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Week 13 // Frozen

Portrait_Week13

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Something incredibly deep happened with this week’s portrait. I honestly do not think I can put into words how this image goes straight to my core – and how shocked I am that it came out of me. As I got further into processing it today, I found myself with tears wilting down my cheeks at least a dozen times. There’s no doubt in my mind something outside of me was channeling through.

Quite often as I bring my images into the computer, a certain song begins to play in my mind. I normally don’t share the songs that accompany the images, but I felt very strongly compelled to share this one, so I hope you’ll listen as you soak it in and think of this song in the light of loss – where a life shared with someone so dear now often seems as though it were a dream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ44x0GnKh4

My idea was to capture the feeling of being trapped, frozen just on the other side of where life exists so lush. It is the feeling that my fiancé’s death gave me – being so completely surrounded by vibrant and beautiful life and being so unable to reach it or feel it. Essentially, for me, it is about navigating your daily life with an empty, haunting, deep pain that prevents you from experiencing the beauty right before you.

It is a feeling we will all experience at some point in our life – whether for years or fleeting moments. It might not even come from the death of someone we love. It might come from another darkness we are in that slowly freezes us below the surface just the same. Some of us might spend years here. Some of us might not ever make it out in our lifetime. It’s true. But here is one good thing I do know about this state…

Even in the hardest winters of your life – when you cannot feel a thing for how cold you have become and you feel as close to dead inside as possible – you are still alive. You are hibernating. And if used wisely, this can be a time which gives you incredible strength. A time in which you can come to know yourself to depths of which you have never known existed. And one day, there will come a moment when something will warm your life again. And when that day comes, you will be stronger. You will be wiser. You will be more deeply present to feel every touch and smell every scent of it. And it will be ten thousand times sweeter than anything you knew before the winter. I have known death. I have known abuse. I have known pain and darkness most of my life. And if there is one thing I know for certain, it is that life is always waiting just above the surface. Keep your eyes open and your heart fearless… your spring will come.

“Still, Life” is a year-long self portrait series about living on after loss. If you’re new to this project, you can read more about it in this post.
Please share
 with anyone who you feel can relate to the imagery, my hope is that it gives many others a visual for something they are going through in their own lives.

Happy 3 Years of WordPressing!

Picture 6Today is my 3 year anniversary with WordPress. Crazy. Back in 2010 on this day, I signed up to make a blog. A few months later, in January of 2011, I began this 12 month project – using the blog to hold me accountable. While it has continued to limp along since that first year in a rather haphazard and sporadic fashion, it is 2011 that I am thinking back on today. This  project stretched me creativity in ways I could have never imagined that year. It gave me a newfound confidence in my own creative abilities and gave me permission to just DO things because I wanted to – not because they were good ideas or because someone else would like them. Believe it or not, I actually believed before that project that I wasn’t very creative. Ha! I think we can all laugh at the absurdity of that idea now! But that’s where I was. And although when I began this blog and this project I had no intention of changing those beliefs… it was truly the tipping point of turning those negative beliefs around and beginning a journey towards owning myself as a creative individual with a unique voice to share with the world.

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 10.46.52 AMMany of you know I was continuing to write about creativity here even after the end of 2011, but was interrupted by life when I lost my fiancé – who was a pilot – in a helicopter crash last June. As my world fell apart, I mostly dropped this blog and went on to create my 2nd blog, Our 1000 Days, to share my story of love and of grief after losing the love of my life. It was where I needed to be. That has turned out to be yet another place that has given me confidence in my creative abilities – again, not ever the intention of writing it. Much like how I felt before beginning this blog, i actually didn’t really think of myself as a particularly good writer and was very self conscious about the fact that I have no formal education in english, poetry, literature, or writing whatsoever. Through writing Our 1000 Days and telling our story and my story, I have gained much healing and also – to my surprise – I have slowly gained confidence in my writing and begun to step more fully into owning that part of myself too. He continues to give me gifts even from the other side.

Now, 3 years later, when people ask me what I do… I confidently say to them “I am an artist”. I don’t dance around it anymore. Even if I’m not making much money with doing it, even though no writing of mine has yet to be published, I no longer equate myself being an artist and writer with whether or not I make money from it. Instead, now, I answer that question by telling them the most IMPORTANT thing I do, the most MEANINGFUL thing in my life… not the thing that makes me the most money. And the most important, meaningful thing I do, is most certainly, creating.

Just three years ago, none of this existed. I worked at a job I wasn’t really happy with and I constantly talked myself out of ideas for projects and never gave myself permission to do any of them. I was in a dull, boring slump. Since Nov 19, 2010, I have done furniture making, jewelry making, short films, poetry, welding, encaustic (wax) painting, clay sculpture, feather painting, found object sculpture, large-scale finger painting, photography, needle felting, toy making, raku, glass etching, poster design, nature sculptures, Ukrainian Easter Egg dying, screen printing… and the list goes on. I had my first booth at an art show earlier this year… a dream I have had since I was a little girl, and I have sold my art to lovely people. And in the next week or two, I’ll even be jumping into mosaics for the first time… with the hope to begin teaching grief workshops with it – yet another totally new and uncharted territory for myself!

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ALL of that began right here, in these pages, with you guys reading and supporting me. I guess it just goes to show that no matter where you are, that is a really really great place to begin. Today, is the best day to begin… something, anything, and especially if your only reason for wanting to do it is because you’ve never done it and it sounds fun. I assure you, in having fun with new things, you will learn so many amazing things about yourself that you never knew… yup I said it, just by having fun!

So here’s to three years of blogging… and how it has changed my life, how I see myself and the talents that I have to offer the world. Thanks WordPress! And most of all, thanks to everyone who has been along the journey with me and helped me to grow. It would have been an incredibly lonely journey without you, and one with far less depth.

Now get out there and make something today! Just for fun!

Much Love,
Sarah

Healing Milestones

photoI’m just a day away from selling at my first art festival… and my emotions are all over the place. I’m SO excited, this is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl. Every summer, I went to a myriad of art festivals and left each one with a calling in my heart. I watched artists at their booths and talked to them and stood in awe of their work.. listening all the while to the whispers in my own soul of how badly I wanted to be one of them. And tomorrow, I will finally be stepping behind the booth with my own creations.

I’ve been hard at work the past month to get ready – and as I’m getting the final touches done on my booth setup and inventory, I’m in awe. I’m looking down at all these lovelies and thinking “did this actually come out of me?” Really… they are not mine as much as they are gifts to me in my dark night. I’ve just been trying to survive my emotions this past year, and looking for hope wherever I could find it. I believe each thing I’ve made was given to me to help carry me through the loss of my fiancé – to give me hope and joy and courage. To help me tell our story – an artist and a pilot – two lovers of nature, adventure, flight, creativity and so much more. There are small things that tell this story in each thing I make. They restore me daily. What magic to be able to share them with others and hope that they find their own healing, courage, and hope in them!

It is bittersweet of course, which is where my all-over-the-place emotions are coming from. I am both so excited and at the same time utterly heartbroken. To know that he should be here for this. To know how proud he would be and that he’d be by my side helping me out. There is absolutely no way around the deep sadness that this brings to the occasion. I’ve shed a lot of tears in the past few days… but felt a lot of excitement too. Tomorrow, I’m just going to focus on enjoying the moment with good friends and family around to support me. I know he’d kick my ass if I let his absence get in my way, after all! Here’s to a new adventures. Its going to be exciting. A little bit sad too, but mostly… exciting!!!

Making Art in the ‘Burbs

studiopic2Tonight I wanted to give a little love to a fellow artist who has been a wonderful support to me through this past year and also well before that… I feel a bit like she has watched me grow my wings over the years since I first began my 12 Months of Creativity project in Jan 2011.

Laura Wooten did a year long project all her own, which began in January of 2012. She decided to take the brave journey of creating a piece of mixed media art every single week – for a year. To make it even better, she decided to use her own surroundings as her inspiration… gleaming scenes and stories right from her very own neighborhood. This always intrigued me and struck me as incredibly brave – partly because I was at the time living in the city and often made the excuse that there was nothing interesting or stimulating to photograph around me. No excuses for Laura!

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She took what was all around her and created beauty with it. At the end of the year, she had 52 beautiful pieces that all came together into one giant presentationof awesome… all of it filled with memories and personal life stuff. I urge you to go check out her latest blog post where she shares about the whole journey, what she learned, the challenges, and so much more.

To wrap this up, I wanted to share my very favorite piece she did throughout the year… which was based on a true occurrence of a hot air balloon landing in her neighborhood! Yep I’m officially a believer in looking all around you for inspiration now. Congrats Laura on finishing a wonderful year-long project, and thank you for being an inspiration!

Wow where have I been??

Yup, sadly I have been neglecting this little space of creativity for a while now. It’s been an exhausting few months to say the least. I’ve been pretty busy doing photography and painting and am excited that a direction of sorts seems to be emerging a little at a time. A direction, I am hoping, that will touch others’ lives and help me to continue this path of making meaningful art for a living. I’m starting to see a style in my photography… a “something” that connects to my soul. That something has been emerging in whispers over the past 3 years, oh-so quietly, without me realizing it. As I look back, I see the moments where I connected to it, fleeting moments. But it seems that since the loss of my fiancé last year, I’ve been so in touch with my intuition and soul that a lot of things have become much clearer. Photography has also been such a huge part of my healing and navigating this new life without him. Which is perfect. He was the biggest supporter of my photography, so how exactly right that it become a part of how I will live again.

photo of urchin skeleton in rock cracks, simple, beauty, minimalisttree silhouette at dusk, teal, aquaphoto of heart shaped leaf with a seed pod on it, simple, beauty, minimalist, love

And that painted feather I shared on here in November? Well, it seems I might have fallen on something there. I’ve already sold several online and have two local art galleries that are interested in selling them! This thrills me to no end, especially because symbols of flight have become so important to me since losing Drew (for those who don’t know, he was a helicopter pilot). So every time I send one of these beauties out into the hands of another I feel like I am sending out his passion for flight as well as his belief that should never stop reaching for our dreams.

photo of painted feather, totem, symbol, dreams, goals, flightphoto of painted feather, totem, symbol, dreams, goals, flight

I’ve also been working on my fine art site Seven Shooting Stars (which may eventually end up being where I move the content for this blog over to) and started up a new Etsy shop to sell my photos and nature art. Yippee! I opened up a business bank account and worked with an accountant to get a crash course in what all I need to do as I enter into this self-employed world. I hired a creative coach in December to help keep me focused, accountable, and pumped up… and boy does she rock! There’s something about hiring someone else to help you out – its like telling yourself that you are now officially taking this seriously enough to invest in it and invest someone else’s time in it too. That’s a big move for me.

So that is what I’ve been up to since November. Good lord, when I read it all written out, its a crap ton of stuff! I have to give credit to everyone who has supported me fiercely this past 8 months, because the only way I’ve had the strength to do any of the above is because of the amazing support and love I’ve had along the way from my own family, from Drew’s family and from friends both new and old, near and far!

I’m hoping to get back on track with the monthly challenges this month. These challenges really are so helpful in pushing creative boundaries I’ve found. I’ll try to get a new theme posted up for this month before too long! In the meantime, I’m wondering what sort of creative challenges others have been up to? Please share in a comment below!

My November Challenge: Totem Feathers

I hope you are enjoying soaking up all the creative awesome from the November challengers. Of course, I could not very well create a challenge on my own blog without also participating in it myself! So here’s a few shots of my project for the month… a hand-painted, hand-cut totem feather!

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So the story on this one is that my other piece was not done. lol. To be more specific, I need some “fresh” sparrow wings in order to do an imprint on the painting. I have always found it cool to give things a new life… I love salvage art for sure, but also in the more morbid arena of giving dead things a new life. In case this makes you wonder, no, I don’t have a freaky collection of taxidermic critters. ;) But I do have some bones, skulls, feathers, and other such elements hanging around. So for the painting (since I am not up to taking out the BB gun in the name of art) I am essentially still playing the waiting game with Daisy the cat until she decides to get hungry. ;)

To experiment with other ways to do the wing print, I gathered some feathers from a turkey vulture last week that had met an unfortunate end from a car on the highway… the things we do in the name of art! Here I am, on the phone with my best friend, running across the highway to snatch up this horribly stinky gross bird carcass. Phone in one hand, dead bird dangling by the wingtips from the other, I run back across the street and next to the truck. “Oh god, it stinks!” I am saying over and over to my girlfriend on the other end of the line. She’s having a good laugh and supporting my weirdness, as she always does! I grab one of Drew’s pocket knives (still supporting my art even from Heaven, thanks babe <3) and cut off a bunch of the larger feathers . Finally, I toss the nasty thing off to the side of the road and promptly drove home to wash my hands. ick!

The loose feathers didn’t work out for the wing print unfortunately, it just looked too forced when I tested it. But now I had all these feathers, so I thought “Hmmm what can I do with these??”  Voila… totem feathers!

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I imagine these to be great tokens to have around you in your studio or workspace as you are focusing on taking flight with your dreams. The white dots represent a white light or spiritual energy that surrounds the colors – which are meant to represent parts of ourself. For me, these three colors represent passion, positivity, and serenity. I’ll be sure to have it up in my studio space bringing me good vibes from now on, and am excited to make some more of these! For me, this is what monthly projects are about… without the monthly challenge, I would have never ended up at this result!

 

Much thanks to Mr. Turkey Vulture, who likely never imagined in a million years that his high-fliying plumage lovely would go on to become art after he passed on to an even higher place in the sky. =)

 

 

November Submissions are In!

The submissions are in for 12MoC’s very first ever creative blog challenge… Woohoo! In case you missed the post announcing it early this month, the chosen theme for November was “Flight”. Without further ado, I give you the submissions of all our fabulous November creatives. Be sure to check out their blogs (linked to each image) for more photos and juicy details of their projects! Enjoy!

1. Laura Wooten of My Suburban Life

I’m loving this mixed media piece Laura did for this month’s theme – especially all the symbols on the balloon, which were from some of her own pattern designs. The curious little houses below truly made me smile, too. Please take a look at the full post on her blog, as she has some excellent process pictures and shares a wonderful story all about this piece and its inspiration!

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1. Kristen Conley of Whimsy Inspired

Kristen did this beautiful acrylic painting of a hummingbird in flight! I love the colors and all the layers… and the messy drips. (I am a big fan of messiness!) You can check out some great process pictures and the story behind this one over at her blog, Whimsy Inspired. Thanks Kristen!

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3. Rose Miho 

Oh ambitious Rose – she did not only one entry but THREE this month! You go girl! Rose is a very talented poet/artist and has shared with us three poems and complimentary art pieces on the theme of flight. Be sure to check out her blog for more of her poetic words.

2012_0403bp

FLYING CLOUDS

Clouds! Oh! soft clouds …

Floating above us,

silent and soothing.

Whispering, white tender cirrus.

In one beautiful blue sky

opening my heart to the world.

It’s beauty.

It’s softness.

As a blowing wind in the universe,

I’m floating and I have been rocked gently.

As a baby in a woman’s belly,

warm tender and sweet.

Softly floating among stars.

It is the flight,

of my gentle heart

For you dear.

antre

UP AND DOWN

I flew

I flew so high I could touch the stars

and I sank

deep in the water

deep within my own body

and I flew

Hight again where no one could see or touch who I was

It was as if I was a cloud,

an invisible cumulus

a colorful cirrus flying hight

and vanished into the darkness of it’s soul

and this great dance went on and on

and I kept on dancing it

Going hight into the sky

and falling back deep into

the deepest water of my being.

epson0042

FLIGHT

I have eaten the blood of the young

fed on the elder’s wisdom

I am standing within the earth

between walls of history

and wisdom

I am flying above the sky

and standing over the entire world from my own mount

I am the one who chooses where I walk

 

where I stand

I am the knowledge of the earth

the woman of the fields

the heart of the lovers

and the tears of the dead

I am everywhere you go

in every step you take forward

I am your path

future

present and past

I am the spirit of golden wings

the one you feel when you follow

the path of your heart

I speak to you in those words

so you know and remember

that I am everywhere you go and are

by your side

a golden sparkle in darkness and light.

 

4. Katharina Hoehendinger of Musical Chairs

Katharina has a great blog full of her creativity, travel stories and experiences. Her post for this month’s challenge is a one that is going to last well past the month! Take a look at an excerpt below or click here to read the full post!

“My personal carbon footprint is something of an ecological nightmare: 14 flights from January to December 2012 alone! I live abroad, fair enough, and my family and many of my friends are based in Germany. But somehow that seems a bit of a weak excuse when thinking about the long term impact of my individual choices.

According to WWF UK, a passenger on a flight to Paris is responsible for ten times more CO2emissions than a person using the Eurostar. I actually wanted to go back home by train this year for Christmas. But then I got confused by the Eurostar’s online booking system and opted for easyjet instead. (Again, very weak excuse!)

Living in London has made me a bit more aware of the extent of air travel that is taking place across Europe. It is only during the night that no planes can be seen in the sky. Apart from that I hear them all the time starting from or flying to one of the city’s five airports. When I went to Heathrow for the first time I was genuinely shocked because of its enormous dimensions and the amount of people traveling to and from there every day. Where are they all going, and why?

Finally, I’ve decided to reduce my ecological footprint and will try not to fly in 2013. This will be difficult when visiting back home but it’s not impossible. And for going on holidays it’s actually quite good that I live in another country: there are lots of beautiful places in the UK that I haven’t seen yet.”

 

I love all the different viewpoints and perspectives that everyone had on this theme – as well as all the variety  of media we had. Even with just four artists, we had writing & poetry, painting, mixed media, drawing and photography! What an awesome mix. I want to thank these ladies again for sharing their lovely work and for taking on the challenge this month!  While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the December Challenge – you know you want to make something!!

December Blog Challenge! Beginnings & Endings

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Since we are fast approaching the end of the year, I thought it fitting for this month’s theme to be on the subject of Beginnings and Endings. Where they take us, the excitement of them, relief of them, or fear of them. How they are related I have had some extremely significant beginnings and endings in 2012 – the most significant of my life to date. I plan on exploring this

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