Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gratitude and an Art Project


Thanksgiving weekend was a fabulous array of family events and lots of fun. It started with my son Robby coming from L.A. for the holiday. We spent Wednesday at the movies, having pizza (which is his necessity when he comes to NY) and playing scrabble and trivial pursuit.

On Thursday we went to my brother and sister-in-law's for turducken and lots of other delicious snacks, sides and desserts, plus lots of good wine.

On Friday we picked up my best friend Emilia and went to the North Fork wineries and then out to dinner. Back home it was a game of Left, Right, Center and more trivial pursuit.

It was a wonderful visit and though we did do a lot of fun things it went way too fast. Now I can't wait to go out and see him and his wife Sarah in California, or have them come here for a visit, perhaps in warmer weather.

Today it was a trip to Barnes and Noble where I browsed lots of art books and magazines looking for inspiration. I bought two books, one on art journaling and one on creating a craft business, which I hope to do when I retire in seven months. The magazines are "Bella Grace" and "Artful Blogging" both from Stampington and Company.

Then back home to do some art journaling.

Let me know what you think of the result.


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Meditation Mandalas

The combination of a cloudy cold day, some romantic violin music and an autumn scented candle are wonderful background elements to making art. I'm about to try a new painting technique but first wanted to share something else with you lovely readers.

When looking for a calming, meditative art process that doesn't involve lots of different and messy materials I turn to the mandala coloring books of Susanne Fincher. Though I have tried to draw my own mandalas they always come out lopsided and asymmetrical which totally annoys my OCD, sensory processing issues and destroys the sense of calm these perfectly balanced circles create.

I prefer using colored pencils to fill them in as they give me better control than markers or paints. I've tried pastel chalks but they tend to smear. I'll choose a palette of several colors and start filling in spaces. There is a difference between starting at the center and working outward, or starting at the edges and working toward the center. The latter order helps me get grounded and brings me close to my own center where I can sort thoughts out as I engage in the repetitive process and listen to music that further sends me into my heart and soul.

I'll begin by just coloring everything in with the colored pencils:
While the mandala can be considered finished at this point I've begun a second process that adds more to the artistic sense of the mandala and also brings me further into the soul of the process.
I use uni ball vision elite pens to add darker details and accents, sort of like zentangle designs. It draws me in deeper and helps the meditative feel of the process.


It's a bit of a stopover between art and writing. Sometimes it calms me enough to go back to the novel and knock off a new scene or revitalize a scene that's stalling. Other times it leads me to journaling or writing new poems. Nicely enough the facing page of each mandala drawing has a sentence or too describing the purpose of that particular mandala but the rest of the page is blank, leaving room for journaling based on the descriptive sentence or for jotting down poems that sprout during the coloring and detailing processes.

It brings me back to long luxurious days as a little girl when I got lost in my coloring books or with a picture from a Venus Paradise color by number set. And there's is great pleasure, at 65, being brought back to the glorious days of childhood freedom.

I suggest you try it. Can't hurt. And it's a great way to calm yourself at the end of a stressful day or center yourself before you begin your day. 

Just have fun with it!!!


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese