In my thinking, there is nothing better than crayons and a piece of art paper. The smell of the crayon always brings back the best of memories and the feel of art paper is genuine and satisfying to the touch. Both sit in my art room at eye level and both remind me that they are but simple yet essential tools for turning imagination into concrete creations.
Over 25 years of training transformed me into a visual communication artist. I am trained to evaluate both raw sensory data and human perception. I find that the need to communicate visually covers a wide range of interests, peoples, and venues–art history, design fundamentals and history, philosophy, film critique, photography, human behavior, curatorship, and journalism. My 3 favorites? graphic design, photography, and Christian life.
Throughout my transformation, my artist toolbox continued to grow. And for a while, I put aside the tradition pencil, paper, and glue to be captured by the emerging digital world of art and technical artistry. As it happened, in the early ‘90’s, I taught my first Adobe Photoshop 1.0 class as a teaching assistant,.
Later, advanced studies broadened my visual communication toolbox even further with research, with theories, and perspectives. In this online workshop and seminar, I will share with you the ones that proved in many ways most interesting as well as rewarding.
My workshops and seminars are offered on both an individual and small group basis. On this page, you will find short descriptions along with links for both the free and paid courses that are designed to engage your creative spirit and spark your imagination. Whether you are a hobbyist or emerging Christian professional, I hope that you enjoy the offerings and share the links with others.
ML Buck, PhD / Visual Communication Artist / Christian Life Coach
With this post, I am extending an exclusive invitation to Christian women to come with me on a 12-week digital journey. The destination? A place where journaling, visual communication, and your inner artistic spirit intersect. If you are a younger woman just starting out on your life’s journey and seeking a deeper relationship with Christ, this place is created with you in mind.
Starting Tuesday, September 29, 2020, my Facebook page will open as a meeting place. This is a place where we can gather for the purpose of art journaling, for sharing creative thoughts, and expressing God’s goodness through the works of our hands.
The goal of the workshop is singular: to challenge you with a journaling prompt based on a Bible verse. It provides a time to reflect, rethink, build, and strengthen the gifts, skills, and abilities God has given you. It offers a place to receive encouragement, to look beyond the visible in practical tangible ways, to become stronger than lions in your Christian walk. Perhaps, more importantly, it can be the place where your life’s calling and purpose comes into sharpened focus.
It all begins with a weekly Bible verse prompt. During the 12 weeks you will be able to share your thoughts in the comments area. I find that just the simple act of sharing with others oftentimes breaks the chains of anxiety and worry that hold back creative work. And, I make it fun and easy by focusing in on just 3 areas of interest: people, places, and pets.
In addition to the workshop’s prompts and comments, every week through December I will illustrate, explain, design and create using techniques from the field of visual communication arts. These techniques are great no matter your level of experience. The techniques are also great for working through any creative mental blocks and keeping the artistic flow moving.
At the beginning of each week, I will use this blog (Living Life’s Way) to share my thoughts and provide a starting point for our discussions and creative work. As time allows, I will also include a link to a YouTube demonstrating a mixed media technique that you can try out for yourself. Of course, as the Spirit leads, we can always Zoom and meet !
This 12-week workshop is based on my training in communication arts, education, life experiences and ministry calling. My undergraduate work was in television and radio broadcasting which along with my advanced degrees shape the work that I do today as a 180 advisor or consultant. (You can read about the latest ministry development in my previous post: Knocking on Heaven’s Door). Teaching is my life’s calling and ministry gift. It does have a touch of serendipity, so I enjoy it greatly and am very thankful that God has allowed this open door as part of my Christian life coaching ministry.
Over the last forty years, God has refined my purpose and calling. He used the many art awards my work received to draw my attention, to lead, and guide me through my life’s journey. My work has been displayed, published, purchased, printed, and copied. I still have my first piece using 2 pieces of construction paper, scissors, and glue. It is an amazingly simple piece and I keep it to remind me that most times simpler is better.
I hope you give this 12-week workshop much thought and accept the challenge as a young woman in Christ toward developing a deeper richer Christian life using art journaling. I pray that the work of your hands be blessed and increase. And may God use this workshop and our time together to reveal, to establish, and bring to focus His purpose and calling in your life.
Put the date on your calendar now–9/29/20! And, share this invitation with your best girlfriends. All are welcome. And remember: As God gets bigger in our life, we get stronger!
Dr. Buck / Christian Life Coach / 180 Advisors
Please note that no previous art or writing experience is required to join this workshop. To get started, all you need is a computer and access to the Internet. A cell phone camera will come in handy to record and upload your work to Facebook.
A few months ago, our Pastor encouraged us to think about ways of how the stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate could be a blessing. He suggested that God could and would open a door of opportunity for anyone that asked.
As I sat before my laptop screen listening to his message, I felt a nudge inside of me. I wondered if it were possible or even appropriate for a 70-year-old retired professor of communication arts to even consider such a challenge.
The thoughts came: What would a door of opportunity look like? What would it sound like? Who and what would be on the other side of that door? Oddly, the thoughts made me nervous and yet excited. With raised eyebrows, I questioned: Was this challenge really meant for me?
Six months later, I am now a 180 Advisor and Virtual Learning Coach. I am glad that I accepted our Pastor’s challenge. The challenge, however, was not without an inner fight and resulted in many a long nights, bleary eyes, and weary bones.
Perhaps, it’s best to start with telling you what a 180 Advisor is and what it is not. A 180 Advisor is not a pyramid scheme, a swindler’s dream or confidence game. Rather, I find it to be an activity involving both extreme mental and physical efforts. It can draw both the best and worst out of me, so, keeping my eyes open and catching myself from the temptation of bulldozing others out of my way remains high on my must-remember-to-do list.
The name 180 Advisor came from John, my daughter’s beau. John’s work involves helping businesses through financial crisis. He told me that there exists a huge difference between a 360 degree and a 180-degree turn. One leaves you going in the same dizzy direction headed toward crisis whereas the other, 180, means a turnabout, a shift, a complete change in the direction and thought in which one is engaged. I adopted the name immediately and asked his permission to become one of his 180 agents. John agreed.
This excitement helped to balance the anxiety that had recently crept in as the stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate had closed all my avenues of social interaction. Our library volunteer manager wrote an exceptionally long and sad goodbye as the City closed our library’s doors. My Homeowners Owners Association banned all public meetings. The distance to my family and neighbors’ homes grew longer with the passing of each day. And, although, the broadcasted public announcements continually reassured me that I was not alone and that separation did not mean isolation, I could not help feeling I was on my own.
It was in this gradually growing state of mindfulness that I answered my cell phone on that early April morning. The person on the other side of the phone greeted me with her familiar term of endearment “My sister,” and went on to ask: “how are you? I was wondering if you had time to talk.” And talk we did. And I’m glad we did. I still have the notes I took during our conversation about teaching and teachers and developing online training because of COVID-19 and the need to shift from classroom instruction to online using computers and the Internet. The pivot was shaking the field education like a 6.0 earthquake.
A few weeks ago, I gave my first online Zoom presentation to a university in Florida. It went very well. I felt like a 180 Advisor—that I am making a difference. And, best of all, I have been invited back next month to provide additional faculty training in online pedagogical practices for educators. This was not an opportunity that I could have foreseen. It is, however, a personal turnaround for which I am grateful and thank God for opening this door of engagement. I had forgotten most of my training in education and so it forced me to reconnect to theory and to practice and, most importantly, people.
In addition to my consulting work, I am also opening a new series of art on my Art Journaling Facebook page connected to my blog here at Living Life’s Way. Over the last seventy years, I’ve learned a lot about life and the 3P’s—people, places, and pets. And, apparently, a need exists for older Christian women sharing life experiences with younger women in those areas! — (we’ll talk more about that later).
The opening verse is taken from Philippians 1:11 (TLB). “May you always be doing those good, kind things that show you are a child of God, for this will bring much praise and glory to the Lord.”
My hope is that younger women everywhere can learn from both my successes as a new creature in Christ as well as the hard-earned lessons from my missteps as God’s new creation.
Not too long ago, I posted a text message to thirteen of my immediate family members. The text included a simple greeting and acknowledged the challenge of living with heart disease. The text message read:
…as you already know, some of our family members regretfully suffer with heart conditions. Heart disease is known to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The disease is currently rated as one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It affects all ages but particularly adults according to researchers at Cedars Sinai Hospital, Beverly Hills, California.
Based on my 20 years of training as a researcher, I would like to share with you some of the information I found concerning heart disease: trends, care, and current treatment protocols. I will provide informational links from top ranked medical centers and other related agencies over the next few weeks on my Facebook social media page.
I believe that knowledge is power. I pray that this knowledge will help us better understand the disease and support those affected by it.
As my family continues to face the challenge of a life-threatening disease, my hopes are reinforced and strengthened through our love for each other and our confidence in God. A confidence revealed through a gentle word or embrace, a home cooked meal or encouraging phone call. As my older sister often remarks: Dear Christ have mercy on us as we try to be of help.
The following link may be of general interest to many and sets a foundational footing for the information on heart disease that will follow over the next few weeks.
The first sign of Christmas holidays began a few weeks ago. The temperature dipped, sweaters and jackets worn, and colorful light displays hung. Directly across the walkway, my neighbors had finished decorating their courtyard with strings of lights swirled around two of their palm trees. Blinking lights hugged the framework of windows and doorways. The holidays had arrived.
Last year, I spent most of the holidays at my brother’s house enjoying turkey, gravy, stuffing, a fresh apple pie, and decorations.He’s received several city awards acknowledging the beauty, design and layout of his Christmas-themed lighted yard. My favorite was the electronic mailbox that opened by itself revealing a letter addressed to baby Jesus. It was regarded as the best display by most of the neighbors and their kids.
This year, I made the decision to spend the holidays at home, put up some decorations, and, when possible, avoid public travel. I chose to go minimalist this year with decorations. I wanted to create a small display in my kitchen area that celebrated family and friends. My creative engine started to engage. Handmade decorations? Green and red floral cutouts? Glittered paper balls? Gold papered garland?
As I looked through the bins of decorative papers, paints, stencils, and wrapping accessories, I noticed a red, shoe-sized box in the guest bedroom closet. It was a box that had followed me through the various apartments, rented houses and rented rooms over the past ten years. I was surprised that it had made the trip and all the wanderings with such little wear and tear!
With the box open and sitting on the guest bed, I pulled out the items one by one. The cardboard container was full of old Christmas cards and letters sent to me by family, friends, students, and colleagues. The senders wished me well. Some of the cards described in short fashion the joy, the work, or the interests that we had shared between us.
Each card was a reminder of a special and unique relationship. My first-cousin sent his best wishes the Christmas before he passed. Colleagues sent family updates after we graduated from our doctorate program. Family sent photos and annual news letters. My daughter celebrated moving into our new place. And, my son sent a picture of an alpaca from a farm they had visited just before the holidays. There were many more cards filled with holiday cheer from friends and church members I’d come to know. My smile grew broader with each found treasure. I decided to string the cards like garland across my patio sliding door. Without a doubt, the holidays had arrived!
Yesterday morning, sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee in hand, I watched as the garland of cards sparkled in the morning light. And, I did not hesitate in my answer to: What did I learn this week? I learned that love holds up throughout the years; the cards acted as a reminder.
And, in response to the lesson I learned this week, I wanted to create a special greeting to honor all of the well wishes sent to me. I am also very grateful to all who sent their greetings of joy over the years and kept me in their prayers. God bless you greatly. Thank you for sharing your love with me.
Additionally, I wanted to try my hand at a mixed media project. The pencil drawing at the top of this post is a thumbnail of the concept. Below is the completed mixed media journal entry with text. The title of the piece is: Found Treasure. The theme is celebrating Christ and love.
A week before Thanksgiving holiday, I received an unexpected knock at my front door. It was Charles, a neighbor who lived just one courtyard over to my west. As I opened my door, I noticed that he held a dog leash loosely in his hand along with a small disposable waste bag. Kingsley, his small cocker spaniel companion dog, however, was absent from his side.
“I’m going on vacation,” said Charles with a squinted look of anxiety mixed with anticipation in his eyes, “and wondered if you might be interested in sitting Kingsley.”
“Yes, of course,” I replied excitedly, “I’m available Saturday early afternoon before the holiday. Would that work?”
Dog sitting has been a hobby that I’ve enjoyed as I’ve gotten older. As a young girl and later young woman, however, dog sitting was not always my top choice of things to do. I had been bitten as a young girl of 7. I did not know the dog; it was a stranger; and so was I. During a visit, the dog snuck up from behind me and sank its fangs into the back of my left thigh.
Not much attention was given to the bite as it was a neighbor’s dog, not a deep bite, and the bleeding stopped after a few minutes. Once home, my mom washed it out with soap and water, applied a bandage, and kissed my forehead then sent me on my way. Although inspected, cleaned, bandaged, and comforted, the bite continued to be sore for sometime. I’ve never quite got over the animals first response to me and my inability to clearly communicate.
What I noticed immediately about Kingsley, however, was that he was not the type of dog that used his teeth as first response to strangers. I was glad to learn that he liked fur brushing and petting better. Our first walk together went very well, however, I learned that his second defense was stubbornness.
As we walked together, I in lead position, Kingsley followed behind me by three steps. We walked well together until I passed the first small bush to my right. At this point, he stalled. “Come on, Kingsley. Come on, good boy!” I said gently with a short quick snap of the leash. He replied by sitting, front paws dug into the ground beneath him.
Kingsley had gotten it into his mind that he was on his own. Freedom had made him stubborn. The garden had become his kingdom. I tried to reign him in with a few clicks of my tongue. Evidently, tongue clicking was not in his vocabulary. For despite the many times as I clicked, there simply was no response except for the strong pull on his leash to the right.
“Come on, Kingsley. Come on, boy!” I said with a slightly quicker and stronger tug. Kingsley remained distracted; he had forgotten that our original plan was to walk around the gated community of approximately a quarter mile. Although it took several tries to communicate with Kingsley my desire, he eventually showed himself as a smart and gentle animal.
Through our walks together that week, I learned that like Kingsley, there are those things around me that can distract, detour, and even disturb me from my objective. Some distractions are lovely: the smell of a flower, the warmth of the sun, the sounds of the birds; these should be especially appreciated when life seems to be racing. And then again, some distractions should be simply ignored.
Once Kingsley realized that I was communicating my need to move along, I was very thankful for having him at my side; it was like having a good friend and companion. After Charles picked him up, I wanted to do a mixed media project that would present the wonder of a walk with a good companion.
What does companionship look like, what does it feel like? I’ll use one of my monoprints as a background; add some pattern and texture; an object; and, see if I can capture the element of companionship that only a dog like Kingsley can offer. The title of this piece is: A Walk With Kingsley. The theme is companionship in life. The thumbnail at top of page is a rough draft of concept. Here is the journal entry with text: