Thankful Thursday - The Arrival of Autumn

Perhaps it seems a silly thing to be thankful for, but you should see the things that swirl around inside this noggin!?  As much as I enjoy(ed) all of the fun that comes with Summer, it is hard not to yearn for shorter days, cooler weather, and the chance to layer on the comfy clothes of Fall and Winter.  I certainly will not miss the large and aggressive mosquitos that we have seen since hurricane Florence rolled through here, last month (!)

The arrival of Autumn also signals the beginning of the holiday season, and affords us the opportunity to anticipate seeing friends and family from far and near as we gather to eat, drink, and be merry!  We have some merry-making in store for YOU, in the coming months!  If you are not a subscriber to our Newsletter, there is no time like the present – we would hate for you to miss out on all of the fun we have in store.  Subscribe today, and stay in the loop – we have MUCH in the way of creative adventures on the horizon!

Until next time,
~ PLA

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Thankful Thursday - Portents and Signs

I am not a particularly superstitious person.  In these turbulent times, however, it is often pleasant to see something(s) as a sign of good things to come…  My last travel for teaching was littered with such signs – at least I choose to see it that way – and I thought it might be nice to share them with you.

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On the morning that we headed out, and after a summer loaded with more dragonflies than I recall ever seeing, I looked up to see a very large and rather impressive specimen shimmering on the aerial of the truck.  Dragonflies symbolize transformation, new beginnings, and lightness of being.  What better reminder to be grateful for the journey than to have such a harbinger hitching a ride for the next phase of my own?  This seemed a rather fortuitous sign indeed, as this was to be my first offering at a new venue (The Yadkin Valley Fiber Center) – and both the host and myself have great hopes that my efforts will result in the regular programming of book arts on their course schedule.

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Upon arriving at our camping location, and following a brief visit to Slightly Askew Winery (that may well have been a sign of its own for this wine lover), we were greeted with skies that looked like rain was imminent.  In spite of rolling thunder and a brief sprinkling, we were fortunate that we did not have to set up the camper in the rain (!)  Instead, we were gifted with a most lovely rainbow arcing over the distant hills and disappearing into the clouds.  Rainbows serve as symbols of peace and serenity, as well as being stunning visual reminders to confront and embrace our own potential for growth, beauty, and wisdom.

While the rose is a timeless symbol of love, beauty, and balance this last image is not so much a sign as a reminder to me.  While strolling down the Main Street thoroughfare on Sunday afternoon, upon seeing this perfect rose bud I was immediately reminded of the quotation from Anais Nin:  “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  In other words:  nothing ventured, nothing gained -- OR:  You’ll never know ‘til you try!  If I have learned anything in the past three and half years it is that you’ll never get ANYwhere standing still.

So…  What are YOU waiting for?  Signs are favorable that if you make the leap, join us in October, and become part of our creative community you will have a whole new view of what it means to follow your muse.  Stop standing still!  Step into the circle.  You’ve nothing to lose, and worlds of insight, fellowship, and creativity to gain.  It’s not too late – register today!  We’ll be waiting for you beneath the trees…

Until next time,
 - PLA

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Thankful Thursday -- The Power of Community

One of my favorite things about living a creative life is the incredible people that I encounter along the way.  The creative community at large is rife with interesting folks, and in the subsets of individual disciplines we are afforded the opportunity to learn from one another on an entirely different level.  Whether in the role of teacher or student, new knowledge and connections (just can't seem to escape that notion, can we?) are ours for the asking...

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In my most recent workshop, I had the pleasure of teaching a few folks that I had never worked with before.  This added an additional layer of discovery to the day, as we shared our passions (two of my students were fellow devotees of the fountain pen) both shared and uniquely our own.  So, in tandem with my gratitude for the power of community, I am also immensely thankful for the ongoing sense of discovery that comes with it.  Whether that means the discovery of something altogether new to me, or learning more about something that I already love -- there are gifts to be had from the coming together that we never encounter when we are on our own.

From the name of this endeavor to the logo that represents us, Your Creative Connection is dedicated to the expansion of creativity in community.  As our behind the scenes preparations build in intensity, we are likewise feeling the building excitement as we cruise on toward October.  It's not too late to join us!  What are you waiting for?  Register today, and join our circle of creative women!  New discoveries, adventures, and friendships await.  We'll see you soon!

Thankful Thursday – Cell Phones, Flexibility, and Simple Pleasures

Greetings!  Have you ever stopped to consider that the technology that we walk around with everyday is more powerful than the 1st (or 2nd or 3rd) computer that many of us ever owned?  It really boggles the mind – my mind, anyway!  It is so much more than a phone, and yet it is not quite a replacement for sitting down in front of the computer…  I learned the hard way this week that mobility isn’t always everything that it is cracked up to be, but with a few quick work-arounds the job is quite easily dispatched.

That takes me to my second thankfulness for this week:  flexibility.  Not unlike the studies that highlight the myriad benefits of autonomy in the work place, a good partnership allows for a fair amount of wiggle room in the face of all that Life can bring our way.  As the astute reader might have gathered with this post being a tad late, I was in need of that bit of kindness this week.  Not all of Life’s surprises are unpleasant, and it is nice to be able to “roll with it” when the more pleasant ones come our way.  If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of surprise reservations for a long-anticipated dining experience, lean in – accept and be amazed – be thankful – be gracious – be flexible.

I have enjoyed some of my most favorite things, recently:  time outside, *in spite of the heat!* kayaking, star-gazing, and (a new favorite thing?) camping (!) *in spite of vicious, biting bugs!*  While most of these I do every chance I get, the camping thing is pretty new to me (since it has easily been 30+ years since I last did it with any regularity).  No, we don’t have ALL the comforts of home but we have enough to make the lacking livable…  There is something magical about watching the moon rise over a lake, seeing the bejeweled night sky reflected on its glass-smooth surface, and hearing the chorus of hundreds of tree frogs after the heat of the day has faded.  Moments to treasure and anticipate enjoying again – simple pleasures, awaiting our notice, there for the taking…  Lucky are we!

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Until next time,
 - PLA

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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.

Thankful Thursday - Pets, Poetry, and Human Kindness

For as long as I can recall, there has been a dog in my life…  As a child, we often had more than one.  During my late teens and early 20s, I was often the “god mother” of a friend or family member’s dog(s) when I was not able to have my own.  There has been the odd cat (or three), a handful of gold fish/betas, and the errant rodent (hamster, gerbil, etc.) over the years; my heart has always gravitated toward the canine, though…  Last week was a particularly difficult one, as I said good by to my latest canine campanion – the lovely Wito left this world on 6/12/18.  She adopted us over 11 years ago, and it seems a great deal more still in this place since she took her leave.

RIP Lady Wito Marie Arrowood -- You were dearly loved and will be sorely missed

RIP Lady Wito Marie Arrowood -- You were dearly loved and will be sorely missed

Grief has an inimitable way of staunching the flow of creativity.  It mutes the stimulation of the larger world – blocking things, as though in a cocoon – sounds are muffled, colors dimmed, and joys diminished.  I find that turning to the creative works of others is both comforting and inspiring at such times.  A long-time admirer of the poet Mary Oliver, I immediately recalled this gem in the days that followed Wito’s last.

As grateful as I am for the privilege of having had this dearest of dogs in my life for over a decade, and for the means with which I have found solace in her absence, I am fully amazed and so mightily thankful for the kindness of my various circles of humans.  My spirits have been repeatedly lifted in the past week by words of comfort from friends far and near.  I have said often that I am so, so very lucky.

A sentiment to treasure from a precious friend (the art and words of  Brian Andreas ):  comfort and inspiration, hand in hand.

A sentiment to treasure from a precious friend (the art and words of Brian Andreas):  comfort and inspiration, hand in hand.

It seems that Life holds no shortage of reminders of this fact.

…and that only gives me all the more for which to be thankful!

Until next time,
 ~ PLA

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Thankful Thursday - Natural Beauties

Lately I find that the natural world is informing my creative work more and more.  While I cannot clearly express the ‘why’ of this, I am immensely grateful for these ongoing occurrences.  It is interesting to me that there doesn’t seem to be a singular theme to this trend – it’s not only references to trees, or water, or birds – it’s the whole of it:  the grimy inconveniences and unfortunate turns of the weather along with the Magritte-esque skies and Monet-like moments among the lily pads.

I just love the reflection of the trees and sky in the water, here...

Whether I am capturing the essence of a place, as in my Oceansong series, or jotting a quick Haiku to remember a moment:  it is increasingly the beauties of nature that appear – again and again.  One might argue that perhaps I am a bit more aware and therefore more receptive to these cues; however, it seems ‘bigger’ than that (?)  Whatever the impetus, I am loving the outcome!

Oceansong I -- an ode to the colors and songs of the sea

My latest workshop offering also takes a turn on the carousel of loveliness provided by the profundity of this time of year.  Print Naturally is a fun-filled look at nature printing with the GELLI Plate (a synthetic gelatin plate for monoprinting).  I absolutely love the riotous merging of Spring into Summer – everything is so fresh and lush and GREEN.  Trees, vines, shrubbery, and agricultural endeavors blend harmoniously into the most amazing assortment of hues – it can be somewhat overwhelming!?  Later in the Summer, everything gets so bedraggled from the heat and battering of summer storms.  But now, NOW things are at their verdant peak!  *sw00n!*

Print Naturally -- a workshop that focuses on capturing the beauties of nature

An added bonus to the Your Creative Connection experience is the copious beauty of the locations for each of our events.  All of the photos on our website were taken at the Haw River State Park, where we will convene for four glorious days of creative exploration in October.  The play of light through the trees, the gentle breeze whispering its secrets to the Long Leaf Pines, and the twinkle of stars in a clear night sky…  We can hardly wait to revel in this hide-away of natural inspiration with you!  Registration is quick and easy – you can reserve your seat today with the payment of your deposit ($150).  Please note:  today (05/31) is the last day to take advantage of our 3-payment option.  Take a look around, and please contact us with any questions or concerns.

Until next time!
 ~PLA

Thankful Thursday - Options

Years ago, before the advent of personal GPS units and Smart Phones, I learned a valuable lesson from the man who would become my husband – which he had learned from his father, a retired Army Special Forces Sgt. Major:  Always have three (3) ways to get to and from where ever you are going.  At the time, and respective to the issue at hand (primarily, ensuring that you had an alternate route to avoid delay and/or aggravation), it was impactful enough.  Over 20 years later, I find that that simple notion has informed virtually every area of my life in one way or another…

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In my most recent incarnation as an Artist and Instructor, “I am all about having options” might well be considered my Mantra (!)  I often open a workshop by informing my fellow artists that I am there merely to show them some ways to do A thing – not THE way to do some things.  In previous working and leadership positions, I have relied on entertaining multiple options as a means to involve the minds of all those involved in a project/event/undertaking – sometimes, the best ideas come from the team member least likely to interject.  Everyone appreciates feeling appreciated.  Creatively speaking, having options often equates to finding new ways to use old tricks/materials/mediums – it is a fun way to challenge myself and an easy way to keep things fresh/new.  As with any endeavor, having options can be the golden ticket to increased success, comfort, and/or safety for all involved.  What’s not to love about that?

Additionally, numerous studies now confirm that increased productivity and autonomy (aka:  Options) are directly linked in the workplace*.  It stands to reason that these findings would hold true in other areas of Life, yes?  Having options, or autonomy, or the sense of freedom that they impart instills a happiness that only heightens our joy and lightens our load.

If one is allowed to choose what they are remembered for, I should like to be fondly recalled for having spread joy, offered ease, and smoothed the rough edges of this world – even if only for a while.  What ways can you offer yourself options in the next week?  How might you develop that action into a habit?  I’d love to hear how having different approaches works for you!  Leave a comment, here – or drop us a comment on Facebook.

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Alas, like fine wine and lovely cheese:  nothing lasts forever.  So it is true that the end of this month (05/31) will bring to a close one of the Payment Options that we offer for our Your Creative Connection experience.  If you want to take advantage of our 3-Payment Installment Plan, act quickly – register today, and get your deposit in by 05/31.  Should you have any questions or concerns about registration, the content of the event, or something we have not addressed on the site:  please contact us!  Things are falling nicely into place behind the scenes.  We'll have LOADS more to share in the coming weeks & we can't wait to see you in October! 

Until next time!
 ~ PLA

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*Based on articles at:  Business Insider, Phys.org, Harvard Business Review, and Inc.

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

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Thankful Thursday - Celebrating 6 Months

It’s hard to believe that it has been 6 months of Thankful Thursday goodness, but it has!  In that time, we have shared our gratitude for people, places, and things that bring us happiness.  It has been a wonderful reminder to seek that which brings the good, lightens the load, and acknowledge that which makes our paths a little easier to travel.

Today I am grateful for all that we have had to be thankful for as well as all that awaits us.  I am grateful for lessons learned and opportunities presented.  I am grateful for the treasures of yesterday and the gifts of tomorrow.  I am grateful for everyone who is taking this journey into creative exploration with us!  Here’s to many more months of thankfulness.

Until next time,
 ~ PLA

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