Explaining Inspiration

This week I spent a little time exploring a new creative process that turned out to be a blast. I want to share it with you because whether you make art or not, we all have the choice to look at the world around us and see what peaks our interest and create a life that's beautiful.

This process was taught by Tracy Verdugo on Tamara LaPorte's "LifeBook 2016," an online course I have been taking for the past two years. As an artist I am often asked where do I get my inspiration. Usually, I respond with "I don't know" or the equally vague  "life, I guess." But really, inspiration is everywhere - you just have to be willing to pay attention to the details. 

In this process, Tracy teaches students to make inspiration bundles as a creative prompt. The task was to go through 6 or 7 books or papers you have collected and tear out a random image (don't over think it) so that you have a stack of about 7 to 12 pieces of paper. Taking each piece of paper one at a time see what appeals to you and incorporate that into your piece. Below is my finished painting that, in the end,  I was very happy with. BUT - like everything in life - there was a catch...


"Little Details" 9 x 12" mixed media


This is my first image and it is not hard to see where the figure is represented. What WAS hard and what you do not see is that underneath all the layers there was a beautiful, painstakingly  painted re-creation of this woman in black and white. Then I came to my next image and had to  decide what to lose and what to keep. What to paint over and what to incorporate.

In the end it turned out to be a much more interesting painting because of what was kept and lost. That is how I see life. We can try as hard as we can to be something we think we "should" be, to hang on tight to those images and stories we want to tell about ourselves. However, the real beauty is in the details. What we observe, discard and layer. That is how we take our world and create a life that is authentic and worth living.

Each image below is represented in the finished product. Can you spot the inspirational details?

Yes, even a #10 envelope can be inspiring if you really look at it.

Yes, even a #10 envelope can be inspiring if you really look at it.


Observations on a beginning

I am finally letting my guard down for the first time since the beginning of July. How is it that Doug always seems to handle these things better?  I have been so busy, so many lines on the to do list that I have really not slowed down to think about our situation until now. 

I dropped the kids off at their new school and Doug to his new job and then I think my body said enough! I promptly got a sore throat, started feeling feverish and the tears began to roll. 

Dont get me wrong, I chose this move. I felt like if I did not do it now I'd never be given another chance for this experience. 

See, I've always wanted to live in Europe, Italy to be exact, but really anywhere in Europe. My husband and I both previously applied for jobs here in Germany and things never worked out. This time things worked with lightening fast precision. So fast, in fact, it has almost been unnerving. A God thing for my spiritual friends a freaky coincidence for my non-spiritual.

It's true, I was very, very happy in DC.  I loved my home, my friends, my church, my kid's school, my routine. I knew when school started back I would sub a few days a week to help with bills and then the rest of the time I would throw myself into creating art and building my art business. I was very content with that scenario.

But I also realize that is a perfect time for God to expand me or others that find themselves in that situation. I was perfectly happy, that's when I got my big life changer. Not when I wanted it before, when I was more unsettled and trying to force things.

So- here I sit in a temporary house in Sembach, Germany, weepy with a sore throat. Trying to nurse it with hot tea and aspirin. In one hour I will head to the girls school and try not to look like I am upset.

As I write this it's 7:30 am at home.  I say a prayer for my friend with the hardest school commute. I am sorry I can't be there to help her this week.

I still have busy work to do (get a German driver's license, Dr. Appointments, etc.) then I suppose I will get a job so we can start paying off this crazy move over here! Let's see, there's the expense of getting the old house up to rental code, the pet's trip over, new car for us here and a new house to live in here. (By the way, German landlords expect three months rent deposit -ouch- that you will probably not get back. The houses also don't come with closets. Now I know why IKEA sells all those wardrobes.) I now realize  "they are paying to move us" means they are simply shipping our household goods for us.

Writing this all out has made me feel better. Perhaps it's been a downer for you reading it, especially if you read my Facebook post yesterday. But for now this is where I am at. --Stick with me. I promise it will get better and cheerier. Things usually do! 

Very soon I will be back to posting artwork and observations on life in a foreign country. Expect many stories on how I embarrass my 12 year old by sticking out as American. I am sure one day soon I will feel happily contented with life here and that is when God will move us on to another adventure. But for now I will just work on keeping my guard down for a little longer and lean into feeling sad.

Country road in Sembach

Country road in Sembach