Friday, December 31, 2010

The 12 Months of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me.....that 's one of my favorite Christmas songs, and even though our country's integrity has gone to hell-in-a-hand basket, for most of us, everyday is still Christmas. We pretty much get whatever we want throughout the year, so many freedoms, we're basically healthy and well fed, and each day is filled with gifts and blessings.

If you read my blog, you may think my life began the day I met Jim, but I had blessings before Jim. I gave birth to my son David, who is dearer to me than anything else on earth. I started college at age 30 and became a teacher/counselor, and some of my students tell me I touched their lives in a good way; I know they did mine. And there were other stories, other loves, some were my ports in the storm, some brought the storms with them, but all are a part of me now, of who I am.

I thought I'd look back and recount a few of the Gifts my True Love and my Family, my Friends and my God gave to me this year, not month by month (I'm not that orderly) but in my usual fashion of random musings.......

In February, for my birthday, I got a Shih Tzu; it was a life-changing event. I never considered myself hard-hearted before Marley, and I'm still not exactly sure how it happened, but this slightly psychotic, happy, shaggy little snip-of-a-dog has taught me to love more deeply, to be more patient, and to feel more connected ........hard to 'splain, but back in the day, when someone would say if the house caught on fire, they'd get their dog out first, I'd roll my's only a dog. Ten months with Marley, and I get it, I totally get it.

Sometime during the year, on no particular day, my mother and I began to talk, I mean really talk again. There's a lot of water under the bridge, and we've had more than our share of issues, but there seemed to be a softening on both our parts, and I want to spend more time with her. At a Christmas party, a girl whom I've seen at other Christmas parties, came to me, saying she'd just figured out who I was, and revealed that she is the sister of my high school BFF, some 40 years departed....... I'm still speechless over it. I connected with quite a few old friends on Facebook and even had a visit from Bobby, Belinda and the girls. And I played a small part in reconnecting Jim with his son at Christmas.

I kept learning......If one day you read my blog, and I say there's nothing left for me to learn, someone please come throw me in a box and start shoveling dirt onto me, 'cause it'll all be over but the benediction. As of now, there are hardly enough hours in the day to explore all the new, fun stuff that finds its way into my life. During the summer, my friend Lu and I went to a Hypertufa workshop, and I plan to do a lot more with that in 2011; I took a few scrapbooking classes, played with some giant stencils, painted furniture, mosaics, painted fabrics, paper sculpture, collage, and mono-printing. Two friends whom I've known from the digital art forums, became closer friends, and we began painting together, though we live in 3 different states. I want to sign up for pottery classes in the spring. And I want to write more this year, maybe children's stories, and work more on my art journal. All art connects us with the Spirit, with one another, with ourselves.

Oh gosh! And here's a Blessing that was a long time coming.......In October, my cousin Linda and I finally got 'round to staging the first ever Goodman Cousin Reunion! Everyone who attended was slightly giddy with joy! So much love, so much history that deserves to be treasured. I get tears in my eyes as I type.

And Jim was by my side every step of the way; sometimes I push the limits as a temperamental artist; he has a short memory for the bad times, the patience of Job, and an uncomplicated outlook on life that keeps both of us on an even keel.He buys the sweetest Christmas gifts, and this year he did the thing where he wrapped notes with directions to the real gifts, but the notes are little poems. I've never thrown away one of his notes, and there have been hundreds over the years. Maybe I'll gather them up someday and make a little journal.

How would you sum up your 2010 in one word? Mine would be connections. Each Gift, each Blessing was about Connections. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Paintin' Away!

Okay, here's a quickie post. Colleen, Annette and I each bought a DVD called Painted Papers by Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson so the 3 of us could paint together, though I live in Arkansas, Colleen is in Colorado, and Annette is in Texas. It has proven to be a fun technique, and we're all planning on doing more. I've always loved to work in mixed media, collage, and paper sculpture, and this technique showed me how to take it a step further by beginning on a birch board.

I bought a board @ Home Depot, and Jim cut it into 3 pieces, each 16X24 inches, even sanded them down for me, and I covered the front of one with clear gesso, loosely drew on my image of blueberries, then painted on watery acrylics, enjoying the oozing and runny effects. I had a stack of rice papers and mulberry paper, along with some printed sheets that I'd painted with more watery acrylics in shades of purple, green, blue, yellow, and near-black all ready for tearing and gluing.

The collaging process can either be tedious or relaxing, depending on your current state of mind. I tend to enjoy involved techniques and loved tearing tiny scraps of paper, aiming for shapes that reflected their destination, curves and circles for the berries and graceful strips for the leaves. When you're tearing, the shapes are never perfect, and that's a part of the artsy charm of this type of collage. You can opt either to cover all the under painting or leave parts of it showing. I wasn't giving up those pretty drips and runs, so I left quite a bit of mine showing.

I added some leaves that I cut from the painted paper and glued them loosely with the matte gel in order to give more dimension. As the piece neared completion (or where I considered the stopping place to be), I painted in touches of highlights on berries and leaves, some hand writing here and there, touches of gold leaf, and a few embossed stampings using a verdigris powder I've had for years and dread running out of it.

And now I still haven't decided on a design for my Christmas cards, so I'd best get going on that, but I'll be sharing more painted papers collages when there's time. Don't you just love this time of year??
Love, cat