it in the camera when filming.  (look at me go using real live computer jargon!)
(An Artist Field Kit)
After learning to be a camera operator I discovered I needed to be a set designer too and stage all the supplies and step outs for each film segment which kind of called for me to have a script of some sort to keep all the segments in order.   Soooo, I not only became a camera operator but a set designer and a script writer.  Surely there was not much more I needed to know right?  Wrong!

Filming was a bit of a challenge for me.  I had to try to keep focused on what I was doing while checking the monitor to make sure I was still in frame and give verbal directions at the same time.  Sheesh!  Now I was blocking scenes, directing, filming, and a narrator all at the same time.  Are you kidding I can't chew bubble gum and walk at the same time!
(Handmade Art Journal)
Big huge sigh of relief when most of that part was all done but then I had all these little SD Cards that contained the video and somehow it had to get from there to the computer so I became a member of the not-so-geek squad downloading the videos and spending a frustratingly long amount of time trying to figure out where exactly they downloaded to.  Then the panic really hit when I figured out I had to actually edit all those segments.  I added technical engineer and editor to my job description list.  Now some of you are shaking your heads wondering what is the big deal, well, I am not a tech type person, I do not embrace technology easily, and it makes my brain hurt to learn all that stuff that until this point I did not really feel like I needed to know.

I first tried to figure out an editing software that was just too difficult for a novice so I had to start all over again learning a new program that was much more suited to newbie.  Let's just say that dummy.com, the Google, and YouTube became very close friends of mine as they walked me though endless hours, days, and weeks of frustration.  I learned how to trim video, to make smooth transitions between clips, add captions, animations, title pages, credits, music, take stills of video clips, add photographs to the video, as well as technical stuff like the difference between a wlmp (which I still don't know what that means) and a wmv file and a MP4 and something about pixel size or some such nonsense.  My son came to my rescue on more than one occasion during this process.
(Plant Press)
And all was going along swimmingly until...my editing software crashed, died, kaput!  I tried to reload it via the web but it was nowhere to be found.  I was frantic.  My son called me with the bad news, Microsoft had pulled to package that this program was a part of back in January and I could not get another copy.  To say I had a melt down would be putting it mildly, it was more like a hissy fit on steroids.  I decided to quit.  This was just not worth all the hassle.  Once again my son to the rescue, somewhere on the deep dark web where all things hide he found an archive of the software.  He walked me though giving him remote access to my computer and he installed the program and I was good to go again.  Did I say I was enjoying my work?  Not so much at this point!

I left out the parts where I had to create lists of materials, resource lists with links, an intro and a promo video, chapter settings, still shots of completed projects, written class description, create an artist cover package, create class kits and give away items, submit test videos, etc.  Fast forward a few more weeks and I did it!  With the exception of learning the trim tool and save settings (which my son taught me) I leaned to do this on my own, with a little help from my new best friends, dummy.com, the Goggle, and YouTube...we make such a great team!
(An Artist Field Kit plus 3 Bonus Projects)
This might not seem like a huge accomplishment in this tech savvy day and age but I am not of this current era. I did not grow up with a computer, cell phone, internet, etc. integrated into my everyday life.  I still like pencil and paper, landlines and tangled curly phone cords, snail mail, actual books with pages to turn, dialing in a static channel to find music or playing actual vinyl records on a stereo record player.  This was a major feat for me!

Thank you to my son who never got frustrated and might have snickered a time or two over my less that smart tech questions and issues.  Thank you to my husband who never complained about the lack of cooking going on and the laundry being damp because I forgot to turn on the dryer (more than once) and for his support in cheering me on that I could do this and meet the assigned deadline.  Thank you to Zinnia, who kept cheering me on, holding my hand, and talking me down when my frustration was running high.  Her best piece of advice, "You only have to learn this once."  and at the end of the project, "You got this, you did it."
I am ready to emerge from my sheltering cocoon (which is scary) and embrace this time of enjoying my work.  I am breaking my silence and keeping my eyes on this new path to see where it leads.  Wish me luck!

Blessings,
Sandy

Saturday, February 18, 2017

ARTFUL GATHERING ONLINE ART RETREAT BLOG HOP...


Today kicks off the 7th annual Blog Hop for the Artful Gathering Online Art Retreat.  This hop not only introduces the line up of instructors and classes but a chance to win some wonderful package prizes from sponsor Jerry's Artorama:


1st Prize:  $250 e-gift card
2nd Prize:  $150.00 e-gift card
3rd Prize:  $100.00 e-gift card

Think of all the fun and creative supplies you could purchase from Jerry's with any of these prizes!

To find out how to join in the fun just visit the Blog Hop Post HERE.

Blessings,
Sandy

Monday, January 16, 2017

DEFINING SUCCESS: COOKIE CUTTER STYLE...


(Studio 2017...while its clean, which is not often but I have to tape a class intro in there and I thought it needed it.  Lots of ready to use collage background substrates)

“I so admire artists who have one sole focus or medium they work in, it takes far less supplies and space than my mixed media method of madness.”  This was my thought after the latest round of trying to fit what amounts to a square peg (my supplies) into a round hole (small space).  But, I DID IT! , success!  My defining success was paring down to not a lot of anything but a little bit of everything for my mixed media needs and (the hard part) having a home for it all.
(Bead and Embellishment Storage)

Last spring I was in touch with a very successful well known artist who is also mentors other artists.  After emails, phone conversations, and a visit to my social media sites and blog the advice was that in order to be a success I would have to dial it back and focus on one thing.
(Rubber Stamps, Hand Dyed Ribbons, Paints,Paper, Buttons, Tools, Jewelry Embellishments, Etc.  My "sink" is a new addition to the studio, love it!)

 I could not have a messy mixed media blog that had posts of writing, art, tutorials, nature photography, travel, and bits of randomness.   I needed not one but two Facebook accounts, one personal and one professional, and for heaven’s sakes quit posting all those quirky bits of travel logs with tons of photos no one has time to look at much less read.  Why am I not tweeting on Twitter?  Step it up on Instagram!   More selfies less nature!  What about Vimeo and YouTube, where are my channels?  My Pinterest  page is weak and my blog needed a modernized design.  Why did I not have an official artist website?  My bio is not sophisticated enough. It’s been too long since I had listed art for sale on Etsy.   It all needs to be about the art but, I MUST pick ONE thing to focus on be it book arts, art journaling, jewelry, stitch, collage, or painting, just pick ONE and focus, then I would be on the road to success.
(My desk where I make jewelry, sketch, art journal, or layout designs)

To say I was a little taken aback is an understatement.  At first I was downright offended.  Then I was overwhelmed and feeling really insecure.  Should I delete everything and start all over?  Did I want to?  So I decided to break down the advice I was given. I am not much into social media, I guess it’s because it was not a part of my generation growing up, it’s something I have had to learn and adapt to but on my terms.
(My metalsmithing and glass work table just behind the bead and embellishment storage shelf)

I don’t want to be behind a computer or phone screen all the time.  I don’t feel the need for constant communication.  I like my quite moments in nature where I can hear myself think while focusing my camera lens on the majesty of beauty that nature has to offer.  That is art to me, the art of silence and presence of savoring a moment.   I don’t need constant contact with people; I like silence and maybe that comes from being an only child who spent a lot of time alone.
(Sewing Storage, (my daughter gifted me all those amazing boxes and the bakers rack was just purchased this weekend, still getting that area set up) The Tower of Terror paper hoard, lots of Ephemera and goodies!)

 Soooo, one blog, one Facebook account, Pinterest pins are for me and my inspiration or ideas, I am doing better at Instagram, I am still not tweeting, taking selfies, or doing video so I can be “discovered”.  I don’t yet have an official artist website but someday I will.  So I give away more art than I sell, that’s my choice.  My bio is me to a sweet-T, no need to change it.  Nature is my main inspiration in art and my travels are a part of that process, those posts and pics will stay.  As for focus on one medium or type of art, well I am just not a cookie cutter kind of girl.
(This is my main work space where I glue and goo and mess and gob and paint.  Its also where I set up to film, you can see the backdrop on the table and extra lighting and peek of the tripod.)

Cookie cutter neighborhoods are sad to me (no offense intended if you happen to live in one please, I grew up in one) that just does not fit me.  I love quirky old neighborhoods, run down old houses, even better something that was never intended to be a home but has been converted into one; they all have individuality and personality.  I saw the advice I was given for just what it was, success cookie cutter style, not intended to harm or alarm but a blueprint of the steps of success this particular artist took to get where they are today.  It’s that square peg in a round hole thing again; it just does not fit me.
(Book storage under the table in vintage colorful crates)

I can’t be me and not create a variety of art just as much as I can’t be a vanilla flavored cookie cut out over and over and over again with the same round shape cookie cutter producing the same type of thing repeatedly.  I am more of spice cookie, a variety of flavors to my mixed media.  I would be cut out as a Gingerbread man who is holding a heart shaped cookie(still going to share my heart and art) and chasing a star shaped cookie (while chasing my artful dreams), running as fast as I can, delighting in my adventures along the way.  Maybe my way is reckless and foolish as the Gingerbread man in the storybook and I will get gobbled up and lost in the fray but at least I will have stayed true to myself.

That in large part explains my long absence from this blog.  I lost myself in thinking I needed to adapt to a cookie cutter way set by someone else and it completely threw me off track.   I am back to mixing my media, varying my projects, and making happy spicy messes as more than one shaped cookie and my recipe for success suits me just fine! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I MAKE PRETTY THINGS...


(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

"You were made by God's masterful hands - wisely designed, uniquely formed, caringly crafted.
You were made for God's glorious purpose - to know His love, to be His own, to express His heart."

~Roy Lessin~
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

My heart swells with joy every time I read this quote to think that I was blessed with one pinch of an attribute of the Creator, to work with my hands designing, crafting, and forming things that are my heart expressions of appreciation and love for Him.
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

Having the gift of creativity is sometimes a struggle for me.  While I try to use this gift to best of my often limited ability, its hard not to fall into the comparison game.  I have a friend who is gifted with teaching and a passion for bringing God's Word to life through story telling in her children's ministry.  She travels on missions sharing her heart and it is making such a difference in the world of faith.....and I make pretty things.
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

I know people who have started food banks to feed the homeless, those who work with college students training for missions, those write books and speak sharing hope and faith, those who have youth ministries, those who serve in homeless shelters, those who hold clothing drives, food drives, and are Christmas Angels, and the list could go on and on.....and I make pretty things.
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

These are all big responsible works that seem so much greater and make so much more impact and reach so many more people than making pretty things.  It is so easy to fall into the great than/less than trap and compare what you do to what someone else does.  I often have to remind myself of Exodus 31:1-5 where creativity is indeed a valid gift, "...given in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, in all manner of workmanship to design artistic works..."
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

This was really brought home to me this week when I received an email from someone who had purchased a piece of my jewelry.  She expressed such exuberant joy over having something one of kind that was unique to her with its hidden meaningful message in the text on the piece, known only between she and I.  She said this was a hopeful piece to her that she could wear and be reminded of God's love.  
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

I had no idea when I was designing, forming, and crafting this simple piece of jewelry that it could be used for His glorious purpose, a reminder to the wearer of His love for her and a blessing of the gift of delight and joy.   Wow!...and I make pretty things...lucky me!
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

The next time you are tempted to fall into the greater than/less than comparison trap just remember, YOU ARE one of the prettiest things ever made, wisely designed, uniquely formed, caringly crafted, by His masterful hands.  YOU ARE valuable and what you do matters whether it is big or small, loud or quiet, you are a most precious pretty person.....lucky you!
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

Blessings,
Sandy

I MAKE PRETTY THINGS...


(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

"You were made by God's masterful hands - wisely designed, uniquely formed, caringly crafted.
You were made for God's glorious purpose - to know His love, to be His own, to express His heart."

~Roy Lessin~
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

My heart swells with joy every time I read this quote to think that I was blessed with one pinch of an attribute of the Creator, to work with my hands designing, crafting, and forming things that are my heart expressions of appreciation and love for Him.
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

Having the gift of creativity is sometimes a struggle for me.  While I try to use this gift to best of my often limited ability, its hard not to fall into the comparison game.  I have a friend who is gifted with teaching and a passion for bringing God's Word to life through story telling in her children's ministry.  She travels on missions sharing her heart and it is making such a difference in the world faith.....and I make pretty things.
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

I know people who have started food banks to feed the homeless, those who work with college students training for missions, those write books and speak sharing hope and faith, those who have youth ministries, those who serve in homeless shelters, those who hold clothing drives, food drives, and are Christmas Angels, and the list could go on and on.....and I make pretty things.
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

These are all big responsible works that seem so much greater and make so much more impact and reach so many more people than making pretty things.  It is so easy to fall into the great than/less than trap and compare what you do to what someone else does.  I often have to remind myself of Exodus 31:1-5 where creativity is indeed a valid gift, "...given in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, in all manner of workmanship to design artistic works..."
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

This was really brought home to me this week when I received an email from someone who had purchased a piece of my jewelry.  She expressed such exuberant joy over having something one of kind that was unique to her with its hidden meaningful message in the text on the piece, known only between she and I.  She said this was a hopeful piece to her that she could wear and be reminded of God's love.  
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

I had no idea when I was designing, forming, and crafting this simple piece of jewelry that it could be used for His glorious purpose, a reminder to the wearer of His love for her and a blessing of the gift of delight and joy.   Wow!...and I make pretty things...lucky me!
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

The next time you are tempted to fall into the greater than/less than comparison trap just remember, YOU ARE one of the prettiest things ever made, wisely designed, uniquely formed, caringly crafted, by His masterful hands.  YOU ARE valuable and what you do matters whether it is big or small, loud or quiet, you are a most precious pretty person.....lucky you!
(Photography by Tracy Hoggard)

Blessings,
Sandy

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

REFRESHED...

Refreshed:  to give new strength and energy to; reinvigorate; revise; update

AUGUST JOURNAL ENTRY:
This morning a soft rain is gently pattering on the ground outside my open windows.  Open windows in August are a rarity in my little corner of the world.  Usually, I am hermetically sealed inside my Tupperware like existence to stay refreshed in the wilting southern summer heat and humidity.  This rain is a gift, a refreshment to the parched earth.  I know what that kind of thirst feels like, dried out from the heat...only I am thinking more of the parchment of the soul.

It has been a long hot nearly unbearable season of heat this summer but it has been made bearable by knowing that summer will end and autumn will arrive with its cooler temperatures and riot of color.  Life seasons don't work like that.   While there is a surety that change will inevitably come, its the timing that's the hitch, its totally unpredictable.  When it finally arrives and the heat and pressures of life are lifted it is the sweetest refreshment a soul can savor.

I am drinking deeply from this open window on my life timeline, gulping greedily really, savoring this gentle patter of refreshment.  Peace fills my thirsty soul.  Gratitude overflows knowing that the lid that sealed me into a life event or circumstance can and will be lifted and there is freshness to be found.

I guess life is kind of like a Tupperware bowl, there is preparation for what is going to be stored in the bowl.  This is like the life process of being made ready for things to come.  Storage is the next stage, retention or a holding pattern, preparing us for future use.  Then there is the containment stage, which to me is often the most frustrating and painful, This keeps us within limits.  The final stage is the serving stage.  What comes out of the Tupperware bowl is fresh and palatable.  Once we have weathered the preparation, storage, containment stages we emerge refreshed and ready to serve....

ENTRY END...  
This is the best way I can describe that last weeks and months of my life, my absence here.  I needed time to refresh, gain new strength and energy, to be reinvigorated, revised, and updated.  I needed time to heal.  Time to sort through some messy life stuff.  I also needed time to stop a moment from being a human doing and embrace a time of human being.  

Life here has settled into a new rhythm and I love this quite slower peaceful pace.
My hope is to ease back into blogging and reconnect with my blog friends.
I hope you are all doing well.

Many Blessings,
Sandy


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