Here’s to Ceasing those Unexpected Moments

There are these moments when life is so jumbled. When I feel there is hardly time to breathe let alone do the never ending laundry that continues to pile up in our house. These last few months have been a series of disheveled moments back to back. Between tweaking my homeschool curriculum for my 4th grader after dealing with a subject that landed us all in tears, handling my intense three year old, traveling back and forth to visit my hubby, managing a garden and house as a single parent, dealing with personal health struggles, and trying to still have a daily art practice, my days are filled to the brim. I am not a “single” mom by optimal choice, but the military has forced us to make a decision that we felt was best for our family…so I am temporarily in another state from my husband until he retires. I’m not going to sugar coat this, the adjustment has been extremely hard at times. But I am tremendously grateful that I can be there for my girls and give them a sense of community where they can continue to develop relationships. After years of living around America, we finally have a place we can call home and a community of people that we love. And right now that is important for our family.

Then there are things that you just have to fit into your life and make happen. So when I was asked to participate in a local art show, I didn’t even hesitate. This weekend I participated in my first official art gallery show as both a volunteer and an artist.

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And it. Was. Awesome.

Myself and 15 other talented artists exhibited an eclectic display of color and expression through many different forms of mediums. And I feel extremely appreciative for this amazing experience.

It was quite exciting to talk to the other artists and discuss their techniques. One thing I find rather interesting (and something I’ve noticed at other art shows), is that usually artists tend to be more on the introverted side…but we all kinda get that about each other. And it’s nice to be understood even though each of us are strange in our own way; because really, we are all on this journey together.

pattern-in-rennovation-lores-wm

Pattern in Rennovation: Patterns are representative of different patterns (or habits) we have in our lives, how these patterns can change due to situations outside our control, or how they can change because we choose to change them.

I wanted to share this experience, because although I hoped an art show opportunity like this would arrive years down the road, I hadn’t anticipated it happening so soon. It presented itself at such a crazy time in my life.

Sometimes you just never know what is right around the corner.

As I stood there and talked to different people who were interested in my work, I had this moment where I was purely so filled with gratefulness that I could share my work and actually be an inspiration to others.

transcendencelowres-tf

Transcendence

One lady asked me, “What was your initial pull that made you choose art?” For a moment I paused and stood there trying to think of a clever response. Then I took a deep breath and modestly sputtered out, “Well, I didn’t really choose art, it kinda chose me.” I explained further, “Growing up with a schizophrenic sister, creativity was my way of coping. For years I didn’t even consider painting or that I could ever be an artist. It just kinda happened over time. Art is my therapy, not really a career choice.”

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Through my health struggles and life challenges through the years, I find myself going back to my paints for comfort. Because no matter how crazy life is, or how I’m feeling, there is such a gentle peace in pushing paint around. And that refreshing moment breathes life back into me. This is my happy place.

I hope you are doing what you love. Life is too short, my friends.

 

*All paintings shown are copyright of Belinda Sigstad, Bellenna Elm Studio

Fly freely towards your dream

Fly Free

 

It’s too easy to humor insecurities. What’s hard? Getting out of your own head so you can thrive in creative liberty.

I wonder what would happen if instead of entertaining these insecurities, we honored them?

What’s the difference?

When insecurities are entertained, we are serving self doubt – we are renting out our precious creative brain juices, and giving space to the idea that we aren’t good enough.

But honoring insecurities is entirely different. It’s recognizing they exist – even blessing them as part of the process of giving of yourself. Because that’s what we as artists do. We give a part of ourselves in every piece we create. And when we put ourselves into something so deeply and then share it…it can be a vulnerable moment. Insecurity and fear can start whispering, but handling them is key to moving forward. I have found that if I reject them, they continue to resurface over and over again in different ways. I start doubting my process, my style, my dreams. It’s not until I fully face it – head on – and honor it, that it starts to dissipate. Because honoring the insecurities allow me to understand that insecurity and fear do not represent who I am as an artist. They don’t define me. I am not my fear. I am not my feelings.

The person I am is a separate beautiful soul that thrives on growth and the freedom to create.

So next time insecurity pops up, lend a gentle nod in it’s direction – and let it pass. And keep on doing what makes you feel alive.

Fly freely towards your dream.

 

Thanks for reading,

Belinda

Metamorphosis

metamorphosis

I am a simple person…an artist with many layers…but simple at heart. My life has been forged through a series of challenges that make me want few things in life: Peace, Freedom, Healing. Mindfulness has beckoned me in recent months. I have been on somewhat of a sabbatical, mainly due to health issues, but also because of mental blocks that paralyzed my inspiration. I suppose this is bound to happen from time to time for many artists.

I feel I have finally broken free, due to a new perspective that has awakened.

See, I am not driven by success or motivated by others ambitions. I’m not keen on competition and for me this journey is more about the experience…not the destination. My creative vision is to embrace compassion. Opening myself to the moment and creating something from nothing…forming life into a project that once never existed. Giving love to myself, my work, and ultimately to others.

I found out yesterday that my schizophrenic sister is back in the psych ward of her local hospital. And for a moment I felt the same as I always have when I experience this news. I felt sad, confused, lost, numb. I’m not surprised or dumbfounded…this has happened plenty of times throughout her life, and as much as I wish she was well, we all know it’s only a matter of time before a trigger sets her off. But it’s hard not to feel that rush of unstable emotions come flooding back – the same I felt as a child watching…witnessing…experiencing her violent episodes. I still remember the smell of my bedroom closet – the safe place I would borrow myself to shut myself out from her fits. When she lived with us, insanity seemed to linger through every room…drifting along the hallways like a fog that never lifts. Lost. I felt so lost as a child and I remember so vividly as I could usually sense when an episode was coming on. The monsters from the darkest places of her mind would emerge tormenting her with fury. It’s not her fault. I know that now. But something felt so deep is never forgotten.

I made a deal with myself several years ago that I will no longer bury my pain in the secrecy that shrouded my childhood. I am an adult. So I have been in active pursuit to free the negative suppression that binds my mind so regularly. Freedom. Peace. Healing. Yes, for me they are found from within. I have felt the sweet embrace that Spirit offers and I know now that my life has purpose. The artist bursting within me knows she is here for a reason. My gifts that originally evolved in the secret depths of pain and instability are finding their wings to soar.

I listen intently to my intuition and I know it’s not about me. The journey is not about the urgency to succeed or get ahead. No. My purpose reaches far deeper. My journey is my path to freedom, peace, and healing and to help others find freedom, peace, and healing.

As I reflect, I know I am not that same person I was as a child. And even though those momentous emotions tend to creep back, they are truly not how I feel today. That fear is but a former remnant. Those emotions do not define me. They are whispers from my past, buried in the grave of my adolescence.

It has taken many years, but my metamorphosis is awakening.

I am free.

And that freedom allows me to live, if only for a moment, in peace.

 

Thanks for reading,

Belinda

 

My Beautiful Friend

We want to think we have some level of control.

In our lives.

In our health.

In our kids health.

We want to believe that we can somehow influence the way we feel through diet, or exercise, or mental control. And sometimes we can. We want to believe in the greater good, and believe in the “everything will work out” mentality. And sometimes it does.

But there are times when we get the stark realization that we honestly have no control over life. Our minds are trapped in our temporal bodies. Our spirits our strong, but our flesh is weak. It is our nature to fight…our bodies naturally fight bacteria every day. We desire to be strong; to be able to live strong. But illness can strike at any moment, and the illusion of control is shattered.

I watched a friend as she was losing her fight with cancer. This past weekend I sat by her bed and watched her as she was slipping away. Her body consumed by an incredible force that has taken total control. And I cried because she is a beautiful soul, a gifted teacher, an incredible friend, and she is way too young to be dealing with this. I cried because I was angry. Because she is one of those friends that once you know her she is ALWAYS your friend, no matter what the distance is between you or no matter how long it’s been since you saw her last. She’s one of those amazing friends that loves deeply and unconditionally. Her friendship was a gift to many, and I was one of the many blessed that knew her.

Why couldn’t they have done more for her? She doesn’t deserve this. Thoughts circled around in my mind as I watched her lose cognitive control. Trapped in confusion as we tried to explain to her what was going on, over and over again.

I sat there knowing this would be the last time I saw her alive. And I thought about what to say to her. What do you say to someone you will never see again on this earth?

There were moments where I would freeze up. I didn’t know what to say. Nothing I could say could even remotely make this situation better. I didn’t want to think about saying goodbye to her.

The rawness of her condition left bitter tears streaming down my face.

There were times when we talked about memories that we have shared through the years. And for a brief time we laughed about recollections, we reminisced about things we did together. And when the moment came, I told her that I love her, that she was a beautiful soul, that her friendship was a gift. And she smiled as she closed her eyes from weariness. It was time to let her rest.

I was reminded once again that she was losing her battle.

How fragile life is.

The reality that we don’t have the control we think we do.

My heart broke as I left her lying there. I gave her one last hug, knowing that the next time I see her, she will be in a casket. That realism has stung me to my core. The sorrow overwhelms me, and I feel as if the world is spinning around me and I am standing still watching everyone live their lives and it’s all a façade.

The world keeps moving. And I want to stand from a mountain and scream at the top of my lungs, “STAND STILL! THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE THAT IS PASSING DESERVES REVERENCE!”

But life keeps going as I grieve. As much as we have no control over life, it keeps going. And it reminds me that I have to keep going, too. That I have to cease these moments I have on earth, because they are so limited. And I need to tell people that I love them, and I need to forgive easier, and give of myself more. I need to be a better friend, a better mother, a better wife. Because it’s not things that matter in this life, it’s people.

Beautiful people like Kris.

Snowman

Kris, remember this?

Remember when we were making him,

And you suddenly said, “Ooo, let’s give him a heart!”

And I was mesmerized as I watched you

Take red Kool-Aid and form a heart

In his chest.

I was just a little girl,

But I’ll never forget that…

We gave a snowman a heart that day.

And now this heart is for you.

I love you Kris.

It’s never too late to start over…

When I was a little girl, my Dad used to take me on daddy-daughter dates. They weren’t elaborate activities, but those moments we shared still hold some of my fondest memories. It usually involved some type of ice cream, but more often than not it also included people watching. I remember sitting on whatever bench we could find, whether in the mall or a park, and just watching people as they walked by. Whether he realized it or not, my country Dad who happens to be a savvy when it comes to psychology, was teaching me the basics of human behavior.

Twenty five plus years later, and many life lessons learned, I have realized that this simple pastime has taken on a whole new dimension.  I’m talking about people watching on the internet. Now I’m not referring to lurking on someone’s social media page, as I find that rather creepy. But I’m talking about studying the nature of people’s blogs (in particular artists), the style of their social media pages, noting their strengths and learning from their marketing techniques. I appreciate the candor of some people who are so willing to open up and share their genuine spirit and offer helpful techniques behind their work. It’s refreshing to know that there is loads of info out there to guide the novice artist.

I also now know what it means when someone over markets themselves. Which, frankly, can come across rather annoying, and makes it easy for someone like me (who finds it hard to put myself out there as it is) to question whether or not marketing is really all it’s cracked up to be. But I know that I error on the side of caution to the point of fault, so I guess some would think it’s better to over market oneself than to under market. I’m still trying to figure out the balance of it all, which apparently is a science in itself. For one, I know that I don’t put myself out there enough, but most days I fall into that category of being too tired to post anything due to an overactive toddler, homeschooling, and trying to find some creative time for myself.

So as I am beginning this new school year of homeschooling, I’m noticing a sort of reset switch in myself. This past year has been a huge learning experience for me as I have dived head first into this world of being a freelancing artist. Which many times feels like more of an attempt than a realistic endeavor.  But it’s been quite the ride and I’ve fallen in love with the process of it all. I’ve learned that it is important to place value in myself as an artist and it’s good to invest in my future. I’ve learned that online courses provide challenges that uniquely stretch me artistically, and the investments are worth the result. It’s been fun discovering my own way of doing things, and I’m enjoying the evolution of my developing abilities. It’s all just one big journey of figuring out the little things as I go.

So today I’m regrouping, dusting my blog off again, and sharing with you some of my recent work I’ve done over the past few months. It’s never too late to start over again. Enjoy!

Bear in the Woods LoRes

Belinda Sigstad - Creatures of the Sea

meadow friends LoRes

Having Patience with the Process

The smell of autumn whispers to me when I open my front door, and for a moment I allow myself to savor the anticipation of Fall. It’s coming. Pretty soon the leaves will be turning, the air will be crisper, and the smell of chimney smoke will be permeating the air. And for this brief duration the world around me will be bursting with color and I will be basking in the aura of it all. This is a good time to be rejuvenated and inspired.

It’s hard to believe that Summer is reaching it’s last days here, and I can’t help but think about everything that has happened in the last few months. Earlier this year I journeyed into the world of Surface Pattern Design through Rachael Taylor’s course The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design (http://makeitindesign.com/design-school/). I completed Module 1 in the spring, and it ended with me being highly inspired and slightly overwhelmed. So much juicy information was packed into that first module. But there was this lapse afterwards. I’m not for sure if it was just life in general, or if I just needed time to process all the info, but I started painting more instead of sketching. At that time my world of painting vs my world of sketching had certain boundaries. I have no idea why I set those limitations, but in my mind they were separate. Seems silly to say this now. As a mixed media artist I am usually very open to experimenting. I suppose I was stuck in somewhat of a rut. It happens.

On some level I think was trying to figure it all out…my passion for painting and my passion for pattern. Would these 2 eventually merge together? Do they need to be? Are they better separate? Painting for me is very self expressive and free, while pattern seemed more structured. I love both, but I was having a hard time grasping how they could work together.

Then something magical happened. I’m not quite sure what it was in my mind that made things clearer, but it all started when I began the Make It In Design Summer School. And WOW what an awesome experience this was. The MIID team posted segments of creative briefs along with a series of inspirational material with each assignment. Each brief was geared toward trends and were infused with interesting challenges. It was an incredible opportunity to focus on particular subjects that were not the norm for me. The limitations of the briefs forced me outside my comfort zone, and I found myself approaching pattern in a completely different way. It was seriously a light bulb moment. I began using more painting techniques within my patterns and I fell in love with the hands-on process. I was re-energized. I got my second wind.

BelindaSigs SS Typography Testimonial

Around this time I picked up a copy of Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. This book couldn’t have come into my life at a more perfect time. I read the entire book in 3 days. It was jammed packed with such awesome straight forward information and presented in such a real way. So many good things in this book, but one thing that really stood out to me was, “Amassing a body of work or building a career is a lot about the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time.”

SLAA

I think sometimes we see huge portfolios of awesome work and think we need to hurry up and create and get our work out there as fast as we can. But in reality it takes time to produce good work…it takes a lot of time. And I couldn’t help but make the connection between those words from Austin Kleon with the Make It In Design Summer School. Those segments of challenges that were periodically released allowed me to better understand the process that small steps over time equates to larger productive results. Summer School really pushed my creativity, and I ended up creating more patterns within those 2 months then I had all year. It was all about just taking advantage of the opportunities presented and doing something small each day…even if it was just one mark making or one sketch. In the end, it all built upon each other and it was fun to see the progression of my work. I discovered having patience with the process is everything.

Some of my creations from Summer School:

sea splats pattern 2water pattern 1Aquatic Treasure Pillows Mahala Flights of Fancy Flights of Fancy Mock Ups Safari Sunrise Tote KineticSparkles

To see the galleries for Make It In Design Summer School: http://makeitindesign.com/summer-school/

I am so thankful for what I have learned through this whole experience, and as Fall approaches I am looking forward to diving even further into creating with The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design Module 2, and Flora Bowley’s class Bloom True…both starting next month. Exciting day ahead.

Thanks for reading,

Belinda

I Choose to Live Creatively…with Kids

Me and My Girls

Recently there was an article circling around the web about a lady in the creative industry who was interviewed on why she doesn’t want children. I honestly don’t know why I read it, because usually I don’t click on article links, but this time I did. And I was intrigued. Apparently this is a controversial subject, and I felt sorry for the people who felt they needed to leave negative comments toward her about it.

Now, I usually tend to shy away from controversial subjects, but this subjected stirred something inside me. It didn’t upset me, but her argument toward this subject gave me a discontentment and somewhat of an “off” feeling, for lack of better words. She is entitled to her opinion, but I took this creative entrepreneur to be naive.

I slept on it.

Certain parts of the article kept resurfacing in my head the next day. So I took that as a sign that I needed to write out my thoughts. For me, my experience with my children is totally different than what I could have ever expected.

See, there was a point in my life when my hubby and I first got married that I wasn’t for sure if I wanted to have children. I only confided in a few people about it, but it was a legitimate concern I had. And I remember feeling terribly guilty for feeling this way. I was young, naïve, a little selfish, and I enjoyed my freedom.

Four years later, my feelings changed, and my hubby and I decided together that we would try. We were both nervous as heck, but I knew by then that I did indeed want to be a Mother. We tried for 3 years. And test after test, my doctor finally told me I was infertile.

Anyone who has experienced that feeling knows how absolutely devastating that is. But this is a whole other blog post.

Long story short, after my hubby returned from his next deployment, I ended up getting pregnant. When I found out it was a girl, I named her Faith. Because, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

She was a gift. My life was changed forever.

Fast forward 7 years later, I have 2 beautiful girls. They both are completely unique and offer different challenges, but they are the best things that ever happened to me. Of course, it’s hard at times. I find it difficult to balance the time to fit everything in that I’d like to do creatively, especially now that I’m homeschooling, too. But I have realized that the world I live in with my girls has opened up a whole new dimension to my creative life. There are things that I would have never done if it weren’t for them.

There is great value in seeing the world through my children’s eyes, and nurturing their creative spirit. And there is greater significance in showing my children that dreams can be achieved through diligence and perseverance. By being an example through my own creative journey, and showing my girls that it is important to do what you love, I hope to instill in them a deeper meaning of “success” and self worth. They are a vital part of my creative journey, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Of course I understand that the responsibilities I have towards my girls may limit the short term progression of my own artistic goals, but I do not consider it a limitation. I would rather be there for my girls every step of this journey and share with them what I do, make art and create with them, than pursue a demanding artist career at this time. I want to learn with them. I want them to know they are the most important part of my creative life. I want to savor the light in their eyes as they watch me paint and ask me if they can paint, too. And I let them. Because it’s not just about me, it’s about them, too.

I watch my oldest daughter get a piece of computer paper and put it in front of our 16 month old. Next, she puts a crayon in her hand. My little one squeals with delight as she fists that crayon in her hand, puts it to the paper, and watches the color explode (rather haphazardly). I lock eyes with Faith and we laugh.

That squeal? That’s how I feel every time I paint. That’s what it’s all about. And that’s what I want to experience with them.

I understand that these people that believe they don’t want children are entitled to their own opinion, but what if they are missing out on their greatest creative journey yet?

Thanks for reading,

Belinda

Believing in the Amazing You

quote resource: thegoodvibe.co

quote resource: thegoodvibe.co

 

I’ll admit it, I am guilty of self sabotage. It’s not that I don’t believe I can do something, but there are days when I find it hard to believe that some things are possible.

Sometimes I feel like Flint Lockwood in the movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. As he is talking himself through his process…and when he is in the middle of working on something, he stops to look at his motivational posters in his makeshift lab and says to himself, “motivating.” Except I don’t have any motivational posters on my walls…but I do have a Pinterest quote board, which is about the same.

I find quotes like, “Amazing things happen when you distant yourself from negativity.”

and, “Transform criticism into creativity.”

The problem is that some people might think that this negativity or criticism may be coming from other people or sources, but the raw truth is that most of my criticism and negativity that influences me comes from myself.

I’m not the only one with this problem. I have found that many other artists suffer from this same dilemma. And not just beginner artists, I’m talking about seriously talented people.

And it’s refreshing to know that we are kind of all in this together.

But setting that common bond aside, I’m faced to ponder why I feel this way about myself. I look myself in the mirror and ask, “Why do you not allow yourself to think you are amazing?” I don’t always have an answer, but sometimes my mind will respond with something like, “you will never be good enough.” Which I know is a lie. And recognizing that allows me to push forward and keep going.

So if you are hard on yourself, take a moment to reflect why. Then look yourself in the mirror, and no matter how you are feeling about yourself that day, just say out loud, “I am amazing.”

Because you are.

Recently, I’ve been competing in some design competitions. I’ve noticed that this has really helped me to continue to hone my style and it’s been fun to see the progression of my work. I’m learning to put myself out there, regardless of how I feel about myself. Here is some of my recent work for the Tigerprint Cute Character, birthday card competition.

Go Nuts Tw Happy Cake Day Tw Have a Hoot tw

Thank you for letting me share!

And remember – You are amazing!

Dream For Today

Some days dreams seem so far out of reach.

Ya know, that feeling of being so far from where you want to be. (Or where you think you should be)

Forget the positive attitude. Some days you just can’t fake it.

Today was one of those days.

But then, at the strangest part of the day…the part where I’m doing some mundane, routine thing around the house…I find a fortune cookie fortune that I had casually tossed on my desk a few weeks ago.

It said, “God will be with you in hardships.”

And I was reminded that the universe knows exactly where I am at this precise moment.

I am where I need to be, even if I don’t feel like it.

Maybe someone else out there needs to be reminded of this today.

We are all on a journey, folks. And no matter where we are, we can have the freedom to just be.

For a moment, I set aside all expectations of myself, and I allow myself to simply dream. Slowly the belief in myself returns and I am thankful for where I am at this time.

You’ve heard the expression “live for today,” well I say let’s dream for today. Because anything we can imagine, if we claim it, can be possible.

ter

 

 

The Secret of Change

Change is eminent, unpredictable and challenging. Sometimes change chooses us, but what if we choose change? What if we come to a point in our lives when we need change? What if everything inside of us that we have kept bottled up for so long is screaming to be unleashed. Would you listen to your intuition? What if it was time to finally let that “thing” go and just move forward? Would you do it?

My oldest daughter recently finished 1st grade. With much anticipation of the summer, she and I decided to sit down and concoct a list of things we are going to do this summer to occupy her time. She’s a rather crafty/artistic little girl, so we decided on a few things she would like to do and places she would like to go.

And then we decided on chores she will be doing. Yes, chores…the stuff I like her to do. Now, she is currently still getting used to this change of being the “picker up’er” and not the “mess maker”…and, yes, it’s definitely a process. But we are getting there.

It’s a small change, but as she is getting older she realizes things will change. In fact, she anticipates it. She knows she will be in 2nd grade next year and she is excited to be learning new things. She learned how to read this past year and it has opened up a whole new world for her. Change is all around her. It’s expected.

She’s six.

I wonder if adults had this same perspective…to expect change, to have a desire to learn and move forward…would we stay in our comfort zones?

I know many adults who are stuck, who have been stuck for years in the same place.

I’ve been there myself. I understand the whole comfort zone thing. But ya know what? I’ve discovered that putting myself outside that comfort zone is exhilarating. A comfort zone can become an invisible trap that you don’t even realize you are in. Life is so much bigger on the outside.

True freedom does exist.

I recently left a strict, conservative religious sect that I had known my whole life. This was a decision that I made over several years. It was no longer suiting  my lifestyle, it was a burden to my spiritual growth, and it was creating a flawed perspective in my oldest daughter. We finally got out of it last month. I cannot express how liberating it is to be out from underneath that weight of suppression. It’s a whole new freedom and I’m loving every day. I didn’t even realize how much it was holding me down until I left.

This change brought on a whole new meaning to freedom.

I painted a painting I’m calling “The Owl of Freedom.”

owl

 

I’m going to hang this up in my studio to commemorate my new direction. There is a whole new life out there waiting for me.

What is the secret of change?

“THE SECRET OF CHANGE IS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY , NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD, BUT ON BUILDING THE NEW.” ~Socrates

I’m trying every day to make those small steps toward the person I eventually want to become.

One of the best decisions I made this year was to sign up for the e-course, Do What You Love (http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/course/do-what-you-love). I discovered it at such a key point in my life and I’m grateful from what I gained through the exercises.  I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to move forward toward doing what they love.

Small change or big change…every change (good or bad) in our lives has purpose. Are you ready to embrace it and move forward?

It might just be the best thing that ever happens to you.

 

Regards,

Belinda