Friday, September 26, 2014

The Making of a Masterpiece: Lessons from the Littlest

Last Christmas, my family drew names for gift giving so that each one of us had one person to "buy" for...we were limited to $40.

I drew my littlest niece.

Having purchased one of those fancy acrylic paint sets (with a coupon),  I had the main item of my gift.  Next, I bought a huge empty canvas (with another coupon) and "wrapped" it.  I printed out a goofy picture of my niece and dressed her in tie-dye shorts, Converse and an art smock with a painter's palette and a brush to hold. 

I also took an old stained white shirt of Jim's and made her a smock to wear like the one I put on her picture...

On the back was the invitation to come to my house...

To make a Masterpiece.  

We had our first date yesterday.

Since Masterpieces don't come easily, we warmed up by painting a few pictures on the paper that came in her kit. 

After an hour or so, we had a feel for the brushes and the paints and that's when the inspiration HIT!

A Unicorn!!!  A BIG One! It's magical and it's sparkly and it could have a rainbow tail, and it could be beautiful!  Oh!  And you have glitter?  OH!  We could add glitter!!!(clap clap, clap, jump, jump, jump)  There's was no stopping once the vision had taken hold.

She shopped for just the right unicorn on the web, printed out an outline of one onto a transparency, and then we borrowed an overhead projector from my neighbor across the street.

After tracing her design, she went right to work...

When it came time to paint on the gesso medium and apply the glitter...Katie, bar the door!

There can never be enough.  And if it gets all over you?  All the better. 

And if you can shower in it...well...

That's existential.

Utter peace settles over you as your transformation is certain...

And then...Euphoria hits.  You have the vision, coated in glitter, sparkling for all the world to see...

Bring it on!  

I have so much to learn from this kid. Which only became more evident when I sat down to write this post.  

Lessons from the Littlest

1.  Never pass up a chance to take a glitter shower.  Never.

2.  Abandon yourself completely to your art, even if it means you start looking like it.

3. Love what you do.  Love it so much that you look like it.

4.  Dare to be...


And others will follow.

5.   It's a Masterpiece.  It's You.  Sign it.

6.  Become expert at "TA-DA"!!

7.  Share your joy.

8.  Be Grateful.

I found this hidden underneath one of our paintings when I was cleaning up.  Icing on the cake of an already delicious day.

I should be the one saying thank you.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eighteen and Falling

About six months before the day and feeling very proud of myself for thinking ahead, I asked Jack what he wanted to do for his 18th birthday. 

"Go skydiving."

Now he had been saying that since he was fourteen but up until now it hadn't been an issue because you have to be 18 years old to go skydiving.  But this year, well...he was going to be 18.

It was still a long way off until his birthday in August so I put it out of my mind thinking he's likely to forget.

Come Summer, we realize our whole family is going to be at the beach for his birthday.  

So I re-ask the question, making some suggestions of activities that all the kids could do...I mean, he and my oldest niece are the only two old enough to skydive... 

"Hey Jack, what do you want to do for your birthday?  Do you want to parasail, rent jet skies, what?  Want to do something with all your cousins?"

"I want to skydive."  Oh boy.  He hadn't given that up.

So I did some research.  

That's good but there's always a first time right?  

So I watched a ton of their videos and read the online reviews.  I liked how much they shared online and that transparency made me feel more confident.  

I made the reservation.

For both of us.  

Hey, I was there when he was born so if he was going to leave this earth on his 18th birthday, I was going with him.  

Poor Jim.  

He was not about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane but he had the harder job of watching the two people he loves most in the world hurtle toward the earth.

My oldest niece decided to jump as well.  We spent at least a half hour watching videos and reading disclaimers of the many different ways that people and equipment could fail leading to death, dismemberment and/or paralysis.

Jack signed without hesitation.    My niece and I read every word and decided to go anyway despite the fact that we were surely going to die.

Unfortunately for my niece, she had to go first with some dude she didn't know.  She was very brave...

and she lived!! She was up and back before we had even left the ground.

She loved it!  And said that the scariest part of the whole thing was being told all the different ways that she could die. 

One down, two to go.

Now it was our turn.

We kissed goodbye to our precious family...

And headed across the tarmac to board the plane.

The two men that were jumping with us were awesome.  

Jack had Top Gun (his name is Josh)...

And I had Ponytail Dude (Daniel).  

I couldn't be happier since I felt like I knew both of these guys from watching all their videos. They always looked like they were having so much fun (you'll see what I mean in the videos) and Daniel's ponytail was always flying straight upward hence my nickname for him...

I was a little worried about Jack because he was so tall and a bit bigger than Top Gun...he had to duck his head...

And fold himself into the airplane...

Only so he could unfold himself when we got to 10,000 feet and it was time to jump.  

One minute he was there...

And the next minute he was gone...

I haven't seen him smile that big in years. Check it out.  He smiles the whole way.

Once his parachute opened, Top Gun pointed to a black dot in the sky...

"See that dot there, Jack?" 

"That's your Mom."

Meanwhile, I had expected to have any number of scenarios...feeling like I was going to throw up, body quaking from fear, etc.

What I didn't expect was the pure rush of adrenaline and unbridled joy.  

It was indescribable really.  I was awe-struck, experiencing intense wonder and amazement at rapid-fire speed. 

If I had died in that moment, it would have been beautiful. 

I've never experienced anything like it.  

I had expected to be scared witless, counting every second until the chute opened.  

Nothing was further from the truth.  

When the chute finally did open, I was a bit disappointed because the intense exhilaration ended and the experience shifted.  

The parachute-assisted ride to earth was like a lazy, afternoon stroll in comparison to the free-fall, belly-diving "trip" before.  

After landing safely, it was a lot to take in.

And my strong, silent Jack was back...

Right beside his non-silent Mom.

What a birthday.  

Almost as good as the one eighteen years ago.  


Friday, September 19, 2014

Miniature Millinery

Scale is a marvelous teacher.  And roses don't grow overnight.

Back when I left off with Mrs. Rose, I had figured out a method for making miniature roses.

Before those roses can become rose boughs, I need to figure out how to craft the leaves.

My vision was to have three different types of leaves:  a stumpwork version (yet to be made), a beaded version (yet to be made) and a miniature velvet-ish/fabric-y version รก la a millinery leaf spray like the ones below.

As you can see those haven't yet been made either but at least I'm further along than I was yesterday.

The smallest pre-manufactured millinery leaf I own is about 7/8".  My leaves need to be about 3/8" to 1/2" or 11mm-15mm.  I'm playing with all types of variables: wiring the leaves using super micro wire, managing the fraying of the fabric that I'm using, sewing on such tiny pieces, and holding the dag-blasted $@#!%! things in my fat fingers.

There was a lot of struggle today but I have at least discovered two ways I won't be making the leaves.

That being said, I can begin to see that I will figure it out and it's going to be lovely.  It's just not going to be quick.

Back to the drawl-ing board.

Happy weekend everyone!

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