On Life Book 2015 (and lack of posts the past week)

Welp, my post on burning out came at the perfect time. I haven’t completely burnt out, but life did get a lot more hectic since the last post. I’ve been pretty stressed out about life stuff and finding a new job, so I took a tiny blog hiatus and more importantly an impromptu trip to Virginia the day after my last post, and boy did it help! The following photo perfectly sums up my mini-vacation (hanging out with vegans rules because you get to eat their free ice cream dessert at lunch).

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Having a glorious time in Virginia.

This trip was a milestone for me because I didn’t get my license until I was 27 years old and it’s the furthest I’ve ever driven (~2.5-3 hours). I made the trip by myself and it was a really relaxing, beautiful drive. I made the most of it by listening to Audible for half the ride, and Spotify for the other. Sidenote: I’ve just finished the Wool book series and it is AMAZING if you’re into sci-fi. Unfortunately, it took a grand total of four hours back at work last Monday for my blood pressure to go bonkers again. The rest of the week didn’t prove to be any easier and I can’t get into details but work is likely going to be fairly insane for a few weeks and possibly until I leave.

In addition to the work craziness, I recently took over as organizer for the Philadelphia Self Quantifiers meetup group. I am really excited to take over and try to make the group meet more often, but it is pretty time consuming learning the ins-and-outs of running and group and trying to find presenters, etc (speaking of: If you’re into QS and have something cool to present shoot me an email!). All of the above has made my afformentioned mini-research project using the data from Curalate difficult to work on, but I am still reading articles and compiling data here and there when I can. Things are crazy, but hopefully I can balance it out and stay positive and productive in spite of it all.

SPEAKING OF… one of the main things that has been keeping me sane/positive/etc since the beginning of the year is the real star of this post: Life Book 2015. I’ve mentioned this in passing here a few times, and if you follow me on any social media, you’ve seen me posting my Life Book pages and progress photos, but I wanted to touch on this more extensively here.

What is Life Book 2015?

Life Book is a year long mixed media art class organized by the wonderful and talented Tamara Laporte of Willowing Arts. It’s an online course taught by Tam and 25 other really talented art teachers. Each week a new video (or videos) is uploaded, most of the time but not always with an accompanying supplemental PDF. Life Book consists of 34 main lessons and 18 bonus activities. At the end of the year Tam teaches you how to bind your Life Book pages into a book, hence the book part. Life Book (and Tam herself) really focuses a lot on the celebration of self, be it self love, self forgiveness, etc. This is something I can definitely use in my life.

Life Book is especially motivating and inspiring to me because I first met Tam ~10 years ago in a Livejournal art journal community. I’ve watched Tam and her art evolve over many years and to see her inspiring so many others and enjoying so much success is really wonderful. Tam is also the first person who introduced me to the positivity movement (but unfortunately I was too young and stubborn to listen when she first told me about it, womp womp).

Anywho – I have been seeing Life Book posts for the last two years and kept saying I’d do it and so this year I finally bit the bullet and signed up. I chose the basic Life Book package and pay $11/month and it is SO worth it. We are only on week 7 and I already feel like I have improved exponentially and learned a ton of new techniques! (Photos of my pages at the end of the post). I also want to note how supportive and awesome the Life Book community is. There is a Facebook group and everyone is so kind and helpful when you need feedback/assistance/etc. It’s pretty awesome.

If you can’t afford a class or aren’t sure if you’d dig it, Tam has a free course Art, Heart, & Healing that you can try out!

My Favorite New Art Supplies Found on Life Book

When you sign up for Life Book you get a pretty comprehensive list of supplies needed. I am lucky to have a pretty extensive art supply collection, but have added some other goodies to my stash since beginning in January. It’s been so fun finding new tools and supplies to play with. Some of my favorite new goodies are:

  1. Watersoluble Crayons – Oh man. I fell in love with watercolors in the last year and I have watercolor pencils but they are no match for the Neocolor II Crayons. These babies are so fun to work with and I like that they can be used wet or dry.
  2. Hard Rubber Brayer – These are meant for block printing, but Tam uses these to roll gesso onto pages to create a distressed look and it creates such a cool effect. I’ve also rolled acrylic paint onto pages in thin layers.
  3. Stumps – I actually just discovered these aren’t called smudge sticks, womp. I’ve had these since my second drawing class at Fleisher, but either missed the class where we were taught how to use them, or we never were. Either way, these are so cool (and probably a basic tool for most people, but I never used them)! I used these to create really subtle shadows in my ballerina photo and it was like magic.

My Life Book Pages So Far

I started out a little behind, but since I got started I anxiously wait for each new lesson to be posted on Mondays and work on them as soon as possible. Honestly, I love art and I knew I was decent but this course has shown me that I have a lot more talent than I thought. It feels good to be creating pages that make me impressed with myself, and even better: I’ve been drawing a lot more in general outside of the assignments! My completed pages (some out of order because some are still in progress) are below.

Week One:  Creative Warm Up with Tamara Laporte – For this exercise we were to choose a word or phrase to sum up what we want to focus on for the year. I chose “Change Your World” because I am planning such a drastic career change, and because I am hoping to really work actively on staying productive/positive/healthier/etc this year. Inside the envelope are some personal goals for the year (IE “Make Art a Priority).

Life Book 2015

Life Book 2015 Creative Warm Up

Week One Main Lesson: The Beacon of Light – This character was created as a representation of our connection to “the divine” however we decided to interpret that. I am not a spiritual person so I saw this as a connection to myself on a deeper level and my goals for self betterment. I followed some assignments along exactly as taught, but this is one example of a time when I changed the assignment a bit to my liking. (See Tam’s Beacon of Light here). I am generally not the best at drawing people or faces, so I was really stunned at how well this came out with Tam’s instruction. It can only get better from here!

Life Book 2015 Beacon of Light

Life Book 2015 Beacon of Light

Week Four Bonus Lesson with Patti Ballard: Courage Dear Heart – Week two had some bonus lessons I haven’t gotten to yet, and I skipped Week Three’s because it didn’t really speak to me so we are already onto week Four here. This is one of the best things about Life Book, you can do the lessons however you want/when you want/skip/etc. This bonus lesson with Patti Ballard was less guided, but I still really enjoyed it. This lesson consisted of a 15 minute sped up video of Patti creating the ballerina without any verbal instruction. Some LB members who are newer to art found it challenging, but I actually found it easy to follow along with and had a blast making it. This is my favorite LB page so far. Sidenote: She is actually supposed to be walking on a tight-rope (which is great considering my circus hobby), but I misjudged the size when I drew her so I cut that bit off, derp. Most people work on 9×12 pages but I liked the idea of my book being square so my pages end up a little different than the instructions sometimes.

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Life Book 2015 Courage Dear Heart

Week Five Bonus Lesson with Tam: Affirmation Feather – I actually AM working on the main lesson for week Five but changed it a bit so it is still in progress (we are supposed to make a Dream Catcher using a lace doiley but I wasn’t super into that idea so I am drawing mine). I did have time to make my bonus lesson, and while I found the feather wayyyyy harder to draw than anticipated, I am pretty into how it turned out. The hardest part of the lessons for me so far has been finding cool ephemera to paste on the background of my pages. I am starting to collect whatever I can for these now, because most of what I have is magazine pages and they don’t really work with the water-based materials well.

Life Book 2015 Affirmation Feather

Life Book 2015 Affirmation Feather

Week Six Main Lesson: Seeds of Love with Tam – Oh man I looked forward to this lesson for weeks. Tam posted a preview of this page in January and I was so so excited to learn how to make it. She had one free sped up video of this but I couldn’t quite follow what she was doing as well as I followed the LB instruction. I was super intimidated trying to draw my own funky plants so I copied Tam’s pretty exactly, but I plan to make some more of these soon! This page is supposed to represent things in our life that fill us with joy or love, that we want to celebrate. Mine need to be a little less obvious so I may cover them more, but for now this is the page.

Life Book Seeds of Love

Life Book Seeds of Love

Week Seven Bonus Lesson One: Magical Mystery Tour – So I am not actually sure why this is called a Magical Mystery Tour, but either way I really loved this lesson. I spent a really long time on it (I wonder if I go slower because I watch Netflix while I paint), and I have to admit I am not super pleased with the face (and it took me so damn long, ugh!). I kind of wish I had just gotten rid of the face element but whatever, it’s there. I am probably going to make more of these without the face (to hang up etc). There are also supposed to be some words coming out of the house but I wasn’t feeling it (I am finding myself less drawn to the word elements of pages), so I didn’t add them. There’s another bonus lesson this week I am going to complete tonight or tomorrow night, so keep an eye out on my twitter and instagram for those!

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Life Book Magical Mystery Tour


These are all of my completed projects so far, you can also find a link at the end of the post to a gallery where you can see my progress photos (some have more than others, it depends how patient I am when I am working). Ideally, I’d like to set up a dedicated art space with a camera mount that videotapes my progress, but I have zero time to make this happen right now. Someday!

There are a handful of non-page bonus items I haven’t done yet, such as a week two’s celebration jar and some cool mixed media tags. I like these but haven’t been super drawn into making them yet. I probably will eventually, though. Again, I like Life Book because I can choose if/when I complete the assignments and there’s no pressure.

I’ll likely post some short Life Book updates throughout the year, but here is your introduction to the course and what the heck I’ve been talking about for the last month. I am finding the course super motivating, inspiring, uplifting, etc and suggest it to anyone looking for more motivation to create on a more regular basis. Life Book is definitely keeping me sane right now so I am glad to have it as a positive distraction. I am also heading back to Virginia this weekend so hopefully I will come back more zen-like again.


References/Links from Post/Etc:

  1. Audible – I freaking love Audible and suggest it to anyone who hasn’t tried it out. I’ll probably blab about this more at some point but Audible really helps me make the most of my downtime in the car and keeps me sane during really redundant/boring experiments at work. Combining Audible with Kindle using whispersync has seriously changed my life. You can use this link to get two free months!
  2. Spotify – Spotify is the best $10 I spend each month. Seriously.
  3. Wool Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey
  4. Life Book 2015 – you can still sign up! Do it! You will love it!
  5. Art, Heart, & Healing free course by Tamara Laporte
  6. My Completed Life Book 2015 Pages
  7. My Life Book 2015 Progress Photos
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About tamarahala

Tamara is currently living in Petaluma, CA as an intern at Green String Institute! She is a mixed media artist, student aerialist, and former neuroscientist.

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