Thursday, December 29, 2005

Artists Way #2-Identity: Check In

Should have written sooner since I did the exercises on Dec. 21 and no longer have the fresh impressions but everything is written in my journal so I’ve reviewed my notes for this summary.

#1 I find lists of affirmations useful as clues toward finding the resistance hiding in the shadow of agreement and listen carefully to what the petulant child’s voice within is saying as I read these supportive statements to discover what needs attention. Some days my heart flies on the wings of these uplifting words and others it sits heavily, wondering why it’s so hard to get moving again when I know the statements are true.

#2 5 Major activities this week:
a. Worked at the Office—should (provides income)
b. Writing in journal morning & evening—wanted to
c. Reading—wanted to
d. Photoshop work on photos for Christmas cards—should + wanted to
e. Cooking/Baking—should but enjoyed it!

I’ve pretty much removed unsupportive friends from my life and stay away from negativity whenever possible. Even some pleasant friendships drifted apart during the self-searching months, but I know that this alone-time is teaching me new skills and will lead to an internal clarity which will attract new friends that fit a more centered, creative outlook. Other close friends who remain supportive are much cherished and scheduled for visits in the New Year.

#3 20+ Things I enjoy doing and when they were last done:
1. writing—every day
2. singing—in the car every day; in public 3 months ago
3. painting—on computer yesterday; on fabric (discharge-2 wks ago); on canvas 1 year (pick up that brush!!!)
4. taking photographs—past weekend
5. playing the piano—6 months ago
6. dancing—in the living room often; at a club-5 years ago
7. reading—daily
8. visiting friends and family—holidays & weekends when possible
9. being with Nature, weekly; walking by the ocean—last year
10. hiking in the mountains—during Thanksgiving in the Catskills
11. making pottery—last gallery show 6 years ago
12. watching good movies—several months since last time at theater
13. teaching art and singing—2 years
14. performing on stage—1 ½ years
15. baking and cooking—regularly!
16. knitting, sewing, needlepoint, quilting—1yr, 1wk, 2yrs, 1wk
17. designing mosaics/stained glass—1 year
18. writing poetry—2 months
19. visiting new places/ travel—weekend/ last year
20. helping people find their creative core—as opportunity comes
21. roller skating, ice skating, biking & skiing—15 years
22. swimming—during Summer
23. horseback riding—20 years
24. teaching children music & art—10 years
25. making love in the morning ;-)
26. going to the theater and concerts—1 month
27. interior decorating—3 months ago
28. gardening—in patio pots every Summer for 5 years; full gardens before that
29. organizing things; creating order—full time job!
30. meditating—daily

#6 5 More Imaginary Lives:
a. anthropologist
b. multi-language interpreter at UN
c. ballerina
d. race car driver or jockey
e. movie actress

#7 Life Pie—definitely needs rebalancing!

#8 Listed 17 changes I’d like to make…now need to start doing them! It surprised me to see how quickly they came to mind, guess the desire is just under the surface waiting for attention. Hmmmm….

Because it’s still difficult for me to get around these days, for my Artist Date I chose to take the pressure off Christmas gift shopping by allowing myself time for gentle window shopping past enticing stores and time to look through quilting books at Borders while resting on their comfortable couch, enjoying the holiday music before selecting gifts & standing on the very long line to the cash register, followed by a delicious dinner while watching holiday shoppers through the restaurant’s picture window. Thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Oh, yes, Morning Pages were written 7/7. Found it interesting when twice they turned in a very different direction than what had been in my mind when I started writing. Very useful.

I'm reading the next chapter. Talk to you soon!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Artist's Way Intro

Sparkling Wonder (C) 2005 Olenka Designs

Hello fellow traveler's on the Artist's Way. I'm so glad to be able to join you in this adventure. Sorry for the silence last week since being introduced to the AW ring, but the neck/head 'discomfort' was very disruptive last week. I've started physical therapy and neck traction which will hopefully get things back into shape.

I feel a bit shy about diving into the middle of TAW journey, when you all know each other already, but hope we can fill in the gaps as we go along. I actually read the book about 6 years ago and had it on the shelf for a few years before that, so the ideas are familiar to me, but I wanted to actually work through the exercises with other creative women, to see what would open at this point in time.

I have been writing Morning Pages with very few gaps for 5 years now. Can't imagine what my life would be like without them, since the emotional roller-coaster that started when my husband was diagnosed with cancer never stopped, just seemed to swerve onto new tracks as the years went by and my brother in law and several very dear friends also passed away--every 6 months a new loss for 4 years! Deep faith, loving family and my background in metaphysics supported me during the ups and downs, but I discovered that all the hidden scars and buried dreams of the past that were shaken loose by the losses now had to be faced again, one last time before they would finally release. Even reading this first chapter this week, before reading Julia's list of negative belief examples, I put the book down and wrote a page of my own. It was interesting that as I wrote each one, an inner voice refuted each statement, but a list of negative beliefs still formed. OK. These are the markers of what still needs care. Good to know.

#1. MP= 7/7. My practice is to write morning pages first thing in the morning, before a short meditation and heading out for the day. Whenever I start reading (now TAW), my journal is beside me to capture any insights that surface or to note strong responses, eg. read a quote and burst into tears....why? write it down (like Julia's recommendation for noting 'blurts'). This has worked very well for me and this week was no exception. I thought it would be easy to whiz right through the first chapter and move on, since I want to catch up to the rest as much as possible by the end of the month. Whenever there was a spot/quote which caused a strong gut reaction, I cried and wrote some more. It's all like a treasure hunt, each reaction pointing to a clue of where to look next.

p. 28 "There is just this dream, this feeling, this urge, this desire. There is seldom any real proof, but the dream lives on." Yes! "Give yourself permission to be a beginner!" Yes! Everywhere I go there is the potential for the inner critic to cut in with the opinion that I "should know better by now; be able to do it well by now, have reached a higher level by now." After all the clearing work done so far, I can finally allow myself to start again with wonder.

#2. My artist date was simple this week. After PT went to the beautiful library nearby and sat in their big leather armchairs and read magazines: Architectural Digest, Psychology Today and Oprah. Through the large multi-panes windows one saw a pond in the park across from the library reflecting the blue sky, trees and swimming geese like a mirror. It was a lovely, restful excursion, which had not been possible lately because driving is restricted these days.

#3 & 4. In the binder which I used for "Recovering Your Inner Child" exercises, I have written lists of "old enemies of creative self-worth" and people who injured the little child I was. Writing a letter to those who left their marks has helped me face the inner fears. Telling stories in written detail helped release the pressure of hiding the pain and released the self-blame that had remained. It surprises me still, that some people's effect requires more than one letter or telling that story in several different ways. Then again, the journey IS a spiral.

#6. Being one who also was lucky enough to have had "champions of creative self worth," there is another section in that binder for their names and letters of gratitude written in their memory...a soothing balm, a ray of hope, a place of joy.

#7. Time to write another thank-you letter to my current mentor.

#8. Imaginary lives:
- world traveler and photographer
- singer, songwriter of my own style
- published author and poet
- my artwork in museums
- intuitive healer
- astronaut: only if I don't have to do math, just travel to other planets
- garden & interior designer
- ballroom dancer
- airplane pilot
- scuba diver working with dolphins and photographing coral reefs

That's it for now. Feel free to let me know whatever would be more helpful to this shared exploration. Thanks again!

Forever My Love

Nicholas & Alexandra --- engaged!
On December 10th it was the 5th anniversary of my beloved husband's passing. It seems like much longer, and yet like yesterday...The photo above was taken at his niece's wedding reception, during which we got engaged. He was a true romantic soul, full of life and joy.
This photo is one I treasure because it was the last carefree birthday picnic right before the cancer diagnosis. Niko was born in Corfu, Greece early morning on July 5th and came to NYC as a baby-- he claimed that with the time difference, in America his birthday was the 4th of July so we always celebrated in patriotic colors on his birthday. I was blessed with the gift of being at his side, holding his hand when he took his last breath...a very sad but beautiful, peaceful moment. Thank you, Niko, for all the time we shared!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Accident Check-Up

I'm on lunch break at the office so writing an update for my friends who've been asking about yesterday's doctor visit results: the MRI showed there are three herniated discs in the neck resulting from the car accident. Next step is to engage a spine specialist and probably physical therapy. Seeing the new doctor on Saturday. That's three more days of spasm & pain reducing meds. Really need a hug...very disappointing, but at least we know what's out of whack (so to speak...trying to be cheerful). This is a BIG opportunity for me to practice keeping the mind reigned in and focusing on one moment at a time. Definitely counting my blessings....

Discharging Update:

Before leaving for work yesterday morning I made bleach-gel circle lines on the redroses printed cotton (which had shown no change after the first discharging attempt) and left it there all day. It had occurred to me that the fabric was one of the few cottons left which had not been washed immediately after purchase and therefore still had a finish on the surface which protected the dye. Sure enough, since it had gone into the washer with the other discharged fabrics, this time the color came out in very interesting shades: red-cinnamon-beige No photo's yet.

Talk to you soon; have a wonderful day!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Discharging Experiment

" Bucket of Promise"
(Altered photo of discharged fabrics in bucket of soapy water, waiting for final steps)

Finally felt up to doing some creative work today. Since the car accident my body has been hurting, so evenings after a day at the office have been spent resting, reading and getting to bed early. Was very grateful for my sister and Mom to swing by from NYC to Connecticut so I could ride up to the Catskills with them and spend Thanksgiving together. Would not have been able to drive the 3.5 hours alone, both because the car is not up to it now and the body hurts too much. Had an MRI of my neck yesterday to help the doctor determine what the xrays were pointing to as being the cause of the pain & headaches. Will know more next week.

SO, today I decided to experiment. Time to try doing some discharging of cotton fabric with a bleach-gel to create some pattern in the plain colored blocks which were left over from a quilt I made 2 years ago. It was good to do something new and unpredictable.

Since the studio has some other projects in progress, decided to use the kitchen table. Brought down some stamps to try printing with the gel but that turned out poorly.

The gel was too thin and the imprint too light to have much affect and if applied more thickly, got into the crevices and smudged the print, so gave that up after one swatch was done. Will try the paste method another time.

Really enjoyed seeing the colors change: blue turned pink, red turned black then fuscsia, yellow grew in variety of shades on two different fabrics, brown turned golden, a turquoise print and a red-roses print didn't react at all (both were screen prints so would probably need the discharge paste to remove that color). There were several medium toned fabrics which gave subtle variations. All good for mixing.



This black strip of mystery fabric did nothing. Thought it was rayon, but guess not. The black cotton on the other hand, resulted in wonderful bronze-brown effects. Did several design variations with that fabric: lines, swirls and circles. This is one sample, though the flash made the lower area seem much lighter than it actually is:

It felt great to play and discover new possibilities with this method, which I'd never tried before. The fabric pieces will add a nice counterpoint to other fabrics. Looking forward to seeing the final results after drying! That's it for today. Time to rest.

P.S. If you have any helpful suggestions about discharging fabrics, feel free to tell me. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thanksgiving Visit

Woke up to a snowstorm in the Hollow! Glad to be by a cozy fireplace with family.
My sister Elzunia with Reba, whose father, our beloved Rex, passed away the week before.


Weather cleared up in late afternoon. Time for a walk around the pond before dinner!
Freshly fallen snow turns the back yard into a wonderland.


Sunshine in the morning makes me happy!!!!

Mom, Elzunia, me and Hanka in back--trying out the auto-photo feature.

Happy 86th Birthday, Mom!!! Sto Lat!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Olenka's Still Life #3 - 5 Alike


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Returned from the holiday visit at my sister's in the New York Catskill mountains with new ideas for this month's challenge (originally took photo's of 5 Autumn maple leaves) It snowed on Thanksgiving Day so I went out for a walk and saw my favorite apple tree still laden with fruit. Found a subject for the challenge!


This is the original with other apples showing. First I took out all the color from all but five apples, then cropped the photo and raised the contrast with Photoshop.

SSL3: Ruby Fruit V

Later we walked over to the barns to feed the chickens, ducks, geese & piglets. These 5 'ladies' lined up perfectly and another idea clicked!

Hungry hens having Thanksgiving meal.

Sparkling Quintet

After outlining the sparkling images in yellow and adding the swirls, several filters and color changes between steps were made to arrive at this image.


Fine Feathered Friends

Simple Still Life #3 - The Flying Five

My photo of seagulls by the beach, taken as a flock suddenly flew over my car, also suited this challenge. This one shows five gulls and some nearby branches.

I erased the tree branches, painted in some clouds and stylized the birds.
Then working with a rectangular selection tool in Photoshop, blocked off the various areas to change their colors/contrast. The black shapes on the right were overpainted with blue and some orange was sprayed onto the flat hot-pink area on the left.

Flight of Fancy

Monday, November 07, 2005

Timeout: Car Accident


Had to post a beautiful tree to distract my mind from the 'discomfort' caused by an auto accident which occurred Saturday night. Sigh. My car was rammed by a van on the passenger side, so the back door is bent in. This morning I took this photo while waiting out front to give the car key to the tow truck driver who was picking up my car from the parking lot where the police parked it for me when the ambulance took me to the hospital. Hope to get back to work in a few days, but today it's still painful to sit up for any length of time. Have pulls, strains, bruises and some whiplash---thank God it wasn't worse!!! Talk to you soon.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Progress & Off-shoots

Blogger wouldn't process my entry yesterday so trying again. These photo's show progress on the Vortex ray stitching. Four left to thicken with thread.

The back is looking interesting to me also...now I wish I'd quilted through a backing fabric instead of just the batting. Maybe a sheer yellow fabric will serve as backing and allow the quilting to show through.

After I took the photo's, took a break by coloring a close-up b&w back segment and came up with several ideas that inspire me toward new pieces. I did print a collage of them onto photo-transfer fabric already, but have to finish Vortex since there are so many printed quiltlets waiting already.

This last one was from the first day's photo's. Amazing how one image evolves into another one that is so different. Having great fun!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Why Powerpoint to Photoshop

Mystic Weaver stopped by to see my Still Life Challenge 2 postings and wondered why/how I used Powerpoint & Photoshop to do the designs with the 'tree & me' shadows, taken at the beach. First, no I don't have any fractal design programs and second, I used Powerpoint because I did them during lunch-time at the office and that was the only program the computer had which would allow me to manipulate a photo in several ways to produce a repeating pattern. Unfortunately, I only had the simple red, green and yellow background versions (all shadows black) at the office, so I did the cutting, pasting, flipping, mirroring, distorting with those and emailed them to myself.

At home I downloaded the file and then in Photoshop changed the colors enough to give them a more individual character since the red-green-yellow-black versions were a bit strange at first glance, i.e. if you didn't know they were just for shape. Of course, there is so much more that could be done next by changing colors of the individual elements in the designs (like any patchwork quilt design) but for the purpose of this exercise, I was more interested in how the two shadow shapes allowed for these abstractions by simple repetition and inversion.

Since I enjoy printing, have considered cutting 2 stamps with the shadow shapes and using those to print up one of these patterns on cloth or, as with the last challenge, printing the designs onto cloth and then letting the quilt stitches & embelishments further develop the design. Each would provide a totally different result.

Then again, I'd like to finish the small quilts that are fused and ready to sew, plus a batch of art cards and I still have to decide on my '5 similar objects' for this month's challenge.

But not tonight...woke up with a slight fever this morning and much congestion and swollen glands (after three days of sneezing & runny nose) so going straight to bed when I get home after work. Thanks to all who have sent me emails with encouraging comments. They are very much appreciated!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Diving into "Vortex"


Decided to plunge in and start quilting one of the photo fransfers that I made during the first Still Life Challenge and had already fused to batting. I've outlined in white pencil the flow of the lines intended and then started sewing with red rayon thread. Looked very thin and weak, stitches too tiny...after a few rows remembered one can 'draw' with the thread so started sewing back and forth over the line to thicken it up. Yes! Much better balance. Have done two lines and will continue tonight when I return from the office.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Still Life Challenge: Fence Shadow


Played with the colors of this photo in Photoshop, and removed the upper right land mass to abstract it a bit further. Then had fun with it in Kaleider.



This color variation is the one used in the design above it...fascinating, eh?

The image below, which reminds me of tie/fold dyed fabric, was created by changing the colors of the first oval design seen above and then manipulating that in Kaleider.

Still Life Challenge 2: Ceramic Pot Shadow



My little clay pot was colored in Photoshop, then I played with each version in Kaleider and collaged the set in Picasa.

Still Life Challege 2: Shadow


OK. Here are some variations composed from the photo of my shadow and that of a tree, taken at the beach.

The photo was copied, flipped vertically and horizontally, mirrored and assembled into each design in Powerpoint; then colored in Photoshop. The actual tree was cropped out and the two shadows form the main image for all 4 designs.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Let's Just Paint

Every exchange is an opportunity to open or block a new experience.

Whatever they are, the traces of life’s encounters remain.

Let them be traces of magic, sounds of joy and feelings of love.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"Kayla" Quilt Done!




Hurray! Finally finished the gift for Sheena. Wanted to post the finished quilt since I'll be away in Toronto until Monday and won't be able to get to my blog before then. Took the quilt/gift to the office...Sheena loved it. Now to decide how to frame it and whether she'll keep it at the office or hang it at home. I'm looking forward to making another version (after I finish quilting the little quilt-tops already waiting).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Still Life Challenge 2: Idea

Happened to notice that the new challenge is posted, so once again want to jump in and join the fun. Haven't decided which object to use but here is a possibility I photographed today: one of my little clay pots.

After posting the above I went over to Cove Park to spend some time in the sunshine, before sunset. Suddenly there were beautiful shadows everywhere! Took many pictures, but will show just a few which are under consideration:


What a wonderful rail-fence shadow! Took several shots as it twisted and turned along the walking path.

Then I stepped on the beach and noticed the tree with a clearly defined shadow. Another possibility!