Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Feature Artist: Jennifer Mercede


Jennifer Mercede was born in Long Beach, CA and grew up in Connecticut.  At a young age Jennifer began making art, inspired by her grandmother, a free-spirited watercolorist.  She would spend hours making hundreds of handmade floral greeting cards and loved when she had the house to herself, could turn the music up and work on a creative project. 

Her primarily abstract paintings consist of free flowing text, bright color fields, and crazy energetic doodling.  Intuitively guided they involve letting go, taking big risks and trusting that there is no such thing as a mistake.  They are meant to enjoy and motivate. She is inspired by color, children’s art, old school hip hop flavor, graffiti, abstract expressionists, inner connection and her creative friends.

After receiving a B.A. in painting and illustration at Western Washington University, she took time to travel the country and harvest some of life’s wisdom through experience. Now, with curiosities satiated, she has settled into making art as a living.  She intends to continue sharing her soul through colors on the wall, as well as through music and performance on stage.

Welcome Jennifer...I am so excited to have you here.  I met Jennifer when I took a class from her and I truly enjoyed her relaxed, free approach to art and the encouraging way she guided her students (even when she made us paint over 90% of our canvases...yikes:).  She has some great advice on how to hush those critical voices in our heads and to keep the creativity going.  So let's get started.....

 

How would you describe your style and how did you know when you had found it??

I would say my style is bright colored, whimsical, fun, spontaneous & abstract.  I'd also call it contemporary.  Honestly, I don't think I realized I had a distinct style until others started pointing it out to me.   Now, I see it.

 
On your website you say that when you started painting daily there were some limitations in your mind that you had to get rid of. What were they and how did you get rid of them?
Yes, a majority of the rules came from art school and seeing how others do art and thinking I had to be that way.
Some of these limitations included:
'You MUST paint big!'
'You cannot mix colored pencils and paint!'
'You have to hold your brush at the tip of the brush.'
'Painting has to be HARD work.'
I made a list of all these annoying rules as well new rules I wanted to incorporate like:
'I can have many different styles!'
'There is no such thing as a mess up.'
'I draw lots and lots of circles (and its okay).' 
So after spending many hours in the studio adopting the new rules and discarding the old, I began to paint with freedom and developed confidence in how I like to create.
(painting with friend Chris Haberman)
Do you ever feel blocked or stuck? How do you keep yourself creative?
Yes, I do find myself in situations where I'm not feeling as connecting to my aliveness.  In general that means I need to do something different, something fun.  For example, I plan to take an adventure trip in May (not sure where I'm going yet, either the Caribbean or the Desert... any suggestions?) On this trip I plan to do some writing & music making and, well, whatever I feel like!  My intention is to give my soul space to be free, young, creative and alive.  (Wanna come? I welcome creative traveling buddies!) (yes, please;)
More specifically with painting, I can reach spots in paintings where I'm not sure where to go.  For example, at the moment I am working on a series for a show in April.  Many of the paintings have a solid layer of paint on them and they could be finished how they are. It’s a week until the show so I get the luxury of having the following 'conversation' in my mind... "....well what if I add layers and then I don't like it? I like it now so I should keep it. But I think you should paint on them, you barely painted on them. Yes, but some paintings are okay like that.. sometimes the trick is knowing when to stop, and it usually is hard to stop early, but often looks cool.  You've seen it in other artists work, the stopping early and you LOVED it!  But I'm also inspired and I want to paint!  Well, then paint!  But....''So typically what happens in a case like this is I'll step away from the art and work on something else and let it mull.  When I get back to them I may just start painting like crazy all over them or make more subtle marks.  When I'm frozen, applying paint will move me through.  Despite any fears, the painting will always arrive at another, beautiful, completed state.  If the show was tomorrow, the paintings would be done. Ha!

You have your art in some well-known catalogs, such as The Land of Nod, how does that work? In other words, did you contact them, did they contact you? How did they know about your art? Do you have advice for artists that would like to have their art in some catalogs? 

I am honored to be in the Land of Nod catalog.  They acquired my work through a company I license my art to called Oopsy Daisy. I was lucky because a woman who I babysat for growing up just happened to be roommates in college with Karen Capp, the owner of Oopsy Daisy.  (We lived in Ohio & Karen was in San Diego mind you.) She suggested I show Karen my work and once I did, we started to work together.  They are a wonderful company!
Now I know that this type of 'lucky break' isn't quite what aspiring licensors want to hear. However, it shows that it is, in face, a lot about 'who you know' and you just never know who knows who.  So don't be afraid to share what you do with people in your life and make sure you follow through when an opportunity comes your way.


You use a lot of doodling in your art. Can you give some advice about how to start doodling and how to use it in artwork?

I enjoy doodling, do you?  I enjoy how meditative it feels and I'm always impressed with how cool my "on the phone"/"when I'm not paying attention" doodles look.  It’s always a 'I couldn't have done that if I tried' kind of response. 
So I'd say doodling is not trying. It’s not being concerned with any outcome.  To me doodling is more about connection of your pen to the paper and the way the motion feels.  I'd suggest pull out a pen that runs easily, some paper, call a friend to chat and get your doodle on!
To doodle in your art, I suggest letting go of any desired outcome and have fun.  You can doodle with your paint, pencil, brush, etc.  Know that you can make mistakes.. you can always add another layer on top of what you are doing.  


How does art promote health and wellness in your life?

Making art is essential to the health of my mind and my emotions.  It’s definitely a way of releasing stress and letting out my frustrations of life.

I am like that typical artist you may have an image of in your head, the ones portrayed in cheesy movies.  One day you may find me sobbing over a painting, or using large exaggerated arm strokes to get the energy out. Another day (or later on in the same) you will find me scribbling intensely or smiling and grooving it out.


What do you know to be true?

My mom loves me :)  (And I love her.)
Thank you so much Jennifer!!  I love the picture of your mom...so beautiful.  I also really loved your list of "new rules."  What a great exercise it would be to write down the "negative rules" you keep telling yourself and then re-write your list with positive "new rules"....I think i'll go do that right now.
To learn more about Jennifer Mercede please visit her website, Etsy shop and FB page.
Leave some love in the comments if you are so inclined.  Have a wonderful weekend.
Be Well.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Health


I was hit hard with sickness this week, the kind that makes you feel like a kid again with the fever, chills, head pounding awfulness.  In my delirium I kept thinking of all the things I wanted to do, but couldn't.  I was so delirious I think I even wanted to clean the house....now that's sick!!  Finally I found the voice that said, "Just rest, it is not the end of the world, you will have time once you are well." 

When I was getting married 9ish years ago I remember being so stressed to take 3 weeks off from my Occupational Therapy private practice.  I thought I would lose clients, my co-workers would hate me, I wouldn't be able to pay the bills, etc, etc, etc.  One of the moms of a sweet little boy I worked with said, "Harmony, the world will not stop and it will all be here for you when you get back."  Such great advice.  So off I went with my new husband to France and Italy and what an adventure it was.

Sometimes you have to step away and know that everything will be okay.  Health comes first, bottom line.  The richness of your experiences will be so much richer when you are feeling well.  So take some time to take care of yourself!!  Personally, I'm heading back to bed.

Oh, but do stop back tomorrow to read my Friday Feature Artist interview with Jennifer Mercede, she shares such great insight into how to "let go" and "break the rules"!!!

Be Well.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Yesterday was a cold, rainy day.  The kind of day that is unfamiliar here in southern California, but takes me back to younger days when I lived in Wisconsin and we actually had weather ;)  I set out to assist in an Art4Healing class about an hour away, so I bundled up in my sweater and the scarf that my mom knitted for me.  I don't know if it was the weather or just this time of year that was making me sink into myself a little deeper....probably both.  Since my friend, Heather, died almost 3 years ago I always start to get a little "funky" around March.  According to her family that was when things started to drastically race down hill and something in my heart, maybe the strings that still connect us, starts to pull tight as March comes to a close.
The Art4Healing session was amazing....so much sharing and such beautiful art was created.  But these 2 teenage girls who were "forced" to be there by one of their mothers (of'course they were;) were by far the most intriguing to me.  One with red hair, just like Heather had, and one with a sweet smile who kept trying to make it ok for her friend.  The similarities to Heather and I floored me and I couldn't help but stare at them and fight back the tears.  The red head talked of trouble in her family and trouble at school, and the amazing, dark, deep art she created took my breath away.  I was SO upset to find out that they don't even have art classes in their High School.  "Maybe a ceramics class when you're a senior," one girl told me.  Unbelievable and so, so unfortunate.  "Please find some art classes or on-line classes or something artistic to do because you are so talented," I told them, "and you SO need it," I whispered to myself as I looked at the Heather look alike.  "Ok" she said as she walked out the door with her head down, eyes sweeping the floor.  Oh, how I wanted to chase her down and hug her and tell her to hang on and that she is loved....just looking at her friend's eyes, I know that to be true.  But instead I watched her leave and I missed my friend.
 On the way home I stopped to grab some soup and I turned on NPR as I sat in my car with the rain hitting the windshield.  It was rather cozy there alone in my car with my soup to keep me warm.  An interview came on the radio and I think my spoon froze in mid-air when I heard that the musician being interviewed, Ari Picker, had written an entire album for his mother who had committed suicide in 2008.  His music is haunting and powerful and beautiful...much like suicide, well, except for the beautiful part.  But what struck me was when he said that most people want to shame people that have committed suicide but he wanted to honor his mother for all the time that she DID make it.  As an artist he went right to creative mode after he heard of his mother's death because he said, "That's what artists do, make art out of tragedy."  Hearing this interview brought me some peace on a day I was thinking so much about my friend, who also committed suicide.  I too have been inspired to make art and really, just an artistic life, out of the tragedy of her death.  As I started my car and pulled out of the rain drenched parking lot, I looked up and literally gasped as I saw the most beautiful rainbow.  In that moment I just knew that Heather was okay and that she was there, smiling down on me....so I smiled back and headed home.

Be Well.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Feature Artist: Danielle Daniel


My name is Danielle Daniel and after 13 years of marriage I finally took my partner's last name (even though he thought it was weird).
I am living my life as an artist and a writer. Since picking up the paintbrush in 2010, I have painted well over 500 paintings.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and I believe being an artist is a REAL job.  I no longer wear my teacher pants to work, trading them in for my jeans, painting apron and converse shoes.
I am a mother to a thoughtful and compassionate boy named Owen who understands the value of kindness.  My partner Steve is a military Veteran, Paralympian and  is now attending Medical School in our hometown in Northern Ontario.  I also have a dog named Frodo.

I paint the feminine and expresses my own femininity throughout my artwork.  I am Métis-Algonkin, franco-ontarienne, and a very proud Canadian.  I'm also working on a collection of  short stories (creative non-fiction).  I'm inspired by good books, authentic people and stories of the past that remain buried in our hearts.  I  taught for many years at the Elementary, College and University levels.  I have happily left Academia behind to paint, write, and share my truth.  

Welcome Danielle....I am beyond excited to have you here today as our Friday Feature Artist.  I have been stalking following your journey for a while now and you have inspired me to go for my dreams so I am honored to have you here to share your insight and wisdom with my readers.  So here we go....


How long have you been painting and how did you learn your techniques?

I started painting January 7th of 2010 but I believe I have always been a painter.  However, before this day I did everything but paint. I created jewelry, sewed handbags, felted, cross stitched, made aromatherapy kits, created journals, silkscreened, etc...  Handmade has always been my M.O. I think all of these art forms prepared me for my BIG LOVE of painting.  A series of unfortunate events brought me to the exact moment where I finally put paint to canvas.  Looking back at it now, it was a perfectly timed symphony.
During the last two years, I have taken numerous classes from generous teachers both online and in person. My very first class was with the shining stars Mati Rose McDonough and Kelly Rae Roberts at An Artful Journey in San Jose, CA.  This retreat changed my life as I was encouraged by so many kindreds to pursue my dreams.  Since then I have been inspired by Misty Mawn, Jesse Reno, Gritty Jane, Mindy Lacefield, Pam Carriker, Traci Bautista and many others.  All of these talented humans have shared their passion for art with me and I am so grateful.

What are some of your favorite materials/tools to use?
My favourite tools are as follows:  Golden Gel Medium, Marks All pencil (black), Golden Payne’s Grey, paper of all kinds of paper; old, new, and ancient... you name it, I LOVE it!  My latest love are oil pastels. I LOVE their bold and bright hues.  Also, I can’t live without turquoise; even my car is turquoise now. (For real)

You mention in your bio that you are Metis-Algonkin, Franco-Ontarienne, and a very proud Canadian. Can you tell us what your heritage means to you and how it influences your artwork?
I believe that our geography is no accident. There is a reason I was born in Northern Ontario, Canada. While I’m the first to admit that I often wish I lived else where...where the grass is greener and ART is valued, I also trust that I am meant to be here right now.
French is my mother tongue and my French Canadian culture is something that matters to me very much. It is part of my layered identity along with my Métis roots.  Métis means part French and part Aboriginal. All of my life I have felt a connection to the First Nation People.   I wondered if I had Native blood running through my veins even though many generations before me denied this truth and refused to even acknowledge the possibility. 
Last year, thanks to a cousin who shared his research, I held the genealogical proof in my hands that went all the way back to 1630. Something in me shifted when I saw the names of all the generations before me. I knew it was a great gift.  It also validated the knowing I had always felt. It gave me an unwritten permission to go back into the past, to ask questions, and to start a dialogue. I felt like I was finally able to take part and to belong.  It also made me believe in my intuition and trust my heart above all else. I always knew I was connected to the Native people.
There is so much pain surrounding our Aboriginal populations; the loss of identity and culture due to the residential schools as well of countless other injustices that have called for attention and healing. A large section of my work is a way for me to highlight these themes, these truths, and these unwritten stories.  It’s a way to communicate that these issues do matter and we should be talking about them. I know I’m just at the very beginning of this important conversation. I hope in a small way, my art can help bridge the divide between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.  Because I come from both of these worlds; my heart beats in them mutually.
We are all multi-layered as humans and this includes culturally. I believe we have a responsibility as artists to tell the stories that remain unwritten, especially those that repeatedly nudge you to pay attention and share.

Recently you announced on your blog that you have been accepted to a prestigious program for creative writing (The Baniff Centre). Congratulations!!! Can you tell us a little about your experience applying and what it felt like to get accepted?
Banff. It still has not truly sunk in.  Besides my ART, my writing has been equally important. I need words like I need water.  I’ve been working on a collection of short stories that are creative non-fiction for the last few years. It has been a start and stop project that has usually stopped due to FEAR- the four letter word... Ya, I said it.
While taking Sarah Selecky’s online writing course, I found my rhythm.  I started to go steady  with my writing again.  (This is Sarah’s way of assessing your relationship with your writing).  For a while we just had one night stands and long separations.  Now, we’re solid and committed to each other.
While looking online for other opportunities to further grow as a writer I fell upon this writing program in Banff.  Of course the cruel little inner critic chimed in and said: Who do you think you are applying to this program? Seriously, you have some nerve...  I decided it was time to change the pattern. It had finally become harder for me to do nothing and fear rejection then to do something and fear rejection. 
I wrote a new story that was submitted with my application. Only 8 people in Canada would be chosen.  I held this dream close and didn’t tell many people. I think it’s important at this stage to preserve it like a newly planted seed in the ground. It’s important to shelter it from the harsh elements and believe in the possibility without outside judgement.
Just last week, I received an email that I was accepted into the program. For seven days I will write and learn along seven others and a mentor. Seven full days devoted to my writing craft that will change my life because I didn’t give into the fear that day. I sent the application and let it go. (I also worked my butt off on my story...just sayin.)

Can you offer advice for readers who want to follow their dreams but have a hard time believing in themselves and fear rejection?
The best advice I can offer is that you can wait until the FEAR is no longer there, but it will never go away. I think the key is to see it and practice courage by taking steps towards each dream, no matter how small.  Just move forward. Each step matters and brings you closer to your desired outcome. My biggest bad ass dream is to share my stories in print.  Because of this week in Banff, I will be one BIG step closer to it.  Imagine if I would have given into the FEAR that day.  Imagine if I would have said I’ll be more ready next year... I’ll just apply then...I’m so glad I didn’t.
It sounds like you love both writing and painting, do you ever feel like these two art forms compete for your attention or do they complement each other in some way?
At first I did feel like they competed against each other for my time. It was difficult to feel like I was getting anywhere with either of them.  But last November, I decided to make a REAL commitment to my writing, and since then, both art forms now help to balance each other out.  I no longer feel like I’m cheating one or the other. I have realized that time away from my painting table keeps me wanting to come back to it. It keeps things fresh. And time away from my writing desk helps me to see my work more clearly and not lose my mind as often.  I think it’s important as artists to distance ourselves from our work.  I am my harshest critic (so far LOL) and a day away from a painting I’m working on can sometimes prevent it from getting recycled or from putting my foot through it. 
I no longer feel like I have to choose. Nor do I fear not succeeding in either genre...jack of all traits and master of none. I have finally surrendered to both of my great LOVES. While it can get hairy when I have deadlines looming, in the end I trust that I am meant to express both art forms and they make me better and not worse.     

How does your art promote health and wellness in your life?
 
Without ART, I would a certifiable nut bar! I used to be a full-time teacher and I was dying inside.  It turned out I was not a lifer in the education system because I was meant to be an artist.  ART is not my hobby. It is my lifestyle, like Yoga.  It is the way I live, the way I breathe, and the way I communicate.  ART balances my life like insulin helps to balance diabetics.  Not enough creativity and I crash, I get sick, sad, angry, and eventually I break down! That was the pattern until I realized how I was meant to serve in this lifetime.  The key now is to balance other aspects in my life as best I can, one day at a time.

Last but definitely not least....What do you know to be true?
What I know to be true is this:
Art naps feed by body.
No one gets anywhere alone.
What you do is more important than what you say.
Trust your intuition-always.
Everyone feels fear, but not everyone practices courage.
Our children are here to teach us.
The Forest is my Temple.
ART SAVES.
The truth will set me free.
The best is yet to come.
I AM worthy of a phenomenal life and so are you!

Danielle, this was such a heartfelt and thought provoking interview that I have to tell you I have read and re-read your answers and then read them some more.  I am sure I will continue to come back to this as I face that inner critic that says, "Who do you think you are going for this art thing?"  You are such a wonderful example of someone who feals the fear and does it anyways.  Very inspiring.  Best wishes at Baniff....go get em'!!!!!
To learn more about Danielle and see more of her beautiful work (her most recent on her blog is SO amazing!!!), please visit her website, blog, and Etsy shop:
Please leave some love below in the comments if you are so inclined.  Have a fabulous weekend.
Be Well!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rituals

Good morning.  In my spare time (none) am reading a book about Creative Women and one of the sections I found fascinating was about rituals that people use to spark their creativity.  Do you have some to share? I would love to hear yours in the comments.  So, in general I can be quite Obsessive ritualistic. And let's just say that it runs in the family.  My Dad (sorry dad;) lines up his morning routine the night before....floss, toothbrush, comb, deodorant....I'm sure I got the order wrong and he will be E-mailing me later to correct me.  He also dips his tea bag 45 times in his hot water in the morning.  When I'm home we like to mess with him just a little and put the toothbrush in the wrong place....we're crazy like that ;)  To get my creative juices going I get up early in the morning before all my little monsters beautiful children, I was making coffee, but have recently been told (darn Doctor/Satan) to switch to tea, I light a candle or incense, put my music on and pull out something to paint on.  I can't stand a blank canvas so I usually just start throwing some color on there to get the juices flowing.

What are your creative rituals??  Please do share ;)

Here's a peak at our morning around here.  Have a wonderful day.  Oh, and you MUST check back tomorrow as my Friday Feature Artist interview is with the amazingly talented and inspiring Danielle Daniel.





Oh, and here's what's on my Easel today....I think I am going to do a Monster Series....So Fun!!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Photo Shoot.

Last week I did my first photo shoot for my friend's business....such a fun group....I thought I would share a few of my favorites.  Happy Monday!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Feature Artist: Stephanie Rubiano


Stephanie Jones Rubiano is a native Austinite who graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M at Galveston with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology.  She worked as an environmental scientist for a major drilling company in Houston, TX for five years after that.  Therefore, it stands to reason that she has now chosen art as her career path. She is a mixed-media artist who enjoys using antique photographs, real butterfly wings and a variety of uncommon objects in her work.  Stephanie teaches workshops at national art retreats such as ArtFest and Art & Soul and has had work in past mediums shown in galleries and boutiques across the United States.  She is an emerging artist on the art festival scene.  In October of 2008 she participated in her first nationally-ranked art festival, the Bayou City Art Festival in Houston, TX, and placed 2nd overall out of 300 national artists.  Her work has graced the covers of magazines and books as well as been the subject of articles and how-to projects.  She can be contacted through her website at www.stephanierubiano.com.

I had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie briefly at Studio Crescendoh and I was enamored by her exquisite art work.  I am so honored to have her here today to tell us more about how she developed such original ideas as well as how we too can continue to learn and develop our own artistic identities.  So let's get started....


How did you go from working as an environmental scientist for an oil company to being a full time artist?

I worked as an environmental scientist in Houston until I married in 1999.  Then my husband and I moved to the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas.  There wasn’t a whole lot for me to do, job-wise, so I began to work on art projects to fill my time.  My first art retreat was in 1999 and that opened up a whole new world to me.  I began to take whatever classes and workshops that I could.  I went through rubber stamping, to book arts, to polymer clay, to jewelry and finally ended up pooling all of that information into mixed media projects.  I love mixed media because I do get to use all that I have learned over the years, distilled and synthesized into my own process and projects.  I began to teach and found that I loved it!  I have also been fortunate enough to achieve a level of work that juries into art festivals.  With the support of my husband and family, I took the leap into being a full-time artist in the spring of 2010.  It hasn’t been an easy road, but it certainly hasn’t been boring!

You go into great detail on your website about your unique and amazing technique of using antique photographs, text from books as well as real butterfly wings. How did you discover this style of art?

I went to visit a friend of mine, a very talented artist named Jeanne Stregles, in the spring of 2004 for an art weekend.  At the time, she was adhering photocopies to MDF board and cutting them out with an old jigsaw.  She would then add paper wings and crowns to accent her image.  I made a few pieces that weekend, but really didn’t like working with the power tools (bad incident with a Dremel when I was 17).  On my way back home (a very boring drive between Dallas and Austin!), I started to think about how I could change the project so I would be more comfortable with it.  I had recently taken a jewelry workshop and learned how to use a jeweler’s saw.  I tried adhering the images to balsa wood (curled up after the adhesive dried) and then birch plywood, cutting them out with a jeweler’s saw.  It worked like a dream and that became the basis for my work.  I then thought that the paper wings were nice, but what would real butterfly wings look like?  Then, it was trying to figure out how the wings would be protected.  I am a huge Joseph Cornell and Lynn Whipple fan, both of who use shadowboxes, so I decided to give that a try.  I always tell my students that they only see the finished project.  They don’t see the days or months it can take to develop an idea, leap-frogging around, trying different combinations of materials, etc.  My boxes today look very different from the ones I started making back in 2005, so even now, I am constantly changing and trying to improve my work.  I don’t like to be stagnant.


You have been published many times and your work has been in galleries and boutiques and now you are also teaching classes. Can you offer some advice to artists that aspire to have their art and approach recognized in this way?

I would recommend to budding artists that they just keep putting themselves and their art out there.  It can be a very difficult thing because our art tends to be personal and therefore an extension of ourselves.  Answer calls for art in magazines, keep an eye on publishing sites to see if new books are coming out that need art, attend classes and art retreats to build up networking.  You never know whom you will sit down beside…they could be writing a book, or know a gallery owner, etc.  You will get rejected.  I still do.  It hurts, but not everyone is going to like what you do.  The sooner you accept that, the better off you will be.  As long as you enjoy what you are doing, keep doing it and things will happen.  It has taken me seven years to get to this point and there are still so many things that I would like to get involved in or hope will happen.  It is a never-ending process, in my opinion.  Enjoy the journey!


Speaking of teaching, I know you have offered classes on your unique techniques that many budding artists have enjoyed. Recently it was brought to your attention that someone was teaching a class that appears to mirror yours in many ways. What have you learned from this experience that could help other artists?

When it comes to teaching art workshops, I feel very fortunate that I get to do it as part of my job.  I love teaching, sharing ideas with others, and feeling the energy that seems to build up in a room as everyone creates.  As I said earlier, many of my projects take a long time to figure out and put some polish on.  They don’t happen overnight and a lot of hard work and time is involved.  Teaching is part of my livelihood and I don’t mind sharing.  However, students need to realize that just because they pay for a class, it does NOT give them the right to take that information and teach it themselves.  To profit from someone else’s hard work is just wrong.  It is an issue that I have seen come up more times than I care to count over the past 10 years that I have been teaching.  I have recently had it happen to me and I have to say the first feeling I had was one of betrayal.  I have worked so hard and for someone to think it was okay to take my work and use it in that way, well, it raised a lot of bad feelings.  I plan on contacting the woman and asking her to stop teaching my class.  I do put a copyright symbol at the bottom of my class hand-outs to let people know that I consider the material my intellectual property.  I suppose the best advice I can give is that if you are considering teaching and the class is someone else’s or very similar to theirs, always ask first.  And if it feels wrong, it probably is.  There will always be those who don’t think in this manner or take the time to consider their actions, so this will continue to be a problem.  The most we can do is educate and hope that word spreads.


I love taking classes and learning new techniques to add to my tool bag, but I often worry that my art will begin to look too much like the instructor's. What advice can you offer to budding artists who discover a technique they love during a class they are taking and they want to continue to use that technique and sell the artwork they make using the technique they were taught?

When I take a class, many times my finished work does look like the instructor’s.  That is how we learn.  You keep working with the techniques that you have learned, becoming more proficient over time, and I think that starts to lend itself to you finding your own artistic voice.  Techniques learned in class are a wonderful way to get your own creative juices flowing.  Once you feel you have mastered something, it is much easier to make that leap and bring in your own ideas.  Sometimes I have a hard time sleeping because I have so many “What if’s?” churning around in my brain.  I feel that this is a huge part of the artistic process-to question the limits of what you are working on, to ask yourself what would happen if you tried something new with the technique you already know, to take things a step further, out of your comfort zone.  There will be some spectacular failures (as my studio trashcan can attest to!), but there will be those successes that make all of the effort worthwhile.  Do not do yourself a disservice by copying another artist’s work.  Everyone can make something their own. And again, I encourage my students to take what they learn and if they can sell it, great!  Just make sure it is their own work…because like teaching someone else’s class material, it is just wrong to profit from someone else’s artwork.


How has art promoted health and wellness in your life?

Living this creative life has made me happier than I have ever been!  That in itself helps promote wellness.  I rarely get sick anymore and I do think that there is something to the whole mind/body connection philosophy.   I don’t make it to the gym as often as I should because it is hard for me to take time for myself when I have deadlines, family “stuff”, etc.  I divorced in 2007 and during that time is when I really needed art to help combat all of the destructive energies that were whirling around in my life.  I came through that time stronger and more focused on what I needed to do to be happy.  I have since remarried to a wonderful and supportive man who “gets” what I do and why it makes me happy.  I am able to be a mom to my 7 year-old daughter and really take part in her life.  Yes, the security of a weekly paycheck is gone, but I feel fairly rich overall!  Being able to give some of that back when I teach is what keeps me in the classroom. 


And lastly, what do you know to be true??

What do I know to be true?  Hmmm….I believe that treating others as you want to be treated is an integral part of living well.  It is very easy to get bogged down in negative thoughts and situations, but if you believe in yourself (and it does all start with you), then you can manage most anything.  I know I sound like a cliché at this point, but having gone through such a destructive and negative situation in my life really showed me how much I needed to get things straight in my own head before I could even think about taking a positive part in others’ lives.  I also believe in the healing power of art.  Taking the time to create is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others.

Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing the wisdom you have gained from the experiences you have gone through.  I really feel like I gained a better understanding of how to continue to develop my artistic identity by taking classes, practicing and then asking myself, "How could I do this another way?" and then practicing some more.  So, I'm off to practice right now.....

To learn more about Stephanie please visit her here:
Website at: www.stephanierubiano.com 
Blog: www.soigathered.typepad.com

Leave some love in the comments if you are so inclined and have a great weekend!!!
Be Well.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stop.

Today I just laid down on my daughter's floor and put my feet on the warm glass to soak up some vitamin D and quite honestly to just make it all stop for a minute or two.  Stop the creative juices that sometimes overflow and make me feel like I am drowning.  Stop the memories and wonderings of how it is possible that my son just turned 8 years old.  Stop my body from trying so hard to keep up and keep going when it is really begging me to take a break.

So I drifted off and imagined myself resting on a beach as the heavy salt water air covered me like a blanket and the palm trees rustled in the slight breeze.  The sun's golden rays calmed every cell in my body and just for a few glorious moments, I stopped.

I hope you find some time to do the same.

Be Well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sweet Boy


My sweet boy.....


My funny boy....


My sassy boy.....



But mostly my SWEET boy turned 8 yesterday.....oh how I love this boy!!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Habits

hab·it(hbt)
n.
1.
a. A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.
b. An established disposition of the mind or character.

Good news: Habits can be good. Bad news: Habits can also be bad (oh so bad;). I need to break a habit (ok, maybe habit"S", but let's focus on one at a time or you'll have to lock me away for awhile). It's not easy to break habits. That part in the definition about frequent repetition makes breaking habits incredibly difficult because they become so ingrained after all that repetition. So I set out on a little investigation to try to figure out how to break this habit of mine. Let me share what I learned, and no, it's not from Sesame Street this time.

 According to this article the first step is to figure out what is so great about this habit....what are you getting out of it?? 
Okay, so let me tell you the "habit" I am working on breaking, and trust me it takes a lot of courage to say this out loud (because now I'll have to be held accountable....good thing....right? Yikes) because of some health challenges I need to stop drinking alcohol for awhile. The only alcohol that is difficult for me to stop drinking is wine. Oh, how I love that full bodied, red, warm blanket in a glass, but alas, it doesn't love me. My body doesn't process it well and my digestive disorder gets worse if I drink more than 1, yes 1, glass and at this point I think even 1 glass is doing some damage....sad but true. Now hopefully I will heal completely and will be able to enjoy a glass occasionally, but until then I must put it on a very high shelf (and hide the ladder). 
Let's take a look back at the first step to break a habit....what I get out of my wine habit is relaxation.  And let me tell you, they don't call it "Happy Hour" for nothing.  As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure they created it for work at home moms who are staring at the clock at 10 am 4 pm wondering if that is an acceptable time to pour a glass.
The next step, according to this same article, is to ask yourself, "What's the trade off?"  In other words, what make this "bad habit" so bad?  Well, for me it is health related and quite honestly sometimes "Happy Hour" is followed by "Super Grumpy Hour," so my family is affected, not only by the health repercussions that result in pain and loss of energy but also by my grumpy mood.

Okay, let's get down to the nitty gritty....how do we change?? What are the steps we can take to successfully squash a bad habit and bloom into our true happy, healthy selves?
Tell people that you are trying to break the habit and that you could sincerely use their support. Here's an idea...announce it on a blog for the whole world to read...oh wait, that's me, ha....actually, it's perfect.  You will know when you are ready to make a change and when you are you have to go big and go brave.

Write about it, paint about it....get it out.
I really love to Art Journal.  This is a visual way to get emotions out and onto the substrate of your choice.  I usually use watercolor paper so I can use all sorts of materials....paint, ink, collage, graphite, pastels, etc.  My journal pages are not always pretty or inspiring.  Sometimes they are painful and real.

But I feel much better after I get my emotions out.  Keeping painful emotions bottled up inside your body will cause illness, despair and even more bad habits.  Finding a healthy way to get your emotions out, whether it be art, or exercise, or talking to someone, or all of the above, will give you such relief and the ability to focus on creating wellness in your life.  It is also helpful to write about (or paint or draw or sew, etc.) how awful this bad habit makes you feel and how amazing you are going to feel when this bad habit is gone!!!

Distance yourself from temptation.
So basically don't do what I did, which was to go have a picnic with my friends at a winery.  Oh yes I did.
But you know what, I was fine.  I was feeling determined.  I had already discussed my goal of not drinking so I can heal, with my husband and I was feeling oh so strong (and I did not have even one little sip...woo hoo).  But I don't recommend doing this on a regular basis.  I think you really have to check in with yourself and be honest about where you are on the strong/vulnerable continuum.  There have been times when I have said "no" to parties (and boy do I love a good party) because I just knew I would eat every dessert available and would push it way past my 1 glass of wine safety zone.  So it's ok to not go to the mall with your friends when you don't have the money.  It's okay to say, "No, I just can't meet you at The Cheesecake Factory tonight," when you are trying to lose a few pounds.  Stay home, get those comfy clothes on and indulge in that favorite show that no one else understands (can you say Golden Girls? oh, or my favorite....Murder She Wrote?).  The people that truly love you will not pressure you and will support you when you tell them that you are trying so hard to kick this bad habit to the curb (remember the first step....tell people what you are working on so they can support you).

Substitution.
This step is VERY important, so if you started to tune out a little and think about what you need to get at the store, tune back in now.  You will have the greatest chance of success breaking your bad habit if you find a satisfying, healthier good habit to stand in it's place.  But it has to be something that you truly enjoy that will satisfy the reason you developed the bad habit in the first place.  So if you like to eat Nutella (wipe the drool off your chin right now;) when you are bored or feeling stressed then you can not tell yourself that you will eat carrots instead of Nutella when the boring or stressful situation presents itself.  Those two things are way too wide apart on the gratification continuum.  So, if you love pretzels or low fat frozen yogurt then start there (oh, and not buying the Nutella at the store will help too, wink, wink).

Here is my glass from our picnic at the winery.  Looks like I slipped up, right?  Looks like it, but I didn't....that's iced tea.  It was a warm, sunny day and my tea tasted great, probably even better out of the wine glass ;)  I also love to do art (as I think you know) so at the end of the day when I really want that glass of wine, I make some tea and pull out my small watercolor tablet and sit out front on the stoop drawing while my kids play outside.....that relaxes me, and I love it so it's a substitution that just might work.

30 Days.
I've read a few different places where it has said that in 30 days you can break a habit.  So, let's do it for 30 days.  Keep track and do it in a way that is fun and feels good.  Put up colorful sticky notes.  Use your favorite color on a white board.  Decorate a "Way To Go" jar and everyday put in a positive note of celebration for making it through another day.  I have a GIANT chalkboard canvas that I am writing my days on with different colored chalk and I think on some of the days I will draw pictures.
Bottom line.....YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!  It is your choice.  Choose to be open and honest with yourself and to take control of your life and most importantly your health.  When you are happy and healthy, everyone benefits.
Be Well.