Courage… Be Brave

January 30, 2016 at 4:30 pm (Anxiety, mixed media, Multiple Sclerosis, occipital neuralgia, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

One of the reasons I stopped blogging was because I didn’t want to ‘splain myself.  But, since I’ve started again, I need to be honest.  Ugh…

I have Multiple Sclerosis, trigeminal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia.  Blah blah blah… you know, I’ve explained it before, legs don’t work, eyes don’t work, pain in the head and neck – literally.

But every once in a while another issue rears its ugly head – agoraphobia.  I have one day a week that I absolutely MUST leave the house — errand day. I plan carefully for six days and I usually take my trusty sidekick, Jazzy.  I manage to make it through, although by the time I get home my anxiety is sky-high and I compensate by counting… by fives… 1,2,3,4,5 or 5,10,15,20… on and on.  By the time I get my groceries put away I am exhausted!!

This coming week I must leave the house two days — once for a very necessary hair appointment and twice on Wednesday — dentist and pain management doctor.  I am already looking towards those days, working to manage my anxiety.

Tonight I am going to a fun paint class I signed up for two months ago.  It is a fundraiser for the Cresson Lake Playhouse.  When I signed up my agoraphobia was under control. Today… not so much.  But, I said I would be there and I AM going.  I am ready to go, two hours early, with my supplies packed.  Rushing and last-minute things increase my anxiety.  If DannyO were going, it wouldn’t even be a problem.

My brain goes to stupid places like, what if there isn’t a seat for me?  What if I don’t know anyone (which is totally stupid because I know I know most of the people!!) What if I can’t find a parking place?  See??? Stupid places.

This week I’ve been working on a Journey piece for a gal I went to college with.  She chose “Find Courage for the Journey.” She had three specific Bible verses she wanted in the piece.  I put the final layer on earlier today — the beeswax.  I am going to blog later this week on my step-by-step process but today I will show you the final piece.

There is a quote I put on every “Courage” piece.  It’s by Eleanor Roosevelt.  It says, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

I’m sure she was talking about people with many more problems than agoraphobia, but today it is my REAL problem so…  I will do the thing I think I cannot do.  Head out the door at 5:30, paintbrushes in hand, and enjoy myself for three hours moving paint around.

Courage-Tammy Fast



Permalink 2 Comments

Subway Art

January 26, 2016 at 4:00 pm (mixed media, Subway Art)

I am moving slowly today, but I wanted to blog about my new favorite artistic medium…  Subway Art!  I got a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas 2014.  There is a large learning curve so it took me a while to make it really work for me.  I designed and made these two signs for Amanda and Marissa for Christmas.


I then worked up a piece using a line from a Beatles’ song — Let It Be.  I have a piece ready to ship tomorrow.  I like this one too!


…whisper Words of Wisdom…

And then I had a great epiphany… my favorite group, Chicago was inducted into the Rock & Roll HOF.  I found a website that listed their top 10 songs… so I made a piece with their top 10 songs listed..

Subway Art-1

I can do any type of lettering with my Cameo.  The only caveat is I need to be patient as layers dry.  Also… do not buy cheap contact paper — you will have to re-do again and again.  (ask me how I know that?!?!?!)

So, this is once again another way to express myself — and I think I’ve only touched the surface of all I will be able to do!!

Permalink Leave a Comment

I am Fearless!! (Becoming the Child I Never Was)

January 24, 2016 at 1:32 pm (mixed media) ()

I spent yesterday in bed with a trigeminal and occipital neuralgia attack.  The storm blew through, leaving over a foot of snow.  DannyO spent the day plowing.  I spent it making bargains with God.  It didn’t work and as usual, things had to run their course.  Today I am medicated to the gills but am vertical, not horizontal so that is good.

I am taking an art course on line for the first time, Life Book 2016. Every week there is a new lesson.  This week our lesson was by Annie Hamman called “Fearless Art.”  She works with her four-year-old daughter Tallulah on some pieces, allowing Tallulah to paint on a piece she has already worked on and then finishing it, without covering up Tallulah’s marks.

She encouraged us to let our children work on the piece with us.  Since my “children” are grown and in different states and I have no grandchildren, I followed the directions that used me as the child!

The problem is, I always colored in the lines, even as a small child.  I was not fearless, but very cautious.  I liked (and still do) knowing the outcome before I started.  So… this was indeed a stretch, trying to become the child I never was.  Add my usual anxiety and OCD and there is a strong possibility this exercise will be another *FAIL*    Hmmmm…

Fearless Art-4

I sketched a loose interpretation of my face (hey, it’s my art, I can dream… 🙂  )

The second issue is that Annie paints completely different than I do — using bold colors as her undertones.  I always choose a “safe” route — skin-like tones, shadowing and highlighting as expected.  But, since I’m trying to grow as an artist, I chose to use the colors she used — phthalo blues and greens — very bold!!

I painted using the colors she suggested and thought to myself, “What a mess!! And I’m supposed to mess this up even more???”  My anxiety was high.  It was hard to even leave the painting in this state before becoming a child again.

Fearless Art-1

So now comes the even harder part…  How to I think like the child I never was??  Hmmm… so I got out pink and purple because those were (and still are) my favorite colors.  I drew and stenciled but stayed safe.  Then I thought, if I were four, how would I draw a mouth??  And… I drew a smiley face right over my painted mouth.  Yikes!!

Fearless Art-2

I am almost glad I couldn’t paint yesterday because I probably would have tried and covered up most of the “mess.”  But since I had to wait until today…

Fearless Art-5

I left most of the underneath mess visible, only adding lines where I felt I needed to make things understandable.  You can still see the smiley face underneath the lips.  I had to make wild curly hair instead of the soft waves I had originally planned because young “Melodye” used a lot of squiggly lines.

Fearless Art-3

I am very very very proud of this piece!!  I actually love her!!  I feel like a door opened – and I will be able to use what I learned again.  Will this be my “new normal” way of painting??  Probably not, but, Annie, if a woman with OCD and anxiety can do this, you can be called a miracle worker!!


Permalink 1 Comment

Chicago’s Top 10 Hits – Subway Art

January 21, 2016 at 8:27 pm (mixed media, Subway Art)

I am working on a bigger project but I wanted to show you a fun one I did over the last few days.

As my daughter knows very well, I was obsessed with two things in 2015; the music of Chicago and seeing Jeff Gordon win the Sprint Cup Championship.  (Amanda, did you check out “A Hit By Varese?”)

Jeff didn’t win, but Chicago was elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!!

I’ve downloaded most of their music to my iPod because I don’t have a record player to play their albums and got to thinking about their top songs of all times.

The website, Ultimate Classic Rock actually has a list of their top 10 songs.  I thought some more and wondered if there would be a way to use my trusty Cameo and make a piece of subway art…

Ta Da….. !!

Subway Art-1

My favorite song “Little Miss Lovin'” isn’t on the list 😦

It was a lot of work but a lot of fun 🙂   I used a layering technique and used the Cameo to make the stencils

Subway Art-2

This is the stage when I put the stencils on the piece, and subsequently painted over it 🙂

So, it was an easy and very fun project…  🙂


Permalink Leave a Comment

That Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)

January 17, 2016 at 9:54 pm (Creative adventures, Knitting projects, mixed media)

I am taking a 5-6 day break from Facebook.  I find that it can be a giant hole that sucks me in and before I know it, hours have passed!!  I’ve got stuff to do!!  So… if you don’t hear from me, I’m okay, really, I am!!

Last year I bought a beautiful book of knitting projects called Boutique Knits.The Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)-5

I have to be honest and tell you that I bought it solely for the hat pictured on the cover!!  Actually there are a few more I want to work up but I need the specific needles so that goes in my pile of “to-do projects.”

Knitting for me is an interesting adventure because I am a self-taught, left-handed knitter!! Everything I read now tells me I should have learned the “continental” way.  Well, I tried that last year and it was a big fat *FAIL.  So, I need to reverse all of the directions.  Try and do that while you are knitting (and you only knit once or twice a year)!!  You guessed it… I tear out rows and rows!!

Anyway, I made the beautiful hat last year in a raspberry color.  I was Amanda’s “band” for a women’s retreat while she led worship.  I had her put the hat on and she looked so beautiful in it I gave it to her!

The Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)-3

Doesn’t she look beautiful?!?!?! (As an aside, it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to get this ONE picture from her Instagram account 🙂  )   I may not be tech-savy, but I am persistent!!

Anyway, this year I decided to knit myself one.  I didn’t want a twin look so I chose a lighter pink.  It went much smoother this time because I caught my “backwards” error only two rows into the body of the hat!!

The Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)-2

I love my hat!!

Today the Pittsburgh Steelers played in a playoff game in Denver.  I was so nervous and since I couldn’t peruse Facebook for relief, (remember my hiatus…), I decided to draw a face with a twist…

The Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)-4.jpg

Isn’t she beautiful???  I don’t know what I’m going to do with her, but I know it will be something special!!

Here’s to a productive week!!!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Drawing Faces… and More Faces

January 14, 2016 at 5:05 pm (mixed media)



This is where I am now… but here is where I began



I began art classes in 2006.  I learned how to paint flowers and scenes, learned Rosemaling and other decorative art techniques.  I always said “I can’t draw!”

Millie was my first face, drawn three years ago.  I was in a dark place and was doodling as I sat one rainy October day.  I drew her and wrote “Millie” without thought.

A year ago I had an idea for 4 mixed media pieces — I call them my “Journey” Pieces. “Find Joy In the Journey” “Find Strength for the Journey” “Find Courage for the Journey” “Fine Hope In the Journey”

Okay, so I had my concept, now I needed to figure out how to draw faces!!  My Millie face was inspired so she didn’t count!!

So, I started drawing.  My first attempts weren’t very good but I kept drawing.  I don’t have every face I drew because quite honestly some ended up in “File 13.”   I usually draw faces when I am watching TV in the evening with DannyO.  The best book I purchased (and it was worth every penny) is Jane Davenport’s Book on Drawing Beautiful Faces.   Here are a few…

I kept at it…



And here I am now!!

Danny says they all look alike 🙂  I say I have a brain thinking something very specific and these are what pop out!!  My noses and mouths are getting more detail.  I am learning how to draw eyes without huge eyelashes!!

As I continue to grow as an artist, I will keep practicing!  It will be interesting to see how they evolve.  I love all of my girls.  In my eyes they are all beautiful!!!

Have you tried something completely new and different lately??  If not, why not??  You CAN do it!!

Permalink Leave a Comment

January Sewing Adventures

January 11, 2016 at 12:42 pm (Sewing Projects)

I have sewed since I was 10 years old.  This was my very first sewing project.  🙂


My First Sewing Project… 1969

I have gained weight and nothing in my closet fits.  Until I lose the weight (It may be at the 12th of never), I wanted to have some pieces that I feel comfortable wearing.

I like to purchase from small retailers and I’ve bought Hot Patterns for about five years but haven’t made any of them until now.  Their patterns are printed on heavy paper and I find that the sizes are closer to what I wear in ready-to-wear (size 10-12).

The first pattern I made was their “Fast and Fabulous blouse-back T.” I altered the pattern to make a jacket in the style of a popular QVC designer… I added two inches to the center front for the placket.  I also made the sleeves 3/4″ instead of short. Because I opened the front, the back shoulders ended up being a bit big.  Because of that, I sewed a small dart from the shoulder seam, diagonally, to the sleeve seam.

I then decided to make their “Fast & Fabulous Famous Tummy-taming Trousers.” I did make a muslin for this pattern.  I wore a size 12 without any alterations.  I used a stretch denim I got at Joann Fabrics.  I am very pleased with the way this pant turned out. I sewed them in two hours, including the invisible zipper.  I did not include the side-slit because I intend to wear these in our cold PA winters!   I am learning to master my serger and it came in handy as I zipped through this project.

I have a lighter color denim I am going to use the next time.  I also will probably shorten the waist by about one inch.  I love the high-waist look but I want a more neutral waist next time.

I hope to finish my jacket this week.


McCalls 7256

The paint is dry on my in-progress subway art so I must get back to my task at hand.  I hope you enjoyed reading about my sewing projects 😀

Permalink Leave a Comment

My Happy Place

January 9, 2016 at 2:12 pm (Decorative Painting, mixed media, Sewing)

With my house undressed from the Christmas season, I am ready to hit the ground running in 2016.  I have some orders for my mixed media and subway art.  While I wait for some basecoating to dry, I thought I’d share with you pictures of my favorite place in our house (besides the coffee pot). 🙂

My little art studio is about 10’x 14′ in total.  I have to keep it relatively clean or else I cannot work.  I tell DannyO, he has the basement, garage, and woodworking shed for all of his hobbies and I have my little room… sort of like trying to get a Saint Bernard through a cat door!!

My little room has 7 large windows and because it is 3 stories high, in the summer time I feel like I’m in a tree house.  In the winter, it is a refuge for me as I hibernate.  I love to watch snow fall as I sit at my work tables.

I have covered the walls with posters from my daughter’s music endeavors, newspaper clippings about my son and family photos.  I have two file cabinets, which are stuffed full of books and patterns.  My fabric wall is pretty well organized.

I have a great place to put my paint and pencils and markers, a rolling cart from Ikea.  In fact, I’d like another one (hint, hint to my family… Mother’s Day present!!).

My Happy Place-1

I have a long table that holds my art projects.  I need that much space because I often work on more than one thing and need places for art to dry.  I have a picture of my Grandma Millie (more about her in a later post) and my original “Millie” sketch where I can see them all the time.  I have a card table for my computer and Silhouette Cameo.  I had to purchase a covered garbage can because Jazzy Joy has a paper towel fetish.  The more paint it has on it, the better.  It’s a good thing that Heritage Multimedia paints are safe!!

My Happy Place-9

I also have a dedicated sewing table.  I used to paint for relaxation but since I have orders to fill, I sew to relax!!  I have a few finished pieces to post another day.

My Happy Place-10

Of course, every happy place needs music!!  I have my iPod filled with about  5 days of music!!  I usually “shuffle songs” so I can have a variety.  DannyO got me a TV for my birthday and he has it mounted on the wall.  When the Steelers make me nervous, I go up to my art studio and move paint around while watching the game.  That way if they lose, I don’t feel like I’ve wasted four hours!!

Since I haven’t blogged in a long time, I am going to show you some pieces that I finished in the last six months!!

It is my practically perfect place for relaxation and work!!  Thank you for taking the tour with me!!  I hope you have a place in your home where you can be happy too!!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Practicing Praise

January 7, 2016 at 4:09 pm (mixed media) (, )

Today has been “one of those days.”  I was up most of the night with trigeminal neuralgia pain.  We have company coming for supper (I’m not cooking… ). I had a list… I always have a list!!  I begin to edit my list at 7:00 a.m. because I had to medicate to the gills to function.

Meanwhile, the art class I am taking, Life Book 2016, includes some new techniques, using Tombow markers and Caran D’Ache Neocolor II wax pastels.  I’m an acrylics and colored pencil girl and am very comfortable with those mediums.

You’d think that after 56 years I’d learn when NOT to try something new.  Now I must start over on the very first project of the series!  Ugh!!

Jazzy has been particularly restless today.  Her Dad needs to take her for a three-hour hike this weekend!!

Practicing Praise-1

Through all of this frustrating day, I’ve been practicing praise. I’m trying not to grouse through my angst, but am working to see the bright side of my circumstances.  I had a running dialogue with the Lord and myself today…  “Thank you Lord for my blessings…”  “Come on Mel… you can do the next thing…” It made the day easier to handle.

I don’t have to go to a job so when my TN overwhelms me with pain, I can stay home and medicate.

Nothing on my list needed done (except clean the toilets), so I pared it down to a few necessaries.

Jazzy just spent lots of time outside –  on her leash – surveying her kingdom.

My art project is a work in progress.  I’m doing the work, accepting the failures as I perfect new techniques.

Our friends will come tonight and we will have a wonderful time.  It will be all good 😀

This mixed media piece is one I did in July.  She is still with me and I love her 🙂


Practicing Praise-2

I am a “Child of the King!” (see my crown??)

He inhabits our praise!!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Daring to Dream

January 5, 2016 at 3:29 pm (mixed media, Sewing Projects) (, , )

It was cold, cold, cold outside this morning.  My face told me it was cold.  I had already decided to hibernate, but darling DannyO forgot his phone and Jazzy and I took a trip to Johnstown to deliver said phone.  I had my face completely covered up and the air still effected me.

My OCD doesn’t like changes in schedules but I flipped my errand day from tomorrow until today.

I’ve been pondering why I’m spinning in circles and I realized that I had forgotten how to dream!!  I encourage my kids to dream and reach their highest potential.  I encourage darling hubby to dream.  In fact,in may, he left a job he held for nearly 20 years to take a chance on something new (Yay DannyO!!!)

But once my music dreams faltered because of my physical issues, I became stuck… I didn’t dream for me!  I’ve been stuck since 2012.

We are so blessed in America that we CAN dream!  Our days aren’t filled with making sure we have the simple necessities of life.  In some countries, I’d be searching for water, harvesting fields, sweeping dirt floors.  But I sit here in my warm house and, after I’ve taken care of my daily chores, I can dream, but I didn’t… until now!!

This morning, as I read my devotion book given to me by my best friend, Juel, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young , this quote stood out.

“True dependence is not simply asking Me to bless what you have decided to do. It is coming to Me with an open mind and heart, inviting Me to plant My desires within you.  I may infuse within you a dream that seems far beyond your reach.  You know that in yourself you cannot achieve such a goal.  Thus begins your journey of profound reliance on Me…  This is not a path of continual success but of multiple failures.  However, each failure is followed by a growth spurt, nourished by increased reliance on Me.”

I have a dream that my art can somehow reach people and I can supplement our income with said art.  I have a dream that I resume my love of sewing, something I’ve done since I was 10 years old.  I have a dream that I can make my blog into something someone wants to read, full of encouragement. I have a dream that I can somehow, someway, rise above the intense pain I live with and remake me — a rebirth of sorts at 56!!

Working on a coat with wool that a friend gave me about 4 years ago.

McCalls 7256


Working on Subway art…


My sketch for my first “assignment” I’m taking, Life Book 2016





Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »