Sunday, January 29, 2012

Welcome your change

Isn't amazing how one influence here or there is enough to change our life's course? The sweetest thing in life is just being open to newness, to other ways of thinking and doing, open to pondering... to dreaming.... to change.

I returned last night from my wonderful week in Santa Cruz. My friends, Jean and Mike, live slightly south of Santa Cruz in a small town called Aptos. We spent the week taking a class at Cabrillo College, where I concentrated on wet and needle felting taught by the amazing Lynda Watson. The classes and teachers at this community college are taken from a very talented pool of Santa Cruz artists, and I found the entire experience to be filled with art awe. Jean took a challenging abstract painting class, where she mastered her thought process towards acceptance during the first afternoon. I love when that happens. Change, and a force towards new thinking is so good for us!

Here we are: me, Lynda, Mike, Jean and super sweet classmate, Liza

We could wave to each other from our classrooms across a large grassy lawn, and go off for lunch to a wonderful local spot called Carried Away. Our days were spent talking art, teen struggles, and life philosophy, and laughing over how old we are getting (we've been friends for over 20 years), dissolving into hilarious tears about doing everything in the world NOT to google when we just couldn't remember even the most mundane things. Oh, heck! Our week ended as our visits normally do... feeling like there just wasn't enough time to do all we wanted to when we are together. Oh, Jean (and Mike!), I just love you to death!

I want to tell you all about my felting adventures, and will be sharing some amazing photos of the work our class did last week, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I just wanted to check in and say Hi! and see how things are going in your neck of the woods. For now, I will leave you with a very short video from our next-door classmates, lighting and electrical. This was not created during their 3 week class, but from a Santa Cruz artist who shows his work at Burning Man. He is Todd Williams and he creates remote controlled shark lights called Land Sharks. They were a crazy hit during the Art Opening on Friday night...

More about Todd's amazing Land Sharks here:

Sharks signing off for now...
xx, Val

Friday, January 20, 2012

A creative mess

Photo courtesy of Austin!

Every single aspect of my life is in full, unbridled swing, and I find myself in the biggest creative mess possible. Ooh-eee! Have you been here too, girlfriend? Do you know how messy and wild this feels?!

I am busy beyond belief in the Hello Soul Hello Business class, and am certain I will be soon bursting out of all my seams with growth and potential. Oh, yes! I can feel it! I didn't realize how all-encompassing this class would be, but it's come at the perfect time, and I really did try to structure some o p e n time, so I could put my whole heart and soul into getting to know me better. Yep, Hello Me!! Though we are not to post our exercises, I am dying to share all I'm learning with you, but I will certainly be able to show and tell about my growth leaps in ways without divulging course content. All I can say, girls (boys too!), is that this class is blowing my socks off! Take a trip over to Kelly Rae's blog to find out a bit more by clicking here, and Beth's blog will tell you how you can still join in all the fun. Nope, you do not want to miss out on this...

This next week will find me at my dear friend, Jean,'s house, where we will share a week of art and friendship. Jean and I have been friends for about 20 years (wow, heck!), and we have done so many things together, though at different times in our lives. Now that we are older, we support each other artistically so well, and never quite have enough time together. Every parting is left with longing that we just need more time together. So, now we are to have a whole week! Yip, I'm so excited for this!

I will be taking a felting class from Lynda Watson, while Jean takes mixed media painting, (another true love of mine, don't you know!) I don't know anything about Lynda, really, but Jean assures me she's the cat's meow when it comes to specialty felting. A visit to her website tells me I am in for a really big treat. I can hardly wait to get busy. I am taking along my Tylenol PM, so as to make sure I can get my shoulders relaxed properly each night after long days felting and needle felting! That's something I struggle with, oh my golly... and isn't it crazy how we prioritize our travel needs. Sheesh! I'm also taking my brand new camera that I treated myself to after my super busy holiday season, a Canon Rebel t3, so hoping I can share some fantastic new pics on my blog and website very soon....

Off on my wild and crazy, out-of-my-normal-element adventures, you won't be hearing from me for a bit, but I promise to have some amazing stories for you upon my return. Happy creating to all my bloggy friends!

x, Val

Friday, January 13, 2012

House of 2 Hearts

Sometimes, miracles come out in the making, unbeknownst to me. I simply listen, and make art. When I touch a heart, then I feel I've given of my gift in the best possible way I can. A special commissioned painting turned out just so, and the person who received the best gift of all? Me!

The couple has been married for over 50 years, and she wanted to present her husband with a special gift on their anniversary, a painting of their beloved home near the Coronado coast. It just so happened to be the day after Christmas, and, most unfortunately, painting was at the bottom of my holiday to-do list after all that sewing and needle felting my busy fingers had been creating for months leading up to Christmas.

Weary as I was, I couldn't let her down. My painting was worked on frantically as Christmas approached. The text had to be something special, and so I presented her with several fitting choices, throwing one last possibility in at the end. I loved it, but not sure if they would.

House of 2 Hearts. She absolutely loved the sentiment. I delivered the finished painting the day after Christmas, on their anniversary. They were the cutest couple I'd ever seen as they held hands and lovingly gazed at the painting. Her husband turned to me (we had only just met), and gave me a great big bear hug.

It was the sweetest, most heartfelt gift I'd received in a very long time.

Art just doesn't get any better than that. Thank you Mr and Mrs P! I hope Greg and I are as happy and joyful on our 54th wedding anniversary. You two truly live in a House of 2 Hearts :o)

xx, Val

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Birdita and Pastina

Most afternoons in my house are filled with alarm bells going off. Literally, the bird in my life acts like he is dying of starvation, and begins shrieking his birdy head off. How can a small bird make so much noise? Lordy. Only one thing will save the day... Pastina.

I run to the stove and boil water. Quick! Add the pastina (small pasta bits), and a bit of salt. Even after only a few minutes of boiling, I must take a spoonful out to feed that screaming bird! Heck already, will he please shut up?!!! (Other people in my family don't put it quite as nicely as that)

Ahh, peace and quiet at last!

Birdita has been with me for over 25 years now. Really! Wow, I never knew cockatiels could eat so much pasta, or live this long. On days when he's particularly annoying, my family asks the unthinkable... "MOM! When is that bird going to die???" Oh, I tell them they are breaking my heart. Birdita was my first true love. When I met Greg, he said the bird's only redeeming quality is his love for pasta (Greg is Italian, by the way). Heck. What about his sweet whistling? Or his garbled words he's trying to talk. When you take the cover off his cage in the morning, he says "hello birdita" in a low, manly voice (like Greg's!). How sweet is that?!

I thought he was a she bird when I got him/her, and, I admit, I wasn't a very creative name giver... I was going for the name Wolfgang, aka Mozart, which turned into Wolfie, then Mot-zita, then finally Birdita. Then, after a year, I learned she was a he. By then the name had stuck. Poor bird has had a lifetime of mixed gender issues.

The boys have had their moments when they've actually liked Birdita (BIRD... that's what they call him). Unfortunately, when they got a bit too chummy, he's hauled off and bit them on the lip or nose. Well, that took care of that. ("hate you, BIRD") Ok, they are teenagers now. I like to remember the happier times...

I'm sure he's lived so long due to his fastidious pasta diet, with a side of edamame. He's in heaven with that combo. He's getting so old now, and some days just sits and sleeps in that covered corner of his cage. He's such an old man birdy now. I kiss him on his old birdy head, and rub his beak and neck, which he especially loves. I can't think of the day when he won't be with me. Though I love him so, I have made my mother promise me she won't get a cockatiel, and leave him to me. I can't take another 25 years of making pasta at 3pm each afternoon. Nope, a pair of parakeets will work just fine for me. Take note, Mom!!

xx, Birdy-Lovin' Val

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sketchbook Saturday

As the brave new year takes shape, I find I am in a state of sluggish discombobulation when it comes to getting back to work... As much as I'm dismayed by this, I know it's because I pushed myself beyond belief over the past 5 months. My mind, body, and spirit are asking me for a renewal break. Yes, I know it's so, and I'm listening, yes, I am...

My break is in the doing, but it's the peaceful doing where my mind finds rest. Sketching suits me just fine. I doodle with colored pencil, and watch the beautiful colors blend and images take shape. It's amazing what appears...

When my mind is all a-flutter, and I am in turmoil, I find the things I create so restorative, refreshing and beautiful. I just don't understand the connection... must I be in despair for true beauty to flow? What about when my mind is calm, will it mean I am barren of creation? What's with that?

In an effort to renew my soul and self, I have signed up to take two online classes, yes, I know I need help to jumpstart my creativity flow! One begins very soon, called Hello Soul, Hello Business. I think this class will be simply amazing. Taught by the innovative Kelly Rae Roberts and Beth Nicholls of Do What You Love, I've signed up for this class because I am certain it will help me take my business to the next level. I am so ready for this! Now, if I can just get the muscles in my shoulders to relax, I think my body will be ready to forge ahead too!

The second class I've signed up for is called The Art of Wild Abandonment, and will be taught by Christy Tomlinson along with sweet Junelle Jacobsen of Yes and Amen! I just couldn't resist this class. Junelle asked me to take Christy's Three Hearts class with her last year, and it was so good for me to get out of my little shell, and get all messy and wild with paints and papers and scrapbooks, and new art tools galore! This is a gift to myself - a just for wild fun - class... don't you need to gift yourself too? Head over to Christy's blog to check out this class. I would love it if you took the class with me! Plus, get reduced tuition if you sign up before Feb 29th!!! Go ahead and treat yourself :o)

Hoping your new year is off to a good and restful start, and a creative one too!!

xx, Val

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Today, I'm all about...

Patchwork! I'm so in love with it...

Quilt by Angela Webster, Ruler by James Michael Starr, Beehive photo, Doll by CocoonDesigns

If my husband and sons wouldn't object, I'm
sure my entire life would be adorned in patchwork. I'd have patchwork quilts on my beds, patchwork curtains on all my windows (I do have them in my studio, and you can see them here :o), patchwork wood furniture, and I'd knit happy evenings away on these glorious patchwork chairs (from Sundance) ...

I have made myself promise that I will not, will not, WILL NOT start quilting! (stern reprimand to self) But I will put patchwork clothing together and I will wear patchwork clothes, I will make patchwork Friendlys, and even patchwork trees...

Yesiree, it's a patchwork life for me! Just wondering if you have the same feeling about patchwork? If not, what are you all crazy about these days?!

Just sign me,
Happy Patch :o) ...aka Val xx