Thursday, July 26, 2012

Seeking Out Encouraging People

I continued looking at the painting I've been working on for my niece.  I had such mixed feelings about whether or not to add more to "ground" the castle, so I sought out an artist friend to ask her opinion.

She is SO busy and the timing was good...I went over to her house for about an hour today.  I told her all about Brave Girls Camp and shared some of the things I created in Idaho.  We also looked at Arianna's painting and she said she loved it!

She said she thought it looked "dreamy" and she wouldn't do anything to make it look more grounded.  We talked about adding a bit more white to soften the lower edges of the castle to enhance the dreaminess of the piece which I think I will do.

Then she said something that about made me fall out of my chair.  She said, "Lynn, you have a lot of talent."  I know I smiled from ear to ear.  It is one thing to have my husband or my mom like the things I paint. 

To have someone like Sue who is a close friend and an artist herself; well her opinion means the world to me.  I value and trust her thoughts and perspective in a lot of areas.

It also means a lot to have other Brave Girls stopping by and commenting.  I have started posting some of my work on Red Bubble Artist Site again.  I haven't uploaded any artwork there for over a year.  It helps so much to have other artists commenting and encouraging me in my work.

Why am I focusing so much on the positive things people are saying to me?  Because I need encouragement from like-minded people.  Will I die without it?  No.  Will their opinions make me or break me?  No.

It is easier, however, to keep pressing forward and following my dreams when I feel encouraged.  In my deepest depressions is when I am tempted to isolate the most.  It is good for me to seek people out socially and artistically.

One of the things I learned at Brave Girls Camp is it is fun and encouraging to create in a group.  So I am trying to continue that here at home.  I have this kernel of hope that I can find a group of women here in Iowa who want to get together and paint.

Girls Painting at Brave Girls Camp

More Brave Girls

How about you?  Is this something you could do where you live?  Maybe it isn't an artist group; perhaps a writing group, reading group, or support group.  I need support and I need to paint to stay on top of the depression.  What do you need?

Be encouraged and when depressed apply wet paint! 


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Painting in Process ~ Just Like Me I Guess

The last few days I have been working on a few paintings; two for my mom and one for my 8 year old niece.  Last month I visited my younger brother and his family in California.  I had so much fun with my niece Arianna.  Here she is in a shirt I sent her several months ago.     

Her shirt says, "Kindness is My Beauty Secret."

I also sent her a shirt that says, "Every girl is a princess."  She loves that one too.  I decided before I even left Sacramento I wanted to do a princess painting for her.  Here are a few photos of the process of this painting.

I painted the canvas white (over something else in process I didn't like); then added some scrap book paper and a couple of flowers using gesso.  I also used a stencil to add the cute purses.  I then used a knife to add more gesso to tone down some of the color and add more texture.

First several layers

I played with a lot of different ideas and papers in making the castle.  I looked online for some images and ultimately ended up combining the look of several into the one I created.  I thought I wanted a collage look to it; but the more papers I tried the more I realized I wanted the castle to be painted on the canvas.

Some collage paper I ultimately did not use but shows my thought process

I was concerned about being able to draw what I wanted on the canvas, so I used the collage pieces I had created to make a stencil template.  Then I used that to paint the castle onto the piece.  Here it is with a couple of layers of paint.

This is the stencil I created

This piece has been a huge challenge for me.  It has brought out the perfectionist in me and it has layer upon layer upon layer!  Which I LOVE though.  It has truly been a work of heART!

I washed some white over the castle to mute the color; then started adding more details like the castle flags.  I used acrylic glitter paint for the flags.  I also did more acrylic white and pink washing at different points over the whole canvas.

Castle flag blowing

Here are a few more details...

Wish Upon a Star!

Dream Big Dreams Arianna!

Best part about the heart and pearl pin is it belongs to Arianna's Great Grandmother Evelyn

So below is what I thought was the finished piece. As I look at it here though, the castle doesn't look grounded.  So I will look at it some more and decide what to do.  Any thoughts?  I guess you can expect another photo of the actual "finished piece" on another day! 

So I will keep painting and I hope you will too!  Let's continue to feel better and turn painting when depressed into painting because I feel great!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Depression Returns...sounds like a bad movie title

One of the things about an experience like Brave Girls Camp is how do I take what I learned home with me and not leave it all on the "mountain top."  We've all had them; those mountain top experiences when we come home and go back to our old way of being and doing.  I did not want that to happen!

I had been home about 2 weeks and the depression started to slowly creep back in.  I still had my smile (both inside and outside) but every now and then those old thoughts and behaviors would surface.

I was determined when I got home to get my art room organized (notice I don't call it art studio ~ still don't feel justified calling myself an artist so how can I have a studio).  I worked hard on it for a couple of days but the task was overwhelming and seemed unending.

I made the mistake of committing I would not create until I was organized; hoping it would motivate me to get more accomplished.  All it really did was give the old thinking patterns more time to simmer and heat up.  Fortunately I did not allow them to come to a full boil.

God's timing for this workshop I had been wanting to take also helped.  It got me out of the house and painting with another person again.  Renee and I also shared about our lives and our love for art so it was kind of a mini-Brave Girls Camp.

The art class was on mixed media and the result is the painting below.  This piece has particular meaning to me for two reasons:

1) I was feeling down when I went and I knew I would feel better when I started creating.  I used watercolor crayons on the canvas and wrote all the yukky things I was thinking and feeling.  The goal was to then cover it all up with acrylic paint and bring something beautiful from the yuk.

2) I met Renee and we are kindred spirits in so many ways.  We have similar backgrounds and beliefs; and like-minded dreams.  Regardless of where our individual paths will lead, I was so lifted up painting in her studio, under her tutelage and brightness.  Renee truly shines like a star both in her person hood and in her art!

If you want to meet Renee and see some of her beautiful work, here is Renee Mak on Facebook and her blog My Fussed Up Life   

So after the first day working on this piece I was exhausted and took it home to look at it.  This was with all those words written first on the canvas with watercolor crayons, then a wash of an acrylic yellow, some papers added, a bit of splattering with a brush and then stamping with some stamps Renee taught me how to make myself.  Oh and then some acrylic paint around the edges to frame it in.  Whew!

What you don't have is an idea of what it is supposed to look like.  Basically it is supposed to be large flowers on this size canvas with a horizontal line to represent the ground and separate it from the sky.  The goal is abstract, loose and fun.

So I knew I needed that ground line across the painting but I had no idea how to get it there or what colors to use to differentiate ground from sky.  Late that night I got out a bunch of different colored tissue paper and laid it across the painting to get an idea of what colors I liked for the lower part.  I ended up LOVING the lime green.

I thought I would paint that color on the canvas but when I took the paper to the class 2 days later, I told Renee I really liked the paper and she did too.  I ended up adhering the green tissue paper to the canvas and that made a huge difference!  I felt like I was making progress again.  Here it is with just the green added.


Then with Renee's help I made the decision to try washing some blues from the top down to where it met the green tissue paper.  I consciously left the bright yellow in the right hand corner to represent sunshine and light. 

Renee and I talked about the placement of the paper I would use for the flowers and I went home again exhausted.  It was time to fly on my own and finish it at home.  Yikes!

Here is a photo of the flowers added along with some bubble wrap stamping around the edges.

And here is the final result...for now : )

Flowers in Sun and Wind

Mixed media and maybe any painting, I don't know, is kind of like life.  The process or the journey isn't always pretty.  There are a couple of guidelines like enjoy the journey and finish what you start.  I tried to do both with this piece.

I did enjoy the process, though I definitely questioned where it was going and certainly feared where it would end up.  You're not supposed to be afraid when you paint but I don't have that mastered yet.  I have a ways to go on that one.

I did finish what I started and I feel good about that.  I have mixed feelings about the end result.  I love all the meaning behind it which I talked about above.  I love the bright colors, the risk taking and the learning that occurred.

There are things about it that I love and some things I wish I would have done different...hmmm...that sounds like life too.

And of course the lesson I keep learning over and over and over is when I start to get down I need to create.  And for depression prevention I need to paint consistently, if not daily.  Right now I am shooting for daily because it helps me.

So I will keep keep bringing down from the mountain the truths I learned there...when depressed apply wet paint and paint daily if possible.  Thanks Renee for helping me continue what I learned at Brave Girls Camp!!!     

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm a Brave Birl Now!

So I'm in Star, Idaho at Brave Girls Camp and got through the first night.  I survived telling my story and explaining why I came and what I wanted to get out of being there.  I had been suffering from a deep depression for a couple of years; if not longer.

If you have read past posts then you know my depression was in part due to my dad's suicide in 2004.  Sitting in Melody's living room surrounded by all these loving people, here was the only thing I knew for sure ~ I DIDN'T WANT TO BE DEPRESSED ANYMORE!  I was as deeply sick of it as I was deeply depressed.  I just didn't know how to get out of it.

Melody said she had been to the depths and found her way back...and she wanted to share the way out with us.  I was all ears, heart and soul.

One of the things Melody shared was about "messy endings."  This idea caught my attention because I have certainly had my share of messy endings.  Things that ended badly; and my dad's suicide was one of them.

When we have these messy endings then bad feelings result and often lies follow that take root in our hearts, souls and minds.  I had a lot of lies that had stubbornly rooted themselves in my heart and soul and I needed to let my Master Gardener pull those out.

This weed and lie pulling process was what I believe resulted in my extreme healing in Idaho.  God spent the next few days through art, sharing and lots of love extracting those lies from my heart.  By the last night of camp I was more than ready to give them up and leave them in Idaho.

We wrote out the lies we'd believed, even wrote a letter to our old selves we were leaving behind.  I can't tell you how free I felt when I buried the torn pieces of the letter I had written to my old self and when I burned up the lies I had written out.  It truly was a freedom and joy I can't ever remember feeling.

There is so much more I could share but I think this was the most life changing part.  Even writing this now I feel the power of letting go of the lies I was believing.  And anytime those same lies knock on the door on my mind, I quickly slam the door and remind myself those lies are just that...lies.  And they are gone, I have let them go, they are burned up by the consuming fire of God.

Here are a few more photos of my experience at Brave Girls Camp...

Art Table Buddies (me in center)


On One of the Turquoise Art Barn Walls

Brave Girls Painting!

Me Believing Truth

I'm Working on It!

Here are a couple more hints at the details of a painting I've been working on this week.  Hope you enjoy them.  Next post you will see the finished painting!

By the way, I did most of this painting at a workshop with Renee Mak.  She is an amazing artist in West Des Moines, Iowa and I so enjoyed painting with her and getting to know her.  She is a great instructor and so patient.

She helped me keep painting when I became fearful and didn't know what to do next.  She just kept saying, "When you don't know what to do next, just do something."  So I did.  I finished the painting today.

Some people will tell you to have a great day...I'll just keep saying, "When depressed apply wet paint!"  And even if you're not!!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Finally I Get to Tell You About Brave Girls Camp!

I have done more traveling the last 2 months than I have done in the last few years total!  It is so good to be home and not have to think about the next trip.  I can't wait to share about my experience at Brave Girls Camp and some photos too.

Kathy Wilkins' husband (Kurt) and Melody Ross' son picked us up at the hotel in the Brave Girls bus on Tuesday afternoon of June 26th.  There were 17 other women who attended camp with me and we were so excited to finally be on the bus headed for Star, Idaho and the home of Melody and the Brave Girls Art Barn!

I in fact was still in a bit of shock.  Since I took a last minute opening I did not have the wait that a lot of the women did.  I found out some had been on a waiting list for as much as 2 years!  I felt so grateful to be there.

Kathy and Melody met us as we stepped off the bus and we took our first walk along the Snake River.  Melody and her husband's property is right next to the public Snake River walking path.

Before we reached the spot where we entered their property, Melody stopped and asked us not to talk for the rest of the walk.  She also asked us to listen as we walked...to the birds who had been "practicing their singing for us" and to our inner selves.

We began to walk silently as she requested and almost immediately my tears started to flow.  Up ahead there were two large trees and one was leaning on the other.  My inner voice said, "Lynn, its okay for you to lean on others."  God was whispering to me and I wanted to listen.

Oh my, then the tears really started flowing.  By the time we reached their property I was a mess.  Melody came over, put her arm around me and whispered, "That (the silent walk) was for you."  I knew in the first twenty minutes of my departure off that bus; this was going to be a powerful and healing experience.

My tears were I believe, all the ones I couldn't cry when I needed to before.  Somehow deep inside I knew that even with this group of women I had just met, it was a safe place to feel.  My heart and soul knew what my head didn't.  My heart just let go of years of pain, loss, sadness, apathy, numbness, hurt and more than I can even put words to I'm sure. 

So I let myself cry and I cried off and on pretty much through that first evening.  Cleansing, exhausted, frustrated and depressed tears.  Thank goodness!!!    

Here are a couple of photos from that amazing path once we forked off onto the Brave Girl property...





I'm going to stop right there.  For my sake I am going to take the time to feel and remember what it was like to feel safe, to slow down, to feel so very loved and beautiful there.  And honestly there is just too much to share in one blog post so stay tuned.  I have much more to tell you.

Oh...and needless to say...I was depressed when I got there, I did apply wet paint; and  I was not depressed when I left.  I'll tell you more about that too, as well as what has happened in the time since I have been home. 

So don't forget to apply wet paint when depressed!

Just for a hint of something else to come; here is a detail of a painting I have been working on in the last week.  I'll tell and show you more about that too and the wonderful artist Renee Mak who has been my amazing art instructor.  Thought I would end this post with a boost of color.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Anti-Depression Adventures

Sometimes my husband takes me by the hand and leads me out of the house.  If he didn't I wouldn't get out as often as I do; which believe me it isn't very much.

He "informed" me about a month ago that on June 14th he had taken the day off so we could drive down to Eldon, Iowa.  I asked, "What is in Eldon, Iowa?"  Actually I may not have asked that, but it sounds good to say I did.

I do remember, however, that he said he was getting me up at 4 AM to begin our road trip and he would not give up until I was out of bed.  Oh dear!  About once a week he would remind me of this upcoming adventure and that I had to get out of bed. 

June 14th arrived and so did 4 AM.  Much to his surprise I was already awake.  In reality I had never gotten to sleep so I had no trouble getting up.  Insomnia.

I know you are not going to believe what was in Eldon, Iowa (other than the American Gothic House used in the famous painting by Grant Wood).  Okay here it is....drum roll please....

Tom Arnold and Rosanne Barr's mansion they started building then abandoned about 15 years ago when they divorced.  I guess Tom grew up in Ottumwa, Iowa and he wanted a home near there.  Two local radio personalities were broadcasting from the site and invited their listeners to visit.

Now...only my husband could get me down to the boonies to see Tom and Rosanne's house.  I honestly could care less; still don't as a matter fact.  But we did have fun.

Here are some pictures of the dilapidated mansion; and it would have been fabulous no doubt.  Photos do not do the house size justice.  It was HUGE!  And it sits on 1340 acres of land.  Fifteen years in the harsh Midwest elements, however, has taken its toll.  It looks more like its been sitting there 30 years instead of 15.

Dilapidated Mansion

The south side of the house was especially amazing because of all the gorgeous windows!  It would have been an incredible view out over their pond.  Oh, but the heating bill they would have had!

All the amazing windows!

The most hilarious part of the whole adventure was the "cab" service.  Only in Iowa would a bunch of people show up to look at a defunct Hollywood couple's almost home.  And only in Iowa would the taxi service be pick up trucks!  I said to my husband, "And we wonder why Hollywood depicts us in the movies as a bunch of hicks!"

Country cab service

The next stop was the American Gothic House.  As a new artist, I LOVE art!  American Gothic has never been a favorite of mine, however.  Patrick and I did get to see the original at the Des Moines Art Center several years ago.  It was part of a temporary exhibit.  We waited in line for over an hour and it was worth it to see a famous painting by an Iowa artist.

So here we are at the the American Gothic House!

Pitchfork and all!
I was exhausted from not sleeping and dozed in the back seat for an hour of the two hour drive home.  But we had a really fun day and depression was no where to be found! We made memories and that's so important.  I forget how important sometimes and was grateful to be reminded.

Just to update you on my most recent application of wet paint...here are a couple of pages from my art journal.  I love these!

I would really encourage you to take some Anti-Depression Adventures!  You don't even have to take a 2 hour road trip but find an adventure.  Its worth it.  It will help you feel a bit better and when you're depressed...every bit helps!  Wouldn't you say?

And don't forget ~ when depressed apply wet paint!       

Brave Girls Camp Here I Come!

Here are some words that describe Brave Girls Camp...
"Brave Girl Camp is five days of life-changing fun for women...a fabulous all-inclusive retreat nestled in the stunning mountains of Idaho, offering both beautiful cabin accommodations and meaningful art projects and instruction. 

The brainchild of sisters Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins, Brave Girl Camp is an extension of their worldwide community, Brave Girls' Club, and is offered to women all over the world who are ready to meaningfully and artfully move forward on their individual paths. In fact, Brave Girl Camp is specifically designed to help women find their own individual path in a fun and lasting and deeply personal way."  

I was registered for the one in August but they had a last minute opening...so I'm going Tuesday.  And I can't wait!

You can learn more about it here if you would like Brave Girls Camp.

My hope and prayer is God will use this experience to breath life back into me.  I intend to continue to heal from this depression and to come out on the other side a new and different person.  There is not a doubt in my mind that Brave Girls Camp will be part of that transformation.  

It will be fun to blog and tell you about my experiences there.  

Oh and while I'm gone...when depressed apply wet paint!  : )