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Please accept these unpretentious flowers

How did flowers evolve?

From happiness.

What gave them their fragrance?

Love.

I hope all moms received plenty of flowers today. They are a thing of enormous beauty, and they can say everything without words, just like art.

I also hope you are showing your love to your mom while there is still time enough, and you are not too late with your “I love you mom!”

It is so easy to love a small child; it takes more than superficial attraction to love genuinely very old people. To understand them and to appreciate, and to be grateful they are with us. Moms of people who belong to my generation are getting close to 90.

Thankfully, my mom is still doing lots of good things, sewing and gardening, not to mention small daily stuff like dishwashing, or cleaning. She loves flowers, so I sent her some, although, the Ocean is between us, that cannot stop us from exchanging some words on the phone or over Skype. The distance has the ability to make things clearer and more valuable. Simple words can get a new meaning.

Well, I was not very productive recently, but I have made some watercolors for cards, something unsophisticated, but sincere.

Happy Mother’s Day to every mom, grandmother and great grandmother! I hope your kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren are blessings to you.

Pansies for Mother's Day

Please accept these unpretentious flowers as small thank you for everything you are to your children!

To find a bit of lasting happiness

Well, some of you probably noticed, I wasn’t posting for almost 2 weeks. Quite a while, but I obviously was busy, and the art blog starts to put a bit of pressure on me because I love inserting illustrations, but don’t have them ready sometimes.

It was a fairly important date last week: my studio-gallery has been 5 years at its current location, in Whitby, Ontario. It was the 5th anniversary since I started Art plus Life. Wondering where is … plus life? The other blog will come soon.

Although, I didn’t think it was a very remarkable date at first, as I scrolled through all pictures (I have many thousands of them), I could see that there has been huge progress, in fact, and a lot has been achieved and done during these 5 years.

I will not try to comment on all pictures, but since I thought seeing was more than telling, here we go: please have a look at the retrospective pictures gallery.

I started out with one student. I had 2 students after a week, and some more joined after a month. Wednesday class was the first one to become regular once a week class, with small interruptions it has been running since fall 2012. Teens Tuesday class was on since March 2012, as well. I started to hold Saturday workshops only about 8 months ago, it proved to be useful thing, so these will continue next September.

I look at these pictures, and it is hard to describe the mixed feelings: sort of satisfaction, sort of so much work in preparation, and lots of happiness, I have to admit. When most people come to this studio, they start from zero, since they have never drawn or painted before. We learn about paints, colors, brushes, papers and canvasses. I have been watching many talents unfolding and I have seen many depressed, exhausted and desperate persons turning into happy ones.

The Wednesday group feels like a family, we’ve been together for a long time. Diana used to be in this group, as well, but her life made a jump, and so we regretfully are not seeing her. Well, we welcome new students all the time, and the most incorrect assumption one can have is this one: painting and drawing is for those who want to be artists. Not at all! It is for everybody, to find peace, to rejoin with their soul, to spend great time, to make a good use of days when the weather is bad, to conquer addictions, to overcome fear and lack of confidence, to find a bit of happiness.

 

I have been working on my creeks which students already got done, and the brown cottage is our current project.

Recent art projects for adult painting classes

It’s clear that we are excited about blue at the moment.

Recent works in progress

To put some nice accent on this round date: 5 years, a show, sale and hands-on event follows in June 6 and 7.

 

To praise the divine, to overcome the dullness of routine

By far, my life hasn’t been a fairy-tale, but rather continuous attempt to prove that our powers exceed the known limits we have put ourselves within.  I believe that talk solves nothing. I am deeply convinced that too much fake positivism and superficial “everything is fine” statements can actually cause harm. When our intentions remain only as to-do-lists, there is no result. There is huge gap between the real action and intent.

We often hear that life is not fair. Well, life as such is fair and fine, it is humans who make things become unfair and unfavorable for others.

Therefore, I wish there was much less pretending that everything is fine and much more doing in order it was like that.

For me, praising the divine does not mean unstoppable talking about it. That means bringing the beauty to people and making them understand how little, in fact, we need to experience the most valuable things on this Earth. There would be much less suffering if one day we had opened our eyes and started calling things their correct names. Becoming realistic is not a bad start.

The daily routine is absorbing plenty of time and taking large amounts of energy. People who are not rich have to deal with this whether they are happy with it or not.  Even though, I could do so many useful and exciting things instead of cleaning up and washing dishes or cooking, that is not going to change. I do everything fast, and I have a prevention system in place: to avoid general cleaning, I do not allow any dirt or messes to accumulate. I spend 12 hours or more a day quite often on medical writing. That is the job I make my living with. I wish I earned my living with teaching and doing art, but that is a bit of unreal idea at the moment.

The other energy drainer is my health conditions. Thankfully, I have a huge medical knowledge, so I can realistically access my options. I deal with that, too, as good as I can, and I do not pretend these conditions are going away or disappearing, because they are not. Not all wounds can be healed with good intentions and positive attitude: some take surgeries and some take long treatments. However, I refuse to be completely limited or defined by these conditions. Whining or crying is not going to help, so I am a realist and I am setting for me reasonable goals. This does not mean having a negative attitude; this is just honestly evaluating the situation and having it under control.

I have inherited love to the nature and all Gods creations from my great grandparents, grandparents and my parents. I strongly believe that family either makes one creative and resourceful or completely ignores this necessity by not appreciating the great experiences and benefits creativity has to offer, although, this does not always mean any financial benefits. I am genuinely thankful I have all skills and knowledge to dress myself, sew and design my clothes and outfits, to grow my own garden plants , flowers and vegetables, to cook fantastic meals with little efforts, to decorate my living space and create all necessary items for that and so on and so forth. This is all because of my family. Somebody might call me workaholic, but I hate simply sitting around and doing nothing. I cannot recall any single episode of my childhood or earlier years when I had to admit I was bored. I was always busy. Trying to make something from nothing. That is a great way to, a great way to live since I am seeing some opportunity just about everywhere.

Spring flowers for greeting cards

I am sending flowers to my mom every time whenever there is some important day or some celebration because I know she appreciates and loves them. We are far away, the Ocean is between us, but we can talk on Skype. My husband gives me flowers on every occasion, not only when there’s a celebration or birthday, but just for pleasure, as well. I have always fresh flowers around me, many are potted. I believe he does this because he knows how I am talking to plants and how much I enjoy them. They respond with adorable blooms and never-ending beauty.

Apple blossoms and butterflies for greeting cards

I feel that my duty is to teach other people to enjoy things which are not that costly, but rather a true source of happiness, pleasure and satisfaction. It would be tough going through life without art and beauty. The importance of brain fitness is completely ignored, but I am trying to make everybody aware how this can be achieved with simple sketching and drawing on a daily basis. If one can escape the age related dementia and loss of brain functionality just doing some visual art exercises, why don’t they do that? That’s a good question because physical body is always put first and mental and spiritual well-being is supposed to occur automatically which is absolutely and totally wrong.

I hope I’m doing my part and creating art pieces for our eyes to enjoy. To me, this means praising the divine every single moment not only in words, but with doing.

Robin nest Easter card

Robins nest: a greeting card, poster, art print, and wall art

Spring art prints flower wall art

View on the table of my paintings, originals are 16 x 12 inches each

Wall art for spring decoration

I struggled a lot to get the right colors on photos, some came out ok, some not that much

Butterflies and birds spring watercolor paintings

These are the new images for spring cards, Mother’s Day cards and cheerful prints to decorate our living space for warmer and lighter season. They look excellent as pillows, too, I cannot enjoy enough. Everything is available through Fine Art America at very moderate prices (link on the right side).

Pink rose watercolor painting Orange rose watercolor painting

Apple blossoms and butterfliesSpring tulips

Happy Easter and sunny spring for those who do not celebrate Easter!

Million shades of everything: experiment!

When somebody wants to try painting, they usually are not very excited about getting lots of materials. However, some people would like to have their own paints, at least some of them in order to work on sketches or perfect the scenes we have done during workshops.

Acrylic color mixing art classes for beginners

Did you know that using just ultramarine blue, primary magenta, cadmium yellow medium and titanium white, it is possible to mix up quite a few thousands of shades, and these mixes are pretty much unlimited taking into account how slight change in proportion would alter the color? We don’t usually use only premixed colors or paints straight from the tube. Everybody is aware that yellow plus blue allows mixing up greens, and red plus blue creates purple shades.

Acrylic color mixing art classes for adults

Adding yellow to different shades of blue and red causes the graying effect and results in fantastic variations of neutrals. Why do we need grey shades and background neutrals? Well, they make other colors shine. We don’t have to always paint sunsets in order to observe how yellow shines on a grey-blue or purple, but we often need those fairly saturated neutrals to build up some scene or object. They also give all objects more substance.

Acrylic color mixing experiment

One can have color charts and theory books and check out all available information on color mixing, yet not manage it when it comes to painting. How so? We know many things in theory. Quite a lot of them, but when it comes to applying the theoretical knowledge in practice, everything is completely different. I’ve observed the following: we just discussed some approach or principle, and we are now about to use what we learned about it practically. What happens? Nothing. Theoretical knowledge without decent amount of practicing is worth zero.

Acrylic color mixing Spring paintings

We were doing a lot of spring scenes, roads and fences recently.

Acrylic color mixing workshop image

This is the image we got done within 3 hours.

I slightly adjusted it later, mainly trees.

Acrylic color mixing workshop Spring scene

Painting, drawing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument and similar can be only taught by explaining, showing and demonstrating. Plus theory which many people assume the most important part and that is not true. The rest is up to that person who wants to acquire new skills or ideas. Because they will have to do this on their own: they will have to use what they just saw or heard about practically, and they will be moving brush and adding colors. It is a great exercise for decision-making: we have to make a decision every second or even more frequently.

I’m always encouraging students to experiment. Experimenting and exploring is the key to knowledge. Why? There is never only one correct way of painting or drawing something. In fact, there are thousands of ways when we are trying to get similar results. Let’s take for example video tutorials. How to paint trees? How to paint clouds? How to paint forest? The answer is: whatever way you find it suitable for you because these tutorials will show how to paint trees according to X, or clouds as Y is seeing and perceiving them, and forest in a manner of Z, but A might consider such trees incorrect, and B will tell you that nobody should paint clouds like Y was doing them. If video material gives you push and you’re trying to figure it out after watching how effortlessly somebody has done it, fine. However, when you are one on one with brush and paints, things are not the same. The more paint colors you have, the more confused you might become. Well, many color mixes yield very close colors, especially in acrylic where everything will be much darker after it dries.

Do not allow anybody to steal the pleasure of discovery from you! Some people are very insecure initially since they believe they don’t know enough about painting to paint. Well, that’s just wrong. There are artists who have more experience, but nobody knows everything about everything. The other matter is that we develop our mastery and build experience only when we take creative risks and dare to explore and experiment. Therefore, experiment, experiment, experiment! It is good to ask a question when something is not happening the way you expected, but there is no need to check every single move on the internet and perform major search just because you are not sure whether to use blue-green or yellow-green on some spot. Do it your own way, it might take longer, but all efforts will pay off when you’ll have painted exactly what you were trying to.

These images show my efforts trying to take a decent picture of a wet painting in a poorly lightened room.

Acrylic color mixing Road to Spring

However, I quite liked two of these not ready for a website images:

Acrylic color mixing Spring scene

This has reflection because it was too wet.

Acrylic color mixing Spring painting

This came out darker than in reality

It is much better to have your own painting on the wall than some print. Print is a print, it will never have the energy of an original, therefore it makes sense to frame also kids art because it has that special touch. Does our art have to be perfect? We can certainly try to get to that stage, but absolutely flawless and impressive art is extremely rare. It sometimes happens, obviously not with every single piece. I’m doing this all the time: just working towards one great picture which will be the best ever.

Two major errors are these: beginners try to paint with hardly any paint, with a tiny droplet of it. In acrylic that means, it dries out almost instantly.

Acrylic paintings art classes for teens

The small poppies, just a 15 minute exercise, looks good on the wall, not that great as a picture.

Second: beginning artists always pay attention to color and most often absolutely no attention to value. We can change color in a second, but for any painting we need some kind of values placed accordingly to our plans. Therefore: experiment! So that you can meet the spring in nicely decorated house and use your own paintings for that purpose.

Road to spring acrylic painting by Inese Poga

Finally got a better picture which looks more than the real painting.

Is too much knowledge preventing you from getting started with something?

I’ve noticed when observing all kinds of students of different ages when they are about to pick up some new skill or try to do something they haven’t been trying before: too much preparation can result in never getting started with anything.

Children usually are very successful with absolutely new stuff: they don’t try to over-prepare and don’t try to collect all possible and imaginable tools and references in order to get started. That has been the case with anything in my very long teaching career: it was the same when I was teaching German language and literature, or Latvian, or design, or art.

We are flooded with huge amounts of information: every second, every minute when we have turned on TV or are sitting at computer, or are checking out our phone. This information can be related or totally unrelated, true or false, meaningless or crucial to whatever we are doing and we are supposed to absorb at least some of it. Should we? To some extent we obviously should be aware of what’s going on and do research when we are exploring something, learning something or trying to figure things out.

However, with so many sources and with such infinite amounts of advice, we most likely will feel rather lost.

This refers very directly to drawing, painting and any other creative activity. I know people who would not start drawing or painting because they assume they don’t know everything about it. They are trying to get ready for this activity, to learn “the basics”, to explore techniques and mediums in order to decide what exactly is that they’d like. Many of them never get to any drawing or painting. Why? There are millions of different techniques, approaches and ways to do that.

How it is then possible to find out whether painting is what one wants to do? Extremely simple: give it a try. Nobody knows everything about anything. We can follow hundreds of websites, we can watch thousands of “how to” videos and read endless articles or books about painting. There’s lots of advice out there, and some of that is even useful for us in particular, but most of it will not promote one’s start-up in art. Why not? We have to do before we can decide if we like that or not. Only those who get their hands on that something can hope to get something done.

Other good feature of students who don’t have too much knowledge is that they have no fear. They are not afraid to damage paper or canvas and they fearlessly apply courageous strokes of paint or put down lines on paper. That results in a good or satisfactory first painting. They do not think it is some kind of superb masterpiece but realistically evaluate it, try to understand what went wrong or didn’t come out as expected, and so they can keep improving themselves with the next painting. The knowledge comes through doing and that is the only way to gain experience. Experience is an excellent building block of mastery.

This is how hands-on activities are contributing to fast development of any skill: you see it happening and you try it immediately. Something went wrong: try it again. Watching other people doing and showing things can give us an idea about how we should proceed, but until we haven’t tried it out for real, we will never know how exactly it is done. We can learn all kinds of composition and color theories, but when the paint dries out fast and when the brush is moving, there’s no time to recall all lectures and articles. The way we can make our own color theory happen is to mix, to test, to check and to apply paint. This might take some time until the brain remembers what hands were doing and how this was matching our creative intentions, but eventually we will have it: our own elaborated theory on anything.

The first steps are the most difficult. Those who are afraid to get wet won’t ever learn swimming.

It will be interesting to compare some of these first works with art they’ll be doing in a year or two.

 

Gallery

The irreversibility of our life and pleasurable projects in pink

There is no “undo” command in our life. This makes everything we pursue, experience or achieve absolutely irreversible. Everything is a small moment, frozen in time. As I’m typing these words or you’re reading them, the past washes this second away and puts it in the big folder of our lifetime’s history. The cold sunrays of this disappearing day are pouring over the nearby rooftops and higher tree branches. This creates an illusion of warmth in the air. Yet, it is an illusion: as the quiet stream of twilight starts streaming in, we will find ourselves in even colder conditions, minus thirty or so.   How does this relate to pink projects? Very simple: when the environment is unfriendly, we should try doing something pleasant. Pleasant for me is drawing and painting something which takes me far away from this cold winter day and places in surroundings where I’d love to be. No tears, no regrets, no lost hopes: this is an easy mental transformation into a feeling-better-myself. We actually did similar project in the classroom. One project was all about yellow and orange, and the other was blooms and pink. These projects can be done by absolutely everybody whether they have any experience or not: they are as unsophisticated as one, two, three. Blossoms in pink watercolor project One: choose the reference image and draw the main lines with pencil or do a drawing from memory. Apple blossoms drawing Two: draw over lines which appear as being the most suitable with a black pen. Black ink can be used, as well, if somebody has it readily available. Apple blossoms drawing for art class Three: follow the reference image and your own feelings and apply colors which seem to you most fitting the drawing: one leaf or one petal at a time starting with light shades and going over in some spots with more intense color. Wash out connection lines with pure water. Drawings which do not look perfect at all become extremely beautiful with this approach. Pen and watercolor apple blossoms We were applying various shades of simply yellow, red, crimson red and dark red with blue. Apple blossoms pen and watercolor illustration These projects took us about 3 hours in total. Pink rose in watercolor, botanical illustration The rose was done in similar way, just skipping the black outline part. I had taken very many pictures during the last few weeks, but the flow of my time was so rapid, that I did not get a chance to share anything yet. I will have to post students’ works separately because there are quite a few. Pink blossoms: watercolor project for teens and adults It is amazing how it was impossible to get the correct colors in picture, so I took some photos just to compare with these paintings in context of surrounding environment, and they look much closer to how they are in reality. Just one more thing:  everybody can draw and paint and, therefore, create for themselves a beautiful rescue place from different troubles and hardships. However, we have to learn seeing things at first. This is almost like developing a much better perception of the surrounding world. We are used to see everything just walking by and running over. Now, it is time to stop and start noticing every line, every shade and later take a distance from it. That is the moment when we can put it on paper or canvas. Glue and watercolor cards We also created some three-dimensional, very quick glue and watercolor cards. They were effortless and fun to make, still look very nice. Hearts and red berries: glue and watercolor The instant internet presence in any move we make has also led people to slightly wrong understanding of being: everybody is comparing oneself to and competing with somebody else. I was reading the other day how one blogger felt unhappy because he thought his blog would be the best (how is that even possible, like generally the best?). Many people feel the same way when they try to express themselves artistically. The truth is: do it for yourself and your loved ones first and later you will see where this initiative or passion takes you. Mass media wants that: look at this and realize what you cannot. That is just so misleading, and it is also the wrong reason to become upset or unsatisfied, thus, giving up some nice thing which one has just started. Watercolor rose and apple blossoms: watercolor for teens and adults I’m also sending prayers to everybody who is on the road in bad weather conditions or those who need warmth. May you get home safe or find a cozy shelter.

Art projects for any age: unblocking path to our hidden resources

It has been a while, but that is exactly what happens when I get completely tied up with my medical work: hundreds of pages with tight deadlines for clinical trial brochures, consent forms, synopsis, protocol, so on and so on. This time it was a new treatment with autologous dendritic cells. I still have only a letter to general practitioner, and that’s it. Obviously, until next job.

We still had all scheduled classes and Fun and Pleasure painting, but my exhaustion was so huge, that I did not even look at the blog. I’ve been recovering after this for 2 days, and I’m finally able to post some pictures showing what we’ve been up to.

When somebody says art classes, other people usually understand by this practicing and learning for somebody who would like to be an artist or similar. That’s pretty much incorrect because as the current research reveals there is no other activity more beneficial to prevention of brain aging, avoiding loss of memory and related disorders than drawing, painting, sketching, working with paint and pencil. Its unique character involves boosting brain neurons and there were suggestions that brain aging is not inevitable. How so? Brain is just as any other part of our body, yet, it contains all the vitally important tools for regulating and managing the other systems. However, it’s crucial we keep exercising our brain every day, every hour and every minute because anything in our body which is not in use deteriorates and loses flexibility, it degenerates. Drawing connects the brain function with our fine motor functions, and does even more than language: it allows expressing feelings, emotions, states of our mind, mood, our character, hidden thoughts and memories. As we draw, our hand transfers the ideas onto paper, meaning it’s a reflection of the purest mental work, conversion of one type of energy into another. That is why drawing is used in determination of our brain functions, and it would signalize earlier than any other tests whether everything is still fine, or maybe it’s time to get advice.

We need to move and exercise all our body parts, but mental exercise increases the rate at which our new brain cells survive and make functional connections to the existing networks of neurons. The more active a particular brain cell is, the more connections it develops with its neighboring neurons. That is where art classes come in: as we learn, we intensively contribute to each line we are putting down on the paper or brushstrokes. This boosts out memory cells, therefore preventing them from cell death. Activities that require using all our senses, breaking our routines and engaging in new experiences are extremely good for brain health.

Age does not matter because it is equally important to have good memory in young and even more in old age.

Creative exercises like our Fun and Pleasure acrylic painting afternoons or watercolor exercises should not be undervalued. It seems like a play or some brushing around with different colors, but, in fact, it is a very strong brain ability booster.

I can tell by my own experience: I was reading a book a day and painting or drawing every single day for about 1 hour between ages 8 and 16. I was reading systematically through everything library had to offer. That involved history, geography, art, music, science of the corresponding century and so on. No, we didn’t have internet those times back in 70-s When I moved on and started to study at the University I was only 17 because thanks to this huge reading and art, I had developed a very efficient memory. Therefore, I hardly had to study because I was able to remember up to 60 pages of text which I read through within some half an hour using the diagonal approach. I still can remember every single tough term in texts which I was writing 5 years ago. I never have to make any lists and write notes to myself. In my case, drawing and painting showed enormously positive effect on memory, cognitive function, reasoning, etc. so far.

For young children, artistic activities are as important as physical exercising, especially because they are under-using their own cognitive ability due to the overuse of mobile devices.

We are always welcoming new participants in our art classes!

Plain and simple: creativity unblocks the pathways in our brain and gives us a chance to use our hidden resources, and there are so many.

Daisy field acrylic painting winter blossoms 3 winter blossoms 9 winter blossoms 6 winter blossoms 5 winter blossoms 8 winter blossoms 94 winter blossoms 92 tulips class daisies acrylic 027

Adding color to winter days

… feels right. Or a bit better than simply doing nothing. I was hoping to get done much more, but darkness is very restricting for me. Even though, I’m drawing and painting at electric light, I don’t like that at all. Sensitive colors and shades change insanely in different light, and the only correct painting light for me is the daylight. I’m obviously experiencing shortage of it.

As long as I remember myself, I never liked winter. I feel sorry for myself in winter. I feel that I deserve way better than this freezing air and this wet snow or icy wind gusts from around the corner. I am not trying to get up when I should, and staying up much longer than it is advisable or makes any sense. My productivity is down in winter and I can find all kinds of excuses to justify the wasted time. It might be so that I’m completely dependent on seasonal cycles of the nature. I’m a child of the sun, and darkness and cold are completely arguing with every living cell in my body and every single thought in my brain. Well, I know, I didn’t choose to be in winter, but I have to because of so many reasons and issues.

My only rescue medicine is art. It’s impossible to imagine how I would survive these dark months without colors, paints, sketches, drawings, ideas and paintings! Thankfully, these things occupy my brain and mind completely taking into a meditative state of no reaction to surroundings, problems or issues.

I believe I could show other people how we can fight these upsetting and lazy moods. The only times when I experience real flush of energy are before art classes, workshops and events. These give me wings and I’m bursting with fresh ideas and suggestions. I’m very generous when it comes to sharing ideas and new knowledge.

“Add color to your day” project is coming along, slowly, not without a resistance, but it is developing. I will eventually figure out how to implement three 1.5 hour sessions during the week in order to use only watercolor paints, allowing them to flow, taking away bad emotions, and therefore these sessions will be providing people who have similar winter moods with positive energy and opportunity to overcome the situations they’ve stuck in, that might be health or relationships, or our own nature, whatever. Color and art can cure everything, even people who are unable to physically perform something difficult. New images for these sessions are on the way.

To share with everybody a little bit of warmth, I’m attaching a few watercolors: poured on, washed out without using masking fluid, but the 15-minute ones have pen lines, as well.

January watercolor painting in warm colors

January watercolor in warm colors: we just kept pouring on different layers and glazing, and adding more and more … I know we should have used something like masking fluid, but there was no time to wait until everything is dry

 January watercolor Spring flowers

Sketch of flowers, we used pen and food wrap for this

Pen and watercolor sketch of poppies

Pen and watercolor sketch of poppies: it’s cold outside, but painting in warm colors helps

 

The New Year is here, it’s a good time to add some color to our life!

The New Year is here. We have welcomed it with all kinds of arrangements, we have new goals and new intentions, and we definitely should not forget the main person: the central figure which is I MYSELF. When we are exhausted, tired, burnt out or otherwise fed up with many routine things, bad outcomes, lack of energy, there is still something we can do in order to relieve these bad conditions which most often attack people during the cold and dark season. Well, the Sun has started to raise higher up in the sky, but days won’t be noticeably longer for a while yet.

While festivities are just yesterday’s experiences, it is fine. As we move along the winter’s path into February, the lack of bright sunlight, dullness of sky, freezing, cold, gusty winds, snow piles or icy sidewalks start to get on our nerves. Lucky people who are not tied up by their business duties or family issues go away to warm places. Not everyone can do that for many reasons, and so we just have to be in the middle of winter and go through it with hopefully good mood, excellent or tolerable health and smile.

Blog NEW YEAR is for making life brighter

We have tested one remedy and discovered how well it works. Immersing ourselves into color is such a blessing! It can be very tough sometimes to get ourselves up and going, but once we do, the pleasure about achievements and the feeling of not wasting time definitely outweighs the initial resistance and fear.

The effects of color and environment are much neglected, yet they play a huge role in our life! Small spaces, dark spaces and cold spaces, especially when the indoors temperature is fairly low, need to have some warn accents, warm and light wall colors. We can definitely fight the blues and upset moods with sunny and energetic colors. So, that’s why this year, hopefully in February I will introduce ADD SOME COLOR TO YOUR DAY artistic sessions. That will include working with colors, shapes and images either intentionally or unintentionally in order to achieve one goal: to improve our mood, recharge with fresh energy which we create straight on a sheet of paper or canvas, and to give ourselves the much-needed time for smelling the roses and getting lost in distant meadows of imagination where is only pleasant whether, the sky in color of our thoughts and the flowers of our dreams are blossoming. This does not take much, but gives plenty. Even to people who suffer from depressive or upset moods, anxiety and different mental disorders which have not reached the clinical grade yet.

Unlike other activities, there are no restrictions: people can paint at any age and any health conditions benefit from painting or drawing. Paper or canvas does not care how one looks like or how well one is dressed. Artistic activities take care of balance within us. They go even beyond that and help fighting cravings for food, alcohol and smoking. They keep one away from mobile devices and computers. Well, that is what art is: pure essence of us in a creative state. Once we fall in love with art, it never lets us down.

Fun painting Friends events

Our Holiday Fun and Pleasure afternoon

Fun and pleasure painting workshop

The interesting part is that except one lady (she is on the left) nobody else had painted before

Acrylic painting classes for adults

We were working from a sketch and following the steps

Poppy painting class

We painted a lot of poppies this past fall, but the demo version is not done yet, meaning, I had to go over and over the first layers for all groups, and I had no time to bring it to completion so far

Rose with her painting

This is getting close to finishing stage

Poppy painting sessions were very well attended

Poppy painting turned out to be one of the best painting sessions in 2014

Poppy acrylic painting session

Gwen working on her painting

Many pictures from classes did not get into last year’s posts; I simply was sometimes too busy. So, I’m adding some of pictures from the most recent classes and workshops now.

New students joined us

New students joined us, as well, and so their absolutely first paintings came out good

Connie and her poppy painting version

Connie and her poppy painting version

Our teen group loved painting poppies

Our teen group loved painting poppies, too

Adult acrylic painting class

Bev’s version was never published yet

Bhumika's second painting

I would say this is very good for somebody who just started out

Acrylic painting class for adults

Connie’s poppies

Acrylic painting workshop Whitby Ontario

Birch painting on sunset background was our number 2 taking into account finished paintings and participants evaluation

Sunset fun and pleasure afternoon

Four people just started painting recently, and it seems they enjoy it a lot

Close view on our creations

Close view on our creations

Calia's painting

Calia is our youngest artist, she attends workshops together with more mature artists, and gets very good results

Winter painting events

Number 3 was the winter scenes, everybody got great results and also liked the scenes we were working from

The not-ready demo version for birch painting project

The not-ready demo version for birch painting project

The pretty much finished version for acrylic fun afternoon

The pretty much finished version for acrylic fun afternoon

Regular classes resume next week, on January 6 and January 7.

Happy New Year everybody!  Pick up your brushes, sharpen pencils and open your paint tubes! We are about to get to painting again!

The art of giving gifts 2: traditions, colors and symbols

This is the time of giving, forgiving and showing our love and gratitude to people who are in our lives, to people who we know and to everybody who we don’t even know, but believe they need some Christmas mood lift.

The Latvian proverb goes like this: Dear God! Help us be so well off that we could give others generously and not beg them kindly. Giving generously involves giving gracefully, with pleasure and beautifully.

The ancient Latvian proverbs, folk songs and fairy tales were given verbally from one generation to the next one for many thousands of years, and they carry the Latvian moral and ethical code. They always emphasize that it is not a big deal to have much of golden money because much bigger deal is to have a golden heart. Well, we know how it is in reality: we need both, and yet, we need the latter one way more.

Many centuries have passed by and life is not the same, obviously. The Latvian Christmas was initially mixed with the celebration of winter solstice, and we have so many superstitions and traditions regarding this time of the year! Thousands! Did you know that it is not a coincidence the Christmas or Advent wreath is round? This shape symbolizes the year and the human lifetime: the end meets the beginning, so our children pick it up where we left things.

The circular shape of the wreath also represents God, with no beginning and no end. Circle means completeness and abundance; and it is also related to the eternity. The evergreens in a Christmas wreath are used to share the message of the eternal life. The tips of a fir-tree branch remind a shape of a cross, which means this wreath is going to protect us from everything evil.

The Western world got its first wreath around 16th century, in Germany. Latvians were using wreath and circle shaped ornaments and decorations ever since they existed. The solstice is the time to call the sun back, and it needs to know the place where to return. Latvian wreaths and ornaments initially symbolized the eternity, the divine and the Sun. Whatever, it’s meaning and whatever it means to us, the Christmas wreath is a beautiful thing. So are all the decorated gifts. Adding greens from the backyard adds so much freshness. We love the green color because it symbolizes the life and everything what is alive.

Christmas gifts Wrapping ideas

It is important to be generous, not only at Christmas time, but always. We think giving a gift is a small gesture of kindness, but in fact, it’s much more. Small or large gifts, they all have to be wrapped up nicely because that shows we care about the person who is receiving our gift.

Christmas gifts wrapping tips

I kept my show gifts in the traditional colors: heart red, evergreen green and added some gold, silver and some blue.

Tips Wrapping gifts

An idea wrapping up round objects: make it look like a vase with blooms of ornaments and pine cones.

Roll up a tube of a firm paper. It has to extend the length of the gift item. Tape one edge of paper to the back of the gift object. Wrap around the wrapping paper. Tape one edge on the back. Fold in the bottom nicely and secure with tape. Fold in the upper edges. If needed, secure with tape from the inside. Wrap ribbon or gift string around the object. Add a bow or leave loose ends. Fill the upper part with tissue paper or some other light paper in any suitable color. Add some branches, pine cones and some small ornaments at the top.

Holiday gifts

It looks like winter vase with Christmas flowers! This takes practically 5 minutes when we have some materials and greens.

Painting as a gift

Flat and square objects are easy to wrap up.

Holiday gifts sale

I decorated some painting and book this time. The smaller gifts are coffee and herbal tea packs.

Gifts in traditional colors

Sets of gifts look nice and they also speak to the viewer with enhanced beauty.

Christmas gifts

Traditional and very attractive colors warm up our hearts.

Christmas gifts inspiration

We start with the base and place the gift face down. Tape with transparent tape or tape in a matching color. Use some ribbon or colorful strings; once again we start that placing the face side of the gift downwards. Add some bow or roll up the ends with the blade of scissors. They become curly and add look very artistic. I like splitting up large surfaces, just as with painting, so I’d use everything what’s around. Gifts are wrapped for a short time, so we don’t need to worry about the durability of our construction. Its main purpose is to say “Merry Christmas, I love you!”

Santa Claus and holiday gifts

Santa was helping me, as well. I also listened to beautiful music, and gift wrapping is a huge pleasure for me, in fact, always has been!

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