Tag Archives: adventure

The Prodigal Blogger

The word “prodigal” is easily misused. We’ve so often heard the parable of “The Prodigal Son” that we have come to think it means returning after a long and possibly ill-planned absence when in fact, it has nothing to do with absence. It is about lavish and wasteful spending. (True story. Read the definition, and reread the parable. You’ll come to see it in a new light if you’ve never understood the meaning previously. Not that the actual text uses the word prodigal, but we attach it so often, it’s almost become canon. Anyhow…)

I figure I’m going to twist words just a little more in applying it to myself. Yes, I am in fact returning, so in that sense, I am using the common non-definition. But also, I am currently overflowing with hopefulness. It’s a good way to start the new year, no? Very shortly, I’m going to be quite prodigal in my resolutions– a tradition I’ve always considered rather silly, but one that just feels right in my current mood. But first, a bit of back-story.

The last few weeks have been a bit rough– not necessarily dismal, but just stressful. On one hand, there’s the typical holiday crunch. On the other, I was pet sitting and thus driving between work, home, and the other house every 4 to 5 hours, living in two places at once. On top of that, I was experiencing more car trouble, borrowing my boyfriend’s car (which thankfully he’d left here while out-of-town), and then finally giving up entirely and purchasing a new car– so then there was the stress of car switching, as well as finances. And the end of the week culminated with plans changing umpteen times and not enough sleep. I was truly ready to skip celebrating and fall asleep early on New Years, which is saying something because I’m NEVER asleep before midnight. However, I’d promised to go to a friend’s party, so off I went.

I knew a few people, and of course, I was my usual wallflower self — which I really do enjoy, I might add. I feel I make a rather pretty wallflower. Or… something. But watching our small crowd dancing like fools and enjoying themselves, chatting with new and old friends when they were too tired to dance, helping with cooking, listening to the babble and chatter– it was an aura of infectious exuberance. By the end of the night, I’d even been dragged into dancing a little, albeit after things had calmed some.

We spent the first day of the year in such a comfortable fellowship, enjoying a late breakfast and chatting with slug-a-beds ensconced in blankets, and walking to the park where we all sprawled in a circle in the grass laughing and listening to children laugh. At the end we even hopped a low fence and picked our way from rock to rock in a verdant gully of watercress and mud (in which I nearly lost my shoe when I chose a particularly deceiving bit of ground which swallowed my foot and ankle.) We laughed and explored and I was glorious with my girly ballet flats mud plastered and sprouting crushed bits of green.

In our last hour before leaving, we contemplated the approaching year. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but there really is a lot to come. I think it is a year of changes. For one thing, I have just purchased a car. That’s a major financial decision, which is going to change many things. But with that added stress, I will also have added security and even a few luxuries. Also, Koby is graduating in April, and his choices and career paths will affect mine. It’s possible I could move out and get a full-time job. And maybe, now that he’s so close to graduation, there is more to hope for. Maybe. It could be a big year.

And thus, with so much exuberance (I couldn’t help but be caught up in it) and so many hopes, I feel I can afford to be a bit prodigal in my resolutions. Even if in the back of my head, I’m hearing Lumiere suggesting “Promises you don’t intend to keep,” I am shushing that voice. At this moment, I have every intention of fulfilling them. The rational part of my brain can occupy itself with finances while I take a moment to scrawl a few bold promises.

  1. One blog post a week (Wednesdays perhaps?) even if some of them are about past artistic activities I never managed to chronicle. I intend to make use of the scheduled publishing feature and time travel a bit.
  2. More regular art– whether mixed media, jewelry, sewing, or writing. I need something to post about, don’t I? The challenge is this is I hope to settle on a weekly quota of time or else finished pieces. The specifics still require thought.
  3. Related to that is that I want to limit my spending on art materials by only using materials I already have. I have a few exceptions– refilling or replenishing something exhaustible (glue?), procuring small item needed for a particular project (thread?), and indulging in the 7 Gypsies’ Binderie Punch I’ve been waiting to come back into stock so I can finish a certain project. But in general, no new supplies! I have enough projects waiting to be finished, or worse, started.
  4. A corollary of the above– watch my spending in general. I have more financial responsibilities to think of, and I should have been saving more all along anyhow. Less eating out, less art supplies, more use of the library.
  5. Exercise on the treadmill or Wii fit at least 2 hours a week. It might be a trick of the eye, but I’m feeling a bit curvier in the wrong places. Someday those wrong places need to go in a fancy white dress. I’d rather they look photo-worthy when that time comes.
  6. Maintain better contact with people. This means gathering addresses, writing letters, making phone calls, smoke signals and what-have-you.
  7. Keep a written journal. While I am not going to hold myself to daily writings, I’m hoping I can train myself to write in one most days. It would likely jumpstart my creativity, and if nothing else, provide fodder for art journal pages.
  8. Read more books from my ever-growing list of to-read and to-read-again. A few include the rest of the Wheel of Time series, a whole slew of other fantasy, Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, and a host of old favorites I’m itching to reread.
  9. Find a third job for now (Starbucks maybe?) and look into a full-time job.

Overly ambitious much? Just a smidge. But as I said, I was feeling prodigal.

New Years Resolutions

The Context:

Last November I participated in NaNoWriMo (hence my sudden absence). Thus, I was writing 1667 words a day towards a very poorly plotted quasi-fantasy novel. It was a huge challenge, and for the first time in the 4 or 5 years I’ve participated, I actually won (defined by reaching 50,000 words before midnight on November 30). I even did that despite sabotage by my computer. Hurrah. I never did reach the end, but I really want to work on my art for awhile.

The Conundrum:

This last week, I saw the movie  “Julie and Julia,” which chronicles the story of a woman (Julie) who gives herself one year to work her way through Julia Child’s cookbook “French Cuisine for Servantless American Cooks” — and blogs about it. I really only have a minimal interest in cooking, but I thought “Wow. I want to have some kind of goal like that for my art.”  For the last few days I’ve been thinking. Then, I realized, “Oh my word, New Years is coming!!!”  Thus I started thinking harder.  Now, in the last few hours of 2009 I’ve (mostly) settled upon something.

The Goal:

“Each week, I will choose and complete (x amount) of projects directly from or inspired by one in an art magazine, art book, or blog tutorial.”

I still need to define “X” (I’m thinking 3? Any input on that?) and I may need to have an exception for complete (in case it’s a large, multi-step project, in which case, perhaps it can be broken into chunks?) I’m still working this out.

The Rest:

In the meantime, I am having a fairly tame New Years Eve playing on the wii with my parents and enjoying a few snacks. Tomorrow, however, the challenge will begin (after the traditional movie with my family).

Other New Years Resolutions:

  • Finish the gawky novel I began in November– if for no other reason, so that I can pick it apart and start over.
  • Continue on the wii fit at least a little bit (I am vaguely skinny by default, NOT because I’m healthy).
  • Get a teaching position, or at the very least, MORE jobs.
  • Save enough to move out.

What does 2010 hold for you?

ATC Tutorial: The Making of “Neverland.”

Take a peek at how I made  “Neverland.” Many of my ATCs use a somewhat similar thought process. While I’m sure you are capable of all these techniques, I always find it fascinating to see how other artists work, so I thought I’d share. And who knows? You might learn something. Also, there is a mini-tutorial on drawing a compass rose included. Enjoy! 🙂

ATC Tutorial: The Making of “Neverland.”

Neverland Step 1Step 1:Choose a suitable page of text, preferably one that is nice and yellowed, like the one pictured. Using an extra-fine tipped felt pen, draw your map. I used my brown “Le Pen” pen, but the Steadtler fine tip pens in the picture would work, as would one of the new sharpy pens. As you can see, my map looks pretty pathetic right now. Just have faith and continue on. Trust me. I was worried too. Also, ten points if anyone can recognize what book this is from.

Neverland step 2Step 2:Using a medium to light brown colored pencil, shade the edges of the land (essentially, all the beaches). I shaded about half a centimeter in, then let the color fade out. Don’t forget to shade the islands too. Also, I shaded the sides of the mountains for dimension.

Neverland step 3Step 3:Using a tan colored pencil, shade towards the interior, starting where the previous color began to fade, then lighter towards the center

Neverland step 4Step 4: Using a dark brown pencil, shade just inside the lines, giving the effect of blending the linework into the colored pencil. The shading should be only slightly wider than if you were drawing rather than coloring.

Neverland Step 5Step 5: Shade in the forest areas using a light green. It shouldn’t be much more of a tint, so don’t make it too dark.

Neverland Step 6Step 6: Shade the perimeter of the water, along the beaches and around the islands using sky blue. Fade the color as it moves further from the edges.

Neverland Step 7Step 7: Using a slightly darker shade of blue (even though you can’t tell in the picture for some reason, the pencil is a different color blue) outline the edges of the water, like you did with dark brown on the land. If needed, make and touch ups to the map (I did more shading with tan, and extended my sky blue further down so there would be enough for the card) and then set it aside.

Neverland Step 8Step 8: Using your ultra-fine tipped felt pen, draw a compass rose. Now, if you are trying to draw one without a reference, its pretty intimidating. However, with a bit of guidance, its really not so bad. I created a mini-tutorial to help you along.

Neverland Step 9Step 9: Using the dark brown pencil, shade in the darkest parts: the undersides of the East and West points, the center facing parts of the SW and SE points, and the undersides of the NW and NE facing points. Concentrate the darkness towards the center. Also, shade a bit of the North doo-dad (I forgot and had to go back and do it later).

Neverland Step 10Step 10: Shade in the lighter shadows using the light brown. I shaded the right side of the North and South points, the top of the SE and NW points, and the tips of all the darker points.

Neverland Step 11Step 11: Using tan, shade all metal parts (star points, rings, and North doo-dad) with tan, coloring over the parts already colored.

Neverland Step 12Step 12: Lightly color over all metal parts with orange and yellow to warm up the colors some and make them seem more like gold or bronze.

Neverland Step 13Step 13: I am a naughty tutorial maker. I should have done this in two steps, but I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t take a picture until this point. Oh well. First, I used blue to color in the center background segments, and then shade the edges of the outer background segments. Then I colored over both with robin’s egg blue, touching up with blue where needed. Then, I used robin’s egg blue to add just a bit of shading and dimension to the metal parts, mainly shading corners and darker areas.

Neverland Step 14Step 14: Check to be sure your compass looks done. I darkened some of my shadows, drew in “creases” on the main star at NW, NE, SE, and SW, and lightly shaded the letters. Once you are satisfied, cut out, leaveing some edge around the letters and compass. You may also want to ink the edges, but do so carefully.

Neverland Step 15Step 15: Here is where things start coming together. Cover the ATC base with the map drawing. Decide on placement of the compass (don’t be afraid of overlapping or letting parts hang off the edge)  I already had an idea in mind, but I discovered one problem: the compass faded into the map too much. I tried blue tissue paper first, but the blue I had was too bright. I then tried a bit of white, and it was a perfect balance of translucence and visibility, and the wrinkled/torn look added to the feel of the card. So I arranged the two, and glued them down.

Neverland Step 16Step 16: I tried folding back the excess edges (don’t cut! It leaves raggedy edges) and I noticed the eye was wondering right on out of the top corner. Can’t have that! So, I used another scrap of tissue paper to provide a barrier. The bottom right looked a little bare, so I chose a fleur de lis style flourish stamp and stamped it in brown. I stamped it faintly in the top left corner too, but you can barely see it.

Neverland Step 17Step 17: Through the whole project, I was trying to choose a quote, and I wanted something related to adventure. The first part of this kept coming into my mind, but it said blue to me (like flying in the sky…) not maps and such. I had a few other ideas, but when I went searching, and I saw the full line, and I decided it was perfect afterall. Now is the time to write it out. Decide on where you want it broken up (each word? each letter? phrases? if so, which?) and write it out as such. Make sure you write it small enough. Also, if you’d like, tint the paper. When I wrote it the first time, I tinted it a light blue with prismacolor markers, but it was too large. The second time, I decided I liked white better.

Neverland Step 18Step 18: Last step! Cut out words, ink the edges with brown, and decide on placement.  I chose to have mine somewhat follow the torn edge of the white tissue paper, and group by phrases (as two phrases were split into two segments.) Play with it till you find something that looks good and reads right. Glue everything down. Fold any excess edges from tissue paper or compass onto the back and glue them down as well. Finally, ink the edges with brown. Voila! Done.

I hope you enjoyed it, and maybe found a bit of inspiration. As always, I’d love to see anything you make. Drop me a link and I’ll take a look.

P.S. Take a look at my other ATCs.

An Expedition on foot into the Wine Country…

wine-country-vineyards5True to my resolution to add adventure into my life, I have embarked on a little journey. This morning, I woke up at a reasonable hour (which, for me, is noon…) packed a journal, my camera, and a lunch, and headed out. Temecula is famous for two things: hot air balloons, and the wineries. My house is about a mile away from the beginning of the wine country, and so, I set out.

The day was windy and warm (Southern California is not known to comprehend the concept of winter) and without a cloud. The wind blew towards me, pushing my hair out of my face and streaming it out behind me. It was peaceful, aside from the cars driving by (it is a major road in town, after all). Unfortunately, the grapes were not in season,but there was a beauty to the deadness. The dried and brown vines possessed a dignity neither better nor worse than green, but simply present, even in barrenness. I stopped frequently to take pictures, many of which are posted here. After a few hours, I found a shady spot of grass in the courtyard of a church building and stopped for a snack before trekking the 3 miles back into the sun. I was tired and just a bit sun-toasted when I returned home, but it was nice to get out, and nice to take some pictures.

wine-country-me2 wine-country-vineyards2 wine-country-bailys wine-country-vineyards10 wine-country-hills-and-brush2

See more pictures


I’ve never been good at attatching significance to a particular day, or month. I don’t engage in “New Years” resolutions, but rather, I make them on an ongoing basis, throughout the year. Sadly, I keep them much less often than I make them, but sometimes, they result in tiny revolutions in my life, and those few tiny revolutions make it worth it. Now that I am home, with no job, and too much time on my hands, I’ve been thinking often about what I want to do. Some things have come to mind more frequently than others, more forcefully.

  • to write, even just a snippet, on a daily basis.*
  • to do some form of art, or something contributing to art, on a daily basis.
  • to pray for those I care about– not for specific ailments or challenges, but just to thank God for placing them in my life, even if many are no longer a part of my life.
  • to engage in small scale adventures from time to time.
  • to encounter something beautiful each day, be it a passage in a book, a work of art, a poem, something in the world around me, a soulful song, anything. I want to experience beauty, and lock it away inside of me, as a shield against the ugliness in the world.

* Realisticly, daily means something more like most days of the week, but its easier to achieve if I just tell myself its daily….