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

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

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

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.

With Brave Wings She Flies

WBW 2

There is this moment in that pivotal point of the morning when the chill of the night has not yet been greeted by the warmth of the sun. And as the sun fights it’s way upon the horizon and those first beams of light shoot through my window, I hear the whispers of a new day. In this quiet moment, before the sound of children stirring and before responsibilities are calling, life stands still and I feel as though time is mine to own. I cling to the warmth of my comforter as I contemplate whether or not the cold floor is worthy of my warm toes. So I lie here zoned in thought. The possibilities of what could be achieved in the coming hours are but an illusion. Reality is that my day will be spent chasing after a curious crawler, and answering the questions of an intuitive 6 year old.

I love my girls.

But these still, quiet moments of a potential day are treasured. I need them to regain focus and strength. I need them to reinforce my prospective. I need them to reprieve insight and direction.

There is so much in me right now that is bursting. There is so much I want to do. And although I am somewhat limited as to what is accomplished due to my priorities of family, I am not giving up. Every day new ideas are propelling out and I find myself hunched over my sketch book eagerly trying to convey the concepts. I have filled 2 full sketchbooks within the last month. And as I feel compelled to release these creative burst, I feel a shift in my artistic direction…I want to do more. It’s extremely exciting because I feel as if I am pressing forward toward my dreams. And it’s all incredibly scary at the same time.

I have challenges ahead. I know this. But who I am…this whole creative person who came from the tormented thinking of “I’m not good enough” to the realization that my art is real and yes, it does have potential. This journey…my journey…has been a miracle of Faith and the result of persistence. Everything inside of me is pushing me forward.

It’s time to be brave.

WBW 3

This is a canvas journal I painted this week. It is going to be my new inspirational journal. I’ve been on Pinterest a lot lately and as much as I love it, I wanted something substantial to hold in my hands…something I created. I imagine clippings of magazine pictures, snipits of ribbon, and tidbits of tiny treasures. It’s going to be lovely.

I really enjoyed creating the texture on this cover:

WBW 1

What keeps you motivated and moving toward your dreams? Do you have a favorite inspirational quote? Would love to hear it!

Thanks for letting me share,

Bindy

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

Just Be Who You Are

Original mixed-media art. Self-guided by Suzi Blu’s Petite Dolls workshop.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Suess

I’ve been a huge fan of Dr. Suess since I was a kid…and it has continued all through my life. One time when I was in college working on a term paper, I secretly snuck into the children’s books and snatched a copy of Green Eggs and Ham…I hid it in my research book so while others thought I was reading the ploy behind WW2, I was actually getting my kicks out of Sam I Am trying to convince a stranger to eat green eggs and ham. Yes, I did that. So you can imagine my delight when my husband bought this same book for my daughter this week. She comes bounding in the house bouncing the bright orange book up and down pleading for me to read it to her. I was in the middle of packing my stash of fabric when she asked. Do I continue to finish what I was doing or have a timeout with Dr. Suess? It was an obvious choice: Green Eggs and Ham. Honestly, I don’t know who was more excited. And as I read through the story, the simple charm of it all brought back a wave of comfort, and I finished it with a smile on my face.

I love Dr. Suess. I’m fascinated by the way his mind works and his imaginative perception of reality. How anybody could think up the quirkiness he has is beyond me. To me, Dr. Suess is the king of doing his own thing, an original, and in the process he changed an entire generation’s ideology of children’s literature. *Over 200 million copies of his books found their way into homes and hearts around the world. But his journey wasn’t an easy one and required persistence. Did you know that one of the first children’s books he tried to publish, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it became published by Vanguard Press? He probably was told in the beginning that his stories were too quirky, too farfetched, unrealistic. Exactly. This is why they carry such an appeal. No more Dick and Jane does this, Dick and Jane did that (and I have no problem with this cute series). But he created these outlandish stories of made up characters intertwined with the philosophy to THINK on your own. Do you own thing. Don’t be afraid to be creative. Pursue your dreams. Oh the places you’ll go! Just BE WHO YOU ARE. Cause being who you are is exactly who you were meant to be.

 

*Resource: http://www.catinthehat.org/history.htm