If We Were Having Coffee…

A few days ago, I saw this post from Jamie over at Perpetual Page Turner. I thought, “What a super cool idea!” I love that, as a blogger, I can interact with my followers in a more personal way. So, I decided to follow suit and write my own “If We Were Having Coffee” post (thought I enjoy hot chocolate more. But, well, “If We Were Having Coffee” is a way more attractive blog post title than “If We Were Each Partaking in Our Warm Beverages of Choice”).

I've got my cocoa and cinnamon! And why yes, that is Katniss Everdeen behind me.

I’ve got my cocoa and cinnamon! And why yes, that is Katniss Everdeen behind me.

Here’s the idea: I share what’s going on with me right now with you, the reader, as if we were sitting together, cozy and sharing life over warm mugs 🙂 I’m going to ask you questions too, so feel free to respond via comment or e-mail (roaringout (at) gmail (dot) com). So grab a mug of your warm beverage of choice (hmm, maybe that alternate blog title would work…) and join me:

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I much prefer hot chocolate with cinnamon.

I’d ask you what your favorite warm beverage is.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I felt like the absolute worst teacher yesterday. I was caught in horrendous traffic with no way of getting in touch with my 8 am class. I arrived 20 minutes late, and my students had understandably left (our classroom is locked and I’m the only one who can open it). They did leave a note with the names of all who were present, which was responsible of them. I felt like “such a fucking failure” (to quote myself from a 10-minute freewrite I did during class time since no students were present). I harp on my students to be on time and to not waste my time, their time, or their fellow classmates’ time, yet that’s exactly what I did, though not intentionally. Even after I e-mailed the class to explain, I felt like it was not enough.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I also practiced being kind to myself yesterday. Everyone makes mistakes. The semester is a month in, and I’ve extended grace to many of my students. I shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for a bit of grace as well.

I’d ask you about a time when you felt bad, but learned to practice being kind to yourself.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I’m super excited, though nervous, about selling my art at a local craft fair on Sunday. I’ve still got a bunch of prep to do, but it also means that I know I’ll prioritize fun, crafty work!

I’d ask you what opportunities are you excited about. What risks, however small or great, are you taking?

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you I’m also super excited yet nervous about getting married next month. I love that I get to spend the rest of my life with the most amazing man in the universe (I may or may not be biased…), but, oh boy, weddings are a lot of work! I’ve got most things under control, I just don’t like planning for long-term projects. I know everything will be worth it the day of; I just have to keep reminding myself of this fact.

I’d ask you to tell me about a time when you were nervous, but everything turned out OK.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I’m a bit frustrated with myself for not making more “me” time; that is, time to write, to be crafty, to read, to do things that I love.

I’d ask you what you like to do during “me” time. I’d also ask how you make time for the things you love to do, as opposed to the things you have to do.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I’m so excited about fall TV lineups starting again. I love so many shows (Supernatural and Walking Dead, anyone?) that I can barely keep track!

I’d ask you what your favorite fall shows are.

OK, I think that’s good for now. Your turn! Feel free to respond in the comments or via e-mail to me. I’m looking forward to your side of the conversation 🙂

Artist’s Spotlight: Beth Laky

Here’s this month’s Artist’s Spotlight, featuring the lovely mixed media artist, Beth Laky!

Beth Laky Artist Photo

Roaring Out: How long have you been creating art and in what mediums?
Beth Laky: Gosh, I’ve been creating since I was an little girl. As the firstborn in my family, my creative and crafty Mom had more time to do art projects with me, and we did A LOT of them. As a child, my days were filled with construction paper and crayons, Fashion Plates and fingerprinting. By the time I was 8, I was taking watercolor lessons and dabbling with all sorts of different mediums. I created quite prolifically all through my school years – looking back I’m thankful to have had exposure to so many different arts and crafts.

Orange Fox Collage with Milkweed Seeds

Orange Fox Collage with Milkweed Seeds

RO: What first inspired you to art?BL: I’m not sure I was first inspired to art. I never made a conscious decision to pursue art as a child – it just seemed natural and right to create with my hands – as if it was placed in me and couldn’t help but pour out of me in one way or another. As I grew, I’ve discovered that I must be creating – it helps me stay sane! But more than that, it seems it’s just what I was always meant to do. I believe my job as an Artist is to point to the wonder in the world, storing up beautiful things in my heart to share and bring joy to others.

RO: What mediums are your current favorites?
BL: I’ve gone through many different phases where I’ll focus on exploring one medium. For years I’d say my medium of choice was watercolor, which I do still love, but since discovering the vast possibilities of mixed media, I’ve been on a roll. I love mixed media because the possibilities are so endless, and I can draw from the many tools and techniques (including watercolor!) that I’ve stored up over the years and incorporate them into one piece in a new way. Lately I’ve also been working on a lot of embroidered pieces. This was another craft I dabbled with as a teen and it offers a nice break from oil pastel and paint when I need it.

Tomato Embroidery, Kitchen Wall Art

Tomato Embroidery, Kitchen Wall Art

RO: Could you please talk a little about your creative process?
BL: Being highly introverted, I am a big observer. It’s not uncommon for me to sit in silence while driving and simply take in the environment around me. For example, this morning I was quite taken with the dense fog caused by the unseasonably mild winter, paying particular attention to the layers of vanishing trees as I drove through the woods. I am constantly looking at the details of life (something I write about often on my blog). A hike in the woods will find me fixating on the color and texture of a mushroom or the brilliance of one red berry tucked in a mass of prickers. These outdoor discoveries are my greatest fuel when I create art. I am endlessly fascinated with discovering beauty and simple truths in places that are easily overlooked.

I admit I’m very bad at keeping a sketchbook, and this is something I’m trying to do more of. More often than not, I develop a picture in my head, and a sketch hardly does it justice, but if I don’t draw or write it down, I’ll lose it over time.

RO: If you could spend the rest of your life focusing on one art form, what would it be?
BL: This is a tough question, but I think I would say mixed media because I can incorporate many of my other creative loves into this medium.

RO: I know you have a background in advertising.  How has that experience informed your

Indian Corn Mixed Media Painting

Indian Corn Mixed Media Painting

artwork?
BL: When I worked in advertising as a graphic designer, I found that my personal pursuit of art all but died out for a period of about 10 years. It seemed that I was unable to balance my creative energies between work demands and my own projects. Eventually I lost all interest in graphic design and moved into a more administrative role at my current job in the non-profit sector. So if anything I’d say that leaving advertising and graphic design has actually been the greatest influence in my own artwork, by allowing my desire for it to be rekindled.

RO: You opened up a fabulous Etsy shop in November 2011.  Can you talk a little bit about the process that led you to opening up your own virtual storefront?
BL: Oh, thanks for the compliments! 🙂 A few months prior to opening my shop I had both taken a few art classes to jumpstart my creative juices, and gone on a humanitarian trip with Liquid Water Inc. and Living Water International to serve a poor community in El Salvador. On my trip, I had the opportunity to work with a small village which lacked clean drinking water by drilling a clean water well with my team. Having my eyes opened to the poverty and lack of basic necessities in countries like El Salvador, I began to wonder how I could use the skills I’d been given as an artist to make life more beautiful for, and bring hope to others.

This conviction was the primary motivation for opening my shop, Bettina’s Treehouse, on Etsy, where I determined to donate a portion of my art sales to Liquid Water Inc. for the drilling of clean water wells in developing countries.

Sunflower Collage with Burlap and Buttons

Sunflower Collage with Burlap and Buttons

RO: What is the longest time you’ve spent on a piece of art?
BL: Well, I have some pieces of art that I started a few years ago and have not yet finished. This doesn’t mean I’ve been working on it constantly over all this time – rather I find that many pieces I start go through a sort of “waiting period” where I know they aren’t finished, but I am trying to decide where to take things next. The inspiration does come. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes a few months, and sometimes longer than that! It helps to be working on multiple pieces at once so I can move on to something else if need be.

RO: What do you enjoy when you are not arting?
BL: When I’m not creating, I can be found working with my hands in other ways – cooking, gardening or enjoying a quiet life puttering around my home. I love time with my family and friends, as well as reading, watching BBC movies or enjoying the great outdoors.

RO: As someone who takes great care in making each piece of artwork, is there anything handmade that you own that is particularly meaningful to you?
BL: Well, I’m a big supporter of buying handmade and supporting other artists and crafters on Etsy. One of my favorite pieces is a print by Katie Daisy of The Wheatfield which is an illustrated quote by Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I have this print in my living room and it often serves as a reminder to me that my life here on earth has purpose and meaning, and I must keep at the calling to be an Artist in every way.

RO: To conclude, what is a lesson you have learned from creating art that you would like to share with others?
BL: If it weren’t so cliché I’d say “take time to smell the roses”! Seriously though, creating art in this new season (post my advertising job ) has helped me to realize how imperative it is to pause in our increasingly loud and distracted lives and reconnect with who we are, what we are passionate about, what is truly important. Our busyness causes us to miss out on true life. I hope that my art can illustrate this reminder to stop and remember, uncovering beauty in the most surprising places.

Moons and Stars Mixed Media Collage

Moons and Stars Mixed Media Collage

Thanks for sharing, Beth! Check out her lovely Etsy shop, Bettina’s Treehouse, and stop by her blog of the same name.

After Sandy: A Lesson Learned from the Storm

Hurricane Sandy & Marblehead [Front Street 4]

Let’s face it: we’ve all become used to a certain amount of comfort. We have unlimited information at our fingertips with the Internet. Our homes are climate-controlled. We don’t even have to get out of our cars to get food.

For many, Sandy put an end to those comforts. For me, four days without power showed me that I can live without quite a bit.  And I have to say that the week off I had because of Sandy was one I’ll never forget, not because of the hardship, but because of the people I spent it with.

My roommate, boyfriend, mutual friend, and I spent a few days together without gadgets getting in the way.  We played poker, board games, and made a nifty heating/light source with a can of Spaghettio’s, a lighter, and some Everclear.  At some point during the week, I took a step back from the laughter and the many blankets piled around and realized that my three companions and I wouldn’t be sharing this time together were it not for the storm.  We wouldn’t have thought to hang out.  We might have been too busy or made excuses.  But here we were: cold but content.  It reminded me of a line from the Jason Mraz song “I’m Yours”: “Open up your plans and, damn, you’re free.”

I often wonder why it seems like I never have time to do anything.  Sandy was a pretty stark reminder of the fact that a lot of my “busy-ness” is self-imposed.  Although my power came on about a week and a half ago, I just got Internet service back yesterday (otherwise I would have posted sooner).  Now that all of my creature comforts are back, I’m sad to say I’ve fallen back into a lot of my technologically distracted ways.  But, I’m going to try to not spend so much time staring at a glowing screen.

I’m trying to re-evaluate my priorities.  Hanging out with people or reading or spending time outside is awesome and fairly liberating.  The Internet will still be there when I get back.

One thing’s for sure: I certainly don’t want to suffer from FWP (First World Problems) again.

How about you?  What did you learn/what was your favorite memory from Sandy?