I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. – Diane Ackerman
How wide can you spread your arms? How outside those stretched arms can you and will you venture?
I love quotes that make me think and this one struck a chord in me today.
Day 253 was created in graphite and Golden’s Liquid Acrylics used like they are watercolor – my favorite way to paint!
“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan
I was chatting on twitter with a friend who has AS. She has a wonderful positive outlook. In fact, she has a mantra of sorts called “negative to positive” that she penned and created for twitter. Denise’s personal story and journey of living and dealing with a life with Ankylosing Spondylitis are on the Hope & Apples website – what Denise has endured is amazing – she almost lost her life from heart complications of AS which is part of why I so find her outlook on life truly inspiring.
Today after I had just finished telling her that my brain was not cooperating in my efforts to find inspiration for my daily apple, I asked her if she had any ideas for me. She immediately went to positive images and ideas to soothe my frazzled brain. A distraction of the mind image, a yoga apple, a relaxation apple. And that was all I needed for the trigger – a zen circle apple!
A Zen Circle is a circle drawn in a single fast stroke by a human hand. The artist practices the circle to perfect the roundness of the circle in a single sweeping movement. Zen is the practice of meditation and creating a zen circle is a way to absorb the creator in the moment. The circle shows the beginning and the end representing the circle of life. It is a way to focus the mind.
Perhaps a zen approach to maintaining my apple practice will help me clear the clutter of the day so that I can find my inspiration more easily. I may begin each day with a zen circle, a quiet time to focus my thoughts on my purpose and to keep the idea of living a positive life at the forefront of my consciousness.
Day 252 was created in the style of Japanese sumi-e using a black ink stick and brush (the set was given to my by my Aunt Jill who practices the art beautifully) The red chop mark in the bottom right corner is a “close” representation of the Japanese symbol for Golden Apple
I have decided to be happy, because it’s good for my health. – Voltaire
How do you “decide” to be happy? My husband and I just had a fascinating conversation about this. He’s a bit of a grump – I’m an optimistic cheerful person. He just rattled of a list of things he’s unhappy about – the list consists of the fact that one of our cars isn’t running well, the grass has a fungus ring, there are weeds in the garden, the miller moths persist, the repairs and issues are …. a litany! I see these things as – just items in life – mere facts that need to be addressed but I’m not unhappy about them.
What is the difference that he sees these as things that cause unhappiness and I don’t? What causes or creates a state of unhappiness and do we choose how to react to our lives? I grew up in a happy home – we “guffaw” – my Dad and my brothers and I belly laugh at life. Did we learn to do this from my Dad – a greater and happier man I’ve never known. My husband grew up in an unhappy home where there wasn’t joy – where he did not learn to be demonstrative. He’s spent the last 14 years getting familiar with the concept – he’s married to the queen!
Did I just get lucky? Is happiness in the genes or is it a nature vs. nurture situation. We live a good life, a happy life – but I wish he could just find joy anywhere and everywhere – life is so much easier when you choose to live that way. And laugh and laugh and … laugh!
Day 251 was created in graphite and watercolor.
My dog Ella has the run of “her” 6 acres southeast of Denver. Although she is a horrible guard dog, she takes pride in her swatch of land and prowls the fence line, digs holes all over the field searching out the critters who destroy my flowers and veggies which is one of her primary jobs and she does it with intensity making sure to walk the entire property daily, especially the shared fence to the north that is Caesar’s domain (as well as about a dozen Alpaca.) Ella is pretty low key, easy going like most mutts, and a lover and constant companion. She is an all-around great dog. In fact, she’s still sporting her blue Arthritis Walk bandana from a few weeks ago – she’s got arthritis too and walked for a cure! Ella goes about her day with a single mindedness and focus mostly consisting of eat, sleep, get critters, bark at the UPS man, sleep some more. She doesn’t stray too far from these tasks – she is consistent and dependable as a (wo)man’s best friend should be. In fact she’s sleeping at my feet under the desk as I write this.
Every spring we get a family of birds called shrikes who move back in to some nests surrounding the house. They set up home and generally make it very clear that the yard is theirs. We love seeing them each year but, this year before the shrikes moved back in, a family of blackbirds appeared. The blackbirds have been interesting to watch as they chase the other birds around the yard creating such a commotion that you can’t help but stop and take notice – to take a moment to look at the display. Their squawk makes their presence known and when we go out to garden we are watched and fussed about. Although they seem to be an annoyance, they are actually just simply entertaining. Ella trots out around her yard, minding her own business, and gets dive bombed! They swoop and swirl and squawk and get so close that she actually has to go to the bother of lifting her head up to pay attention to the nuisance – but that’s about the extent of it as she trots back along going about her business.
Day 250 was created in pen & ink and watercolor.
Imagine how much we could get done with four pairs of arms! I wish I had had at least one extra set today.
Day 249 was created in watercolor and gold metallic ink.
I completely procrastinated my apple today!
I needed to clear my head today. I hopped in my truck and headed for town, windows down – radio blaring!
It is finally warm so I headed for the Farmer’s market and just tooted around looking at the flowers, veggies, art and jewelry. It was nice to just be. I needed some time alone to let all of life’s stresses go but when I got home I had all my Sunday chores to do – well, after a glorious and much needed nap which put me very far behind on my schedule. And – an apple still needed to be created.
They aren’t a burden – they aren’t. But, some days they take every ounce of everything I’ve got in me to get it done and fulfill the promise I’ve made to make one every single day. A day off in October will feel really great – and really weird too!
So…. I thought about the fact that two days ago I told you all to just scribble and that I should put my advice to paper! Here is an apple I created with markers – just markers. I let go and went for it.
Hope you like it!
Day 248 was created in Letraset Pantone Tria Markers
My third year in Art School I took a design class where we used a similar image and morphed it into many compositions. Waaayy back then the digital capabilities were just beginning and our computer lab in the Art Department at UMASS had some cutting edge equipment. A video camera, yes… a video camera hooked up to a computer would take black and white stills and digitize them with various effects. (I know, I’m old) and those images were used as tools for learning new techniques.
This particular assignment was to take a self portrait and create many images – the final was a large scale oil painting. The self portrait image was taken from the side and my hair is a tree, an apple tree of many colors and in my hand sits an apple. I had forgotten all about this painting until my Mom mentioned it recently. I plucked the apple many years ago – I believe now that the painting was a foreshadowing of my future self and my future in general – how could it not be looking back now?
But, it has taken considerable time for me to find this future. I spent most of my life since college ducking away from many things including my art and my creativity. I never thought that I wanted to be anything but normal, successful, and happy and fade into the background of a regular life. I have not had the courage to find a way to use my talents in a way that makes me not only happy but joyful – in fact, I’ve been a bit chicken.
So I’ve decided to stop ducking and get some pluck. Who’d like to join me?
Day 247 was created in watercolor.
Scribbles are full of energy and intensity!
Take out a piece of paper this weekend and just scribble. Scribble your frustrations, your happiness – whatever you may be feeling – feel it while you let go.
Scribble into a shape or words or just let loose, create a Jackson Pollock type of mess even! Use a rainbow of colors even just a ball point pen. Just do it! I bet you that after you do – you will feel so much better. I know I do!
Day 246 was scribbled in pastels.
“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” ~Barbara Bloom
This quote was on the Spondylitis Association of America’s Facebook wall today and voila – inspiration! I had never heard of this art form so I immediately did some research.
I learned that the Japanese created a process and practice of mending broken objects with gold. This “golden joinery” is called kintsugi and what started simply as a search for a material that was strong enough to bond ceramics back together became a practice honed and some say created on purpose once it was seen how patching and filling the lines of a broken object back together created beauty in the imperfection.
Our cracks and scars are our unique beauty – they do not break us – they only make us stronger. Honor them and fill them with gold.
Day 245 was created in liquid and metallic gold acrylic.
A little bit of tangerine in my life. A little bit of turquoise on the side…
I was inspired today by a photograph I saw on Pinterest that I pinned to my board “Wonder Color” and when I started thinking about what I would talk about for my post all I could think about was the interesting color combination of the orange, turquoise, and brown.
I adore interesting color combinations and although I haven’t posted a color combo no. 1-4 yet… I think I may! But why not start out with color combo no. 5 and stick a silly song in your brain for the day!
A little bit of chocolate’s all I need!
You and me gonna touch the sky.
With Color Combo No. 5!
Day 244 (officially 2/3 of the way to the goal of a year of Apples For AS) was created in acrylics and watercolor.
*** My favorite chocolate is the Christmas truffles from Whole Foods – but the color is pretty too 🙂