Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions for the New Year? Consider the Law of Attraction

Shiny Mandala

I do not believe in making New Year's resolutions. I find that it's too easy to say what you *want* to do and that making a bold declaration that come a certain date, everything is going to change when in reality, it doesn't. For me, there are several parts to successful and lasting change:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I can have anything I want. And so can you!


I grew up in an environment where the people around me worked jobs to survive- and for 24 years, I did the same thing. I never really had a clue that some people chose their professions, or that everyone didn't hate their jobs. I thought it was completely normal to come home and be irritable after a day's work.

Throughout my formative years, it never occurred to me that some people knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up and that they would do everything within their power to achieve that goal. I've even come to learn that some people had/have support and encouragement to achieve those goals, while others simply rely on their own gumption to pull it off.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Accidental Pictograph

Accidental Pictographs

I mentioned in a recent post the way I won't waste paint. As I am still fairly new to using acrylics, I am working on exactly how much to squeeze out of the tube to fill my needs. The image above was created with "extra" paint and was cut short when the lights went out during a storm. I'm actually quite happy with how I left it, as it reminds me of a pictograph, or primitive rock art.

Do you ever have problems with left over paint? How do you deal with it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I bought more: Colleen Colored Pencils

Colleen Colored Pencils

I really, really love my Colleen colored pencils. You might remember when I first reviewed my set of 24 double ended pencils. Purchased on eBay and shipped all the way from Thailand, they were the first colored pencils I ever really loved to use. With leads like creamy butter, I didn't want to put them down. I used many of those double pencils to nub-like status and quickly determined that I must have more.

I ordered a set of 48 full sized pencils from the same seller on eBay and when I received them,  I was slightly disappointed. The pencils worked the same, no quality issues, but in the full set of 48 I felt like the color selection could have been better. Not as many bright & light colors I would have liked... more browns & greens than I need but I don't care. I love using these and will continue to use them.

I just wish I could get them in the States so I didn't have to pay so much. These pencils are inexpensive, it's the shipping from Thailand that bumps up the cost. ($23 total w/ shipping for the set of 48) I wish JetPens would carry them......

Monday, December 27, 2010

Interim Journal

Medium Ciak w/ plain ivory pages

I have been in a small panic.

I wanted to start a new journal for the New Year. Since my  birthday falls on 12/31, I sometimes like there to be neat separations between one thing and another. This time around, my timing was unfortunately off by about a week. I finished my most recent journal last night, (A blank Pentalic - need to update the old review) and though I have been "prepping" a large blank Webbie (adding inspirational quotes etc. to the inside covers) to officially be started Jan 1st, I feel like I am currently floating without a life raft being "in-between" journals..... .

I considered adding loose pages to the end of the Pentalic... but no, that won't do. I pondered starting the Webbie now, but that's not right either. Then I remembered the Blue Ciak.

Back when I was testing the various inTempo products, (Ciak, Cartesio, Mood) I found that of the various Ciak models I tested, I liked the medium sized journal with the blank ivory paper most of all. Unfortunately, I grew annoyed with the flexible leather cover, (not good for writing on the leg) and found the paper simply *too* absorbent for use with fountain pen inks and I did something I almost never do. I abandoned it. (Gasp! No! Really?) Yes, I'll admit it. The poor thing had been sitting partly used since 2008 (and quite unhappy about it I must say,) but then one day in the summer of 2009, I came across a similar situation to what is happening now- the need for an Interim Journal and that's just how I used it.

Checking the dates, I found I've used Blue for just this purpose on two, (soon to be three) different occasions and it's pretty interesting to look back at the entries that have such a wide gap.

(Several years ago, I abandoned a Canteo journal on New Year's Eve with about 30 pages left because I really didn't care for the paper. Feeling guilty about it, I later used those blank pages to do ink samples/tests.)

Yes, I'll admit that I am a funny bird......

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Outside In: Heart Mandala

Heart Mandala

Though I have created over 1500 mandalas in the last 4 years, this is the very first one I've ever made by starting with a pre-drawn circle and filling it in. My own personal process for creating mandalas, also the one I teach, is by starting at the center and working your way out.

Mandala is a Sanskit word for "whole" and through my research, can pretty much be used to describe anything circular.When I use the word, I tend to use it as a way that describes a circular form made up of concentric repeating patterns -  like rings on a tree or a hubcap design.

I found it very difficult to create a mandala in this way- filling a circle. I couldn't decide what to put in it or why. I would sit and stare at the circle and feel as if it were mocking me. I finally grabbed a colored pencil and drew a heart that filled the whole circle. My mind seemed to say, "So there." Upon reflection, the heart design was interesting because I've been struggling for a long while with the idea of self love, and my worthiness of the love from others. My struggle pertains to my understanding and accepting that I am enough.

I am going to continue to explore this method of mandala creation and see what it might have to offer to my own process and the process that I teach others. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My favorite music to get creative by... or to relax, groove or meditate

Pulse  Yoga Groove

When I take a trip, I often take my  iPod nano and this great sounding super cheap ($20!) Altec Lansing Ultraportable Speaker. While I love a wide variety of music, (from disco to swing to metal) I especially love my collection of ambient, world, lounge, new age, down tempo, chill, etc. This is the music I play when I write, draw, paint or meditate. Since people are always asking me about my music, I thought I'd put together a list of my favorites in thiese genres. Each of these covers is a link back to Amazon and they will mostly all have sound samples to play. I've tried to include links to MP3 versions of these CD's as they are usually about $1 cheaper than iTunes. Enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Lealtà Feroce" - Passion and Frustration

"Lealtà Feroce"  Phase 4 Completion

Lealtà Feroce is a rough Italian translation for "Fierce Loyalty." This piece was running smoothly until the heart showed up. That's when the anger, resentment and frustration set in. That's when the piece became about not knowing what to do with my emotions- being tied to them in a way that makes me scream "GO AWAY! I don't know what to do with you!" This one is passion on a plate. It's about giving everything you have and not knowing if that was the right choice. (Yes. Of course it was... But that doesn't mean the devil of uncertainty can't rear its ugly head now and again.)

It's a dark piece, darker than the photos represent.

Roughly 17 x 22" Artist quality acrylic paints on handmade Indian watercolor paper. Original available for purchase.

"Lealtà Feroce"  Phase 3 Yellow

"Lealtà Feroce"  Phase 2 Flowers and Heart

"Lealtà Feroce"  Phase 1 Bubbles

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I won't waste paint: Backgrounds and Doodles

Start Somewhere

Lately, some of my favorite pieces are happening by accident. Since I'm still pretty new to working with acrylic paints, I'm often squeezing out more than I need at any given time. As I am not interested in using the "Stay-Wet" style palettes, I have no choce but to use up or throw out my excess paint. And I just can't stand the thought of tossing perfectly good paint.

Acrylic background - using up the paint in my brush

I am a notorious multi-tasker when painting with either watercolor or acrylic. It's unusual for me to work on only one thing in a particular sitting. I have a bunch of this hand made Indian watercolor paper on hand, (Bought in big sheets from Blick) chopped up into smaller pieces. It takes acrylic paint wonderfully and so I'll use up whatever is on the brush on one of these pieces.

Acrylic background - using up the paint in my brush

You can see how one of these sheets starts out. Black gesso painted with a sponge brush then some Golden Cadmium Red.

Red and Black

And how it ends up. The thing that's really interesting to me is that some of the doodles over top are also from left over paint and though are done really quickly - I think they are turning out quite wonderful. (1st & 2nd images were painted in this manner.)

Acrylic background - using up the paint in my brush

I loved the way the background started out on this last piece - so much so that I was hesitant to do anything further to it, but I knew whatever it would be, would be red for sure.


This piece was worked in multiple layers.Golden Cadmium Red, black & white gesso paints & a white gel pen were used to complete this piece.


Monday, December 6, 2010

My First Mandala Tattoo - on Someone Else's Body

Back in June of 2008, a woman named Audrey from Washington state contacted me about the possibility of using one of my mandalas (the one shown below) to have tattooed on her body.

She was particularly drawn to this piece, because it had reminded her of her grandmother. Audrey told me, "My grandmother was an artist all my life and did all kinds of different artwork. She had an art studio downstairs in her house and was an art teacher for all of her friends in the community. They even started a small art club in the community which is still going today.

Mostly she did oils... but I think she had some of her “students” who were interested in wanting to learn watercolors and that’s were it started. I loved her watercolors more then the oils….so I collected as many of them as I could. I don’t have any of the abstract pieces but the only art in my house is her work."

0607 Watercolor Mandala

Audrey recently contacted me to show me that she got the tattoo. There is something quite thrilling about seeing someone make your art permanent on their body.

I have been contacted before by people wanting to tattoo one of my designs, and I had been resistant to this point. I loved hearing Audrey's story and the respect she had for her grandmother as an artist. I agreed to allow Audrey to use the piece under the condition that she send me photos once completed.

This image shows the tattoo right after it was finished. Much thanks to Audrey for asking permission & for sending the images for me to share. Photos courtesy of Audrey and are being used with her permission.

I freely share my art on the web but I have always asked that people contact me if they wish to use/reproduce it in any way - including for use as a tattoo. If you have seen a piece of my work that you would like to have made into a tattoo, please contact me at stephanie at biffybeans dot com to discuss.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Timbuk2 Kindle 3 Case

Timbuk2 Kindle Case

After a pretty close call with almost destroying my Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6" Display - with New E Ink (Pearl) Technology, I realized it was time to break down and get a case.

You can read about when I bought my new Kindle here. 

Timbuk2 Kindle Case

I thought about getting one of the book-styles ones with the built-in light, (Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Black (Fits 6" Display, Latest Generation Kindle) But $59.99 was just too much for me to spend. I also discovered I like holding the Kindle alone, which some people have dubbed. "Naked."

Timbuk2 Kindle Case

I then looked at a number of different kinds of cases, and decided upon this Timbuk2 Nylon Kindle Envelope Sleeve (Fits 6" Display, Latest Generation Kindle), Village Violet/Barley

Timbuk2 Kindle Case

The case only holds the Kindle, with no accessories. It has a strong velcro cover and the nylon fabric is strong. It has a soft red lining.

Timbuk2 Kindle Case

I think the case is fairly light in weight and not obtrusive. They cost $29.99 and you can buy them from Amazon or the Timbuk2 site. Different color options on each site, but free shipping from Amazon helps.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Biffybeans Mandala Art Makes for Great Gift Giving!

Mandala: Hot by Stephanie Smith
Mandala: Hot by Stephanie Smith

There are two ways that you can gift some Biffybeans Mandala Art for the holidays.

You can order high quality framed prints (or prints alone) from Imagekind.

Shop other personalized gifts from Zazzle.

You can also order greeting cards, buttons, magnets, posters, t-shirtsand mugs from Zazzle.

There is still plenty of time to shop and receive your items in time for the holidays. These two sites are also constantly running discount specials and free-shipping offers so be sure to look out for those!
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