Thankful Thursday - The Quiet Within the Storm

Hurricane Florence, September 2018

Hurricane Florence, September 2018

This time last Thursday here in Raleigh, North Carolina, we were bracing for what was predicted to be a devastating hurricane. There had been days of warnings, which meant that all the bread and milk was sold out of most supermarkets (which is an odd phenomenon, I mean, what does everyone DO with large quantities of both during a storm that they don’t do at other times??), batteries were in short supply, as were generators, battery-powered lights, and bottled water. Everyone watched the weather updates to see where the storm was predicted to make landfall, what the top speed winds were going to be, and how much rain we’d get over how long a period of time. As the storm grew closer, the forecast track made it pretty clear that Raleigh would not get a ‘direct hit,’ but would be subject to high winds and many inches of rain over at least 4 days.

So, yes, we bought bread (one loaf, as usual!), made sure we had flashlights, batteries, charged our electronics, and otherwise prepared the house for the storm. Then we waited. And waited. We had rain and high winds, but nothing dramatic.

And then the power went out on Friday evening.

It’s amazing how quiet and still everything is when there isn’t the constant background hum of things powered by electricity. Now, we could clearly hear the staccato music of the rain pelting the windows, and the wind whipping the tree branches. In our powerless cocoon, we settled down to read by the light of our Kindles, with some still-cold wine at our sides (a must, for any storm situation!). Later, we used our storm radio to keep track of what was happening outside of our area, and learned that areas to our east and south were getting the brunt of the storm with much fiercer winds and torrential rains.


But for us, there was the quiet.

We dined by battery-powered candlelight which was lovely.

And then, just as we were getting used to not having electricity, it returned.

Back was the hum, back was the air movement created by fans and the air conditioning; we were back to normal. We were thankful to have only been without power for 3 hours—others are still without it, and have had their homes, vehicles, properties, and businesses ruined—we know we were extremely lucky—this time.

‘Hoping you can find the quiet within the storm of your daily life.

Until next time,



Thankful Thursday - Nourishing the Creative Soul


We artists can often be a solitary group; many of us work alone in our studios, at kitchen tables, or in our garages, without much human contact while we create.  Sometimes, conversation with another person is rare, especially for those who live and create alone.  I'm thankful that my husband is also a creative soul, and we regularly discuss my work, our display, what show is next on the calendar, etc.  I'm also thankful that I have a community of creative people with whom I can share my thoughts, plans, frustrations, failures and successes, both virtually (the Facebook group "Sh*t Overheard at Art Festivals" is a fantastic space to vent and commiserate about the absurdity of what we artists who do outdoor festival go through), and in person.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of indulging in three days of conversations with fellow artists as we participated in the 9th annual African American Cultural Festival here in Raleigh.  Although we create art in different media, we share the joys and trials of the creative process.  It was so rewarding and eye-opening to hear about how another artist crawls out of a creative slump, or renews her resolve to present work which touches her soul ( knowing that whether it sells isn't the driving force behind the creation of it), or how another artist interacts with his collectors to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.  I loved the give and take, the laughter, the "I go through that, too" moments, and the camaraderie. The weekend nourished my creative soul.  And oh yes, there was wine!  

Nourishing your creative soul is one of our goals for the Your Creative Connection retreat at Haw River NEXT MONTH (can you believe it's actually fewer than 40 days away?)  We look forward to sharing our experiences with you, our Creative Explorers, as we spend 4 idyllic days in a most beautiful and inspiring wooded setting.  If you've been thinking of joining us, now's the time to take that leap, and register--there are limited spaces still available.  We promise you an experience like no other, and conversations with artists galore!  If you have questions, pop over to our Retreat FAQ page, or drop me a note in the comment section below.  We're looking forward to having you with us.
Until next time,





Thankful Thursday - Rediscovering Your Creative Groove

Rediscovering your creative groove is sometimes a lengthy, laborious process.  Sometimes, it takes quite awhile for the almost-atrophied creative muscles to reinvigorate themselves.  Often for me, the process involves as much mental as physical work to make it happen, and even then, it can be slow going.  

This was where I found myself recently, due to a long period of time where I had neither the time nor the inclination to create my own work.  I know myself well enough to know that I can't force creativity (disastrous attempts at projects are a testament to that!), but I also knew I needed to get back into the creative flow.  I'd been thinking about the idea that I'd like to work more in layers of color and texture and meaning, and while searching for something else, I found some 6"x6" deep cradled wood panels tucked away in my supply closet.  Ok, so I now had a substrate. 

But how to start was the question.  
You Tube videos were the answer.

I spent hours browsing through various mixed media technique videos, from the sublime to the kind of ridiculous, learning about new-to-me products (I'm loving the Lindy's Gang 'Magicals'), and new ways to use old favorites (hey, isn't that what we'll be doing in October with our Creative Explorers?!).  Armed with this new and refreshed information about molding paste, stencils, inkjet transfers, the aforementioned Magicals, and my old standbys of acrylic paints, PearlEx powders, my hand cut stamps, leather, polymer elements, feathers and matte medium, the ideas started to bubble up, and voilà-- I was energized!

The result is my "Dreams of Africa" series of panels as you'll see below.  Each contains images or symbols which resonate with me of the people, land, adornment, and music of the continent.   These panels will debut at next weekend's African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County; one of my favorite shows of the year. 

Creative groove rediscovered?  Check!

Wishing you new discoveries and a boost to your own creative groove,

Until next time,



From left:  Dreams of Africa:  "Djembe", "Himba", "Baobab", "Tribal Home", "River Goddess," and "Shekere". ©2018 Kindred Spirit Studios | Michelle Davis Petelinz

From left:  Dreams of Africa:  "Djembe", "Himba", "Baobab", "Tribal Home", "River Goddess," and "Shekere". ©2018 Kindred Spirit Studios | Michelle Davis Petelinz

Thankful Thursday - Creating Bridges

"True teachers use themselves as bridges over which they their invite students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own."  ~Nikos Kazantzakis

This quote resonates with me, and reflects many of my experiences as a teacher.  As I've written about before, I present art classes to children and to adults with disabilities.  I do consider myself a bridge, showing my students the way to explore new things, or to use familiar things in new ways.  I encourage them to make their own creative choices, which often lead to wonderful discoveries and exclamations of "I didn't know I could do that!"  One recent example:

Note the red paper "blood drips".  The artist explained that they came from the T-Rex having eaten a Stegosaurus.  This detail was added once the artist saw how "cool" the mouth and teeth were.

Note the red paper "blood drips".  The artist explained that they came from the T-Rex having eaten a Stegosaurus.  This detail was added once the artist saw how "cool" the mouth and teeth were.

On the first day of art camp, a 6-year old drew his ideas for a dinosaur to be created out of a wine bottle.  The drawing included a wide mouth with many jagged teeth, a scaly body, and beady eyes.  Of course, being 6, he knew everything there was to know about the T-Rex (which I did know too at one point, when my son was that age), but thought he "couldn't make it look like what I drew."  I assured him we could get close.  He was doubtful, but eager to try.  Unfortunately, the original drawing was discarded, but here is the result of several hours of foiling, taping, tissue papering, marking with pen, and hot gluing.  When he presented his creation to the class, he proudly said:  "I didn't think I could make it, but I DID," which was music to my ears. 

Penny, Jeanne, and I will be the bridges our Creative Explorers will use to explore and express their individual artful voices during our unique mixed media experience.  And while we can't promise you'll be making wine bottle dinosaurs, because we are creative women, we know there will be much sharing of talents, techniques, and expertise among us all (developing even more bridges--how wonderful!) 
Time is running out, so if you've been thinking of joining us, but haven't registered yet, now's the time.  

Wishing you an astoundingly artful day. 

Until next time,



Thankful Thursday - Making Meaningful Connections


We've often talked about connections--no wonder, since it's part of our name and our mission!  I was reminded again of the power of meaningful connections last weekend when I attended the Visual Art Exchange Summit.  This daylong event brought together a variety of people in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, NC) who work in the arts, including arts administrators, consultants, makers, museum directors, teachers, etc. to ask the sometimes difficult questions about inclusion, diversity, community relations and presentation of challenging artwork.  It was a stimulating day, filled with more questions than answers, but productive dialogue around these topics is a great jumping-off point for viable future solutions.  

One of the breakout sessions revolved around the notion that meaningful connections between people and among groups form the basis of shared trust, commonality of experience, and knowledge, which can then lead to positive change, collaboration, and forward progress.  Yes, this sounds easy, and is probably pretty intuitive, but how many of us really take the time to do it in our daily interactions?  By taking the time to seek out information from the person across the table or over the telephone, you'll find areas of shared experience which will lead to greater understanding.  Even if it's someone with whom you've worked before, you may find amazing things you share.  Case in point:  I have a colleague with whom I've worked for about a year in my disability arts teaching and board of director roles, but it wasn't until we sat together at the Summit that we discovered we both have had spinal fusion surgery (albeit 34 years apart)!  Something clicked into place for both of us upon the realization that we share something very few people do--and we almost simultaneously said "I KNEW there was a reason I liked you!"  Our future collaborations will be informed by this realization, and our relationship will be stronger because of it.  Cool, right?!

We know our Creative Explorers will make many meaningful connections during our time together in October.  There will be ample time to ask, learn, and discover the wonderful things we share as creative women.  It's already shaping up to be quite the event, and we can't wait to welcome you into the Circle!  Time is passing quickly, but there is still time to take advantage of our payment options.  Your deposit is your first step on the Your Creative Connection journey, so don't delay--Register today.  And, if you know of a woman who loves all things mixed media as much as you do, make the connection with her, and share our information--we'd love to welcome her into our Circle too!  

Until next time,



Friday Feature: Spotlight on Penny L. Arrowood

Wrapping up our month of Friday Features, I am here to share some sneak peeks at my Studio Session as well as some additional information on a couple of the more unique features we have built in to the Your Creative Connection experience.  As Michelle so beautifully stated yesterday, the guiding principle behind all that we do at Your Creative Connection is to offer like-minded women a safe and nurturing space to “learn, discover, experiment, and create beautiful things.  What could be better than that?”  What could be better than that, indeed?  One of the many ways that we are providing such an experience is by offering creative opportunities that are just as accessible and illuminating to new-comers to mixed media art as to long-time denizens of the mixed media community.

My Studio Session will open with some colorful, creative exploration.  We will take a look at surface design by way of Seven Surefire Ways to Banish the Blank Page.  Often the most daunting part of new project is the getting started!  Facing a blank surface (be it journal, canvas, paper, or fabric) can intimidate even the most seasoned artist.  Regardless your primary approach to mixed media art, the morning session will provide multiple ways to loosen up and establish a direction for future creative endeavors.  Additionally, these techniques will work in tandem with the knowledge that our Creative Explorers have gleaned in their two previous Studio Sessions; the resulting papers will provide more material for inventive compositions as we move into the remainder of the day.

After a brief review of the work that has been produced in the past three days.  We will select work from each of the earlier Studio Sessions to include in the exhibit on Monday morning.  With the papers that remain, we will construct what I like to call The Vessel of Containment – Bespoke Bookbinding  to house your very own Your Creative Connection experience.  We will create a perfectly personalized record of all that you have learned throughout the event.  There will be room for personal reflection, notes, thoughts from your new creative cohorts, and more – however you choose to populate its pages it will be exquisitely your own:  chronicling your creative exploration and discovery during our time together.  I designed this project specifically for Your Creative Connection, and this is the only venue at which I will teach it this year.  I’m SO excited to share it.  Michelle, Jeanne, and I have already created one, and we've added to its pages as we developed the content for this exceptional event!  Each of our vessels will be on hand at our Opening Night Creative Social to entice and inspire as we begin our artful adventures.

We have thoroughly enjoyed sharing more about what we have in store for the Creative Explorers who join us in October (11-15, 2018) for the experience that is  Your Creative Connection.  If possible, we are now even more excited for all that the event holds -- for ourselves as well as each of the women who will join us.  We have worked hard to create an event unlike any other – from the structure of our Studio Sessions, to the inclusion of a show to highlight the work of our guests and Artist Instructors – we are each looking forward to sharing 3 Artists, 3 Days, 1 Surface, and a Show  (and all that comes with it) with YOU!  Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.  Register today by making your deposit, and we look forward to welcoming you into the circle.

Friday Feature: Spotlight on Michelle Davis Petelinz

My Studio Session will focus on a variety of ways to create surface texture and pattern with paint and ink.  In my own mixed media work, many of my texture and pattern discoveries come about from my asking questions:  "What if I combined...?", or "How can I create...?"  Intricate, multi-layered, and multi-hued patterns resonate with me, and I often include them in my paper, paint, and clay work.  I am excited to share what I've discovered with our Creative Explorers, and I can't wait to see what they will create during our time together.  Penny, Jeanne and I have been working on our content for Studio Sessions, and below is a peek at what I've created so far in preparation for mine, including embellished monoprints, tape transfers, hot glue and foam stamped prints, 3-D elements, and painted papers.  

Here's what I've got planned: 
Creating texture and pattern with custom tools:  I've found that to make my work truly my own, I had to create my own, custom-designed stamps and texture tools.  I will show you how to design foam stamps, hot glue stamps, texture plates, paper combs and masks, 3-D elements, and whatever else we can dream up to put your own, unique stamp on your work (pun intended); we'll let our imaginations soar!  

Getting the most from your Gelli prints:  using your new custom tools and a variety of techniques, we'll create fantastic monoprints on our luscious Stonehenge paper.  We'll be layering, transferring, embellishing, and adding natural elements to our prints for use as stand alone works, or as components of larger pieces.  If you've never used a Gelli plate, you're in for a treat (it's truly engrossing), and if you've worked with one before, this Studio Session will offer you new ways to use an old favorite.

Exploring composition:  once we've designed, created, and experimented with our new tools, it'll be time to put them to use in your compositions.  Tips and tricks for effective compositions abound, whether you're looking to enhance your paintings, to create 2-D or 3-D mixed media work, or to complete the pieces you'll display in the Your Creative Connection show.   Oh yes, there's going to be a show...and next Friday, Penny will complete our June "Friday Features" series with a look at her Studio Session content and more details about the show.  Stay tuned.   

If you haven't done so yet, Register now, to be sure you'll be able to join in the fun.  



Thankful Thursday - Natural Beauties, Take Two

" Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual satisfaction."  ~E. O. Wilson

Penny's blog post last week got me to thinking about my own appreciation for the beauty of nature.  At this time of year, here in North Carolina, everything is in full, glorious bloom.  The intense heat of July and August haven't yet caused flowers to wilt, and the great amount of rain in recent weeks has accelerated the process of growth and bloom.  We're thankful the dreariness of the rainy days has given way to the brilliance of sunny days filled with the visual splendor and fantastic aromas of the newly blooming flowers and trees.  On our deck, we have many of my favorites:  gardenias, mandevillas, impatiens, and hibiscus, as you can see here.

Thankful Thursday 6.7.18 collage.jpg


I am particularly proud of my potted gardenia tree.  Unwilling to abandon it to the frost at the end of its growing season last year, I brought it indoors.  Although I had never attempted to do so before, I hoped to be able to care for it until it was time to put it outside again.  I confess that my resolve almost faltered as I watched it steadily lose about half of its leaves (!), and begin to look very sad.  We put it out on the deck in early April, and watched hopefully as it slowly perked up (fertilizer helped), produced more leaves, and many, many buds.  And yes, I did a little happy dance on the day the first bud opened to reveal its lovely white petals and its divine scent (that's the first blossom in the upper left photo)! I appreciate both the resurgence of the tree, and the reminder that perseverance, care, and a generous dose of hope can work wonders.

Nature reminds us to pause, take it all in, and appreciate the beauty which surrounds us, and I'm thankful for that which greets me just outside my door.

I hope you'll take a moment appreciate your natural surroundings--you may be surprised at what catches your eye!

Until next time,



Thankful, Thoughtful Thursday - Artist Self-Care

In an article entitled:  "Artist Retreats | Taking Time For Yourself and Your Art," the author extols the virtues of stepping out of the usual routine and finding a space and a place to recharge your creative batteries.  The article, given to me by my artist husband Stan, who supports me in all things creative and otherwise, details how artist retreats began in the early 1900s, "as if in response to the growing urban centers, the rumble of industry, and the increasing pace of life."  Sound familiar?  Even over 100 years later, we too often find the pace of our lives increasing (how many emails arrived after you just emptied your inbox today?), the demands upon our time too taxing (do I really have to sit in traffic every morning on the way to work?), and the need for extended moments of serenity (Serenity?  What's that?) is rarely fulfilled. Attending to life's myriad details, and also making time for your art can be challenging at best, and impossible at worst.  This paragraph about giving a gift of creative time to yourself resonated with me:

"The concept of retreat stems both etymologically and spiritually from the need to pull back. No doubt, this is the first and most valuable understanding, but I also like to think of the word as an opportunity to gift oneself again: to re-treat. When the world is a bother, a quiet refuge to make art is better than ice cream.  Artist retreats, therefore, can fill a spiritual need while also permitting a personal indulgence, revealing that only through tending to the self can artists produce the work they offer the world. It may be five minutes, five hours or five days, but only through retreat can someone stop rushing to the next thing and take the personal time necessary to arrive as an artist."

We at Your Creative Connection understand, and we will offer our version of artist self-care:  4 days of designated time away from your everyday schedule in a gorgeous, natural setting, with like-minded women who share your passion for creating beautiful things.  What could be better?  Three full days of expert instruction in mixed media techniques you can use immediately on new projects, as well as in your own work?  Yes, you'll have that.  Time to reflect upon your life and work as a Creative Explorer, alone or with a group of new friends?  Yes, you'll have that, too.  The ability to "unplug" from the world?  Indeed.  The chance to just "be" for an extended period of time, without judgement, pressure, or stress?  Absolutely, yes! 

The Your Creative Connection Haw River Retreat in October (11th --15th) will be all of this, and more.  Won't you join us for what promises to be an experience like no other?  Registration is open, spaces are filling, and we'd hate for you to miss the opportunity "re-treat" yourself, unwind, renew, and recharge. 

Your art is waiting.



Until next time,



Thankful Thursday - The First of Many

OR:  The Perfect and Pleasant Premier Pop Up Event

The weather may have been less than ideal but the fine fare, dashing décor, and captivating creativity made for a most splendid day indoors!  We welcomed our intrepid Creative Explorers to the tables to explore Notes to Our Future Selves – a trio of mini Studio Sessions featuring:  Kintsugi Hearts, Mindful Mandalas, and Found Poetry in a blending of creative expression, words, and colors capturing ideas and moments both real and imagined…  Each of our Artist Instructors illuminated this theme in a way that highlighted their primary medium. 

Our Special Guest Artist for 2018, Jeanne Faith d’Orleans, incorporated her love of fabric in a textile version of Kintsugi.  Guests released themselves and/or others with the symbolic mending of fissures in the heart with golden thread while using the written word to release past hurts or present misunderstandings.  The results were phenomenal, and the sharing of the messages (or their intent) brought an echoing chorus of “OHs.”

Your Creative Connection Co-Founder Michelle Davis Petelinz brought her love of pattern and color to the fore with her presentation of Mindful Mandalas.  In addition to expanding the use of the humble water-based marker in an amazing way, our guests explored the symmetry of the form as well as building a base for the presentation of words that matter in the now.  This print-making exercise brightened a dreary day with the creation of multiple “stained glass windows” in our work space, punctuated by the murmur of satisfaction in creative discovery. 

To close out the afternoon of creative fun, Co-Founder Penny L. Arrowood guided all present in the construction of a bit of Found Poetry – restructuring and/or redacting existing written words to tell another tale, whisper a different wish, or construct an alternate reality.  The sharing that followed was in turns humorous and touching – leaving us all a tad gob-smacked by the vivid images one can create with nothing        more than words.

Throughout the afternoon, guests enjoyed an assortment of fresh fruits, dipping sauces, pound cake, lightly salted nuts, iced tea, and water.  The perfect fare to fuel our creative engines as we wiled away a rainy afternoon ensconced in the reverie of community, artistic expression, and the sharing of the stories that unite us all.

All of our projects throughout the afternoon were completed on Strathmore Artist Papers Mixed Media Papers (Toned Tan and Gray, Toned Blue, and Heavyweight).  Each of our guests received a trio of sample pads featuring these luscious papers – two of which (Toned Blue and Heavyweight) are not yet available in stores (!) 

Pop Up participants also received the first public viewing of samples for the Studio Sessions on offer at the ‘big event’ in October (11-15, 2018 at the Haw River State Park).  In another unique twist on the art retreat/experience, in addition to three full days of creative instruction Creative Explorers at Your Creative Connection Haw River will incorporate works from each Studio Session into a physical vessel of their experience at this event.  Providing for an incredibly tactile reminder of a magical time, as well as a visual recounting of what was learned and enjoyed on this leg of their Artistic Journey. 

Our special thanks to photographers Alan Christianson and Holly Sullenger for so beautifully capturing the event in images for us to treasure!  Our thanks also to our Creative Explorers for the day!  We enjoyed spending time with each of you, and loved seeing how gloriously different the outcome from each exercise based on the individuality of the maker.  We are already looking forward to next time!

With gratitude and appreciation,
 ~ PLA & MDP