Thin Spots

There are places on this earth that speak to me. A calming and soothing voice that lets me drop my “competitor/survivor” facade and truly relax. A friend and former Pastor, Russ once described such places as “thin spots”, or a place where you can connect to the “Sacred” more easily. One of my thin spots is Seacliff Beach in Aptos, California. Even on the rainiest of days I can easily slip into meditation or find the often talked about “zone” that artists get into, where thoughts cease and time stops having meaning. This week, I have had the fortune (Thank you GH) to spend a lot of time at Seacliff, relaxing and recharging my emotional batteries. My wish is that everyone could find at least one thin spot where they can lay down their woes and find some peace. NamasteIMG_4403

Take time to play…

Sometimes you’ve just gotta take time to play. Today in the post, I got a trio of small plastic, poseable figures. I had plenty of things to do, from sketches and designs for clients to vacuuming and laundry, you know… important things! But, as soon as I broke the seal on that box, I fell down the rabbit hole into the magic world of play! I was lost to time and reality. I posed my little people and started a photo shoot. Three hours later (yes, 3) and just short of starting to sew them costumes (it’s on the agenda for later) I realized how much joy, the simple act of playing was giving me. Oh, the freedom! I am determined to “take time to play” more often in the future, even if I have to schedule it.

Ch-Cha-Changes

I can’t believe that the first month and a half of 2017 is spent. I have been meaning to post something since the first part of January (ummmm, shrug) 2017 has already proven to be a busy one! I’ve had a hasty relocation of habitation and creativity. Yes, that’s right, I’ve moved home and studio. New beginnings, new opportunities, renewed meditation practice.

I’m trying to stay optimistic and positive about the new world that I find myself in (both physically and politically). There will be challenges this year, some of them very difficult. I won’t give into fear and anger. “With the presence of great understanding and freedom in us, we can embrace hardships countless times without fear” -Thich Nhat Hahn. I will try my best to practice compassion, towards those that I support as well as those that I disagree with. I will remember my blessings (I have many) and try to live in the gratitude for all wonderful things in my life.

So, I’ve gotten settled in my new abode (more or less). Now to put my studio in to some semblance of order. I long to fall back into the rhythm of spending days in front of the easel/drawing table, drinking copious amount of coffee/tea.

Oh, the wind and the rain!

Winter weather is finally here! Blessed rain falling in sheets outside the window of my little retreat. The birds flock to the bird feeder between downpours. I find myself staring out the window enraptured by the power of nature. Now, those that live in a rainy climate might not be so enthused by so much rain but here, in California, where we are in the throes of a long drought and go months without seeing water fall from the sky are downright rapturous.

One upside for me in particular, is that the rainy weather inspires my creativity. I have been non-stop drawing and painting since the rain began a few days ago. “In the zone” my biggest concern is not confusing my paint water for my tea (I have mistakenly ingested plenty of paint water in my life). It’s all rain water color bliss!fullsizerender-11

Let’s go to the video…

The social media learning curve can be so sharp, that you meet up with your back end somewhere along the journey. Oh, I want all the bells and whistles when it comes to my social media pages and posts. My latest post madness is video. Now, I’m no videographer and I don’t have a child living in or near my house, so it’s all up to me to learn. Ugh!

So many options out there: do I shoot video with my digital video camera, my iPhone, my GoPro? What app do I use? iMovie, GoPro, Videoshop? and where do I get a manual for these tools that I can read? Yes, I want an actual physical manual that I can read and jot notes in (I’ve discovered that they barley exist anymore).

I’ve found that the best resource to answer all of these questions and then some is my good friend YouTube. You want to know how to change the battery in your GoPro, watch YouTube. You want the easiest way to edit video in iMovie, watch YouTube. You want to know how to shave a llama, yes, that is on YouTube also.

Today marked my first day on the video path. A little trial and error, and the realization that I have a whole lot left to learn. But, here it is my first video. 14 sec. of success:)

What’s the Point?

fullsizerender-2I am obsessed to know what tools other artists use to create their works of art. I’m always in search of something new and exciting to try. Be it pens, ink, paint, brushes, paper, a new phone app…. yes, obsessed.

So today, I thought that I would share my favorite pencils, erasers and sharpeners.img_1296

From front to back: Wooden Pencil – Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB, oh so smooth and reliable. Mechanical Pencil – Sakura 127 0.7 lead, a fairly inexpensive pencil, but it feels good in my hand and gives me detail lines. Lead Holders – Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth Versatil, sturdy all metal body has a great heft to it, feels like driving an Audi. Rotring Art Pencil, nice tapered barrel (like a dip pen) gives this lead holder a super comfortable balance. I can draw with this all day and not suffer hand fatigue. Koh-i-nor Hardtmuth 5.6mm lead holder with the handy sharpener in the lid. Like driving a semi tractor trailer, big and bold strokes. Palomino Dual Sharpener (I love the Palomino pencils too). Staedtler lead sharpener, keeps everything pointy for super fine detail work. Lastly, my favorite graphite eradicators: Tombow Mono Zero, I actually use both the round and the rectangle shapes, you can really pull out details with these little guys. Moo PVC eraser is fairly new to my toolbox. It picks up graphite better than the art gum eraser I used to use. I actually will cut my own shapes from these erasers depending on the areas I need to erase.

Today’s Fish

img_6598Back in the studio today with the watercolors. I am fascinated with goldfish. It is probably my most drawn and painted subject of the H2O project (I could easily paint them every day). I love the roundness of their bodies and their floaty fins, looking as if they are dressed up to go to a social event or wedding.

1,443 Miles with Myself

fullsizerender-8There are 1,443 miles between my house and my brothers house. I make the trip at least once a year. This year I’ve driven it twice. I used to fly because it’s quicker, but now I prefer to drive. Driving allows me the opportunity to take my french bulldog, Fergus with me (it’s hard to find anyone that truly wants to watch him, he’s a bit ummmmm…. special).fullsizerender-7

It also lets me spend a lot of time with myself. Thinking, dreaming, planning, scheming, singing at the top of my voice, meditating on the endless numbers of colors in our incredible world, wondering at the natural design of mesas and joshua trees, rolling down the windows and smelling the cool evening air. Alone with my thoughts, I am free to go as far with them as I want to or stay as focused on a single detail just as easily. I remember things that I thought that I had forgotten, gathering lost thoughts like a spring bouquet. I think silly things and serious things, I remember people that I haven’t talked to or seen in a while or people whom I’ve lost in my life, remembering the good and sad. I sort through regrets and sorrows, victories and wishes for my future. I think about the Creator a lot. Sometimes have conversations with Her/Him. I have conversations in my head and sometimes out loud with characters as diverse as Ghandi and Picasso. I ask questions and imagine replies. Sometimes the conversation is with myself. Giving myself advice about staying focused and then laugh at the absurdity of that notion.

With every one of these trips I get know myself better, come to terms with my oddities and learn to appreciate who I am. As I greet the sun, or watch it sink below the horizon I am reminded to be grateful for the opportunity to spend 1,443 miles with myself.img_6206-2

Something Old, Something New

koilrgThis is an older painting of mine. By old, I mean it was done months ago (April 11th to be exact). Time is definitely relative to someone who spends every day painting (sigh). I love the the blue and orange complementary colors, the arch of the fish’s body and those crazy ripples. I distinctly remember the day that I painted this was one of those spring days where the weather starts out chilly in the morning, but by afternoon the sun has warmed things a bit and you really start to smell the promise of spring turning to summer. I remember it so well because it was the day I dusted about 3 inches (okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit) of accumulated winter dust off of the patio table, and brought my art supplies outside to paint. A day of ease, where painting isn’t a struggle or frustration… a day of magic. Whenever I see this image I’m transported back, whatever my present struggle or frustration gets forgotten and that same ease seeps into my bones and relaxes me. So, yesterday when I posted this print in my amazon.com/handmade/jcampbell shop, I was hoping that where ever these prints end up, they bring viewers the same ease and magic.