Inspired and a Little Freaked Out

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Living Fun Loving Life dot com – The Lyon Speaks

Inspired and a Little Freaked Out:

 

There was a time when my wife used to remind me to be careful whenever I left the house; in fact she would tell me to fasten my seatbelt as she reminded me that I am her “special package”.  As time marched on I heard it so much I eventually started taking it for granted. And so every once in a while I still needed to be reminded that I AM HER special package, and to buckle up for safety. These helpful reminders go a long way, and I’m thankful that my wife cares enough to care enough.

I have officially started to refocus my attention on the things that are important to me; like my life.

Tell me if this holds true for you. You start out the year with a great plan and an awesome direction. Somewhere along the way you veer slightly off course all with the intention of making it up somewhere down the road or the day after that. Pick an area, any area of life; be it finance, fitness, health & wellness, savings, personal development, the stories are all the same. As life happens, we seem to get distracted by all the stuff that life sends our way. Little by little, a sacrifice here a compromise there, and before long, where we are looks nothing at all like where we hoped we’d be.

 

Take my weight for instance:

We all know that a little snack here and there by itself is relatively harmless, but compounded over time with a lack of proper exercise and rest . . . yikes a total recipe for disaster. So here I stand at the end of December 2013, looking up to find myself tipping the scales at a whopping 268 pounds. Yeeesh, talk about making a series of slight edge decisions in the wrong direction – compounded over time, and yielding THIS result. No one to blame but myself.

 

 

That aside for now . . .

I’m watching a rebroadcast of a television interview on The View, with the cast of the movie The Best Man HolidayNow on a personal note, I have a special place in my heart for this film because I was fortunate enough to work as the Key Set PA on The Best Man almost 15 years ago. A great experience complete with memories that I won’t soon forget.I’m watching this interview and out come the men. Taye, Harold, Morris and Terrence. And hanging in the background of the set, was a full poster sized picture of a shirtless Morris Chestnut. How can I compete?

 

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As if I’m not self-conscious enough. Now I find myself staring at this picture (as there was plenty of time to do so during the screaming applause) and I realize that, that looks nothing like me. I’m watching this show while sitting back and polishing off a plateful of non-whole wheat spaghetti from last night, sprinkled with some bacon and layered with scrambled eggs cooked in bacon grease. I’m even soakin’ up the sauce with a couple of slices salt buttered toast . . . it’s no wonder that picture looks nothing like me. Something has to change, and it has to change now. Add to the mix, the fact that my wife . . .well lets just say, she’s yelled at ME before . . .for several reasons, on many occasions, but she has nary a bad word or thought in her mind when it comes to Morris Chestnut. In fact, beaming might best describe her response to him anytime he appears on the screen. Can’t say I blame her, he is a talented handsome brother. Hey wait, I’m talented, I’m handsome . . . I used to make my wife beam, what happened?

“ One more scoop of butter pecan or dulce de leche please”. “Just one more little dollop of whipped cream”. “Yep make that a super-sized will ya? . . oh and I’ll take the diet Coke”.

Sound familiar?

Oh, maybe it’s just me.

Gone are the days I say.

As Simon Phoenix said to John Spartan in Demolition Man, “ . . .time for something new and improved.”

It’s not too late to change:

Just sharing this with each of you starts me on the road to recovery, and that’s not all. I had a conversation with one of my business mentors who gave me some very useful nutrition tips. I’ve already started running again. And most importantly I have made the DECISION to change my habits, and change my life. I will be better and I have each of you to help keep me accountable.

As I make the journey this coming year to reach my target weight, I am reminded of a brief moment I had with Morris when I was accompanying him to a rehearsal or a fitting some years ago, and he was carrying a gallon of water in a plain clear jug and he shared with me that his trainer has him drinking a gallon of water a day. I thought to myself that seems extreme. This was back in ‘98/’99. He was making slight edge decisions in the RIGHT DIRECTION   fifteen years ago, and his resuls speak for themselves.

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I too was making slight edge decisions, regrettably in the WRONG DIRECTION and justifiably, those decisions speak for themselves as well.  As you might guess, my results tell an entirely different story than his.

Perhaps this is the motivation I need to go out and get back into solid fighting form. Perhaps simply having the satisfaction of knowing that if he can do it, I can too, is enough to get me through the year. Perhaps knowing that my wife is still holding onto and showing love and support for her “special package” after all these years, is confirmation enough. Or Perhaps  knowing that I have complete control over how that package comes home to her everyday; gift wrapped to perfection, is all the satisfaction that I need.

Happy With My First Officially Commissioned Project

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Excellent News! The Red Headed Mustache Man was completed and delivered to his new home at the end of November.   All those involved were happy, charmed, and amused by him. Of course, we miss him here at home. My “studio” is the 2nd bedroom in our 2bd apartment, so any project I do becomes a part of our lives and family.  The Lyon and I make little jokes about the characters and objects I create. This one is called Alex.

THE BIRTH OF ALEX

I was commissioned to make a sculpt of my client’s friend “Alex”.  She wanted it to be a good likeness of her friend, wear a specific costume, and have a more idealized body.

So we agreed on a pose, a body, the size, the material (paper), and a price.

She e-mailed me a collection of images to reference.

PLAN TO BEGIN

“The beginning is the most important part of the work” ~ Plato

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a sculptor is to spend more time planning the creation process before jumping into doing the work.  I think I’ve always been more of a doer than a planner.  I love to jump in with both feet and figure things out as I go along.  Many people do make art that way.  It can be a wonderful way to work and can produce compelling results when making work that is loosely interpreted or abstract.  When making something that is realistic it is necessary to plan.

STUDY THE POSE

The requested pose was one that is very common in classical figurative art. A contrapposto pose with the weight distributed down through the right leg.  In preparation for the armature, I had to have a clear understanding of where the figure’s center would be, the proportions planned out, and the gesture (energy flow) of the pose with the hip and shoulder angles drawn up.

MEASURE TWICE CUT ONCE

Out came the anatomy books, the how-to do portrait books, the how-to sculpt a figure books.  Whatever I had, I reviewed, bookmarked, planned 1st on paper, measured, and re-measured.  The goal was to have a realistic looking figure.  Classical and correct comes with careful planning.  I nearly drove myself batty with the preliminary measurements and ‘seeing it’ before it was physically created.

THE ARMATURE

It is debatable whether or not an armature is necessary for a figure of this size.  I chose to start with an armature so that I could have more control over modifying the pose if necessary and I could guarantee that the piece could be more easily repaired if it is damaged.  I could elaborate on that, but talking about my work getting damaged gives me an icky feeling. ya know?

Here are some pics of Alex when he was just a baby… err I mean an armature.

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The armature is aluminum wire, coat hanger, and perhaps some other wire or two for good luck ( I went a little overboard with the wire ).  The aluminum foil was used as a substructure for the paper mache and to start the process of bulking up the body.  I also used an epoxy clay at the joints for strength.

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Yeah, that’s right… Alex could have been an Alien.

THE MATERIAL

Alex is made primarily of paper.  I used a combination of paper mache techniques and recipes throughout his creation.

The first layer was built up from a clay pulp made primarily from egg cartons, fast food drink holders and water.  A little PVA glue was thrown in for good measure along with a dash of saw dust.  Some paper artist’s say that one can simply tear the egg carton up and mix it with water to make a workable pulp.  There is a glue already in the carton as well as additives to prevent mold.  The mixture did not stick to itself very well though, and when dry it comes out too soft for me, so I added glue to it.

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Yup, right again…. Alex was a zombie for a little while.

See that image on my netbook in the background? That’s the pose I was going for and the body. Pretty nice, huh?! He’s got a loong road ahead of him!

For the next week or two I built Alex up in increments with a paper mache clay mixture. I varied and modified my recipes a bit from information I pieced together from around the web. My main recipe source for the clay came from Jonni at  http://www.ultimatepapermache.com/paper-mache-clay

I intentionally built it up slowly to make sure that all the layers would dry so as not to attract mold growth or bugs.

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My process involves much back and forth of building up a form and then carving material away.


THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB

I have amassed a hearty collection of modelling tools and I use them all pretty much equally.

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Many sculptors have a few favorites.  My favorites change from project to project.  In fact, I have so many tools that I choose favorites and then lose track of them throughout the creation process.

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 KEEP TAKING YOUR GAME TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Here comes the sports analogy….

To be a great athlete you have to practice the right things, the right way, you have to conquer self-doubt, and you have to always expect more from yourself every time you compete.  Sculpting is the same way.

Of all the artists I’ve known only two or three were instantly good.  The rest got good through hours and hours of deliberate practice, continuous study, and by conquering that pesky little demon that sits on their shoulder;  who tells them that they don’t have any talent and that whatever they are working on sucks.  There was a time when I thought that  I didn’t have it in me to sculpt an accurate figure much less one that seemed to have life.  I continued to practice.  I learned to get more control over my self-doubt and eventually I started to see results that I could be proud of.

Having said that, I still had a lot of self-doubt to conquer while working on Alex.  I thought that I needed to be more familiar with the material to do a good job.  I thought that my lack of experience of working on a small-scale would interfere with being successful.  I especially thought that I was too rusty because I hadn’t sculpted much for many years.

Instead of buying into all those thoughts of worry, lack, and limitation; I chose to be confident that if I focused hard enough, worked diligently enough,  continued to re-sculpt the mistakes until I got a better result, and most importantly; I believed that the final result would be something special.  All I needed was time.

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COMMISSIONED ART IS A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS

This is where I give kudos to my client who pushed but was not too pushy. Alex is a better man. Um errr…  Statue because of her critiques and requests for changes.  It helps to have a fresh pair of eyes on your work.

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He started to look much much better as you can see here. Next came some finishing touches.  A tickle here, a tickle there.

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PAINT

I painted Alex with water-mixable oils.  That added quite a bit of time to finish him because oils take a long time to dry.  I felt that I would achieve better and richer results with the oil paint though.  I think that I would like to use acrylics in the future.

By the way, the base was a pencil holder I picked up in a thrift store.  I flipped it upside down, removed the shells and starfish ( client’s choice)  and made a mosaic with paper beads where the shells once were.  He stands 13″ tall without the base.  The base is about 6″ high.

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Now on to other things.  Completing old projects.  Starting new ones. Perhaps a commission for you!

Happy New Year!

~ The Mouse

One of many: End of The year Thoughts

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Living Fun Loving Life dot com – The Lyon Speaks

The end of year – thoughts. Here we are at the conclusion of another remarkable year. How did you do? I for one have not accomplished all that I set out to accomplish in 2013. Perhaps one or two of you can relate. I thought my business’s were going to be a lot further along than they are; I assumed that we would have put aside a bit more in the way of savings than we actually did; I’d hoped to travel a bit more than simply a trip to the market every now and again.

As I reflect on the days gone by I think about the time I spent being active yet not productive . . . yes there is a difference. I attended an incredible goals setting event recently. The information garnered at this workshop was priceless. I was forced to come to grips with the fact that a lot more goes into accomplishing things in the course of the year than simply “dreaming” about what may happen . . . someday. Has that ever happened to you . . . you talk to yourself about, ‘someday’? Someday I’ll go on that all expense paid vacation; someday I’ll eat like a king/queen; someday I’ll have that big fancy home; someday I’ll drive that Audi A8, Benz S Class or Lamborgini Aventador or in my case that Bugatti Veyron – Supersport or The Vitesse or even The Grandsport. Bugatti_Veyron_16.4_–_Frontansicht_(2),_5._April_2012,_Düsseldorf Bugatti_veyron_in_Tokyo bugatti-veyron-16.4-wallpapers_23290_1024x768 bugatti-veyron-33_1035

Well, here’s what I have come to understand, some people’s somedays, are other people’s EVERYDAYS. Think about that.

So, how is this possible? How can I graduate to the point where I can go to the restaurant and simply order food based on my appetite, and not my budget? How can I be excited, always, about paying the bills on time and not worry about having too much month left at the end of the money? Is there really a shortage, or have I just lulled myself into a sense of “they have and I have not”?

Here’s what keeps me going:

My belief is there is never a shortage of money, it just keeps changing hands. It keeps circulating, flowing, that’s why it is called currency. The quest then becomes finding creative, ethical, helpful and successful ways of attracting the right amount into my hands; and at the right time. Hmmmn, how to do this? More on this and goal setting in future posts.

For now lets just chew on these ideas, and start working on an actual plan for achieving that which we say we want to manifest in our lives. Remember when setting our goals they must be SMART: Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely. We all have dreams, we all have ideas, we all have thoughts; lets consider bringing them into reality by turning them into actual goals and developing an action plan for their accomplishment. I for one am going to treat this next year as a gift, an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and to never look back. I’ve been given another opportunity to “get it right”; another year to be effective at planning and achieving something special in my life. There are those who were not given this chance – I will not squander, I will not delay, I know that my success is to be used as an example for others to follow so they too can MAKE things happen for themselves and their families. I EXPECT great things to happen this year. Maybe you feel the same way too.

Read This and Save yourself Some Time

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Do you all remember “The Secret”?

There is a line from that movie something to the effect of “I’m always amazed how that I line up car parks”. (spoken with a pseudo-Austrailian accent) How many of you who drive, seem to always get your desired parking space? I used to think I was just lucky, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am actually visualizing and creating the space that I want. It seems to work well for me in traffic also. Anyway, I am on my way to the post office to test my theory once again. Usually when I go, I find myself in a free space or a metered space that has some time left on it. Today, I’m also going to find and feed a random parking meter so that someone else can get a “free” space too. Stay tuned . . .

Well, let me tell/show you how it all panned out.
So here I am driving on my way to the post office, and I am trying to focus on the proper parking space and its timely availability.  However my mind starts to wander.  Has that happened to any of you? Thinking about one thing and some other seemingly unrelated thought creeps into the foreground of your mind?  So as I’m driving along the side streets of Newark, Hillside,  Elizabeth and Linden, I am reminded somehow of the pedestrian cross walk rule.  Maybe because there are some here in New Jersey that don’t always honor it. I remember it was many many many many years ago, while living in Boston, when I was first introduced to the concept of vehicles having to stop for pedestrians in the cross walk; it took some getting used to but I eventually caught on. Time after time and these placard type signs just kept popping up at   EVERYWHERE. I wonder how Bostonians are making out with that pedestrian cross walk rule these days.  Hmmnnn, I digress. We’ll have to blog about this later.  Anyway, I regain my focus and start concentrating on the parking space that I want.  I actually had two separate spaces in mind and surprisingly enough when I arrived . . . both spaces were occupied.  But here’s the good news.

Just as I predicted

There was an available space for me to pull right into a short distance from the post office.  I had to jump out of the car and snap this photo quickly before some other needy person pulled in, but I got the space.

So, you wanna hear some more good news?

Look at that, time still on the meter.

Pretty neat huh?  Someone left this space/meter just for me.  So as promised I decided to spread the LOVE, and here’s what I found . . .

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Right next to me I found this. And keeping in the spirit of a quote from one of my favorite films  . . . “Doctor, always do the right thing”, I dropped a coin into the slot.

Feels Good

There, done.

Here’s the interesting thing.  The two spaces that I visualized being available, became available while I was feeding this meter .  And that is The Brighter Side of Life.
Any time you feel stirred or nudged to do something nice for someone else, even if it is a total stranger, don’t hesitate, ACT.  You never know when that same act of kindness returns to you or someone you love . . . just because.  That’s all for now.  Stay in touch.  Peace and Love, Lyon.

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Think about your experience of those moments when you are most creatively engaged. What does it feel like? Being in a creative “flow” can be ecstatic and, simultaneously, there is an often surprising sense of urgency to bring into being that which you can sense is possible. That’s why great artists or scientists will work day and night, neglecting to eat or sleep. They are driven by a vision, something just beyond their reach that will not let them rest until they have brought it into reality. That drive is the very same impetus that caused the whole universe to burst forth, fourteen billion years ago, and is now expressing itself through the body, mind, heart, and talents of an inspired human being.

When you feel that creative flow, often you discover a part of yourself you are not normally aware of but which feels more like your “self” than the person you usually think you are. It’s like plugging in to a deeper source of energy and passion that transcends whatever limitations you ordinarily assume. A deeper, more authentic part of your self is creatively released. That’s why such moments are so fulfilling—it’s not just the creative work you produce, but the experience of being more alive, more connected, more in touch with a sense of meaning and purpose.

~By Andrew Cohen, Spiritual Teacher

Good Morning, The Mouse here.  I saw this on Facebook and thought it worthy of pressing into our blog.  It encompasses so much of what Living Fun Loving Life is all about.  It is the reason why I am always thinking about making art and perhaps the reason why I keep encountering obstacles that keep me from making it!

Our pastor, Dr. Therman E. Evans repeatedly teaches that the devil throws those obstacles in your way to prevent you from getting closer to the almighty God.  We are also taught that God puts those things in your path to prepare you for the success that you desire.  What do you think?  Does it matter?  How do you deal with the obstacles?

The Creative Flow

Funny Thing

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While making my way this morning from the living room to our dining area, I had the pleasure of WHACKING my ankle on the pointed tip of one of the bent oak rocker plates of our spindle backed rocking chair. OUCH!!! It got me thinking about a subject that my wife and I have discussed on one or more occasion; that of stubbing your toes. How many of you have ever stubbed your toes? I mean really stubbed your toes? Sometimes it can be quite painful. Right? We once went through a toe stubbing stretch that got so bad that we asked ourselves. do we really really really need that pinky toe? What is it good for other than crumpling on impact with the most obscured household objects . . .why not just cut it off? Is it really good for anything other than getting in the way? So the question I pose to you today is this. Would you consider cutting off your little toe to avoid the pain and embarrassment associated with stubbing it? Let us know

The Mouse Here

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Hi! I have so much to share. Please bear with me as I find my niche. Should I only blog about my journey as an artist? Shall my entries be an art journal? Shall they be random thoughts and realizations about life and the journey that Mark wrote about in the earlier post? livingfunlovinglife our way of sharing our journey with the world. We have met many people who appear to be going through life robotic-ally and without passion. We aim to inspire and motivate others to not only pursue the passion that they already have, but to also spark something that has seemingly been lying dormant for others. Now Mark, …ehem.. I mean Lyon, believes that we as a couple are entertaining and that we will soon have a following of folks who tune in to our escapades just for the purpose of living vicariously through us or perhaps more likely, to have a good laugh. Oh the pressure of it all! That makes me self-conscious. Am I being funny yet?  Ahhh!  I have to set my mind straight. I have to just be and begin. So I will start with an art journal of sorts. Currently I am working with polymer clay and paper clay. These are both relatively new materials for me. Also, I am working on very small projects which is also a new scale to me. So, I feel as though I am born again as an artist. Just learning to sit up and crawl. I feel great about it though! What an exciting place to be! I know that my past experiences and muscle memory will enable me to eclipse the learning curve rapidly and that within a few months MouseSculpts  ( the name of my studio ) will have a portfolio that showcases my great talent and style! ( That’s my affirmation :-D ) When that happens I will  dedicate a page on this site for my creations and studio. I will also have an Etsy shop, and will upload images of my work on http://mousesculpts.deviantart.com/  among other places. So be on the lookout! In the meantime you can follow our blog and see the many journal entries I make about my process and other hoo-ha!