Tag Archives: painting

Tonight on the Stupid Cancer Radio Show!


Tonight, October 27th, 2014 at 8pm Eastern you can hear me live on Stupid Cancer Radio!

I’ll be chatting with Matthew and Annie about the healing effects of art and craft on chemo brain. The short version is: pick up a pencil, bust out the guitar or crochet your life away. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you make something your brain will feel better. And who doesn’t want to feel better?

Tune in tonight at Stupid Cancer Radio or listen tomorrow in the archives. Either way, you won’t want to miss it.

Fab Friday Finds #19



Personality Types, Perfection and Paper

Last week, my friends and I found out our Enneagram personality types. While we all agreed and assumed there’s nothing really scientific backing up the results, we did find the descriptions to be both enlightening and sobering. The flaws associated with our respective types was on the money and we were all a little embarrassed.

My personality type is a 4, “the Individualist“. I am sensitive, introspective and self-absorbed. Basically, I’m a special snowflake and a delicate little flower if I let my ego go hog wild. However, being a reasonably healthy and well-adjusted individual I can fully agree with this description:

Healthy Fours are honest with themselves: they own all of their feelings and can look at their motives, contradictions, and emotional conflicts without denying or whitewashing them. They may not necessarily like what they discover, but they do not try to rationalize their states, nor do they try to hide them from themselves or others. They are not afraid to see themselves “warts and all.”

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And that’s my problem with beauty and Pinterest-fueled perfection. At my worst, I strive for perfection right away which has discouraged me in the past from improving my skills, especially when it comes to fine art and drawing. When I’m at my best, I keep going.

Then this morning, I come across Austin Kleon’s blog where he recently showed how messy his sketchbooks are. He even has a tag called “sketchbooks should be sketchy”!

My notebooks are shitholes where I go to dump my brains out, say things I wouldn’t even say out loud to my wife, places to find what I’m looking for, find out what I know. They aren’t pretty. (Full post is here.)


The desire to “find what I’m looking for” appeals to my personality (and the type 4 that I am) but it also appeals to an innate need for freedom we all have. What good comes from limiting my creativity? If I stick to doing things perfectly the first time, am I really going to find out whatever it is that I’m looking for? Am I letting my brain grow by having inflexible boundaries? Or by putting up such tight constraints am I just hamstringing healthy growth?

Think about your personality. Where are you keeping yourself from growing or just having fun? As Miss Frizzle once said, “it’s time to ask questions, get messy and make mistakes!”

Life Starts Over Again in the Fall

I’ve been struggling to meaningfully blog lately. As I mentioned in my previous post, early September is a hard time of year for me. Tomorrow is my three year cancer-versary and I try to do things out of my comfort zone. During chemo, I jokingly sneered at people who went on bucket list binges but now I’ve found myself making a point to try new things.

And yet, there’s a secret part of me that thinks I’ve lost time to cancer. That now I’m on a race to make up for the two years I lost from illness, treatment and recovery.  That’s not a rare feeling either, in fact I was feeling that way this morning.

It’s surprising how sometimes what you need to hear the most pops up. That image was on my Pinterest feed and it hit me square in the feels.

Fitzgerald is right. Summer is on its way out and now is a time of renewal. I can’t get the time I lost to chemo back. All I can do right now is think about what I’ve learned from it. Glean some useful tips from what happened and start adding new qualities to the person I am now.

Next week, I’ll be on a rock climbing trip with First Descents, a non-profit that sends young adult cancer patients, like me!, on either climbing, surfing or kayaking trips free of charge. It’ll be a week away from home where I hope to draw some more, keep up my art journal and take lots of photos with my new lymph buddy. Either way, I’m open to a new experience and making new friends and the timing couldn’t be better.

The rush of the holidays is starting and the summer is starting to feel like a distant memory. Take some time out and do something rejuvenating. Try to tap in that feeling of renewal and reevaluate what has happened this rapidly fading year. I’d love to hear about what you’ve learned.

FO Friday: Chinese brush painting

The other day, I spotted on Google maps an art studio across the street from my new house. Lo and behold, my neighbor runs Laughing Waters Studio from his home. (I love that I’ve moved to a very artsy/crafty neighborhood.) Since I’m on a mission to expand my painting skills I signed up for a class. Here’s my first attempt at the art of Chinese brush painting:


I had so much fun doing this. It was very meditative at times, especially grinding the ink stick against the ink stone. Round and around the stone until the ink was the right consistency. I think I could have spent all day just doing that.

It looks so deceptively simple. The lines are restrained and clean and yet they are filled with meaning. I could feel my mind’s eye “filling in” the extra details that aren’t painted. The brush strokes also reminded me of Sifu Vizzio’s teachings and what I love about kung-fu.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be going back for more lessons. I would love to paint a tiger and a crane.

For more FOs, check out Tami’s blog.

FO Friday: Two faces

I’ve been doodling and painting a ton since we’ve moved in. My yarn is unpacked, of course, but I’m not feeling it right now. Plus I can see how my drawing skills have been improving and it’s been intoxicating.


I need to fix the bridge of her nose. it seems far too wide for her. I can’t stop looking at her and I’m not sure why. She seems familiar but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who looks like her. Sometimes I fancy that I drew how I’ll look in the future. She looks so classy.

And then here’s a second portrait who also reminds me of someone, I’m just not sure who:


She looks a bit like the girl from “Dead Like Me,” a show I couldn’t get into. One thing I’m learning about my style is that I like drawing faces with as few details as possible. I feel like the portraits with very little done look the most polished to me.

I have the urge to unpack my acrylic paints, pick up a canvas and do a larger portrait. Now that I can draw proportional faces, I want to keep going at it.

What have you been up to?

(For more FOs, check out Tami’s blog!)

FO Friday: A better portrait

I keep playing around with my watercolor set and I’m really seeing improvement. I have to remind myself that they don’t work like acrylics. With acrylic paintings, you work from dark to light. With watercolors, it’s the opposite, paint the light parts FIRST and THEN you put in the dark bits with more washes.

With that in mind and a few tutorials I found online, I was able to draw and paint this portrait.


I call her Tabitha. I love her expression. I didn’t intend for her to look so…angry? Sad? Defiant?  I also am really proud at how the shadows work and her skin tone is just what I was looking for.

What expression do you think she has on her face? Is there a story behind her stare?

For more finished objects, check out Tami’s blog.

FO Friday: Golden Mantella Frog

I’ve been on a painting roll lately. It feel so much more easier to paint in a tiny hotel room than knit. I feel like most of my knitting, even sock knitting, needs to take up lots of space. But not so much with my small watercolors. I saw a photo of this guy on pinterest and I knew I had to paint him:


I’m really proud of how this frog came out, though the line between his mouth and where his foreleg connects got smooshed together. I’m hoping to take a painting class or something that will help me trouble shoot when I notice things like that happening. But I’m still proud of how my skills are improving. Plus, it’s such a cute frog! I made the spot of white in his eye with a white jelly roll pen. I’m planning on using this pen to make some white zentangles instead of my usual black ones. It’ll be fun to play with tones and values on a different and lighter scale.

A little more info on the Golden Mantella frog. They live in Madagascar and are a critically endangered species. They’re related to the brightly colored poison dart frog. Golden Mantellas are found in the forest and near fresh water ponds. They are social creatures who live in family groups called armies with twice as many males as females. You can learn more about them from the Bristol Zoo’s conservation page.

FO Friday: Zengtangled Goldfish

Hello hello! It’s been awfully quiet here. That’s because we’ve moved to the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. We’re currently house hunting so I haven’t had too much time to craft. I did, however, find time to paint this guy:


I made sure that I kept my sketchbook and my travel set of water colors out along with some of my knitting. He looks more like a little whale than a goldfish but that’s alright! I think he’s super cute. I got to use my Pen & Ink sketch fountain pen over the water color washes. I use my pen mostly in my journaling but the insert said this pen is designed for sketching. It was really smooth over the washes and I enjoyed zentangling with it. However, the ink it comes with is not water proof. I tried to run a wash over one of the fins and it started to smear. That means I’m still in search for a fine tipped pen that won’t smear if I watercolor over it.

For more Finished Objects, check out Tami’s blog.

Failure or Growth?

I want to share with you a failure of mine. I’ve blogged about failed projects before (like my resin bracelet and two different pairs of socks) and I do my best to figure out what went wrong and what went right. Here’s another:


I’m taking “How to Paint Faces” class over at Kat Can Paint! and this was my first time ever painting a face. The initial drawing is part of the info packet. Once I copied that (just a simple pencil transfer), I followed Kat’s 8 steps to painting skin. Well, I should have read the whole thing before starting.

Firstly, I used my widest brush to create the outlines. That was mistake number one. I should have used my liner brush instead. Secondly, I didn’t really mix my paints well enough. Thirdly, I didn’t read the instructions for painting lips. Lastly, I didn’t wait for the paint around her eyes to dry before outlining the lids and painting in her pupils. I did do something right! Her face was a little too red and I was able to lighten it. Next time, I don’t need to add so much red.

What this really boils down to is a lack of patience. And/or not keeping my hair dryer by my side to dry the paints. I’m used to being able to dive into a knit or crochet project and understand what’s going on. Painting is a new skill for me, doubly so for painting faces. When learning a new skill, I need to read all the directions (like at school!) and make sure I have all my materials with me.

So what went right? I was able to even out her skin tone by trying something different. I’m really proud of the fact that I was able to fix it without help. The really great part was that I did dive into this with both feet and I had a lot of fun painting at home. Even though I was keenly aware that I was making mistakes, I didn’t stop and just kept painting. And at the end, when I saw how wonky her eyes came out I laughed. I laughed at my mistake, I laughed at how silly she looks. I laughed at myself which makes me proud to show off this painting. I’m not ashamed of it and laughing at it has taken away any bad feelings that could have taken root.

The next time I mess up a project, I’m going to take the time to laugh at it and laugh at my newness. I’m not an expert and that’s okay!