Mixed Media – Watercolor, colored pencils, and ballpoint ink pen

As·pi·ra·tionnoun /ˌaspəˈrāSHən/: 1. a hope or ambition of achieving something. [Google definitions]

I have tried to write out a blog post for this art piece ever since I finished it on April 18th. Lord have mercy; there have been a lot of distractions this past month! These distractions led to a much more serious bout of depression than I would like to admit and anxiety that has me questioning my sanity. It’s during times like these that hopelessness sets in, and I struggle to see the good in life due to feelings of despair and negative thinking.

Let me reiterate here that telling a depressed person to “just think happy thoughts” is probably the worst advice ever that someone could give. Not only does it invalidate what the person is feeling, statements like these can cause that negativity to spiral out of control when the person finds that this seemingly simple solution can’t be achieved due to, you guessed it, more negative thoughts. It’s a vicious cycle. A much more productive response, in my opinion, is to remind the depressed person that all of life’s problems are temporary and change is inevitable as nothing ever stays the same.

When my therapist spoke with me about doing a piece of artwork for a mental health publication, I knew I wanted to participate; and the above image is the result. The topic or art prompt he gave me was “Inspiring Hope” or “What gives a person inspiration of hope?” Coincidentally, back in January, I had posed a similar question to this on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

January 15, 2014, on Facebook and Google+:

“I’m going to throw this prompt out all across the board to all of my social media networks: What physical representation means “HOPE” to you? Tell me or draw #hope.

I was considering the thought of creating a drawing series based on responses I receive. In doing a quick Google search I’ve run across the usual symbols: a dove, an anchor, a swallow; but I think it would be more interesting to hear and see individual responses given the personal nature of what hope might represent to others. For me, the first thing I thought of was butterflies (because they are so fragile yet travel such great distances) or maybe, the infinity symbol (because to me, infinity also means all things are possible through time and space – this one’s a little harder for me to explain).

Sorry to be so philosophical, but this thought crossed my mind. My curiosity got the better of me, so I thought I would ask.”

And on Twitter:


Failing to get any responses, I promptly forgot about it and moved onto other things. Yes, my failure to interact with people is as prominent online as it is in real life; and yes, it was also a “look a bunny” kind of thing. I had, however, intended at that time to sort out this concept in my mind to better understand how others experience hope since it is such a hard concept for me to grasp. My struggles with depression and anxiety often leave me with a loss of hope, as I’m sure these types of mental health struggles do for many.

I can’t really make up my mind as to whether hope is an emotion or a belief or something else entirely. “Hopeful” is often listed as an emotion, but I’m confused by “hope.” I could just be over-thinking it, as I often do; but it is my experience that I analyze something to death in order to gain an understanding of it. However, when I think about hope, expectation and disappointment also factor into the mix. One can’t exactly hope for something without a certain amount of expectation that this hope will somehow manifest. If that hope does not, then disappointment is a likely result.

Hopenoun /ˈhōp/: 1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. 2. a feeling of trust. verb: 1. want something to happen or be the case. [Google definitions]

On the day my therapist gave me this prompt, I had the topic of “Inspiring Hope” stuck in my head while I hiked at Burgess Falls after our appointment. Thinking about “what gives me the inspiration of hope,” I spotted a couple of beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. At that moment, I knew that a butterfly had to be a part of this piece because for me, butterflies are the perfect symbol for “Hope.” I would have preferred a Monarch butterfly to work from, but those are becoming a rare pleasure to see. Instead, I worked from one of my favorite photos I took of an inquisitive swallowtail that I photographed last August.

While working on this art piece, I thought more about the topic and came to the conclusion that I think hope is finding your passion and setting it free. My passions are drawing, painting, photography – creating art – and nature. These are the things that give me the most hope because these are things that I love to do and want to share with the world to inspire others.

What gives you the inspiration of hope?

Abstract Watercolor Kitty

Abstract Watercolor Kitty by pixygiggles
Abstract Watercolor Kitty, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

This is a fairly small piece, 6″ X 4.25″ that I worked on last night. It was a “just paint something” type of a thing. I was playing around with color and ended up with this. Noticing the similarity of the shape that reminded me of a profile of a cat, I went back in with black ink after it dried. I kind of like it. I may explore this a little more today. What do you think? 🙂

One more for Peace

Playing with design and pattern while practicing with watercolors and gel pens. I meant to have this finished for yesterday’s daily post, but I got sidetracked before finishing it this morning. I kind of like the result. I’m thinking about trying some holiday card designs just for fun. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with something worth marketing? I’m curious, what kinds of cards would you guys be interested in seeing?

Day 234 Watercolor Rose

Day 234 Watercolor Rose by pixygiggles
Day 234 Watercolor Rose, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

My creativity feels like it has hit a brick wall. Lately, my daily photos have been much less than impressive to me, and my attempt at a watercolor tonight left me equally unimpressed. If there is anything this 366 photography project is teaching me, it is that creativity cannot be commanded. It must be inspired. I guess I’m not feeling very inspired lately.

This makes me curious. What tips, tricks, and techniques do you guys use to keep the creative juices flowing?

Madison’s Bumblebee

Today, I had the honor of spending most of the day with my neighbor’s 5 year old granddaughter, Madison. She was excited to learn that I had a set of these watercolors.

If there’s anything I learned from being a pre-school teacher, it’s that children love making art. We spent the entire afternoon painting pictures while listening to the radio. I had a blast and I hope she did, too. Sometimes, going back to a medium used in childhood can be a fantastic way to get the creative juices flowing; so that would be my art tip of the day.

Thank you, Madison, for your contribution to my blog!

Madison’s Bumblebee

My Bumblebee