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.

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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.

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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

Metamorphosis

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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

 

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

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:

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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:

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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.

With Brave Wings She Flies

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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.

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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:

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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

Taking Life as it Comes

“Sometimes we just have to take life as it comes, without resistance, without planning, without judgment. Because when we constantly try to control the outcome, we leave very little room for serendipity and growth.” ~Jeanine Caron

This holiday season my daughter was given Merry Christmas beans, which are these little beans you plant in accordance with a kit, and when they grow the beans have the words Merry and  Christmas on them. And yes, it’s a little late for them to sprout before Christmas, but my daughter was eager to plant her precious little seeds. So the first project we did this new year was plant seeds. Following the instructions, we took out the little, compacted disc of dirt and put in into the mini pot, and we watched in amazement as the soil expand when we added water. Then we carefully placed the 2 little seeds in the soil and put the pot in the cute little terrarium that came with the kit. And so it sits on our window sill in our kitchen while we anxiously await it’s growth. It has yet to sprout, but every day my daughter checks it with anticipation.

It didn’t resonate with me until a couple days later how symbolic this was of this new year. Our first project of 2013: Planting a seed.

See, I’m not very good with New Years resolutions as so many resolutions require an immediate change or action. I’m better with gradual development. In this instant generation where we want to see immediate results, I think sometimes we need to be reminded to just be patient with ourselves. Give ourselves time to grow. Plant the seed, nurture it, but don’t expect an immediate result. That’s what I’m working toward. I know there are things in my life that I need to work on, and my goal is to keep working toward them little by little. Like the little seed sitting on our sill…just give myself some time to sprout and grow.

Take life as it comes.

I suppose everyone has those times when life gives you an unanticipated series of events. I look back on 2012 and all the challenges our family went through, and although I have no regrets as most of these challenges were pretty consistent with just being a military family and relocating, I sometimes think about how 2012 changed the direction of our lives. From not knowing where we would move, to uprooting our lives and unexpectedly renovating a house (which is still a work in progress), to finding out I’m expecting our 2nd girl and dealing with severe morning sickness…yes, you could say 2012 has been an interesting year. And now I’m ready for 2013.

New things await in this upcoming year and I’m so excited. The new baby buzz is in full swing at our house and we get to welcome our new bundle of joy this spring. My daughter keeps asking if winter is over yet because she knows that spring comes next…and with spring comes her new baby sister. 🙂

But also with this new year comes a new year of creating. And this is very exciting as well. I have ideas swelling up in my head again (for awhile there I was so sick I could hardly think), and I’m ready to get moving. I’ve signed up for Life Book 2013  ( http://www.willowing.org/life-book-2013/) and I’m eager to see what new techniques I will learn in this new year.

Here are a few things I’ve managed to create in the last few months:

I made this for my Grandma’s 90th birthday. She is very special to me and one of those people that made such a huge impression on my heart. I spent my summers as a girl at her house planting flowers, watching birds, baking cookies and bread for the county fair, and just experiencing all the joys of being a little country girl. Love you, Grams.

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The picture quality is not the best with this one, but I painted this piece for my sister as a gift for Christmas. The words on the bottom say: Know in your heart that you are loved.

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And these are some Christmas trees I made a few weeks ago. I was inspired by a 2009 Somerset Life mag.

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Hopefully I won’t have to wait so long until the next post. Happy New Year!

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

Ladybug, ladybug…fly away home

This morning when I woke up, I discovered a ladybug perched on a foam flower magnet on my fridge. I have no idea how it got there, but I was certain that it was looking for something yummy to eat. I held out a strawberry for it to climb onto so I could put it outside, but it was terrified of the perspective of leaving its foam flower. So, I flicked it into a plastic cup (along with the strawberry) and took it outside where it could fly off on its own. I’d like to imagine that the ladybug flew off to some quaint little house where it is the pet to some mystical fairy…telling the fairy all about its mighty adventures in the house of fake flowers and forever grateful to the human that saved it.

Picture borrowed from Greenspirit Arts

Maybe it’s a folk fairy that lives there. Like the one I recently painted.

Folk Fairy I painted from Suzi Blu’s FAIRIES workshop

I decided to use pink…and yes, I know that’s a lot of pink. So before you think someone puked pepto bismol all over a canvas, keep in mind it’s for my daughter and she loves pink. And since this is for her new room in our new house, I figured I’d go for what she would like. And I’ll admit it…I love it, too! Yes, I’m a fan of pink…the color…and I’m not ashamed to admit it! I know some ladies who have little girls who refuse to be a pink fan because of the whole cliché of girls and pink. To each their own. My opinion? THEY ARE GIRLS. If they like pink, then they like pink…sobeit. Pink is a happy color, and I’m all for happiness!!

After all, some of the BEST quotes come from “pink” movies/shows:

“Sherlock” A Study in Pink:

“Try not to start a war before I get home – you know what it does to traffic.”

“Anderson, don’t talk…you lower the IQ of the entire street.”

 

Pink Panther (Inspector Clouseau):

[having stepped on and broken the violin] “Oh well, if you’ve seen one Stradivarius, you’ve seen them all.”

 

Pretty in Pink quote from Duckie:

“It’s called a sense of humor – you should get one – they’re nice.”

Start Every Day with a New Hope

Last night my hubby suggested going on a night stroll with our daughter. I love walking. It cools off after the sun goes down in the desert and it was a gorgeous evening. The only problem? Critters come out at night. You have to keep an eye out for anything moving in the shadows otherwise you could come head to head with a coyote, a bobcat, or worst of all…a rattlesnake. Now, last night was pretty uneventful. Until a good size mouse scattered across our path at break necking speed…my daughter and I squealed and my husband says, “Watch out for the snake!” I could feel the blood draining from my face. I whizzed around so fast I almost fell. My first instinct was to figure out how far the snake was from Faith, our daughter.

“What snake?” I asked searching quickly around us.

Hubby – “The one chasing the mouse.”

Me – “Where?”

Hubby – “He’s gotta be around here somewhere.”

I picked up on the smirky tone of his voice. By this time Faith was giggling.

I squeamishly laughed it off.

Good one.

We watched the mouse dash into his hole in the sand and I thought to myself…”yeah, buddy, I know how that feels!”

We’ve had a lot going on lately. Family visited. We went to Disney…which made me feel like I needed a vacation afterward. And last week we found out the military is moving us in a month and a half. Yippee. So I’m exhausted and a bit overwhelmed, and when that happens I tend to go into my “hole.” Yes, mister mouse, I can totally relate. I may not be chased by a snake (thank God), but I know where my comfort zone is.

Creating in my hole.

I decided to get crackin’ on my Dark Fairy. I’ve been working on her in the background for a while now and was finally able to finish her up this past week. The Dark Fairy, as taught by Suzi Blu in her Fairies class, is not necessarily “dark.” It’s a fairy that has been there for you through your dark times. Now I don’t want to divulge into the course material of Fairies, because I deeply respect Suzi and the amount of effort she has put into this class. But I will say this Fairy workshop will change your life. Suzi’s philosophy of all her fairies is fascinating, enriching and healing. IF there was ever a class I would recommend from her, this would be it. But I’ve said that about all her classes at one point. All I know is, 6 months ago I couldn’t sketch a face if I wanted to. Now? I’m doing stuff like this:

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The process of making this Fairy of Faith was invigorating. I feel I have learned so much through the process of this piece, and I’m eager to continue to learn from the other fairies in this workshop.

I’m so grateful to Suzi and what I have learned from her. One of the most important things is to be true to yourself. There are too many people in this world that don’t know how to be genuine because they have not been honest with themselves. One thing I have noticed about Suzi Blu’s school, Les Petite, is that there are so many artists there that have been through hell and back and they just want to paint. They want to be who they are, and they want to be in a place where they can be just that without anybody pointing a finger at them saying, “You’re not good enough.” No judgment. Be free. You can come as you are and discover that “You have everything inside of you to be an artist.” – Suzi Blu And this is exactly why I enjoy being a student at Les Petite.

I’m an artist. Suzi says so.

Painting My Way Through Journaling

When I was little, I had a diary that I filled with Lisa Frank stickers. I don’t remember really writing in it, but I remember the bright stickers of rainbows, roses, unicorns and panda faces. I loved that thing. One day I discovered Lisa Frank GLITTER stickers (they were really holographic, but they were shimmery and beautiful). It was life changing. I was discovering my love for color. And then Punky Brewster began to air on TV and all I wanted was to wear rainbow clothes and pig tails with yellow bobbles. But my hair wasn’t long enough, and all my clothes were handy-me-downs from my sister. My sister wasn’t into rainbow clothes.

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. ~Pablo Picasso

Making time for art has become a priority in my life.  I think at some point everyone hits a certain place in their life where they come to a crossroads. You decide to either dwell in the past and on your “failures”, or learn from your experiences and choose to press forward. Someone once told me that everything that has happened in my life is because it was suppose to happen; where I am now is exactly where I am suppose to be; and where I choose to go from there is my decision.

Recently I’ve had to learn to embrace my limitations and work through them. I may not be able to run a business because of my health (I had a successful artisan business last year), but I’m not going to allow that to stifle my creativity. Through art I have been able to thrive, and it has brought me much peace.

I finished painting my tower journal page from Suzi’s Art Journal class this past week, and as I was finishing it, tears flooded my eyes. I know it may seem corny to cry over art, but each element in this painting represents something very specific, and the symbolism manifested itself intensely. Sometimes art is fun and uplifting…sometimes it’s deep and heavy. I think both are important as I am developing my skill…creating sentiment through my art, even if the sentiment is only for me. The depth allows me to find healing.

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. ~Henry Ward Beecher

On Monday evening I followed an art-along that taught a background technique, so the following journal page was kind of done on a whim through the inspiration of that. It signifies a lady looking back on her youth remembering simpler times.

Ah, the simplicity of a toddler! I was watching my daughter today as she made herself an igloo out of a large cardboard box…the “egloo,” as she called it, looked more like a tent with blankets for a door, but she was perfectly content pretending she was an Eskimo. I thought it was kind of ironic that she was pretending to be an Eskimo when we live in the middle of the desert. I wonder if Eskimo kids ever pretend to play in sand huts. Not that we live in those here in Mohave.