Ouch.

Last night was the opening for my first art exhibit. I entered this piece into the Vision of the Flint Hills jury selection process back in July.
I was thrilled to receive my acceptance email last month.

Last night was exciting for me, my first exhibit on a First Friday, my first exhibit ever. The space was filled with beautiful work reflecting the beauty of Kansas, the Flint Hills in particular. Many gorgeous paintings were present. My piece was not like the others, not “fine art” if you will. I was surprised that it was selected with this particular grouping.

About two-thirds of the way through last evening, one of the gentlemen from the art space removed my piece from the wall. His comments were that it should not have been put up to begin with, that the wheat was falling off, etc. Rather than facing this conflict among the crowd of people, my husband and I quietly left.

After speaking with another representative of the exhibit today, I was again told that there was a concern with the mud falling off the piece. When I picked it up, all the mud and wheat were intact. My thought is that they felt it just did not fit with the exhibit but were not quite sure how to remove it because of the jury selection process.

Despite this rejection, the experience as a whole taught me a great deal. Aspects of art that I had not considered include people’s differing perception of what art “is” and fitting art into a particular market. My naive mind assumed that true art lovers would look to the heart of each piece and what it represented. And I also realized that this particular exhibit was a fundraiser. The target market was the wealthy, elite.

While thankful for this experience, it will not change my focus. I will continue to create for the purpose of worshiping my Creator, and for personal expression and growth. And although it didn’t remain, I’m still excited that my piece was selected to be in the exhibit.

amanda ∞

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Floating

Self portrait from a joyous family reunion.

The effects of the Kansas wind also reflect the the cogs in my brain. I need a time of rest, a time for my windblown mind to settle.

I’ve finally made it to this place. I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. I’ve been looking at this space on my calendar since April, dreaming about how I would spend my time. Now that I am here I find myself floating. I feel incapable of doing anything. The school year was intense and we have been on the go since. While I have enjoyed each adventure, all the activity has taken its toll. I am undone and in a great need of rest.

What I envisioned for this week of summer was time in my art studio doing whatever I felt like. While this may still happen (tomorrow or the next day), today I am only able to read my magazines and pet my sweet dogs. Beyond that is unrest. So I will continue to float because I can. Thank you, Sark, for teaching me that it is okay to nap or daydream. Sometimes that is just the thing one needs to fill up again.

Isaiah 30:15a  For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: …

This evening I go to pray with my church family which is beautiful, restful and passionate. Perhaps then my soul will realign with my spirit and I will once again be refreshed.

amanda ∞

Shift -ed

Towards the end of 2008, I felt anticipation, intuitively knowing that something was about to change. I found myself making concrete goals, taking affirmative action, becoming that artist I’ve been telling myself I am. My journal pages reflected this.

I do owe much of it to this book:

Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts

Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts

But something pushed me, prompted me to purchase the book. I have so many on my wish list. How did this one make it to my home? And I’ve only made it through the first chapter.

This book, the first chapter of this book, widely opened a door that had only been cracked just enough to peek through. Fear had been holding me back from opening the door, fear of rejection, of failure, of depression, of becoming overwhelmed, that I might find out I’m not really an artist after all. And what did I find on the other side of the door? Why my art studio and myself.

One of my favorite movies is Strictly Ballroom. I’m not sure if it is the ludicrous dress and hair, the animated characters, or the underlying theme of the movie that made me fall in love with it. I’ve adopted its motto:  “A Life Lived in Fear Is a Life Half Lived.” And it’s Biblical…

2 Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

After Christmas, the shift occurred. I have been Creative Every Day in an very active way, more so than ever before. Out of the blue I’ve received several requests for specific artwork or jewelry. I have a list of items I am working on and through. And when I get these projects done, there is more, so much more.

I am very excited about a specific project of which I’ll show you a glimpse:

There will be three 16×20 collage pieces in this series which I’m making for our church. I’ve decided to wait to reveal them until they are done and show more of a step by step process. Also I want the church to be the first to see the finished project.

So now I have a new dilemma. Between homeschooling, cooking, and working in my studio, blogging has taken a back seat. But I’m not too concerned. I’m sure with the ebb and flow of life that I will find my way back here more regularly. Until then, picture me with messy hair, a far-away look in my eyes, paint on my fingers, and passion in my heart.

amanda ∞

Fighting it

It’s that time of year again for me. I’ve been arming myself in the battle against Seasonal Affective Disorder. Although I have not become depressed, I can feel it grabbing my brain and pulling in different directions. It has been difficult for me to focus and get normal activities done. I also feel myself withdrawing from everyday contact with others.

Art Every Day has become a great challenge. I’m glad I knew this going into the month though and have allowed myself permission to ride this wave of disorder. I am celebrating even the tiniest sparks of creativity. These sparks have been a healing balm for me. In the past I would have just fallen to pieces. Now I turn to my art journal, or I make pickles.

Although I’m not commenting much right now, I’ve truly been enjoying the creativity that is going on this month in the blog world with Art Every Day Month, NaNoWriMo, and NaNoBloMo and all the other NaNo***Mo’s. Good stuff.

amanda ∞

My Mom the Artist

My mom and dad visited last week. Mom and I had fun as she designed some jewelry pieces for gifts, and I soldered for her. I love how they turned out.
Front:

Back:

Friendship Ring:

Front:

Back:

This was her first time creating charms. I think she did such a wonderful job. Her recipients are in for a treat.

I have found that since our school year began, I have had little creative time. Although I would not change for the world how our family has chosen to live, I am longing for time in my art studio. This fun time with my mom just made me realize how long it has been since I made charms. Months! Much too long anyway.

I’ve enjoyed having my focus on drawing this month for The Big Draw 2008. This is an area I’ve really wanted to develop and grow. Since I began my creative journey, my thinking has changed from “I can’t draw” to “well, that looks cool.” My expectations have definitely changed. This has removed alot of baggage that was hindering my from learning to draw in the first place.

  • Side note: The Latin word Impedimentum means hindrance in singular and baggage in plural.

I am ready to move on from my drawing focus though. This next month is Leah’s Art Every Day Month.

Although I plan on participating, I have made a rule for myself that I do not have to post every creative thing I do. So while I plan on “doing” art every day, I may not get it posted if time doesn’t allow. As Carla Sonheim says, “Give Yourself Rules,” along with the quotes she added to reinforce this truth. Establishing this rule will give me the freedom to create without worrying about the extra time it may take to post.

amanda ∞

Decompression

For almost two years, my family has been preparing and serving meals each Friday at VERONICA’s Voice. This past Friday was our last day. God had been leading me to reevaluate our service this summer, and once school began for us, the answer was obvious. It was time to stop.

I really have mixed emotions about this decision. I absolutely loved serving those women. God truly gave me a heart for them, to serve and treat them as the precious women they truly are. My kids did too, immensely. But there is such freedom in following God’s lead.

My greatest question for God about giving this up was, who will take our place? Who will love these women like we do? I prayed for help, then a replacement, but neither came except more help from my own family. God’s answer to me was to just let go. He would take care of the details. 

As we served up our last meal on Friday, I received confirmation in several different ways that we were supposed to be there that day, and that it should be our last. I was thankful for that. Upon driving home, van full of dirty dishes, I felt relief wash over me. A burden had been lifted, not the burden of service, but the burden of carrying too great a load.

I think that I was questioning God a bit about what He was asking me to do before Friday, wondering if I was hearing Him correctly. One of the books I picked up at the library about a month ago was Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God by Dallas Willard.
 Developing a Conversational Relationship With God  

But, you know what, I was too busy to read much of it. How ironic.

So this next week, with an extra 10 hours added to my week, I plan on reading, pondering, loving, listening, and keeping up with year 3 of The Latin Road to English Grammar. And I plan on thanking God for directing me. His way is always the best, even when we don’t have the whole picture.

amanda ∞

Chore Charts Begone

Chore charts have had an important part in the process of training the kids how to care for their own homes one day. As they have grown older, ages 12 and 14 now, we have reached a place in which the chore charts were actually working against the good of the family. While one child didn’t really care if anything on the chore chart was accomplished, the other child was becoming unwilling to help in areas that were not on the chore chart. I heard the phrase, “That’s __________ job, not mine.” While the chore charts did teach them how to do specific tasks well, and how to take initiative to complete their responsibilities, some changes really needed to be made. We were losing the family cohesiveness.

From Pigpen to Paradise

While I was growing up, my mom read and implemented the plan from the book, Sidetracked Home Executives, by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. She had a card file system, color-coded, organized by daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal chores. This worked very well for our family particularly when she re-entered the work force in my jr. high and high school years. As a farmer’s family, my brothers did the farm work and I took care of the house and the yard. The system worked very well.

When my kids were babies, I borrowed Mom’s book and made my own card file as an excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet has been the basis of our chore charts since their inception, plus I knew what I needed to accomplish as well.

Well, towards the end of July, we chucked our chore charts and have been using this trusty old excel spreadsheet to get things done together. Although we are still adjusting, I must say our new way is working great. I print out the jobs that need done each week and post them on our bulletin board. After lunch each day, all of us take half an hour to work on the chores. We tackle a room as a team and actually have fun laughing and working together. We are all pitching in with our free moments to take care of maintenance issues, like laundry folding, dish washing, decluttering.

The removal of chore charts did have monetary implications as well. With the chore charts, each child had some jobs with and some without monetary reward. This was to teach them how to handle an income, and that some things just need done without payment. Now the kids get no money based on their chore performance. I give them a flat sum each month. They decided how the money should be spent. I encourage them to tithe and save, but don’t force them.

The greatest benefit of our new system have been a general cohesiveness as a family. We are now working together to accomplish larger tasks rather than micromanaging our own lists. The jobs are no longer “his” or “hers,” but rather “ours.” I’ve always emphasized that I need my children’s help, that the chores were not just busy work, but because I can’t accomplish it all without them. I need their help. Now we are able to prioritize and tackle the area of greatest need rather than ignoring a huge mess because it’s not on “my” list. Yay!

amanda ∞