Tag Archives: life

Life Moves Forward

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I illustrated a new card design last night, and it’s now available on my shop. The focus is a lovely quote by Charles Carroll:

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I’m going to move forward in continuing to work with illustration and lettering and to explore new ways in which my work can become available. There are other hopes I have for the new year, but those are for an entirely different blog. 🙂

May your new year be full of beauty, opportunities to create, and many good things!

Creatively Yours,

Alexis

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The Blank Page – or Adventures with Fecundity

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Fecundity is my favorite word. It is the ability to produce. When I am at my best creatively, I am relaxed, comfortable, and feel free. This state of being does not come naturally. I have (as do you, I suspect) what feels like A TON of things that must be done. I have roles of mother, wife, and friend that are important to me to fulfill. It is easy to feel very limited.

Yet, when I see a blank canvas:

behind the scenes 124I can’t wait to gather my paints:

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And fill it with color:

behind the scenes 129Don’t get me started when it comes to what is possible with polymer clay:

behind the scenes 126I can begin a piece feeling discouraged or sad, but it’s nearly impossible to hold on to those feelings when I play with colors and design:

dream onjourneywhat a lovely dayfeel betterjoymay find yourself smiling oftenbeloved let us love

As some of you know, I occasionally work with students in English. Yesterday, I spoke with a mother who needed guidance in how to help her daughter with her writing. She said that one of her assignments simply asks the student to write a story and provided a blank page. For the reluctant writer, a blank page is overwhelming. We discussed ways in which she could help her daughter brainstorm and organize her thoughts, which is really an amazing process when I stop to think about it.

Today, I think about how, even though a blank canvas, page, or a glob of clay doesn’t phase me, staring into the face of the unknown is daunting – just as a writing assignment with no real prompt and only white space was daunting to the reluctant writer. Jean Paul Sartre writes of this sensation in Being and Nothingness. To have nothingness can be ideal in that there is great freedom, but it can also be the source of great existential angst. Great power lies in the ability to create – and great responsibility accompanies that power.

I think, in the midst of experiencing some uncertainty in my own life, that returning to the metaphor of the artist is one that can inspire me to push through the angst and toward the sensation of hope, wonder, and playfulness. In the words of Fr. J.J. Lakers (who I write about in my post on Journeys), “I claim a certain right to expound a vision… by analogy with artists in a theory of artistic creation… when artists meet insuperable limits on the full and free expression of their longing in this actual society, they feel the limits intensely. Yet, where others who meet these limits may repress the longing or adjust to the reality, the artists refuse to surrender. They therefore set out to create new forms of life and interaction, if only in imagination.”

Here’s to the artistic spirit that dwells within us all – waiting to be unleashed. Here’s to fecundity.

– Free Range Al

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PLEASE NOTE: excerpts of this blog using Fr. J.J.’s words may not be used without written permission.

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Possibility

Adding Color

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Today, I decided to surround myself with color.

The past few days have contained special moments, but I was letting some rather dark concerns and thoughts into my mind. I think I needed to sort through them – I needed to honor the life of someone who brought me hope and laughter – but when I realized I was no longer honoring and was actually wallowing, I knew I needed to consciously find beauty and color.

I began working on a larger piece (I normally keep my work within the size of a greeting card or postcard) and am enjoying the practice of working on it for a bit, then returning to it after some time has passed. Usually, I try to finish something in one sitting. Here is a glimpse:

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I did start and finish a greeting card design tonight. The phrase came to me several weeks ago and I could not keep it in anymore! I’m letting the paint dry tonight before printing it on my cards.

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My earliest project was very bright:

Behind the Scenes 079I initially made these bracelets to sell at Saturday’s Market, but I might have to make some more because these are going to be hard to part with.

Behind the Scenes 078Today was my son’s first day of kindergarten. As I look through the pictures of him going to school, I can’t help but giggle at the obvious genetic disposition to choose the colorful over the subdued:

Walking to CarWishing you a colorful and lovely week!

– Free Range Al

Defining and Using Gratitude… with Chaos

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When my son is upset that something is not going his way (which does not happen often, but he is human), we’ve started a practice of making a list of what he is happy about in his life. At first, this annoys him, but eventually his face lights up as he thinks about what he really likes about his world, and we are often able to move on to a more pleasant state of being.

I’ve decided to make sure I do this too when I start to obsess over something I want but cannot have, or if my day does not go just as I planned. My list of wants includes things that just are not possible right now, and sometimes I want to throw fits of my own to release the emotions that comes with that fact. Sadness and frustration still arise, but, since I started making a list of what is good and beautiful right now, I also feel a deep sense of peace and gratitude.

After writing my last entry, I began to wonder if  this practice was leading me to settle for something less and enabling me to not push myself toward a better way of life. I suppose it is possible to use gratitude as a way to settle, but I’m finding that it works as an anchor in my life. I will always want more time to write, draw, organize, read, whatever. I really want to go to graduate school and study theology. While it can be painful, I think that drive will serve me well in eventually accomplishing what I want to accomplish as an individual. Meanwhile, there are some really good things in my world, and it serves me to pause and remember them.

I’m going to define gratitude as the act of acknowledging what is good in one’s life. That does not mean that I ignore or dismiss whatever is bothering me or what I would like to change. It just means that I pause to recognize that which is good.

I think emotions we are quick to condemn can actually serve us. A Friedrich Nietzsche quote  I often visit is “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star”. Contentment does not prompt change, chaos does, so I do not really wish to be without it. I’ve heard many yoga teachers say to find peace in a position that requires great strength, and I finally realized that is really what so much of life is about. Finding something, it doesn’t have to be peace, in the midst of something that initially seems to be the opposite is something that requires practice, but it can bring a great sense of balance when it is found.

I’m  embracing the gratitude and the chaos today. I’m very grateful that my son is beginning a week of a music, art, and dance camp and that, if something happens, I’m only a phone call away and will easily be able to do what must be done. I’m grateful for the two English students I will work with today and am honored to be a part of their academic lives. I’m grateful that I can pick my son up from camp and learn about his day. I’m grateful that my spouse values what I do. I also wish that I totally had the day to myself to write out several ideas that came up last week, and (I’m not going to lie) I’d like to watch “The Queen” before practicing yoga. Finally, I’d like to spend the entire night designing cards. Actually, I’ve already written about one thought, and the little chickadee and I can do our warrior poses together. Maybe, if I’m not exhausted, I’ll be able to sketch while watching “The Queen” after tucking my little fellow in.

I really do love my present, and I’m excited about the future.

Wishing you peace… with a healthy dose of chaos,

Free Range Al

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Climbing Mount Pisgah in Oregon

Climbing Mount Pisgah in Oregon