Blooming in 2024: My First Art Journal Spread
Hello and Welcome Back to Beginnings, where we talk about Fresh Starts, New Cycles, Experimentation, Exploration and Creativity. And this is my first blog post for the New Year of 2024, and I'm excited to bring you my first completed art journal spread, which I have titled: Falling Apart in Order to Bloom. I did the majority of this spread in 2023, starting back in July, when I was in the throws of grieving my father's passing in January (1/8/23 will be a year).
Now, what does that mean exactly? As of this writing, (1/5/24), I'm still contemplating. But in reflection, I think it speaks to the "falling apart," or breaking down phase when you are reckoning with a life changing event that correlates with some very deep rooted parts of your life experience that are foundational to who you are. And my father's passing certainly contributed to that experience. Somewhat of a metamorphosis, which entails a breaking in order to re-build and bloom. And this takes courage! And discernment of how to get from the beginning of this process to the beauty of transformation.
So here is my art journal tool and supply list used in this spread:
water soluble pastel
colored pencil, both water soluble and non water soluble
fabric in various prints
leaf stamps in various types and sizes
Have you experienced a "falling apart" in order to bloom in a new place? What was that like for you? What did you learn from it? What new undrstanding do you have of yourself now that you didn't have before as a result? How did you take care of yourself in the process?
Thank you so much for being a part of my journey as artist and creative.
Your presence is greatly appreciated. <3
I wish you the Happiest of New Years in 2024 and the very Best of Beginnings!
Going Gentle: What Is Working for Me Now
Hello and Welcome back to Beginnings where we talk about fresh starts, new cycles, exploration, experimentation and creativity.
For this post, I will share with you, my dear reader, about Gentleness and why it is the Centerpiece for me in my life right now. But first, a bit of back story.
About 10 years ago, I wrote a scripture down on an index card that contained the Fruits of the Spirit:
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control.
These are obviously character qualities we all desire to have and be in life. And when we emulate them, we are aligned with Spirit.
When I first wrote them down, I decided that I would choose one that I was most drawn to and focus on that quality in my life, both in giving and receiving.
My first choice was LOVE. I had remembered another scripture that says, Love your neighbor as yourself.
Now the part of that I hadn’t really discovered was the Love Yourself part. I was never taught how to do that in my religious upbringing in school or church. (A life time of teaching, really). But through my own study and discovery, I came to understand what it really meant, looked and felt like to truly love myself. And it changed my life in many ways, and it was noticeable.
The next fruit focus I chose was JOY. I took a deep dive into everything that brought me JOY. And I brought it and shared it with you, my dear reader, from newsletter to blog posts to videos. so much JOY!
Life goes on and I dealt with lots of changes on the home-front, attempting to choose Peace from the fruit list awhile in the midst of dealing with losses and responsibilities and moves and business and so much going on. It was a step by step, moment by moment process.
But in the past year or so, especially since the passing of my Dad in January, I realize now that I have HAD to choose GENTLENESS. I have always tried to be a gentle person and have even been told by some that I am gentle, which I always appreciate hearing. But being GENTLE with myself has become a key factor for me these past months.
How have I chose to be Gentle with myself? Let me count the ways:
Giving myself margin between tasks.
Resting when I’m tired. (And that includes naps!)
Realizing my limitations and not pushing myself too hard (still working on that one!)
Taking one small step at a time.
Not apologizing when I have to say no. And No is a complete sentence.
Setting boundaries where necessary, especially when I feel disrespected.
Doing more of what I love, like playing my piano and really enjoying the process.
Being careful with what I eat and listening to what my body needs and wants.
Seeing my need to cry when necessary as I continue to mourn my father’s passing (and it comes up when least expected.)
Going Gentle is Key to my Well Being, my connection with Spirit (who is oh, so gentle), and with my mind set. Slowing down. Not rushing. Taking it easy. and not feeling guilty when I don’t get it all done or when I disappoint another’s expectations of me.
Going Gentle means taking care of myself first. Because I know that everyone else has to take care of themselves first too.
I know I am not responsible for anyone else’s happiness but my own. (This was a deep realization I’ve had in the midst of Going Gentle.)
My prayer for all those who I love and care about is that they will have their own Gentleness Breakthrough that will change their life like it has done for mine.
And I pray that prayer for you, my dear reader and friend. Remember to Go Gentle with yourself.
We all need to learn to take care of ourselves in the best way possible. With no apology needed.
And Gentleness is key. May it unlock all the JOY you can experience and LOVE for yourself. Every Day.
What does Gentle mean for you? Make a list of ways you can Go Gentle with yourself. Choose one from the list that you’re not already doing and do it today. Create a mind map with Gentle as the Centerpiece and see what associations come up for you. Don’t censor. Just associate. Have fun with it. Then Go Gentle!
Copyright Image 2023 by Dawn Herring
A Parade of Cats: Sharing Our Delight with You!
Hello and welcome back to Beginnings, where we talk about Fresh Starts, New Cycles, Exploration, Experimentation and Creativity.
Well, I have a treat for you today! Below I share a story of the furry variety and what we can learn even from the beloved animals among us.
Since coming to a new neighborhood in recent months, we have had the pleasure of making acquaintance with the furry felines that stray about the ‘hood. And it didn’t take long for that to happen. No. As soon as we made our first appearance, so did they. It’s like they owned the place…and I suppose they really believe they do! Ha!
Well, I decided that I just had to share this experience with you, my dear friend and reader! Why keep the delight to myself, right?
Now, below I have shared a summary of sorts of each furry feline we have become acquainted with through conversation, observation and of course, tasty meals of the cat variety plus a bit of human delight as well. Let’s just say that when the communal bowls are filled, we like to refer to our place as The Cat’s Meow where we feature the tasty "fast food" of dry bits in the bowl (or two…), plus some gourmet options of the fish, chicken and beef variety that just hits the kitty spot! (It’s so much fun watching them devour the goodies!)
Due to the nature of the feline stray, it has taken some time to build human-cat trust, so they can be very skittish and run off if we’re not careful. (But they always manage to make their way back…)
I like to talk gently and ask if they’re hungry and looking for some nibble and assure them it’s alright. We’re just here to make sure they have full bellies!
Since they do run off, it has been difficult to visually capture them on camera. We’ve managed to get some video here and there and some photos through the window blind, so if the images aren’t the clearest, you now know why!
I will introduce you to each feline in the order we have come to their acquaintance:
Desperado (Despi for short)
Ah, Desperado! He immediately appeared when we did. Medium black fur with a spot of white on his chest and with dark yellow eyes. Despi (the nickname I use for him that he answers to!), has the look of always being worse for wear. Why? Well, in a word, cat fights! Yes, he seems to draw them unfortunately. He often has wear spots in his fur from being attacked by other male felines, especially Big Tom who I will introduce below. Plus, Despi is a very assertive cat with his loud persistent meowing for attention, affection and food. (We think he might have once been an inside cat…) Now sometimes he can be a real trouble maker, especially with using the immediate lawn as a litter box instead of being more discreet (and more so than the other cats), and even when we scold him for being less than neat about it, he does it anyway. We think he’s marking his territory concerning the other male cats, but he still gets bullied anyway. He recently has been coming and going, rather than sticking around most of the time like he used to, since he’s trying to avoid more trouble. But he still comes for the nibbles! He was our first buddy. So we have a soft spot for him.
What we can learn from Despi: Stay in your own lane and don't try to usurp someone else's spot if you can help it! (and be more civil, especially towards those who help take care of you.)
Mama Oreo with Dancer, Prancer and Vixen
When we first met Mama Oreo, she was a regular companion to Desperado. Black with white tuxedo and boots, I named her Oreo. She is quite the queenly cat in disposition and attitude. After having seen her and feeding her for several weeks, we were met with quite the surprise: three kittens! She brought them up onto the porch in pile and we were delighted to meet them and feed them as well. (You can see them feeding in the video.) Once we found out she was a female and a Mama, we were determined to give her lots of attention, especially when feeding her little ones. (No petting, just food and conversation in gentle tones.)
One day she brought up a small rat ? she killed and brought up to the porch to train her little ones. We got to see them pounce and learn how to handle their prey. She disposed of it later herself.
Her three little ones:
Prancer is a mini me, looking just like Mama Oreo, and the way she walked around, she looked like she was prancing!
Vixen and Dancer were both grey and white, Vixen being much rounder in shape, and Dancer being the runt of the litter with a stub of a tail. Whenever Dancer would walk, he appeared to be dancing. Thus his name.
The little ones are no longer in our vicinity. We hope they went to good homes.
What we can learn from Mama Oreo: You can be Queen and stately in your approach to life, even if you meet with the unexpected.
Shadow appeared from no-where one day all by himself which was quite the surprise since he was just a kitten (still is!). But Mama Oreo soon adopted him so he was like part of her litter. She even let him feed on her. Shadow has made our outdoor patios his regular pad. And since Desperado has been getting into so many fight with Big Tom, he has made himself scarce except when he gets hungry. So Shadow has been making himself the dominant Male (or attempting to!) in our space. Of course, Despi won’t hear of it and puts him in his place with bites and even hissing, even though they’ve been buddies for a while. Shadow is a beautiful kitten, all black with pale green eyes. He is the most energetic of the lot, playing hide and seek and peek-a-boo with Precious (see below), and chasing his own tail. Absolutely adorable. Shadow is our buddy!
What we can learn from Shadow: Seek and you will find. And don't be afraid to assert yourself even if you meet with resistance. Enjoy life to the fullest and have fun!
Princess (Mama) and Precious
The next family of cat includes the Mama Princess, who we had seen before a few times, along with her little one, Precious, who is play buddies with Shadow; they are now regulars at The Cat’s Meow! They look identical to each other, with white and gray coloring, which is so adorable. Sometimes they each come solo and sometimes together. Princess is rather skittish so we have to be very gentle with her and our approach when bringing food. Precious is also skittish but she has a more assertive way about her, less shy than her mom, especially when other cats are around.
It is so much fun watching Precious and Shadow play together. (You can see on the video!) Pouncing, Peek-a-boo, and chasing. Precious is always curious about what Shadow is up to and often follows him, if at a distance.
What we can learn from Princess: Even if you're shy or insecure, you can still get what you need with courage.
What we can learn from Precious: It's fun to make friends and see what they're up to! Seize the moment and don't be afraid to go after what you want.
A Very Pregnant Snow White
Now, Snow White, all white as is obvious, comes from down the street in the other direction. We saw her sitting on the fence two houses down initially. She was not a regular. But in recent weeks (July 2023) she showed up regularly for food as she was VERY PREGNANT. She was so round in the middle, she swayed. So we put food out especially for her during that time. Then once she had her kitties (off site from our space), we continued to feed her until she didn’t come around. (We trust the other neighbor is feeding her). Don’t know if we’ll see her kitties in the neighborhood at some point.
What we can learn from Snow White: Don't have all your eggs in one basket. Sometimes you have to look for what you need.
Ok, Now for BIG TOM. There is only one other cat we’ve seen in the neighborhood who is bigger than Big Tom. He has the widest face, the longest, thickest body, and he is tiger striped with a swirl on the side with white boots. Tom is a handsome cat and he has taken issue with Desperado, who attempts to be the King of the neighborhood and Tom just isn’t having it. So cat fights have ensued. But recently, Despi only comes around for food and then leaves. And whenever he sees Big Tom nearby, his body language goes into high caution, ready for takeoff if necessary!
Interestingly enough, Shadow has been in the process of taking Despi’s place, so he is attempting to assert himself with Big Tom, who actually puts up with a lot of pushing and shoving as Shadow tries to get him away from the feeding dish! (You can watch on the video!)
We gotta give it to Shadow for trying to assert himself and only being a kitten!
What we can learn from Big Tom: Sometimes you have to fight to keep your place and sometimes you give a little, especially with a new comer!
Smokey & Midnight
The final two cats in our Parade are worth mentioning. They’ve been coming around more so of late and we think one might be pregnant and one might have just recently had kittens.
Smokey has been here before when she wasn’t pregnant; gorgeous shiny smoky grey fur with green eyes. Since she’s been back, we’ve noticed her looking heavier, thus suspicions she’ll be Mama Smokey with kitties soon!
Midnight is a very recent arrival, with inky black fur and yellow eyes. We think she might be nursing kittens due to how dominant her feeding area is underneath.
They are both cautious but not overtly skittish, probably because they need to eat for the little ones they carry or they are feeding as well. We always try to put out extra nibbles for the ones with littles! We have a soft spot for the Mama cats around here at The Cat’s Meow!
What we can learn from Smokey: You gotta do what you gotta do!
What we can learn from Midnight: You will always find what you're looking for.
We trust you enjoyed our Parade of Cats as we shared with you our experiences with The Cat's Meow and the furry, fun felines we have had the delight with which we aquaint ourselves! I'm not sure how each of our stray kitties would feel if they knew they were the star of the show...Despi would probably want all the attention. Mama Oreo would be attentive but not looking for glory. Shadow would show you how much fun he has! Princess would probably take a back seat but Precious would be too curious not to check it out alongside Shadow. Snow White wouldn't even know about it at all since she's too busy feeding her littles! Big Tom would be cool and busy eating all the food in the bowl and keeping Despi from taking over the show. As for Smokey and Midnight, they'd be too occupied getting what they need in the moment.
Thanks for reading our fun feline story and have yourself a Furry Nice Day!
Of all the Cats featured here, which one do you identify the most with and why? Which lesson (what we can learn from) resonates most with you and why? If you were a cat, what would be your disposition and what would you look like? Describe this in detail in your journal.
Thank you & Good to See You
Hello and welcome back to Beginnings, where we focus on Fresh Starts, New Cycles, Exploration, Experimentation and Creativity. This is a special post since I am sharing a new video where I've come back to say hello and share my new Life Cycle, New Art Studio and some art I've made in the past few months that you may not have seen already.
You'll see two illustration and an art journal spread that I shared in a previous post. I also share what's going on with my music and my new art studio space and how I'm processing some major life changes that I've shared in previous blog posts.
I'm not referring to this video as a vlog. It simply an update so I can say hi and share from my heart to yours.
I hope this video is an inspiration to you in your own creativity!
You're welcome to leave a comment either on YouTube or here on this post sharing your life update or a new life cycle you are currently experiencing. I am here to support you just like you have supported me and have been part of my journey.
I also would appreciate it if you enjoy the video to please give it a thumbs up and if you haven't already subscribed, to subscribe if it is beneficial to you. This helps my channel get more visibility. I so appreciate your support.
Thank you for watching and reading and I wish you the best of Beginnings.
He Will Always Be My Father
This is my first Father's Day with my Dad, P. Daniel Bel-Tempo, in Spirit. I felt I must celebrate his life and honor him in this way since he passed back in January. The last time I saw him in person was back in 2019 on January 1 (he was in New Jersey; I live in Texas); we had only a few hours visit we shared together. I can almost feel his arm around me as we sat together on a hotel couch.
On that day, before he left, he sat in a hotel chair waiting to leave in a wheelchair, as he looked at me and said, "We couldn't love each other more than we do right now, could we?"
And I said, "No, we couldn't, Dad."
Then he stood up in his black leather jacket and gloves, and we hugged and kissed goodbye. I knew that would be the last time I would see him in person. And it was.
I love him so; I always will.
Below I am sharing a poem I wrote my DAD for his birthday in 2022; it is titled, "ALWAYS," which encapsulates his essence as human, Father and musician.
BY DAWN HERRING
YOUR HUMOR PERVADES
THERE ARE PARTS
THAT NEVER FADE
MUSIC IN YOUR BONES
I AM NOT ALONE
TO CREATIVELY EXPRESS
NOT JUST TO IMPRESS
YOU WILL ALWAYS BE
I have also shared a music video of the last song I played for DAD on my piano titled, "The Evidence." This song will always have a special place in my heart since it brought comfort to both me and my Dad.
Thank you for reading and watching and being a part of my Honoring my DAD on Father's day, the first I will experience since his passing in January. I appreciate your being a part of my journey.
Copyright 2023 Music and poetry by Dawn Herring
My Creative Process with Eclipse Illustration
Hello and welcome back to Beginnings where we focus on fresh starts, new cycles, experimentation, exploration and creativity.
In my previous post which you can read here, I shared about why I’ve been absent for the past few months. I also share images from my last completed art journal spread and what it meant to me.
In this post, I’ll be sharing about the process of creating the illustration, Coming Full Circle: Eclipse.
When I broached the subject of creating an illustration, I knew exactly what I wanted to portray: Dividing the image in half darkness to represent how my heart felt eclipsed by the event of my father’s passing. Praying hands were in order since that is one of the essential pieces to processing such a loss. I also show this in how I designed the letters, partly in grey and black with dots of red for the heart centered emotion. I also drew a circle to represent coming full circle with life and death. A new cycle has begun.
There are several things I wanted to point out with the technical process of experimentation with this illustration:
First, I used a new mixed media pad by Master’s Touch, which description says can be used with wet and dry media. I experimented with this paper before and it went well. But I only used minimal water application to activate the colored pencil I was using.
With this illustration, I applied more water and more layers, and while doing so, the paper did not hold up well. As a result, I decided to acquire my go-to brand, Strathmore, for a mixed media pad for my next illustration. I have yet to activate water soluable tools with this paper, but I’ll let you know when I do.
Secondly, when I require water solubility with a larger area, a pencil tip is not the best way to go. It ends up looking uneven in coverage. Pastel was better but since the pencil was applied initially, it was difficult to eliminate the unevenness. I ended up using a charcoal pencil to fill in the areas that needed more coverage. Then I was reasonably satisfied.
Thirdly, I did enjoy the water solubility of the colored pencil and layering color for the hair giving it more texture. And it also gave the solid black of her garment more density.
In this illustration, I used Prismacolor Premiere soft core pencils. I love the smoothness of application and the density of color. I also used Caran’Dache Supracolor Aquarelle water soluable colored pencils and Neo Color ll water soluble pastels for the areas where I applied water.
Again, this was fully experimental and I’m always learning about what each supply can do and what paper works well with them. I have supplied an art demo video which you can view above where I share most of my process in creating this illustration, Coming Full Circle: Eclipse.
I also include the theme song to this blog, Beginnings, to inspire you in your own creativity.
Where are you giving yourself space to experiment, whether creatively or simply in life? Where do you experience the most resistance when considering the possibilities? You can ask yourself the question: What am I afraid of, to help unpack that resistance and see what you discover.
I want to sum up this post with a word about this day: June 8, 2023 marks the 5th month since my father passed from this world. So I find the timing of this post serendipitous to honoring his life and his death with creativity and appreciation. My father was always giving me encouragement concerning my art; he was always ready with a critique when I asked for it growing up in his house. He was very proud of my skill and told me so, often. I wanted to share that with you, my friend and reader.
Thank you for being a part of my creative and life journey.
May you have blessed Beginnings!
Coming Full Circle:
Dawn Herrings is an Artist, Illustrator, Aspiring Musician, and Avid Journal Keeper. She enjoys spending time writing songs, composing for the piano, playing with all kinds of art media, including colored pencils for illustrating, exploring design and textures, having fun creating spreads in her art journal and writing about her day, her dreams and her vision in her journals. Dawn is also Office Manager and partner in business with her husband, Bill, of 33 years.