The Mindful Lymie

The sun is shining. The air is warmish. April has left all the fools behind and now we can release a collective sigh…. Ahhhh. Spring will arrive!

With the advent of Spring, I’m always eager to try something new and/or clean up my past. I was lying in bed thinking how I’m so tired of not creating anything. I want to watercolour, scrapbook, collage, and write poetry. I sign up for online classes hoping they’ll motivate me. When I have the energy, I attempt to create but cannot find the focus and give up after a few minutes. Or I quickly become fatigued or uncomfortable. Or I have the focus and motivation but not the energy.

I’m not alone. I belong to a few Facebook groups for people struggling with Lyme disease. The question of how we spend our time has come up in conversation before. I had an “aha” moment this morning.

  1. I need to find a way to create. Even if only for a few minutes a day.
  2. Creativity is an important part of healing.
  3. Other Lyme sufferers need an outlet for creativity but face the same limitations as me.

So, I’m starting a Facebook Group called “The Mindful Lymie“. Each month I’ll have a list. Each day will have a prompt. Members of the group will then take the prompt and create something. Anything! A poem, a photograph, a sentence, a collage, a drawing, or even a Facebook post. It really doesn’t matter. The purpose is to take a few moments a day to make something new, to focus on possibilities, and to express yourself. Creativity is not about being a great artist. It’s simply about making something.

I’ll encourage members to then share whatever it is they created. Or to even just talk about whatever comes to their mind regarding the prompt. We share similar struggles but most of the support groups are about symptoms, treatments, and advocacy. All very important issues that don’t leave a lot of room for anything else. Creativity is a great way to express feelings, struggles and pain. It can be cathartic, joyful or just plain fun. At the very least, it can be a distraction!

Here is the April list of Prompts.

Here is my attempt for April 2nd.


So, if you or one of your family or close friends has Lyme disease, please join my group, the Mindful Lymie!

Oh. My. Word! It’s nearly Halloween! Here’s a treat!

Boo! Did you think you saw a ghost? Or a shadow of my former self? I am alive. My blog is rather dusty. Summer happened and then the leaves fell off the trees, and now I’m here.

This past week, I started Lilla Roger’s “Make Art That Sells: Part B” e-course. So for five weeks, my head will be in a creative fog, whirlwind, cloud? I don’t know. Something where rainbows and unicorns swirl around my head while I bump into walls and unintentionally ignore people who are trying to talk to me. So, no offence in advance, peeps.

As for Halloween, I put a kit in my Pixels & Company shop and it will be on for half price until, uh, Halloween.

Trick or Treat Full Kit | Melanie Ritchie

Trick or Treat Elements | Melanie Ritchie

Trick or Treat Papers | Melanie Ritchie

Trick or Treat Papers | Melanie Ritchie

 

Trick or Treat Alpha | Melanie Ritchie

Trick or Treat Alpha Tags | Melanie Ritchie

Trick or Treat Freebie | Melanie Ritchie

To download the freebie, click on the photo and follow the link to my shop. Add the item to your cart and you will be able to download it instantly.

Have a fabulous Friday and an even better weekend!

The most important thing we do in a day is take care of each other.

While I was busy galavanting, eating, and entertaining, life outside the home apparently went on without me. Who knew?

I’ve had a busy few weeks. I had the pleasure of babysitting a sweet little baby for a week (well, a few days really). I got an awesome thank you gift for helping out. The mom knows I’m a big fan of Barbapapa and she spoiled me with a vintage book and a flowery mug, and some party streamers from Amsterdam. See those little Barbapapa faces in the flowers on the mug? Oh, Happy day!

Barbapapa Gift | Melanie Ritchie

Then my best friend from high school came for a visit. We had some really good eats and had a long overdue chance to just hang out and catch up on our lives. We also watched “Reality Bites” which was our favourite movie to watch together 20 years ago. I can’t believe how quickly time passes. I was surprised to see I still like the movie and my opinion of the characters hasn’t changed much. I had to laugh about us though. Back in the mid-90s we watched the movie in the basement of my childhood home. Or maybe in her home. We drank Coke and ate Little Caesars Pizza or a bag of chips. Now we’re both Moms of young kids sitting in my home commenting on how delicious the fancy cheese and baguettes taste. Subtle changes! Ha!

Sunset in Ottawa | Melanie Ritchie

Our first night finished with a lovely sunset in downtown Ottawa.

Drinks | Melanie Ritchie

We had a really yummy lunch at Burrito Burracho in the Byward Market. I highly recommend the Tortilla soup. Then we wandered a bit before treating ourselves to a Maple Beavertail before heading home. YUM YUM!

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It was just so good to see her! I was sad to see her go. She gave me a very pretty bracelet from Alex and Ani as a hostess gift. It has a little pineapple charm. Pineapples are a symbol of friendship and hospitality. How perfect is that? Plus, I love pineapples.

The day after my friend left, my family and I went camping with friends at a very kids friendly KOA campground. Despite the initial rain and the plummeting temperature at night, we had a great time. Only a few weeks until our next camping trip!

After the rain | Melanie Ritchie

Upon return from camping, we had a visit from my husband’s Aunt. She is awesome. That’s all that needs to be said about that.

Then I spent the next day preparing for my very first Thirty-One gifts experience. I set up a table at the kids’ school’s Fun Night. I’m selling Thirty-One products to fundraise for the school’s Kindergarten playground project. There seemed to be a lot of interest in the products but the best part was getting to talk to other parents. Normally at events I’m busy with the kids and I have no particular reason to start up conversations with strangers. This was a great way for me to be more social.

Then the next day my parents came to town for my daughter’s Highland dance recital. It was a really good show! I also enjoyed shopping for plants with my mom and my daughter. I had trouble limiting myself to a few carefully chosen perennials. My mom bought a few plants for me  too as a very early birthday gift. Yay!

Plants | Melanie Ritchie

On the weekend, I had various things to do but managed to work on something that has been brewing in my head for awhile. I greatly admire the Junior Kindergarten teacher that taught my daughter two years ago and is finishing up teaching my son this year. She’s just a lovely person with a very gentle heart. She is exactly the type of person I hoped would teach my kids. She inspires the kids with exploring nature, science, and art. She encourages them to think critically. Most of all, I love that she teaches compassion. As a thank you I wanted to create a painting for her. I chose to illustrate her class motto which I think should be everyone’s motto.

The most important thing we do in a day is take care of each other.

I was thrilled the painting came together so quickly. I’m often disappointed and frustrated with painting. Things don’t always turn out the way I envision them. This one just made me very happy from start to finish. Maybe because I like the motto so much? So, today I took it to the school at midday and surprised her with it. I think it is fair to say, she likes it. Which makes me very happy! Although, I am sad that I won’t have a reason to talk with the teacher anymore.

Taking Care Artwork by Melanie Ritchie

I came home and sat down to write this post and remembered today is the day my newest designs are released for sale at Pixels and Company. I can’t believe I forgot! I’ve been so busy! I’ll show them to you now. Tomorrow I will sit down at my computer and get started on all the design ideas that have been gathering in my head the past few weeks.

Frolic Full Kit | Melanie Ritchie

Weather Cards | Melanie Ritchie

Frolic Elements | Melanie Ritchie

Frolic Papers | Melanie Ritchie

Frolic Journal Cards | Melanie Ritchie

Frolic Cupcake Labels | Melanie Ritchie

Have a relaxing Monday evening!

In Good Company! My return to Digiland!

I am so pleased to announce that I’ve just set up shop at Pixels & Company as a designer. I’ll be designing alongside of Celeste Knight, Deena Rutter, Gennifer Bursett, Jen Allyson, Meredith Cardall, Robin Meierotto, and Shirley Polk. That is a pretty talented and inspiring roster of artists.

My new products will be released twice a month. This week I released a full kit (So True), a journal card pack (So True) and an element pack (Cork Flairs: Happy). They are currently at least 30% off!

Cork Flair: Happy by Melanie Ritchie

So True | Elements by Melanie Ritchie
So True | Full Kit by Melanie Ritchie

So True | Papers by Melanie Ritchie

So True | Journal Cards by Melanie Ritchie

Here are a couple layouts from some P&Co Creative Team talent:

Happy Day by Maribel Rivas

by Maribel Rivas

This Is My Crew by Kate Christensen

by Kate Christensen

I’m such a school girl!

Really? No. For the past three weeks I’ve been immersed in an online class I’m taking at Lilla Rogers Studio School called Make Art That Sells.  We have two more weeks to go for Part A of the class. So far we’ve covered bolt fabric, Home Decor and Children’s Book Illustration. Every week we get a mini assignment to sketch, sketch, sketch a topic. Then midweek we get the actual assignment which utilizes the sketching we’ve been doing.

If you’re not already familiar with Lilla Rogers, she is an internationally successful illustration agent and artist. She represents several extremely talented artists. You might not know their names but I’m almost certain you’ve seen their products. Lilla will mention her artists’ products in her lessons as examples and often I’ll find myself thinking “oh, I’ve seen that! I didn’t know she represented that artist!” One of the books I love from our local library is by her artist, Mike Lowery. One of the fabrics in my dining room table cloth is by her artist, Suzy Ultman.

The class has been challenging, emotional, exhausting, enlightening, and rewarding. A rollercoaster for sure. Lilla is a big believer in staying positive and to keep making things you love. Don’t compare yourself to others. We’re all in different stages of our careers and at different skill levels. I think because she is an artist herself, she knows what kind of insecurities we have as artists. One of the biggest is thinking we’re not good enough. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is easy to give up when you’re browsing online galleries and Pinterest and are blown away by all the amazing talent out there. Ultimately, you have to sit down, pick up a pen and paper (or whatever medium you use) and make something that makes you happy. Practice until it looks the way you like it. That is really all you can do.

Ok, I’ve digressed a bit. My personal struggles have been over getting into the mini assignment. I get very restless and fidgety. I resist the assignment. The first week, my son was home sick for three days and on the third day, there was a crisis in Ottawa which completely distracted me. The next day I focused and made up for lost time. I liked my submission but it could have been better had I been able to use my time efficiently. I was pretty darn excited when it made the review for class where Lilla talks about several pieces and explains how they worked well. The product we were to design was for bolt fabric.

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The second week, I needed to sketch more but again resisted the process. I’m still unsure why I’m having a hard time just drawing for the sake of drawing every morning. I have to think about this. Luckily, I had a very strong idea of what I wanted my art to look like and was thrilled when it ended up looking the way I envisioned it. That rarely happens. The assignment was to design a plate for the Home Decor market.

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The third week. Oh my! I was initially so excited to learn about illustrating Children’s books. A long time dream! I had some sort of fearful flight response to it. I tried to run as far away as possible from the assignment. I was like my son when telling him it is time for swim lessons. Noooooooooooooooooo!!!! I did not want to do it! Yet I did want something to submit. I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to push myself to learn something new. So I sat down the day before the assignment was due and started drawing. I didn’t stop until it was done. It wasn’t as fabulous as I would have liked but that was definitely my own fault. I could have built it up more had I invested more time into it.

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I’m not going to beat myself up for my shortcomings. It is more of an exploration into my process. Why do I resist learning some things? Why do I react this way? What do I enjoy creating? What rituals work for me? What habits do I need to change? All very good stuff if I’m open to finding a better process.

I’m excited to see what next week brings. Hopefully I might even embrace it!

Designing for December

One day in the summer I got asked by the lovely and talented Kelly Sill to create a digital kit for her upcoming Holiday class at Scrapaneers. I said “Heck ya, I’m interested!” and that was the truth.

I’ve been a fan of Kelly for quite some time. She has a style that is all her own. A very clean sleek look to both her digital products and her own scrapbooking. I followed her blog posts to see what new projects she was working on. So, I was pretty happy when she began instructing classes.

Discover December” is going to be packed with oodles of holiday goodness. She will show her students how to create their own 8″x8″ album with the templates, digital kit, word art, glitter styles, and overlays included in the class kit. Seriously, oodles of goodness. I was lucky enough to create the digital kit and was thrilled to find out Karla Dudley was creating matching glitter styles and Taylormade Designs was creating matching word art. Very very cool!

Here’s a peek of the class kit included with enrolment.

DD14_launch-banner-new

Right now the class is on sale until November 10th. Class begins on December 1st. Be sure to check it out!

Never to early for a Cuckoo Christmas

As I mentioned in a previous post, I signed up for Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp which started the beginning of February. We were given the theme of Cuckoo clocks and an assignment to design a phone case. I spent the first week sketching and painting. The second and third week I used Illustrator and Photoshop to turn my sketch into a completed design.

I have to tell you. That first week was an intimidating and humbling process. I tried to remind myself that I needed to focus on just having fun with my art. I think it was when I finally allowed myself to relax that I drew something I liked enough to use for the assignment.

Here is what my design looked like before I added colour. I wanted to see how the design would look on a phone.

melanieritchiemockup

Here is my submission to the gallery:

febMATSbootmockup-lores

I decided to open up a Society6 shop to sell my artwork. Might as well, right? So far I just have the one piece but I hope to fill it with joy soon.

I cannot wait for our March assignment!

Cuckoo for Cuckoo Clocks!

It’s Saturday afternoon. The time of afternoon where I want to close my eyes and curl up like a cat on a warm blanket. My daughter is tap dancing on a piece of fibre board. My son is building his marble maze. My husband is on the phone with his Mom. There’s a horse drawn hay wagon, four white minivans, and a school bus across the street for some reason I don’t quite understand. I’m about to work on a scrapbook layout for a guest blog post coming out next week somewhere very special.

This past week I doodled, sketched, and panicked over cuckoo clocks. I signed up for Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp. A friend was going to take it and I couldn’t resist joining her. What a talented group of artists! Holy Moly! I am ever so humbled and scared out of my mind. I am ever so brave, because as much as the negative thoughts (you’re not good enough, you don’t know how to do that yet, why are you even bothering) swirl in my mind, I’m taking the class anyway.

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” ― Bob Ross

I decided to paint one of my sketches with watercolour. I can’t remember the last time I did a watercolour painting. I didn’t finish it yet because I’m tired and have other things to do, but it was fun practicing.

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As well as doodling all week, my kids and I suffered annoyingly pesky head colds. To make things happier, we ate a few sweet treats and I captured a couple lunch time photos. (Edited with RadLab)

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Now don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Jennifer Wilson’s  Before Your Story at Big Picture Classes. Leave a comment on this post for your chance to win.

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela.

Last night my husband told me Nelson Mandela had died. I was saddened to hear the news. Although he was 95, many of those years weren’t his to live freely. I woke up to read the Facebook status of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He said he had lost a dear friend. Those two seem like they would be deserving best friends. The Dalai Lama described Nelson Mandela as “a man of courage, principle and unquestionable integrity, a great human being, someone of whom we can truly say, “He lived a meaningful life.

I’ll never be Nelson Mandela. I’ll never be the Dalai Lama. I highly doubt my life will make profound change in the world. Yet, I like to think I’ll have moments that help to change the current from misery to bliss. My own little splashes of Goodness in the River of Life.

Next in my Facebook, I saw someone in a scrapbooking group was collecting quotes to put on journal cards for her Project Life album. I thought “hey, I can help with that” and so I did!

Here are 6 journal cards (3×4) for my readers to download. They are free! If you feel like paying something, go “pay it forward” and make someone’s day special somewhere out there in the world. Even just a smile to a stranger would be good payment, don’t you think?

I made the cards 3.25×4.25 (extra room at the sides) so that they can be printed correctly at Persnickety Prints or wherever you print your journal cards. This way, the edges won’t get cut off when you print.

Enjoy! Go out there and live a meaningful moment in honour of Nelson Mandela.

mr_mandelajc_preview

Oh yes I did!

I put my design hiatus on hiatus so that I could have the privilege of collaborating with Nancie Rowe Janitz on a Christmas themed digital kit. So without further ado, here is our mega huge “Silent Night” on sale today in Nancie’s shop at JessicaSprague.com. It is available separated into patterned papers, solids and elements OR you can buy the complete collection.

Why Silent Night? My three reasons: It is my favourite Christmas carol; For nearly four years I’ve sung it to my son as a lullaby… works like magic; when I was a kid I loved staring up into night sky during cold, snowy December nights when the stars would shimmer like diamonds. Few things have ever made me feel more complete. To me, Silent Night holds the meaning of Christmas… in the midst of chaos and turmoil, beautiful things can be born in the stillness of the moment. My wish is for everyone to feel peace in their lives this holiday season.

nrjmr-silentnight-patterns nrjmr-silentnight-solids nrjmr-silentnight-elements

To make things extra special, here is a free quickpage (12×12). I thought it would make a great cover page for a Christmas album. Hop on over to Nancie’s blog as she’ll be giving away some word art.

mr_silentnight_quickpage-lowres

Click on image or HERE to download.

Hope you like it!