Friday, May 28, 2010

What to do at Grandma's House?

Wakeman House Living Room.

First things first... This isn't my grandma's house. This is the amazing guest house I rented while staying in Ohio at the end of last month. Though there were 3 bedrooms available for rent, I was the only one staying there during that time and so the whole house was mine.

As I live in a very small (750sq ft) house, this one, at over twice that size felt gigantic to me and while I may never want to own (and clean) something this large, I certainly appreciated the space while I was there.

One afternoon I had about an hour to kill until I was to get ready to meet a friend for dinner and I had it in my mind that I wanted to lie down for a while and just chill, and so I did just that - right in the middle of that empty floor space. After lying there for only a moment or two, I was mentally transported back to various memories of staying over at one of my grandmother's apartments. (Neither of my grandparents ever owned their own home.) I was remembering times when my parents would take me to visit and I would beg to spend the night and so they would leave me there, all excited to hang with (one of) my gram's.

After they would stuff me full of whatever deliciousness their refrigerators held, I'd soon grow bored and restless watching The Lawrence Welk Show, (or something equally unexciting to a 10 year old) and not having any of my toys with me or even a book to read. The next day would be worse as Gram would have no games to play with me, no kids in the neighborhood I knew, and I wasn't allowed to leave the sanctuary of the front porch. This was excruciating for a young me.

Lying on that floor I couldn't believe how fortunate I was to be staying in an unfamiliar place, and to have that quiet uninterrupted space with nothing to do was like heaven to me. So interesting how our perspective changes with age. (Though I did have a few luxuries with me like my iPod, a journal, and a cell phone equipped with internet access.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Reflection Pole

The finished column on Jaqui's porch.

On a recent trip to my soul sister Jaqui MacMillian's house, I joking asked her if she had something she'd like me to paint a mandala on to which she instantly replied, "Oh yes! Because I know it will be really valuable someday!" She is too kind.....

An interesting blank canvas

For painting, she offered up this wooden column that came from her old house in Washington DC. I imagined it to be covered in different mandalas, but once I started with her Liquitex acrylics (which were new to me) I realized that painting just one might take me a while. (the paint soaked quickly into the wood and I had to keep adding coats so it would be as vibrant as I wanted it to be.)

One on the top

For reasons unknown to me at the time, I didn't just start with one mandala, but two the same - one on top of the other. This is the one on the top -

Then one on the bottom

and this was the one on the bottom. Sitting on the floor of her porch with the column in front of me was the easiest way for me to work.

Adding details to the top

Adding additional detail to the top,

and again on the bottom

then the bottom.

Not sure why I did two together

As I started to finish up, I started to panic because I wasn't really sure that I liked it at all. These weren't the colors or paints I was used to working with and I thought it looked like a little kid had (badly) painted it. I was certain Jaqui would hate it and I was embarrassed for her to see it - thinking she would want me to paint over the whole thing & start again.

Why are artists so unbelievably hard on themselves? Why am I so hard on myself?

It was at this point that she came out on the porch and I sheepishly showed it to her, bracing myself for her reaction.

She loved it. (Whew!) When she asked me if it was done, I said I wasn't sure. As she went down into the yard to work on her garden, she called me down to show me something. Shae said, "Look at it from down here" and I did and I almost cried. It GLOWED. So beautiful... I just couldn't see it up close. Irony in art for sure....

Until I realized it represented Jaqui & me. The people around you, are the mirror's reflection of you.

I added just a bit more detail in black, the word "transformation" on the side, and my signature below. And then it FINALLY hit me as to why I painted two mandalas that seemed to almost be reflections of one another. It's because that's just what they are.

Me & Jaqui MacMillan

Remember up top when I called Jaqui my soul sister? We aren't related but from the picture above you wouldn't know that. I just met her last summer and she is an absolutely amazing human being. Meeting her was one of those situations where you felt like you've already known someone your whole life but are now just only meeting them in the flesh.

A sometimes difficult concept for me to grasp is that what you put out, you attract. I have all these absolutely wonderful amazing friends in my life and I always have to remind myself that in some way, they are all a reflection of me.

Which is why the mirror image mandala isn't so much a surprise to me any more. :o)

Love you Jaqui!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My First Book: Art Created Through Personal Evolution

My First Book

I've been longing to see my mandalas in book form, so I recently had a small book made through Shutterfly. You create the book by uploading the images into a series of templates. You can add text or choose to just show the images.

My First Book

The first thing I noticed was how awesome the images stood out against the black. The next thing I noticed was how quickly the black cover gets smudgy from finger prints. The black pages also seemed to scratch easily...

My First Book

All of my images were either shot with my digital camera (Canon SD1000) or scanned on my personal scanner. Some reproduced better than others, and all in all, I would probably do much better with someone else scanning these images at a higher resolution and then tweaking them in so they match the original best as can be. (Though I am fairly notorious for pushing the contrast on my images.)

My First Book

I noticed that some of the layouts worked better than others.

My First Book

The way this book is bound (perfect binding?) it can't open flat (which I hate) and that pretty much means not to align your images with the center or they can't be fully enjoyed. (So what's the purpose of an 8x8" book if you can't utilize the entire page?)

My First Book

Blue mandalas....

My First Book

As much as I wanted to do some that filled the page like the one on the right, too much gets lost in the crease.

My First Book

Perhaps I should have chosen a white background for these.....

My First Book

So many different image templates... the one on the left was a bad idea as once again, the images got lost in the crease.

My First Book

I enjoyed grouping the images by color.

My First Book

Such vivid color.

My First Book

A few of my favorites.

My First Book

Back cover.

All in all, this was pretty much just a test. The cost (expensive) through Shutterfly doesn't really allow for any kind of profit margin if I wanted to resell these. I've explored using Blurb, but the program to run it is too powerful for my old PC. I'm currently working to have some of my images scanned through my local photo retailer and I'm considering some of the book options they have there as well.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mandala for the little girl who got her foot caught in the door

Mandala in Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Bordeaux

My elementary years started in parochial school, having attended 1st, 2nd & the beginning of 3rd grade there. I never went to kindergarten and was enrolled directly in 1st grade at the age of 5. I was a tiny little thing back in 1st grade - so small that I had to have a school uniform custom made to fit me. I had a difficult time acclimating to school and also making friends. Many of the children came from well-to-do families and as I did not, it often made it hard for me to relate to them.

I can remember being terrified of the nuns and priests that taught at the school. I always felt that they were some how "above me" but not necessarily in a spiritual way. Each day as I went to school, I'd feel bombarded with feelings that I was "less than" everyone else around me.

To enter the school, there were about 8 wide steps leading up to a series of heavy doors. For a pipsqueak like me, those doors weighed 10 tons and it was a struggle for me to open them on my own.

One day during recess, I climbed those steps to go back inside and as soon as I managed to get the door open, the air pressure from inside pulled it closed which knocked me down and somehow, my foot got caught in the door. Laying on the top of the steps screaming for help, children on the playground not 50 feet away, no one comes to help. I can see them staring at me. I am lying on my backside with my foot caught in the door and no one will help me. I wiggle and squirm until I finally manage to pull my foot free......

I have begun to slowly work my way though the book Seth Speaks, one of a series of books in which Jane Roberts channels an entity named Seth who provides some profound information about life. One of the concepts that Seth talks about is that there is no past, present and future - that each is happening simultaneously. As this is an idea that I resonate strongly with, I decided to do some emotional healing work by imagining I am sitting with myself at a younger age and coaching her through some trouble spots as if she were my little sister. In my mind, If I can give her strength to move through difficult situations and all of this is happening on the same time line, the information I provide to her will affect who I am now.

Thinking about that little girl laying on the ground, crying over her foot being stuck in the door, I created the mandala above while imagining me sitting next to her after she freed her foot with no assistance. I told her not to feel bad that no one helped, but to embrace the fact that she freed herself, and how life is a series of events where that kind of persistence will be a blessing...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saturday 05/29 Bethlehem, PA - Mandala Workshop with Stephanie Smith

Mandala :: Release

Mandala: An Artful Meditation
creativity workshop w/ Stephanie Smith

Saturday May 29th 10:00am-12:00pm

hosted by blue stone yoga
at Christ Church UCC
75 East Market Street, Bethlehem, PA

Visionary artist Stephanie Smith will teach a simple process to create a mandala on paper. She will also offer additional techniques for mandala creation by using found objects such as pebbles, seashells, etc.

No previous art experience is necessary, and everyone age 17+ is encouraged to attend. All materials will be provided.

Advance registration $25
Day of the event $30

Call 484-893-0336 to pre-register today.

About Stephanie Smith

In the last three and a half years, visual artist Stephanie Smith has created over 1200 mandalas on paper using a diverse range of media such as pen and ink, watercolor, markers, and pastel. Impermanent ones have been created using chalk, stones, sticks and seashells but they all share one thing in common- Stephanie creates them as a way to encourage personal growth within herself, and also in the participants of her workshop entitled: Mandala :: An Artful Meditation. By empowering people to express themselves through the use of a focused yet artful process, participants can utilize the mandala not only as a rhythmic meditation, but also as an honest means for self reflection. Drawing on over 5 years experience a corporate trainer, Stephanie makes this material easy and accessible to everyone.
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