Monday, July 28, 2014

Vacation: I'm Still Away!

It's been almost 3 weeks since I returned from my vacation in Florida and even though I am going through the motions of being home, I can't seem to settle in. I believe my heart is still there.

Just before I left for vacation, we had a string of bad luck. Seems everything in the house decided to stop working. One right after the other. I won't go into specifics, but I am sure you have all had a similar experience. You just seem dazed, wondering when its going to stop already!

Some  things, however, are a blessing in disguise. I moved into this house about 12 years ago and was excited to have this wonderful HUGE side by side refrigerator.

End of excitement.... as every day passed I came to dislike it more and more. THERE WAS NO ROOM for anything wider than a dinner plate in either the refrigerator side or the freezer side.

The day we left for vacation, our new refrigerator was delivered, so I never saw it until I got home. I knew it would take some getting used to, but I never imagined that I would come to love it more and more as each day passed. It's not even an expensive one and it doesn't even have 'water in the door'. What it does have, however, is ROOM.... SPACE...for everything and anything.


Did I happen to mention that I LOVE IT? 

So, that said, even though I haven't quite settled back into real life from vacation, I HAVE been able to paint a little.

I pulled out a painting of a girl that I created a while ago and was never able to finish. 

and.... I finished her.

This little string of bad luck and disarray in my life spawned a real pity party. And, like most artists, you either wallow or you paint through it. 

I chose to paint.

What started out as a release, soon became a heart light direction. As I painted, I was thinking about how awful it was for me to feel so terrible about such small things (broken appliances) in comparison to those facing life and death.  

This painting put my feelings about a broken microwave into perspective.
I even used bright colors which are not in my comfort zone. 

I actually read the post of a dear friend on facebook (and a cancer survivor, herself) and I realized that I had always paid special attention to her posts because she continually seemed to know how to make a wonder out of every moment in her life. Some good and some not, but appreciative, none the less. Thank you, Bonnie, for keeping me grounded.

I was on a roll and the inspiration was returning with each piece I completed. 

A while back, I was involved in a card swap and I painted girls' heads that were to go on the front of the cards. I loved drawing them and coloring them with my Copic markers. I made quite a few as I enjoyed it so much. So... I dug out one of my favorites and created a painting I love.

It began with a watercolor background and the tracing of a stencil with a white signo uniball pen. I stenciled with red ink and distressed the edges with the same ink.

I thought these colors matched this girl so well, but still wasn't sure where to take this. I pulled some matching papers out of my very small stash and started playing with them.

Then I knew.... she was my muse... my inspiration.

I hope you all can follow my lead and put your bad days into perspective. When you do, you will come to appreciate every breath God intended you to have.

foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.
                                                                                          ~ Buddha


Saturday, July 19, 2014

New Soap Recipe - No Palm or Palm Kernal

This has been weighing very heavy on my mind for a long time. It seems that I've finally been successful in creating a soap without the use of  Palm oil or Palm Kernal oil.

After a few years of watching what the manufacturing of these oils does to the global environment, I've decided that even though I am a small user of these oils, I should be able to eliminate them from my soaps and contribute just a little less to this problem. 

How does palm oil destroy the rainforests?

Expansion of palm oil in IndonesiaExpansion of palm oil in Indonesia
Since oil palms need a rainforest climate – consistently high humidity and temperatures – and a lot of land, plantations are often established at the expense of rainforests. About 90 percent (2011) of the world’s palm oil is currently being produced in Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia’s oil palm plantations alone already cover nine million hectares, an area the size of the state of Maine. 26 million hectares are projected for 2025.
According to a report published in 2007 by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), palm oil plantations are currently the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia. Today, rainforest area the equivalent of 300 soccer fields is being destroyed every hour.
This gives rise to numerous problems for the climate, environment, and people living in the forest:
CO2 emissions – In preparing rainforest land for a palm oil plantation, the most valuable trees are cut down and removed first. What remains is cleared by burning. If the forest was on peatland – as is the case in much of Indonesia – the land is drained. Peatlands store vast quantities of carbon, and the conversion of a single hectare of Indonesian peatland rainforest releases up to 6,000 tons of CO2. Tropical deforestation is currently responsible for about 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, making it a significant contributor to climate change (see 4. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC).
Loss of biodiversity – Indonesia's rainforests and peatlands are among the world's most species-rich environments and home to numerous endangered plants and animals, such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Bornean rhinos. The destruction of natural habitats deprives the animals of the basis for their existence, causing an irreversible loss of biological diversity.
Orangutans are particularly vulnerable because they are dependent on large contiguous forest areas. In search of food, they often get lost in the plantations, where they are regarded as pests. According to the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), at least 1,500 orangutans were clubbed to death by palm oil plantation workers in 2006 alone. According to the UN, there is a risk that no wild orangutans will remain outside of protected areas by 2020.

I have replaced the Palm Kernal Oil I have used for years in my soaps with Shea Butter and Jojoba Oils. 

The result is pretty darn good if I may say so myself. Here is the latest batch of Lavender Soaps using these new oils.

All future soap recipes will be made using these new oils instead of Palm Kernal and I can assure you that they will be just as luxurious as our previous recipe.

I am very excited!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Etsy Shop Sale: 15% OFF everything through July 31st

There is a sale running in my Etsy Shop, TommyJoVilello
through the end of July.

15% off ANY item in the shop.

Use Coupon code: Summer15

Just click here to start shopping!

Vacation is Over: Artistry is in Full Swing

Though my vacation to Florida is over and I miss my family terribly already, not having my hands in art for that time has made me want to draw and paint every minute. I can't seem to settle down into 'real' life.

Before I update you, I want to thank Jeanette MacDonald and Sandee Setliff for participating in the blog hop and "link to artists" with me. If you read my sordid (and quite personal) blog post for this hop, I hope you linked out to their blogs and read a little about them. These are two amazing artists who I love and admire.

So.... Florida.
It was wonderful and full of emotion for me. My son celebrated his marriage and renewed commitment to his family in a lovely ceremony.


The reception afterwards was more like a party with some AWESOME traditional moments. Like this one, where my grandaughter got her dad good! Go Olivia!


The groom was as HANDSOME as evvvvvvver
The bride was Gorgeous
The love of their lives/flower girl was the perfect little diva of the day.


I had lots of family time (the highlight of the trip for me (I am a sap, I know). But who wouldn't be with the BEST family ever.


The twins got to spend time with their #2 Mom and brothers.


Waking up to the beach everyday was just the most wonderful experience.

So.... Florida. 
The return home was not so wonderful, but was equally emotional as I left my kids behind. Not enough time with my daughter and son.

The only art I created on this vacation was a page (in my journal) on the plane. I had no color with me, only black, gold and silver. Not bad and it sure made the flying time pass quickly.

But, as I said, all I want to do now is paint. I don't want to come back to the real life... grocery shopping, cleaning, school registration for the twins, etc...

So, my first whole day back, I created a painting that was inspired by the emotion of missing my sister, Tracy (who was with me in Florida) and the emotion of missing my sister, Robin (hence the winged sister).

As I take time to reacclimate my self with being back in Utah, I am working hard to become 'homey' again. 

Picking home grown veggies and making homemade meals.

To become an active artist again.
To getting my etsy shop 'off vacation' mode.
Like the little engine that could, I ,too, can do this... I think I can. I think I can. 

So... all this thinking has brought about some positivity in the direction I want to go and with how much force I want to push.

There will be more movement in the Etsy Shop and I have made an even bigger decision that I will share a little later.

It is a big step in bravery for me, so stay tuned :)


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Artist Blog Hop; My First Ever

Do you even know what an "Artist Blog Hop is? Well, I had no idea when I was asked to participate by an artist friend (and one of my mentors) Sandee Setliff. She probably figured out real fast how unseasoned I am in this journey, so i am thankful for her patience with my incessant questions.

I found out quickly, that a blog hop is a way to expose each blogger's readers to other blogs that might interest them. The idea of supporting other artists that I love and follow was exciting. The idea of being supported and shared was also exciting, even if a little nerve racking... ha ha

I was asked to answer four questions that might tell others what makes me tick. Perhaps, give them some insight into the mind of an artist introvert.
So, here goes:

What Am I Working On Now?

Unlike most artists who are creative in their craft every day, I find I create in my mind every minute (often seen as my disengagement from life). I only create on paper, canvas, or my computer when I am so inspired that I can't hold it in any longer.

Just recently, I sketched about a song that has been on my mind ever since the warmer temperatures seemed to be here to stay, "Here Comes The Sun".

I've been practicing whimsical lettering, so this is how I wrote the song title . On another evening, I colored this piece with my Copic markers (my addiction) and then mounted it on scrap paper.

I'm currently working on adding two more pieces to my International Girlz series. Prints of the first four are already available in my Etsy Shop. I am hoping to add Spain and Persia soon.

I seem to always have a work in progress and this is the most current:

Probably the most important project I am working on is my word of the year, COURAGE.... the courage to move forward in my artist life, but more importantly, the courage to expose my art to others.

How Does My Work Differ From Others?

I believe that mixed media art is created similarly by most artists. We learn and try and learn and try some more. Often, these techniques are the same that other artists are using. The difference lies only in our inspiration from piece to piece. Our styles develop after we have learned from (and tried copying) the techniques of others.

Going through this process continuously, I have learned that my love is in creating Whimsical and Inspirational GIRLZ. So, although I create many different pieces involving different subject matter, I always seem to gravitate back to that which I love.


Some say I am the 'border queen' because just about everything I create ends up with a border (I don't do negative space very well). 

I struggle with negative space a lot in my scrap booking, too. Minimalist pages are very difficult for me to create and even more difficult for me to consider 'finished.'

Why Do I Create What I Do?

This is very easy - I do what I do because I spent many years of my life not understanding why I couldn't feel true love or happiness in my heart. I always loved art, but never thought I was very good at it.

~ this gets a little personal, so turn your head if you have a queasy stomach for slobbery :)

I was raised by strict parents who expected you to be the best or you shouldn't bother. 

My relationships failed because, if I couldn't make them perfect, I just gave up.

Every mistake I ever made in life saddled me with so much guilt that it became difficult to make the simplest decision for fear that it would be wrong and crippling.

In this 'autumn of my life, with some counseling and a LOT of retrospect, I decided to work on my courage. The courage to accept that I didn't have to be perfect or the best (so subjective anyway). I just tried to let go and thought maybe in doing so I might actually come to feel love and joy in my heart. 
So, ...I just started trying and doing all of the things I thought I couldn't .

As I slowly moved forward in this art life that I LOVE, I realized that many girls ( and women) were raised the same as me. They had to be struggling with the self esteem that never developed, just like me. And, I found that with every painting I created, it didn't seem to matter if others thought I was a great artist. All that mattered was that I loved doing it and I was proud of my pieces. 

 I always saw a message in what I painted. It was a message to me and those like me. The message was to stand self assured that you are good enough just as you are. Be proud to be you, spread your love and kindness to others and in doing so, your heart will feel love in return.

Art makes me happy .....that is why I do what I do. 

How Does My Creative Process Work?

There really isn't a method to my art madness. When I am inspired, I think constantly (OK, I obsess) about HOW I want to see a painting (or scrap page) created. When my head is about to burst, I spread out all of my 'stuff' (art supplies) or I settle in front of my computer and begin...

If I haven't lost you and you are still reading along, I hope you will come back and visit often (maybe even subscribe).

This journey has brought quite a few wonderful artists into my life. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to visit the blogs of two of these artists that I admire and love. I think you will, too.

Sandee Setliff, an artist and friend who has taught me a lot about being strong and prideful in my art. 

Hi everybody! I am Jeanette. The things I enjoy most about my life are getting to share time with friends and family, contemplating what my life purpose is, and writing and painting about those thoughts.
Oh, I mustn't forget my pug, Sydney. She has been my long time companion and she is semi-famous.
I create whimsical and colorful art from the heart that tends to reflect where I am in my life. 
Come on over to my blog to find out more. See you there!