Category Archives: art

Creativity in these dark times

Creativity comes in many forms as in art, crafts, inspired thinking, problem solving, seeing the big picture and implementing the vision. There’s more, but I’m focusing on art / crafts as you know.

In these times it’s easy to get into bad habits, over-eating for comfort, watching too much television, lacking exercise, you name it. It’s like comfort food. It makes you feel comforted for a while, but your stomach might not like the addition. We seldom question these things, and we ignore our feelings and insights.

It’s human nature, of course, but to create something sustainable in whatever field, you have to apply yourself. If you don’t do what you know you want to do, you’re going to feel bad. We’ve all be there, but we don’t want to stay there.

When I was young, I procrastinated like crazy, but over time, I have developed much better habits. We want to perform well, be it at a job, or in front of the easel. My dad used to say, “if there’s something you have to do that you hate, do it immediately.” I so get what he meant. When I procrastinate, I have to THINK about the problem all the time. If I tackle it, the pain will be over quickly!

To do that, we have to set up some kind of framework. I have goal setting of sorts. I have to list things in my Etsy shop all the time to keep things fresh, so four days out of seven, I have to create something and list it.

For the most part, it works, and I have made a pact with myself to stick to the plan. Another commitment is to make something for the PFATT marketplace every month, and it can’t be a small insignificant thing. So I have to make at least two quality items, preferably four. Between Etsy and that, and two blog posts, and a newsletter, my hands are full!

But I love it!

Here’s a fun challenge

What do you love the most right now in your art practice (or other?)

List a few things you’d love to try, and then rank them. Concentrate on the top two and make a plan on how to manifest them. It could involve getting some art supplies, take a class, clean your art room.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with bullet lists. I use one loosely. Each week I make a list of everything I want to accomplish and then cross them off as I go. No hard and fast rules, but I do refer to that piece of paper to keep myself accountable.

If we have bad habits we’re not honoring ourselves.

You might not be able to break a bad habit easily, but ADD some good habits and set some artistic goals. One week is a good time frame, and as you get better at it, make a schedule for a month. I promise, you will feel so accomplished and uplifted, and more self-confident.

If we all were good self-motivators, we would be doing the things we love all the time. 🙂 I would love to hear from you how you’re using creativity to keep yourself upbeat in these times. You can write to me at maria@mariagreene.org.

I get a lot of questions about procrastination. I have written many posts in the past that deal with that and fear.

Procrastination is an ugly beast.

Fear is not your friend.

The point is to take small steps in the right direction and stick to it. Anything worth doing, like art, takes time and dedication, and the rewards are great!

I have been a bit busy, but not as busy as I’d like, haha.

I made a Halloween owl for the PFATT marketplace, and a monster doll that I might offer there or on Etsy.

On my work table
Mr. Halloween owl.

I don’t have a name for the owl yet. Any suggestions?

Monster doll eyes in the making.
Creativity and experimentation.

I have always loved the monster dolls on Pinterest, so I decided to try one of my own. So much fun! Sewing is not my favorite thing, but I like to mix things up. Pinterest is a great place to get ideas!

I painted and made another clay figure, and the month isn’t over yet, so who knows what comes next?

It seems I used blue a lot in my latest creations… These six items are now available in my Etsy shop, Earth and Faery.

Keep your vibe high! 🙂 Do what you love, at least fit it in between chores and work. It’s really important.

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. TIP: keep a small journal and a pouch of pens in your purse and doodle when you’re waiting at appointments, school pick ups, and having a coffee at Starbuck’s! Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Manila folder art journal tutorial

Manila folders come in stacks of ten or more, but what to do when you have some old folders that can’t be used any longer? Make an art journal! I had an old folder that had been used many times. I tried to remove the written labels, but the folder had served its purpose by then.

I made a short video on how to turn the folder into an art journal. You can use whatever papers you have. I have a huge stack so it seems I used every conceivable style I could dig up. It turned out very busy but who is judging?

Manila folder art journal

As you can see, I made some mistakes, but what I learned will benefit my next journal! The first one is always trial and error, right?

Seeing as the CV virus still has a hold, I spend a lot of time in my studio. There’s nothing else I’d rather do during this time. Here’s a gallery of items I’ve made in July.

How I feel about 2020, titled The Rollercoaster

I made more items, but these are enough for now. 🙂 I also got back to doing more art journaling. If you missed my last blog post with the tutorial on how to make a manila envelope journal cover, HERE it is.

One of my favorite mixed media artist is Lyn Belisle. She is currently offering a FREE book tutorial, how to make a Lotus book. It is really cool. Check it out HERE. You can’t go wrong with free, and she’s an excellent instructor.

This is it for this blog post. I hope you try the manila folder journal. Send me pictures if you do: maria@mariagreene.org

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. Most of my art ends up in my etsy shop, Earth and Faery. Before we know it, Christmas will be here.

Christmas in July

Christmas is still a few months away, but people seem to enjoy getting a head start on gift shopping, and this year might prove the same–or not. We live in strange times.

I was invited to join the Pfatt Marketplace (Prominent Folk Artist’s Trinkets and Treasures), and I just submitted my Christmas items for the July launch which happens on July 10. New items are for sale every month on the 10th. I enjoy trying out a new venue. I made some angels and a Christmas village. I will use my Etsy name, Earth and Faery there. You can check out the site HERE.

I have been busy this June and it feels good to be productive. I’ve had my eye on a set of metal fondant letter cutters at Michael’s and I finally took the plunge and bought them. I had no idea how they would work out on for my polymer clay, but I wanted to try. They come in a round tin and can be found in the baking department.

Fondant letter cutters
letter cutters

In the summer, the polymer clay gets sticky in the heat even though I keep it in the fridge. Once you roll it out it loses its chill. It was hard to get the clay out of the letters. I used the round end of a small brush to poke it through. It dented the clay, and some letters I could turn over, but the others I had to smooth out the best I could. I wasn’t too thrilled about the rounded edges of the letters for some reason.

It’s something you can try with your art.

Christmas in July peace sign.
Christmas in July

They pretty much took over the plaque, but I was pleased in general. I made specialty tiles with red, green, and gold paint, just to make it Christmas-y.

It has been 100 degrees here so it’s hard to get into any kind of Christmas feeling…

The last mixed media village I made sold out, but I have four more houses available now.

Besides making my mosaics, I’ve moved deeper into the rabbit hole of clay figures. I can tell you it’s so much fun! You should try making some. It’s not that hard.

The faces are the hardest part, but the more you practice, the better they get. I also add a little bird to every figure I make. I just like birds a lot. All of my figures are for sale. You can check out my inventory HERE. I add more things every day.

Now go and make some art! 🙂

Lots of love,

Maria

Whimsical art house tutorial

Whimsical art and “funky boho colorful display” you can call these houses that are so much fun to make!

I wrote a picture tutorial on how to make them. It’s fun and easy! Here’s one:

Whimsical art house tutorial.
whimsical art house

You can buy the wooden house shape at Michael’s or online. They are cheap and easy to alter. Since I was going to cover everything with paper, I Mod-Podged the surfaces to seal them before I attached paper scraps.

Paper scraps attached, art house tutorial.
Paper scraps attached

Here the papers are dry. I covered the edges as well. You can glue the paper down and then cut the excess along the edges with sharp scissors.

All surfaces covered, art house tutorial.
All surfaces covered.

Below, I wiped acrylic paints over the surfaces, one pink one lavender.

I painted the door shapes, and in the image after that you can see the windows added. I used charcoal to outline the shapes in a primitive style.

Windows and doors, art house tutorial.
Windows and doors added with paint and charcoal.

To seal the charcoal, which can be messy if not sealed, I used a spray varnish. It’s best to spray them outside because the fumes are wicked. I let the houses dry outside as well.

Drilled holes, art house tutorial
Drilled holes for birds

I then drilled the holes for the tiny birds I’d made as an embellishment on the roof. Whimsical touch… 🙂

Whimsical birds for the house roofs, tutorial.
Whimsical birds for the house roofs

I painted the houses the same colors on the back as on the front. The edges got a contrasting color.

Jazzed up the front with banners, art house tutorial.
Jazzed up the front with banners

When I make polymer clay tiles for my mosaics, I usually make some extra cut-outs. I use cookie cutters for these shapes, bake them, and paint them. They make cute banners! I also glued some flowers at the bottom on the pink house. I varnished the back and the edges with gloss varnish. The shine brings out the colors nicely.

Finished houses, art tutorial
Finished houses!
Birds glued to the edges, art house tutorial
Birds on the edges

I used super glue to attach the steel wire to the birds and the houses. They will stay in for a long time! 🙂

Below is another example of a green house.

Finished art house, art tutorial
Finished art house

Now I have to make more stars and pennants. I used them all in these projects.

Wood shapes are great because you can make so much with them. If you read my blog you know I like to combine wood and polymer clay. One of my most cherished sellers is the angel with a message.

Angel with a message
Angel with a message

What gets your imagination going?

I get my inspiration from actually making stuff. One thing leads to another, new ideas pop up as I’m in the middle of the process. Most of them are good ideas that can be realized without too much pain. I also get inspiration from other artists on Instagram and Pinterest.

Don’t let fear stop you from experimenting. The figure below is my latest experimentation. I have a hard time sculpting faces, but I decided to use a face mold that I proceeded to alter. However, I keep working on my skills; it’s the only way to master a new technique.

Bettina, the circus acrobat on her day off

I wish you lots of inspiration! Try something new today. 🙂

Lots of love,

Maria

fear is not your friend

Fear is not your friend unless it warns you to get off the railroad tracks as the train is coming. There are so many levels of fear, and the most insidious one is the fear that stops us from fulfilling our calling (to be artists or other forms of expression.)

I was talking to a friend who said she always wanted to be an artist. I could relate to her as I’ve always felt that way too. Then I felt so grateful that I had at one point decided to commit to the idea with action.

I know I would feel unfulfilled without it, and now, after many years, I think I have come a long way even though there’s no beginning or end.

I was reading this book: Wild Ideas, Creativity From The Inside Out, by Cathy Wild, and I saw this paragraph that so hit home with what I’m saying here.

“If you want to create, you need to become an explorer. An explorer may be an astronaut living in a space station or a pop songwriter attempting to compose an opera or a former welfare recipient heading off to a first day of work. As an explorer, you must want to find out what lies beyond the boundaries of what you already understand and what you already know how to do.”

You can find the book on Amazon HERE. It’s well worth a read.

So, to be an explorer, you have to keep an open mind and be willing to come across resistance, which is inevitable. Have a conversation with it and ask why it has arrived to instigate reluctance to create.

It will likely say: “If you go down that path, you will only encounter trouble that you can’t handle” In other words, it’s spreading fear and tries to tell you you’re inadequate.

As an artist, you’ll come across that every week, or even every day, if you’re serious about commitment and showing up at your work table or easel.

Working a regular job, you come across problems that need to be solved, right? However you solve your problem, you just do it, or you get fired (worst-case scenario.) If we bring some of that determination into getting past the things that stop us from doing something we love, no problem or resistance can stop us.

Then comes a time when you have to grow out of the comfort zone as an artist. The way I deal with that is to try many different things, materials, and styles. It’s like walking through the jungle with a small machete. You don’t know what you see until you come right up to it. Sometimes you say no, this is not for me, and other times, something pushes you to keep going with the new material.

Frustration = fear = learning curve

Make frustration your best friend! When you feel it the strongest, you’re on the verge of a discovery, so keep on going, past the fear. Honor the learning curve! Anything new has to be learned, and there will be many failures, but those are steps to getting to the place where you’re happy with the result.

Whimsical dog made from epoxy clay and paint
whimsical dog
Crystal wand made with oak wood, crystals, and epoxy clay.
Crystal wand

What you see above are items I made with epoxy clay, which for me has been really hard to work with. I really love the durability of the clay and how it dries rock hard and attaches to pretty much anything. I have worked quite a while with it, and had to throw out some things that did not work out at all.

You know it’s a learning curve, so you continue.

Do not stop when the going gets tough

If you stop you’ll never know if you could master the challenge.

If you stop, you’ll beat yourself up for not going to the finish line, no matter how “ugly” the art turned out.

I haven’t mastered the epoxy clay (Apoxie Sculpt,) but I’m working on it, and every item teaches me something. I look at videos on YouTube by people who have mastered the clay, and I go, wow, I want to be that good too. Some day, I will! 🙂

My point is: don’t sabotage your dreams, don’t sell yourself short, give your dream a chance! Please. Commit and start making art. Copying other artists is okay in the beginning.

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. I have many new items in my etsy shop, Earth and Faery. Some of them are not all perfect, but people seem to like them anyway. 🙂

Lockdown activities

Lockdown has been tedious at times, but I’m grateful that I can go into my studio and work on my artsy projects. A lot of things have surfaced emotionally for me during this lockdown, one of them trying to figure out how I feel about all the restrictions and the conflicting information rampaging through the internet and the news outlets.

I’m not sure what I believe, but behind all the drama in the world, there is an agenda. Keep people confused and worried; they are easier to control that way. It is dark energy where greed runs rampant.

About worry: It is a truly wasted emotion, and nothing will change whether you worry or not. The primary way I control my concern is through meditation. I also like to connect to nature, where everything stays in its rhythm and cycles. Nature is simple yet sophisticated in its movements, always peaceful and nurturing, though. Everything and every one has its place.

I talk to trees, and their trunks can be comfortable to lean against while I connect to the spirit within me, and the tree. It puts me in the right place in the scheme of things. I can breathe deeply. I find I hold my breath a lot lately.

Be willing to surrender. I can’t control what is happening in the world, but I can nourish my light and shine a small beacon. There is always hope.

Trust in a higher power. You only have to look at nature to know there’s an over-ruling intelligence behind the miracle that is our planet. We humans have to fall into the rhythm of harmony, not fight it and try to lord it over the creation. We have so much to learn…

I have been exploring clay and, lately, two-part resin. None of the materials are easy to work with, but at least I have polymer clay, which is my best ally. I have also played with seascapes in mixed media since I have an abundance of blue clay at the moment.

lockdown activity, seascape with mermaid.
Lockdown activity, seascape with mermaid
Goddess altar, polymer clay
Goddess altar, polymer clay
Dragon eye, polymer clay pendant
Dragon eye, polymer clay pendant

What if art doesn’t help?

Maybe you can’t find the peace to sit down and make art. How about grabbing any notebook and start writing? You can explore your feelings, and at least you get them out of your system. Sitting outside is a plus if the weather permits. You can answer these questions or make up your own.

What are you feeling? Accept all the feelings and honor yourself. If you push them away, they will only be more persistent.

How do you want to feel?

What can I do to feel more peaceful inside? (Turn off the news, for one.)

There are loads of free guided meditations online, especially on YouTube. I guarantee they will help. Do the activities that make you feel good: cooking, dancing, exercising, connecting with friends virtually, clean something, plant flowers, make art. You know what YOU like. 🙂

You can’t figure out the world right now. I find the only thing that is consistent and true is nature and my connection to it.

How do I ground and improve my connection to that which is consistent and true? That is an important question to answer. When you have an answer, build on it with action.

I wish you health and hope. Even this shall pass. The lockdown will be a memory. Maybe we’re creating a new world.

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. I have lots of new items for sale in my etsy shop, Earth and Faery. To get a 10% discount, enter code Janet10 at checkout.