where do YOU find inspiration?

Jenn at Just Add Water Silly asked the question this week as the prompt for Artists Playroom - where do you find inspiration - what inspires you?

I thought this would be easy so I kept kind of putting it off.  Then I realized I'm headed out of town for the long weekend and if I wanted to participate, I'd have to get my behind in gear.  I realize there's a quick, superficial answer (books) and one that's a little deeper, more introspective (which I'm usually not).

Off the top of my head - what inspires me?  Books.  First and foremost.  When I want to relax, escape, learn, or delve into a topic, I head to a library or online (Amazon is a personal friend - oh wait, that's not a real person, is it?).  When I decided I wanted to learn to paint with watercolors a few years ago, I read every book in my local library, I bought books on sale, I stalked Amazon and asked for painting books for Christmas.  I absorbed then practiced.  That was my inspiration.

I absorb more than just technique from books; I enjoy seeing how a variety of other artists use the techniques to create their own special art.  I mimic, I attempt to copy, then I branch out on my own.

Ronda, Spain painted from my photo

So last year when I reignited my interest in art but became interested in exploring mixed media, what did I do?  Found a book.  Then another one.  Then I noticed a difference.

I discovered the online art community and my world expanded exponentially.  There's still a strong connection to the power of a book - BUT, I find so much inspiration online.  The difference is, the inspiration isn't necessarily about an image, a journal page, painting or collage - the inspiration is about people.  

An early mixed media piece w/ wire and beads, layers and layers.

I find inspiration in the way online artists encourage and support each other, the way solutions to problem paintings are suggested, the way ideas and techniques and resources is shared so readily.  It's inspirational to know that if I'm having a bad day (or week), my blogging buddies will offer comfort and support and even solutions if needed; if one of us has a muse go missing or are facing a new challenge like opening an ETSY shop or submitting for a gallery show, the rest of us will rally around in encouragement.  That's an invaluable source of inspiration.  

You inspire me to keep trying, to keep growing, to keep reading and sharing what I learn.  The art blogging community inspires me to be brave, to be adventurous, to find and develop the artist I know is lurking in there somewhere.  

Thanks to all of you for the inspiration - and thanks Jenn for suggesting the topic and creating the opportunity for us to share our sources of inspiration.

happiness is: a pretty door

Inspiration Avenue chose one of my favorite things to photograph this week as its theme:  DOORS.  Travel with me as I show you some of the doors I've photographed over the years.

As recently as last week on vacation, this doorway in Nanaimo caught my eye.

Church doors in Indianapolis, IN

Sometimes it's the closeup version of a door that is intriguing.

Beijing, China - we learned about all the symbolism in this doorway, but I'll be darned if I can remember it.

A Madrid bookstore - one of my favorite types of doors.

Nothing here to give scale, but these doors were massive - 3 panels = the standard door height.  Taken at Alhambra castle, Spain.

This church door in Barcelona was tucked away down a quiet alley - we found it totally by accident (aren't some of the best finds done that way?)

I love this door of a small merchant's stall to a souvenir shop in Rabat, Morocco.

Across the street from the capitol building in Montpelier, VT is this surprising door.  Dan was taking photos of the capitol building and I turned to this instead.

As you can see from this (and from the posts from other participants who all have equally fascinating door images/drawings), doors come in so many shapes, sizes and colors.  Each one has a story and if my imagination worked that way, I'd come up with a clever story of what's going on behind one of these doors.  But alas, my brain is creative in other ways, so I hope you're happy just seeing this selection of really cool doors!  Be sure to visit Inspiration Avenue to see more.


quite a feet

My vacation synopsis:

Hiking the trail to Englishman River Falls.  Gorgeous!

Lots of riding in the car - couple of hours to Victoria, then a few days later a couple of hours to Tofino.

Walking through the historical Empress Hotel.

Resting with my art supplies ready to go and some of my beachcombing treasures.

Me and Dan and the Parksville beach for a little sun.

Hiking the Wild Pacific Trail.

The Ucluelet lighthouse and me.

We're exhausted so it's time to put our feet up and relax - it is a vacation after all!

This last one to prove my whole body was on vacation, not just my feet!  Lorinda sent us on this gorgeous scenic drive through Victoria and we discovered this pretty beach - thanks Lorinda!

I thought of the feet idea early on the trip but could NOT remember to take the photo everywhere - as soon as we'd leave a place I'd say, "Oh no, I forgot to get my feet in the photo!"  But how many times do you really need to see my feet anyway?

By the way - I sent out 20, count 'em 20, handmade postcards yesterday.  I was so excited to get them finished and addressed and in the mail that I totally forgot to take a photo!  I can't believe it!  So, no preview of all that outgoing arty goodness, you'll just have to be surprised when one shows up in your mailbox.


APR and IA share the art

Amazingly I was able to combine two of my favorite challenges - APR (artists playroom) and IA (inspiration avenue).  Jenn (APR) challenged us to illustrate a word.  I mulled all week on what word and how I'd illustrate it...summer, sunshine - nope, been there, done that.  Peace, Love, Happy - nope, no illustration inspiration.  Then I checked on IA and found their challenge is "if you could be anywhere".  W-E-L-L......  I considered my first choices:  home, w/ Dan, tropical beach - nope.  Then, it popped into my brain.

If I could be anywhere (with Dan), we'd be on a Baltic cruise....we've wanted to go for several years and keep planning it and then having to postpone (they're kind of pricey).  So, my simplistic illustration of a word is BALTIC!

I used my spritz color wash colors to evoke the feeling of the Baltic sea (though I imagine it's a darker blue rather than the bright teal of the Caribbean) and then tangled my letters.  Join us aboard ship anyone?

a little time for art

I've managed to find just a little time for art this week.....a couple of art journal pages....

Then, while on vacation, I was mulling around what to do with my big, WIP canvas.  Toying with this idea and that.  Wondering, speculating, visualizing.  One night as I'm laying in bed trying to sleep, I got a germ of an idea....tossed and turned some more and as I laid there kept telling myself "don't forget this in the morning"..."use this color palette"....."remember this plan".  Finally I just had to get up and sketch the idea, write it all down and get it out of my head.

One of the things I noticed about not having access to a computer and the ability to peruse everyone else's wonderful art is that I started to feel more confident about my own.  I started having ideas and sparks that I feel like are just mine.  It took a few days of NOT thinking about art to have the art come bubbling to the top and my little sketchbook (my new moleskine that I wasn't sure I'd like) has numerous beginnings, baby ideas, and 'what ifs'.

Once home I wanted to try out my idea in my journal and see what I liked or didn't before moving to the big canvas.  Here's my trial pages.....

As a reminder, here's the big canvas when last I showed it - I'd covered up much of the riot of color and added this bold stencil - which I like but wasn't feeling connected to.

So I painted the whole thing gray - shades of black, white, gray but with hints of the former layers and colors still peeking through.....don't know how much, if any, will be there at the end, but that's the joy, right?  And I'm thinking a vertical orientation instead of my typical landscape.....

This weekend I MUST focus on making some mail art....I have so many beautiful cards that I've received and want to respond to.  BUT, I also am feeling the pull to work on this baby.  Will let you know how it goes.

[ed to add] I'm adding this to Artists in Blogland - a great resource to see what other folks are up to artistically.  I often forget this great weekly resource....just link up one of your posts showing what you've been up to in the last week so people can find you -


mail art bonanza

Well, home from vacation, relaxed and rejuvenated and what do I find?  A mailbox full of delightful mail!  This weekend will have to be about making return mail.....I realized I'm about a month behind!

I received some postcards - top one from Karen (even while on vacation, really?!), the middle two are the first ones from the Kat Sloma art card exchange and the bottom one from Tina (see more of her art at witt0071 on flickr).  I connected with Tina through MMSA - if you want to find mail art enthusiasts, that's a great place to start.

This group of envelopes, each filled with a note, a poem, a bookmark, a little collage material and one candy (!) are from the Elevated Envelope exchange.  The one with the drawing is from Israel, the red one from Tacoma (just down the street, sort of) and the candy one didn't have a return address, so I'm not sure where it's from.  Just a reminder - if you go to all the trouble to make a postcard or beautiful envelope or send me just anything, be sure to include return contact info so I can reciprocate!

Dan and I took tons of photos on the trip (to Vancouver Island, BC) - both for our memories and with an eye to selling them.  We came away with some really great images.  I bought a new camera - a small point and shoot instead of the big, multi lens DLSR that Dan likes to use. I have to say I just LOVE my new Panasonic Lumix camera. In some cases it took better images than the DLSR, with the added benefit that it fits in my pocket so it's easy to whip it out and capture a moment.  It does lots of things I haven't explored yet, but I can't wait to try them all.  I'll be sharing some of my fave pics soon.

AND, one of my most favorite parts of the trip was getting to meet, in person, both Jenn and Lorinda who both live on Vancouver Island!  I had lunch with each of these delightful ladies, and can I just say, it was a blast!  If you ever have the opportunity to meet someone you've met and enjoy through blogging, go for it - it's so worth it.  We chatted life and art and laughed and shared tips - it was SO much fun....just wish we had more time.  Thanks to both of you for making time for me and hanging out - it was great!


random photos

I recently came across one of Hanna's  posts.....one of them in particular caught my eye.  She mentioned that she has folders and folders of cool photos on her computer that just sit there, so she was going to share them now and then.....just because.  I fall into that boat - tons of fun or pretty images that I just love, but no one but me sees them.  So I thought I'd borrow her idea and share a random selection of some of my photography now and then.

Just because I can.  (and since I'm actually on vacation this week, this is my attempt to stay in touch)  The theme this time:  reflections.

The Japanese garden in Seattle last fall.

New York New York casino in Vegas reflected in a nearby window.

Bellagio (Vegas) reflected in a window.

Lake surface in Foster City, CA (near SF)

Marina near San Francisco

Sunset on Alki Point, West Seattle

A dahlia from our garden on a reflective surface

Hope you're all enjoying your week and that summer is being good to you.


time for r & r

It's vacation time! Dan and I are headed to Vancouver Island, Canada for a week.  We own timeshare and traded into a resort in Nanaimo that's right on the beach.  I've been to Victoria many years ago to the Butchart Gardens, but didn't have the opportunity to explore the island.  We'll be doing lots of exploring next week.

See Victoria on the southern tip of the island and Nanaimo is north of it, part way up the eastern coast. We also plan to visit Tofino (Lorinda's recommendation) over on the west coast.  Lots to see!

AND, the coolest thing ever!  I'm getting to meet a couple of my blogging buddies:  Jenn of Just Add Water Silly who actually lives in Nanaimo (what are the odds?) and Lorinda of Everyday Endeavors who lives in Victoria.  I'm SO excited to meet these talented ladies and talk art and life and just hang out for a bit.  Dan....well, he'll have to find something else to do without me for awhile!

I won't have computer access, so will fall woefully behind in blog reading, but will be eager to catch up and see what everyone has accomplished while I'm gone.


out of the journal

Dina Wakley (Ponderings) is encouraging everyone to pull inspiration from your art journal and get it onto canvas.....I've been wanting to do that so took this prompt to heart.  Each Monday in August she posts the participants for the week, so if you want to join in, post today or tomorrow (Sunday) or join in next week.....

Remember that big (to me) canvas I bought at a yard sale a month or so ago?
I bought it to experiment on, so what better time than now?

I started by covering it with gesso and squirting acrylics on and then diving in and finger painting in a big, loose, messy way.

Nice bright colors but only a first layer.

After living with it a couple days decided it all needed to be knocked back so added big swooshes of gesso and left some ridges for additional texture.

Today I had the bright idea of using one of the stencils I won from Diana Trout - it's from the cathedral (I think) series and when repeated 4 times creates this wonderful square that's probably 12"x12".

That's where I am for now....making layers and seeing where it will take me.  I'm linking up this week but won't be able to next week because no work will have been done (I'm going on vacation!).