Friday, December 27, 2013

Blue, Grey & White. Plus a Couple of Hours.

I had a friend pick three colors...off the top of his head.  Blue, grey and white.
Not very exciting...at least I thought so, until I got into my palette!!!

A girl with big dreams BRINGING IT ON...

And some crazy ass earthmother face.  


She was super-creepy starting out...

But then got a lot more normal.

And then went swirly & squirly...


I used the leftovers on the palette to make some backgrounds.  Soooo ocean and sky and awesome!!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Facing it at Starbucks...with a pile of Stabilos and some Christmas Blonde

After experiencing Dina Wakley's creative energy, teaching style, and overall passion for expression, I had to have more.  So, I signed up for her "Facing the Facts" online class.  She is all about tapping into your abilities and stripping away the "I can't draw"filter.  She uses women and faces a lot in her art journal page designs and this course explains "the formula" for them.  

The first video lays out the challenge...draw 100 faces.  Practice with different media, practice with different colors, practice with different sizes, practice with different perspectives.  It's a little daunting, like being directed to practice playing the piano (which was, apparently, sheer torture for me when I was little.)

Today was my first sit-down-and-draw session down at the local Starbucks.  I got to have a big table space all to myself and I used it.  I took a selection of journals that have random, assorted backgrounds or colors tossed on them.  Dina's "magic pencil" is the Stabilo All pencil.  It's flippin' amazing.  I bought every color they had at my new favorite art store downtown--Artist & Craftsman Supply.  I just discovered this shop and could camp out in there for days.  It's amazing.  But, more on that some other time.  Today it's about the faces.  My first out of the chute... 
She has a kinda long neck, but I still like her look.  The black and yellow makes me happy.
 I went with the grey pencil and like the softer look.  Tried coloring the eyes, too.  
 I started getting bolder with the crazier backgrounds.  I also worked on getting her to smile more.
 Rockstar coffee drinker diva...
I'm ready for more.  Tonight I'm working on more collages that I imagine having done in time to mail for Christmas.  Uh, yeah.  It's probably not happening.  I realized I have 18 different canvases/boards going right now.  I probably need to shove some aside so I don't feel quite so overwhelmed.  Multiple works in progress is a good method, but having them covering every surface probably isn't the point!  haaaaaaaaaa

I think my Christmas resolution is going to be more blogging. I miss my blog friends!  

Luvs

Jenny J.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Less Work. More Play.

Isn't it about time for a three-day weekend?  Whoo hooo...why, yes, it is!

I've fallen in love.  With Stencils.  And painting with stencils.  And spraying ink with stencils.  And layering with stencils.

I took a class with Dina Wakley up in Charlotte a few weeks ago during Art Journaling Live and am hooked.  After a rough, challenging day at work on Monday, I snuck out early (1730...5:30 p.m.) and planted myself at my painting table for about four hours.  It was perfect!  The piece above is one of the most finished set of pages.  I probably worked on about 25 different sheets of paper or pages all at once just because the palette I had out was so fun to play with.

I find that the more paint I have on my hands the better my piece will progress!
I also practiced planning my color combinations.  I tend to just use what I like...pink and orange...but on Monday I experimented with some actual color wheel-based decisions.  Complements are hard since I'm all about making mud, but a little patience actually helps.  I guess I'll just have to keep making more messes, mud and all, to experiment!

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Joining the Art Journaling Ranks

I left every meeting during my duty day today with my mouth hanging open in awe.  I am in awe of the challenges ahead for Fiscal Year 2014 and the radical cuts that are coming in the programs my squadron owns and manages.  I've been in the job a little over four months and today it became clear that the rest of my tenure will be focused on managing the cuts.  My worklife will be focused on coming up with options and priorities...what activities are more important to readiness and which ones can we do without?  And I thought I was feeling stressed lately...it's only the beginning!

But, that leads me to my set of pics for today.  In an effort to find healthy stress relief, I have been digging into my massive hoard of art supplies.  I spend a couple of nights every week at my work table painting, glueing, drawing, coloring, studying, cutting, imagining, writing, and all-around escaping from the "real world" into a world of color, texture, mistakes, messes, fonts, brushes, markers, and joy.  

It's awesome.
It really all started a few weeks ago when I met up with my friend, Michelle, for a day of art play.  We totally took over her kitchen table and for almost eight hours never really took a break from just playing.  She got me started with inspiration from artist Mindy Lacefield. Mindy is all about getting back to basics...making art is like making magic and should be fun and exciting and serious and frivolous all in one.  She has a particular way of painting a face and share's the technique in her new book, Wild Surrender.  There's really no one who could copy her spirit, but I looooove the basics of the faces and have wildly surrendered into making lots of them!!
Michelle pushed me to go with the flow and at the end of the day I had several little people added to my life!  Their personalities are all different, but they all look back at me as if to say...you are a pretty cool chick and these bright colors and textures Rock!  :)  I respond with a generous thank you and a sink full of wet, rinsed paint brushes and a stack of journals in the works.  Oh, and then I take them all in for show and tell at the office in the morning.  It's probably weird that I'm the boss and I want people to tell me my stuff is cool, but I do it anyway!  haaaaaaaaaaaaa

Here's one that's based on my feelings of freedom and escape while running on the beach at the Isle of Palms.

And here's one celebrating the simple joy of squares and circles.  And a little girl who's magic wand can make her into a princess!!
In reality, it's just this table that is my magic making studio and my wands are the brushes and pens that are becoming more and more familiar to me.  I may not be a master artist by most standards, but I am certainly mastering how art can bring peace and joy into an otherwise overwhelming world of decisions, stress, and unbelievable challenges.  These little journals provide a window that I can jump through into another time and place.  
I have now officially joined the ranks of art journalers and I'm happy to be following and leading all at the same time!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Angry Chocolatier's Wife

I finally made a friend here in Charleston...a fellow commander who has just as much stress on the job as I do and needs someone to talk to about it.  Plus, she's a great role model for eating healthy--but well!--and getting outdoors and having fun.

Tonight we went out for a chocolate-beer pair tasting at a brewery over in Mt. Pleasant:  Westbrook.  It's not exactly the appropriate "meal" for my low-carb, low-cal diet (in prep for my November PT test) but it was amazing!!  I've lived in Italy and have felt the magic of just the right wine with just the right bite of food.  It can make serious magic.  Who knew that a delectable little truffle could make a sip of beer sing?!  

It was so funny...with one little nip of sweets and a sip of pale ale, I was just smiling!  Sure, you can't go wrong with chocolate and beer, but this was a whole new way of looking at it.

To this post's title...The night started out with a piece of chocolate missing from each of our places.  The server (aka the brewer's wife) explained that the chocolatier forgot to bring the vanilla bean/dark chocolate piece to pair with the crazy dark brew.  She says, "the angry chocolatier's wife" is driving through rush hour traffic back to the shop to pick them up.  I stopped the girl and made her repeat the phrase, "angry chocolatier's wife" because it just sounded so awesome.  Seriously.  I want to make that the title of a book!  Alas, I'm using it here and that'll have to work.  

Such a simple evening...fun conversation, interesting tastes, meeting new people, and laughing out loud.  It was just a genuinely fun night. 

2.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I am...


I am...
making : my house into a home for two cats and a girl.
cooking : super-healthy dinners comprised of baked Tostitos and cheese with an occasional grape thrown in.
drinking : a cold beer, light of course.
reading : a great little Barbara Kingsolver novel, Pigs in Heaven, that I found on my shelf.
wanting : to like exercising more.
looking : around me and appreciating the little things, like dinosaurs in alleys.
playing : with a big-ass set of magic markers that I just had to have while hopped up on Benadryl after getting a big-ass wasp sting in my bootie.
wasting : energy on wondering what else I should be doing right now when there's really nothing more important than letting my brain wander.
sowing : inspiration and new expectations around my squadron.
wishing : that I can get rid of the house I own in northern Virginia without totally screwing up my security clearance so I can retire free and clear!
enjoying : every item I tackle on my little to-do lists stacked up here on notecards.
waiting : for my shy kitty to just walk over here and say hello.
liking : the promise of cooler weather in September and the ensuing outdoor napping opportunities.
wondering : why I can't become a morning person so I can get workouts in earlier.
loving : the sunshine coming in the workshop window now that I trimmed the crap out of the shrubs outside and threw the branches over the back yard fence.
hoping : my squadron fulfills its potential for awesomeness!
marvelling : at the arts and crafts supplies I have that are crying out to become messy, amazing, and loved.
needing : some social connections.
smelling : kitty breath and stale cereal.
wearing : my favorite pink butterfly pajama pants that are threadbare but perfect.
following : the news about Syria because it freaks me out.
noticing : how much I look like my mother.  
knowing : I can be considered an expert in some things. 
thinking : I need more time to just think. 
bookmarking : meetup groups and volunteer opportunities around Charleston so I can meet people and do good things.
opening : my dishwasher to see if I remembered to push "go" before I left this morning.
giggling : at funny internet cat videos...sometimes I just can't stop watching.
feeling : exhausted and exhilarated.

:)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Road to Edisto






Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week 31 - Hues of Blue at the Butterfly House

The Cypress Gardens butterfly house is alive with wings and bright flowers...this is just a little taste of the blue family.  It makes me happy!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Taking a Challenge...to get out of the house!


Treasures Found :: Challenge of Travel

I'm excited!  I need to reconnect to my blog friends and make a little jewelry.  What better way than to join in a challenge...the 2nd Annual Challenge of Travel hosted by Erin of Tesori Trovati.

The challenge isn't so much about traveling far...instead we need to travel near in the spirit of a staycation.  So, I get to focus on my recently-found home, Charleston.

Recently I've been feeling in a funk a bit because I'm just so focused on the job I haven't really been spending any energy on the rest of my life...my evenings are boring and my weekends are even worse. Luckily, my mom came to visit and got me out.  Now, this week I'm hosting my sister and her girlfriend and all of their boys...four of them from ages 8 to 11.  I had no idea the noise level and just overall confusion could go up within seconds of them walking through the door.  It's awesome.  Makes me appreciate the peace and quiet I normally have around here that I would generally assume is boring.  We are doing all sorts of things around Charleston and the local towns, so I'm already embracing the spirit!  Today, for instance, we toured a cypress swamp with a guide named Cowboy, rang the bell at the top of the climbing wall, played basketball (I watched and sweated), shopped at the Base Exchange for sunglasses, ate at a dive bar where the kids enjoyed reading vulgarity written on the table, and broke in my noodles in the neighborhood pool.  The day isn't even over yet!

So, I'm going to take a lot more field trips, even if I'm on my own, and get some inspiration for this challenge!!

Check out this Hipstamatic shot of an amazing flower (which I just figured out is a lotus!!) from the huge selection at Cypress Gardens today:
I'll probably end up facing an over-inspiration problem by the end of the month...and that's a good thing!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Acrylic Weekend

I set up the kitchen table (since all the room in the studio is already taken by random projects) and went to town this weekend!
I actually tried some new things and made lots of messes.  
I decided to embrace layers even more than usual and got some really cool results.  
I also decided that sienna is my new favorite color.
 It's not even noon and I feel another nap coming on.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Week 26 - Focus on Life - Halfway through the year and it's just the beginning!

I'm still here!  I've just started the most significant adventure of my whole life...I'm a squadron commander.  So, for capturing my Week 26 "Focus on Life" challenge, I have to share a picture that I didn't take, but can help me explain why my creative energy has been focused on something new and different...the 628th Force Support Squadron!  Sally says "it's your week...pick your prompt" so my theme this week is:  Service!
No, I didn't take this picture...the friendly folks at the Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs office did.  Oh, and my brother did me a favor and took some of the sweat off my lip in photo shop (which makes it not so official, so this is my unofficial, official photo.  The sweaty one is still posted up on the walls around my squadron.)

On 3 June I went through a Change of Command ceremony and took the guide-on (a flag that represents the unit) from my Group commander and officially assumed command of the 628th Force Support Squadron and Joint Base Charleston.  It's hard to describe exactly what that means, but basically my unit provides everything from child care to recreation to food to fitness to education to human resources to family programs to training to lodging and more.  All of it's done in the very public eye since we have activities all over the Air Base and the Weapons Station. It's actually kind of amazing and the team I have has stunned me with their capabilities every day over the last four weeks.  

We are on what's called a "joint base" which means they took a Navy installation down the road and combined it with an Air Force base to try to reduce overhead support costs.  I'm not necessarily convinced there has been much in the way of cost savings, but it sure has created an interesting environment of crossing two Service cultures and ways of doing business into one giant foundation of support for various types of customers.  

Added to that, part of our unit is actually a business entity.  It's hard to describe in civilian terms, but basically, we get part of our funding from "the government" (appropriated by Congress) and some of it we have to generate ourselves (non-appropriated).  So, we have what is basically a bunch of small businesses with all the marketing, accounting, managing, and planning that goes into creating successful ventures.  There are a ton of regulations and instructions that place some boundaries and limitations on what we can and can't do, so that's where my creative mind has been working a lot lately.  I'm learning where the boundaries are and then how to push them!  haaaaaaaaaaa  We have a fantastic website so you can get some idea of the span of activities:  Joint Base Charleston.
 
I've come home exhausted most evenings because I haven't had my brain this consistently engaged in a long time!  But, it's a great exhaustion because I feel exhilarated by my people and excited about learning how to deal with challenges I've never even imagined.  Some of those challenges seem absurd but some of them are cool...and all of them remind me that I am here to serve.  And that's a good thing.

So, I'll see if I can find that camera that's still buried under stuff that's not quite put away in my newly rented house and shoot something awesome for week 27.  :)

Thanks for sharing in my adventure!

Jen


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Focusing on life during a move...Weeks 20 - 22

It's Saturday and I'm sitting amidst boxes of my stuff and random piles of things to unpack after moving to Charleston.  It has been one of the craziest, most thrilling, most exhausting weeks of my whole life!  I had quite a few things go awry during this move, but everything's here safe and sound.  Except Brando, that is...my sweetie fat cat wasn't quite right last night, so was at the vet for a few nights.  He's doing better, and is here sitting next to me, but still has a fever and no appetite.  So, no more unpacking for now, it's time for computer stuff and kitty snuggling.

To focus on the positive, I've been taking pictures so I can share some from the last few weeks.  I figure it's okay to post late as long as I actually took the picture during that week...nothing like setting up your own rules!

Week 20 - Looking Up


During a busy week of packing, part of the game involved tossing out things I probably don't need any more.  I've been carrying this love swing around for years.  It has never come out of the box, but has made for some hilariously awkward situations since it ended up in the trunk of my car.  Imagine this scenario...I'm in Carmax buying a new car and there's my sales guy helping me unload the trunk of my old car so I can load it into the new one.  I'm surrounded by a bunch of detail guys who are wandering around with rags and window cleaner when suddenly I see the swing box and make eye contact with my salesman.  He's not sure quite what's up with it, but with a laugh he offers to put it up there in the service area.  I blush a bit (yes, I do get embarrassed) and ask him to just pack it back into the new car so I can continue to carry it around for no reason.  Stepping into a new command job, I figured it was time to give it up...hopefully some dumpster diver around Hampton, Virginia will have some fun with it.  I'm "looking up" to my new responsibilities...and not "looking up" at the ceiling.  haaaaaaaaaa


Week 21 - Reminisce


Yeah.  It's a bathroom floor.  I just loved the colors!  This shot is from a pitstop while out wandering with my Mom in Charleston.  We stopped at the College of Charleston art building to check out an exhibit as part of the Spoleto Festival.  I love being in a collegiate environment, even though it makes me feel old.  Immediately triggers tons of happy memories...and a few crazy ones.  Hence, I'm reminiscing in the bathroom at an art exhibit.

Week 22 - Foodie



It was the perfect week to have food as the topic...but I went direct to the foodie:  my ma!  We got to spend almost two weeks together having fun in Charleston and working my transition to the new house and the new job.  Her passion is food.  No joke.  Just about every conversation has some aspect of food involved and it's awesome.  It's her way of showing love and appreciating life.  I'm truly grateful she was here because my cupboards and freezer are stocked with delicious food!  Plus, I got to experience some amazing local fare as tourists.  Grits are a favorite!  This week's photo is a quick iPhone shot from our Sunday brunch at Magnolia's.  You can see how much she loved it.  :)  It was delightful from the mimosas through dessert.  

I'm giving myself another day for Typography...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waiting 'Til the Last Minute

It finally hit me yesterday.
I'm done here in Hampton.
All my belongings are in boxes or wrapped in blankets on a truck.
I've eaten my last meals at my favorite local restaurants.
I'm spending my last few days with my buds.
I'm leaving behind a man who's willing to take care of my cats, even when they're cranky.
I'm handing off work projects I didn't finish.
I'm starting to get sad. 
But...

At the same time, I'm really, really excited.
I get to move into a big new house next week.
I get to meet tons of new people in the biggest job challenge of my career.
I get to eat meals at fabulous new restaurants.
I get to hang out with Ma (who just reminded me her birthday's coming up!)
Am I crazy?  

I don't think so.  
I think I'm totally normal.  
Maybe I'll cry.  
Maybe I won't.  
Either way, I'm marking the end of an amazing experience and the beginning of a new one.  
It's not supposed to be easy!
Luckily I have about 70 boxes of "crafts" and "decor" to help me get through it!  haaaaaaaaa

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Week 19: Capturing Hope

Hope:  to cherish a desire with anticipation; to expect with confidence.
What a perfect word for this week...as I am living deep with anticipation of the HHG (household goods...everything has to have an acronym) pack and pickup next week.  I am down to less that two weeks left until I say goodbye to my Langley family and start my Charleston adventure.

I hope for the continued success of my wonderful team here in Virginia...we've worked hard on so many things and have (for the most part) stayed positive through it all.  I can't believe I've been in that office for three whole years...and now I have to start closing it all out and handing it off...I hope it goes smoothly!  

I hope I can keep my sense of humor through the next two weeks.  I almost had a nervous breakdown when I saw a bug on my windshield the other night while driving through a tunnel.  Uh...seriously?  Relax.  I got the bug out and got home safe and sound, but it made me realize just how nuts I've gotten. Plus, stress makes me get weird rashes and I don't need any more of those!  haaaaaaaa

I hope my cats enjoy the roadtrip next week with me and Ma.  They are not happy travelers.  Heck, I hope my Ma enjoys the roadtrip with the cats!

Cherished anticipation.  Excitement.  Awesome.  
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Friday, May 3, 2013

Week 18 - Abstraction...Caution

Sally's prompt for this week was one simple word:  abstract.

While out running (or, I could more correctly describe it as barely jogging/walking) on Tuesday with my ACC/A1 family, I noticed for the hundredth time this stack of stuff near the running path.  It's a bunch of sandbags and security blocks for when things go awry on base. I've always liked the way everything's tumbled together behind the fence...all there just in case.  I love the lines and the pop of orange. So, while the shot's not totally abstract in appearance, it's  an abstract interpretation of readiness for anything...throwing caution (tape) to the wind!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Week 17 - Can't Get Enough Color

My Week 17 picture is all about color and the joy I had making a mess with it at Art & Soul in Virginia Beach!  This was my Friday class: "Tango with Acrylics" with Sandra Duran Wilson.  It was awesome.

I've been getting into painting more and more and really want to be able to add depth to my two-dimensional work.  (Wait, that would make it less two-dimensional ... hmmmmmm).  We spent the entire day playing with various mix-in media that can be used with acrylic pigments to get all kinds of great effects.  My friends Bette & Laura were sitting in front of me and Bronwyn was sharing my table.  Sandra gave us excellent direction on all the various "white pastey things" we could use to create new textures and glazes and such.  Then we had plenty of time to play.  As you can see from my tidy workspace, I had a bit of fun trying out various techniques with all my favorite colors.  I ended up with a few great journal pages and lots of works-in-progress.  Plus, I took the paper from the table when I left because it was one of my favorite color mixes from the whole day!

And so I share it here, a week late, but with all the enthusiasm a Week 17 post can have!!!  
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Monday, April 29, 2013

So far behind...at Week 16: Taking a Walk

I have been going and going and going for the last several weeks.  Tonight is my first solo night in a while, so I'm getting my blog on!

Recently, I spent two weeks in Montgomery, Alabama, learning the ins and outs of my upcoming job.  It was fantastic to get some insight into the challenges that are going to come my way in command.  I'm realistic enough to know I'll get more wild curveballs than the class could send my way, but it was still a great opportunity to meet 20 other folks who are headed to the same type of challenge I am.  Plus, the crosstalk and ideas we shared are going to be invaluable as I go through the next few months and find my way in the new job.  

The cool thing about the Air Force is that even though there are about 332,000 people in uniform servicing on active duty, when you start talking about your particular cohort or year group and your particular specialty, the world gets significantly smaller.  It was really cool to meet people in this class who I've only heard or talked to on the phone over the years. 

One of my old friends, Michelle, who I've been stationed with a couple of times, was in the class.  So, we set out to the track on several mornings to try to motivate each other to at least run/walk/jog a little bit.  We had to counteract the massive amounts of time sitting in a classroom watching briefers and PowerPoint presentations.  My picture from the "take a walk" week is this one I shot from my phone while walking an interval (I actually did run some that morning!).  The sunrise was neat to see as it reminded me of 15 years earlier when I was on that very ground as an officer trainee.  Man...time flies! 

I'm still behind in my photography posts, but I'm committed to catching up!  And I'll continue to remain thankful that deadlines are flexible.  :)  Thank you, Sally!!!

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Week 15 - Focus on Aged Beauty

On a walk through the crazy flea market in Savannah I saw this phenomenal patina on a worn, old outdoor chair.  I can see some copper or clay finished in this style.  So, it's my "aged beauty" shot for this week.  I'm a little late posting, but I've been busy with my big leadership class, so it's a good excuse.  The joy of "owning" a blog...I can do what I want!  haaaaaaaaaaaaa

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thinking Differently

Do you ever just think about thinking?  I'm in a class this week, learning about leadership for my new job and one of the big topics flowing through the curriculum is critical thinking.  I think I'm a pretty creative person, and with a couple of degrees in psychology, I probably have a little more than average "book knowledge" about perceptions, bias, learning, and all that sort of thing.  But, it is so refreshing to take all that and focus it on real life challenges and potential work drama.  I'm not a huge fan of the critical thinking books, so far, but they are at least driving me to partake in some intellectual gymnastics.
For instance, when viewing a problem (or a creepy antique animal), what is your first impression?  Can you move past that first impression and consider it from a different angle?  If you look at it in a different light, is it actually funny?  Does the environment around it influence your impression?  Can you squint or turn and think about it differently?  What about the feelings it invokes?  How do those contribute to your thoughts?  (I don't know what this thing is, but I love it.)
How about when looking at something mundane and routine, like a marigold...can it look like something else?  A circus tent?  A kaleidoscope?  Some windmills waiting to be charged with Quixote-like passion?  Ooooh...all that adventure encapsulated in a simple flower that used to grow in your front yard on Juliana street.  
Once you get past the simplicity and see the possibility, messages might be clearer.  You could be walking down a busy street in Savannah (or Susquehanna, as I keep calling it for some Pennsylvania-based reason) in a dream state of spring buds and dripping moss and suddenly see a "J" calling out to you.  Even better, it's saying, "hey, the door's open...are you ready for the adventure?"  

Yep.  I am!!

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About Me

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Charleston, SC, United States
I'm a retiree/artist/student who makes things. It's a nice kind of lifestyle!

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