When I first started kicking around the idea of starting a blog on creativity, my long term goal was to host some sort of creativity retreat where I would help people tap back into the creative energy they had lost. This was going to be the focus of my retirement energy. I figured I would write about creativity and I would continue to explore as many creative outlets and avenues as I could…sharing those journeys with all of you. Then I started thinking a lot about doing a podcast and talking to creatives– partially for my own benefit, but also to share with all of you. Many ideas have come in and out of my head since I started The Oodlearium, but the idea of a creativity camp of some sort has never left my mind.
Back in December, my friend Karen was over to Elf in our kitchen while I was baking Christmas cookies. We baked and talked for hours about life and goals and dreams and passions. She heard very clearly the ache in my heart over not knowing how to bridge the gap between now and retirement when I would have more time to devote to my ideas. She threw out the idea of finding a space and just throwing a one day event together. She even volunteered to do a session on vision boards. I jotted down some notes and told her I would give it some serious thought.
During Christmas break, I was out & about one day doing some photography and I stopped by Tyler Creek Forest Preserve in Elgin. I didn’t get the shot I was hoping for, but I discovered this stunning permanent shelter. It was a beautiful brick structure– large enough to fit 50-75 people, close to a flush toilet and ample parking. A quick google search showed that it could be rented for a whopping $50 for the day. I had found the home for this “someday” event. I was so excited about the shelter that I started asking anyone I could think of if they would be willing to be a presenter for this idea of an event. Every single person said yes and before I knew it, I had this awesome lineup of presenters.
These incredible creatives have put together awesome ideas for fun sessions that will tickle your creative funny bones. They cover everything from painting to doodling to photography to vision boards and a charcuterie board lunch session. I could not have asked for a better group of friends to share this day with you all.
Someday, I hope that Oodle in the Park will morph into a huge multi-day event with presenters from all over the world. For now, it is a small group of really enthusiastic creatives who want to share their love with their art with you. The cost of the day is $50, which covers the cost of your supplies for the day. You will not need to bring anything with you except whatever camera (DSLR or phone) for Kelly Hubert’s session. You will create an individual charcuterie board during our lunch time session and eat/snack on it after you’ve snagged some photos to share with friends & family! Snacks and water will be provided throughout the day. If this sounds like something you would love to attend, please sign up here: Oodle in the Park Registration.
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty. Erich Fremm
I am NOT good at letting things go, but when it comes to creating a pour painting or an alcohol ink tile, I have to let go of any notion that I am controlling the outcome. Yes, I select the colors, but after that it’s all magic and nothing is guaranteed— that is where the fun comes in to play!
What have I been working on?
I finished up my 17th year of teaching on June 8th and it has honestly taken me a few weeks to recover from what was the hardest year of my teaching career (which is why I have not done an update in a few weeks). I taught a dear friend how to pour paint (she loved it so much she offered to host my first-ever Mobile Oodlearium next month!). Last week I was in Phoenix visiting family and I did a painting session with my aunt. She went all in when I first told her about my new found obsession. She bought a basic kit, but then started playing around with mixing her own paints with Flotrol and even used a mini torch to get cells in her pours. She was very exploratory. I showed her how I normally pour and then she did one of her own on a 12×12 ceramic tile, which turned out awesome. Finally, I introduced her to 3D pouring on a plastic mask from Michaels, which turned out AWESOME!
I designed and ordered my Oodlearium business cards, so that I can hand them out when I am out and about rambling on about my happy place.
As always, you can follow my 52 Frames journey here to see my entry for the weekly photography prompts.
In the kitchen
My best friend and her husband were over this past weekend for patio time, so I decided to try out a recipe I found for baked vegan glazed chocolate donuts. To say these were stupid good and easy to make would be the understatement of the decade. I opted to use the applesauce option rather than track down vegan butter, so I was able to make them with ingredients I already had in the pantry. They were so good that I might have eaten a few too many and subsequently made a second batch! And they got the stamp of approval from our vegan donut lovers!
We continued our exploration of grinding our own meat for burgers. I went out to Ream’s Meat Market and was excited when the butcher gave me a custom mix of meat to grind. We had one pound each of brisket, short ribs and angus chuck. The resulting burgers were excellent, but we agreed we didn’t notice a huge difference from the home ground angus chuck we normally make.
Our creative explorations in the kitchen led us to a crazy idea for a collaborative project. We ordered a map that we are going to use to track our culinary explorations from around the world. If we made a food from a certain area at home that will be one colored pin. If we ate the food at a restaurant that will be another color. And if we ate the food in that place, we’ll have yet another color pin. We are going to design and build a custom frame for the map and it will hang as a conversation piece in our dining room when it is done. Stay tuned for updates!
The Creative Mindset
After all the stress and anxiety of this past school year, I decided one of my focuses this summer would be on getting out into nature as often as possible. I have started back up with my yin yoga practice and I am doing it in our backyard early in the morning. It’s awesome to get my zen on with the chirping of birds in the background and the sun rising. I love this video, but also spend a lot of time exploring Yoga with Adriene.
Something else I have been working on is doing art anywhere. A dear friend gave me an adorable little cloth zippered pouch with some art supplies. I keep it filled with my doodling pens, a mini sketch book and some note cards. I used these tools extensively while I was out of town. If I was killing time while my niece was taking a nap or while waiting to meet someone for lunch, I would quickly whip out my pouch and doodle for a few minutes—finding inspiration wherever I was. This is how I came up with my design for my Oodlearium business cards!
The Artist’s Way
I am decades late to The Artist’s Way party, but I finally decided to hop on the train and check out the book from the library. It was quickly clear that this book could be profoundly important to my creativity, so I splurged and bought the actual book. I reached out to a group of creatives to see how they have used the book and I connected with another photographer on the other side of the globe in Australia. We have decided to go through the book together and keep each other accountable to the process. I have been diligent about completing the morning pages, which act like a morning brain dump on paper. They have helped me to get a handle on my monkey brain for sure— at least I know what’s bugging me! This week I will take myself on my first artist date— location TBD. The goal is to have a weekly dose of creative explorations that fill your creative mojo cup— you can’t tap into an empty well. Exciting for sure! The first chapter talked about the people who have not supported my creative endeavors. I have been SO lucky that my friends and family have always supported and encouraged my exploits. For this I am so grateful!!!
When the pandemic started, I entered survival mode. I did what I could to just allow myself to put one foot in front of the next. Sometimes that meant cooking elaborate dinners for us. Sometimes that meant baking delicious brownies and eating half the pan in one sitting. Sometimes it meant killing a 10-mile training run in ridiculous temperatures. Sometimes it meant breaking down into a blubbering mess. As the months have worn on the latter has been more frequent and it has been exhausting. Tom and I have talked and talked and talked about what I could do to help me find my center and until the last week or so nothing was helping. Being here in The Oodlearium is truly the only time I feel complete joy and peace, but even lately that has been hard.
Why does any of this even matter and why am I talking about this on a blog about creativity? Stress and depression/anxiety are some of the greatest blockers to creativity. I know that I am not the only one who has felt overwhelmed and this past year has amplified all of those feelings. I often describe my life as juggling 100 plates of fire and then every once in a while someone pours gasoline on it and everything comes crashing down around me. That is not the way I want to go through life.
During our last post-breakdown chat, Tom was emphatic that I needed to practice daily self-care. That buzzword has always bothered me, because I associate it with yuppy soccer moms who want to justify getting their nails done in the middle of a pandemic. But, I understood his sentiment. I needed to take time for ME to make sure I am good every single day.
We brainstormed a long list (have I mentioned how obsessed I am with lists?) of ways that I could take care of myself. I wanted to create a buffet of options so that I could pick and choose depending on my mood. I wrote each idea on a notecode and clipped them together with a binder clip. They sit next to my journal in the middle of The Oodle Surface where I see them every single day. Each day when I have practiced my self-care, I jot the date and anything noteworthy on the back of the appropriate card. It has been tremendously helpful and has kept me focused on taking care of myself.
Here are some of the activities on my cards:
I LOVE Yoga with Adrienne. She has a video for every situation, but she is also incredibly loving and supportive. I just did her Yoga for Healing video (only 10 minutes) and I felt like a new person.
This Yin Yoga Foundations video is excellent. It is 45 minutes, but it definitely calms my mind and my body.
I try counting my breaths and staying focused on my breath.
I have also started using my hour glass to work on staying focused.
Take an online art class.
I recently purchased a five month subscription to CreativeBug for $5.
There are TONS of classes on YouTube. Consider creating a library that you can go to when you want to watch something later.
Have a stack of thank you cards ready (you can get them super cheap from the Dollar Store) and then you can just write it out quickly.
Do a pour painting.
If you are a regular reader of my This Week in The Oodlearium, you know that I am obsessed with pour painting.
If you need a lesson in letting go, pour painting is a great way to do it.
Take a nap.
Most people go through their lives extremely sleep deprived.
Don’t fight it. Your body is telling you that you need rest.
Get out in nature.
Fresh air ALWAYS helps.
My husband set up a patio shelter last summer to block the harsh afternoon sun. It made such a difference and we spent so much more time outside than normal.
Index card art.
This idea goes hand in hand with mindful doodling.
Grab a stack of notecards and a pen and fill the card with a pattern. Go back and color it, if you fancy. Base the doodle around an inspirational quote or even a power word such as strength.
My husband and I are reading Seth Godin’s newest book The Practice.
We have both been profoundly moved and inspired by his message.
This book has kept both of us out of the ER multiple times. Daily self-massage can help release the tension that builds up during our chaotic and stressful lives.
Consider investing in a Theragun. We are not a gadget gadget family, but the $199 investment we made in our Theragun last summer has been life changing. As a runner, it has helped with recovery after long training runs, but it helps just loosen up sore muscles from life.
Download a printable copy of my cards here. (This link will force you to make a copy of the document and save to your Google Drive. From there, you can open it in Google Slides and print it out with six or nine slides / page onto card stock.)
Until next time, Oodle on and make sure you are taking care of YOU.
On Monday night, Tom and I got our first doses of the Moderna vaccine and we were both euphoric…feeling like the end of this Covid nightmare was finally drawing to a close. Then on Tuesday I found out that my mother was in the ICU in critical condition— likely with Covid. My world was turned upside down for a thousand different reasons and I was reeling with a thousand different emotions. I came home early on Tuesday and after a nine-hour Lucifer marathon with Tom, I finally got some rest. There was no way I was going to be able concentrate at school while sitting around waiting to hear any updates, so I opted to stay home and spend the day doing art therapy.
I headed to Michael’s and picked up a whole mess of supplies— retail therapy is not usually my thing, but I wanted to have a variety of projects to work on. The gal who rang me up asked what I was working on and I had to laugh because I had really no idea what I was going to do with all the stuff I had just bought. I had a styrofoam head and a bag of balloons that I thought work to recreate a photo I had seen (it didn’t). I had a ridiculously expensive clump of grass and a giant pink flower, a stack of 10 8×10 canvases, a set of mini canvases, supplies for the cricut, a metal sunflower, and another plastic mask.
I am obsessed with 3-D pour painting right now. After the success of my mask, I have been trying to figure out what else I could pour over. When I saw the sunflower, I knew I had to try it. I had no idea if it would work out or just be a mucky mess. While it did not turn out how I thought it might, I really do like how it turned out and I am thinking of going back to get a few more to make a set.
Early on when I started pour painting, I decided to make use of two old cookie sheets to catch all my spillage. It definitely bugged me that there is so much waste in this art. I follow Callen Schaub on instagram and I love how he uses all of his process pieces as art, too. From the trough he uses to swirl his paint to a canvas on the ground that catches all the spillage. So each time I do a pour, I just let the paint sit in the tray. Well, this week, I finally picked up some plastic triangles to use to prop up my canvases. After my pour dried, I realized the triangles had also dried into the paint. When I was yanking them out, it actually pulled up a solid sheet of paint…leaving me with two really cool pieces “fabric.” We did a bunch of brainstorming on what I could with them and finally decided I am going to try and make coasters with them. Tom gave me the idea of creating concrete coasters that have an inset for the pour. Then I will cover them with epoxy. I don’t know anything about any aspect of that project, which is exciting, but also means that it will have to wait until later for me to play around with…mainly when the weather is more reliable for me to work outside with concrete. For now, here are the sheets…pretty cool, eh?
Earlier this year we had an opportunity to do some self-care during a professional development at school. A fellow creative offered to show me how to cut glass that I would eventually be able to use to make a gazing ball out of a bowling ball. She also showed me how I could cover a bowling ball in washers. When I randomly asked on Facebook if anyone had any bowling balls they were trying to get rid of, I didn’t expect someone to say they had four that I could have for free! I gave two to my friend and kept two for myself. Yesterday was the first day since I got the balls where it was nice enough to sit outside and start work on the project. I LOVE how this is turning out. The process is incredibly therapeutic. It helps me with my “letting go” work because it is impossible to create a perfect pattern. And, it is looking really cool! While I was outside, I had an idea of what I wanted to do for the base. We have a bunch of chunks of our neighbor’s tree that was struck by lightning. I want to prep and finish one to be the base for the ball. Not sure where I’ll put it yet.
Try something new
Tom and I decided to spend this entire weekend on maker projects. It was just what I needed, but I wanted to challenge myself to not just fall back on my regular projects of canvas pour painting and making cards. A while back I was doing a virtual painting session with a fellow creative in Israel. We were talking about how she is always frustrated with how her pours turn out and that really likes how mine turn out. I told her what products I use and that everything is set up, I just have to decide on my color combos and pour. Ready to pour paint is not available in her area (huge bummer!). I told her that I would play around with mixing my own and let her know what I figured out. I finally had the chance to play around and it IS really challenging. I mixed acrylic base paint with Elmer’s glue and then added pour medium. When I do a regular pour with my pour ready paint, I know exactly how much paint I need. With this method, I had no idea what I was doing. I decided at the last minute to pour through my regular colander. I started pouring and the paint just sat there. I kept pouring hoping the weight would push it through. I finally lifted the colander and realized this was going to take a bit of effort. As I was tilting and sliding the paint, I could tell there was not going to be enough to cover the canvas. I grabbed the colander to see if I could get any more to slide out and was thrilled that it did. As the paint was drying, I noticed a few air bubbles, so I decided to try my heat gun out on it. That caused this crazy crackling pattern which I have never seen before. The moral of the story is that it was LOT more work to create this pour, but it was definitely something I will play around with. I thought it would be cheaper to use straight acrylic and mix my own, but after the amount of glue and pour medium I used, I honestly don’t know that that is true.
I saw this photo a while ago on Pinterest. When I saw this week’s challenge was color relationship, I thought it would be perfect. Small problem— I didn’t know anyone who would let me paint them white…who does that? My sister-in-law suggested trying to use a styrofoam head…which made me wonder if I could stretch a balloon over it and get the painted effect. I knew it was a long shot, but I had to try. Yeah— it didn’t work. I tried a whole mess of other ideas with the head and the white mask I bought, but nothing was working. On Saturday, I decided to play around with another piece of glass I have— a pretty light purple dish of sorts and then a green background. I messed up while processing one of the images and this crazy blue resulted. I had my image!
Somehow last week slipped away from me and I never wrote my post…things happen!
Tom and I were standing in line at Michael’s picking up our Cricut Maker when he hopped out of line and whispered he would be right back. He returned a few minutes later with a standard white plastic mask— the kind that people often decorate for Mardi Gras. He knew that I have been looking to do a 3D paint pour for a few weeks now. This was the perfect surface to experiment with this new surface. I cannot even fully express how excited I am about how my mask turned out. It’s sitting on the side table here in The Oodlearium and I just LOVE it. I am trying to figure out how to properly display it…rather than the way it is currently leaning against and empty kombucha bottle. As soon as it dried, I knew that I wanted to use it for the 52 Frames Theme for the week.
I really want to write a whole post about the process of creating my image for this week, so I will keep this relatively short for now. I had a simple idea in mind. I wanted to have the mask against a unique background and I wanted to make the eyes look like they were glowing. To say the final product was an incredible labor of love would be an understatement. I took hundreds of images to make the final one and I pushed myself to learn a whole smattering of new tools in Photoshop. I was extremely excited when I looked at my image this morning on the 52 Frames site and learned that I had been selected as one of the 52 picks for the week. There were close to 3500 images in this week’s album, so I was absolutely tickled to be chosen.
I finally took the Cricut out of the box and started playing around with it. I am spatially challenged and it is going to take me quite a bit of time to figure out how the thing works, but I’m excited to add this tool into my toolbox.
The same day we picked up the mask, I picked up some wooden rabbits to paint. I definitely need to work on a process for them, but the two I did turned out cute. I have eight more to play around with, so I am sure I will improve over the next few weeks.
I have a bunch of canvases from when I first started pour painting that did not turn out how I had hoped. I figured the canvases were toast and I would have to just dump them…what a shame. Before I did that, I decided to try out doing a repour on them. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked. The color scheme on the first one was not ideal, but I am sure I could do it over again. The second one turned out great. I really like how the colors created a sand and ocean look.
I haven’t had a chance to work on any more CreativeBug classes, but hopefully soon.
What a week this has been! We are deeply entrenched in the coldest and snowiest winter we have had in quite some time. I won’t lie- it has been hard to stay focussed on the good. That means that The Oodlearium has been even more of a sanctuary than in a normal week.
A dear friend and fellow creative recently told me about a website called CreativeBug. I am pretty anti-subscription services primarily because they can quickly get out of control (Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, are just a few examples). However, when she forwarded me an email that said I could get 5 months of the membership for $5, I hopped on without giving it a second thought. Over the course of the week, I have been playing around with a few different classes. I did a bit of work with brush lettering, which is something I have wanted to learn for a long time. I started the creativity boot camp, but need to get some more supplies before I can continue work on that one. When I stopped I had created a relatively creepy self portrait that quickly got crumbled into a ball and recycled. I ended with a bit of work on doodling that inspired me to start work on a different project. I’m looking forward to playing around a bit with learning something new each week without the pressure of feeling like I made a huge investment. Check it out!
I am absolutely not a materialistic person. In fact materialism is something that turns me away from people, but this week I received two packages in the mail that have been awesome additions to The Oodlearium. A few weeks ago I ordered an hourglass from Etsy. I am disappointed to learn that Etsy no longer is a site for artisans to sell their handmade work. Anyhow, the hourglass I purchased arrived and looks beautiful on the oodle surface. I use it when I am writing to make sure I stay focussed on what I am doing and not on going back and forth to check my social media. It has been awesome. And my second Pilot Metropolitan arrived and I am so excited to be able to have an everyday pen and a special pen for cards that will have my colored inks in it.
Last week I think I mentioned that I was going to host my second creativity chat today. There were three of us and it was fabulous. I was in a pretty meh mood when we started, but by the end I was overjoyed. My friend Karen lives in Israel and she taught us about the Jewish holiday called Purim. She was dressed in costume today as part of a long standing tradition she and a good friend have for this holiday. Someday when my husband and I visit her in Israel we want to go during this time of the year to experience this holiday— the focus of which is doing kind things for friends and strangers to make them joyful. What a beautiful gesture! Another friend taught me all about the Cricut vinyl cutter and inspired me so much that we went out and bought one today. I am thrilled at the prospect of what we can do with this amazing tool.
I have amassed quite a collection of pour painting canvases, so I am trying to avoid making new ones without some goal of moving a few of the ones I have out. I had a few canvases from when I first started painting that were not successful. This was the first time I ever tried painting over a canvas and trying a second pour. The colors I chose were not the best, but the pour definitely worked. I have a few more that I can rescue, so that was great news!
My husband spotted a few fun items at the craft store this morning— a plastic mask— perfect for Karneval. I’m going to pour that later this week. Then also some super cute wood cut out bunnies perfect for Easter ornaments. So many ideas…so little time.
Finally, this week’s 52Frames theme was one of the most challenging ever—golden hour! Remember what I said about the weather. I am proud of myself for coming up with a way to meet the challenge, but it was tough for sure. Check out my image on Tuesday when the album goes live.
One last thought before I go…I need to write a separate piece about creativity in the kitchen. I had a unique experience in the kitchen yesterday and I am excited to share it with you. I just can’t do it right now 🙂
Creativity Hour. When I embarked on my creative journey with The Oodlearium, one of the pillars of creativity I wrote about was meeting regularly with other creatives. That was my primary reason for wanting to start a podcast. I have put that idea on the back burner for right now. I have too much going on to put the time into it that it deserves. I will revisit that idea as summer approaches. In the meantime, I am trying to set up a virtual creative hour with other creatives. The idea would be to set aside an hour once a week to chat with other creatives. Talk about the projects you are working on…questions you have…ask for advice…or just get ideas for your next creative adventure. If this is something you would be interested in being part of, drop me a PM and I’ll add you to the list.
52 Frames. Last week’s theme was leading lines. After an amazing ice storm that left every tree looking like it had been flocked, I pulled over on the side of the tollway to snag my picture with my phone (something I never do!).
This week’s theme was to shoot from below. I spent a lot of time rolling around on the floor trying different shots of some Lego robots I built last summer before I eventually decided on a shot of the Lego VW bus I built. This is the next installment in the “This is how I roll” series. Yep, I’m 45 and I built a VW bus out of Lego blocks. And, yep, a part of my brain is trying to figure out how I can actually have a real VW bus.
Pour painting. The Oodlearium has canvases sitting all over the place. There is a set of four that I have waiting for summer when I can build a custom frame for them. There are others just sitting on the shelves behind me. I love each one more than the previous…which makes it hard for me to just give them away. Long story short, it has been a few weeks since I last painted. Today I was struggling with the writing I was doing, so I pushed my notebook aside and did a quick pour. It is such an incredible release— no matter how it turns out, I always feel a bit brighter afterward.
I have taken a personal day to watch the Inauguration festivities and am planning a red/white/blue themed pour in honor of this important day in our nation’s history.
Pilot Pens and Ink. Last week I mentioned that I was geeking out on ink for my Pilot pen. The inks finally arrived this week and I was over the moon excited. I learned so much about inks and pens. Tom bought me a Pilot Metropolitan from The Goulet Pen Company, which is a mom and pop shop in Virginia. I ordered a whole mess of inks not knowing that inks are proprietary to the pens…buy a Pilot pen and you have to buy Pilot inks. Who knew! Anyhow, I have a new stash of all different colored inks for the upcoming card season. I cannot say enough wonderful things about The Goulet Pen Company. They have amazing customer service! They responded quickly to my question about my order and offered various options for my situation. I look forward to purchasing from them again.
The Oodle Doodles. I am still working on the Oodle Doodle back stories. They are pushing me and challenging me in ways I never imagined. I am planning to set up individual pages for each Oodle on www.theoodlearium.com. Look for a separate announcement telling you when you can start following their launch!
In the meantime, the Oodle Doodles have been printed and have already started making their way onto cards for random occasions. Today my sister-in-law sent me a text with a picture of all my oodles from my Christmas cards from the last five or so years. I was so tickled to see that she had kept all the cards and that they brought such happiness to her. Mission accomplished!
George Berlin I have been following an artist, who traveled from the US to Taiwan to collaborate with a local artist on a major art installation. It has been amazing to follow his journey. Check him out on Facebook and Instagram. You won’t be disappointed!
The Practice by Seth Godin Tom and I are reading a new book by Seth Godin called The Practice. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone seeking sage advice and encouragement to pursue your true creative self. I find myself bookmarking or highlighting every single passage. Check it out!
It’s New Year’s Day and I have been off for just shy of two weeks. I return to my classroom on Monday for the first time since early November. To say that I am anxious would be a gross understatement. However, I decided to dedicate my entire Christmas break to ME. So here is what has been happening in the Oodleariium while I have been off:
Pour Painting with new mini strainers. If you ever needed proof that your phone or device is listening to you then these strainers are that proof. I made some offhand comment about how it would be fun to have different strainers with different hole patterns to play around with. The next time I was on Pinterest the exact set I was looking for showed up in my feed. They were cheap and I ordered them. I have since done two paintings with them and I LOVE THEM!
International Pour Painting Party. I have a fellow Framer friend from Israel who also enjoys pour painting. We got together last week for the second time to do a painting together. She was curious to see my technique. We talked a lot about supplies and the differences in what is available here vs what she can easily find in Israel. For example, she had never heard of pour-ready paint, which is all that I use. We talked about cameras and of course our worries about the continued danger of the raging pandemic. I cherish these experiences, because they remind me how small the world is.
Oodle Doodle Book Idea. One day I was sitting here in the Oodlearium going through my sketch books and looking at my different doodles. I started marking the pages with post-it notes and before I knew it, there were close to FORTY different doodles. I smiled at each one and remembered the various circumstances that brought them to be. That is when it struck me that I really wanted to create a book with all of my doodles. Tom (at least I think it was his idea) suggested that I write the backstory for each of the characters and have that text accompany each image. I was sold immediately! What a fun idea. I spent a whole day last week drawing a clean version of each of the doodles and then scanning them. I have a whole process for digitally coloring my drawings that Tom introduced me to when I was first zentangling. If you are interested in that process let me know and I can detail it for you. As of today, I have ALL of the drawings scanned and colored and I am just starting to think about stories.
Welcome to The Oodlearium sign. A few months ago I was cleaning off a shelf in the basement and I was ready to pitch a stack of rusted and warped cookie sheets that I had from my mother-in-law. I was having a really hard time with the idea of getting rid of them because she was the queen baker of the family— she is the reason that I bake gazillions of Christmas cookies every year. It occured to me that I might be able to use the sheet as a backdrop for a sign. I bought a stack of wooden letters at the craft store and spray painted them a nice teal color (unfortunately did not match my bench perfectly, but it is what we had on hand and is close enough). The letters sat in a jumble on the cookie sheet until this morning when I finally said ENOUGH. I am going to finish this damned project! I grabbed my E6000 adhesive even though it says to use it in a well-ventilated area and I proceeded to finish the sign. I’m not sure exactly where (or if) I will hang it. For now, its sitting next to my bench and I love it!
Crochet Madness. I normally wear a really nice wind resistant ski cap when I am running in the winter. However, lately I have found that it is often too warm. I scoured the world of Pinterest for an earwarmer pattern and found a few that had potential. The day I decided to try them out, I was super stressed out, so I was making mistakes left and right. I had purchased some beautiful purple merino wool yarn from a local knit shop and was super excited to try it out. However, I did not want to ruin or waste the expensive yarn. I tore apart what I did no less than seven times before deciding to walk away. The next day I decided to try my own pattern, but again I kept making silly mistakes. I have since gotten a decent start on one, but I think there is still an issue with the first few rows. I’m tabling that project for now! Other things to worry about. I’ll pick it up soon enough again.
Azul. Tom and I decided not to get each other Christmas presents this year, but I did pick up a new board game for us called Azul. It has been around for a few years and has gotten awesome reviews on BoardGameGeek.com. We have been having loads of fun playing what is a very simple to learn, but deep game.
A creative Christmas. As I mentioned we decided not to do presents for each other this year. In a world where we really have enough money to buy what we need, it just puts us in the position to acquire more stuff that we don’t need. So we decided to dedicate our break to our creative pursuits. For me that meant spending a bunch of time in the kitchen. I made spinach/artichoke ravioli with a vodka cream sauce for our Christmas Eve dinner. We had naan bread pizzas with homemade Italian sausage for Christmas Day dinner. One morning I made breakfast pizzas. New Year’s Eve we had an almost entirely sous vide dinner (prime steaks, lobster tails, honey glazed carrots, chocolate mousse all in the sous vide) and then garlic mash and homemade French bread. YUMMO! Tom keeps telling me that I need to write about my fearlessness in the kitchen, because it is a bit of a mystery to me. I’ll save that for another day!
52 Frames- 3X Warrior
My 52 Frames picture for last week completed my 3x Warrior Status, which means that I submitted a picture 156 straight weeks. The theme was to capture 2020 in an image. I woke up on Christmas morning to find the window in the Oodlearium covered in ice and the sun shining on it. 2020 was just like a snowflake— unique and temporary. I was extremely proud of this image!
That means the image for this week is the same as it is every year— a self-portrait. Four years in to this project, I am no longer mortified by this challenge. I still don’t like it, but it doesn’t bring me to tears like it did the first year (no joke). At one point over the break one of us said “That’s how we roll.” The comment was made in reference to the non-traditional way we go through our life. The idea resonated with me and I decided to dedicate my entire year of 52 Frames images to capturing the different ways that I roll. It will be an opportunity to marry self-reflection and creativity. Challenge accepted! The album has not been posted yet, but you can check out my image after it posts next week.
In the meantime, here is what has been happening in the Oodlearium.
A thanksgiving haiku. Something that has fallen to the back burner since I returned to school has been my daily haikus. They are like the sprint of creativity for me. I never took more than a few minutes to write one and I always focused on something positive. Here is my Gratitude haiku in celebration of Thanksgiving.
52frames. This week’s theme was circles. My photo this week embodies everything that being a framer means to me. A few weeks ago we had an opportunity to take some self-care time at school. My creative pal Lindsay offered to teach me the basics of cutting glass for mosaics. I was super excited to give it a try, so I put out an all-call for bowling balls. I hoped to get one and ended up with four. I gave two to Lindsay and decided one would be for a mosaic and I would do the other one with washers. That project has to wait for spring because I cannot use the adhesive inside. That means I have a huge bag of washers sitting around waiting for a theme like circles!
Crates. I am intrigued by the idea of subscription crates. Afterall i was a child of the BMG CD subscription era. I spent my college career eagerly awaiting a new delivery of music. There are a lot of crates out there, but I have yet to find one that seems worth the money. For now I have decided to be my own subscription service. After all, Pinterest is free and I live between two different craft store. Crafting Pinterest Board
Sewing. Every time I do a pour painting I am scrambling to find a paper town to wipe paint off my hands. Or I am halfway through mixing my paints when I realize I am still in my work clothes and god forbid I get paint on a dry clean only shirt! I need an apron! I so easily could have just bought one, but this was against everything that the Oodlearium stands for. So I picked up a yard of denim at the fabric store and decided to give it a shot. I traced an apron we had in the kitchen and adjusted it a bit. This is an Oodleapron, so I wanted it to be fun. It has been YEARS since I have had my sewing machine out and it was quite the rude awakening. I did not remember how hard it was to sew a straight line. I’m thankful that my husband convinced me to walk away for a few minutes and come back to it with fresh eyes. I have the basic seam done, but I am going to “quilt” a space bird on to it and that will involve another trip to the store and a bit of planning. Stay tuned for the rest of the story 🙂
Drawing. I had two special cards to make this week. A friend is going through some health issues and I wanted to send her a bit of extra love. And I had a thank you card for someone who did something kind for me. I had found some fun superhero comic drawing tutorials on Pinterest which had piqued my interest. I was laying in bed when it hit me that my newest character Gertie would be perfect if I added a cape to her and put her in the superhero pose.
Pointillism. I have read a lot about the meditative properties of pointillism. Of course Seurat’s painting Sunday in the Park is the best example of pointillism, but I had to start somewhere. So I created a Thanksgiving turkey, but I had more ideas brewing in my brain. It really is meditative!
Cooking. Life got busy on Sunday and I didn’t make it to the grocery store. So I took a gander in our freezer and saw that we had a package of chicken andouille sausage. Perfect for a cajun pasta recipe. Pinterest to the rescue! My husband loves when I tell him that I am going to make a recipe, but that we don’t have half the ingredients. This was definitely one of those times! It’s hard to make cajun pasta without cajun seasonings…unless you make your own! I didn’t have cream, but I did have whole milk (which in reality was all this recipe needed!). And of course I had a healthier version of the sausage. This recipe is a keeper! One pot cajun pasta. And over Christmas break…I am going to learn how to make homemade cheese!
Oodle doodle family portrait. A lot of people have been posting family portraits as they get ready to make their Christmas cards. That got me thinking that I need to update the Oodle Doodle family portrait header for Facebook. Stay tuned!
Pour paintings. I wanted to thank someone for doing something kind for me. While it would have been easy to buy a bag of chocolate or a Starbucks gift card, I wanted to do something more meaningful. He is a big Koby Bryant fan and I know how devastated he was after Koby’s tragic helicopter crash earlier this year. So I decided to create a painting inspired by the Lakers colors. I had hoped for it to be more yellow/gold, but it turned out fun regardless and he loved it. Mission accomplished.
Crocheting. I found a new fall coat that I am absolutely in love with. It was cheap, fun and simple…which meant that I could make a fun scarf to go with it in my all time favorite color. I had a great pattern from a few years ago that I used when I was making sets for the Elgin homeless population. I had forgotten how easy and fun the pattern was. Way back in January or so, I had reached out to Phyllis from The Liam Foundation to tell her that I was going to donate two homemade hats in PRIDE colors to her to auction off in order to help her raise funds for her new non-profit organization (insert link). Then of course we got locked down and any chance of a traditional fundraiser was not in the cards. I showed the hats to our gay-straight alliance sponsor at school and he loved them. I promised him I would make him one for his birthday. The next week he returned from a long weekend to say that his fiancé was jealous that he did not have one. I finally had a free minute to sit down and make another one. Now they have matching hats and it’s ridiculously sweet!
I’m about to start my 17th year of teaching, but this year is the first time I have ever started in the middle of a pandemic. I know I speak for gazillions of other teachers who are experiencing heightened anxiety and fear. This year is going to be incredibly difficult. It is going to require out of the box thinking and patience and flexibility. We will be forced to rethink everything we have held as steadfast truths and pedagogical compasses. We are going to have to learn to let things go.
Alarms have been going off in my brain for about six weeks. They started as a slight buzzing that I pushed off as a minor nuisance and have since escalated to a howling that can only be described as painful moaning. I’m not good at letting things go. I take the time to do things right the first time so that I don’t have to change things on the fly. I create a plan and I follow the plan. I never throw out a perfectly good plan and start over from scratch. This year…there is a lot of letting go on the horizon.
Enter into the picture learning to let things go…
A few months ago friends were visiting and I wanted to have a fun art activity for us to do. I picked up my first ever pour painting kit from the local craft store. Instead of spending hours on line finding the perfect kit and then researching all the best ways to do pour painting, I decided I was going to wing it…to let it go wherever it went.
I quickly read the instructions in the kit and off we went. Mine turned out very much like the images I had seen all over Pinterest. My friend’s turned out very much not like that. I was super excited by my results and incredibly inspired by my friend and how she pivoted when her painting did not turn out as planned.
I told everyone that I was hooked on this painting gig, because it was so fun to layer the colors and get something so cool as the result. A few weeks later I did it again, but this time I tried the colander technique. Instead of flopping a cup of paint onto your canvas, you pour your paint through a colander and let that create your pattern. I had layered a lot of colors, but when the paint dried, it had not turned out anything like I thought it might. I still loved the results, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be.
A friend reached out and asked if I could create something black and white for her daughter’s birthday. I was up for the challenge, so I layered black, white, gold, silver and then the tiniest splash of red. The result reminded me of Gustav Klimt’s famous painting “The Kiss,” which is anything but black and white.
The next day I was back at school for meetings and I popped by to see a friend of mine in her office. She mentioned my paintings and I told her how it was so therapeutic to not know what something was going to look like when you started. This friend knows me very well and also how much of a control freak I am. She did not miss a beat when she said I need to do a lot more painting, because the practice of letting go is very good for me! I went straight home that night and created the piece that I eventually sold to my friend as a gift for her daughter. It did not turn out how I thought it might, but I loved the result regardless.
There will be much more painting in my future!
Stay tuned for how I learned to let go by letting my friend convince me to draw with my left hand.
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