Catching Up…

I have struggled with sleep for years– falling asleep, staying asleep, needing mid-day naps to compensate for the lack of sleep.  Having experienced chronic, debilitating bouts of insomnia over the last decade, I am nearly giddy when I actually zonk out for more than 5 hours at a time.  No longer accepting early morning teaching gigs has helped somewhat with my sleep issues and has resulted in a more natural sleep cycle whereby I go to bed later and wake up later. Because I teach most nights until at least 8, sometimes 9pm, it takes a few hours to wind down after 5 or 6 hours of back-to-back students and parents.  And not until the last few months did I notice what a difference my elimination of morning teaching (at 6:45 or 7:30 am 2x-3x/week for the last few years) really has made to my health.  I have come to the realization that I am a shift-sleeper, and if I can get two 3-4 hour cycles in each night, I feel good and rested the following day.  According to sleep doctors, this kind of sleep is actually quite normal, and I am thankful to have a job where I can manipulate my schedule somewhat to accommodate my natural physical cycle.

However, when the mind is heavy or hormones are creating havoc, I typically find myself up around 2-3am, and unable to return to sleep for possibly hours.  I often chide myself to get up and do something since just lying there never helps (chiding yourself doesn’t do much good either!) and since I can’t seem to squeeze enough time out of my days to accomplish what I want, nor lately what I need, it seems even more futile to lay wide-eyed in the dark with an unrelenting mind.

So here I am, up since 1:30 (it’s now 4am in the windy PNW), having roused myself (after significant chiding) to catch up with some creative work.  I’ve taken a couple days off for the mid-winter break to relax (maybe) and organize my physical and mental spaces!  When you work for yourself, there really never is “downtime” and frankly, after a conversation tonight with my partner, I have come to the realization that I really don’t think I know how to relax, truly–or maybe I don’t believe in it, or rather what is typically considered “relaxation”?  Don’t get me wrong, I do attempt this state through massage, acupuncture, and the occasional pedicure, but even then I can find it hard to tune out and turn off. How can one relax when there is just so much to be done in this life– so much to create, and read, and experience, and think about?  Sometimes I think that is what some diseases, like migraine, are meant to teach us–to let go, relinquish control, truly rest (other times I doubt there is any greater meaning within them–they are simply chemical or biological alterations in our bodies beyond our control)–but either way it’s a paradox; my migraines FORCE me to slow down, shut off completely for awhile and reboot– but then on the other side I am often left further behind, with more catch-up!  Without rest (and frankly, better time management), though, we cannot manifest fully in any capacity– and so whatever we choose to call it– relaxation, rest, meditation, downtime– I guess it’s something I need to consider and uncover what will work for me, without guilt, in 2016 to bring many aspects of my life back into balance.

At any rate, catching up is what this post is all about and after being asked to participate in 7 days of sharing your favorite creations from 2015 on Facebook, I figured it was time to empty the folder on my desktop labeled “To Blog” (just like it’s time to empty the real folder on my physical desktop that contains all the belated cards and letters and gifts  I’ve slated to send for months)!

This was one card that actually made it into the mail and into the hands of a student who graduated in June 2015, and it is one of my absolute favorites from last year, partly because of my technique, but also because I think it shows some growth in my design knowledge and style.

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For this card, I cut the MFT Stamps world die from acetate to make a stencil and then adhered that to some Ranger watercolor paper.  From there, I proceeded to use a variety of Distress inks to watercolor my world.  This was actually my first attempt, and I was pretty excited with how it turned out!

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I also used  a MFT Stamps sentiment from their graduation set, a must-have for teachers!  I love the bold fonts of MFT’s collections.

I adhered some washi, and echoed the black and white outlined letters with the b/w striped paper.  The colorful paper layered below is some OLD stock (possibly My Mind’s Eye) that also echoed the colors of the world and the water-coloring perfectly.

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Please check out my portfolio pages for the rest of my new/old creations; I have some fun cards and mini-albums there (I entered the world of layouts and scrapping in 2015!).

May this be the start of an inspired, fruitful week with plenty of rest!

 

 

Spring Chick

Happy Friday, everyone!  We are one week into spring and look what just hatched!

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Isn’t he just adorable?  This little chick from Deep Red Stamps has been dying to break through (along with about a million other stamps and ideas!) for months now!  I absolutely love the rich, vintage images of Deep Red Stamps, and featured a few of them in recent posts here.  The rest are awaiting their big break!

So, a couple weeks ago, I stamped this little guy onto a variety of papers and played with coloring techniques from Copics, to Distress inking, and watercoloring with pencils and Gelatos.

Of all the techniques, I really liked the combination of pencils and gelatos for a more realistic look.

In the image above, I used Staedtler Watercolor pencils in two yellows for his body, and two orange Gelatos for his feet and beak. The pencils are perfect for this particular image, as I can get some texture from the dry application and more intensity and smooth blending when using with water.  For his feet and beak, though, I preferred the orange intensity, coverage, and creaminess of the Gelatos, which are fairly new to me

Since I was using watercoloring, he was stamped in Versafine black oil-based ink.

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He could use a little more blending, but I was not using watercolor paper or heavy stock, and this was a trial run on the Neenah Solar White 80lb scrap I was using, so I did could not overly saturate or color as the paper would bleed and pill.

My new PTI set Monthly Moments: March just arrived this week, and I immediately knew I wanted to use that Spring bubble with the chick.

I finished off the edge with Crate Paper DIY Shoppe adhesive paper and the back with some washi.

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And ta-da, a very simple one-layer card.  He’s headed over to and CAS-ual Friday’s Good Egg since he’s so clean and simple and such a good egg!! 🙂

THE NEXT VERSION

Now this one was designed with a few purposes in mind, one of which being Maria of Riesling Mama, who just had a birthday!  I was very much thinking of her aesthetic and personality when approaching both of these cards.

She used a technique for one of her cards where she took Distress Ink, rubbed it on an acrylic block, spritzed and applied to cardstock.  No stamp involved!  You can check her post out here.

Here’s her super cool card featuring the technique.

 

And here is my card which will be headed over Shirley-Bee’s birthday gathering for Maria, as well as to Catered Crop’s Spring Fever.

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As you can see, my chick is a bit more grunge here!

TECHNIQUE: To achieve the large splatter, I inked my acrylic with Mustard Seed Distress, spritzed with water, and then stamped off 3 times to move the ink around.  I didn’t want it to be solid, as in Maria’s application.  Afterward, I picked up some of the ink and flicked with my brush.

CLUSTERING & LAYERING

I love digging through my embellishments box and scrap baggies, which after this creation I got to re-organizing.  It is utterly amazing how many left-overs this art form generates!!  I have a pretty good system of storage and categorizing if I keep up on it, but with every card, I seem to have oodles more material than I did beforehand (which is not mathematically possible!!).

So I made use of a little lost leaf, an alcohol-inked glossy arrow, and the back of a deconstructed card which I die cut with Lawn Fawn’s Stitched Notes.  Upcycled and recycled!

New elements include the die cut Savvy sprig, Prima clothespin, orange enamel dots, Hey Boy paper, DIY Shop adhesive paper (lining inside and back of card), and Ellen’s Essentials White Linen cardstock.

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I love the distressed look of the green paper and all the textures involved from the woven linen of the stock and clothespin to the gloss of the arrow and dots.  And then there are the colors! The yellows, oranges, and grass green against the white just make me so happy to look at!  So fresh and so clean!

I sure hope Maria likes it and more importantly that she is feeling as springy as a new chick as she enters a new, fabulous decade!

If you haven’t checked out her work, it’s a must-see.  While you are hopping around, make sure to check out CAS-ual Fridays challenge, and the ever gorgeous offerings at Catered Crop.

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Here’s a little supplies list for you before I check out for the evening; click on any image!

Image of Of the Heart DiesLeaves Die Set