Sunday, August 6, 2023

Permission to Thrive

     What do you need to give yourself permission to do in order to thrive? What changes do you need to make so that you can feel affirmed and capable and move ahead?

    This sweet hibiscus had a few blooms when I brought it home from the store, then nothing for weeks and weeks and weeks. Finally, I said to myself and her, that it was okay with me if she never bloomed again. Her leaves were a lovely shade of green and that in itself was enough beauty. 

    This allowed me to enjoy her as she is and to focus on her care right where she is at. I kept watering her and used the plant food I bought. 

    And then one day, when she was able, she bloomed. She has the biggest blossoms I have ever seen on one of my hibiscus plants. Ever. Once I gave her permission to just be, it freed both her and me.

    Then I realized, I need to give that same grace to myself. I need to accept that it is okay to change as I go, that some goals need to be altered, as life and circumstances are so changeable. Changing your plan or changing your mind does not mean you have failed. It means you realize you need to make changes in order to continue to learn and grow, to truly thrive.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Cookie Fan Art, Project #3

     I started my 3rd cookie fan art project back in March, and then life got silly so it took me until the last weekend of April to complete it. Then life got even sillier, and now it has taken me until the middle of May to write up my blog post on it.

    This project is based off of one of my favorite Little Golden Books-The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown. She is probably best known as the author of Goodnight, Moon. Illustrations are by Alice and Martin Provensen. I always found the pictures quite enchanting when I was younger. 

    Life can be hard on little children. Christmas comes just once a year, your birthday lasts but a moment, and then it’s gone. In the long stretch between those important holidays I would get mopey and lament that I sure wished someone would give me a present. 

    For those occasions, my mother had a stash of Little Golden Books wrapped in tissue paper that she stored in the hall cupboard. When I would wish for a present, she would grab one of the books for me. The books were maybe fifty cents a piece at that time. This helped bridge the gap between holidays. This also solidified my love of books and reading at an early age. 

    All good things come to an end, of course. There is the infamous story of the time I pined for a gift, my mom headed for her book cupboard, and I loudly added to my lament, “I sure wish someone would give me a present, and NOT just a book.” Children can be so hard to please! 

    Gouache was the medium used for The Color Kittens per a museum display I saw earlier this year that explored original works of art from The Golden Book Series. My cookie art decorating style still ended up being more watercolor than anything else, but I gave it a try. I created frosting washes and used edible painting markers as well. I also did a little fondant work and poured and painted painted with candy melts. I am quite happy with how these turned out.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Is There a Point?

     Is there a point? There might not be. We so often strive to find purpose and meaning in every little thing. Sometimes there is no deeper meaning than what is happening at the surface level, and that is okay.

    I think with my cookie fanart projects I am trying to capture an aspect of my childhood where you get totally lost or submersed in your play or creativity. I have faint memories of what that was like, to have time melt away, to have all worries and stresses fade out, and just be fully immersed in what I am doing in that moment.

    This is the sensation I am hoping to recapture, to help add to the arsenal of activities and processes that will continue to heal and strengthen my soul.

    Every aspect of these projects brings me so much happiness-from the planning, the reminiscing about favorite books, the creating of elements of the projects, and then the fun of putting all the pieces together. I hope you are able to find ways to engage your whole being in creativity as well.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Cookie Fan Art Project, #2

     I had so much fun working on this second project of mine. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was one of my FAVORITE books when I was in kindergarten. I would have checked it out every week when our class got to go the library but there was a policy-you could not check out the same book two weeks in a row, you had to give other people a chance to enjoy the book the same as you. Sharing was hard concept for me.

    The story was super relatable for me at that age, snow was magical, it was fun to walk about the neighborhood making tracks in the snow, sliding on ice, and trying to be included with the big kids in their play.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the illustrations, as did so many others, from the bright colors, to the shadows. I had never seen collage used for illustration in a picture book before, and I loved it. This book won the Caldecott Medal in 1963, and deservedly so. This book was special in so many ways. It takes place in an urban setting, which had not really been featured before, and has as the main character a child of color. As one of my favorite librarians said, "It may be the best picture book every created." (Full disclosure-my favorite librarian is my sister.)

    I tried to mimic collage in my cookie art fan piece. I used different layers of frosting, transfers, candy melts, chocolate melts, and fondant to layer my piece, give it texture, and depth. I also tried using food safe brushes and food color gels to "paint" with on the cookie surface as well. Helpful tip for this week is that candy melt chocolates, once cooled, are NOT as easily carved as modeling chocolate, two very different things!

    Please also see the links below to learn more about what inspired Ezra Jack Keats and more about his work.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Cookie Fan Art Project 2023, #1

     New Year's Resolutions are not for me. They just seem like another way to fail. It's not that I don't believe in trying to do your best for in setting goals, I do. It just has never worked out for me to set yearly goals. I get overwhelmed or I start off well, and if I make one mistake or drift a bit, I abandon ship.     

    In 2021 I created a baking project for myself at the beginning of the year, the goal being to try at least 12 new to me recipes. It was a great success. I learned a lot, tried new processes and explored new flavors, and had fun sharing my results with friends and family.

    I ended 2022 creating a cookie project based on a Poem from a favorite childhood book of mine-that had cemented my love of cookies and reading, way back when I was about 3 or 4. I had so much fun with that project, that it became the foundation of my 2023 project.

    This year I am going to do a monthly (or maybe more-just depends) cookie fan art project from favorite books of mine. I will include reasons why I love the art in a particular book, techniques I used to create the cookies, book reviews, and baking tips.

    My first cookie project of the year is-Green Goo-with illustrations by Trey Chavez. We were partnered when my story was part of a contest. My book earned a digital publishing contract, in part, due to Trey's AMAZING illustrations. When we initially worked on the project together, I didn't really have any special instructions for Trey, just for him to read the story and do his thing. I never mentioned in the story that I pictured the main character as a redhead, and yet, that was what Trey came up with on his own. It was interesting to see my storyboard scratching's compared to what Trey created. I am always and forever thankful for Trey's work.

    When my story's rights reverted back to me and I had the chance to produce a printed copy of my book, I was so glad Trey was able to partner with my on this as well. It is the most current illustrations that I based my cookie fan art on for this project.

    In this project it was my first time trying to sculpt a cookie a bit more, layering the dough and carving it and baking it in layers. This was also my first time trying to create a comic book effect by outlining characters and objects with black edible ink.

    My pro-tip baking advice-I ALWAYS use salted butter-because on almost every baking show I have watched, the most common thing that contestants get dinged for is not enough salt, seasoning, or flavor.

My rough sketch on the left, Trey's AMAZING work on the right.

The cookies in comparison to the OUTSTANDING illustrations.


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

A Toast to 2023 for You and Me

     I used to come up with resolutions for the new year. And when those seemed too daunting, I changed my phrasing and worked on life goals. And then when that seemed to be a bit much, I pondered picking a word, a thought, or action to align with for the year. Then that seemed like way too much pressure too.

    In 2023 I have opted for some simple reflection as we transition to this new year. Somethings I still struggle with, but I seem more aware of those issues, so that feels like a small victory in itself. I hope to continue my journey in not dwelling so fully in the past. I have had some traumatic events over the last several years. My initial way of coping was replaying them all, over, and over, and over. I felt that if I could just think my way around the outcomes, figure out how things could have been different in hindsight, that somehow reality could magically change.

    I am at the point where I hope to allow my past to inform my present, but not rule it. I think that might be enough to focus on for this year. Cheers to you and me!