A rare gift

IMG_2955Sickness brings surprising reflection time. When you are going hundred miles an hour like we all are these days, I often feel very bittersweet about technology and the pace of life. And I watch my beloved British historical TV series like Larkrise to Candleford, Cranford or watch Sense and Sensibility for the 88th time and literally feel jealous of those women who can enjoy life at its snail-like pace. Even Laura in Larkrise can stop to sit and reflect on the gorgeous sunny-baked Oxfordshire scenery for an hour or two while still making her post rounds. I completely feel robbed.

And of course, being an American (and an American WOMAN at that!), we feel this overburdened responsibility to be the ultimate multi-tasker even in the smallest sense. Things that can get taken granted for, things my husband rarely helps with or thinks about or even stresses. When he does it’s definitely on his own terms – like the house has been a mess for weeks and he’s fed up! But it’s more based on his mood if he comes home stressed out. And now that we have an almost one-year old, of course most of that responsibility has fallen on me this past year. But I have LOVED, absolutely loved every minute of it! 

Well . . . that’s not entirely true. If I’m being totally honest with myself, the only time when I started to really stress out taking care of Mr. G at home was when I started to feel responsibility to “get things” done with my freelance work. I had hoped (unrealistically of course cause this is my first kid), that I would be able to work part-time at home with little G being about 3 months old and I could realistically get in about 20 hours per week. Ha ha ha . . . the experienced mothers chuckle! Of course I couldn’t UNLESS I was extremely strict about his schedule and mine. I’ve heard of other mothers doing it – they are like the general in the army, going down to the very minute, being relentless with their managing time. It’s pretty impressive. But I know myself. And that is not me at all. I would resent it even more. And I hated myself for even resenting just a fraction that I couldn’t get anything done and I always felt “behind.”

Well, over these past several months, I’m slowly starting to relearn like we always do – the lesson of being present, being grateful and trying to be 100% engaged in what you are doing now. I started to feel really fast like the little hamster in the hamster-wheel, while, like a lot of folks, see the world whizzing like on a train. TOO FAST. SLOW DOWN!!! I’m getting better but obviously it’s a life-long skill.

But these past couple days, I’ve felt a breather again. My son has been super sick. Obviously a normal 11 month old, walking at 9 months, we have gotten used to him being mobile, and gotten used to him learning to entertain himself, getting all the tuperware out of the bottom kitchen cabinets (I of course placed them there just for him!), squealing at the dishwasher (he loves to poke and put things in the silverware boxes), and rapping on anything within 2 inches from his arm with his little drumstick making lots and lots of noise! Busy busy busy of course. What 11 month old is not?!

But this past weekend, he was so ill, taken with a fever, vomiting and you know what else, he just ended up laying in my arms most of each day, content to look into my eyes, slowly dose off to sleep but never once could I put him down. Otherwise he would end up whining and crying until I scooped him up again. Of course I indulge that! Knowing that these are those precious moments when he actually WANTS me around as his mom. Very soon here, he will exert his independence and start to say “no.” So of course I relish in those opportunities. I didn’t realize that I would end up having almost 4 days of these precious, slow days with him. 

And at first I started to feel that “mom” pull – there’s so many things I should be doing! the laundry, cleaning his bottles, taking my check to the ATM, making the list for Whole Foods, should be preparing meals for the week, etc. But gratefully, I decided to just be with my son, holding him on our couch, both of us cuddle up in fleece blankets with New Age music pulsing in the background on the TV. HEAVENLY. Hours later, little G is still snoring away, getting rested up after an exhausting couple of days for him. And my husband is out on this glorious October sunny day. It’s only about 68 degrees, the screen door is open with a slight cool breeze, the sun is streaming through our floor to ceiling windows. I close my eyes as the sun streams through the leaves of the trees rustling outside, creating that strobe-like fluttering, as the yellow light embraces both of us in brightness. HEAVENLY.

I will remember these days with fondness actually. Yes, I should be working. Yes I should be doing all these chores. Yes I should be doing this or that. But I didn’t! I just sat there or laid there with my son in my arms. Remembering almost exactly 1 year ago, I did this same thing, with him as a brand new baby, someone we’d just met, and I felt then as I do now, what a privilege it is to spend quality time with your little one – no matter how it comes your way. These moments are so fleeting. They never come around again. And I thank the Universe I was given a small gift again to get grounded and get grateful to reflect.

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Painting again – yeah!

Scan 22It’s amazing when the perfect synchronicity occurs but you don’t see it because it’s so subtle but only when you start to reflect on your day do you see all the connections. That’s what happened last Friday.

I haven’t been painting or being actively creative in well over a year after being pregnant and having my son. It’s been an awesome experience – extremely empowering as a woman. I feel so blessed and I’m sure I’ll get back to reflecting on so much that has happened (my son is 9 months old now on Wednesday!). CRAZY!

But last Friday, my best friend, and business partner, and I were sitting for lunch reviewing projects for our mutual client that we work with and feeling kind of blue. We have been working for this main client of ours for the past 3 years together and have been planning to separate from them this summer to start our own business. Yet of course the Universe has its own plans and its own timing. It gets frustrating but when we look back even over this past year, everything has unfolded beautifully in its own perfect way. It is just frustrating when we want to be doing our own stuff NOW – but our website is our extra project as well as our developer’s like 4th project on top of full time job.

But this time, our frustrations were mainly due to the fact that we had been working our butts off and haven’t felt the spark of creativity for a long, long time. Our future business will be centered around this but we realized together that instead of pretending and “waiting” for it to happen in the future, we have to do it now. We have to make a commitment and just open ourselves now to it.

We have a project that is a bit more creative working on a prayer book for our client and we had been floating around the normal kind of ideas for a prayer book – this one is supposed to be for children but we aren’t illustrators, and all prayer books in the book stores are either super illustrated or very “adult-like” and . . . boring. We also felt that this is a major project and it would need some inspiration – like our inspiration in doing it. We need to feel excited about it and hope that it helps us come together creatively.

Immediately we went to ArtMart down the street to look at some materials to get some ideas. Well! We ran into a whole bunch of beautifully crafted, inspirational books and fell in love! We bought several and looking at the design, the abstract funkiness of some of them and the handmade, or hand-illustrated feel was just the inspiration we needed. And then when home – we both sat down to READ the poems and they are exactly what we needed for idea-inspiration as well. Beautiful. I love it when those things happen.

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Pretty pathetic!

Yes. This is my first post since . . . 6 months ago! Almost exactly! I would love to say that life happened – an major life events happened too like having our son, going through holidays with family and beginning the new year trying to launch an online company with my business partner, Jamie. But other blogging women that I admire certainly have kept up with their blogs as they keep sharing in the middle of having their babies these past few months, talking about no sleep but still manage to post beautiful or adorable pics with their newborns, while not looking like a total zombie in the process!

As to this, I have been constantly thinking about my blog. And taking it much more seriously after attending the Alt Summit Conference at the end of January in Salt Lake City. More on that later. But of course my intention IS to make this blog more of a side business, not just a hobby. But first, I have to practice posting!

So here it is – my first post in 6 months, woefully late and out of date. I hope to keep posting articles, thoughts, images and ideas that are interesting to me. And start to clarify what the hell I want to do with this blog!

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Those Lovely Serendipitous Moments

IMG_0211I’m not quite sure why it’s taking me quite a long time to post my thoughts on this subject because the project through which I was thinking about chance, randomness and spontaneity occurred because I impulsivly decided to make my own christmas cards last year. I took pictures and everything and then the season got away from me. But I still think it’s important to think about these main concepts and why I love them so much – even if it’s just for myself to ponder!

But I loved working on these cards! I normally do not do something over and over in such a repeated fashion or if I do it’s through design for a client on the computer so it’s much more exact. It seems exactness and perfection is oftentimes more appreciated by a general audience because in our culture and society it certainly exemplifies an infinity for accuracy, attention to detail and orderliness.

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But I found that painting for me finds a blessed release from all of that structure. Many artists (and creatives for that matter) abhor the blank canvas. I LOVE IT! That is my ultimate FAVORITE part of the process because it opens up a new world of “possibilities” and those possibilities are infinite. And I honestly relish the exciting points when something happens that I don’t expect but it continually amazes me that if I had had the intention to do that, it would never have come out this beautifully. It’s the random mark making, the spontaneous and unexpected way the paint behaves with too much water or not enough solvent. And the fun when everything dries and it looks even more different! The more decisions you make the more you narrow down your choices. And that is why finishing paintings are the hardest things for me because I literally feel constricted by only a few choices because the painting demands it and I don’t get the freedom to explore any longer.

However, a project like this brings together BOTH aspects of a structured intent for a creative project while still allowing plenty of freedom for the unexpected, the spontaneous and the randomness. My holiday cards were all screen printed by hand with the same red berry screen but each one came out completely different because of the variables associated with the amount of ink used, the registration (I did not have any so that was completely random) and even the amount of pressure I used when scrubbing the screen. The next step involved the random white blobs of paint that suggests a “wintery, snow” droplets – those blobs obviously are my favorite type of painting process – completely mehem and let those blobs fall where they lie! Finally, the stamps were applied when dried which is the same concept as the screen printing. All of those stamped images were randomly applied, in the same area of the card but all came out slightly different because of the pressure of my hand, the ink and the registration.

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Forty cards total was blast to work on! I might make it a tradition (although I do anticipate I will have a 2 month old by the time the next holidays come around in couple months so that may not be “practical” but we shall see!). I definitely hold on to the beauty of these random marks and were actually wondering if I should part with them, instead making them part of a whole art piece. But in the end I did send them out for fun. This project has inspired another series of artwork for myself which I hope to finish soon–pulling together structure with the serendipitous moments when in the act of painting itself!

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Beautiful imagery!

 

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Hdecor8 Live Wallpaper2ow insightful I saw saw this post by Holly Becker on her blog today about CAMP | decor8 which is located in Atlanta, Georgia. It looks really cool and someday I would love to participate in it because it seems like such a creative atmosphere (a camp for artists!).

But what intrigued me were these gorgeous photos incorporating vintage wallpaper with live flowers and placing an interior wall outside in nature. Something that would be very interesting to my artwork since I’m intrigued by how we bring nature (specifically flowers) inside and decorate our interior spaces, our homes. Such beautiful work it’s very striking and the visual message is clear (I wish I had thought of it!) :) But something about these photos are inspiring to me and I’m not quite sure yet, but I have a feeling they might help inspire a painting project in the near future.

 

 

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Lovely Summer Walks

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The summer has brought many blessings this year (one obvious one is that my husband and I are expecting our first child come fall) but one of our favorite pastimes is . . . yes . . . golf. Or actually my husband’s favorite thing in the whole world. But we’ve been fortunate to join a small country club for the second year in a row (who knows IF that can last once “Jr.” here comes!) but we are definitely soaking up the summer vibes.

It’s finally gotten hot and humid in St. Louis (which is unusual this spring that it’s been so cold and wet). So, we go out as much as we can, couple nights during the week, and my husband and father-in-law walk several holes. Since I’m now 5.5 months pregnant, I’ve given up golf for the moment and go walk with them. This is by far our favorite times to be on the course. It’s GORGEOUS. The grounds are more lovely than a park – rich velvety emerald green grass, tall massive trees, gorgeous creeks, water fountains and running brooks, and flowers EVERYWHERE.

Obviously it is not lost on me that this is a constructed paradise. But then, is anything that we have anymore not constructed nature? My favorite park has all these elements of prairie grasses, tall wooded lanes, and a large pond with a bridge. Yes a golf course is much more manicured and designed to be “perfect.” But you cannot beat the sunset in the background, nor the perfect stillness where it’s only us walking the hills because hardly anyone comes out on those weeknights. It’s like we literally have these beautiful grounds all to ourselves. Definitely a favorite summer pastime, one to treasure always.

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Reminiscing on the Middle East

 

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It’s been well over 2 months now since we took our 21-day trip to Israel and Jordan in April. Jamie and I are working for Biblos Foundation (our main graphic/web design client) shooting photos and video for their website projects and tagging along on their trip to see the Holy Land and all of their biblical sites. This is my fourth time in Israel (and 2nd in Jordan, first time in Jordan was in 1994). It was pretty interesting.

Obviously going for the fourth time does put things even more in perspective about what is currently going on over there in the Middle East and how freakin complicated it is – there is absolutely no black and white answer! There are 1,000 different levels of gray area and each person from any background can put their point and you think, “well, yeah, I could see that perspective too.” Pretty much everyone you talk to (except of course the super leftist radicals who are killing people just to kill them in the name of their God – whether hard-core Muslim or Jew!).  It certainly makes you think about coming back the point over and over and over again, we are all one race, one human race and we have the word “human” in the English word, “humanity.” I can’t help think of eastern philosophy when thinking about the Middle East and to meditate on the Oneness of all of us. Because there is no one right answer nor is there only one right religion or political view. Yet, in the Middle East, every fraction of every major religion is claiming and stacking their religious and political ground – saying THEY are right and THEY are the chosen people, and THEIR God is the one true God. IT’s very interesting. Who can you empathize with?

The most interesting aspect was going back to Jordan after almost couple decades. We worked on the blog for the trip and one of my favorite posts we wrote is this one that expresses our thanks to our guide, Osama, and how much fun we had with the Jordanian people before crossing over into Israel. They are lovely. They are so welcoming, friendly and inclusive. For Americans, we have to always remember Arabs and Muslims get a bad rap over here in the press because of course we are always hearing about the radical minority making rockets and killing people in Damascus. But the Jordanians are the perfect example of an Arab country who embraces the West, is pretty liberalized but at the same time honors their traditions and their way of life–which is primarily structured around family and the “tribe-system” still. It was really fun to get that contrast with Israel.

I could go on and on but since I’ve exhausted the subject with myself, I’m afraid I don’t think I have that many new insights into the trip. I know Jamie, who was going for the first time, was overwhelmed by the contrast of the geography of Israel and also overwhelmed by the sear mass of history spanning back 5,000 years! By the end, you cannot absorb anymore historical facts from the guide because your brain is fried!

But next trip on to Greece! We’ve both never been to Greece so this will be pretty fun and exciting as well. We are both looking forward to it in July. And hopefully I’ll have some time to post since Israel was so rugged traveling – we worked 14 hours days between days and nights working on the blog. We hope to have a bit more “free time” in Greece since the pace of the trip is not as rigorous as Israel. We will see! :)

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