Category Archives: art making

The struggle is real

The struggle is real when it comes to creating something out of nothing. I have yet to meet an artist for whom the art flows freely all the time. Every encounter with the canvas is a challenge, but some days are better than others! Thank God for that.

I find that crafts are so much easier, but they don’t always turn out right either, especially when created from scratch. If you have a pattern you can create something great immediately, and it’s a wonderful feeling.

I love painting, but why does it have to be such a struggle? I have written a lot about resistance to art-making. It is explained really well in Steven Pressfield’s book THE WAR OF ART, break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles. It’s a great read if you’re struggling. What has saved me is persistence, “make art every day.” I wrote a post about that HERE.

In the face of struggle, keep coming back

You have to continue to make art to grow, to bust through the daily resistance. As you know, I paint intuitively so any given day, I have no idea what will appear in my art, and it’s a constant challenge.

I put down layer upon layer on the canvas, mostly hating the combination of paint, paper, and Mod Podge. I took some pictures of my current paintings, and right now they are total chaos.

Some people might say they are finished the way they are, and who’s to say they are wrong? But if they don’t feel done to me, I have to keep going. I finished a couple of paintings last week. They both looked similar to the ones above when I went for the finished layer. I saw some shapes of animals in the mess and went from there.

I love painting pets so I was happy with these weird creatures. As you can see, there’s a lot of bleed-through of the underlying layers.

More often than not, I add the paintings to the pile leaning against the wall for later work. They might get gessoed over or I might see a way to repaint them, but there’s no guarantee.

As with anything challenging, you have to face the fear/resistance/doubt/disgust as you tackle the task in front of you. The same goes for any unpleasant task in life, but art should not be unpleasant, and it isn’t, just challenging.

When I get sick of painting, I make my crafts. They might not come out the way I envisioned, but they are always fun. They also create balance in my life. These are all available in my Etsy shop. The paintings will be available too. I sell a lot of the spirit doll faces, so I always make a batch.

It’s easy to overthink the process of art-making. When I’m in the flow, I trust my hand to make the right moves on the canvas. When I think about it, or worry about the color, nothing comes out right, and I start doubting the process, doubting myself. I set the painting aside and come back later.

If you missed my post about resistance, you can catch it HERE. I think all artists struggle in the studio from time to time, but we can support each other with inspiration or suggestions.

Have a wonderful week creating lots of things!

Maria

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

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

Let go of the safety net!

Let go, I say, and everyone will have a reason why it is important to hold on to the past. The safety of the past has a strong hold on most people, myself included.

I was watching some old videos on You Tube on how to embellish a box with lots of metal and paper accents. It turned out pretty, and it could inspire me to make a similar one, but no.

Here’s why: You can buy the art supply and create at your heart’s desire, but the components are made by other people. To get the desired look, you have to buy those components. The elements are mix and match. You are destined to succeed as all the tools are geared for the already successful design of the designer.

It’s not the easiest technique to master, but it is a “ready-made” artwork; you just assemble the pieces and follow the instructions.

There’s nothing wrong with that. I got inspired by fabulous mosaic artist, Laurie Mika, through her book Mixed Media Mosaics, to make my polymer clay boxes, but I ended up making my own designs, mostly because I did not have access to her supplies. My style keeps developing, but I don’t get any big ah-has as I do with painting.

It struck me anew how revolutionary it is to create something from scratch. Let go of the safety net! You use the elements and ephemera you already have. You can also gain fodder from the recycle bin. Creativity lies in the moment.

I have said it before; the artist has to be willing to explore what challenges her the most, discover the genius, like a diamond inside a lump of coal.

When inspiration pulls, and you respond, dare to go beyond the tried and true and explore the unknown grounds of self-expression.

There is a lot of uncertainty in that, but also great freedom.

It’s safe to make art from materials that someone else designed, but how challenging is it?

Let go of the safety net.

It’s like a blind man exploring the skin of an elephant. He will get the immediate texture of the skin, but can’t see the whole animal. Practicing art that comes from the deeper levels of the soul is the elephant not yet “seen.”

By keeping your focus on the moment, more is revealed as the art evolves.

Trust the subtle inspirations, choose the color that speaks to you right now, and after that, another color, and another.

let go of the safety net
let go of the safety net

When I let go, magic happens. It always feels new and amazing, even if the art itself doesn’t look like much. It is original, and no one can take that away. 🙂

There is a lot of resistance involved, but that doesn’t have to stop anyone from moving forward.

For some inspiration on how to deal with resistance, here’s a post on that subject: Resistance, we all feel it.

Another one: Practice never makes perfect.

I would love to hear how you deal with painting and making from scratch. Any ah-has or other insights?

Love,

Maria

Crossroads are tough

Crossroads can be tough when you don’t know where to go next. I have found myself in that situation lately. I have so much inspiration, but what do I actually want to create?

I have been buying different kinds of art supplies that I would never look at before. Now I look for possibilities.

There is always some component missing for a project, or if you want to start a whole new creative stream, you have to invest in a lot of things, like tools and other supplies, to get it going.

I’ve been trying to use the debris in my studio, things I’ve had for years but didn’t know how to use. So what if I don’t know; I will charge ahead anyway.

Here’s an example of what I made lately.

crossroads expression
crossroads expression

I had some wire, polymer clay, and an empty “useless” box, plus an old key.

Crossroads can be tough, but you have experience.

When you have the experience, you know what your hands can do, so it’s easier to move forward. If you’re just starting out exploring your creativity, CHOOSE SOMETHING that appeals to you, and go for it! Don’t look at popular trends. That won’t work in the long run.

Do what feels good.

Which path seems the most alive? You don’t want to go backward, so it’s either going forward straight ahead or take the other road.

What is pulling you forward?

I have been making a lot of polymer clay mosaics, and recently I’ve found new tools to use for a different style of tiles. It makes an old craft exciting. I have also been drawn to sculpting more.

sculpted face
clay face

I’ve been sculpting clay faces for spirit dolls, and it has been hard to get the features right. They are far from perfect, but I keep trying, using the advice I’ve found online.

Faith in your abilities will make you take risks.

Crossroads force us to take a look at where we are and where we are going. They give us a gentle push away from the stagnation that happens if we refuse to grow.

Walking the path of an artist is a constant call to change.

People don’t like change, but as artists, we have to move forward if we want to explore the inner expansion that art offers us.

Maybe you’re called to leave an entire career…

That is a scary idea. We have all many reasons to stay where we are, in safety, and there is comfort in that, but meanwhile, the soul is calling us elsewhere. Listen closely to that call.

If you dare to follow your inner guidance, life might be tougher in some ways, but infinitely more rewarding.

At least take some steps in the direction of that call. If you lack in faith and experience, go forward anyway. There is lots of help along the way.

Take interesting live art classes and learn new skills. The teacher’s enthusiasm will rub off on you! 🙂

crossroads
Fun tag journal
Fun tag journal

I made a small journal from an old manila folder. The tags and papers are all chosen from my studio detritus. I used paper, glue, washi tape, a sewing machine to make a fabric spine and seal the edges. I ended up with several pockets and many tags.

What is your next step?

I’m going to make a mixed media house with a bird.

Have a creative week!

Maria

P.S. I have many new things in my Etsy shop: Earth and Faery.

Lots of ideas for boho gifts. If you missed my last blog post you can find it here, Gold Dust Makes Everything Better.

Magic Journal Box tutorial

Magic is in the air in my studio lately. I have been inspired to try new and different things, as in making this type of journal box where you can write down and hide all your secrets. 🙂

I have gone into silicone mold casting adventures and making imprints with my polymer clay or air dry clay. I found small frames and other baroque metal borders and do-dads to use in my mold making. So much fun, and there is never a boring moment as you wait to see how everything turns out.

Anyway, try this journal box

I found a wooden box at Michael’s shaped as a book. It’s pretty big, approx. 7×8″ and it would be too big for polymer clay mosaics. I decided to experiment with mixed media paper, paint, glue, and found objects. I made the tutorial for this box.

Magic mixed media journal box tutorial
Magic mixed media box

I did not take pictures of every single step, but here goes. I painted the entire outside box a dark blue. The inside is painted green, but that does not show in the following picture. I’m giving you an idea of the size.

Magic box mixed media tutorial
Inside view of the box

I glued white tissue paper all over the front of the box with Mod Podge, making sure it was good and creased, squeezing it into a ball before I spread it out.

Magic box tutorial
Glued down white tissue paper on the front and spine of the box

On top of the white paper, I glued some yellow tissue paper for contrast and a pale layer of lavender.

Magic box with tissue paper
I glued down some yellow paper on the front
Magic box with glue
Magic box with glue

When I was finished with the tissue paper, I made liberal blobs with white craft glue for added texture. I had to let that dry overnight. You can also use blobs made with a hot glue gun and glue the hardened texture down–it’s faster.

Then I rubbed several layers of paint over the dry and creased tissue paper and glue. I began with a dark brown, rubbing it into the deeper texture. I also used dark purple and some turquoise. To tone everything down, I finally spread some white paint over the whole front.

Magic box with layers of paint
Layers of paint
Magic box tutorial
More layers of paint
More layers of paint
Magic texture!

When everything was dry, I started digging through my stash of do-dads. Placement can sometimes be tricky. I painted the inside green.

Magic box tutorial
Magic making mixed media

What I used

The metal frame is from a Tim Holtz kit. I stamped the word Journal on a piece of paper, glued it to the back of the frame, and filled in the opening with Judikin’s Diamond Glaze. The flower is a polymer clay imprint from a hair ornament. The key used to be part of an old wind chime, and the hummingbird and the dragonfly are die cut paper, which I sealed carefully front and back and edges with Mod Podge since paper can easily deteriorate. I painted those with Perfect Pearl powder and sealed them again.

Magic box tutorial
Magic box details
Magic box tutorial
Words stamped with permanent ink
Magic felt on the bottom of the box
Some felt to make the box softer inside
Magic box tutorial
The back of the box

I cut some green felt that had a sticky side and put that on the bottom of the box for a softer interior. I placed a bought paper border on the outside bottom of the box for more interest. Below is another box I made in the same style. Both of these are available in my Etsy shop Earth and Faery.

If you missed my previous post, Mixed Media Greeting Card Tutorial, you can still find it HERE.

It’s vital to try new creative things, even if it’s a struggle. You master something by doing it. Resistance and self-doubt be gone!

Have a great weekend, and may you always be inspired! 🙂

Lots of love,

Maria