March 29, 2011

Around my home

I took a workshop called 'A Slice of Inspiration' with Darrah Parker over at the wishstudio. I didn't know it until I was doing it that I really, really needed that class. It was refreshing to walk around with her 'seeing' suggestions, capturing those details that I see but sometimes don't see.....

printer's drawers that house my bills and receipts

the almost tidy stairs where the light is lovely in the morning
lamp that was a glass jar at my entry
Max's trike in the fireplace???!!!

oh my speakers that make everything lovely

his patient waiting to get up

school in PJs

fridge love

I think that I like when my art time allows me 'see' my life, cause when I am just living it I know only the messy mundane.

Max is a typical 15 month old - climbing on tables and chairs, flushing the toilet, opening the fridge, rummaging in the pantry, spilling things just because he can. He is not bad, just curious. And messy. I can't watch him like I would a first child because I have to do school with the others. And so, he bounces around making messes that I have to tidy. I am so glad that God saw fit to give me an artistic vision. He knew I would not survive this crazy life without it!

March 25, 2011

Art has a life of it's own

I was really moved by this quote on Chatting at the Sky this week. Emily has been writing about art this year on her blog, so I have become a regular reader. She is a lovely writer, and seems like a nice, gentle, kind soul herself.

I am looking ahead and laying out possible 'big' artistic projects I want to work on. I have things I am making and I am doing creative things everyday - recently I have made 3 necklaces, altered a small journal cover, made a couple of cards, did a home photoshoot for the wishBIG ecamp (which I posted on Flickr), played with photoshopping two images together, wrote a few poems, edited 2 super short kid's videos and have a couple of mixed media projects for the weekend. And this will continue, but I need something new and consuming. Something exciting.

Usually, I panic when I don't have a project right in front of me. I get insecure. I call Shannon. I bug my husband. I flap my hands at God, even though I know that this in between project stage is part of the creative process. I just have to learn to let it sit well with me. Be okay with the uncertainty.

I think there is a little fear in me that I may never do anything worth a lick again. I am afraid that is it, the well is closed. But when I look back, that is never the case. I am constantly finding new things that excite me to do. 

But also, and why I like Emily's quote, "art has a life of it's own". So, art will find me as it always does. 


March 23, 2011

Journal prompt download

I created a pdf download to accompany my Good Coach series over at CRESCENDOh this month. Well, the download is available in this week's post and will be in the archives from now on!

There are 12 mixed media cards, some of which look like these photos (6 sheets, 2 up on a page) ready for you to print out at home and write on or cut up or whatever. Each card has a journal prompt that is related to the topic of artistic mothering. Just a little something to get you thinking.

If you want to download free some of my art head on over here.

 I also created a little folder to hold the 12 journaling cards so I have included also the how to directions for making the journal. It is really a simple project, and if you like folders and papers and books it is a satisfying project too. I hope you will take a moment to go visit and let me know your thoughts.

Oh and this weeks post is '5 tips for making time for art'. I wrote some pretty common sense things, but you know I need to be reminded of even the simplest things. When I doubt that, my husband says 'everyone knows how to do sit ups and other basic exercises, but there are countless exercise programs and books on the market which present some very basic truths over and over. He is right, we need to continually review and be reminded and refreshed. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to keep doing! 

These are the directions you get when you download the journal folder how to instructions!

I really appreciate Jenny Doh for creating this wonderful art space called CRESCENDOh and giving me the opportunity to be a part of it.

March 21, 2011

What happened at the front gate?

1:30 pm, I am at the front gate
sitting on the iron two seater
listening to my son cry for 'out' -
out of the stroller
out the straps that contain his form
of the wheels that brought him here.
He wants to explore -
walk the road
pick up rocks
examine the mail.

He knows not that there
is danger on the road -
fast cars, fire ants piled on the edge.
But more, he knows not that I am tired
I want to, no need to, sit here
quietly on this solid bench
away from the house
from the familiar asking of his siblings
from the sound of Schoolhouse Rock
multiplication songs,
songs, I know now by heart

He persists
he is his own energy force
and I am weak to his red round lips
his blond layers, his little boy blue.

A simple click of the red button
and he is free!

I rise and follow,

My camera now full of life.

I am breaking all the poetry rules by doing something so literal, but you know poetry of the ordinary is worth the rebellion ;)

March 16, 2011

Me too! video

Being the youngest of five Maximus has a lot of kids to watch and learn from. Fortunately, my big kids are wholesome and creative, fun and happy. Maximus likes to be with them and do what they do, go with their flow, join in the noise and be part of the ruckus.

The latest fad in the Cole home is scootering. Everyday my kids (minus Annie, who is just not the sporty type) go around and around the house, the garage, the driveway on their razor scooters. Their favorite place to scooter is outside on the road..... you can see what Max sees and how he wants to do it too:

Me Too! from Shona Cole on Vimeo.

And Laura, her sweet servant heart, is ready to help him in anyway he needs.

How is this boy only 10?

and me too! After that I raised the handle bars and man, those things can go fast!!!

If you are on Spring break, I hope you are having some fun family time. We are not as we had too much time off in January when my family were here! But it is hard to keep focused on grammar and math when the weather is so good in Texas. It is like an Irish summer, fresh and lovely. I love Spring.


I have a post over on CRESCENDOh about working with kids, it is a part 2 from last week's. I am talking about being mentally and physically prepared for doing art with kids. There is some meat there, some things to think about. I hope you check it out and if you do please leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts.

March 12, 2011

Motherhood v the world

I am not deaf to his call,
his smile, his neediness
I am not confused by the next step
he and I will take

His grip on my leg
so constant, so familiar
easing my days,
eclipsing the world outside.

By Shona Cole

March 09, 2011

I talk!

Last week I was interviewed by Jamie Ridler for her podcast series. I packed a whole lot of words into about 15 minutes about creativity in my life.
a necklace I made yesterday, photo by Lily

The questions she posed were essentially these:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your creative life.
How do you invite your creativity out to play?
As a creative person, what do you find to be your biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
What advice would you give to people who want to express more creativity in their lives?
What's next for you?
Where can people find you?

So follow this link to hear the full podcast.

(Super unprofessional disclaimer: I have a hard time listening to the sound of my voice. As I am posting this I have only listened to about 30 seconds of my part of the podcast. Jamie sounds great, but from me all I could hear was 'like' and 'um'. So I turned it off. But Shannon listened and said it sounds like me, and she should know we are on the phone every day.)

I really appreciate Jamie taking the time to include me in her very full line up of wonderful, creative women. For a full list go here.

At the end of the podcast I mention 2 places to find me in March:

1) Over at CRESCENDOh's 'The Good Coach' series, talking about motherhood and art with kids.

2) Leading one of ten online workshops at the Wishstudio's - wishBig eCamp. It is an amazing line up of teachers, including Jamie Ridler. It is on march 21 – march 27, 2011. For details and to sign up go here.

My workshop is on creating and decorating an Artistic Vision Statement, which is a vital tool in keeping your art fires burning, especially when you have little kids in your life.

March 08, 2011

My latest kid's crafts

So moving on from my introspective post yesterday (thank you for all the supportive comments) - Annie got a very cool craft book from Shannon's little girl Nomi for her 5th birthday. It is called Make it by Jane Bull. We have slowly been working through the projects.

I love this book cause you get to use stuff you already own. I believe it is a matter of good character to not waste things and to use what we have to the fullest. I rarely have anything to donate as we use stuff until it is ruined or altered!
paper mache bowl by Annie, 5

I love how my girls approach crafts. Every day they make something out of whatever is around the house whether I initiate it or not. And when they do, they are so enthusiastic, they always run into their dad (who works from home) to show him what they made. They are addicted to his constantly over the top, positive reaction to every little morsel they make! And then they want me to photograph it! So sweet. Art is a family affair in the Cole home.

Bags made from old jeans - these were super simple to make and so cute!!
Annie wanted to set up her mat like the one in the book!

I know that doing art with kids can seem overwhelming. But I believe that it is worth the time, effort and inevitable mess! Really, art is an essential part of my kid's education. Over at CRESCENDOh this week I have a fun, practical post about introducing art to your kids. Next week I will be talking about mental and physical preparation. Good stuff.

I hope you will visit me there and add your thoughts and ideas.

March 07, 2011

Embracing my dillettante nature

where I do a lot of thinking
 \ DIL-uh-tont; dil-uh-TONT; dil-uh-TON-tee; -TANT; -TAN-tee \
1. An amateur or dabbler; especially, one who follows an art or a branch of knowledge sporadically, superficially, or for amusement only.
2. An admirer or lover of the fine arts.

I am in an introspective mood right now, looking at where I have been, where I am going. Considering my long and short term goals, my vision of myself.

You may wonder why I am still working on my vision of me. Why I am still trying to find that elusive sense of 'Active Satisfaction'. Well, I think with having published a book I felt that my next step needed to be 'professional' - to do another book, to market my current book, develop a product line, be a teacher, move my blog to the next level of greatness. And somewhere along the way I thought that to be a professional meant I needed to focus on one thing, to develop one art further.

But that was stressing me out because in reality 1) I am a homeschool Mama of 5 kids under 10 and 2) I have never been an exclusive person, I like to artistically dabble. And I am tired of feeling like this is not good enough, that I am not doing enough. I am tired of not being satisfied with myself. Seriously folks, in 2011 I am going to get my head around this!!!

In my introspective mode I was looking at the blogs I have bookmarked. The blogs that I visit for inspiration, for comfort, to be close to those I identify with and like. And I noticed the diversity of blogs I like:

Mama/photographers like Shutter Sisters, Shannon Mucha
Christian/writer/photographers like Chatting at the sky, Amy Voskamp
Mama/organic/life like Soule Mama, Walk slowly, Live Wildly
Artist/poetic/life style like Kelly Rae Roberts, Liz Lamoreux
Journal artists like Alisa Burke, Donna Downey
Lifestyle/women/artsy like Wishstudio
Crafty/mama/homeschooling like Artful ParentAcorn Pies
Crafty/mama/shabby chic like Ruffle and Stuff, One Pretty Thing
Crafty/indie/mama like Made, I am Momma - Hear Me Roar
Artist/indie/geeky/urban like Etsy's blog, or Keri Smith
Poetic/artistic/photographers like Susan Tuttle Misty Mawn
Mixed media/crafty/shabby chic/lifestyle like CRESCENDOh, Cynthia Shaffer, Roben-Marie,
Mixed media like Create Mixed Media, Seth's The Altered Page
Product photography/house style like A Creative Mint, Decor8

All of these blogs have bits that resonate with me.

While I know my primary focus is, big picture, on motherhood and art - my style and process is really that of a dilettante. Yes, I dabble in different arts and in different styles.

I like shabby chic, artsy romantic, clean, white and urban, indie and geeky, layered, whimsical and happy, sad and decaying. I am all of these things. I love poetry - reading it and writing it. I love photography - looking and taking. I love pretty things in my hands - notebooks, altered tins filled with papers. I enjoy doing crafts. I like to write and inspire others.

I am ambitious for my creativity. But I don't want to be a professional anything right now. I don't want to be 'an artist', to market and sell my book/art. I don't want a shop or to be a leader. I just want to be here, raising my kids and doing something creative everyday. And isn't that the essence of my book?

So really I am full circle again. Just this time I won't get side tracked by the idea of being an advancing professional woman. While I admire women who are professional, think Jenny Doh or Kelly Rae Roberts, I need to be real with where I am right now. And if I am to be true to my vision as an artistic mother, fitting creativity into my life, then I can really only be a 'dilettante'. I need to actually embrace that and save the professional ambitions for later, when my kids are grown. 

I feel like I am putting my flag firmly in the ground, here I am and this is what I am. That feels freeing!!!

March 03, 2011

History is fun!

We are doing Roman history this year in school. Matthew is in 7th grade and studies under his dad's capable hand. I work with the girls on 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades.

Matthew is a reader, he reads something, it makes sense to him, he integrates it into his vast knowledge bank and that is that. When I did 3rd grade Roman history with Matthew he would glance at the craft offerings that accompanied the lesson and say 'Mom, we don't have to do that, do we?' I quit offering, relieved that I didn't have to get all the supplies out and end up doing it all myself!

My 2 older girls on the other hand are not really into words. They need visuals and hands on learning. They fidget when I read to them, they can hear my words over and over 'Republic.... Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon.... Empire... expansion.... Augustus.... blab blab blab.... but it is just not sinking in.

Fortunately, I have a book that saves history from doom - Classical Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in Ancient Greece and Rome.

The way I can get them to sit and listen to the historical facts is by the promise of a related craft. We have done many from this book. (I really should be photographing this stuff more. But my days are so FILLED with crafts and creativity it has almost become ho hum. Will do better.)

So here is my 1st/2nd grader Laura as the Roman girl in her stolla (p. 104) with her beaded bracelet (p. 110). I liked this craft because it involved more than just cardboard and paper!

Oh, last night at I was giving Lily her cuddle she actually said 'history is fun'! I am telling you that is big Cole news!!

(that is paint on her hand and arm!!! left over from some other, unsupervised creative activity)
Mum, you need to come to visit.... the girls have forgotten how to brush their hair ;) we need you!

March 01, 2011

The Good Coach on CRESCENDOh

Each week in the month of March I will be offering a series on The Good Coach section of Jenny Doh's CRESCENDOh.

My topic is, as you can imagine, on Artistic Mothering.

Week one - Doing what you love (in a nutshell, doing art regardless of how tired you are)
Week two - Practical tips for introducing art to your children
Week three - Practical tips for doing art with your kids
Week four - 5 tips for finding the time for art - * Update * This post has the journal prompt download.

All this is free!

And I will be offering a free journal prompt download to compliment the series and free directions on making a folder to house your journal prompts. Each of the 12 prompts features mixed media/photos by me coupled with relevant journal prompts. I will let you know when the download is available.

I hope you will take a chance to visit me on CRESCENDOh today and for the next 3 weeks and let me know what you think.


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