Scraps from the Studio Floor + extra sweet RAK

Yesterday's post - and my own self-issued challenge to share something small every day - came about in this way: I had bought Show Your Work a few days earlier to prepare for the author's visit to my local bookshop. The talk Austin Kleon gave was funny and insightful, and I loved how he didn't have all the answers....just knew where you could probably look.

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One of my questions was this: if I am the kind of artist who has more than one interest or project going on, how will people follow the narrative thread? 

Answer: Watch Pulp Fiction to study disjointed narratives. But more so, that I am the thread that commnects everything I do. A woman in line offered this addition; that I show how the work I did yesterday influences today. How did I apply something I learn painted to how I do my calligraphy, etc. This feels like an amazing idea, and I can't wait to start exploring the interdependent existence of my handful of projects and growing list of interests. 

I got into the studio a bit late today, but found this note on my table of drying paintings: 

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Tell me that wouldn't make your day more awesome (especially since she's one of my admired artists!). We got together to chat and brainstorm and work out the plan for the next few months...which all sounds amazing, btw. I have a new class coming out, a video series, and I'll be getting over my fears and teaching in person again! 

After we chatted the day away, I was only able to do a couple of things. One is that I wanted to find easy and cheap solutions to paint with since not everyone can get the Catalyst tools I use most. This is a first idea, made from a stick, Solo cup, and some packing tape. 

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It actually works really well, and I'm super excited to hit the dollar store, then start constructing my own tools to paint with. I get to play inventor for a day! 

Since I didn't get to painting, I thought I'd just share random bits from my work area, like my collage pile and WIP pieces. All the "scraps from the studio floor."  

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So that's what I was up to....collaboration, some of the Work, and sharing. What did you create today? Feel free to email me or tag your pics as #jgdailycreative so I can pop in and see you! And don't forget to follow me on Instagram, as I usually post there first!

PS. There's open studio today, Saturaday April 18th, from 10am-4pm. Comment with your email address if you want to come, or grab me on IG where more details are posted. Should be an awesome fun day of art journaling!

 

The Open Hearts of Others (a story!)

I want to tell you a story. 

A few weeks ago, I was suffering from sleep deprivation. It had been building up since mid-February, and by the time I next saw my doctor, I was in tears. I cried the entire time there, through the appointment, and finally calmed down when my kind doctor told me to keep my chin up, and that we were going to figure things out. He's always asking me to call him, to keep lines of communication open, and even works with health-insurance-less me. 

However much he discounts, it still took much of my saved up funds. I hadn't been able to work much, either on art ventures or editing work, and was a little low. So when I arrived at the pharmacy to drop off what would hopefully be able to help me sleep, and was told the prescription would cost $170, I felt the tears well up. "I can't afford it, so please, just hold onto the script." I had felt salvation in my hands only to be barred from it because of how much medications -- even this one, a generic -- can cost. 

I decided to get a week's worth, to see if it actually worked; this was the six -- or is it seventh? -- medication to try ever since my Traumatic Brain Injury last March threw me for a loop. I will forever admire those football players who get a concussion and keep on playing, because let me tell you -- a TBI is no walk in the park. Sleep interruption, mood changes, personality issues, anxiety, and nearly daily headaches (luckily, eliminating gluten from my diet has helped clear up the migraines that developed afterwards!) permeates every moment of your life.

When I walked in, after waiting for the script to be filled, one of the girls, who is always bubbly, excited, and kind, held out the prescription and said, "I found a coupon that brought the price down to $18, for the entire month's worth!" 

This time, when tears fell from my eyes, they were of eternal gratitude and joy. She didn't have to do anything. She didn't have to go out of her way to find a solution for me. She said, "I wanted to call you as soon as I found it!" I leaned over the counter to pull her into a hug, so, so touched that God had put these people -- my kind, understanding doctor, this new pharmacy tech -- in my path on a difficult day.

And the medication works! I am once again sleeping, back to a healthy diet, working my behind off (new class, new zine, new videos, new new new new!), creating new art, crafting new editing solutions (playing and diving into my new practice of being a colorist!), and running around enjoying the heck out of life!

So today, I sat down to paint her a gift....for my art is the one thing I can truly give from my heart. I thought on her gift (she has since found another coupon to save me $5 more dollars, always knows who I am when I go to grab meds, and is cheerful each time I see her!), letting my joy and her kindness guide my hands. 

I have lately discovered my "style" and "colors" for painting people, and am so excited to dive deeper, so made a little picture of an Open Heart being freely given. She touched me so much, and I wanted to share this story because we sometimes think these things will never happen to us, but they will. We are loving, caring people, a race of humans who have hearts and eyes and the ability to give so much, and every so often, God puts the right people in your path at just the right moment to remind you of this. 

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(The colors are a bit flat, but that's probably because I'm in love with neon and used a bunch in her hair! And she has a coat of varnish that protects her and makes her shiny!)

The Picture of Our Lives

I read a blog post -- the link escapes me, now -- about how we present these images of ourselves on Facebook and social media that can be created for 'likes,' images of a together-life. It got me thinking of something I encountered recently that had me realizing social media and blogging is only one aspect of our lives...we want to be positive and upbeat, shading all the amazing experiences we're having.

But what about the rest of it? What picture of our lives are we painting?

You may see photos of me art journaling with friends, or off at CHA, yes. But what you don't see are the text messages to friends having to cancel on friends. The tearful breakdown I had walking from the convention center to the hotel, camera gear and junk on my shoulders, the longest walk in a long time fraught with pain and limping and the solid wall of a flare-up. You don't see night spent curled up in a chair because of overwhelming fatigue and a headache that appears, nearly every night, around 6pm. 

You don't see the depressive moods that come on at any moment --  I recently read the best quote about chronic pain and depression (the entire article is well worth the five minutes it'll take you to read): "...chronic pain may cause secondary depression (wouldn't you get depressed and down if you were hurting constantly for months or years?)..." How I can suddenly turn sad and have to force myself to not sign onto Facebook because I always post sad things that I regret hours later. 

But that doesn't mean I dwell. It doesn't mean life is full of acceptance. Sure, I spent two hours in bed watching silly 80's BBC shows this afternoon, but I also went out for lunch with a friend and worked on a painting for an hour. I'm curled up in my chair again, but my Couch Box is next to me and I'll doodle & draw in my art journal for a little bit. 

Life isn't all or nothing. It is living in the moment and enjoying the best of each we're given. Perhaps we could all be a little more honest when posting, showing our true, messy, broken selves -- and all the beauty we can create from it. 

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I was given fabric pigtails tonight to make me feel better. It's amazing what a bit of shimmering fabric and a sense of cuteness can do!

Ready for an Adventure

 

Today: 

Drove out to visit Becca in her new house. It’s beautiful and big and her studio makes me think I’m up in the tower of a castle, except this one is sunny and full of messy hands and paint. I taught her how to use a Gelli Arts gel plate & we made fun printed papers, how to type on a typewriter. We shared our journal pages and things we’re trying. 

Came back to town to meet E for dinner. We’ve known each other for so long, we can pick up after months or years apart, our friendship built on shared history and easy comfort. We have a plan & I have a lot of work to do. 

 

"Ready for an Adventure" 12"x12" mixed-media/collage on wood

Yesterday: 

My FMS made itself known, screaming and kicking and had me diving for my pain medication. I slept through the afternoon, then grabbed my couch box and settled in with the Avengers. I worked in my journal and pulled out a painting I started last month. Took a little break to have my heart broken

I had fun. A bit of joy through paint and shape and color. I thought back to the sensations of having an adventure, of the excitement that jumps up and down in your stomach, the fluttering of your heart in your chest, the way everything is clearer and brighter and interesting because of where you’re going, what you’re doing. That stepping outside yourself, the daily grind, your definition of normal. 

I applied magic — the way butterflies could be on hats and still flutter their wings. A bird perched atop a woman’s head, her animal guide only she could see. A trip bag full of the type of things Mary Poppins would pull out to heal and amuse. What is in there? Could the contents be clues as to where they’re going? Are they flying across the country or around the world? What will they find once they get there? 

How can we, too, capture the thrill of adventure in our daily lives? 

 

(This is a question I have been pondering for awhile. A question easily answered: easily. It simply takes a shift in perception. I’ll tell you later. Tomorrow. This week. I can say this: whenever I forget that, I glance over at this painting and remember. Remember you can always have an adventure, even without leaving the house.)

a bright glittery shining art beacon (by Russty Brazil)

 

Hello lovely blog readers! I hope you all are having a great week. I was asked by my dear friend, Samie to do a guest post while she is off on vacation. I was honored that she asked me to share some of my story and my journey through life and art. 

For those of you who don't know me my name is Cherish "Russty" Brazil. My friends call me Russty or Russ. I am a painter and mixed media artist. I try to encourage people to create art no matter their financial means, so I work with a lot of cheaper supplies and recycled materials. I want anyone who wants to make art to be able to, because I truly believe art can heal and be great therapy.
For many years I was a fiber artist. I LOVED to make art quilts. There was something so freeing about manipulating fabric into beautiful paintings that people could touch. It was hard on my hands and body though with arthritis and fibromyalgia, so eventually I had to stop. I was so depressed for a while feeling like I would never have an artistic purpose in life again. I spent about a year just quietly hiding in my house hoping people would stop asking me when I was going to be making quilts again. I felt like I lost a part of myself. The only little thing that made me happy was knowing that out in the world my quilts were still hanging in peoples homes bringing them joy. 
One day when I couldn't take being bored anymore I decided to try my hand at painting. I figured I had brushes, cheap craft paint, and cardboard, so it wouldn't cost me anything to just try it out. I always loved what painters did, but I thought I would never have the skills to do that.  I was amazed when I made my first painting and friends all responded really well to it, encouraging me to continue. So I kept painting and over time got better and better. Eventually I posted some online for people to see and someone wanted to buy one. It surprised me that someone I didn't know in person wanted to pay me hard earned money for something I'd painted. It opened up a whole new life for me.
I started painting with abandon. Digging in and really learning what I liked and didn't like. Painting just to paint and painting to remind myself that underneath my illness I still had a spirit that wanted to live and have a full life. I don't remember how I found the mixed media and art journaling community. But when I did it was one of those huge life moments when you know you've found your people! But I still felt like no one could know how I really felt, because they wouldn't want to deal with my illness. It was all about the art. 
 

Then one day I saw Samie mention having Fibromyalgia and it was a bright glittery shining art beacon in the wasteland of a busy world. I felt like jumping around and yelling, "You're like me! Someone like me! Someone who can understand!" It was that little moment that made me realize, Aha! If Samie sharing can make me feel this accepted and understood...what might happen if I do it and someone sees it and feels better?! And then they could share and on and on. It created this ripple affect of people saying, Hey, I live with an illness/disability or I have a loved one who does and I get it and we're not alone! It's become not a celebration of illness, but a celebration of art and life. Of people saying you're not alone and you matter! Isn't that what life is supposed to be? Knowing that you matter to someone. No matter who you are or what you do, knowing that in this crazy life you are important to someone. It gives us all hope.
 

So now I often share to encourage others that during the good times we're here to rejoice with you. And during the hard times we're here to offer hugs, a listening ear, suggestions on how to make art when you don't feel your best, or to just simply as I like to call it, stand in the gap for you. Standing in the gap is people saying emotionally and spiritually we are here and we will be here till you can stand on your own. We're here to say we know you can ride out this hard time and we'll be here when you're ready to shine again. We're here to be the quiet support you need when you are struggling. And we'll be here to be the fun, goofy, glittery, messy, paint splattered joy you need when you're doing better. 
I am proud to be part of a community of people who live a life on their terms, because of an illness and or disability. And we will continue to rejoice in our small little daily wins over life's trials. This is Russty signing out from my couch where I am going for the gold in couch surfing this week. Hope whatever life throws at you guys this week you can take it one thing at a time and remember it's okay to take a break when you need it. Love yourself, so others can have time to love on you too. <3