Wrapping up the year

Everyone is meant 
to fulfill their destiny on earth 
in their own unique way

I haven’t been able to keep up with Radvent in real time, but the posts address things I have thought through as I did write my responses. I also have touched upon some of these topics in my own musings over the past year, which makes our journey pretty universal. In using a blog both as a diary and as a way of self-discovery, every person will have thoughts about the 25 topics Princess Lasertron has asked us to ponder. We are all evolving beings, after all.

As I am gathered with family and we reflect on the changes between last year and this year, share our adventures of 2011, and ponder our goals for 2012, Radvent’s thought provokers also serve as touch stones for setting up new year’s resolutions.

 “It is never too late to be what you might have been”
George Eliot 

Our year will include challenges, balancing acts, fascination, caring, drawing/doodling/sketching (imagining), starting, travel, comfort, influence, writing, resting, creating (fear-busting), performing, pride, success, rhythm, music, style, identifying, mentoring, wrapping (unhiding), being present, creating magic and becoming.

 “Your intent makes wishes realities
and your wishes tend to come true. … 
Wishes are requests for
an exception to the expectation.”
~Paul Pearsall, Wishing Well

My intent for the new year is to not let my fears hold me back. The worst worry never materializes, and my biggest challenges have been less eventful than imagined.

Daily resolutions include:

  1. Give the positive exponentially more value than the negative
  2. Honor people as they are, including myself
  3. Stick to the artistic journey and give it room to expand, shift gears, grow
  4. Continue to build meaningful relationships (in-person and online)
  5. Draw inspiration from life

“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt.
The day as it comes. People as they come…
The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present –
and I don’t want to spoil any of it
by fretting about the future.”
Audrey Hepburn 

Have a lovely year-end weekend. May you enter the new year with great joy and anticipation.

Radvent: Creating (really fear-busting)

I sometimes forget that I am more creative than most. I had a professional Artwork Installer help me put frames up this month, and he was surprised he didn’t need to design the layout of the wall.

framing project at Maike's Marvels studio

A blend of my own and inspirational creations that are finally on my wall

People can be so impressed with something I perceive as simple that I remember to be grateful for artistic expression and a sense of design. It felt simple to distress a few dollar-store frames to give my pictures some pop.

frame painting by Maike's Marvels

Painting a dollar store frame

What comes easy to “non-creatives” will probably seem like rocket science to me.

I agree with Princess Lasertron that creativity and artistry are not always the same. I also believe that creativity can be expressed in ways other than what we have categorized as “the Arts.

Imagination is applied to so many things beyond the visual and audible.  How imaginative is technology, which we pass off as geeky or nerdy? (I didn’t know that geek derived from gek—crazy— in my native tongue).

In keeping with Princess Lasertron’s Radvent on Creativity I am going to create an empowering list.

Create Radvent by Princess Lasertron

Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron

“We shouldn’t let fear stop us from living the life we want to live.
They [fears, critics] have no power unless we give them power.”
~ Echo Bodine

If sharing fears takes away their power, here are my top 3:

1. Fear of success. I am just one person ‘winging’ it this year, and in a way I am holding back because it is easier to not get busy. I’m startled when people ask to see my work because I don’t see myself as an artist yet (but I have no problems with being creative!).  I’m getting stuck in my business plan on defining my target market, because once I start believing that people (strangers!) will actually buy things from me, it means I have to make more. I can’t hide behind “Oh, I’m just starting out, I’m not a bona fide business yet, It’ll take time to develop whatever my style and art form is going to be.”

2. Fear of critique.  The other part of putting work ‘out there’ beyond Etsy is that it does open me up for critique. Most of the feedback I have received is positive, but there can be zingers out there. In one book I read that every rejection increases the odds of an acceptance, but entering the subjective visual art world is difficult. I’ve developed a thicker skin about my writing through decades of a career in that field, but my art is still a vulnerable spot.

3. Fear of dependence. Per my mom, one of the first sentences I learned was “I can do it myself”. There has always been a strong drive to be self-sufficient. I think I might be taking it to the extreme sometimes. I know intellectually that delegating (asking for help) is a good thing — that allowing others to excel in their best competency and freeing my time creates a symbiotic relationship — but ‘needing others’ is a fear in some way. It may be more an issue of reliability: knowing that what I ask to get done does in fact get done (as I sheepishly add “in my time frame” in my head). I forget that in general people are helpful, and I am depriving them an opportunity to feel good by helping me.

4. Fear of putting all of this out there. Because that is in fact asking for help isn’t it (hello #3)? Am I ready for that feedback (i.e. #2: Critique)? If someone has exactly what I need: the key to launching this thriving artistic business of mine with the perfect target market description, then I can no longer hide behind my #1 fear.

Fear is a vicious cycle, isn’t it? 🙂

I freed up my time last year, and now I need to free my fears. That’s an interesting visual: my fears are trapped! They want to get out of this prison too! LOL!

One of my friends boldly stated her dream big goal on Facebook the other day. I’d like to get there. I want to know what my true vision for my life is, without shooting those ‘crazy’ thoughts down.

What do I create?

“Expressions of love, joy and thanquility.” It started with greeting cards that were intended to help others express themselves (in a nonsappy, noncheeky way). Now I’m exploring collages of mixed media wall decor which serve more as reminders of love, joy and thanquility.

I am also creating a new life that turns me into a better me. Once I can support myself in pursuing my passion, I want to help others live their dreams. It’ll be one continuous cycle of creation and regeneration.

Radvent: Wrapping

      “If you look deep within, you will find a brilliant light.
Too many, far too many, squint and
turn away from the shine.
Let your eyes adjust, and bathe in the radiance.”

~ unattributed

Wow, after posting my ‘unwrapped’ blog about Style, the Radvent I caught up on was Wrapping. It asks how you present yourself to the world, which has a lot to do with style, doesn’t it?

Wrapping Radvent by Princess Lasertron

Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron

I very much had a work persona and a home persona for almost a decade. Maybe it was an influence of growing up in Germany, where interactions are much more formal and addressing someone over 20 by first name is by invitation only. You are less inclined to share your deepest thoughts with Mr. or Mrs. Smith than when talking with John and Jane.

I also didn’t want people to know too much about me. Yet privacy is changing as online media blur the lines between work and home. I still think of LinkedIn as my professional sphere and Facebook as my family sphere. I had to think long and hard about accepting coworkers to my Facebook list. Suddenly my compartmentalization of people began to shift. (They did become friends eventually-not just on Facebook).

At work last year I wanted people to see me as professional and capable, as even-tempered and easy to work with. I am all those things, I wasn’t staging that. It was more that I was holding back my creativity, my humor, and my true thoughts. I was performing.

As we let our light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence actually liberates others. 

~Marianne Williamson

Now that I am my own boss my life has no boundaries between work and play. Playing is working because I am experimenting with where my passions lie and how to monetize that. My interactions at social and networking events are more holistic and authentic. I don’t hide a certain part of me to play the role of “office Maike”. I don’t have to conform to a dress code or a keep a preferred schedule, nor do I need to ask for approval to take care of a personal errand.

In keeping with not hiding, I just submitted this piece for a student exhibit at the Evanston Art Center. I took my drawing class there, and was introduced to encaustics at a workshop in January 2010. I even let my Meetup organizers know about it, something my old self wouldn’t have done.

Migrant Danaus collage by Maike's Marvels

Migrant Danaus, photography and collage by Maike’s Marvels

In all this self-work on authenticity and integrity, it seems that when you truly own up to what you want to do, you are actually aligning yourself with being you full-time. Maybe when you truly love what you do and where you work there is no compartmentalization anymore. There will still be privacy and boundaries, but on a different level.

I want to be seen as radiant, successful, trustworthy, artistic, supportive, talented, and purposeful, with a festive rainbow ribbon on my lapel (or my shoes).

 “Be who you are nothing more nothing less
and let the beauty that you love be the very best
Sing praises to the highest with your feet on the ground
And reach for your brother with the words that you sound and
Don’t let mistakes be so monumental, and
Don’t let your love be so confidential, and
Don’t let your mind be so darn judgmental
And please let your heart be more influential”
~ Micheal Franti in Hey Now Now 

Frohe Weihnachten!

Happy Holidays


shalom snowflakes holiday cards by Maike's Marvels

I wish you and yours a lovely year-end and safe travels to see your loved ones, whether around the block or a flight away.

Angel holiday cards by Maike's Marvels

Here are the cards (both mine and for clients) that are making their way to various post boxes around the world.

Gingerbread and Snowman cards by Maike's Marvels

May your last week of the year be filled with leisurely walks, warm hugs, conversations by the fireplace, joyful games, savory feasts and the gifts of gratitude and tranquility.

Evergreen Tree cards by Maike's Marvels

Radvent: Style (and being happy with your self)

Princess Lasertron’s Radvent on Style has a fabulous opening:

“Ladylike dressing is making a comeback,
opening the door to beautifully defined silhouettes,
exciting accessories, and life with grace and style in all the details.
The exciting thing about being a modern example of style is that
we don’t have to look a certain way
–there’s no correct blouse or skirt or suit or pair of jeans, but
we should leave our house every day
feeling like we simply did our best.
~ Princess Lasertron

Radvent 18 on Style by Princess Lasertron

Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron.  

I love the egalitarian notion of this post. Style icons have gone from curvy (Marilyn) to scrawny (Twiggy), and fashion from bodiced to shapeless to padded and everything in between. I was wondering why my thoughts about style immediately shifted to body image when I remembered this quote:

 “Three minutes looking at a fashion magazine
makes 70 percent of women of all ages
feel depressed, guilty and shameful.

Average American Woman: 5’4” tall, 140 pounds

Average American Model: 5’11” tall, 115 pounds.”
~ America the Beautiful movie 

Our body image is defined by advertisers who photoshop their models to sell a product and a fashion industry that considers a size 12 “plus-size.” I am currently that average (though not quite American) woman above. I went from size 14 to 12 over three years and since 2008 fluctuate between sizes 10 and 8.

We get so obsessed with the number on a scale that we do not appreciate how we look as we are. My home scale indicates I’m 10 pounds lighter the same day I get weighed at the doctor’s office, so how does that help? I love Alexandra Jay’s notion of putting a smiley face on your scale where the numbers are supposed to be. Celebrate your body because it is YOURS!

happy scales

I know absolutely beautiful women who wish they were born with slimmer hips, a rounder tush, larger or smaller breasts. But when I look at these lovely ladies I see:

  • the glow of their personalities
  • their shiny hair
  • a beautiful smile
  • the sparkle in their eyes
  • the graceful way they walk
  • their intelligent insights
  • their lovely vibrant outfits

Whatever “flaw” they consider themselves to have has no significance to our interaction.

No one who matters ever said: “I’d like you much better if you lost weight.” It’s really the media who do that (and sometimes one pesky person in your life whom you shouldn’t listen to anyway).

We should take a cue from those guys who are sexy and know it!

“My motto is that there are no bad bodies, 
only bad clothing.”
~ Gwendolyn Evans in Where Women Create Magazine Summer 2009

standing tall in pretty shoes photo by Maike's Marvels

 Standing tall in pretty shoes

A big eye opener for me recently was this belly project, a gallery of photos real women submitted of their unphotoshopped bellies. My best (lightest/most toned/smallest) shape was when I was rehearsing every day of the week for a bellydance performance—incidentally to “Move your belly” by Said Mrad–but even then my belly had a jiggle. Looking at XO Jane’s images made me realize that even though I might be ‘pillowy,’ my belly and the rest of my hourglass body is blessed to be healthy, non-scarred, and in pretty good shape for my age.

MarvyMaike before the Move Your Belly performance

Best shape of my life, in 2007,
yet still sucking it in! 

 “You have to consider yourself to be your own style icon.
You were born with a body, and you get the fun of dressing it!” 
~ Princess Lasertron

I haven’t found a style icon in the fashion pages for my particular body shape (my abs will never be flat enough). As much as I love the outfits in her movies—Funny Face in particular—Audrey Hepburn’s look wouldn’t work on me (Did you know she was self-conscious about her lovely swan-like neck? GO FIGURE!).

I take my cues from European Royalty Magazines, where women my age like Princess Máxima wear stylish outfits that are definitely not size zero, and the queens age gracefully without nips and tucks.

What I love these days is to see how fabulous my friends dress. I won’t necessarily be able to pull off the outfits that they have on, but the way they select colors and accessories inspires me to look at my closet and see how I can repurpose the same outfit into three new ones. Pairing colors or patterns you think ‘shouldn’t’ go together can garner refreshing results (something Princess Lasertron does with flair on her weekly outfit page).

my fun closet to play dress-up with

My fun closet to play dress-up with

Style is about personality as much as the clothes we wear. As long as we dress true to our character anyone can be an icon. The key is to find what flatters us, whether it is a size bigger than before or if you have to take in (or out) the hemlines, waistlines and other parts to best flatter the radiant you that you are. That is where the only nips and tucks should be, on the fabric, not your person. The most important accessory is pride-holding your head high (yes, posture is key) and owning that you love your outfit and therefore others should too.

Mike Dooley posted this on Facebook the other day, and I added it to my new years resolutions:

“What if every time you put on a piece of clothing,
you said something really nice to the part of your body being dressed?
‘You rock, toes.’” 
~Mike Dooley

Let’s all rock our toes, sway our hips, move our bellies, raise those arms and cheer our totally unique, sexy and perfect bodies on every day of the week.

Radvent: (Holiday) Music

I’m sitting on a fear-busting Radvent entry but Princess Lasertron is nice enough to give me a cop-out with this Music post.

Music Radvent 17 by Princess Lasertron

Graphic re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron.

I actually just made a Christmas mix for my friend. It is so much quicker to do this in iTunes than it was when I grew up.

In 1984 I got my first recordable cassette tape player and my brother and I had a blast dubbing the radio and then making mixed tapes together. Before then we used his 2-way radio linked to a frequency on his transistor radio to tape our own radio shows (LOTS of squeaky feedback, it was fun!).

In 1990 we graduated to a full stereo system for Christmas. Now we could blend songs from tapes, records and CDs onto a tape. It took me days to pull playlists together and figure out the best order so the compilation would sound even. “Re-“collecting those compilations in CD/MP3 format is not as easy as it seems.

Currently my favorite Christmas songs are:

  1. Hibernation Day by Jars of Clay
  2. Baby It’s Cold Outside I have the version with Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel
  3. A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like a Kiss) by Glasvegas
  4. Christmas Of Love by Little Isidore & The Inquisitors
  5. Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney
  6. All Is Well by Michael W. Smith and sung by by Nathan Wadley of The Boys Choir
  7. Ave Maria by Jewel
  8. I Throw My Toys Around by No Doubt for its subversiveness
  9. You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song) by Rich Mullins
  10. Welcome Christmas by the Whos of Whoville

My favorite full holiday albums are:

  1. Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay
  2. Christmas by Michael W. Smith
  3. Joy: A Holiday Collection by Jewel
  4. A Midwinter Night’s Dream by Loreena McKennit
  5. Elf: Music From The Motion Picture by various artists

What is your favorite Christmas song? Do you have a song that sums up your year? I shared mine last week.

Radvent: Writing

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. 
~William Wordsworth

Last weekend I visited Piccolo Theatre’s Holiday Panto (ends tomorrow, December 17). Jessica Puller did a fabulous job writing Space Wars. I thought it would be a Star Wars vs. Star Trek type show, but the geekery was far better than that. This review gives a good synopsis.

Piccolo Theatre Space Wars Poster

I proofread a script for a roommate once and have such admiration for scriptwriters. All the nitty-gritty of how people open a door, which way they face etc. takes a lot of patience I think. My training has been all about cutting text where possible and avoiding redundancy (thanks Ms. Fusco and Dr. Schiff!), but in a script all that detail is necessary.

Princess Lasertron’s Radvent on Writing is quite insightful.

Radvent Writing by Princess Lasertron

Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron

This March I read my old diaries, all 30 of them (in three languages), and found that I had some very insightful perspectives. I keep a quote book where I jot down good passages from library books, and ended up quoting my 16-year-old self in there quite a bit!

reading diaries by Maike's Marvels

Writing has always been a part of me, no matter how many times I had to relearn how to write as we moved from country to country. I made up stories in my head all the time. My cousin and I were collaborators on a few ‘romance novels’ in our teenage years. We even drew blueprints of the farm on which we would live happily ever after with our handsome husbands (the boys we swooned over at the time).

early stories by Maike's Marvels

Our Barbie dolls had a lively correspondence too!

Barbie correspondence

Writing is very therapeutic for me. I find that when I haven’t journaled or blogged for a few days my thoughts are muddled and darker. As Princess Lasertron states, writing gives your ideas form. It also helps process events and experiences.

gathering quotes over the years

To-do lists give my days structure and help me cluster errands together so I don’t waste gas or muscle-energy running out several times a day or in different directions. I’m not as scatterbrained when I jot down mundane tasks and my days feel more productive as I check things off.

There have been times, both when writing in a journal or when writing to a friend, that I felt the message didn’t come from me but from the universe/a higher power. I have been told that my correspondence has arrived at times where people needed the message they read in my pages (now e-mail). I firmly believe that we can find messages like that on a daily basis. I even played with recognizing those messages on a recent outing.

MarvyMaike writing holiday cards

Here are two tips for holiday-card writing. Instead of the usual holiday and new year’s wishes, focus on the recipient a little more:

  1. Thank the recipient for something they did for you this year.
  2. Mention a trait or experience that you admire them for.

The gift of appreciation carries much further than any gift card ever will.

Holiday cards by Maike's Marvels

You can see my holiday cards here.

Radvent: Performance

“When I consider my actions as performing certain ideas,
it helps me reclaim my agency.”

~Katie F-S

Yesterday I attended a free concert performance in Northwestern’s Alice Millar chapel. I’ve passed by this beautiful building many times and admired its external stained glass window.

Northwestern University's Alice Millar Chapel

The internal windows are just as beautiful. You can read about each window here.

Alice Millar Chapel Stained Glass Windows

I met Josefien Stoppelenburg at an Artist and Painters Meetup. We hit it off on our Dutch nationality and when I contacted her about another event she invited me to this lunchtime concert instead. The harmony between her and her sister Charlotte is lovely, along with some banter between songs: “She always gets to sing the princess, DO something about it!”

Josefien and Charlotte Stoppelenburg Songbook

It was good to just sit and let music wash over me amidst the rush of holiday preparations. My favorite was the flower duet from Lakme, which you can view here. I feel like it is a Chakra-opening melody, though I cannot verify that.

I also enjoyed the peace that comes from sitting in a quiet church prior to the concert. Sacred space is important. The colors and messages of the windows along with the harmonies of two beautiful voices created soothing energetic vibrations. I hummed the Lakme tune all afternoon as I admired these musicians for their dedication to a classical art form.

So while I was in the audience per yesterday’s Radvent on Performing I do agree that every day is an opportunity to perform your best self.

Performance Radvent by Princess Lasertron

Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron

Performance as a term holds a pressured connotation for me. It feels like I have to be impressive in some way. The word extraordinary comes to mind. Like Katie F-S writes, this is not a comfortable idea for me. Incidentally, Paulo Coehlo just posted a poem on how we appreciate each rose for what it is in every phase of it’s life phase. It ends:

“A flower is not better when it blooms than
when it is merely a bud; at each stage it is the same thing —
a flower in the process of expressing its potential.”
~ W. Timothy Gallway

Flowers don’t perform. They just are and we admire the extraordinary beauty they radiate. And so when I had this fleeting thought that performance means being extraordinary, it also reminded me that I am extraordinary. There is only one me, and so people should appreciate me just for being, not for performing.

When we live our true passion, our life is who we are. We no longer ‘perform’ a duty or task to please someone else. We’ve all seen performances where we could tell the performer wasn’t really into it. They were lacking the passion that gave their performance authenticity. But when we’re busy being excited about our daily actions it will actually inspire others, which is what good performances do.

 “My favorite kind of performance
challenges the boundaries between what’s onstage and what’s real.”
~Katie F-S 

Since last year I spend much less time being ‘on’: trying to be extra nice, extra understanding, jumping through hoops to get things done. I just am me, which is nice, understanding and pretty driven without any extras. As Iris did in The Holiday, it was time to stop becoming the “best friend” and start being the “leading lady” of my own life.

Being real is a much better role than playing some part others impose.  I am still working on how my performance in my own life can become more fulfilling, but being more in tune with my self is guiding me on that path. And in keeping with Mr. Gallway’s notion, this process of expressing my potential is just where it needs to be right now.

banners at Alice Millar Chapel

Radvent: Influence

I’ll have to let Radvent go through January because there are a few good topics this week. Today I’ll work on Influencing.

Influence Radvent by Princess Lasertron

 Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron

Five of my greatest influences is difficult to narrow down. I could easily do this exercise for every year of my life, as well as make the list longer. But narrowing down what influencers you should listen to most is very important, especially when you want to be a positive influencer on the world.

1. Nature: Every time I am out by trees or water I am reminded of how time is fleeting, that life has cycles and that everything will (instinctively) work out as it should.

nature photography by Maike's Marvels

2. Captivating authors who inspire me to write: Thea Beckman (her Hasse Simonsdochter is my most influential book), Astrid Lindgren, Annie M.G. Schmidt, Anne Frank, Else Ury (Germany’s Lucy Maud Montgomery), Donna Tartt, Paulo Coehlo.

influential authors to Maike's Marvels

3. Living in 3 countries before age 20. Adapting to each culture was difficult and a huge learning curve, and then exploring 3 states in the U.S. has been an adventure as well. I cannot identify with one single nationality and have learned that every culture has its pros and cons. “Where are you from” is a complicated question!

globetrotting days by Maike's Marvels

4. My year at Thunderbird. That is when I began growing up. I made wonderful connections with people of a variety of cultures, began to empower myself as a person, learned a lot academically and interpersonally, and have fond memories of the international nights.

Thunderbird memories by Maike's Marvels

5. Successful women in the arts and crafts industry: Marjolein Bastin, Mary Engelbreit, Susan Branch, Dee Gruenig, Suze Weinberg, Kelly Rae Roberts, Princess Lasertron, Curly Girl Design. These wonderful ladies are proof that one can pursue one’s artistic passion and thrive. (For those who wonder: “Where’s Martha Stewart?” Martha Inc. influenced my opinion of her too much.) Where Women Create Magazine continues to inspire me and keep me believing that I, too, can have a thriving artsy venture in the near future.

crafty divas who influence Maike's Marvels

Honorable mention:

Family and loyal friends: (whom I couldn’t sum up in 5 bullets as my Christmas address list made clear) #3 would’ve been hell without them.

The ghosts of relationships past (including friendships, teachers, colleagues):  like Christina Aguilera’s Fighter, each one made me stronger and taught me to love and honor myself more.

Music: It calms, empowers, energizes, moves you physically, puts feelings into lyrics when you can’t express yourself. I’ve had a few theme songs throughout the years. “The Good Life” by One Republic sums up this year.

Thoughts: Ultimately, it all comes down to what is in your head and how you respond to situations. I’ve let my mind pull me down a lot, and am working hard on keeping my thoughts positive and uplifting as much as possible. Princess Lasertron’s prompters are key to sticking to happy thoughts.

  • What kind of influence do you want to be on the world?
  • How do you feel about the power you have to influence people?
  • Does anything have too much influence on you?

Let’s be positive influencers today!

Radvent: Comfort and a comfortable studio tour

“I love geeking out on art while drinking wine.”
~Jennifer Yang, Meetup organizer

On December 2 I visited a painting and sculpting studio with a local Meetup group. I first met this lovely group at the Ravenswood Art Walk.

Vitruvian Art Studio offers drawing, painting, sculpture and anatomy classes. It took me a while to catch the reference to Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

Tour of Vitruvian Studio in Chicago

If you are looking at getting your sculptures and painting anatomically correct, this definitely is the studio for you. I think even medical students could benefit.

“We teach students how to sculpt the human figure
from the inside out.” 

~ Melinda Whitmore 

Melinda Whitmore teaches sculpting and portrait painting classes, while partner David Jamieson focuses on still life painting. Our group of 13 visitors was given a tour of the studio and we admired the beautiful sculptures.

Skeletal and Muscle sculptures at Vitruvian Art School

The sculpting classes range from 8 weeks for the skeleton and 8 weeks for the muscles to 4 weeks for laying muscles on a pre-purchased skull. Mindy also teaches a class on hand anatomy.

No prerequisites are required for any of the classes, and individual (private) sessions can be scheduled as well.

skulls and hand sculptures at Vitruvian Art School

David gave us an overview of his painting process, including sketching and a value study to ensure the correct color composition.

Painting process demonstration at Vitruvian Art School

We learned that covering paper in shellac will allow you to paint in oil paint over it, saving money on materials.

“Painting a bowl is a lot more complicated than you think.”
~ David Jamieson 

Because most classes are taught at night, David and Mindy invested in ensuring a good lighting system for their models and students.

light systems at Vitruvian Art Schoo

As our group of painters and artists munched on snacks and poured ourselves wine a discussion arose about color theory.

“Think about color as a three-dimensional space:
value, hue and chroma.
Any given color represents a different location within that space.”

~ David Jamieson

We then were introduced to the Munsell book of color which offers paint chips to help artists with matching the right color to a subject.

“Art sometimes can be frustratingly subjective.
This [color system] gives it quantifiable evidence.”
~ Mindy Whitmore

It was a lovely evening in friendly company, and I look forward to the next outing.

Vitruvian Art School T-Shirt

A T-Shirt at Vitruvian Studio

For Radvent, I enjoyed the post on Travel, which makes me eager to draft my Greece travelogue. We used to play a fun game called Koffer Packen as kids. My Tumi carry-on bag has accompanied me on many journeys. I use it for clothes and take a backpack that holds my laptop, books, a travel guide, journal and pens and my trusty camera.

Yesterday’s topic was Comfort. (I admire the bloggers who take Princess Lasertron’s Radvent prompts on the day they are posted, but I need a little more time for mine. I’m glad the Princess let in on the secret that her blogs need a few days of simmering time too.)

Radvent Comfort by Princess Lasertron

Image re-blogged with permission from Princess Lasertron

Two things outside of my comfort zone I would like to try are:

1. Take a Metal Clay class. I have a kit that was discounted deeply and hope to sign up for a class in the new year. Taking a class at Vitruvian studio would also be a stretch for me.

2. Submit my artwok for publication. There I’ve posted it. Now I need to do it! Fortunately I have a friend who’s gone this route so I can brainstorm with her on how to do it.

I guess my boring comfort zones are sleeping and reading. They are both necessary though, so I don’t think there is a need to question those. The rest of my life has been full of stretching comfort zones this year. From leaving a cushy job with familiar albeit stressful tasks to forcing myself to go out and network and visit fine art galleries to exploring what my new vocation will actually look like.

So it will be nice to recharge in my Christmas comfort zone of family gatherings and annual food traditions.

Where do you find your comfort?