Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Following My Heart, Why I'm Retiring From Blogging.

This year I have some big changes coming. I'm "retiring" from blogging so I can spend more time pursuing my dream of becoming a working artist. I will be away from my computer and making messes in my studio. I have a solo exhibition, my very own art show this October at Lumin Art Studios in Tumalo, Oregon that I have been very busy getting ready for. I'm in the middle of figuring out what kind of art I want to be making again and it feels really good. All is well with my soul when I am making art and exploring my creative voice. 

I started this blog in 2008 with no idea of what I was getting into. Here is my very first post. This blog has been a wonderful place to share our art experiences with you for the past 6+ years and it has given me many gifts. I have been so touched by stories from my readers - mostly teachers and mothers like myself who have shared their stories and adorable photos of their kids making art with me. Cancer survivors who have reached out and been touched by my husband's story and the loss of one of my best friends, Lisa. I've made some great friends online and in real life through this blog project in other states and across the globe. I've been honored to work with some great companies and review some wonderful products. I've been welcomed into your classrooms and homes and love hearing stories of how you and your children spent time together enjoying my projects, art lessons, e-books, birthday party ideas, etc. Thank you. I've been able to print out hardbound books of my blog with Blog2Print and have a record of my children's childhoods and all of our crafty adventures -- the ultimate family memory scrapbook series. For all of that, I am thankful. 

I miss making my own art. 
I don't like sitting at the computer. 

I will still be here. 
I will still be making art with my kids. 
I will still be pinning away fun ideas on Pinterest  (love it!) and sharing our adventures on Instagram (love!) 
and occasionally Facebook (don't love it.) 
I will still be writing e-books on occasion and adding them to my site. 
I will still be writing craft articles for magazines and occasional websites. 
I will be making my own art again. 
I will allow myself time to do the things I miss like reading, running, and gardening that were replaced by hours spent blogging and watermarking photos. 

There are tons of fun projects and ideas buried in my archives. We redesigned the site to make it easier to navigate. Use the search bar at the very top, the tabs by category, or dig through my archives on that purple tab to find all kinds of goodies. This blog isn't going anywhere. It will still be here for you. 

I will come back again if I feel like I really need to share something fun with you, I promise. 
For now, I'm going to be in my studio, getting ready for my show. Hanging out with my family, sitting in the sun with my dogs, sipping tea with a good book, and digging in the dirt. Now, I'm going to step away from the computer. In the meantime, you can find me at my new website if you would like to see my art and follow my new journey! 


"We must become the change we want to see in the world." -Ghandi

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Taking Time For You: The Creative Process for Mom (or Dad, Grandma, Aunt, Babysitter, etc.)

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link, any sales from it help support my blog. All opinions are my own and the truth.

This post was first published on my blog in February of 2011 
and it is just as relevant today as it was then. 
Please enjoy and take it to heart. 
Take time for yourself, you are important. 

Circle Book by MaryLea Harris (2005)

I know that you think we're pretty artsy around here,and we are.
We make crafts and create little fun games and "lands" daily, but I considered myself
to be an "artist" before mommyhood and sometimes
feel like I don't get that creative studio time anymore to make my "own" art.

MaryLea at her Graduate Art Exhibit (2006)

Creating art is not something that I am able to do everyday
but I do spend a lot of time in my own head thinking through ideas; 
so that when I do get the chance, I can use my studio time productively. 

For me, making art requires self-discipline. 
After graduation, once I didn't have "scheduled" blocks of time
for art making, I've struggled to balance the demands of 
daily life, motherhood, a household to run, and content for this blog
with my own needs and desires to create.

E and MaryLea painting together (November, 2004)

"All children are artists
The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
-Pablo Picasso

As a child, I didn't need a scheduled block of time to make art. Why do I need it now? 

Because now I have this inner critic;
the mean voice inside my head that tears apart every idea that enters it...
You know that voice, right? 

The one that says things like:

"That's already been done before" 
"That was made better than whatever you'll come up with" and my usual suspect,
"Shouldn't you be doing constructive things with your time?"

Keeping a visual journal or sketchbook to jot down ideas, sketch, collage,
or make lists is very helpful for my process. 

Star Book by MaryLea Harris (2005)

I do a lot of brainstorming in the shower or while I'm driving --
Please Note: I don't jot down ideas or sketch while I'm doing either of these activities! 

A book that I have found to be very useful over the years
I turn to this book whenever I have artist's block 
or feel as though the creative well has run dry.
Some of her exercises may seem too self-help/touchy-feely
but I do find her main points to be quite helpful. 

Her second book, "The Vein of Gold"is nice 
but it is essentially just a rewritten version of her first book with more quotations. 

Here's my summary in case you don't want to buy the book:
Julia Cameron suggests the following activities
to bring about the artistic muse for any form of art
 e.g. writing, music, or the visual arts 
(I would add crafts to that as well!)

* Morning Pages *

3 pages written longhand of whatever comes to mind every morning 
when you first wake up. This can be challenging for mothers of young 
children especially if you're co-sleeping 
(I used to journal while nursing my babies 
and my handwriting looks like a serial killer's in those posts!)

If you are not a morning person and more of a night owl
(like me), I suggest doing this in the evening 
(or whatever time of day feels right for you -- naptime?).
It can be anything; I use it to empty out my head, to get ideas down on paper, 
and to work stuff out. I call it my "brain dump."

Sallie (BFF) and Darbs (SIL) (2010)

* Artist Dates *

"1 hour or longer block of time spent weekly on yourself
and with yourself doing something festive to engender release and inspiration."
 This can be a field trip to Walmart or JoAnne's to look at fabric,
a visit to an art gallery, listening to music at a coffee shop,
attending a poetry reading, browsing the library, or whatever gets you going.

I would add, as a mother of young children,
that date nights with the hubby (and some with girlfriends - your "tribe")
are pretty darn important too!

(my real life tribe 2010)

* Form a Creative Cluster *

I call this my "tribe"
A group that you meet with face-to-face, or on-line, 
or on the phone to serve as your creative support group.

I have my "real life" tribe (support network) of girlfriends
and my "on-line" tribe of bloggy girlfriends --
both groups are critical to my emotional and creative well-being.

This can just be two people,  it does not have to be a large group.
Think: book club, knitting group, craft night, coffee dates, walking partners, etc. 
This group will serve as your cheering section or the people you bounce ideas off of.

C and E, Oregon (2013)

* Walk (or Run) Daily - Get Outside *

A friend of mine once called this "walking your dog."
Even if you don't have one, you should get outside and "walk your dog"
everyday to clear out your head and get some fresh air (this is also great for fighting the blues). 
2014 Update: Now I have a real dog to walk - bonus!

This was easier to do when I was still in college and had to walk outside to get meals three times a day but now I find that I can go several days without leaving my home, office, studio, or car.
If you can take a 1-hour walk at least once a week,
that's great - as a busy mom I do mine on the weekend while hubby plays with our girls.

Julia Cameron suggests taking a "prayerful" walk once a week.
I call it a gratitude walk where you conscientiously list
 and vocalize your gratitude for everything about your life that you enjoy.
I also find that simple stretching (Yoga is great) 
and deep breathing/meditation can be very restorative.

I also enjoy gardening and doing this with my hands in the dirt when the weather cooperates!

Here are my own additions to the list:

Sunrise, Outer Banks North Carolina (2010)

*Get Enough Sleep* 

I aim for 7 hours a night and am a better mother for it.
It means less time spent in the evenings online and watching shows in the DVR, 
but by shutting down and going upstairs by 10pm,
I'm actually a pretty nice person during the day and I get a lot fewer colds than I used to!

Outer Banks, NC (2010)

* Decompress and Communicate *

Being home with small children is very isolating. 
It's rewarding but also very. hard. work.
It's strange to go all day without talking to anyone over two feet tall -- talking to your spouse
(or a friend, other mom, etc) is something that can easily be pushed to the back of the priority list.

If I don't unload my brain and talk to another grown-up
regularly, my brain gets too full and overwhelmed then I have a mini mental breakdown where I'm
crying and snapping at my kids. Nothing creative is going to happen when I'm like that.

Hubby and I try to skip turning on the TV a few nightsa week (we can't give it up completely)
 and just sit and talk to each other  (Shocking! I know!)
Frequently, we'll have a glass of our favorite red wine and just turn on some classical music. 

Denver (2010)

* Drink Enough Water * 

I really don't feel well when I skip this one...
As a girl who has a special gift for growing kidney stones, I can't stress this one enough.
I'll get through a day and realize the only thing I drank
was my cup of coffee and one sip of milk at dinner...
If you drink water daily your skin will be clearer, you'll have more energy, and you'll get fewer colds.

I'm also a fan of taking daily Probiotics and Vitamin D and essential oils.
(Florastor for me, Jarrow Formulas: Yum-Yum dophilus chewables from Whole Foods for the girls)

If you don't stay hydrated and rested, your brain
doesn't work at full speed and that inhibits your inner artist.

Painting by MaryLea (2006)

"The road to authentic art is through the discovery of yourself"
- Julia Cameron


 Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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