Friday, December 9, 2011

Still Processing

A slow moment on First Friday
This was a slow moment at my 1st Banana Factory First Friday event a week ago. For three hours my studio was packed with friends, strangers, neighbors, Artsquest staff and fellow resident artists. This was the only moment I was able to pull away to snap a shot - I'm hoping someone else took a few.

I was hugged, kissed, toasted, and loved exactly like I had visualized long before it became reality- yet at the same time, it all felt as if it were happening to someone else. A week later, it still feels as though it happened to someone else, especially when I receive additional compliments. (I feel like I'm coming apart at the edges.) Surely these can't all be for me?

From the age of 16 until almost 40, I worked three different jobs- each because I applied and then they hired me.  Looking at people leading creative lives, it never occurred to me that could be an option - ESPECIALLY since I didn't have any kind of formal training in the arts, because you have to have that, right? I mean, I didn't even have a high school diploma until I was 40 and though I always knew I was intelligent, was fully convinced I was lacking the necessary tools to create my own reality.

And then there was the relentless banter that ran through my monkey mind... that I wasn't good enough. That I quit everything. That I am a brat, a pest, ugly, beat, annoying. That I am overbearing. That I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I'm too emotional. That all I care about is me. What good are all those doodles? The grass isn't always greener on the other side. These are all real things I have been told at some point in my life and sadly, many of them became firmly lodged into my belief system and there was this woman/girl always trying to do the best she could but like a bird with a broken wing, could only get so far before realizing it just wasn't possible.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm just not used to getting (so much) positive feedback directly related to my personal actions. All of the positive messages I put out to the world through my art, my writing, my teachings - I believe it all whole-heartedly and it feels so good when I put it out to the world but apparently for me, it's much, much easier to give then receive because I don't know what to do with it. (cracks are starting to appear)

They say that you can't recognize a quality in another unless you know it within yourself - and that's what this is like. I can't understand, don't know how to feel. So I think I may have put a wall up to keep myself from having it all go to my head and also to keep me from completely falling apart. I sit in my studio and I still can't believe it. I manifested an art studio in the premier space in the whole of the Lehigh Valley. Who the hell am I? I just do these silly doodles...  (Deep breath) I look around and worry that they made a mistake - that they will discover me to be a fraud. THAT THEY ARE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT ME - or, that I will somehow be punished for my actions. Like the time my art was stolen in high school. (Twice) Or when Mom took one look at the Play Doh mess that Jeanette and I had created, gathered it all up, then threw it in the trash.

Oh man... I really, really want to break down and cry. I want to break down the wall and cry my eyes out with joy and with pride and with a sense of brilliant accomplishment because I have worked my ASS off for the last (42) seven years of my life - working to FINALLY re-discover a sense of self that had been buried, (never permitted to develop) abandoned, discarded, shut down... you name it. She is FREE and new parts of her (Me!) are awakening every day.

So how did this all really happen? It started by allowing myself to be open. By seeking out a safe environment filled with like-minded friends. By letting go of habits, patterns, material items and relationships that were no longer serving me. By ripping apart EVERYTHING I ever believed in and examining it under a microscope and discarding 92.5% of what I had known to be true about myself and the world. (My world is one of abundance!) And by re-creating it in a way that served ME first and foremost because I deserve it - you deserve it. WE ALL DESERVE IT. 

Has it been easy? Oh dear God no. It's been excruciating at times- like someone is peeling your skin off. (Over & over & over.) But with each layer I shed comes new perspective and wisdom - AND I become less and less afraid of taking the bull by the horns and riding it MY WAY.

From my own experiences: If you feel like your current situation isn't what you really want, your gut IS trying to tell you something. If you know you want something but are for some reason unable to move towards it, chances are it's you and your pile of fears that are in the way. Lastly, if you believe that your ability to achieve happiness is contingent on someone else's actions or behaviors...  it ain't ever going to work.

(Hoping to get back in touch with my emotions very soon... I feel numb. I want to feel gratitude)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Biffybeans at the Banana Factory: I now have my very own art studio!


I am now a resident artist at *The Banana Factory complete with my own private art studio! I move in this week to Studio 249 and I am beyond ecstatic! A real space (236 sq feet all mine!) to spread out and make art - to make a mess, to hang my completed works and to interact with the public. To be a member of a rich art community, to be encouraged and inspired to explore my artistic visions - I really just couldn't ask for anything more! (Except maybe for a team of elves to furnish it. LOL!)

If you can, save the date of Friday Dec. 2nd from 6-9pm because on the "First Friday" of the month, the artists all open their studios to the public as the businesses of the Southside Bethlehem Shopping District host a celebration of art and culture. Stores, restaurants, and art galleries stay open late and offer special discounts, refreshments, gallery openings and more. (The Banana Factory becomes one HUGE party!)

The 2nd and 3rd floors of the Banana Factory are where the artists reside and you can always come up and see the art in the hallways and visit with any artist who has an open door. I think I might enjoy working a fair amount of the time with my door open though I don't yet know what kind of schedule I will keep - stay tuned! If you are planning a visit to the area, send me an e-mail at stephanie at biffybeans dot com to arrange for a studio visit. 

*The Banana Factory is a visual arts and education center in Bethlehem, PA so named for being housed within an old banana warehouse and distribution center. It is has been in existence since 1998 and is home to 25+ artists in residence. The facility includes two large galleries, gift shop, a hot glass studio, ceramics studio, teaching space, and more! It is a non-profit supporting youth arts education.

The Banana Factoy's past The Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Redesigning Me

October 2011 One of the more challenging aspects of being an artist is explaining to people who you are by what they see you do. While it might be challenging to talk about yourself and the concepts which drive your creativity, it's a crucial element tied to how you wish to be perceived by others. The following is recently updated information which can also be found on my "About Me" page.

Personal Mission Statement: “My world is one of abundance. I believe there will always be more than enough. I create this reality by modeling openness, living in a mindful way, and by inspiring others through my own means of honest self-expression; art, writing, teaching & music.”

Bio: Over the last five years, Lehigh Valley visual artist Stephanie Smith has created thousands of mandalas as a means to discover her authentic self. She believes that much like any meditative practice, this rhythmic art form has the ability to still the mind and bring into awareness the opportunity for healing and transformative growth at a deep level - effectively allowing you to take an active role in your personal evolution by making the conscious choice to be creative.

Stephanie utilizes a diverse range of media such as pen and ink, watercolor paint, acrylic paint, colored pencil, markers, and pastel. Impermanent mandalas are created using chalk, sand, stones, sticks, and seashells. Stephanie not only creates these works of art as a way to encourage personal growth within herself, but also in the participants of her interactive personal growth workshop entitled: “Mandala: An Artful Meditation” in which her goal is to encourage creativity without fear of judgment. Stephanie has conducted this workshop at nationally recognized retreats such as The Summer Rhythm Renewal in Loretto, PA, The Great Rhythm Revival in Sherman, NY, and the Circle of Trees Retreat in Milford PA. In November of 2011 she will be presenting her workshop to the Intro to Art Therapy class at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA and at The Baum School of Art also in Allentown, PA in the spring of 2012.

As a writer, Stephanie is the author of the blog Spiritual Evolution of the Bean - a vast compilation of mandala art, helpful product reviews on a myriad of art and writing supplies, as well as candid reflections on her own spiritual journey. She has been collaborating with her good friend Jim Donovan on his upcoming inspirational memoir, "Serving the Groove" and also pens the Rhodia Drive blog.

Stephanie is also a percussionist, primarily playing West African instruments such as the djembe drum and the shekere- a large gourd shaped rattle.

Stephanie lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and is married to her husband Jeff of 24 years.

Artist Statement:
Maṇḍala (मण्डल) is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle”or “whole.”

In Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions, their sacred art often takes on the circular mandala form which in some instances is meant to represent the universe. To me, the mandala is a rhythmic expression of who you are in any given moment of time, often hinting at something bigger.

My mandalas have always started at a center point (which I view as the self) and grow outward in radiating, concentric patterns. Once completed, simple shapes organized in repeated patterns can often be quite revealing when used for contemplation and reflection. I often find that individual elements (shapes or colors) would quite accurately reflect my general mindset at the time of creation. Pieces produced while feeling a particularly strong emotion would often elicit a strong visual response upon it’s completion.

For years, the mandala form has allowed me to create intuitively, with little to no thought connected towards the outcome. By working in a way that was not dependent on quality, it helped me grow confident in my expressions and over time, my lines would be straighter and my circles rounder because whether I knew it or not, I was building the muscle memory with the repetitive nature of my work.

In the beginning, my mandalas were tight and constricted, typically completed in a single session and were created in sketchbooks or on small pieces of paper. I initially created them as line drawings consisting of a single color- often drawn with a fountain pen. Later works are larger, less constricted and are now exploding with color. I found that I was always searching for something opaque that would work on black paper; white gel pens came first, then artist crayons. Bright acrylic paints over black gesso is now one of my favorites, though I am happy to create with whatever motivates me in the moment.

A self professed art supply junkie with no formal training, I use my naiveté to express myself with fierce creativity -  I am unafraid to try working with any type of media I think might work to express my chosen form.

The mandala has been my journey and it seemingly has no end. There have been days when I’ve worked one after another in what could be described as compulsive, almost as if trying to manifest some unknown result. What I do know is that through these patterns organized in circular form, I have experienced enormous personal growth. They have allowed me to heal old wounds and discover a long forgotten sense of self. It is for this reason that I so openly share my art with the public and also why I choose to teach my process and tell my stories- so others can benefit from my growth and in turn, receive a tool they can use to grow and transform into their own full, vibrant selves.

Stephanie's Blog: Spiritual Evolution of the Bean
Buy Stephanie's art on Etsy: Fee Bean Art
Stephanie's other blog: Rhodia Drive
On Facebook: Stephanie Smith's Mandala Art
On YouTube: Biffybeans
On Tumblr: Small Bean Bites
On Flickr: Biffybeans Photostream
Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @biffybeans

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blue Girl Series: Transformational Goddess Art

Blue Girl Goddess
Blue Girl: "Goddess"

This Blue Girl Series was created in June of 2011.

For several years, I've been exploring what these figurative ladies represent to me. I see transformation, personal growth, empowerment, and a fierce desire to move forward and continue to awaken into my highest self. Though it took me a while to realize, the Hindu deiety Kali Ma (recognized as the goddess of time and change) is often depicted with skin of blue.

Acrylic paint on 5x7" watercolor paper, each is mounted in an 8x10" archival mat and is ready to frame. 4 of the 6 are double matted. Each is an original, one of a kind piece of art created by me and available for sale online in my Etsy Shop: Fee Bean Art.
Blue Girl: Joyous
Blue Girl: "Joyous"
Bue Girl: See
Blue Girl: "See"
Blue Girl: Whirl
Blue Girl: "Whirl"
Blue Girl: Stretch
Blue Girl: "Stretch"
Blue Girl: Up
Blue Girl: "Up"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Freeing Up Some Space

Each year at my friend Jim Donovan's Summer Rhythm Renewal Retreat, Jim introduces a theme - this year it was "Freeing Up Space" which speaks to the idea of letting go of things that no longer serve you and making room for the new.

Through an artful exercise designed to allow my workshop participants to "let go" of their fears of art, they helped create the foundation of the mural above.

The retreat offers workshops in hand drumming, African dance, mandala making, yoga, didgeridoo - to adults of any skill level. These workshops are intended to teach the participants tools to be used for personal growth and transformation.

I think that many people who come to the retreat expect a lot of drumming and dancing - of which there is plenty, but I'm not so sure they realize this event has the potential to be a serious life changing experience. To be surrounded by 100 like minded people creates a very safe space to express yourself in a full and unedited way.

Each year the Renewal sells out. Each year 60-70% of the attendees are repeats. Each year it gets better and better. In 2012 I will be returning for my 4th year on the Renewal faculty, my 7th year attending overall.

Will you join me? 

Top image by Alex Cassisi Middle Image by Kaylyn Oshaben Bottom Image by Anne Elizabeth Video by Kati Lightholder

Thursday, October 27, 2011

611 Let Go: Original Mantra Mandala Painting Transformative Art

611 Let Go: Original Mantra Mandala Painting Transformative Art
"Let Go" refers to the abandonment of habits, patterns, drama, relationships and overall clutter that does not serve your highest good. With each bit you are able to let go of, you create space and free up energy - and who doesn't want that?
611 Let Go: Original Mantra Mandala Painting Transformative Art
"611 Let Go" was first painted in June 2011 with acrylic paint, the white details added with a white gel pen, then a clear spray coat added over top for preservation.
611 Let Go: Original Mantra Mandala Painting Transformative Art
It is on a 12 x 12" canvas with a depth of about 1/2 of an inch- the sides of which are painted. You may choose to hang the painting as is, add additional hardware for mounting, or have the piece framed for display. This is a an original, one of a kind piece of art created by me which is available for purchase in my Etsy shop: Fee Bean Art.
611 Let Go: Original Mantra Mandala Painting Transformative Art

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Moleskine Exchange Project: Warrior Goddesses

Moleskine Exchange Project : Warrior Goddesses
Warrior Goddesses in acrylic and Pitt Artist Brush pens. Piece created as part of a sketchbook exchange project which you can view more of, here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Find Your Community


Growing up, I'd never experienced a real sense of community. I was an only child and my extended family wasn't close. We went to church on the major holidays and I never went to Sunday School nor camp of any kind. School itself was also challenge for me - I'd try out for all of the social activities, but was rarely chosen. I joined the Art Club in high school but it didn't last.

For most of my life I felt like an outsider and for many years I wasn't even sure what it meant to have real friends. I always had friends, but none of those "I've got your back no matter what and I'll never judge you and love you unconditionally" type friends.

But now I am surrounded by them and I am very thankful.

So what changed? I'm sure maturity has a lot to do with it, but more than anything, I believe it was by finding a community of like minded people to associate myself with. For some people, their families are their community, and some find it in church, or maybe at bingo night. Maybe for others it's the garden club, or the local knitting circle or book club. Via a softball league or through volunteer activities- you name it, there is likely something out there for you if you are willing to look for it.

For the longest time, I thought my co-workers were my community - and it would take me over 20 years to discover that this was not the truth. None of my jobs were chosen "careers" and for many of my associates, this was likely the same. Though we would spent a good amount of time together each week, I didn't really share much in common with them as our jobs were not our passion. I think it took me witnessing others whose attitudes towards life were so very different (not better or worse, not good nor bad, just different) from mine for this reality to finally sink in.

I found that I finally "fit in" when I first started going to drum circles about 6 years ago. I found them to be a place where I could express myself musically without judgment pertaining to skill. Strange as it may sound, I didn't just gain a community by starting to drum, I gained the freedom of personal expression (as my writing and art would follow the drum) AND a whole new way of thinking based upon core beliefs which I chose to serve my highest good. This manifested by way of easy conversation with people which I shared a common thread - in this group I never felt judged and could speak freely. This allowed me to ask hard questions and make discoveries about who I was, and who I was to be. Like minded people understand and support you.

I think when you find an activity which you not only enjoy, but which can allow you to turn the busyness of the world off, and then share that activity within a group, you've found your community.

Though I might not drum as often as I did 6 years ago, my circle has expanded to include people sharing similar spiritual/emotional beliefs, which may have not been previously possible since I had for a long time lacked strong convictions about who I was and how I believed the world to work.

I know that I still have a lifetime to work on what I believe to be true, but for now, I know that I will never be alone in spirit unless I choose to be - and this is the same for you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Original Mandala Art: Planetary Alignment


"Sometimes it's up to YOU to bring the planets into alignment."

This piece speaks to the idea of creating your own reality. That ultimately, YOU are in the driver's seat and have the ability to make conscious choices on how you wish to live your life. That if you really want something, you can do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

When I create a mandala, I just pick up some form of artistic implement and have at it. I might have a color scheme in mind, but the designs are always on the fly.

"Planetary Alignment" is a mixed media piece. Created on 9x12" Canson Acrylic 110lb art paper, I used artist grade acrylic paint, black acrylic gesso, white gel pen and a red Sharpie paint marker. You can purchase this original piece of art in my Etsy Shop.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Go!" Original Transformational Spirit Guided Painting for Empowerment

She's called "Go"
"Go" is a one of a kind piece of mixed media art available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Ooooooh, this goddess (Could it be Kali Ma?) is seriously telling you to go and get your groove on.

The hearts reveal that she's doing it with love but she is not messing around. She knows that you are holding back from your full self and she's not going to let you slide. The time is now - go all in, or go home. To quote the Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy living, or get busy dying."
She's called "Go"
I started painting figures such as these about six years ago and they have been popping up in my art ever since. What began as a few small movements with a watercolor brush, have become one of my favorite artistic elements regardless of the media I choose to depict them in. I fondly refer to them as Spirit People."
She's called "Go"
"Go" is an original mixed media piece. It is a mix of acrylic paint, acrylic gesso, Sharpie oil paint pens and a white gel pen - it was then sprayed with an acrylic clear coat for preservation. This was created on a 14 x 18" Blick canvas panel ready to frame. (Could also be hung as-is but you would have to purchase your preferred hardware to do so.) Signed and dated 09/26/11. You can purchase her in my Etsy shop.
She's called "Go"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Limited Edition Prints are Now Available!

Worked with a local business to create giclee fine art reproductions of my 5 most popular images. They are printed using an HP 8-color printer with HP Vivera inks on HP Pro Satin paper - rated to last 200+ years.
I am happy to announce that after working with a local master printer, these 5 images have been meticulously reproduced and are finally available for purchase! Only 150 of each giclee image will be available in this 11x14" size.

To purchase any (or all) of these images, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Each print comes with a signed and numbered Certificate of Authenticity

Archival prints of these original artworks are meticulously crafted to the highest standards. They are printed on HP archival, museum-quality paper using archival pigment inks. Printer technology provided by an HP Z6100 8 color printer using HP Vivera inks. Wilhelm Imaging Research testing of this printing method predicts a print life of 200+ years when framed and properly displayed.

Method of Reproduction: Giclee (pigment inkjet)
Paper: HP Professional Satin Photo Paper
Ink: HP Vivera archival pigment-based inks
Copywork and master printmaker: Ed Saukulak of Image Archive.

*Note watermark does not appear on the finished prints. 
Click this link to see the story behind "Monument" 

“Monument” was originally created in mid-February of 2011. It was painted using artist grade acrylic paints manufactured by Liquitex, Golden, and Daniel Smith on handmade Punjab watercolor paper.

When I created Monument, I wasn't sure if it was finished which is why it isn't signed. The original is now in a private collection in NY.
Click this link to learn the story behind "Release"

“Release” was created by first painting the mandala with masking frisket, then by using sponge brushes to apply 4 different colors of water based fountain pen ink on watercolor paper. Once dry, the frisket was rubbed off to reveal the white paper underneath and then those spaces were colored in with Copic multiliner markers
Letting Go: Release
The colors on this piece were a challenge to replicate, but I believe Ed got them as close as humanly possible. The original was given to the friend who influenced its creation.
Click this link to learn the story behind "Learning a New Language"

“Learning a New Language” was created on canvas panel with artist grade acrylic paints. White detail was added with an acid free gel ink pen.
Enso Mandala and Learning a New Language
Learning a New Language almost didn't happen. I had been working on it early on and wasn't feeling it. I ended up with something that looked like a brick wall and it was my husband that encouraged me to continue. It was my 2nd choice for reproduction as so many people had requested it. The original is currently available for purchase.

“Enso” was created in mid November of 2010. It was painted with Golden and Daniel Smith artist grade acrylic paints on Multimedia Artboard.
Letting Go: Release. On right, Enso Mandala
Enso was one of my very first acrylic paintings and almost immediately upon its completion, I had received a request to purchase it. It was my 1st choice for reproduction.The original is not currently available for purchase.
Click this link to learn the story behind "Broken Arrow"

“Broken Arrow” was originally created in mid-June of 2011. It is a mixed media piece painted using artist grade acrylic paints manufactured by Liquitex and Golden on handmade Punjab watercolor paper. White details were added over acrylic with an acid free white gel ink pen.

Broken Arrow Mandala
Broken Arrow was a late entry  - it had literally been finished days before taking these to Ed to be reproduced. It was a great choice as the reproduction POPS! The original is part of my personal collection.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Illuminating Mantra Mandala: Gayatri

Gayatri Mandala
The Gayatri is a mantra for illumination and when I first heard it sung by a friend, it was so beautiful I started to cry. The image above depicts an original piece of art I have created to celebrate this beautiful mantra:

Om Bhoor Bhovas Suvaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasaya Dhimahi
Dhiyoyona Prachodayaat

The way I learn a new mantra (especially if it is a long one) is to write it out 108 times - the number of times you would chant a mantra when moving from bead to bead on a mala. (A mala is a string of prayer beads similar to a rosary.) I do not claim to be an expert in the realm of mantra so please forgive me if I have taken any liberties with the phrasing or spelling of the mantra.

This is a wonderfully inspirational piece. Calming and meditative, you can look upon it and get lost in the detail... Piece is matted within a white 8x10" archival mat which has a black core. The piece itself is slightly larger than 5x7" and was created on red Canson Mi-Tientes acid free pastel paper. Drawn with white gel pen over black acrylic gesso paint.

This is an original piece of art which you can purchase through my Etsy shop. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bang! Original Biffybeans Mandala Painting

Bang! Original Mandala Painting Transformative Art
"Bang!" was created in August of 2011 and has been sold via my Etsy shop: Fee Bean Art. Please visit my shop for other original creations.

It was painted with professional acrylic paints on a 11 x 14" canvas which has a depth of about 3/4 of an inch- the sides of which are painted. You may choose to hang the painting as is, add additional hardware for mounting, or have the piece framed for display.

Bang! Original Mandala Painting Transformative Art Bang! Original Mandala Painting Transformative Art Bang! Original Mandala Painting Transformative Art

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A different kind of trauma

White Ink Doodle

2001 was a difficult time for me as I was battling depression, or should I say, battling the medicine that was supposed to be helping me. (A story for another day.)

I was at home on September 11th of 2001 due to a short term medical leave. The tv was on in the living room but I wasn’t paying any attention to it as I was sitting in the kitchen and working on the computer. I happen to walk into the living room minutes after an airplane had crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center. I stood with my mouth open watching smoke pouring out as the newscaster was speculating on whether it was an accident or something else when all of a sudden, right before my eyes I see another plane hit the South tower.

I sat glued to the tv with no one to call, no one to talk to about what I was seeing. I watched the entire event from when the 2nd plane hit until each tower collapsed. How was this even possible?

Fast forward to now.

Each year as the anniversary rolls around I can’t watch the news, the HBO specials…. It’s just too much. The “Never Forget” slogan makes me want to scream. How could anyone ever really forget that day? At that time I didn’t know anyone who worked at the towers or who was directly involved in any way but the other night as I watched an episode of CSI New York that included flash backs to 9/11, I had a huge realization. Sitting alone and watching the events as they happened brought up feelings and emotions that I never really shared with anyone and have never known what to do with. I realized that even as a person watching from afar, I was involved in the events of that day and had myself experienced a traumatic event. Ten years later, I am still not healed. This is because every time I try and mentally revisit those events, I return to my own personal experience of feeling completely alone when the world was seemingly falling apart. (And I'm sure my depression issues at the time compounded the situation for me.) I now understand this as another aspect of myself that requires healing and can finally do something about it.

I wonder how many people like me indirectly suffered this trauma and have also never worked through the emotions caused by what they experienced?

I have great sympathy for all who have in any way been affected by the tragic events of 9/11. My heart goes out to you.

With love & light,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday Oct. 15th Mandala Workshop w/ Stephanie Smith at The Baum School of Art in Allentown, PA

Bang! Original Mandala Painting Transformative Art

Mandala: An Artful Meditation w/ Stephanie Smith

Saturday October 15th 10:30am-1:00pm

Location: The Baum School of Art
510 West Linden Street
Allentown, PA 18101-1416
Call (610) 433-0032 to register

Join visual artist Stephanie Smith as she guides workshop participants through simple rhythmic drawing techniques to create a mandala - a circular art form which can be a powerful tool for meditation and creative self expression.

Self-taught and often referred to as “fearless” by her peers for her bold artistic expressions across multiple media forms, Stephanie’s ultimate goal is to encourage creativity without fear of judgment. Through the use of motivational storytelling, Stephanie will empower and inspire those to wishing to bring art into their lives via an immediately accessible technique regardless of prior art experience.

In “Mandala: An Artful Meditation” you will learn:

    •    How to set a safe space to create
    •    Stephanie’s mandala method
    •    Benefits of creating with intention
    •    Creating art without self-judgment
    •    Using mandalas in your journaling
    •    Making mandalas with found objects
    •    Choosing the right art supplies for you & your budget.
    •    What to do when wish to improve the overall quality of your creations.

No previous art experience is necessary, and everyone age 17+ is encouraged to attend.

Cost: $50 per person. All materials will be provided.
Call (610) 433-0032 to register.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy, Healthy, Calm and Strong: Original Mantra Mandala Painting Transformative Art

Happy, Healthy, Calm and Strong

Long before I learned anything about chanting or mantras, I created one of my own. In the spring of 1996 I changed jobs. Moving from my first job ever, (commissioned retail sales in a camera shop) to a warehouse job where I'd be driving forklift, picking orders... I was excited for the change but also pretty terrified to be so out of my element. In the beginning, I was assigned a lot of busy work which gave my brain way too much time to worry. Pushing a garbage cart back and forth across a 500,000 square foot warehouse, I made up a saying to stay focused on such tedious tasks. "Happy, Healthy, Calm & Strong" became my mantra - one that I still use to this day.

"Om Mani Padme Om" would be one of the first Sanskrit mantras I would learn when I developed an interest in chanting for spiritual development. The Dalai Lama on the meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum: "...the six syllables, Om Mani Padme Hum, mean that in dependence on the practice which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech, and mind of a Buddha."

"Healthy, Happy, Calm and Strong" was first painted with acrylic paint, the white details added with a white gel pen then a clear spray coat added over top for preservation. It is on a 10 x 10" canvas with a depth of about 3/4 of an inch- the sides of which are painted. You may choose to hang the painting as is, add additional hardware for mounting, or have the piece framed for display. You can own this original piece by purchasing it from my Etsy shop: Fee Bean Art

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spoils of War officially ends the 2011 Lehigh Valley Art Wars live competition.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

The first ever Lehigh Valley Art Wars has drawn to a close with last night's auction at Connexions Gallery. All of the art created during the competition was auctioned off to a live audience and I was super proud to see multiple bidders interested in my work. Each of the artists received 50% from the sale of their art and the other half is going to fund next year's competition. The show will be on display at Connexions until the end of August.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

The competition started with 16 artists from all different parts of the Lehigh Valley. In the first round, we competed in groups of 4 using our own materials on an unknown canvas size and were presented with a theme only moments before we started. In each round, we had only 2 hours in which to create our masterpiece. Winners were determined by both a panel of judges and a crowd vote.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

I was one of 8 contestants that moved into the 2nd round, the semi-finals of the event. In this round, we would be provided with unknown art supplies with which to create, as well as a canvas of unknown material. (And again, a theme only moments before we started.) My group was presented with a canvas of sheet metal, and the other group received wood.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

I unfortunately did not make it into the finals but for the four who did, they were each given a $125 stipend with which to buy whatever materials they wanted to use to create their final masterpiece.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

The finals were to take place at a local festival called Mayfair, and while they started to create in front of a crowd of about 600, torrential rain, thunderstorms and monsoon like conditions drove away most of the crowd and created a delay for the participants. They would eventually finish with Alexander Clare's Gunslinger taking the $1000.00 grand prize.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

Would I do it again? Perhaps. But a part of me is looking beyond what I've already done and onto the next big thing- solo exhibits and gallery representation.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

I am extra proud to announce that I myself am now the owner of my favorite piece in the competition- this piece below by the immensely talented Jessica Echevarria. Jess inspires me with her drive, determination and pure passion for her art. Seeing what she does makes me want to work even harder at what I do. I can't wait to hang it in my house. You can see more of Jess's work here.

Photo of Jess's round 1 painting by Elaine Zelker.

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