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A Monday meander: Arts and crafts

Last Friday, on Assateague Island, somewhere in the backcountry.

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

~ e. e. cummings

My word of the year is listen.

It’s one of those words whose meaning is in its music. Listen is a quiet word, that half swallowed L and diffident I and softly hissing S. It defies the clamorous words it absorbs, the words that have defined this year, the shouts and roars, the bray and bluster. Listening is hard when the sounds around us grow mean and ugly.

And listening takes particular courage in divisive times.

It’s long past time that we quiet our animal spirits. Our fierce public battles, political fights that have infected our friendships and family, have degraded our discourse, defaced institutions, disturbed our peace. I grew up in Quaker schools, which included regular silent meetings. This did not come naturally to nine-year-olds. But I found then, and need to be reminded now, that we can’t hear the soft, sane voice inside us if we’re talking all the time, and certainly not if we’re shouting.

Instead, let’s listen. Invite surprise. Invest in subtlety. And surrender to silence once in a while.

~ Nancy Gibbs

An almost finished practice mandala (made prior to the Mandala Magic course). An envelope made as part of the introduction to the mandala course. Pink flamingo slippers.

It’s been raining here today.  Quite heavily at times.  That’s made it difficult for me to do my usual Monday meander post.  Heavy rain and cloud cover get between the satellite and our internet connection via a small dish on the roof of the house.  Because it can be so frustrating to try to use the internet during this type of weather, I usually don’t bother.

This is a mess.  I am not used to working with watercolors.  I decided to try it using some old Crayola watercolors I bought for my granddaughters long ago.  The colors are fine, but my use of them needs a great deal of practice and getting used to.  I used a double exposure for this image, making the mess even messier.  The real thing will show up later in this post.

It’s begun to taper off a bit so I’ll see if I can put together a post before my usual deadline of 4:00 PM.  I don’t know when I started posting at 4:00 PM or why.  I suppose it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Then it became habit.  Now it is almost a ritual of sorts.  I write the post in the early morning.  Insert photos as I work on it off and on throughout the day during spare moments or breaks from whatever else I might be doing, and polish it up around 2:00 or 3:00 PM and schedule it for 4:00 PM.

Playing with watercolor pens and color inversion.

We had a good and quiet weekend here on the ranch.  Yesterday was the first Zoom social gathering for the Mandala Magic course with Julie Gibbons.  I wasn’t going to go, but then decided that I could use a social gathering.  I’ve gotten familiar enough with Zoom that I’m a little more comfortable with it than I used to be.  I’m glad I did go.  It was wonderful to see all those smiling faces.  Apparently I am part of a pretty big cohort.  Julie said she had about 250 people sign up this year.  There were about 125-130 people at the Zoom social gathering yesterday.

The actual colors (without the color inversion). This is intended to be a calendar of sorts, which I copied from the introductory video but used my own choice of colors. Now I’m sort of stuck with what to do about the dark colors.  I need a white ink to write on it.  I’m not sure I have a white ink.

Another good reason to go was to be reminded that my number one rule for this journey is to have fun.  Julie talked about working with what arises and being willing to make mistakes (or messes).  The point of this journey is art journaling.  A journal is something you keep for yourself.  Nobody else has to see it.  I am, as you can tell from the photos, sharing some of my messes with you.

The beginning.  (There is still work to be done here.)  I tried to copy Julie’s (hers is much better).  I might redo this in a medium I’m more comfortable with, and in my own style.  

My preferred medium happens to be Winsor & Newton Promarkers, and Sharpies.  I’ve been using alcohol-based ink pens/markers for the past five years.  So, when I watched the introductory video that Julie posted and saw the introductory mandala done with watercolors, naturally I decided to turn to something I’ve never really used because… why not start out by frustrating myself?  Heh.  Here is what I learned by trying something new:

  • Have fun.  Really, that’s the main thing.  If I get caught up in criticizing every little thing I do, nothing will get done.  I will keep reminding myself that I’m learning.
  • Watch some videos on how to use watercolors, for Pete’s (or somebody’s) sake!!  And then buy some decent watercolor paints if I decide to go that route.
  • It’s okay, for now, to copy stuff (and make damn sure I acknowledge that’s what I’m doing).  It’s how I learn.  Once I get the hang of it, I’ll go off on my own tangents.  That’s how it worked in the beginning of drawing mandalas.  Julie is going to be using a lot of techniques that I am unfamiliar with and it’s easier, for now, to copy what she is doing.  Otherwise, I end up sitting there with an empty head and no idea of what to do because I AM UNFAMILIAR WITH THIS STUFF.  (Emphasis for me.)
  • Be patient.  Make mistakes (as if I have a choice).  Maybe honor those mistakes as part of the learning process (yeah, I know how cheesy that sounds, but it’s not a bad idea).  And go back to #1.  Have fun.  A big pffffffffttt to the inner critic and the horse she rides in on.

All good lessons that I think I will print out somewhere and keep near where I work on my art journal and mandala projects.

Zentangle doodling.

In addition to the fun with new art mediums and art journaling (something I’ve never done before, by the way), I have been playing with doodling.  I mentioned at the bottom of my last post the reason for this, but in case you missed it, I’d like to learn how to fill in and shade the mandalas I make a bit more.  Learning how to Zentangle seemed a good way to approach it and so far, I think I was right about this being a good way to go.  There is potential here, if I practice.

Layers of magnolia tree leaves.

Now that I’ve bored you with my messy and childlike artwork, I should probably wrap this up.  The Little Peanut’s birthday is today.  He is 3 years old.  It’s hard to believe he’s 3 already.  There is a Zoom birthday party for him this evening.  I won’t be able to meet you out at the Point.  It’s not a very good day to be out there anyhow.  It’s windy, chilly, and wet, and I doubt there will be much to see in terms of a sunset.  However, it’s always beautiful out there, no matter what the weather so you might want to go anyhow.  Give the water a wave back for me, please.

And please be safe, be well, and be kind.  ♥♥♥

Nature creates her own art:  Symbols of mud and rust.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,646)  Playing with colors, paints, pens, and paper.  And Washi tape.  1,647)  A package of new art supplies (including the watercolor pens, and the Washi tape which I’d never heard of before).  1,648)  The laziness of a rainy day.  1,649)  Celebrating the Little Peanut’s birthday with him this evening.  Of course I’d rather be there in person, but I am profoundly grateful that during these pandemic days, technology allows us to celebrate with family in other ways.  1,650)  M, always and forever.

Another one of Nature’s abstract pieces: On the surface of the creek on a gray and blue day.


Robin is... too many things to list, but here is a start: an artist and writer; a photographer and saunterer; a daughter and sister and granddaughter; a friend, a partner, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; a gardener, a great and imaginative cook, and the creator of wonderful sandwiches.

25 thoughts on “A Monday meander: Arts and crafts

  1. Robin, that first messy mandala – I gasped with pleasure and looked who the artist was . this is IT-ART – I swoon looking at it
    and the magnolia leaves – I could look at at forever – how beautiful – visualizing it blown up to BIG in a gallery –
    I copied these to my desktop and will ask your permission to use them at some time I think – if that is possible 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I admire your embracing the learning curve in your new class, Robin. My ego/inner critic gets in the way of learning, always wanting to master the task quickly, rarely enjoying the process. Must work on that, my inner child is in there somewhere wanting to come out and play. 😉
    I LOVE the magnolia leaves and water abstract – so pleasing!.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Eliza. 🙂 I am the same way. Or used to be. I’m getting too old to worry about what the inner critic has to say anymore. I’ve followed her lead for too long in this lifetime. It feels good to let my inner child have a turn. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh my goodness… I have to agree with everyone that the magnolia photo is absolutely stunning. The art is fun and I swear, if I keep reading all of you who are into playing with paints, I’m going to have to just try it myself (can’t draw but I’m sure I could blob…)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robin, I LOVE your messy, childlike (as if!) artwork. Art journalling looks like so much fun and it’s something I planned on starting before I got accepted into uni. I even bought a whole heap of art supplies, including washi tape, which are waiting patiently in my desk drawer for me to get into after my degree is finished. Please keep sharing your artwork, it really brightens my day to see how creative and clever you are. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Joanne. 🙂 I’ve been wanting to try art journaling for years, and did make an attempt a few years back but it seemed so time consuming. It still can be, but helps that I learned a few things along the way before starting this course and this journal.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The layers of magnolia tree leaves are beautiful! (The photo of Assateague Island is a work of art, too.) For some months now I’ve been thinking of creating an outdoor nature mandala in a circular shallow cement garden pot I have. Maybe using stones, shells, pine cones and sticks instead of paint. Your post has inspired me to get to it. Maybe even a wheel of the year like yours 🙂 I enjoyed seeing your colorful creations this morning, Robin. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Robin, this statement resonates with me today as a writer: “A big pffffffffttt to the inner critic and the horse she rides in on.” You know, a creative person has to tune out distraction, both inner and outer, if he/she is to feel free to let the inner child out to play. Good for you, putting what you might consider “messes” out here — that takes bravery! I’d hate for folks to read my first drafts, ha!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Make messes and have fun! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Your artwork shines with your spirit. And you are brave and inspiring to share with all of us. I have a really good friend out in California who adores Zentangle. I mean she lives for it. She taught me a bit last year, but I don’t usually last long on art forays. It’s fun to admire yours and others, though. (I like the surface of the creek a LOT!) P.S. Fed Ex just delivered to the house! I’m “over the moon”!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love everything here, Robin – the exploration of color is wonderful! I need to return to making mandalas – I miss that exploration and surprise that comes with it. Thank you for sharing your artistic “messes” – they look very joyful to me.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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