Come the spring…..

and it is the time when I get distracted and move from one creative activity to another, but more frequently. There’s so much to DO!!

A buddy of mine says that’s a characteristic of “cafeteria artists.” I’m not quite sure what that means, but as long as it involves appreciating a lot of activities through which I have a variety of creative pursuits, yeah….that would be me. 

 

 The alpacas have had their yearly haircuts, which provides me with plenty of fiber for future projects. 

  And out in the experimental garden, I’ve been thinning mints and herbs to see what else I’d like to add for this growing season. I’ve started seeds in the tiny greenhouse (not shown here) and will have a few vegetables to add in a few weeks. 

Big Garden and Little Garden have a more “traditional” method of planting, and by that, I’m referring to the use of a tractor, a tiller and Mr P maintains a lot of the work for that. We produce vegetables and harvest enough to eat fresh foods, share, and save some for later. I grow a few flowers in Big Garden.  

But in Experimental Garden–E Garden– I try different things in different ways, and when something grows, it grows, and I appreciate that. 

My point is this: when I am in E Garden, I take chances. I’ve learned to trust that things will develop and come to be if I’ve done what I can, what I love, the conditions are right for growth, and I nurture the project. And I look for signs and believe in the balance of luck and hard work. 

Happy Creating!

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Directions and Side Trips

     

New York, New York!

I visited Grand Central Station/Terminal, the New York Public Library and attended the winter conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators(SCBWI). What a GREAT experience; to be surrounded by so many other creative minds!! Check out the website http://www.scbwi.org for more information about the conference. 

 

There have been so many things to think about upon returning home; plans for future projects, works in progress. Yet, I decided I needed to re-examine some of my ideas, but THIS time, with a different focus. 

I picked up a wonderful picture book at the conference by speaker Kate Messner, with artwork by Christopher Silas Neal called UP IN THE GARDEN AND DOWN IN THE DIRT. It will be a wonderful gift for my granddaughter, and I’ll give it to her–right after I finish using it. See, as I began to review some of my own manuscripts, I felt as though I wanted to know if they could move along in a story line, too. The sketches above are my interpretation of the layout for Ms. Messner’s and M Neal’s book. 

I’ve worked this week on sketching at least six other picture books, by other authors/illustrators. It has been a most rewarding creative learning experience. 

From there, I can use my own words to do rough sketches for possible picture book projects. The next steps, at least for me, will be to get professional opinions about the manuscripts. 

Happy Creating, today and every day. 

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Heart Made

Making and sharing handmade items for gifts is part of my life and has been for as long as I can remember. 

I have been largely influenced by two grandmothers. One encouraged me to sew and I would make doll clothes using pieces of fabric from her scrap piles. I learned how to remove stitches if they weren’t doing the job and appreciate quality handwork. 

That led me to sewing larger projects–among those were a dress for my first prom, several outfits for formal wear and eventually a design for my wedding dress. It was a simple idea really: chiffon poncho over a crepe flowing, below the knee-length gown with a diagonal hem that pointed down instead of horizontally.  (By then it was the late seventies and my hair was  flowing longer, too.) 

The other grandmother taught me how to crochet, but I never learned how to read a pattern for my needlework. She would encourage me to look at something or visualize how I wanted something to be, and use a series of stitches to make it be that way. And when I taught myself to knit I unravelled almost as much as I created until I felt it was the best it could be. “If you leave it in there and don’t fix it, you will always know it is still in there,” she would say. She was right.  

I hope to pass along the love of making and giving handmade gifts  

 

and when I need those ideas and memories to develop characters in my writing– well, it’s come full circle and I know I’m honoring a heritage of my own. 

Happy creating! 

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Almost Shopping; Photos Instead

My favorite places to look for those most unusual gifts are in flea markets, estate sales, or by-the-side-of-the-road artist or craftsperson’s studios.

But I didn’t need to be shopping for MYSELF this holiday season! The whole point of shopping is to buy something unique to give or share with someone else.

So I took photos instead:

  
This first image is of a coloring book with illustrations in it from illustrator Kate Greenaway. I enjoyed looking through the book and have appreciated further research into more of her illustrations.

  
This four harness weaving loom looks like a lot of fun, but I had to be practical here–I just don’t have any room in the fiber part of my studio, nor do I need any other “distractions” as I work on my current writing project.

  
Ahhh….but THIS, this is like seeing a long ago friend! Of course, it came home with me. This is a Little Red Spinning Wheel, from Remco and copyrighted 1961. The red wheel turns by hand and creates tubes of knitted yarn which can be joined together to fashion bedroom slippers, purses, or rugs–depending on how long the crafter’s patience holds out. The direction book is still with it, however, it might look too complicated for the four-year-old that I have in mind.

I will play with, er…practice…using this before I pass it along as a gift to my favorite younger artist/craftsperson/best-little-friend. I think she’ll love it as much as I did. Still do. We can work on it together and take turns.

Happy Creating!

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Having Myself a Crafty Little Christmas

Wait…..I thought I’d started EARLIER than usual this year!

And now I see that the countdown to Christmas has begun.

I mean really, I couldn’t believe it when Holiday Decorations began to appear in stores so that everything began to appear on the shelves at about the same time. Three occasions, bam bam bam, right in a row. I watched a Christmas Movie on Cable TV while waiting for Trick-or-Treaters! I couldn’t begin to make decorations THEN because, well, it just didn’t seem possible to be coming so SOON!

I especially enjoy making cards and decorations. Okay, we can get into all the debates in the world along the lines of “What Is ART?” or CRAFT vs. ART, and the merits of one over the other, but really? I like to make fun things that fit into the categories of both. And I REALLY enjoy seeing how I can recycle gently used items into another project.

I have a crafting table set up in the space between my open area kitchen and living room that has been there since Thanksgiving of last year. I have no plans to remove it anytime soon, because it is great when I have just a few minutes here and there to work on a project. I may move stuff to make room for holiday foods to be served, but the space is right in the middle of everything.

Here’s a sneak peek into what’s in my kitchen:
 

  

and I wish for you a safe and restful holiday season, too.

Happy Creating!

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Good Material

We’ve had several days of rain these last few weeks. 

Wind, too. The windmill went crazy. Pieces here; scraps over there. It is now in the Restoration Stage. 

But the Treehouse escaped damage from every tree that fell in the forest. See? Although just barely visible, we were able to move and cut the surrounding trees and will have wood to use for other building projects. 

  

We’ll haul the wood up to the sawmill we’ve constructed on our property. 

Oh yes. There is now a sawmill. My contribution was to photograph the original sawmill before it was disassembled and then moved. I had to draw and label pieces, as well as make working diagrams in order to be able to put it back together again. 

So the storms have provided us with good building material. We’ll cut the logs here:

  

And build a footbridge and shelter here:

  

We will have good materials for building. 

A creative group of writer friends will be sharing some tips and their knowledge about Writing Middle Grade novels. Check them out if you’d like to learn more:  they are using their collective skills to build something wonderful as they set up their blog tour. 

Check out the Middle Grade Mafia at:

www. middlegrademafia.com and tell them I said “hi.”

Happy Creating!

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Reminders

I use my cell phone for so much more than having conversations. 

The kids said, ” Mom, when you figure out how to use it, you’re gonna LOVE this phone.”

I won’t go so far as to say that, but I will admit to it having a few very useful functions.  

I use the camera as a visual note-taker. I keep it in my pocket when I go for walks in the woods and it’s like shorthand for writing.       

Way out in the back of the yard are some very interesting residents, pictured here, and while it is true that you can write about what you KNOW, you can also write to discover things you’d like to learn more about. 

These cars have their stories, too.  I just need to discover what that was, is, or will be. And after the research will come the writing to bring those stories to light.  

Happy creating!

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Road Trippin’

 

The colorful leaves called from the mountains, so of course, we had to go.    Another road trip!

We ended up at a combined event– antiques AND tractors mixed with flea market finds as far as the eye could see. I. Was. So. Happy!

 

 Even more so when I discovered this little find. It’s a Troll House with residents, and for a brief moment I became eight years old again. I used to have one just like this and learned how to make tiny stitches with needle and thread as I created costumes for my trolls using scraps of material from my grandmother’s sewing pile. 

Rust is a favorite color and there were piles of things I could look through, almost like a game of I Spy. 

 

And I found a lawn mower that could’ve shortened the time spent cutting the grass considerably. 

 

 But although the sights were fun and the smells of the foods was mouthwatering, what I enjoyed most were the unmistakable sounds

 

of an old “Hit or Miss” engine, and

 

 the buzz of a  chain saw, from  an artist who was most definitely Happy Creating, too! 

 

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Where Are (All) The Ideas?

Ideas are all around if I take the time to look for them. They come from unexpected places sometimes.

And then sometimes, it might seem as though they’re nowhere to be found. Have you ever felt like that?

I’ve just finished reading a book that I’d like to recommend if you are finding you’re in a slump or just need something to propel you forward with your work-in-progress. The book is called “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. One of the concepts in the book asks the reader to consider what happens if an Idea comes to visit. It wants to be friendly, to interact with the reader, and if someone is not able to accept it, that Idea will go away and visit with someone else. Quite possibly it feels as though it’s being ignored. That’s an interesting way to look at things, but to me, it explains quite a lot.

Chicken1

I’d like for you to meet Rosie. Rosie came to visit as the result of some chicken trading with one of our neighbors. The other chickens we have wouldn’t accept her, so we had to come up with separate living arrangements. However, Rosie seemed to want to go “walkabout” and every morning, she would meet me in the backyard somewhere, or wander through the pasture to the amusement of the alpaca. She has a three foot vertical leap. She can fly short distances too, which would not bode well for her should she drift or wander too close to the dog enclosure. Rosie is pictured here as she is figuring out how to travel from the top of her chicken coop, over the chicken wire, and out into the yard. She’s smart. I had to readjust that enclosure to keep her inside and safe.

Watching Rosie plants a seed in my imagination for a tiny aspect of something in my writing, because as chickens go, she’s got quite a personality, too.

I’ve just returned from a Southern Breeze SCBWI Writing for Kids Conference in which I carpooled with two of my writer buddies. On the dashboard of the car was this tiny figure, placed there by the driver’s son, as a token of love and remembrance.

Chicken2

A chicken. With personality.
And it’s really kinda cute, too!
What a wonderful thing it can be, for the Creative Universe to send me such a message.

And so today, I am working on character descriptions and plot outlines–putting pen to paper because that’s how the work gets done. Dear Rosie remains as a chicken, without human characteristics, but still, with the personality of a Very Interesting Chicken.

Everything I’ve learned and the inspiration I received at the conference will help to keep me going in a positive direction, too.

Wishing you creative travels on your journey.

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The Colors of Summer

I love October!  Fall brings changes in colors of leaves. They are beginning to tumble around my feet as cooler breezes blow through the pastures. 

I’d like to take one look back to the colors nature gave me before letting go of summer. 

 

The zinnias were fairly easy to grow. I dug two short rows beside the green beans and cantelopes we planted out in Big Garden.  They must have liked the company because once they started blooming, I had bouquets of colorful flowers in vivid color combinations.  My visits to the garden aren’t providing as many vegetables as  we had in the summer, but I’m hopeful for fresh flowers at least until the first frost. 

    

What tasty treats these jellies will be! From left: pepper, mint, and “mock” strawberry jellies. The bell peppers and tomatoes (yes, tomatoes!) we grew in the Little Garden. The mint came from my herb garden. Just a couple of drops of green food coloring will help me tell the difference between the two at a glance. But don’t the colors look exciting? Yummy, too. 

Happy Creating!

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