What is holding you back?

What is holding you back? Fear? Excuses? They are all one and the same, and it sums up to fear. When it comes to creating any kind of art, fear is a constant companion, usually in the shape of resistance.

I wrote a post about resistance and it’s worth a read if you’re not getting anywhere with your art. Lately, I’ve heard a lot of excuses why people don’t create even though they want to at heart.

I suffer from resistance a lot, especially when I’m trying some new art supply or style. Recently, I picked up some tubs of Apoxie Sculpt. (I wrote about it in my last post.) I debated then to put it aside, but I decided to try some more projects with that type of clay. It’s still frustrating to work with, but I have persevered.

Since the clay is pretty expensive, I try to use as many shapes underneath as I can and then cover with a thin layer of clay. It makes it less heavy as well. I bought some styrofoam balls, and to form the body of the birds below, I used one large for the body and one small for the head. I used popsicle sticks, broken in half, to form tails and necks. Here are the end results, a couple of circus birds on “wheels.”

They were fun to make. I used blocks of wood that I covered with papers and wooden wheels. The legs are 19 gauge steel wire. It was a challenge to make these birds, but why not stretch oneself, despite the resistance?

If fear is holding you back…

The only way to overcome it is to do the thing you’re afraid of. Otherwise, it will haunt you. I know this well from previous experiences.

I have found I like making art assemblages. I had to use a drill for simple holes, and it felt awkward and new, but maybe it’s the beginning of new fields of experience.

Don’t let fear hold you back if you want to renew your life, your experiences. It’s not just artistic expression. It’s so easy to stay in the comfort zone, but life gets boring in the long run.

To mix things up, even more, I prepped a bunch of canvases for later use. I love to add mixed media as I go, and I even finished one project when I saw a robust lady emerge from the layers.

A mixed media art project with layers of paper and paint.
Is fear holding you back?

I also made some of my usual objects for sale in my Etsy shop these last few days.

I love the little mosaic Virgin Mary shrines, and now I have used my last Altoids tin!

It’s time to be brave! Make the time to be an explorer, kick the excuses to the curb. Every day is another opportunity for fun creativity.

Lots of love and wishes for happy creativity!

Maria

My word for 2020

My word for 2020 is faith. It takes a lot of faith to blaze new trails in the wilderness of creativity. I feel inspired to move on, create things I’ve never done before.
First, I have a little inspiration for you, the process of my latest art journal spread:

Art journal pages tutorial with floral napkin and writing.
My word for 2020

I started by applying a paper napkin to the bottom half of the pages, using Mod Podge. I separated the two layers of the napkin first, and the top layer was very thin, making awesome crinkles in the paper when I attached it to the page. I then painted the top part an unbleached white and used an old gift card to scrape some green over the dried paper napkin.

Adding a paper napkin to my art journal
adding paper napkin

You can see the ridges in the napkin well, and where there is a paler area in the white paint where the Mod Podge acted as a resist, adding more interest to the page. I like how the flowers on the napkin shone through, making me think of spring.

I added stems from my stash of paper. Friendship sayings were printed on the paper, and I thought they would add more interest to the art. I cut out flowers from other stashed junk and glued them all down.

paper flowers added to my art journal spread
cut out paper flowers

I enhanced the stems and flowers with black lines from a ballpoint pen and wrote down my word for the year. Simple but fun!

my word for 2020 is faith
my word for 2020

I have dipped my toes into other media as in sewing. I’m obsessed with textile birds at the moment. Using two Ann Wood patterns that you can find at Annwoodhandmade.com, I made a songbird and an owl. Lots of fun, but also some frustration when things didn’t go so well.

Pink songbird made from scrap textiles.
Pink songbird

This debonair gentleman is called Sir Percival. He has lots of wisdom and goes his own way, but is always willing to offer a word of encouragement. He has lived a long life, and he likes to read books.

He’s fashioned from soft materials, but he’s not a toy. He’s an art doll enjoying lording it over other dolls, but he’s kind.

These two birds are for sale in my Etsy shop. You can find the owl HERE. The songbird is available HERE.

Apoxie Sculpt is of the most difficult materials I’ve worked with. I like the incredible hardness when dry, but it tends to be too soft, and if you wait, it gets too hard to work with. You only have a couple of hours of work time with the clay. I haven’t found the sweet spot yet.

I finished the bird I made a couple of weeks ago, painted two layers of paint and fixed the wobbly leg. It came out ok, but the turtle I made with the amethyst crystal did not end up as planned, but I’m learning. The clay is so different from polymer clay or paper clay. Since the end product is so much stronger, it’s worth learning how to handle it correctly.

The main thing is to have fun!

I hope you’re having fun this week. Make sure to add some creative practice to your day. Every day is a gift. Make it juicy!

If you missed my last post, here it is: Person or bird? I made some molded faces with Apoxie Sculpt and sewed them to fabric bodies. What do you think?

Happy creating,

Maria

Person or bird?

Person or bird? You have to make up your own mind. 🙂 I have been interested in Apoxie Sculpt for a long time, and finally took the plunge and bought the materials needed for this kind of clay exploration. So I made a face. It looks just like my other clay faces with the exception of hardness. Wow, what a difference! You can sand and drill Apoxie, it’s that strong.

Person or bird
Person or bird?
Apoxie Sculpt face

If you want to try Apoxie Sculpt, watch some YouTube videos on the process and wear gloves when mixing the two parts. There is a safety video to watch too. The fumes are not dangerous, but you can develop skin irritation from handling the compounds. I found it hard to sculpt with gloves on! Now I have to find the best gloves to use.

Here’s another face I made, and she became a spirit doll.

spirit doll with Apoxie Sculpt face
Spirit doll

I tried my hand at armature, a first for me. Using aluminum foil I fashioned a bird and added some wire legs. Then I rolled out some Apoxie Sculpt and added thin layers all over the bird. It has 1-3 hours working time, which was tricky. It’s very soft at first, and then it hardens as time passes. I found that the little bird I made on top collapsed because it was too soft. It was hard to work with at first. The whole thing hardens to rock in 24 hours.

Apoxie Sculpt bird
Apoxie Sculpt bird

I need to work on the timing of sculpting different details. Practicing often is the key. 🙂 I discovered that it takes paint very well. On polymer clay, you can rub off the paint if you try hard, but with Apoxie, it’s solid. That made me very happy since I love to paint my pieces.

It was fun making the soft sculptures with some primitive stitching and poly fill. My sewing machine is cluttering up my kitchen table, but before I put it away, I might make some more sculptures. It’s always good to stretch creatively.

I’m tempted to make another crow sculpture as in my previous post.

I’m a bit intimidated by the work involved. The most fun part was painting, dressing, and adding the accessories. I’m not a good seamstress so sewing the body was a struggle.

Making a crow spirit doll
Crow spirit doll

Anyway, Christmas is almost here, so it’s time to close out this year’s blogging, but I’ll be back next year with more tutorials and fun stuff. 🙂

I had a lot of sales in my etsy shop for the holidays, but there are so many things to browse, and I add more stuff all the time. Take a gander: Earth and Faery.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I wonder what this new decade will have to offer. I’m sure it’s not going to be boring…

Peace and love, Maria

The makings of greatness

She had the “makings of greatness” as the saying goes but never amounted to anything. What a whopper of judgment and out-and-out lie! If you are breathing and walking, you are a success. The rest is judgment. We are always a work in progress.

We are always in the process of greatness

As I create my art, it creates me too. The struggle and the many minor difficulties are part of living. The clay I mold is how life molds me, and there is adding and taking away, smoothing, and digging, and carving. It does not end until I die and likely goes on from there.

It’s so easy to judge everything and everyone around us, but what a limitation! What do we really know about others and their work? I don’t want to put limitations on my life, but to be fluid in life is to let go in every moment. Go with the flow as they say.

I realize I have so many items in my Etsy shop that I have to branch out. Part of life is discipline, which helps us move along and not get stuck, but sometimes there is too much “making” and not enough “creating.”

The makings of a crow

I found a doll pattern by Susan Barmore of a crow and decided to try my hand at making one. I bathed in frustration for days and blamed my sewing machine for the clumsy sewing. But good comes to those who persevere… Discipline – perseverance – makings of greatness.

crow in making

The feet were not that hard to make since I have made several for other projects. Sewing never came easy to me, and I can never get one side looking the same as the other even if I follow the pattern exactly. But it’s not about perfectionism.

Finished basic crow

Gray cotton fabric was great to work with, and the crow could stand on her own two feet.

Black paint
Finished painting her

I used black satin craft paint and it got all over me, the table, and the crow. 🙂 I dry-brushed some purple paint that never showed up when dry, and on top, I added some copper paint.

When I had painted the crow, all the fun commenced. I stained some fabric to make the dress, made a clay bird and talisman for the necklace.

It was hard to get good pictures of the black-painted bird. The black seemed to eat all the light.

The most important part

I kept a prayerful frame of mind (for the most part), and also added prayers to the actual doll. Crow is one of the smartest birds, and the energy of intelligence, fluidity, curiosity, agility, and courage they embody is inspiring.

You can purchase this healing doll at Earth and Faery, and there are loads of other things in the shop as well.

December is a busy month, but I hope you’ve had some time to make things. I made some items to give to my friends, but so as not to spoil the surprise, I will post pictures in my next blog post.

If you missed my last post, another stuffed bird I made, the Dastardly Owl, you can check it out. I’ve been into birds lately.

To move into greatness, which is some kind of elusive goal we made up, keep going, create, get surprised as the art takes over and becomes much more than we ever intended.

Lots of love this holiday season! Remember to breathe.

Dastardly Owl & more

Dastardly Owl was so much fun to make. I did not come up with that name; Ann Wood did. I used her pattern to make him and it was so much fun! She also has a lot of free patterns on her website if you like sewing small creatures. I’ll post a link at the end of this post. So this was a detour for me, and I learned that I can still sew even if I don’t sew much these days. Now I’m hooked on fabric birds, but it’s anyone’s guess how long that fascination will last.

There are so many patterns and creative people out there! I can easily spend hours on Pinterest if I start cruising. The dangers of social media, right?

Things were busy around Thanksgiving, but I still had a productive November, and it makes me feel good. I made mostly mosaics but also got some painting in, though painting is at the hub of my frustration with art-making.

Every day is a challenge when it comes to painting. Here are a couple of items from November’s collection.

Handmade owl made with an Ann Wood pattern.
Dastardly Owl
Dastardly Owl back view
Dastardly Owl back view
Mixed media mosaic wall plaque
Mixed media wall plaque
You are blessed, angel mosaic
Angel mosaic
Mini painting in a watch casing
Painting in a watch casing

As you can see, I tried a lot of different things to challenge myself. Most of the items are on sale in my Etsy shop, free shipping across the board.

My goal is to make all the Christmas gifts this year. No shopping on Amazon or elsewhere. Are you making any gifts?

There is a sweet needle case on Ann Wood’s site that would make a great gift. Needle book pattern. Even if your friends don’t sew or make crafts, everyone can use needle and thread.

Your woo-woo friends might like a Spirit Doll tin, made from random papers and an empty tin. The post is HERE.

You could make a set of homemade mixed media cards. They don’t have to be Christmas related. Here is a tutorial for a Mixed Media Card. You can buy sets of blank cards and envelopes at places like Joann Fabrics.

I usually love homemade gifts even if they are not perfect. Don’t let your feelings of inadequacy stand in the way of creating something personal. The gift will be one-of-a-kind. 🙂

Lots of love, and remember to BREATHE.

Maria

obsession with technique

” My jump is not high enough; my twists are not perfect; I can’t place my leg behind my ear. Please don’t do that. Sometimes there is such an obsession with the technique that this can kill your best impulses. Remember that communicating with a form of art means being vulnerable, being imperfect. And most of the time it is much more interesting. Believe me “.
BARYSHNIKOV

I read this paragraph by Baryshnikov this morning and thought, wow, exactly what I would say even if my words don’t have the same clout as his. (If you don’t know who he is, Google him. He was a famous Russian ballet dancer, still is.)

Dancing ballet is a lot more exacting than slapping some paint on paper, and I don’t know how they live with their small imperfections when the dance looks flawless to me. He also said: “It doesn’t matter how high you lift your leg. The technique is about transparency, simplicity, and making an earnest attempt.”[ (From Wikipedia.)

We are so ready to find any fault with our process. What if we change that and revel in the accomplishment of a failed tree, or whatever you’re painting? Bob Ross used to say when he painted something that was off: “And now we have some happy birds instead.”

I love that! 🙂

Obsession with technique is not in the cards for mixed media artists. We feel our way forward.

Be your own best cheerleader! When you struggle with a painting, it’s courageous to put the next dab of paint on the project. It’s a gamble, one that could bring the project onto a great new path or wreck the momentum.

It’s a risk I’m willing to take every day. I have lots of half-finished paintings that went nowhere, but I will pick each up and try again (at some point.) I like to finish what I start.

Obsession with technique was not part of this little locket painting. I drew a simple outline and then painted.
Locket art

It’s good to have some different techniques so that you know how to handle paint or other materials, but don’t let that stop the creative flow forward.

With my mosaics, I cut, bake, and paint a big pile of tiles. I don’t choose them for color when I put the art together. Whichever tile fits is the one that goes into the empty slot. It sounds wild, but the project usually turn out okay without a plan. I always start with a focus tile or tiles and go from there.

Some turn out prettier than others, but I’m always happy with the result.

Polymer clay mosaic wall art of a sun goddess with a winged heart.
Sun goddess mosaic art

The sun goddess above was not worried about technique, but I had to use a template to cut out the halo and the dress. I experimented with color and different shaped tiles and found the process so enjoyable.

What do you enjoy the most? What brings out the “child in you” that can’t wait to get up in the morning?

A life lived in that frame of mind is always positive. The person would say on their deathbed: “I don’t regret anything; it was a heck of a great ride.”

Let’s begin to live and do whatever it takes; every day is a new commitment to joy!

Here’s to courage.

Love, Maria (taking her own advice.)

For more inspiration, read this post about Passion and Perseverance. (The title sounds like a Jane Austen novel… 🙂

Artist and writer