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.

dsc_0659

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.”

dimenstion-no5-lores-wm

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

Advertisements

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

 

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!

There’s an Angel in my Studio

My Grandma used to have a painting in her house of a Guardian Angel helping two little kids across a bridge. As much as I loved staring at it, I was also slightly terrified at the thought of a huge being watching over everything I did. Sometimes I would sneak in her room just to see it. I loved how the angel face seemed to glow…she had such adoration as she watched over the children. She seemed legitimately concerned. And I used to think that if I was ever in a scary place, there would be an angel there watching over me.

It was a nice thought.

I’ve always been drawn to angels and my oldest daughter (who is now 6) has picked up on this. So when I discovered that Suzi Blu created the workshop, Patchwork Angel Petite Doll, this month, I thought, how great would this be? A Mother, Daughter project! So we did it together and it was great fun. The workshop comes with the angel template so basically you just have to follow the instructions within the class. I thought my 6 year old daughter did very well with it, and I ended up only helping her with a couple things. She particularly loved making the patchwork skirt. Here is her painting:

SA F

It was a lot of fun just watching the vidoes together and going through the different steps. We sat side by side shading our little angel faces together and talking about what colors we wanted the dress to be. I highly recommend this. My daughter is already asking to do another one.

Here is mine:

SA mom

My angel sits in my studio above my little chalkboard that I use for inspirational ideas. She’s a lovely reminder that it’s important to make memories with my daughter. I’d like to think she whispers things to me from time to time.

Things like, “Take time to do what makes your soul happy.”

And, ” Be brave with your life.”

Because all of us need to be reminded from time to time that things we believe in and hope for are attainable.

To the Hope of Spring

Flora Hope

Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow. ~ Albert Einstein

The snow finally melted with the rains that came through this week, and I have one thing on the mind – Spring. It actually warmed up to the 50s in Southern Illinois, and I was eager to get outside and feel this new found warmth. I stepped into our backyard garden and the fresh damp air surrounded me. Earthy. It smelled earthy and lovely. And I was reminded of the flowers that will be blooming soon, hopefully.

Flowers planted not by my own hands, but by the previous owners of our home. They were two elderly women whose hobby was gardening…and they planted a very extensive flower garden in our limited back yard. So extensive in fact, that we had to call in the help of a local nursery to help us know how to maintain it. The nursery guy examined our lot and we were surprised to discover that many of the plants had been special ordered…exotic flowers, cacti, and things I honestly never saw in my life. There were over 50 different varieties of plants. It was an eclectic mix of flowers and foliage, and in the end we had to purge through it since it was too much for us to maintain. It was kind a of sad in a way. I felt bad going through it all and deciding what we were going to keep and what had to go. But it had to be done. We kept the rose bushes, lilies, daffodils, tulips, cherry blossom tree, magnolia tree, and a beautiful violet flower bush that blooms in July. But my favorite in our yard is the tulips.

Flora Survive 1

I remember as a girl waiting for the tulips to bloom. And finally, FINALLY they would poke through the soil…it was a sign that summer would soon be here and school would be out.

This year I feel that same anticipation (except for the school part). I can’t wait to see those little buds poking through. Beautiful tiger stripped lilies and tulips will bloom; and I will be happy as a lark sipping my lemonade, and watching the hummingbirds zip through our yard as I sit on my patio chair.

So here’s to the hope of Spring.

May it come quickly.

Flora Survive 2

 

*Original Art by Belle Ann Art.

Friends and Love

Web

It’s sad when a friendship doesn’t work out.

Especially when you still love and respect that person.

But some relationships were meant for only a period of time. The universe brings people into our life for a reason…no matter if it’s just a short time or lifelong.  Sometimes friends have to let friends go for whatever reason. But honestly? Sometimes it hurts to be on the other end of that. Especially when you don’t know what happened. But in the end, you’ve got to respect that person’s unknown intentions, wish them the best, and move on. There is more to life than mute pettiness.

I think about all the people that I love and love me. And I’m thankful for them. I’m thankful for those who have been there for me through thick and thin. Who were there for me when I have been ill. Who have cared for me through low times and good times. The people that really know me and still care.

Those people matter.

And today I want to thank them for their love.

Somebody loves you – thank them today.

Bunny Loves You

I’ve been inspired by love this week. My hubby and my’s anniversary is coming up in about a week and it makes me think of the 13 years we’ve spent together. I’m so thankful for him and I’m so blessed that he is my best friend. I can’t imagine life without his love and support. He is the most giving person I know. And awesome cook…which doesn’t hurt.

This is for him. Because life with him is so sweet.

Tweet

Thanks for letting me share,

Belinda

Embrace New Beginnings

Free as a Bird Illustration

I’ve procrastinated.

It’s easy to do.

But today. TODAY. I’m dusting off my blog and sharing with you some of my art from the last year.

Oh Happy Day!

Life has changed since the baby arrived last May. I love my family life…I love my 2 girls. My oldest daughter made a statement a couple months ago about how our family now feels complete. And it does. And although the new change has had it’s share of challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. So many ups and downs come and go, but the thing that remains in our family is that we are there for each other. And I can tell our new daughter, Grace, now 9 months, can already sense that.

Here is a painting I made for her nursery:

Embrace New Beginnings

Embrace new beginnings, for it is the gift of hope that enlightens our hearts. – Belinda S (that’s me) 🙂

So when I was making this piece, which is rather large, I couldn’t find a quote that I loved. So I had to come up with one myself. New beginnings. I love the idea of a new beginning. Every day is a new beginning. But there are moments in life when you are forced to analyze your life and make critical decision that will change your course…in those moments new beginnings emerge. It’s not easy to embrace the change, but it’s necessary to grow.

Close up of the words:

Embrace New Beginnings close up

I finally feel that my art has defined itself over time. This is huge progress for me. Sketches flow much easier then I started, and I see trends in my art. One trend that keeps popping up (unintentionally) is birds. I love to incorporate them and I find myself playing around with different styles. Here are some quirky birds I made when taking Life Book last year:

quirky birds

Did you notice my watermark? 🙂 I officially have a name for my art. (Whoohoo!) I’m playing around with this. Not for sure if this is my final design, but I like it for now.

I’ve started converting my art into vector, as well. Teaching myself (with the help of online tutorials) how to color my images in Illustrator and convert them into patterns. I’ve played around with patterns for years drawing within Illustrator, but incorporating my pencil sketches has given me a new sense of passion and direction.

I’m sure you noticed the initial graphic on this post, but here is the pencil sketch I did last year:

Free as a Bird sketch

From that to this:

Free as a Bird Illustration

It’s so fun coming up with different ways of modifying my art. I love sketching, I love mixed media, and I love graphic design, and I’m enjoying the process of those things merging together these days. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about? Doing what you love. 🙂

Do what you love, love what you do, and enjoy the journey it takes you.

Thanks for letting me share. xo

Bindy