August’s Writing Goals

Mommy and Q (1)

Me at around 2 – Getting Ready to Make Memories to Write About

I’ve been enjoying Natalie Goldberg’s book, “Writing Down the Bones”.  The main message I’m taking away from what I’ve read so far is to just write.  Sounds simple.  Until you sit down at that empty page and just stare back at it blankly.

She’s got some answers to help with that though.  She suggests to write about your experience of what is going on in the moment or to write about memories.  In fact, the best inspiration I’ve gotten from the book so far is to write a list of memories that could be fodder for writing.  Then when I have a 10 minute gap but don’t feel so inspired, I just go down my list and write about a memory.

The act of writing the list itself was very interesting.  I started off with a couple memories of childhood and it quickly snowballed.  The list developed around themes in a way because one memory with a certain relative would inspire another about that same relative or time period until I’d be led to a tangent and would go into another theme.  It also brought up memories I haven’t thought about in years.  Stories that are important to me but I guess I just thought why would anyone else care about that.  But I care and according to Goldberg that influences how I write about it.  And that practice of writing with feeling is what I think she is getting at.

Here is an unpolished example of a trivial, yet favoured to me, memory I’ve written about:

Summer Freedom and Potato Plate Discus

Summer visits to my relatives on the island meant a lot of freedom.  They were a big family and I just joined in with the pack of cousins.  This was especially tantalizing for an only-child, city kid like me whose mom believed in firm boundaries.  On the island, however, it was free reign.  We roamed far and near, we ate when we were around food, we cleaned up when it got to an “ok this is enough” level but not in a daily clean your room/make your bed kind of way.  When we were needed, someone would yell for us from the porch and even if you were down by the docks, you could hear the call and would start the half hour, uphill trek home.

These cousins introduced me to Supertramp, fishing under the docks, fishing to try to rescue a lost jelly shoe, picking up jellyfish -though only the clear ones, not the ones with red in the middle.  There were days spent climbing up and down and all around the warm bedrock and rough moss.   There were other lazy lake days where we were dropped off at the beach in the morning and weren’t picked up until someone realized we were missing at dinner.  But we didn’t mind.  We played on the beach until we were melting hot, then into the water until we were hungry for the snacks we brought, then repeat and repeat and repeat.

One time, my youngest cousin there, three years my junior, and I got the idea to whip up a late night snack.  We decided to microwave potatoes for ourselves.  At my house, we didn’t have a microwave and I had never baked potatoes previously so didn’t know to poke holes in them first.  Thankfully they didn’t explode everywhere but they also didn’t cook through.  We had taken our snack to the top floor of the house, three flights up.  Once we had eaten around the raw middle, we didn’t feel like going back down to take our plates to the kitchen.  However, we also didn’t want to potentially attract rodents by having food by our beds.  We came up with the great plan to chuck the remains off the back balcony.

My cousin went first.  Her potato flew right off her plate and into the trees.  Not to be outdone, I flung mine with gusto but the plate accidentally went flying out of my hand too.  In the cricket filled night, the ensuing crash seemed sure to wake others!  My cousin and I scampered back to our beds to hide, desperately trying to stifle our giggles.  Amazingly, nobody must have heard it though, as no one came up to scold us.

Summer visits to the island were full of funny episodes in this vein.  Small, simple moments of the absolute delight of free-spirited childhood, such as occurred on the night the world’s first potato-plate discus put took place, witnessed only by two young girls and the moon.

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Creative Kids: Jellyfish Garland

Title Pic

We did this jellyfish garland ages ago but I just haven’t written a post about it to date and yet it’s pretty darn cute so wanted to share.  We were inspired by the Aquarium’s display of paper mache jellyfish and decided to make our own.

Jellyfish in progress

Using water balloons, we used watered down glue to paper mache  and stuck on tissue paper.  We had to do several layers to make it thick enough so we did it over several days.   I made some holders from cut toilet paper rolls to hold them up while we worked and while they dried.

The following step was assisted as it involved the glue gun.  They picked ribbons and pipe cleaner to add as the tendrils.  For the pipe cleaners, I had them wind it around their hand so it wasn’t poker straight.  Then I put glue gun glue at the bottom of the “bowl” and helped them insert their chosen ribbons and pipe cleaners.  Together we held them and counted to 30 by which time they were usually secure.

Lastly I attached the jellyfish to a ribbon using the glue gun so they would hang nicely.  And they do:)

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July’s Week 4 Art Journal

R2D2 Title

As C is now 5, my little man has matured his interests:)  He is now ALL about Star Wars.  As we begin to think about what to hang on our walls (yes, we’ve lived here 5 months and not hung anything!), it dawned on me that he has outgrown his old paintings.

2013 August 3 006

C’s paintings from when he was a baby

It is time for something new.  I decided to make Star Wars the theme – obviously!  This painting of R2D2 is the first of what I think will be a three or four panel series featuring different Star Wars characters.

Once I had the idea that I wanted to do R2D2 I began brainstorming in my sketch book.  I wanted more of a close up view than his whole form.  I also brainstormed things that I associate with R2D2: colours, shapes, words, quotes.  Then it was time to see what would come out on canvas.

R2D2 Brainstorming

I started off painting over a canvas that I started on but never developed.  Then I added some papers for texturing.  From there I laid molding paste over a gears stencil that I recently indulged in.  It caught my fancy and then when I started working on R2D2, I felt it would be a good fit.   Plus it’s so fun.  I LOVE stencil play.

R2D2 Start

From there it was time to block in R2D2 and the background colour.

R2D2 Building It Up

Taking my time, I built up the colour layers over several days.  I really wanted to give some shadows/colour to the gears yet not make them over dominating.

R2D2 Adding Grunge

Then it was time to add the mini-details (which I love).  I wrote words in ink and brushed on some orange to make the blue pop.

R2D2 Details

It’s so fun to see how it started on paper and where it ended up on canvas.  This was a super enjoyable project and I’m pretty pleased with the end product.  I am excited to see how the next one in the series turns out.  Though we’ll see when I even have time to work on one – lol!

R2D2 Paper to Canvas


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The Creative Life Project: July’s Progress

July Title

We were off the grid camping for the first week of August so I took a break from posting on the blog but I’m back!  Above was the view from our campsite of Mount Robson.  It was a gruelling 10 hour drive each way (think screaming, fighting kids CONSTANTLY) but it was super fun once we were there.

So to belatedly reflect on my creative endeavours from July…

I often go safe and try to create pretty things over challenging myself and taking artistic risks. Yet I’ve read many artists who have said that to get to the good stuff, you need to go through the bad stuff. So this month I am going to go ugly and abstract so I am not concerned with trying to create something specific. It will be the visual arts version of write shitty drafts except this time it will be create shitty pieces of art.

Monthly goals:
Remember birthdays. Check!

Daily/weekly goals:
Do one creative thing daily. Check!
Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Yah, do I even really need to go there…dismal fail:)
Exercise three times per week doing exercises I enjoy. Check!
Create at least one art journal picture a week. Check!  And sooo fun!  I loved my projects this month:

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Week 1’s Circle Abstract


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Week 2’s Bold Abstract

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Week 3’s Poetic Abstract


R2D2 Title

Week 4: Not so much Picasso-style.  Had fun in a different direction and there’ll be a detailed post later this week on the journey.

All in all, July was one of my favourite months to date creatively.  I am loving this Creative Life Project I set up for myself.  Hopefully I can manage to keep it up once mat leave ends next month.  But for now I am in denial and writing up a storm with my August goals:)

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Creative Life Project: August


It is a bit tricky having so many creative loves.  As much as I love to paint, I also love to write.  This month I am going to switch gears by working on my writing skills with a different focus. I will record memories and write about everyday life.

Monthly goals:
Remember birthdays.
Read Writing Down the Bones.  This is a book on the craft of writing by Natalie Goldberg that I’ve wanted to read for some time now.  This is the month:)

Daily/weekly goals:
Do one creative thing daily. Minimum of 15 minutes drawing, writing, experimenting.
Go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Exercise three times per week doing exercises I enjoy.
Do at least one writing exercise a week.  This can either be something inspired by Writing Down the Bones or an entry in the book  A Mother’s Legacy.  The latter book is filled with prompts to inspire you to record your stories and your family’s history for the future generation.

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Art Journal 3: Poetically Inspired

Title pic

This week I took inspiration from a poem.  I chose anyone lived in a pretty how town by e.e. cummings.  I blared some classical music, read the poem over and over, and drew images as they came to me.

Poem Inspiration

As Attempt 1 was too detailed, I tried breaking it down into shapes.  Attempt 3 seemed to work best for me so that is the one I decided to go with.

3 attempts

I played with colour on a printed black and white copy.  I found the colours in that attempt too garish so I tried toning them down in the next run.  Colour can be so frustrating!  Still none of the colours seemed to resonate with me in how I wanted the piece to look. Currently, it suggests a mix of Dr. Seuss and a Christmas card to me.


I think this piece would have been easier in acrylics because then I could have blended the edges of the bells to be more abstract and I could have played more with blending greys and beiges.   I think those colours would suggest stone buildings abstractly (as that’s how I imagined the town in this poem).

All that being said, and even with the result not being what I imagined in my head, as per usual, I enjoyed the process.


We’ll see if I get to Art Journal 4, as we have a crazy busy week ahead.  We’ll see what I get up to!


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Creative Kids: Birthday Cards III

Baby cards title

This is a quick post about a couple of cards the baby made – can’t leave her out entirely!  I got this idea from the Toddler Approved blog and adapted it to put a card into the ziplock.  It’s called mess free painting but I wouldn’t say that’s entirely true.  Getting it out of the ziplock is a bit of a messy job – maybe I don’t know some trick…

Baby Cards

One heads up is to not leave the card in the ziplock too long as it does get a bit soggy if you do and can be even more difficult to take out.  The end results though were cool and M had fun taking part in painting time.

baby card

I must say, I’m a bit jealous.  M’s only 1 and she has abstract down.  Maybe I need to take some lessons from her…

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