Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Watched Pot

Ever the impatient person, my Grandmother would frequently find occasion to say to me "a watched pot never boils". Thinking of my dear Grandmother as I stare at my newly completed oil painting, I think I will adapt that sentiment and say "a watched oil painting never dries". 

Standing there on the easel, four feet wide and two feet tall, I see a canvas heavy with wet oil paints. I stare at it contently. I'm happy with this painting. I'm happy with the way it looks, and with the way it makes me feel when I gaze upon it. I'm also delighted with the relatively short two months it took to paint it. What I'm not happy with is the long, minimum six month wait before I can even varnish it, much less consider it ready for framing and hanging. 

Normally, I allow my paintings to become touch dry on the easel. I then move it aside to a safe location to dry completely, before returning it to the easel for varnish and round two of drying. A simple enough process, but alas, not this time. 

We recently discovered that we would be moving interstate in April. A discovery we made when the painting was already 90% completed. Armed with this fresh knowledge, I set about hurrying to complete the painting in hopes that it would at least be moderately touch dry in a few weeks when we move. 

Movers and wet oil paints are bound to be a combination resulting in a spectacular failure. In hopes of avoiding such a mess, I will endeavor to lay it flat in the back of the car, as our family drives from state to state, attempting to keep pace with a moving truck that presumably doesn't need to stop for the quantity of potty breaks and diaper changes that we will be making. 

The moving truck will most certainly arrive long before we do, but hopefully, we will have a fun, joy filled trip, and will arrive healthy and safely, with an unblemished oil painting, slowly drying as it goes on its first multi-state tour. 

Every day is an adventure. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

New Children's Book

I've never been particularly good at being idle. Sure, I like to relax, watch a movie or TV show, but it doesn't take long before I feel guilty for not achieving something from my overwhelming "to do" list. I even tend to do tasks during commercial breaks, just so I don't end an hour at a total loss for achievement. I don't know if that makes me nuts or just hyperactive? Perhaps it is just the plain, simple fact that I love my two little boys so much that I want to spend every possible minute with them, and subsequently need to do absolutely everything else while they sleep. 

I'm rarely happy with how much I achieve in a month. I seem to add more to my "to do" list each day than I cross off of it. January however, has proven more successful than many months of late. I finished writing Chapter 9 of my upcoming novel "J159". I completed an oil painting I've been working on for far too long, and made a decent start on my largest oil painting to date. I've had some personal successes in my home and family life and things have been going very well (despite pneumonia and then the flu... But that's another story). 

Oh yes, and what about the title of this post?

My "idle" moments in January were often filled with illustrations for my latest children's book: "Circles All Around". It has just been released and is available on Amazon worldwide in both paperback and kindle formats. For folks in Australia and other markets who notice their local Amazon website only offers the Kindle version, don't give up the hunt there... Amazon USA will ship the paperback version to you. 

Circles All Around is an illustrated children's book aimed at the early childhood, first readers market. It is designed to encourage young minds to seek out the finer details in what they see. Like a scavenger hunt throughout your home, this book helps children identify shapes within shapes, aiding pattern recognition and drawing skills.

I hope you enjoy this new book as much as my boys do, and that you have fun sharing it with the young children in your life. No electronic toy can replace that attentive interaction when you read with a child. Enjoy it. Inspiring children to read is a wonderful thing, seeing the smile on their faces when they enjoy your enthusiastic storytelling, is even better. 

Happy Reading folks!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Attitude Adjustment (Creative Diary Part 6)

I don't have anything remotely profound to say today, or do I? Just the honest realization that a concerted effort to adjust my attitude and interrupt my tendency to "go too far" (see previous blog entry) have proven relatively successful thus far this year.

In my constant desire to achieve more, I rarely know when to call it quits, take a break, or a start working on something else. I'm the most stubborn person I know. This is no easy thing to admit to yourself - trust me.

Being stubborn can often be a blessing. It can help you achieve things when doubters said it couldn't be done, or more specifically, when they said "you couldn't do it". So, on many occasions, I've worn my stubbornness as a badge of honor. I know how much it has enabled me to achieve. It was only recently (New Year's Eve), that I realized that my previously worn badge of honor, could also be a great source of problems if I didn't stay in control of it.

With a renewed desire to take control of my stubbornness, January 2016 has taken on a slightly different tone for me, than that I'm accustomed to. I've tried hard to pay attention to the signs of when I'm going too far. Times when I'd normally keep trying to repair a flaw in a painting until the point of frustration, exhaustion, anger, and even tears, are now gone. Now I'm able to see things going slightly down hill, pause, step back, and make the decision to stop work on the project in question and simply come back later, sometimes allowing hours or even days to pass. Does the waiting still bother me? Of course it does! But at least I have the ability to actually stop myself before I make things worse.  That's substantial progress for me!

So what have these seemingly slight changes meant in real terms? So far this January, I've been happier, calmer, and more productive. My family have said it is a noticeable change. I've completed an oil painting that I'd been working on for far too long, and I'm already half way through a much larger, more ambitious oil painting (see the work-in-progress photo attached to this blog entry). I have a long way to go with the painting before completion, but what I've achieved in it so far, I'm happy with; plus I'm actually enjoying the process. I've completed a few more illustrations for my next children's book, and wrote chapter 9 of my upcoming novel J159.

As I mentioned earlier, my family have noticed too. I have more energy, and enjoy more family fun activities and general play time with my beautiful little boys. My attitude adjustment has literally made it easier for me to see the joyful perspective with which my children see the world. It has helped me to enjoy it with them wholeheartedly. Rather than just put on a "happy face", I feel that happiness inside and out.

So if you are like me, and have spent most of your life ignoring or even mocking people who talk about a sunny disposition and how helpful it can be... Take it from me, It really can make a difference.

I can't take all the credit however. I prayed over this matter, personally, and with a dear friend at Church. I truly believe this change in me was inspired by God. I'm just pleased I was finally able to follow His instructions!

If you don't believe in God, that's your choice. If you think I'm nuts for believing He inspired this change, that is well within your right too. I won't try to change your mind about that one little bit. Just take what you can from my life lesson. A concerted effort to change your approach and attitude can have an enormously positive impact on your life - no matter what uplifting place you find your inspiration.

I pray my positive change is permanent and that you may find your own inspiration for positive change too.

Blessings to all.