Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Author/Artist for August: Mysti Parker, Oil Painter

I have a LOT of crafting hobbies, but I've never really tried painting. Maybe it's because my grandfather was an artist. We (my mom, brothers, and I) have his paintings up in our homes and I've always known I could never come close to his skill. But Mysti Parker, author of all types of romance, often posts pictures of her projects, so I asked her to share a bit about her passion.

A Writer’s Not-So-Daunting Hobby
By Mysti Parker
Once upon a time, I would often think about taking up oil painting, only to toss the notion aside. It seemed so daunting when I thought about all the materials I would need to get started. For years, I’ve consoled myself by watching Bob Ross videos. It may have been his soothing voice as he painted “happy little trees,” but to me, it just looked so relaxing to swipe those colors on a canvas and end up with something beautiful.
As an author, I do this daily with the words I write. Starting from a blank page, I can create magical worlds, poignant romance, comedy that will make you snort out your tea, and historical settings that take you back in time. Visualizing plot and settings is something most creative writers do as their stories unfold.  An interesting study in Germany revealed that writers use many parts of their brains as they work, including the vision-processing regions.
We’re naturally a creative lot, but every writer gets burned out now and then. All work and no play makes…you know how it goes. Ask any writer what they do in their downtime, and many of them will probably say they enjoy some other creative art. I know writers who paint, draw, knit, sew, and play musical instruments. We do enjoy our creative side, so we tend to use it in order to relax. Doing other creative arts activates different areas of the brain and gives our writing neurons a break.

So, in the hopes of finding a new way to both relax and enjoy my creative side, I finally decided to take up oil painting this summer. The materials needed still seemed daunting, but I researched many options. Traditional oil paints require paint thinners and solvents that can be harmful. Since I knew I would be doing some painting with at least one of my kids, I wanted a safer option.
That’s when I found water-mixable oil paints. No paint thinners or solvents needed. After a friend’s suggestion, I went online to Jerry’s Artarama and ordered a starter set of ten Lucas Berlin water-mixable oil colors. What surprised me most was how affordable it was. They had a great sale going and a free shipping offer, so I also ordered some tabletop easels. I bought brushes and canvases at Walmart and at Michael’s using an in-store coupon. We were set.
But, would they truly work as well as traditional oils? The answer is yes. You can thin them with water or oil and they still have the smooth consistency of traditional paints. A side note: If you thin with oil (we used lavender essential oil), you can also use your traditional oil paints with them. Plus, the lavender oil smells awesome and is soothing in itself.
My goal with painting isn’t to sell them or have them displayed in museums or anything like that. We’re just hanging them around the house for cheap and unique d├ęcor. When your goal is to simply have fun and relax, that takes away all the stress. Plus, it’s a great way to have quality me time and quality time with my middle child, Zoe. She’s creative-minded like me, so we’ve painted a few pictures together. Our latest is the two-canvas fish. I love how it turned out. My husband will be hanging it over his big fish tank when it’s dry. A side note: I get my painting ideas and techniques from Pinterest and painting tutorials on YouTube.
A bonus benefit to my new hobby is that it gives the writer portions of my brain a much-needed break, which is particularly helpful when I’m suffering from writer’s block or simple burnout. After a fun painting session, I’m usually ready to jump back into my work-in-progress. If I’d known it would be fun, relaxing and motivational, I’d have started much sooner! 
You can find Mysti on Facebook as well as her website, and on Twitter and Pinterest.
Mysti's is the author The Ghost of January, soon to be released at Eskape Press:
Against her father's wishes, twenty-year-old January Cooper elopes with her high school sweetheart and leaves for a fairytale honeymoon in Europe. Two weeks later, she's a widow, abandoned by her husband's family and too ashamed to contact hers. She works her way across the continent, scared, but determined to make it on her own.

Renowned food and travel blogger Diederik DeVries arrives in his native Amsterdam and hears rumors of a Ghost Lover who has supposedly left a trail of broken hearts all over Europe. A chance encounter with an American girl named Jan leaves him wondering if she could be this elusive legend.

Despite her fears of falling in love again, January is just as intrigued with the charming and handsome Diederik. Though he is determined to discover her true identity, she refuses to tell him anything about her past. All he wants is to break down the walls of her hidden heartache to find the real woman within. But will the ghosts of January's past take her away from him before he ever gets that chance?

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