Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Christmas Book

A new book to review for this post, and as per usual, I had to color the intro pages leading into the actual pages.

This book is Jingle Bells A Christmas Carol Coloring book by Odessa Begay.  This is just a smaller book, but it's a fun one, with nostalgic style drawings by Ms. Begay.  I enjoyed coloring the first few pages, which took me back to the days when people Caroled without fear of being shot or attacked as they might today.  It's been years since I've heard of or seen any Carolers in any neighborhood, and I miss that.  We used to do that when we were little with our church children's choir.  I don't know if my brothers or sister liked it, but I did, and I loved afterwards when we'd go back to the church and have hot chocolate and christmas cookies.

Hopefully you'll find some things this year that take you back to times you loved too.  I think you'll agree that this book is filled with drawings that take you back too.  I'm sure to have more Christmas books to review this year, one is actually from last year, and I got it after the end of season, but you never know you might be able to find it somewhere if you like it.  For the moment, enjoy today's entry!

I'm sure I'll be posting more before Christmas, but hopefully this season will keep you light-hearted and merry!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Black Friday and the Christmas Season

We all know why it's called Black Friday.....because to be "in the black" means profits for businesses.

But, I've been contemplating a lot of things lately, including why I have never, nor will I ever go out on Black Friday.  It's nothing to do with my anxiety, although, I couldn't handle the crowds at this point in time, I'd be on the floor in a full anxiety attack for sure, or darn close to if I manage to push it down, and would likely be trampled because of it.  But no, that's not my reason for not going.  Even prior to this debilitating anxiety, I never did.  Because to me Black Friday means something far more sinister.  The best and worst of humankind comes out on that day, and acts of violence for various reasons is just mind boggling.  Because it's necessary to shoot someone and be carted off to prison for life over someone having gotten the last "in stock" item of choice when you wanted it.  Because pushing, shoving brawling over a piece of clothing is necessary, loss of life to someone's loved ones and having to explain, "well, dear son/daughter (insert name), Mommy/Daddy is dead because someone decided that the lead in day to the official Christmas season was the proper moment to commit murder because he/she happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Yes, it is indeed Black Friday for far more reasons than we admit to ourselves, but there is also opportunity to do good, even on that day.  What we take from it depends on what we put into it.  We can be part of the blackness and bleakness of this day each year, or we can be determined to either boycott this day, stay home, or should we go out, be of help to others rather than a hindrance.  I look for a day when this day and this season, which is my favorite time of year, shows all the best in humanity and the ugliness is pushed far far below into the depths of anonymity.  Every year, I pray that no mishaps or violence happens on this day, and every year I am disappointed in humanity.  I feel for the families of those who lose their lives, or are subject to acts of violence and thus must explain that ugliness happens to their children, or grandchildren etc, even in such special times that should be meant for and filled with love.  Love of family and our fellow man.

I will continue to hope for and pray that this day each year will see a lack of violence towards others, until such a time as this happens.

That having been said, I also contemplated about Santa Clause.  Granted, we all know there is a basis in history for a figure that did deliver oranges etc to needy children during this time of year, and thus the story began, and grew.  I however, believe that Santa does exist, in the hearts and minds of every man, woman and child who sees others in need, and reaches out if they can, or points them in the right direction for help if they can't.  It's something that happens more at this time of year, because this time of year reminds us to be kind and loving to others.  But, there are those that have this spirit all year round, and they are the ones who are the true Santa's in our world.

It's fun for all of us who are able to do for our families, and get them things that we believe they will like or love, but it's even more sweet to do for someone you may never see, but know that you've done something from your heart to make sure someone else has a good memory, whether it be this time of year or something that they will treasure every day.  I am by no means a wealthy person, but I do try to do for others when I can.  I just wish I could do more.

Just remember, keep the spirit of this time in your hearts all year if you can, let your heart be filled with love an light, and remember, there are a lot of people in this world that would have their day turned around with a kind word, a door held, or some small bit of help you can offer.  Then maybe, next year, Black Friday won't be quite so black.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gel Pens, a New book, Cards, and sharing another's art too!

In my last post I shared a lot of information, some about coloring and some about other areas of creativity such as sewing, and let you know that I'd be trying a new form of medium for coloring.

To date I've tried the gel pens on the cards to color and share.  I've done one card, but then to give a fair review to the gel pen medium I thought I should do it more justice with another, larger piece of art.  The cards to color and share are from Christian art gifts, and the ones I got have a Bible verse on each one.  I think they'd be a super cute way to tell friends and loved ones that you care or are thinking of them with that, and perhaps a small handwritten note to go with it.  There is just too much unfun mail these days, so this would be a great pick me up to someone's day even if it isn't a HUGE present.  Just getting that, I did this for you and thought of you while I did it message across I think IS a huge present, because that means the whole time you sat there taking the time to color the card, you were thinking about them, knowing it was them you were sending this to, and dedicating that love and attention to making a nice little note and card for them.  I was mistaken when I said in the last entry that the cards felt "waxy", they do but only on the back side of them, so you can use any medium easily on the side with the designs.

The book I sampled for the gel pens was Color Me Happy, with narratives by Lacy Mucklow, and illustrations by Angela Porter.  I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this book, picture or medium when I started, the card didn't turn out as I'd have wanted, and I may still go back and go over the writing from Ephesians as the gel color obscured the message on the card.  So, as I was learning this medium I learned some pluses and minuses about the gel pens which I will list here for you as well.  I was both pleased and displeased with the experiment on the card, because in some ways it was a fun learning experience as I obscured one part of the card after another.

Let me explain, the gel pen expels the gel ink in a way that I imagine is thicker than markers, I will have to sample them later to see how that goes when I get a set.  It's sort of like a layer of paint, so over lines etc, you have to either choose a color or type of gel that won't completely cover the details so painstakingly added by the artist.  Also, the gel can be used very fast as you color your piece.  For instance, in the book piece, I used half of a gel pen for the background sky, BUT it was totally worth it I think you'll see.  These are some of the minuses, being careful HOW you color, AND the amount of ink used in the art, so if I decide to do a lot of this medium type, I may asses colors and types I use more than others, and stock up on that specific color or type of gel pen.

Some of the pluses though, will depend on how heavily you weight them, I would advise trying different mediums for yourself and review them with YOUR own opinion and not just mine, but the very biggest plus I think is the vibrancy of the colors used.  If you want a piece of art that is truly breath taking and vibrant, I think you can definitely get that affect from gel pens.  If you want to do shading, I'm not sure that's something possible with this particular medium, but other people may beg to differ, so if you love the nuances of shading and fading your colors together for different effects, then this might not be your medium to fall back on time and again.

I did enjoy having different gel pen types in this set, there were base colors, metallic colors and omgerd GLITTER COLORS!!!  As you can imagine the one I used half of as a sky color was a glitter pen in blue gel, sooooo, I am pretty sure I'd have to stock up on blue glitter gel pens.  I tried to incorporate different types in both of the pieces I will present for review here, and tried to take pictures of them at different angles so that you can see the glitter/metallic/flat or base type colors.  I'm not sure if that will come over well on the computer or through pictures, but I do hope so.

Also, it's an awful lot of fun to have someone that will color with you, even if it's not all the time.  Jason, did some pieces I will share today also, but only the two he most recently did.  It's rare that he will color with me, so him allowing me to share his contribution is very exciting!  I get to color or draw with mom and Alicia every once in a while when we have play days with our niece/granddaughter and I thoroughly enjoy that too.  At any rate, I hope that you sometimes have someone to sit and color with also, it's just an awesome and fun experience.

I thought it would also be fun to share a picture of my assistant as she sits on my lap and demands attention often disregarding that I would rather be using my hands to color instead of petting her at that particular moment.  It can be tricky to not color outside lines under those kinds of circumstances so a steady hand is helpful.  I should also share more about the book, Color Me Happy, I think it's pretty evident that I was getting more of a handle on the gel pen medium on the bird picture than I had on the card, but also, the book is divided into chapters to appeal to the things that make the greatest amount of people happy, so if one chapter doesn't hop out at you, another may very well lift your spirits.  As I said, the art didn't jump out at me looking at the uncolored picture, BUT once it was done, I was definitely pleasantly surprised at the result of the gel pens, and art itself and the way it all just came together.  So, if you are book shopping and something doesn't fully grab your attention, consider it, it may well be that once you get it and put hands and colors on, you may feel very differently.

As usual, I hope you get the very best out of your art, and explore your creativity, mediums and benefits you get from it, and I would be honored if you would share them with me.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Menagerie of Information

I have a lot of pictures and information to share today.

I love to try new things and share my experiences with everyone. Since my birthday month is this month, I'm supposed to flip my colors for the Red Hatters, and wear a lavender hat with pink clothes.  Since I was attending a Christmas party with my mother, I decided to look for a lavender Santa hat.  I saw a super cute red and white striped hat that was about 5 feet long but alas it was the wrong color.  I looked at Hobby Lobby and Michael's, and came up empty for a lavender Santa hat, so I decided to try my hand at making one for the party.  I got all my materials, some super soft fleece, a yard's worth, and some trim and a pom pom for the end.  I was sad that I didn't see pink trim, BUT the pom pom has some pink strands in it.

For anyone that wants to try this I'll go through the steps I took.  It really was easy even though my apartment is so small I can't get to my grandmother's sewing machine and had to do this by hand.  First measure your head, then fold the material in half and measure, making sure there is a few inches left so you can make a cuff and to account for making the seams by sewing, then cut diagonally to make a cone shape, making sure the fold is the end you're not cutting, then you only have one seam to sew.

Once it's cut and you sew the seam cuff it and then add your trim.  I had feathery trim and a pompom for mine as you saw in the first picture.  Because my feathery trim was thin I sewed it around the hat several times to make a thicker edge. I first sewed it to the cuff, and then for the additional wraps I tacked here and there, the feather trim to the feather trim.

I wore it to the party with mom yesterday, and a few ppl asked about my hat, so that was nice.  When I got home, I found I was fighting an anxiety attack since the Christmas party is a rather large party, but I was fortunate that it didn't advance to a full blown one, so that made me happy.  I had thought about piling it on top and pinning with some Christmas pins which would have been cute, but I draped it sort of like a scarf instead, which was also cute.  It was an awful lot of fun to make my own hat for the event and I may try my hand at doing some more later.

On to our next bits of information.  I've used different types of mediums for information on my blog in the past.  Recently, I decided I might like to try water colors and markers.  I didn't find markers......but I DID find gel pens.  The set I found was a set of 200, which was 100 colors, and then 100 refills.  I saw several sets like this, but ordered the least expensive one I found, that came with the refills.  They came beautifully packaged and I will be coloring with them soon to show you how things turn out, though I may also try to find a marker set later on to still try that medium.

AS you can see, they came in a protective box, and like the Artist's Choice pencil set I got they fold out.  There was also an Artist's choice gel pen set, which I may try at some future date so I can critique that for you, but for now, this will suffice.  The Artist's Choice set was slightly less than this one, but for a few dollars extra you got refills, so I went with this set instead.

I had also thought about trying REAL water colors, and since I'm not an accomplished artist with knowledge of all types of mediums I decided against a set that had tubes and mixing palettes.  Instead I went with a set that had cakes, and came with 36 colors, This gives a fairly broad set of colors, and I'm sure I can play with this and see if I can blend or mix colors.......though that makes me nervous.  Since my niece is still only 4, nearly going on 5, and I don't know what she might decide to be in her life besides a princess....which I fully support, I think I might get some sets I saw in Michaels that were relatively cheap for me, my sister, mother and her to use at my mother's house while we still get to have playdates each week.  We have only a year....well, less, to do this unless we can manage it on a weekend, and it will be precious times that we will all miss, since it's fun to spend time playing with her, but also to play with my mom and sister, and see them each week also, and to see how they grow in understanding and play along with my niece, as her understanding of the world grows and changes also.  Her earlier art shows growth so clearly, and how it changes shows her understanding of the world and the people in it.  We've been so fortunate to have such a wonderful, unspoiled, empathetic and unselfish little girl.  Much credit goes to her mother and father and all the other people in her life who've helped her grow.  I only wish I was closer to my nephews so I could see them grow and change as I can with her too.

I will, of course, add pictures of things as I try these new mediums, but I also wanted to share an accidental find.  I had thought I was adding a coloring book for my birthday to round out my order and save on shipping, but when it came, it was a surprise.  Little cards that came in a little box.  I think they feel a little "waxy" so the only medium I think may work on them, may very well be the gel pens, though I may try others to see how that works and share this with you also.  I think this is a very cute thing, as I can pop them into a card or envelope to friends or family just to say, I love you and am thinking of you each day.  These came in a little box, about 3 or so inches high and perhaps an inch and a half thick, and I think about 4 inches wide.  I'd have to measure to see, but you'll see them directly.

Last, but certainly not least is the first example of Millie Marotta's fourth book, Curious Creatures, in which, she also lists the animals in the back in the order they appear in the book.  Once again the art is beautiful and whimsical, and of course, I began with the first page.  This is a picture of flying fish, and I did enjoy coloring this.  I look forward to more art from her, though for the new mediums I think I may try other books for the moment so I can also review them for you here.

I hope you enjoyed all that I've shared today as much as I've enjoyed sharing with you, and as always, I look forward to what you share with me also....until then, ENJOY, and remember, there is no wrong way to appraoch your coloring thereapy, whether for stress relief or simply for enjoyment!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Another Millie Marotta Book

So, it's voting day, and I just completed a picture from another remarkable Millie Marotta book, Wild Savannah.

While I try and keep my PTSD in check as the news is on and the news is something that triggers rage in me, but I am listening to the weeble and wobble of two very unpopular candidates run for the Whitehouse.  I began with listening while I finished this picture, and now I'm hoping the blogging will aid in keeping me calmer....I've had a few outbursts so far, but they've been minor.  At any rate, the picture is done and then I'll do one for the final book from her before choosing whether to go back to the first one I got from her collection or something else.

A few updates, I did hear from the VA, which has increased me from 50% to 70%, so while it's going in the right direction it's still not yet completed.  This means more anxiety and fighting from me, to get them to finally increase it to where it should be, but it will be a little easier to breathe with a little more income while I'm continuing to fight.  I'm not the only one that has had a lengthy fight with the VA, and I'm sure I won't be the last, but I will say, though it's been long and tedious, and it does a number on me because of my anxiety, the people at the VA have tried their best to not exacerbate things, though simply making me continue to need to fight does this, they have not actively sought to make things worse on me.

I will keep this short so I can get back to coloring and trying to keep myself calm.  This entry is of birds in a grassland, all of this book deals with different grasslands in different areas of the world, so I can look forward to a lot of different animals throughout this book.

Hopefully you're getting all you can from your coloring too, and I will, as always look forward to seeing your artwork too!