As a watercolor artist, I am always thrilled to find books with watercolor as the focal point, ready to learn, find insightful tips and travels in the wonderful world of this vibrant and fun medium. So when I ran across Watercolor From the Heart by Barbara Nechis, I thought it would be a great read...and it was!
The title drew me in with a focus on the Heart since I know from personal experience how valuable expressing yourself from the heart can be. (You can view my Refresh Daily Rewind Video on this subject.)
In Watercolor from the Heart, Barbara shares her thoughts on her watercolor journey, including her past teachers, the rules she learned and finding her authentic watercolor path. I really enjoyed diving into her past experiences and into what she thought was valuable experience for her as an artist.
She also shares about the watercolor techniques she found fascinating that enabled her to find her signature style of sorts: using water to create shapes and edges that are the foundation of her fabulous layered paintings, which often feature soft edges of flowers, landscapes and still lifes.
Many images she takes for reference are also highlighted as she talks about the importance of observing and taking photos of places and things that fascinate and fill the creative well.
She touches a bit on using other media with watercolor, such as gouache, crayon and pencil and offers some fascinating design elements as well.
There are step by step examples of her watercolor techniques and also ways to take advantage of watercolor issues that arise and make the best of challenges.
I really enjoyed the journey with Barbara and I admire her authentic path as a watercolor artist.
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Header by Dawn Herring
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I had the pure pleasure of reading Gretchen Rubin's latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. I found this book to be informative, thought provoking and humorous.
I love Gretchen's voice, her style and her sharing of her thoughts and examples from her own life as well as from other family members, friends and fans of her blog and other books. Her whole process of determining to write about habits and how they are connected to happiness as well as the questions she had and the conclusions she came to are simply fascinating. It showed her brilliance as a researcher, writer, and expert in the areas of happiness and how what we do daily affects our lives for the better--or for the worse.
She gives a structured framework starting with our Tendencies, which include Upholders, Obligers, Questioners and Rebels and then proceeds to talk strategy and how each one would work for those tendencies, giving lots of informative and relevant examples, and many of them humorous, especially from her own life.
I had so much FUN reading this book; you might expect a book about habits to be a bit dry or just full of boring statistics, but I already knew how much I loved Gretchen's previous books, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project, so I wasn't disappointed with this read at all.
She takes the understanding of habits and how they are formed and how we can take better control of making or breaking habits based on our Tendencies and following the strategies that really work with our temperaments and preferences. This approach makes the whole process easier and even fun, which you wouldn't think possible, especially when it comes to those tougher habits we find hard to break or those Life Practices we really want to Instill but don't know how to.
One of the many benefits of reading Better Than Before was not only for my own habit formations and recognizing the strategies I've used that she offers, but it also helped me recognize the habits and tendencies of others, especially in my own family, which actually helped me appreciate them more for Who They Are and understand what works and doesn't work for them. This prompted me to make some changes in my interactions with them, which promoted positive change on my end!
I'm always looking for great reads that enhance my well being, that are meaningful to me on many levels, and that help me stay Aligned with Who I Am, and Gretchen's book, Better Than Before, does this in such a way that I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for some fresh strategies to get those bad habits undone and instill some new, enhancing life practices that can actually change your life for the better.
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Herring
Copyright 2015 Header by Dawn Herring
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I think Experiment is one of my favorite Art-Related words. Experimentation implies trying something new, or perhaps adding a fresh approach to something you've already done.
My art lends to experimentation, whether I'm Playing in my Art Journal, starting a new watercolor painting or trying my hand at mixed media on canvas, all of which I am doing now! Yikes.
You might wonder why I say Yikes in regards to my venues.
Let me explain.
Back in 2014, when I was in the midst of a residential move, I decided that once I settled into my new home, I was going to make space for another venue in addition to my art journal and my watercolor painting.
I know. Like I'm not busy creating enough already, right? Well, I've kept an art journal for 4 1/2 years now, and am still loving it. Wouldn't change a thing on that end. But I was still intrigued with the idea of applying the same principles I've learned in my play time with my art journal to a canvas.
I had already worked with canvas with watercolor, so I wanted to see what it would be like to add more than one medium to that substrate. And I had several ideas to work with already. (I always have more ideas than I know what to do with.)
So I determined that I would make extra space in my new art studio space for mixed media work. I was going to have FUN with this!
First I had to determine what kind of desk or table I would use and eventually settled on my previously used computer cart (which I was no longer using for my computer since I now had a separate desk for that), which has wheels on it, so I could move it if necessary...I like the idea of portability when you need it.
So once I settled on that, I knew I would need to make the additional space for it. And there was another piece of furniture that needed to be moved. So for a while, once I put it in there, I felt very cramped.
And cramped is not a good feeling. (Once that piece of furniture was removed, it felt better.)
Then I decided to get myself an additional french easel for my studio space so I could paint either in the bedroom (where my other one resides) or I could paint in my larger studio. (Hubby actually suggested that!) So I got another one.
Now I have three separate spaces in my studio to create with: one for my art journal, one for my mixed media work and one for fine art watercolor painting.
So you'd think I would just jump right in with them all and get to playing, right?
Um. Well, not right away.
I was currently working on "Forge," which is now posted on my art gallery, I had an art journal spread started and waiting for my return. I started that mixed media canvas and kept running into blocks with it since I wanted to be sure to use only high quality products for my work and some stuff I wanted I had yet to acquire, yadda, yadda, yadda.
With all that said, I let my art journal languish for about three weeks. Yes. Three Weeks. Oh, I would piddle with it once in a while but found I didn't have the energy to pursue it since I was so focused on "Forge."
So here I was, I had met my goal of having all three projects going at once. You know, so I could work on whatever I felt like working on when I wanted to.
But, honestly, I felt blocked. Even burdened. Burdened??
Yes. Like I was carrying too much. And I was losing the playful, intuitive energy that I so loved and wanted as a creative person.
You see, I really wanted to know what it felt like to be so productive as an artist; not that I didn't really want to try all these things, because I did and still do.
But I needed to pace myself more so than ever; there are only so many hours and minutes in my day.
So I must learn to be more gentle with myself and truly only do as much as I want to and not try to set expectations for myself that aren't necessary. (And we all have that tendency at one point or another, don't we?)
I don't want my art to start to feel too much like WORK in all caps. Oh, I know creating takes energy and time and sometimes it is work, especially when you want it to look just right and you make a perceived error or something doesn't work out the way you want it to, etc.
But I want my ART to always be a place where I can feel free to listen, to play, to intuit and to Honor Myself as artist as much as possible. And Not Allow Resistance to Have Sway over my Creative Life.
And So It IS. And I AM Blessed.
Art Journal/Journaling Prompt:
Do you ever feel blocked as an artist once you have a met a goal you've kept for yourself in order to grow creatively? Detail this experience in your journal, describing where you were at the time you determined this goal and where you were when you met that goal. Did it meet your expectations? Were you surprised by how you felt? How did it affect your creative process? Did it stay the same, feel amazing or burdensome? If it felt heavy to you, what did you do to get yourself to a better place of balance?
Affirm your place of creativity visually in your art journal. Draw a picture of your space or cut out pics that remind you of your place of creatvity. Write affirmations and use images to show what you love about your creative space and any goals you're met and are happy about.
Also, dream about what your next step will be; detail in your written journal and create a visual to honor your goal.
Remember to Honor Your Preferences, Your Personality and Purpose in your Creative Expression and give yourself breathing room when necessary. And also remember, it's all in the experiment!
Copyright 2015 Dawn Herring
Dawn engages in many roles: As Writer/Blogger and Artist/Creative and Founder of Refresh with Dawn Herring: Where Art and JOY Align, She enjoys sharing from her vast experience as award-winning, life-long artist and leader in the field of written journaling, offering encouragement and proven tips to other journal keepers. Dawn's focus is on written journal keeping, artistic expression and finding your Creative Voice, and positive change that leads personal empowerment, encouraging you to leave your authentic and positive mark in the world. Dawn is a Commercial artist, hand letterer/illustrator and writer/blogger and enjoys sharing insights, humor, and encouragement as she shares from her life experiences as a woman, wife, mother of two grown daughters and as a Grandparent to a special needs grandson. She enjoys keeping a journal and reading spiritual texts to help keep the light on. May JOY Align with Your Creative Heart.
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