giveaway: Daisy Yellow Zine #8

I’m super-excited to announce a giveaway of Daisy Yellow Zine (Issue 8). This digital art journaling zine is full of inspiration, including blogging ideas for creatives and journal prompts. My article, Embrace Imperfection, also appears in it.

Daisy Yellow Zine #8

Tammy, the awesomely creative person behind the zine and the site, has graciously offered to give away TWO copies of Issue 8 (available only in digital format). Please leave a comment if you’d like to enter. Giveaway is open until Monday, July 29th, 10pm EST. 

If this is your first introduction to Tammy and Daisy Yellow, check out some of my favorite parts on her site, such as the Index-Card-A-Day Challenge she runs every summer. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out Tammy’s post on What Can You Do With an Index Card? She also introduced me to the delights of drawing mandalas and the fun of practicing fonts.

If you art journal–or have ever thought of doing so–Daisy Yellow is a great place to go for ideas, tips, and inspiration.

a tap shoe and an owl statue

Today I drew a tap shoe and an owl statue.

My creative (non-work-writing) goal for February is to draw every day–though at the rate I’m going, it’s more like Draw Every Other Day.

I didn’t draw much as a kid. Actually, I hated art class. I didn’t have an abundance of natural artistic talent. The disconnect between the picture in my head and the one on my page frustrated me. My Bs and Cs in art dragged down an otherwise stellar report card–which made me rather cross.

And I was slow. My art pad was filled with incomplete projects since I always ran out of time. (I’m that way with all hands-on work, including labs. I was always the last one out of lab, one of the reasons I didn’t minor in chemistry. I never finished my wooden-spoon doll with the paper mache head nor my embroidery sampler in Handwork during elementary school. And yes, it still galls after all these years!)

I would’ve rather done extra math than painted a still life.

But, secretly, I always wished I could draw well.

There were two things I didn’t understand about art when I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s because no one ever told me, or that I didn’t listen (I was stubborn, too, as well as being a loather-of-art-class).

First, you can learn art. What I thought of as talent is mainly skill. A teachable skill. No one ever taught me things like how to use my art materials, how to create depth, or the proportions of the human face. I didn’t realize that one could take art skills and break them down into smaller steps, and that an ordinary person like me could learn them.

Second, because I had it in my mind that being good at art was an innate talent–either you had it or you didn’t–I never bothered to practice it. One art class a week was not enough to make up for my lack of giftedness. If I wanted to draw well–and yes, I wanted to, still do–I should’ve been practicing.

Twenty years later, with a writing career and homeschooled kids, I’m finally squeezing it in. It’s not much, it’s not going to be consistent, but it’s still keeping the dream alive.

How about you? Do you have something that you secretly wish you could do well? Something that’s always appealed to you, but that you’ve never tried?

artist trading cards, HTRYN style

Look what I discovered in my box of odds and ends the other day:

Oh, fun, I thought. Doodles on neon-colored index cards. I love index cards, and I love doodles. But then I flipped the cards over and found:

Folks who’ve taken Holly Lisle‘s How to Revise Your Novel course will recognize these as the color-coded scene cards from Lesson 10. Apparently, after I was done with the revision, I recycled them into ATCs. I love that the leftovers and discards from one creative project turned out to be the raw material for another.

Btw, there’s a lot more you can do with index cards besides turning them into artist trading cards. Check out my post, 9 Ways to Use Index Cards, for more ideas. Also, Tammy over at Daisy Yellow hosts ICAD (Index-Card-A-Day) to get those creative juices flowing.

family at art

Miss M. made these suncatchers by using an eye dropper to put liquid watercolor on paper towels. She got to work on her fine motor skills and make something pretty. (Just don’t look too closely at my desperately-need-to-be-washed windows!).

Sir I. had fun using Legos, corks, forks and miscellany from the kitchen junk drawer to create this lightbulb-manufacturing machine. Can you see the lightbulbs? :D

I don’t doodle in color much (I doodle to keep my hands busy while my mind is wandering elsewhere and sticking to black helps keep it that way), but I got some colored gel pens and tried them out.

30-minute creativity

I have a hard time working on a big creative project during the summer.  Maybe it’s because I’ve spent more of my life in school than out of it, and summer whispers vacation to me. Or maybe because summer is such a short season where I live and we’re eager to cram in as much pool, park and yard time as we can. Summer fills up with camps and cookouts, gardening and berry-picking and hiking. It’s time for play, not for marathons.

I doubt I’ll get a novel written in the next two months, but I do have some creative projects planned. I want writing to be fun again, so I’ll be experimenting with new ideas and new forms. Sir I. and I will (hopefully) start taking piano lessons. The kids and I will draw, color and paint. Then there’s that easy-to-make skirt I want to sew for Miss M.

So I put together a list of low-prep creative ideas for the busy person, things to do in thirty minutes or less:

  1. Play a musical instrument. Our piano lives in the hub of the house, it’s always available (no taking it out of its case), with my lesson book open on the music rack.
  2. Doodle, either using a book of drawing prompts or a pen and a sheet of paper.
  3. Freewrite. I do ten-minute sessions on a theme of my choice.
  4. Journal.
  5. Do an art or craft project with a kid. Don’t have a kid available? Do it on your own. Kid projects are unintimidating and simple, perfect for beginners and those with little time or few supplies. Check here and here and here for ideas.
  6. Journal in visual images for a change. Draw or make a collage. Here are some tips to get you started.
  7. Go on a walk with camera in hand and take pictures that interest you. You get to be creative and exercise.
  8. Sit out in your yard, the woods, or a park and sketch. I like to draw leaves. My kids like to bring me leaves to draw. Win-win.
  9. Do some mind-mapping.
  10. Write flash fiction.

Any other suggestions?


The Art Projects Edition:

daisy yellow has a three-part series on organizing summer art projects for you and your kids. I believe my kids have every intention of running wild in our yard and at the park this summer, but I prefer more sedate activities. My planned projects are: making jam, sewing a skirt or two for Miss M., sketching outside (I’ve been eyeing my purple phlox as a potential model), playing the piano. And writing. There is always writing.

As if I really needed more arts & crafts ideas to do with the kids: Deep Space Sparkle and The Crafty Crow.

I’m drooling over these Prismacolor double-ended markers. I just want to spread them out rainbow-like on the table and gloat over them.

baby steps

Light blogging this week and I’m off to my sister’s wedding, so no posts this weekend.

There have been no major happenings on the writing front. I’m still chugging along on that not-so-short story (probably 7K when done). I had wanted to complete it before leaving, but I’ve been too distracted this week (packing, mentally preparing for the long drive, explaining patiently to the littles for the thousandth and one time why we cannot just leave for our trip right this second, etc etc).

OTOH, I have dabbled in some non-writing creative endeavors. I finished a sketch of a Chinese actress I think is just gorgeous*. Sir I. and I sat down to a lesson out of Drawing with Children, and goodness! I am just so impressed with the bird he drew. It looks like a real bird. With a beak and feathers and everything. The kids and I drew and painted Russian-esque buildings. Sir I. made a Baba Yaga-inspired house collage, complete with antlers and eggs for a tail and a random head.

And we finally got someone over to tune our piano today. Of course I couldn’t resist pulling out my Fool’s Guide to the Piano for Complete and Total Musically-Inept Dummy Beginners (Yeah, That’s You) book and spent twenty or so minutes doing right hand and left hand warmups (ie: training my fingers to respond to serial numbers instead of Twinky or Pinky or whatever cutesy names they call themselves). Oh, piano. Where have you been all my life? Plunking out Ode to Joy sends me into such raptures.

(And now since I am clearly getting very silly, I must end quickly and retire to my sleeping couch. All of these ramblings where just to say that simple projects, fun with my kids and even the most basic musical exercises can be so satisfying to my creative urges, For once, I am content to not be perfect.)

* I mean the actress is gorgeous. My sketch of her–meh.

the big bad blank page

Hello. *raises hand* I’m a writer, and, um… I’m afraid of a blank page.

For several months now, I’ve talked/dreamed/blogged about taking up drawing as my secondary hobby (which means that in terms of priorities it has to fall way below things like “putting away laundry” and “cleaning the oven”). I’ve bought and borrowed how-to books. I got myself fancy pencils and a fancy sketchbook. I hunted around for local drawing classes for when I am no longer continuously attached to my little nursing buddy here.

But I never got around to actually putting my fancy pencil on my fancy paper and so much as drawing a line.

And I finally figured out why. It wasn’t that I had no time (if I have time to follow Internet rabbit trails, I have time to draw!). It was quite simply, a fear of the blank page.

You may laugh. As a writer, I have no problem filling up the (metaphorical) paper with lots and lots of words. Even if those words are just “blah, blah, blah”, heh. If I don’t have the mental energy to work on a story, I journal or do a writing exercise. Blank pages are meant to be written on.

But not drawn on, apparently.

So, the other week, I got out this book of drawing prompts and sat down one evening to doodle, scribble and color like a little kid. I got through four pages and was hit by a complete short story idea while drawing bricks. This is my kind of drawing course.