Easing Into Change

I’m back! I hope you all had a wonderful week. I had a great time at Lake Powell! I got plenty of swimming, paddle boarding, and hiking done. I even got some sun color. I don’t actually tan, I just get slightly less ghostly. We got caught in some crazy storms, I ate way too much, I caught a giant catfish, and I slept under the stars on the top deck of the houseboat.

Though I had a great week, I always hate that flat, disappointing feeling of coming home after a great vacation. This time is particularly nasty for some reason. Maybe it’s all the chocolate ice cream I ate, but I feel a bit low. When we left, I felt excited to take some time away from responsibility and just play in the turquoise waters of Lake Powell, and I figured I’d come back all refreshed and feel ready to hit the ground running.

Unsurprisingly, I don’t.

I’ve noticed that I tend to expect a lot of myself sometimes, especially if I ever allow myself to “slack off”. I figure, “well, I’ve been on vacation, so now I should be able to go double time”. It’s as if I feel like I have to pay for resting. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I need a break, no strings attached.

So, instead of diving headfirst into a massive to-do list that I could compile for the week, instead of plunging into a new workout routine I’d promise myself I’d start when I got back, I’ll ease back into my daily life. No boot camp, no cleaning marathons or major lifestyle overhauls right out of the gate. I can take a vacation without paying penance later.

I think we all struggle with this sometimes. It’s like eating dessert and telling ourselves we have to run it off on the treadmill tomorrow. That’s no way to live.

So, though I have plenty to do this week, I am refusing to fill up each slot in my planner with activities I should feel up to now that I’ve had a week off. Sometimes it’s the white space on the calendar that really feeds us and moves us forward. We need time to think, dream, process, and take mini-vacations periodically to avoid burnout and stoke our creative fires.

I do have some new paintings in the works, so I hope to reveal those soon! Have a wonderful week!

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A Busy Summer Morning

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go to the Ogden Farmer’s Market with my family when I go to visit. It’s one of the busiest farmer’s markets I’ve ever been to, but Ogden is an artsy place surrounded by lots of farming communities, so there’s lots of food, animals, crafts, and art. Local restaurants like to set up booths full of amazing pastries and tamales too. The whole place smells amazing.

The market opened last week, so the whole place was jumpin’. I ate so many pastries. I had a good time taking photos. Half the time, I’ll go somewhere cool and forget to take pictures at all because I’m too busy looking, but I didn’t forget this time!

Piglets are so cute! I also got to see/pet lambs, calves, and the giant fluffy cow below. Yeah, that’s when I forgot to take pictures. Petting baby animals tends to make me forget things like that…

My little sister laughed at me because I walked straight up to the herb stands and immediately smelled the basil. Just bent right over and sniffed. Have you ever heard of cinnamon basil? Me neither, but it was there! I don’t even know what you’d do with that, but if you know, tell me!

Historic 25th Street in Ogden is full of these horses painted by local artists. I hadn’t seen this one before for some reason, but it’s probably my favorite.

I even ran into my jr. high art teacher, Ms. Green! I was so excited to tell her I was an artist now, and she didn’t act surprised at all. I took every art class she taught and spend extra time before and after school in her room working on art.

After a few hours in the sun eating pastries, sniffing basil, petting farm animals, and shopping for handmade jewelry, we cut through one of my favorite stores in Ogden: The Queen Bee. They sell games, books, art, and…fine chocolate! When I discovered this store, I thought “Oh my goodness, did someone look inside my brain and make a store just for me?!” Mom and I tried the ginger lemongrass truffle, which was amazing, and another truffle that I don’t remember the name of, but Rios was in the name.  It’s a “single origin” chocolate, which means that all the cocoa beans used to make the chocolate came from the exact same place instead of from a giant mix of beans from all over the world. This let’s the unique flavor of that location really pop out. I don’t remember where this one came from, but it was the most incredible piece of chocolate I’ve ever tried, including the amazing Aztec Gold truffle I tried last time, which was my previous favorite. It tasted almost…licorice-y, by Mom says that’s not it. I loved it.

I also found these fun little guys:

I almost bought it, but I have PLENTY of art supplies, believe me. It’s a nice little reminder though. It’s something to think about every once in awhile.

Finally, this is what an exhausted, wired, way over-stimulated shitzu looks like with a free bow from one of the vendors:

Maya usually loves the farmer’s markets, but this one was a little busy. All the farm animals, other dogs, heat, and explosions going off in the street for some reason really overwhelmed her, and she slept for the rest of the day. This is also my gorgeous 13-year-old sister, Erianne. I only have one sister, and I got to spend a lot of time with her that day.

Also, I’m going to be off having tons of fun in Lake Powell next week, so no blog posts or Facebook updates. I have lots of cool things planned for when I get back!

So I have to ask, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Sunflower Inspiration

If I were a flower, I think I’d be a sunflower. They’re my favorite because they look so happy and they’re a symbol of joy and summer to me.

I saw a bunch of sunflowers down by the road near the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah when I went there for the annual Llama fest this weekend. Yes, Llama fest. Lots of fun. It’s like a big fancy dog show, but for llamas, and there are lots of crafts and good food, and the Krishna Temple is just a wonderful place to be because it smells like beautiful incense, everyone is happy, and it’s up on a hill with an incredible view of Utah Valley.

Anyways, Sam picked me a sunflower and I had a mini photoshoot.

I’m planning on using these in a mixed-media painting very soon!

Ok, I know. You guys want to see some llama pictures. Here you go:

And some more pictures, just for fun.

Thank you all for being such wonderful friends and readers. Have a fabulous day!

Roots

So much is going on in my life right now. Sometimes I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of a mountain looking up and feeling overwhelmed by the humongous climb, or like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff looking down and feeling terrified of the leap I’m about to take.

This is good though. It mean I’m growing, or at least that I have the opportunity for growth.

I’m 2 pages away from filling a 300 page journal. I always feel like a big change is on it’s way when I get close to finishing a journal. My new art site is in progress, I’m preparing to apply to a big art show, I’m readjusting a lot of things in my life right now, and some other huge changes might be just around the corner. With all this going on around me, sometimes the best thing I can do it be still and feel my feet on the ground. I like to pretend I have roots and that no matter how crazy my life gets, I have stability and peace built into my soul. I can find peace in my roots.

“Roots” 24X48 Mixed-Media on Canvas $500

I tried something new with this piece. For awhile now, I’ve been thinking about incorporating 3-D elements into my paintings and sculpting right on the canvas. It took a few tries and tests to find the right product and technique, but I finally settled on a special non-contracting, self-drying clay for the roots. I also mixed dirt with the brown paint for the underground area around the roots.

Creating this was an interesting experience. It took me around a month and at times, I wanted to throw the hole thing in the dumpster. Sometimes I didn’t like the way it looked, sometimes my back hurt from working with such a tall canvas (I don’t use an easel. I usually work on the floor or sitting with the canvas propped up), and the emotions that inspired this feeling were difficult to sit with for that long. I think this is what I needed to work through some fears and scary thoughts.

I don’t think I’ll be with Etsy much longer (stay tuned on that one), so I’m not going to post this is in the shop just yet. If you are interested in purchasing it, send me a convo or email me at mckella11@yahoo.com so I can create a listing for you!

Best wishes for a wonderful week!

Changes

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So, dear readers, if you’re still around, you may have noticed some technical difficulties going on around here. During my creative funk and unplanned vacation from blogging, my domain name expired and is now being used by another site. This sucks quite a bit, because my readers seem to be having a hard time finding me. For now, we’ll be back to handprintsoul.wordpress.com.

However, this is one of many events that have prompted me to make some changes. I’ve been writing Handprint Soul for almost two years now, but I’m finding that this blog and Etsy might not be what I need to support my artwork, so I’m working on getting a new site. I’ll let you know when that happens, and I hope you’ll join me there!

This isn’t a goodbye! I still plan to write here at Handprintsoul (.wordpress.com) although I may transfer to a blog on the new site when it goes up. I really love writing here and connects with my readers all around the world!

Sometimes, life pushes us to change. I’ve been struggling with several big decisions involving my career lately, and it seems like my own mistakes and insecurities are answer them for me. I consider this blog a first step and a starting point for many things I plan to do with my art and writing, so I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my work as it develops, moves, and progresses.

Thank you for being such wonderful readers!

Creative Funks

So, I know I’ve been pretty absent around her for the past few weeks. A lot has happened. I’ve sold a couple of small paintings, had strep throat, met a rattlesnake on a hike, and turned 24. My domain even expired while I wasn’t looking! I haven’t been online much at all, and I’m actually ok with that. Sometimes we need to unplug.

Most of the reason I’ve been gone is because I’ve been in a serious creative funk lately. I’ve started a few new paintings but I’ve run into some walls with both of them. Nothing a little modeling paste and rethinking can’t fix, but walls nonetheless. I haven’t worked on my novel much, I haven’t been very active on Etsy, and my studio is such a disaster that I can barely fit in there.

It happens.

I figured I could either hide behind some fluffy posts or just take a break. I chose the latter, because I knew I’d be in the mood to post again soon.

So, about creative funks. I don’t like to call them “blocks” because it sounds like something outside of ourselves that’s causing us to avoid creating, but it’s really not. Nothing that has happened over the last few months could have inevitably blocked me, but a funk, now that feels more like the sticky, mucky, internal mess that this really is. I picture it as getting stuck in molasses or tar; the gunk that clogs up our creative channels if we don’t clear it out in time. That gunk will always come, but it can either get stuck or pass through fairly painlessly.

In the past few months, I’ve uncovered and run into rejection, shock, the possibility of major change, shame, anxiety, guilt, regret, and all kinds of stuff that loves to gunk up our creativity like a giant hairball in a drain. This all came on fairly quickly and I didn’t really allow myself the time or means to move it out before it congealed. I avoided talking or thinking about it and instead read a bunch of (amazing) books, busied myself with household chores (my apartment is still a mess somehow), organized my ever-growing Pinterest boards so I can access my inspiration easier, and taking lots of walks. I knew that funk was there, but I wasn’t ready to deal with it. I’d let myself think about it in passing moments, tiny bites at a time because the whole elephant just seemed like too much.

I haven’t nailed down a surefire way to get out of these creative funks, but I do know that our spirits and therefore creativity are an ecosystem as delicate and complex as any rainforest, and all the little elements need to be there and working together in order for the whole to function properly. The extinction of one insect, the absence of one seemingly trivial ritual can potentially throw the whole system out of whack. Life is far too messy to balance properly, but we can make sure that the necessary things get taken care of. Creativity is a delicate little creature that needs proper care to survive. ”

Real” artists aren’t exempt from this. All creators struggle to keep their systems balanced, though some may have themselves figured out more than others. So, my solution for my creative funk is to do what I can to restore the environment in which my creativity can thrive. This means different things for different people, but for me it means making space for “creative playtime”, reading inspirational things like Laura Hollick’s blog or The Artist’s Way, and making sure to connect with myself by journaling and daydreaming instead of filling every free second with other reading or Minesweeper.

This morning, I’m planning to take myself shopping for art supplies with the rest of my birthday money and then having some creative playtime before I go to work. The thought of artmaking actually terrifies me at the moment, but I know that bribing myself with some new toys from the art supply store will coax me out of my shell. Whatever happens in the studio today will be ok, even if I completely ruin whatever I’m working on, make something wonderful, discover that I want to go in a completely different direction, bawl my eyes out, whatever. It’s all ok.

Wise Words: Impossible

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What to do when you don’t know what to do

We’ve all been there, and a lot of us never seem to leave. Life seems overwhelming, scary, or confusing, or maybe all of the above.

This isn’t a gloomy post. Feeling like this sometimes is just part of life and it usually means we’re on the verge of something important. The longer we stay stuck here though, the longer it takes to get that shiny prize at the end of the tunnel.

So when my head is spinning and I have no idea what to do or which path to take, here’s what I do:

  1. Cling to truth: When you’re confused, nothing feels better than to anchor yourself with things that you know to be true. List them. They can be as simple as “My husband loves me” or “I am a good person”. Confusion is to not know, but having truth is to know. Once you have a grip on that, you can figure the rest out.
  2. Realize that everything is ok: I tend to get caught up in my own little maelstrom of emotion, but sometimes I need to step back and notice that the sun is shining, the cat is sleeping, the world is still turning, and nothing is really wrong. Not in the grand scheme of things. The drama is all inside me. I don’t have to listen to it.
  3. Do a tiny thing that scares you: If you’ve been cleaning the house with a Q-tip to avoid working on your novel, sit down and write a page. Set a timer. If you’ve been putting something off, do a tiny bit of it. Bribe yourself. Set a timer. Whatever gets you going, do it.

I actually did all three of these things today, and I feel a million times better. If you feel confused or overwhelmed at all, I highly recommend it.

Have a great week!

Bein’ Green

If you were to look at my art and try to guess my favorite color, you’d probably go with yellow. My favorite color is actually green, but it doesn’t seem to show up in my art very often.

Anyway, I thought I’d give my favorite color some attention and show you some green things I love.

Of course you saw this coming!

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(Visit my friend Rachael‘s Etsy shops!)

Ok, sharing time. What’s your favorite color? Is there anything fun that you associate with that color?

Mixed-Media Minis: To the Beach!

After my short visit to the beach in April, I stared thinking about beach art. Most of my art is more inspired by the Utah landscape of mountains, brillant sunsets, and solitary trees, but I truly adore the beach.

I’ve acquired tons of seashells and sand dollars over the years, but I’ve kept them in boxes because I’ve never been sure what to do with them.

Now I know:

3×3 Mixed-Beach Art and Easel, $25

Available here.

3×3 Mixed-Media Beach Art-Blue with Pink Shells-$25

Available here.

These are a little bit bigger than the other minis I’ve done; these are 3×3 instead of 2×2. I had so much fun making these! I love using natural materials like sand and shells in my art. I think I’ll play with that technique a little more.

These little guys are available in the shop. I made my mom one of these for Mother’s Day and it looks great in her beach-themed living room.  They’re also perfect for office desks or small rooms that don’t have a lot of wall space for original art. It’s nice to squeeze a little art in where we can, isn’t it?