Sunday, December 28, 2008

After an almost two month hiatus, Sepia and Glitter is back

Hello readers,
I've been a crap blogger. It's true. I was fortunate enough to win an award, and I haven't posted anything since then. I have been creating some artwork, not enough, but I've just been so busy with "real life" that I haven't been keeping up much with actually documenting it (i.e. here.)

I had one of those waking up things that you get at 4:30 in the morning the other night - the kind where you wake up obsessed with some idea, and it just won't let you get back to sleep until you've processed it. The word "Simplify." I'm not sure what this means (in relationship to me, I mean), and what I'm supposed to do with it. Was it about my art? My life? My ongoing addiction to buying every mixed media book that's printed (am running out of shelf space)? Maybe I'm supposed to use my wads of expensive scrapbooking paper (not used, but impeccably sorted.) My bead stash (not used, but also impeccably sorted.) Maybe I'm supposed to concentrate on one type of media at a time and learn more about it instead of making things harder on myself by dabbling in so many art forms. I don't know.

Or maybe it just means "post to your blog more often, they don't have to be highly complex posts with eight hours of art behind each of them...."

I'll be the first to let you know when I do...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Arte Y Pico blog award!

Wow - I have won a blog award! I am really excited that people actually read my stuff and are kind enough to comment, but I'm especially thrilled to actually receive an award, so sincerest thanks to Mary at http://maryshunt.blogspot.com/ for passing along the love.

A little info about this for you: "Arte y Pico" is phrase that roughly translates in English to: "The Maximum. Wow! The best art. Over the top."

Although the words "over the top" have been applied to me before, I'm not sure it is entirely always intended with the kindness that Mary has given...;-)

Anyway, the "rules" for the Arte y Pico award are:
1. If you are an award winner, show the award, the name of the person who gave it to you, and link back to his or her blog.
2. Pick 5 blogs you think deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and for contributing to the blogging community.
3. List the author's name and link to his or her blog.
4. Leave a message on the blogs of those you've selected.
5. Link back to the original
Arte y Pico blog, so all will know the origin of the award.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Park your broomsticks - welcome to the party!

My sincerest apologies for the slight....unpleasantness....with the punch. The pixies have been sorted out, and it's time to come in! Welcome, welcome...please park your brooms by the rusty gate and help yourself to a velvet robe, a cauldron of the newly magical punch, and a wafer of moonbeams. I'm very glad to see you here!

Don't forget - if you'd like to see any of the pictures more closely, just click on the picture and it'll magically get larger!

Now that you're here, why don't meet some of our guests? Please come right this way. We'll be going through the magical gardens to reach the party. Be careful of the fountain, he doesn't bite of course, but sometimes he's been known to climb down and splash rather a lot of magic water onto our friends. You know why it's magic water, don't you? Because it disappears whenever you sit down in a puddle of it!

Aren't the gardens lovely at this time of year? If you look closely, you'll see the rare Peacock Bats rising next to the bench - they like to come over and nestle on your shoulders, so I hope you don't mind them. They're very gentle and I assure you they don't bite.

No time to smell the moonbeams and lavender - walk over the blue bridge where the urns are now, the rest of the party is dying to meet you! I have it on very reliable account that a contingent of Steampunks has made an appearance. Their locomotive is hovering somewhere near the horse-drawn hearses, so I sincerely hope their steam doesn't make everyone dewy.

Oh yes, there they are, over on the left. They're behaving themselves, guess they're not feeling quite punkish. In fact, ah, I see they're watching our Gypsy Dancer! Madame Zaza has appeared, clearly the Gypsy King doesn't know what he's missing out on....I see some Victorian Explorers are searching for the source of the Nile - no no, I assure you it's not in the fountain. Looook out! Ah, splash......I knew it. Never mind, they seem quite envigorated from their magic water dousing. Where is our Enchantress when we need her? Oh, really? She's off to sort out the Pixies again...yes, there she is walking out of the picture on the right.

I must say, things are going swimmingly at the First Annual Soul Journalers Halloween Bash!

Now what are you costumed as? I like the Faerie wings - they are fairie wings aren't they? No, they're part of your Renaissance attire. I must say, I didn't think that Queen Elizabeth generally wore wings, but right you are ma'am - and a lovely interpretation it is! Do enjoy mingling with our other guests now....I have to see about the broomsticks.

A busy hostess is never done - just as I thought, the Steampunkers Locomotive seems to have gone off on a ramble over the nearby fields, so I must fly myself. Please do enjoy the refreshments, and I'll see you all very soon in the Land of Blog Comments. After I catch that runaway locomotive, I think I'll stop by the other blog parties going on tonight - I hear there are some beautiful and festive parties to attend! Thank you Kathryn Antyr and the Soul Journalers group for sponsoring this fabulous event!

Thank you so much for joining me! I'll see you at your house!

One moment please :-) We're almost ready!

Slight delay in the party plans - yes, party will definitely be here in a very few minutes, but there is a slight....incident with the punch.....a couple of pixies spiked it! So if you can just circle around the block on your broomstick a couple more times, then come back to my door, we'll be ready to greet you. Can't wait to see your costumes!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Are you a pirate - swept along by the tides of fortune from the blazing cannons of the Spanish Main to the secret blue grottoes filled with treasure on uncharted Caribbean islands? Does the moon ride the dark seas as a galleon with you at the helm?

Or perhaps you're an enchantress, mixing herbs and magical potions kept in your Book of Secrets - lavender, moondust, mist from an enchanted pond caught in the light of the stars?

An explorer? Seeking the lost tribes of the Amazonian basin, rafting up crocodile infested waters in search of the source of the Nile somewhere in the Mountains of the Moon?

A gypsy Queen, silk veils dance before your dark eyes in the fires of the camp. You feel the earth's pulse through your bare feet as you perform the ancient dance to capture the heart of the King of the Gypsies?

Well, whoever you are (not your mundane self, your true self, the gypsy, the mystic, the dancer) come one, come all to the Soul Journal Blog Party - one of your stops is here! On October 26, by the light of the waning moon, visit my blog and see what my art journal has unearthed.

As you can see, I've decorated spookily, uh, I mean, specially for the event.

Remember, my blog, Oct. 26 - we're dying to meet you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Soul Journaling - Doodles

I should have spent more time today working on art, but I'm exhausted from working in the garden all weekend, and have got "weekend warrior" syndrome (strained lower back from planting about 20 plants including some large palm trees, bug bites, and a lovely bruise where I took on the edge of the barbecue grille one too many times) Add to my excuse list that a friend sent me one of those "why don't you join Facebook" notes, and although I've always maintained that social networking websites are for kids...well, I have spent far too much time today messing around with it.

Anyway, Kathryn's prompt for the Soul Journaling group was to create doodles and put in your journaling somewhere in your doodled lines. I kind of took it to the next level.....see above. I have to admit, I LOVE this page! It's all about my fantasies of exotic foreign travel, including India. Unfortunately my husband has beyond no interest in visiting there (although he's a great and patient travel companion in all other respects) so this may have to continue to live in the realms of my fertile imagination. Perhaps for the best, I'm sure it doesn't really have spice-laden breezes wafting in from the swaying palms of the Indian ocean....

Monday, October 6, 2008

I've been tagged!

So my friend Kathryn Antyr tagged me - I've never been tagged before but feel as though I've landed in the land of the popular kids - wow, if only they'd had this when I was in Junior High school and was officially the second least popular kid in the seventh grade!

Anyway, here is Kathryn's website, so stop by and visit her (she's a really wonderful person) :-) http://www.collagediva.com/Site/Kathryns_Blog

So, six random facts about me:

#1 - I collect ghost stories. No, I'm not a Halloween junkie, I just like going on ghost tours, and consider books of regional ghost stories to be a great vacation souvenir. I do believe in ghosts. I also collect books on outhouses and bathrooms. I believe in those too.

#2 - I held a lion cub when I was 9 years old. There's a picture and everything. He was fuzzy with a little pink belly - I was living in South Africa at the time, and we were visiting a safari park. I am not likely to pick up random lions.

#3 - I have rarely failed in getting knots and snarls pulled out of necklace chains. It's a zen thing.

#4 - I'm afraid to the point of phobia of the following things: parrots, helium balloons, hard taco shells, heights, confined spaces, and lightning. If you wanted to get rid of me, make me hold a parrot while eating a hard taco in a room where a balloon is being inflated, or just handled. Really.

#5 - There's few things better than velvet. Particularly the silk kind that practically glows and costs $75+ per yard. Now if I could only sew.

#6 - I've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark at least 100 times. I think I know every sound effect, line of dialogue and frame of film by heart. I haven't seen Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at all. Perfection is best left to stand alone.

Here's the tagging rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

4. Tag six people at the end of your post.

5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

6. Let the tagger know your entry is up.

Now, I'm tagging.....

Cindy - http://cskawins.blogspot.com/
Shelly - http://shellystick.blogspot.com/
Sarah - http://sarahwhitmire.blogspot.com/
EB - http://elizabethbunsen.typepad.com/be_dream_play/
Karen - http://karensaltereddreamz.blogspot.com/
Pattie - http://www.writingaffirmations.blogspot.com/

Go forth and tag, my friends!
Soul hugs,
Jane

Sunday, October 5, 2008

29 Gifts

My Soul Journaling friend Kathryn sent a link to the Soul Journaling group about a website called 29 Gifts.org - the idea is to give away something - an item, your time, a smile - for the next 29 days, and observe how your life changes inwardly as you give away items outwardly. It's a rather Buddhist concept, which I love, and I've signed up to participate. Here's a video all about it - perhaps you'll be interested too:


Find more videos like this on 29-Day Giving Challenge

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Paddling Upstream, a new Soul Journaling page

The soul journaling process up till now has ended, and the new era with the Soul Journaling group has begun. One of the moderators - I greatly appreciate all three moderators volunteering their time to keep a good thing going - created the group's first prompt - the Instant Gratification exercise. Clip out a picture from a magazine, then paint around it and draw concentric rings around the picture with journaling. I went to town and went a bit beyond the idea of "instant journal." As you can see, I got so busy with layering that the rings of journaling kind of disappeared, but that's what so great about visual journaling. It brings you in touch with symbolism, and the subconsious, and often what you don't say winds up revealing itself by what you paint. I truly love it.

One of the things I LOVE about this process is that you are perpetually surprised about where the art leads you - and I wound up doing a page about "paddling upstream."
I've taken on quite a few new challenges in my professional life lately, that are making me really have to work on balance. Sometimes achieving it seems a bit impossible, other times I know it will all be ok, I just have to hold a steady course. I'm sure this is one of those lessons that I'm supposed to be figuring out. As my friend Alice says, "It's a buddha that's been put in your way to teach you something."

It's been interesting to see how my art style and colors have changed and grown so much in the three or so years that I've been doing it. I see a lot more confidence and honesty with it. I no longer concern myself with whether it is pretty, or makes sense to anyone else, I just know I'm happy with it and I feel like I'm really doing the stuff I want to be doing. In the end, that's what it is all about.
I truly feel that it helps me stay sane!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Soul Journaling - Day Twenty Two, the end and the beginning

Finally we come to the end of this first round of soul journaling, thank you again so much Sarah my soul friend for the inspiration and the good solid techniques that have given me so much confidence. I really like this way of working, and synchronicity being what it is - when I was ready, a teacher appeared. I hope you, dear reader, will find your own synchronicities with your art. Remember, there are so many people out there who will help you - you just have to have a curious mind and take a look!

If you would like to do Sarah's soul journaling method - just click on the link for Caspiana on my blog roll.


The final assignment was a self portrait using only your fingers for paintbrushes. Yep, that's right. Only your fingers, even to mix paints, and nothing else. Oh my. The cave paintings of Lascaux it isn't, but I think the figure looks at least passingly like me. It gives one all new respect for our ancestors who did paint those masterpieces in caves so many millenia ago.


Thank you for following with me on this journey. Now it's my turn to take up the journaling challenge on my own - so a beginning again.

Soul Journaling - Day Twenty One

Today's exercise was about misfits - make a random doodle, see what shapes emerge (I love how this process is both therapeutic, exploratory, and a darn fun way to learn new techniques), and create a figure from them that represents when you felt like a misfit. Of course, my squiggle looked like nothing until I turned it upside down, and lo an behold, it was a person's face! Of course my misfit was only revealed upside down. That's why it's a misfit, right?

I decided the image must be related to my being the runner up misfit (the second most unpopular person of my seventh grade class). If you had a good middle school/junior high experience, then congratulations - you must be the only one! I'd love to tell you that I grew to accept myself as I am and was no longer concerned with fitting in, blah blah blah. Not true. I grew acutely conscious of exactly how to fit in, and I became quite good at it by high school. Not that I was "A-list" popular, but I actually really enjoyed high school and am still friends with my best friends from then to this day.

However, I don't think I really got to be totally cool with who I am - and believe me, I still am a misfit in lots of ways, but I actually enjoy them now - until my 30's. I would be bored and disappointed with myself if I wasn't who I am now, but it took a long time to get there. So, here's to misfits - enjoy your eccentricities for without them, you'd be just like the rest. And who wants that?? Seriously.

Soul Journaling - Day Twenty

All the way up to day 20 - only three more to go - I find myself missing the process already. But, it's also great to actually take a project to it's conclusion, and very satisfying. Of course, the point is not the destination but the journey, and in the case of art journaling that IS the point.

This page was good fun, I didn't think it would work out well at first (I never do) but of course it did. Sarah's guidance is never wrong! This was a collage of three previous soul journal pages put together by tearing papers into strips and putting the images together in new combinations. It is tied together with a wash of paint. This is really, in my mind, what collage mixed media art is all about - combining existing images in new ways so that they appear as though they always went together, they should always be together, and they create a new statement or idea in doing so.

I actually think this is my favorite page. I'm definitely going to do this technique again.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Soul Journaling - Day Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen

Our soul journaling assignments for these three days were a wonderful challenge - select items from a list of "to do"s (use a fork to paint with, moosh paint between the pages and see what comes out, add some metal to your page, write what you did today) the only caveat being that you can't put the items in the order they're given. Note: for those new to the blog, I've been following Sarah Whitmire's soul journaling project for the last month - some of the posts here are the results. http://sarahwhitmire.blogspot.com

I highly recommend visiting her blog and checking it out - I'm sure you'll get interested in visual journaling/art journaling/soul journaling (whatever you want to call it) too.
Here are the results of the three "potpouri" days:

Day 16 - magazine stencil and words (mostly)

Day 17 - Rorschach-esque paint blobs, imprints of your hands

Day 18

I really liked looking for hidden symbolism in the images - there were things that didn't even occur to me until after I had scanned the pictures to upload here. I see a swimmer in the picture above - swimming through weeds. In the red painting, for one thing, I realized I use a lot of hot pinky/red (nothing that would have occured to me, I'm known for brown!) in my paintings. The color of intensity and passion! That teal blue is so nicely a butterfly. The yoga girl picture (I wish I was) didn't strike me any particular way until my husband said it reminded him of a jungle, like in southeast Asia. I realized that I have been thinking a lot about my waterfall/zen garden that I'm planning on putting on my back porch (woot - we're getting a screened in porch built on our house!) and what a great area it would be for exercising in a peaceful manner. None of this go-for-the-burn stuff for me, thank you.

I'm almost near the end of the journal project - and looking forward to doing more of my own pages. Thank you Sarah for giving me the guidance to go so far with this project, and keep going in the future.

Sights from Olympia

Where I spent my summer holidays.....

I spent my summer sleeping in a terrarium with a view of the stars and moon, spent my days on the ocean sailing past fjords and stepping over old lava floes in the cold waters of the northern Pacific.

Ok, so I didn't spend my whole summer doing that. But I did spend a week doing precisely these things - does that count? Of course it does!

We went to Olympia, Washington on August 8 for my sister-in-law Jodi's wedding as well as to pay a long overdue visit to my sister Kay, whose been inviting me to see that part of the world for the last 30+ years. I would have gone a lot sooner if I'd known just how special it really is! I truly felt at home here - I joked that given another 36 hours in Olympia, I would have opened a dog/human yoga and art studio in downtown and started serving berry cobbler from organically grown vintage raspberry bushes.

I met so many wonderful people, ate some of the best food (always a big vacation make or break area for me - I LOVE food), drank some good beer, and just relaxed in nature. I've been wanting to go to the ocean for a while, but it's not really something you want to do here in Florida during the summer - too hot. I loved that the ocean is just a normal part of people's lives up there, you take a ferry as a viable mode of transportation. You can see the ocean, and the mountains, and the tall trees around every turn. It's also a very environmentally and politically conscious place - when you go to a wedding where everyone brings their dogs, there are people of many races, ages, and circumstances and they're just people together without judgement, and there are readings from Native American, Buddhist, Christian, and Sufi philosophy as well as a sing-along in Sanskrit, well, I've found my people.

But enough words, this is an art blog, so I know you want to see pictures. The picture you see at the top of the post is the view from the guest room (aka the terrarium) at my sister's house. I'm calling it the terrarium because the bed is built into a window that juts out from the house into the forest that is her backyard. At the foot of the hill is a small lake that we went kayaking on after a breakfast of the shiniest plumpest Ranier cherries, organic cheeses, and fresh baked pastries from the local farmer's market.

Speaking of farmer's market! Olympia is reckoned to have the "second best farmers market in the state" - presumably after the rather better known Pike's Market in Seattle. I've been to both, and I have to say, I liked the Olympia one better. Beautiful produce and flowers, handmade clothes, soaps, organic everything, a jazz band, it was awesome. Here are some local blueberries - don't you just want to grab a handful?

We also went to visit my sister's property out on the south Puget Sound - next time we visit they'll have built their weekend beach house out there - clean rain-swept wind, ocean mists and wildflowers...
Here's a few images from my sister-in-law's wedding - it was a very informal relaxed wedding by the shores of Capitol Lake in downtown Olympia, followed by a reception at their friend Tibor's farm (two pastures over from their house). They live in a small house in a wooded valley with a little stream rushing past the farm and fields that eventually ran to the Puget Sound.

Jodi and Doug had a beautiful day - it was rainy in the morning, but right on schedule at 4 p.m., the heavens cleared, the sun shone, and Jodi was married under a canopy of silk banners and hand-painted batik windsocks with a carpet of wildflowers and lillies at her feet.

Enough for now - got to work on my art journal - in the next post, I'll continue with my adventures in the Pacific Northwest with our visit to Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Saltspring Island, plus my visit with Nick Bantock.

Bella


After a three week absence, I'm back to my studio to work on some art. Largely my hiatus was due to my wonderful vacation to the pacific northwest - pictures to follow in next post - but since I've been back I've had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. Somewhat I think due to having too much to say - where to begin? I had some amazing experiences on vacation, and took some lovely pictures that I know will be fun to work with. However, life itself I think has also contributed to where I'm sitting at the moment. Foremost, my sweet Bella passed away - Bella (seen above) was our 13 year old dachshund who had been suffering from Cushings disease, a brain tumor that caused seizures, high blood pressure, an enlarged liver and a compressed disc in her spine. I can't say that her passing away came as a surprise, and at least she isn't suffering anymore. The loss of one of a loved member of the family, no matter how much experience you get with it (and I've had my fair share) still affects you in ways that you don't even realize right away. Bella's passing also hit our Lili very hard. Lili is our dachshund puppy (seen in the picture on the right of this blog in her alter ego The Infanta); she has never been without another dog in her life from when she was born, so this has been an adjustment for her as well. She got very ill - most likely as a result of stress from Bella passing away and from being boarded for a week while we were away - and got stress-related colitis. I'm happy to report that she is fully back to health now and is snuggled on my lap as I write this, but this has surely been the hardest on her. Work, also, has been rather intense of late (lot of long hours, tenseness, etc) but I won't go into that because it's just not very interesting to write or read about!

Here is Bella and Lili together in happier times:

I know that in order to recover from this emotional flat place, I need to start working and playing on my art again. To that end, I started up with my soul journal this morning. I'll be posting the remaining day's exercises shortly. Also, as promised in previous post, I'll tell you all about my trip and visit with the man who, in my opinion, is the father of the modern collage/altered/mail art movement. More to come.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm back from vacation!

Hello blog friends! My apologies that I haven't posted in a while - I have been really busy at work, and I was on vacation for 8 days in the beautiful Pacific Northwest - Olympia, WA, Vancouver, Victoria, Saltspring Island, and Seattle. I have SO much to tell you about all my adventures, photos to share - and collaging sweat with a BNA (yes, deliberately obscure, it's supposed to pique your interest....) :-) More details to follow very soon, I promise. At the moment, I'm working on a scrapbook for my boss at work - but as soon as I get done with this project I'll be back to fill you all in on all the cool stuff that has happened recently. Hope you are all having an artful summer. Jane

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Soul Journaling - Day Nine to Twelve

The soul journaling journey continues...today we revisited the past - the immediate past (went back to the pages from day five) and way back into the past (the home where you felt happiest).

I was actually pretty pleased with the clipped out from magazine pages (see previous posts), I didn't really think of doing anything else with them, but Sarah suggested we add some painterly effects to them that I have to say, definitely render them a lot more funky!

Our next assignment was to draw - in our most symbolic, representational style - the house were we felt the most secure and happiest. I love my home that I live in today, and I love my life and my family, but if I could, I'd step through a portal into my childhood home in a heartbeat. We traveled a lot when I was a kid, but there was one constant in my life, which was my Nan's house in Enfield, Middlesex, (a borough of north London). We spent most summers there when I was a kid, and I always remember the sun shining (yes, in England, no doubt memory plays a few tricks) and having all the time in the world to play, sleep, read, paint, and come home when the sun set (about 9 p.m. in the English summer) and have supper of cheese and toast. I'd drag up the stairs to bed, worn out from playing, and remember that even in the summer, it was cold when you'd walk across the hall landing! I knew the next day would be the same, and the one after that. I could walk anywhere in our little town, no fear of anything happening, it was a beautiful time, and I'm glad I can at least revisit my childhood if only in my mind and in the pages of my Soul Journal. Here's my rendering - not the most artistically skilled for sure, but I greatly enjoyed making it!

The bulgy look of the house is because there's a pocket in the page. Not sure what's going in it yet (I don't dare look ahead because I don't want to influence my thinking - aaahhh! Can't wait to be up with the rest of the group so I can really see everyone else's take on our daily lessons!)

Thank you, my blog friends, for being so kind to follow me on this journey! EB, Sarah, Cindy, Lynn, and all my newest e-friends in Soul Journaling - from the bottom of my heart, I'm so glad you're here!

Soul Hugs, Jane

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Soul Journaling - Day Seven to Eight

Today I wrote - I wrote about things that you shouldn't say, and things that I can't say, things that should have been said and weren't. I wrote about things that I have needed to say for 30-ish years, and things that are weighing me down right now. I wrote and it didn't feel dizzying or anything, but I think it's another step towards making my art real to me. And then I covered it all up. Yep, that's what we were supposed to do. I covered it with tape (raided the husband's garage) and made a rather Le Corbusier-esque page:

That was Day 7. Since I'm doing this as I can, I moved straight into Day Eight's project, and I covered it some more. This time with sandpaper, and paint, and gesso, and more paint. It transformed from plain ball point words, to minimalist art, to full on, balls-to-the-wall Lynne Perella style! Not that one generally associates the gracious Lynne with the word "balls", but I mean her no insult. I wasn't trying to make my background look like hers at all, but all of a sudden, I saw something even vaguely approaching the backgrounds painted by an artist that I admire, and it made me feel more confident, like "wow, I'm getting a glimpse of how the BNA's (big name artists) might do this stuff!" More paint, more tape....

I have to say, it's so gorgeously multilayered and textural! I know that my friend Cindy, whose doing Soul Journaling also, and is probably getting near this phase of her project, is probably sitting at her art studio right now looking at her journal and saying - "AAAHH, it's too pretty! I can't cover it up!"

Somehow, I get the feeling that we're getting ready to do a bit more exposing and covering, and thus feeling safe about exposing a bit more....

Soul Journaling - Day Four to Six

As with much of the rest of my life, I got annoyingly, frustratingly behind this week with my soul journaling. I really am a "enjoy the process" kind of person, but my "I haven't missed a deadline in eight years, I'm not going to start now" personality kicked in, so I'm going to give it my best shot to get caught up this weekend. Not at the expense of the mental wandering and playing with ideas that needs to happen, but I need to feel like just ONE thing in my life is actually under control and going as I'd like it too. I've been very stressed due to work lately; I'm built for dreaming, not for very fast paced project management. My inner bohemian (the one that gets to come out an play in my art) is feeling squeezed and pressured about now. I think the only cure is to make some art. I honestly don't know what I'd do without my art time on the weekends - it's what gets me through my week. Better than therapy.

Anyway, here are my pages from Sarah Whitmire's Soul Journaling Exercises (see the "Caspiana" blog) in my blog list on the right side of the page, and previous blog for more info on this wonderful process! Sarah, are you going to write a book? I sure hope so - the world needs you....

The exercises you see in the pages are representing:
Day Four - paint your backgrounds
Day Five - gather images (such as "something you have", "something you want", "something beautiful", "something exotic", "something comfortable")
Day Six - cut them into one-inch squares and arrange them as you wish across your pages. I wound up needing two pages, because I wanted to keep all my images as a collection!

What we're going to do next with them, I don't know.....I can't wait to find out what the significance will be!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Soul Journaling - Day One to Three

Here's the results of my working with Sarah's Soul Journaling. Please see the previous post for more "deep thoughts", and information all about this exciting process! The picture above is from Day One (background), Day Two (claim it) and Day Three (protection) of the process.

The object of this particular page is to identify the journal as part of me (hence my name in the middle of it), and to charge it (so to speak) with a suit of armor against inner and outer criticism of my (and everyone's) art.

The figure is Joan of Arc, who felt right to me as a symbol of perseverance against inner turmoil and outer critics and following your feelings. If you follow the Myers Briggs assessment profile, I'm an INFJ, so it's all about the intuition for everything.

I'm very happy I'm (hopefully) very unlikely to be burnt at the stake, certainly not likely to be canonized. But I am really looking forward to seeing what spills forth from my mind into the pages of my journal next.

A new look, a new path on the journey

I felt like my blog needed a new look - something that reflects where I feel like my art journey has led up to this moment. Blogs are wonderful in their facility for change. As we learn new things, what we need to surround ourselves with changes. With a few clicks of the mouse, your blog can change too. Sometimes it needs to. You can tell a lot about a person from their art, and by extension, their blog. It's a picture to the outside world of what's going on in your mind and your soul. As you gain new insights, you feel differently about how you want to show yourself to the world. Maybe more honestly, or maybe just more openly. I have been thinking a lot about how art is truly a journey, not a destination. My blog has become very important to me as a touchstone of this journey. In the few short months since I've been keeping this space, it has morphed how I make art and how I share it.

The newest winding path (or rabbit hole!) is something I've wanted to do for a long time but....not sure why.....just resisted it somehow. I have felt for some time that I was tired of just making pretty things. I wanted to make things that tell a story, that mean something to me, that are more deeply felt. I want to portray emotion and what's inside rather than just make my art look pleasing to someone else. I don't want to make pictures of people I don't know looking cute following some formula that's "accepted" and thus safe. Everyone else is doing xyz, and look, they're accepted! If it's really going to be art that I care about, then it has to have personal meaning whether or not it looks like art to someone else.

I really like the words of Juliana Coles in her pamphlet on Extreme Visual Journalism where she says, "We are not concerned with making art. We are not concerned with a product or a pretty picture." I think that's where I am in my art making right now - I want to really do this for me, and in the end I think it will make my overall art more confident and a reflection of my own voice. As I mentioned last week, I've thus become rather fascinated with art journaling/visual journaling - the idea of getting emotion, images, metaphor, and journaling together.

I've believed the zen thought for a long time that when you seek a teacher, one will appear. Last week I posted a page from my new visual journal, and (I couldn't believe it!) one of the total art goddesses - Elizabeth Bunsen - actually stopped by my humble blog and commented some beautiful and encouraging thoughts on my page. Totally made my day!

Then, I discovered someone else (through the Altered Books yahoo group) who believes this is important work for herself and she is encouraging this work in others.
Sarah Whitmire is doing a new process called Soul Journaling on her blog - Caspiana - and she's invited us to join her. In addition to my own visual journaling pages, I'm also following Sarah's teachings in my art and I'm having a great time! She presents a new set of instructions/prompts/thoughts every day and it's not too late to join the party. So, check out her blog, as well as Elizabeth Bunsen's blog - Be Dream Play - (links are in my list of blogs that I read to the right side of your screen) and come along for the journey!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Art Journaling has begun

I get these little....interests....crushes....(obsessions) pretty frequently. I hope that doesn't make me a dilettante, I prefer to think of it as "renaissance mind" (is that pompous?) I've been fascinated by art journals for a little while now. The extension of that is visual journaling - to me these are two separate things. The art journal is strictly about art - a place to try out new techniques, keep track of the things your doing. The visual journal is a lot closer to written journal - except instead of just writing words on a page with lines, you illustrate your thoughts and feelings and you can write in them, or not.

This visual journaling thing must have been invented for visual type people (yes, I'm one of those) because it seems to be opening up a whole new way of thinking in my mind. I've been working on mine all weekend (in addition to creating some ATC's for the innaugural meeting of the Altered Artists of Central Florida this coming week - whee!). Here's the thing, though...I can't really show it to you. Ok, the picture above is one of the pages - I can't talk about something on here and NOT show it to you. That's not fair. But you'll probably hear more about it than see it. I have to keep some stuff for me :-)

The visual journal isn't about art - it's about getting whats inside out, with the idea that it's as personal as a written journal is. Nobody has to see it, it's like your own little treehouse in your mind that nobody else but you gets to go in. I love the idea of having my own little secret lair that I can escape to. It happens to be in the person of a handmade journal from Thailand that somebody gave me a few years ago. I was using it for keeping track of my unmounted rubber stamp images (what a mundane use for such a thing) but I finally decided (after much deliberating "is this right?" should I bind it with wire? should I use a new blank book? should I use what I got? what size is right? what paper is right?) to use it.

Well, right up there with my thoughts last week on "use what you got" instead of going out and buying new, I decided to re-purpose my stamping index journal. Somehow the idea that the pages are already all inky and used makes me feel comfortable about redecorating my lair. I had the same experience when I was making my entry for Somerset Studio magazine (mailed this week - with much feeling of anxiety that I was letting my little art brain child loose into the world where I couldn't take care of it.) I repurposed it out of a previous art piece that I'd made too. I think I'm going to explore this idea of not feeling comfortable about working in something that hasn't already been used before. I'm not sure what it means, but you know where to find me working it all out.......

By the way, I tried out a few new ideas when I was painting the pages - and I LOVE them. I actually think it is some of my more interesting work - probably because I can be free to experiment without judgment - even if all that judgment is all sitting right in my own mind. Odd, huh?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Return to my Roots

Although I've always been interested in artsy things, I consider that I started into my current arts and crafts path about six or seven years ago when my friend Missy decided that we needed to have custom jewelry. We went to The Bead Bar - a local bead shop - and I was overwhelmed with all the colors and choices. I pottered around for about two hours of anxious "I have no idea what to do - this is WAY over my head-ness" and finally picked a few beads and had the girls at the shop make my earrings. I loved the ideas, but I was just overwhelmed like water gorging up over a dam that was too full as to what to do with it all.

Somehow I got talked into going back and taking a class on wire wrap (it would have been easier to start with stringing, but we didn't know that) and after an hour or so, it all began to make sense. I still picked beads that I didn't realize until too late had holes that totally didn't work for my designs, and I became obsessed with getting the perfect wire wrap. I became hooked and started going to bead shows, and moved up from buying single beads to buying strings of them. All the colors and sparkly things! Then moved from buying inexpensive glass to more expensive natural stones (less sparkly, more substantial).

Somehow, though, it just wasn't enough....it seemed like there was something missing from this creative endeavor. Yes, it was creative, but it wasn't completely fulfilling and so I kept searching. When I started I didn't even know I needed a creative outlet. Now, all these years later, I wouldn't be able to live without it. My art is that important to me - frustrations, occasional heavy doses of self-criticism, and then triumphant "damn, I'm good!" moments and all. So, I cast my net wider and roved on into other worlds of stamping, altered books, etc but once in a while, I still go back to my roots. Mostly when I get a new outfit, or I realize that my current jewelry just doesn't quite go with an outfit, or when I get tired of the jewelry I've got.

Understand, I work in a very gray and dull corporate office, in a very detail oriented, here's the rules profession (tech writing) - I have to get my Stevie Nicks-in-her-Jack Daniels-phase inner bohemian out somehow (thanks Gary Gilbert for that entirely appropros description!). I do it by my highly theatrical and costumey clothing. I dress as I do to entertain myself (and puzzle my more straight-laced fellow cube rats) I must confess, the inner 16-year old in my 41 year old self thoroughly enjoys it....it delights my soul.

Back to today's topic though - I get the urge once or twice a year to create jewelry (it isn't the all of me, but there's a bit of it that I do enjoy if I don't have to do it too often), and here's this weekend's work!

The beads are handmade from rolled up paper, painted, then dipped in UTEE (ultra thick embossing enamel) and with overlays of glitter, mica powders, fibers, and whatever else amused me. The beading is from my still gigantic bead stash, the wire wrap is in my "casual" style - yes, I can wire wrap perfectly. No, it doesn't amuse me so I prefer the casual approach; I think it conveys my ideas much better. One of my treasured beads from my trip to Venice appears in there (the glowey coppery gold one in the above picture). There's even a dangle on the end (sorry, not visible in the pictures apparently) of Vintaj filigree that I had in the "expensive stuff" stash. I love this because it doesn't match the copper at all (it's bronze with a washed-down-a-drainpipe-for-three years patina). My homage to the chatelaine - a medieval belts with keys and other useful household requisites on the ends.

Hope you enjoy the piece, dear readers!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Gift Wrapped

I hate gift wrapping - I'll do about anything to get somebody else to gift wrap things for me - pay money, call in favors, rely on charm. This occasionally works, but inevitably, I still have to rely on my own wayward wrapping skills. I generally feel like I'm the only grown adult with the wrapping skills of a four year old.

If you've gotten a gift from me, then you've probably met these fine examples of my "skills":
  • Undercut paper with odd scraps of (hopefully similar) paper taped over the ill-fitting bits to disguise the jaunty flashes of cardboard box underneath.
  • Overly generous application of large amounts of paper to small boxes resulting in saggy protrusions of wasted wrapping.
  • Ripped paper with odd holes around box edges.
  • Bulgy sacks of paper when I can't be bothered to find a box.
  • Gift bags with unattractive wisps of undermatched (generally torn, certainly recycled) tissue paper leaking out from the top.
This past week was my friend Cindy's birthday. As one of the few painty-fingered members (we'd really like some more members!) of the Altered ARTists of Central Florida, I figured she'd appreciate some altered gift wrapping to go with her birthday gifts. Problem is, I hate gift wrapping. Sigh....what's an altered artist to do?

Uh....get out the paint and old useless stuff!

I LOVED this gift wrapping! I made packages from scrapbook paper (hey, it's not like I actually USE it, I just collect it so it may as well go to good use...), papers torn from an altered book and collaged, an old wooden thread bobbin, I punched holes, I sewed, I painted, I glazed, I stamped - I actually found that giving was beating receiving....huh.

What did I learn from this experience?

Well, I gotta be me. Apparently the following are not me:
  • measurement (involves numbers.....bad)
  • crisply trimmed and mitered edges
  • slick and glossy bags from Hallmark
  • perfect froths of hard shiny ribbon
  • using scrapbook paper for its duly appointed use
The following ....are me:
  • Hand-dyed paper from Thailand
  • My own "calligraphy"
  • Paint glazes on top of old crumbly book pages
  • Eyeballing my hole punching (not measured at all)
  • A vast grab bag of luscious furry ribbons
In the future, I'm wrapping everything this way - and I don't think I'm going to care whether people think it's "cool!" or "ummmm...interesting..." If they don't "get it", then they probably don't get me. That's ok too, but I wonder why I'm giving them a gift.....

It's amazing how much more comfortable something (formerly hated) feels when you quit trying to be somebody else, and start being you.



Sunday, June 29, 2008

Thank you Gadgetgirl, and Happy 26th Cindy

"One of the strangest things about aging is that your personal history becomes costume."

I freakin' love this quote. Forty one years of life, and I finally find a quote that pretty much sums it up. Thank you gadgetgirl, whoever you are.

I think it may even be better than the Jungle Cruiser-ism (and Buckaroo Banzai quote - now there's a film that no amount of mind-altering substances can assist you in making sense of) from my misspent 1980's Disnoid youth (believe it or not, for those who know me, there was one):

"Wherever you're go, there you are."

Oh yeah, happy 26th birthday Cindy - time's run out on doing something exquisitely, pointlessly stupid. After all, people can't really say, "Well, she's very young...." anymore.

Love ya!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Crusade 21 - Irresistable Wax Rubbings

This month's Green Pepper Press crusade was yet another wonderful use for your rubber stamps, stencils, lace, paper doilies, carved wood, and any other textured surface that you may find around your cottage. I say "cottage" because it's a lot like the process of making brass rubbings that you can make of the brass gravestones in ancient churches in England. You rub a crayon over a textured surface, then paint over it with acrylics. Sounds easy, it is easy!

It's also fun and really brought out my creativity - just like all Michelle Ward's projects. It has been about the only fun in my life this week as I've had a bit of a low patch due to several different health issues that have been very painful and also scary. (Different issues, different pains and scary things) So God Bless Michelle Ward for reminding me that when the "ol' black dog" starts creeping a bit too close, the best thing to do is break out your art supplies.

Here are some of my wax resist samples:

The one on the left was supposed to be a rubber stamp casting - didn't come out well of the stamp, but I loved it anyway. The one on the right is sequin waste - came out perfectly!

The one on the left is a doily rubbing (those paper lacey things that they use as decorative mats in restaurants) and the one on the right is a stencil rubbing. So beautiful - I wish you could see it in real life. It is all gold shimmers and bright teal.

Then, the next question, what to do with them that will honor the process and make them useful? One of my favorite things about altered art is its ability to make beautiful things useful in your life. I've been intending to do "something more interesting" with the cups that hold my paintbrushes for ages. Well, finally I had an idea. See below:

Yes, that's a cup! And yes, that's a wax resist - not one of the ones I showed you, but it's a lace doily impression with a Michael DeMeng Stampers Anonymous stamp over it, and then my doodling and more painting on top of that. Around the back of the cup is a wrap of more of the wax resists. I love this piece! The picture below shows the wrap around the back. It's actually the first rubbing picture that I showed you (the one that didn't come out well, but I liked it anyway).

Here's the almost finished product - I also added a bit of recycled sari ribbon around the top for a finishing touch not seen in this picture.

Oh, one other thing.....in my last post I mentioned that I was thinking about starting up a meetup group for altered artists in the Central Florida area. Having gone into it a bit further, apparently it's quite expensive to start a group through meetup.com. So, (as a starving artist, well, not really, but I just don't have $200 to put towards meetup.com's advertising...) I decided to make my Altered ARTists of Central Florida a Yahoo group, with the hopes that we can find other people obsessed with altered art in the area, and hopefully they'd like to make some art with us (or at least discuss the wondrous properties of Golden Gel Mediums...) To advertise, Cindy and I are wearing shirts to the Stampfest convention this weekend. We'd really like to meet any other altered/collage/assemblage etc. artists in the Central Florida area - surely we can't be the only two in Orlando? So if you're reading this, and you're going to the Stampfest Orlando convention, we'll be there...with shirts on. Well, of course we'll have shirts on, but I mean shirts that say "Altered ARTists of Central Florida".....

Alterered ARTists of Central Fla has three current members - me, my friend Cindy (http://cskawins.blogspot.com), and......MICHAEL DE MENG! This was the only other part of my week that was good, really. Read the previous post's (the one about the Seven Bags of Craft Supplies...) comments and you'll see one from him saying he'd like to be an honorary member!

Also, Michelle - would you like to be an honorary member of our group too?? If you're ever in central Florida, we'd LOVE to see you and make some art. (shameless begging going on here...)

Thank you as always Michelle for your inspiration....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Seven bags of craft supplies just landed in my studio

My mother-in-law decided to clean out her sewing/craft room, and (I think luckily for me) she decided to give her stash to me. Although there's a lot of "junque" in there, I think there might be some definite possibilities. I wish I was one of those folks who is so creative they can think of Somerset Studio-worthy things to do with a piece of rick-rack, a bobbin, and two pipe cleaners. I'm not that person, but it should be interesting just figuring out what to do with the new bounty. Or where to keep it, for that matter. I'm sure I'll probably give a lot of it away to art/craft minded friends. Let's hope, because I can't close the closet door in here as it is.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a submission for Somerset Studio's black and white challenge - I got some great work done on it today and I think it's close to being ready. Very exciting! Even if they don't like it, I do, and in about 8 - 9 months, they'll send it back I think, one way or the other. I don't want to post a picture here just yet, but the piece involves travel, history, and one of my Dachshunds. I'm also recycling an old piece of art in it (thanks Michael for inspiring me) and one of the paper castings from Michelle's challenge last month (see previous posts.) I'm on a big "use what you already have" kick at the moment. Probably due to putting myself on a financial diet with regards to art and craft supplies. Some of it is because, well, I need to in order to do bigger and better art things, and part of it is to prove to myself that I'm not a shop-aholic. I don't necessarily have an addictive personality, but I'm a little too hooked on the fix of buying yet another supply and/or book of inspiration. I LOVE the excitement of new ideas being presented, but it gets expensive, and I haven't made one 20th of the stuff I have magazines and books of inspiration on. So, make what you've got is the new mantra around here.

I'm also thinking about starting an Altered Art group here in Central Florida - big step, as I'm actually kind of shy (I have learned to fake extroversion quite well, but still...) The potential group currently has two corporeal members (me, my friend Cindy), one possible member who doesn't know about it yet, and several honorary members (Claudine, Michael de Meng, Michelle Ward, Lynne Perella, Traci Bautista) who also don't know about it, and probably don't get to this part of the world too often....ha ha. Well, a girl can dream! Anyway, will keep you posted if I do decide to act on the idea. There isn't a lot of altered art activity in this corner of the world, but maybe there's more than I know about?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Green Pepper Press - Challenge 20

This month's challenge was to create paper castings from rubber stamps and found objects - here are the results! (See Michelle Ward's blog on Paper Casting for excellent instructions.)

The first ones I tried were the rubber stamp castings. Overall these went pretty well, I didn't really have any problems with them. I definitely found using a strainer positioned over the blender helped with separating the paper glop from the water. I scooped my glop into the strainer and then pushed the paper with my fingers. This made nice "sheets" of not-so-soupy glop to apply to the stamp surfaces. Who knew there was yet another exciting thing to be done with stamps?

Feeling emboldened, I moved on to casting from molds (not surprisingly, these came out the best) and found objects - in this case, charms. I only had one mold break, and that was my fault because I was trimming the edges with the scissors and put a little too much pressure on the edge of the cast. They are actually pretty solid, so I had to use my Kai rubber cutting scissors to get through them! I really liked the project, and I'm sure I'll use this technique again. Thank you Michelle for giving us such great instructions! Next I'm going to try actually creating my own molds (the last part of the challenge, but that'll have to be on a later day.)

I was not the only one who liked the technique - my baby Lili (aka "Infanta of Dachsonia") also greatly enjoyed paper casting, although for reasons aesthetic or textural (we love toilet paper) I'm not sure. She also enjoys eating paintbrushes, as you can see here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fauxnally Rusty

Since taking the Assemblooks class a few weeks ago (see previous posts) I've been thinking about how to make ordinary items look like they've been sitting in a drainpipe for years. Today's subject of rustination was simple chipboard. Not that chipboard generally regards rustiness as part of its destiny, but mine does.

Experiments and results in the picture above! I started with several types of embossing powders that I had on hand. I'm a bit heavy on the "dirt colored" end of the embossing powder, pigment, paint, etc. end of the color wheel, so I have lots of this stuff on hand. None of them were really satisfactory, as they all came out too shiny looking. These can be seen in the strip of chipboard on the right side of the picture. I tried painting washes on top of them, interesting and I think I'll use this idea again, but not the desired rusty metal effect I was looking for. Best example of this (shiny E.P. and paint wash) is on the bottom corner of the strip on the left.

Then I broke out my Tim Holtz Distressing embossing powder, and things started to happen. It has a matte finish, and looks very granular, so I knew this was the right stuff, just needed to get some refinement. I painted an undercoat of brown paint (try any color of brown to copper that you like) and put the powder on top of it. Then, I sprinkled a little bit of verdigris embossing powder on top of that for some exciting color, and put a wash of paint on top of that, for a more mottled effect, and because Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold is just great stuff. This is the "fauxnally rusty" top part of the strip on the left.

Husband agreed it looked remarkably realistic. Just like the now rusty dies that I "liberated" from his tap and die set (see previous posts).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

All Art is Illusion - the Telectroscope

I was listening to BBC Worldservice on the way to work the other day, and they did a story on this wonderful new art installation currently on display on the South Bank of the Thames in London, and in Brooklyn, NY. It's called a "Telectroscope" - follow or copy/paste into your browser the link below to see for yourself:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/05/22/scope.project/index.html
http://www.tiscali.co.uk/telectroscope/cn/artichoke/index.php
http://blog.telectroscope.org

The concept is that there's a tunnel running from London to New York, and if you look down the tunnel, the people on the other side (3,000 miles away) can see you and you can see them. Apparently the drill bits bored up from the rivers just a few days ago, revealing this Jules Vernian portal with gears and steam and bells and whistles. (Ok, so it's really a type of webcam and a lot of very clever props and decor, but I could care less about the mechanics. "Why....because all art is illusion" quote from Michael de Meng - see previous posts on class with Michael)

This just totally caught my imagination - my Grandmother lived in Enfield (north London) and when I was a child (1970s) , I dreamed of her being talk to her on a picture phone and being able to see her and the house where she lived. My Nan has passed on 21 years ago, but I still miss her very much, wouldn't it have been wonderful if she could have gone to this and waved at me? I know, we have webcams and texting and all sorts of marvels now, but doesn't this just seem more romantic?