June 29, 2011

The End Result

My mother and father-in-law are in town this week and a coule of nights ago, we all set up up a nearby canyon to have a fire, roast hot dogs, and s'more it up. I had my camera on hand (as every mom of adorable children should) and snapped some memories of the kids exploring...

...the camp fire smoldering...

...and a few of the wildflowers that were absolutely everywhere...

But the evening light grew dim, so my MiL and I decided to come back early the next morning to shoot wildflowers in the light of the new day. Which we did. I got out my 100-300mm lens, stood in a meadow with columbine and lady slippers and busy buzzing bees and morning dew, and got some okay shots. But, surprisingly, my favorite shots of the day came when we headed back out of the canyon and stopped to change lenses and photograph this:

I know they're not spectacular, but there was something about the stillness of that little pasture and its gurgling stream that I loved. So, wildflowers? Yes...but not the macro shots we set out for.

And that got me thinking...I'm going to wax philosophical today, if you don't mind... about the end result. The end result of everything...my art, my writing, my life...none of which ever really go along the way I plan them, the way I imagine they should. And yet, I'm nearly always pleased with the end result. When I sit down to draw, for example, and in my mind I see a boy and a girl walking through the woods in spring, but what comes out at the the end is a boy, alone, following a line of bunnies to their hollow log in winter. Huh. But I like it.

Or this novel I've been writing for the past three years which was originally told from the point of view of the little sister, but as I wrote I found I knew the older brother better...that his voice was the one I wanted to use. And now everything is told from Gideon's viewpoint...and I like it.

Or my life. My husband and I always intended to have three or four children. Now, we have two and will probably (not definitely, but probably) not have more. We never intended to homeschool our children, but when the time came it was what was right for us. And when I put my art and my creative impulses on hold to study psychology in college, I didn't know that life would bring me back around and I would figure out how to be true to me.

I could go on. There are a million facets of our lives that we didn't plan; that are not what we expected them to be. But just as that impulsiveness and change--and the ability to go along with it-- creates beauty in art, so it also creates beauty in life. And I like it.

I'm learning, constantly learning, not to compare myself with others or wish for what wasn't or what could be. My end result is what I make of the changes that come, and I am grateful to be me. In our church, we use a book of scripture called The Doctrine and Covenants. One of my favorite passages from this book is this:

11For all have not every agift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
 12To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

We all have gifts. Yours are yours. Mine are mine. By each of us using what we've been given rather than wishing things were what we planned them to be, we help each other create an end result. Hopefully, we all like it.

June 28, 2011

Color: Study of a Mermaid

I love color. And technology. I mean, really, I'm a simple, home-body type girl at heart and most of the time, technology and the 'digital age' don't make my Raindrops on Roses/ Whiskers on Kittens short list. But when it comes to color... allow me to explain:

Most of my artwork is done with ink and watercolor in an illustrative style; which means I (usually) draw the forms and shapes first and then color them afterward- either with watercolor paints or cut paper collage or some combination of the two. I've found that when I get to the point of choosing a color palette for a piece, it's probably the hardest part of the process- for me, at least. I can sometimes stare at a piece for hours and hours over the course of several days before I decide what color the eyes or the flower or the turtle or whatever should be. And the reason, I think, that color stops me in my tracks is the same reason that I love it: the possibilities of color combinations and the different kinds of beauty they can create are...endless. Ultimately, the choice I make for, say, this Study of a Mermaid

is a choice that I love but certainly not the only choice that would work, nor the only option I considered. Which brings me to why I love this modern age of technology, when, with a little know-how and a little time, my Sanford NoBlot Blue can become...

...a phosphorescent lichen green, or...

...wild rose pink...

...or a golden sepia, or any other color I want it to be.

Because mermaids aren't only blue (just so you know). And color is infinite possibility.

June 24, 2011

Tiny Little Happiness

Tiny little bell peppers...

Itty-bitty strawberries...

Curling tendrils from an out-of-control snow pea...

Tomato seedlings that will never bear fruit before the frost...

Each one planted with care by little hands...

Watched in wonder by little eyes...

And all in our tiny little...

What tiny little happiness have you been blessed with today?

June 22, 2011

It Was Free...

One of the many things I love about the town I live in is the wide availability of second-hand thrifty goodness. We have at least a dozen thrift shops, yard sales galore in the warm weather months and a general attitude of waste-not-want-not permeating the community. And every once in a while, I'll be driving along and spot something really awesome sitting on the curb with a sign that says:

Raise your hand if you would have stopped the car. Yup. My excitement over the chair dulled slightly, however, when after two thorough vacuumings, three borax/baking soda/ Shout scrub-downs and 48 hours of sun-bleaching it still looked like this:

(The color in this shot is more accurate than the first one.)

I am not a re-upholsterer, nor can I afford a re-upholsterer. I have made several slipcovers in my day, but I didn't want to slipcover this one--the wood is one of the coolest features of the chair. But I also didn't want to just put it back on the curb. So I thought...and I thought...

Hmmm...the stains are the main problem...there really aren't any tears in the upholstery... (thought I)...

And I really like the texture of the fabric...if I could just somehow cover up the stains...eureka!
Okay, I didn't actually shout 'eureka' but you get the idea. I got an idea: spray paint.

Now, hang on, there, I know what you're thinking. She spray painted the chair? You might even be having flashbacks of the horrendous Trading- Spaces- Crazy- Hilde-Painted-Chair incident as did my friend Sandi when I told her. But I did my research. And by that I mean I Googled it. And what I learned was that there are certain types of spray paint made by Krylon that are actually formulated for multi-surface use including fabric. Yup. I decided to try it. After all, the chair was free.

So ten bucks worth of Krylon later:

Look at my pretty chair!

Squeezed into my art corner "studio"; perfect for quiet nights with a drawing board on my lap.

I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Brushed Metallic Champagne Nouveau on the fabric and, because the color was so similar to the original fabric, a light coating did the trick. No painted fabric crunch.

And Krylon Indoor/Outdoor High Gloss Cherry Red for the wood. Love it.

And it was free! So, how about you? have you ever spray painted something unorthodox or made something fabulous out of something found? Share in the comments!

June 20, 2011

Hello. I'm Amber June.

In my never-ending quest to live a joyful, grateful, creative life, I've found inspiration in so many other people. I've learned so much from other people. This blog is about that never-ending journey and me learning to find inspiration in myself. It's about my art, my writing, and my life as a faithful LDS woman who loves being a wife and mom. It's about giving purpose to the things I feel compelled to make and nurturing my family by being true to me. It's a way for me to stand back and think, "Huh. Would you look at that. I really do have a wonderful, beautifully blessed, compulsively creative life." 
If you'd like, you can read along.