Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Art cottages by the sea

My art cottage that you see is from a collage (if wishes could make it real!) it represents my ideal life.  You know about that one...the one where we live in a fabulous art community of kindred spirits, and we eat lots of delicious food and don't gain weight, and our dogs come to "work" with us every day, because our work is art and we do this in an adorable cottage by the sea with the smell of roses and lavender wafts through the windows, and we can wear our gypsy clothes....

I am at least lucky to have a room of my own in my ordinary suburban house for my art studio (and that's a pretty cool thing too) and I've been a bit fired up this week to paint the boring white bookshelves in it into glorious hot pink, and mango orange, and Indian Yellow Hue gold (well, that's what Golden paints calls it) and maybe some sage green.  I got a couple of guest chairs for my room this weekend at an antiques market (nice word for maybe-I'll-find-something junk rummage) and they're already painted in adorable stripes and spots and so forth, but I think they need a little more tweaking...

Good thing it's a four day weekend, huh!  Hope you spend yours the way you want to - with family, or friends, or solitude (and that's a GREAT thing too) and pets and art and your muse!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beeswax collage with Claudine

Parisian Collage - with photos taken by me this summer in the city of light...

Flower fairies dancing in my autumn garden...

And see that they have a queen! She loves pink flowers and rainbows, notice how her throne is crowned in them...
How fortunate I feel that I had the opportunity, on top of all the other artistic wonder that I've had the pleasure of experiencing this most artful of years, to attend a beeswax collage class with Claudine Hellmuth this past weekend at the Art League of Daytona Beach.
A nice small class, lots of one-on-one guidance and inspiration from Claudine herself - I felt like this class was such a revelation! I've had all the supplies for about four years, but never really quite had the confidence to step much into the world of beeswax collage. Now I'm very glad I did! This was the second class I've taken with the glamourous and gracious Claudine - and I just adore her. She is such a sweetie! She really keeps things upbeat and positive, but always with a wry sense of humor and a lot of patience with demonstrating and explaining things.
The thing with beeswax is that it basically renders everything with a filmy, gauzy haze of dreams - and it makes the divisions between the layers disappear. It's like working in collage heaven, all your images seem to blend and become transparent. Like Photoshop for the fingers. Ok, maybe not quite, because Photoshop has never actually burned my finger and I did manage to touch a hot iron with my thumb! Claudine observed that "I don't usually get injuries in my class..." Well, I also managed to shoot myself with my own arrow in a college archery class, so clearly when the right brain takes over from the left. Uh huh, I need supervision. But, it's a clear sign that the muse is dancing and gallivanting, and she was certainly out for a spin with the wax. I can't wait to try some more of this technique!
Pictures above are of a cigar box that I collaged the top of (I think it will be the holder for my Art Journal that I did of my summer trip to Europe) and the front of a vintage photo album that'll eventually become another art journal. The flower is just...well...a flower. But it was "rescued" from the "distressed plants" section at Lowes and I figured it might light a moment in the blog spotlight.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A little bit of Inspanahatation

Thank you so much to everyone who has been kind enough to visit my blog and even more thanks to the lovely folks who have left lovely comments :-)

Heartsfire asked if I could post a few samples of work from Anahata's class - I'm happy to (thanks for asking ;-) Here's a few bits and pieces of widsom in my "class notes" (a bit stream-of-conscious but there it is) that I took to remember all the outpouring of wisdom pure creative juju that was zooming and flowering in that quiet and sunlit room where some swore that they saw a blue aura around our Queen Anahata...

The journal is not a finished product, it's not perfect, it's not "precious" -during the first 20 - 30 minutes of working on the page, expect a lot of mental chatter. Don't feed that cookie monster, art friends! Banishing the blank page with some pencil marks, some pen marks, some scraps of paper - whatever you can dish out to start pushing that blank page monster away. Start to create an environment on your page - your ingredients are a character, a background where your character lives, and then play paperdolls with whatever accessories the character needs to tell the story. Keep the "sweet spot" in one area of the page (the sweet spot is where you have whatever coolness is emerging) and try to resist the urge to do that same cool effect everywhere else too. If you start to delay and question what to do next, you aren't moving fast enough, and you're thinking too much. Let your impulse rein. Do what is unexpected - if you think you are supposed to put on another layer of paint, then resist that urge. Splatter on some random ink lines instead. Dark colors push objects into the background, light colors bring the object out. So, use this theory to make the parts of your picture disappear where you don't want to see them, and make the parts you want to highlight pop.

Oh, I wish I'd had a tape recorder, or maybe it wouldn't have made a difference - maybe it was just the juicy inspirational flowers that were seemingly placed in our heads. I do know that we all created work that we had probably never done anything like before or since, and there definitely was a sense of building techniques from the first illustration (the rose one) to the second (the white background one). I had a harder time with the white background, as when in doubt, I tend to stick on more color. Even with this, I probably cheated and gave my girl red and purple dreadlocks, hey, go as the spirit moves you!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Journalfest collage and a list...

What I loved about Journalfest:

all the glorious true art sisters in my classes, dorm, and everywhere...

the food - delish, fresh, creative, great quality

walks with my companion the sea at daybreak from zen calm...

...to free, wild chop

the rainbows in the sky (I don't have a picture of them but this airplane window image will have to fill in as "nearest-to-rainbow"...they were there though)

the rich and juicy creative flow with so much inspiration everywhere

the gold and orange trees (no fall colors where I live, and much the pity for it)

the way-cool trades that everyone made, being surrounded by that much creativity was an unearthly boost!

my cozy "artist's garret" room where one could have company when one desired and solitude for introspection

wonderful, insightful classes with such lovely teachers who were so accessible and engaged

feeling like part of the "Teesha and Tracy family" with the super helpers (Ben and co.) who seemed to be at all the right places at all the right times - so organized that it made the whole event seem effortless (now that's organized!) No problem seemed like a problem at all in their capable hands

the down-to-earth atmosphere and real-ness of it all

Saturday night's party with the perfectly right grooves of Surrealized and the generous wine bar!

the stop-you-in-your-tracks and abandon your luggage Sunday a.m. sunrise - almost surreal in its orange-pink glory outlining the mountains beyond the bay in a jagged purple that felt like you could touch them. (I'm sure nature and the Moores conspired for this)
(Photo above in the banner - it was bannerworthy!)
and finally, Mt. Ranier (at times a bit shy - like for a week last summer when I was in Olympia and didn't get to see it once) even poked its head out from the clouds for the girls on the shuttle bus to see on the way back to the airport

I'm still coming back to earth from all that floating in the creative stratosphere..... and I'm journaling just about every day now!

I learned so much,

I felt so much

I'll hold it in my heart for a long time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back from Journalfest!

Hello readers, and once again, apologies for the long absence. Guess I'd better get one of those "blogging without obligation" badges that Tiffini Elektra X has to make it seem like it's...uhh...intentional or something ;-)

Anyway, I was lucky enough to attend my second art adventure of the year - Journalfest - hosted by the wonderful and gracious Teesha and Tracy Moore. What an experience of a lifetime! The energy of three days of classes - each so different and special - with Anataha Katkin, Traci Bunkers, and Ingrid Djikers. Daybreak walks on the beach, followed by art making, followed by delicious lunch, more art making, afternoon strolls down the beach (oh! the photos) with a glass of local wine in hand, more awesome food, and then parties! The closing night band - Surrealized - were incredible and created such a rich energy and mood. The Moore's festival angels - Ben, this means you - were everywhere at just the right time, and nothing seemed to be too much trouble for them. Plus, the artists at the fest themselves - the "big names" and the students - we all mixed together in a democratic, equal, kinship of spirit. And then, just when you think it can't get better, it started with a rainbow that reached into the sea right over Ft. Worden, and it ended with the pinkest, orangest, purplest sunrise that literally stopped you in your tracks. I also loved that after all the fun, I had the peace and quiet of your own cozy little "artist's garret" room to journal introspectively into the wee hours. Oh yeah, and then do it all over again!

It was incredibly awesome, and I hope to put some pictures in here sometime soon. I think it's the pictures that keep me from posting as often as I'd like to - something about having to go into photoshop and resize the pictures to make them low resolution just keeps me from doing it. I'm an analogue girl in a digital world, I'm afraid. Of course, as this is an art blog, it kind of helps to have pictures. Will have to get this dichotomy sorted in my head.

Anyway, the pictures (for lack of actually having pictures of the event downloaded from the camera yet) what the confirmation packet looked like anyway. It took me three days just to find the right, special-ist time to even open it, and it didn't disappoint. The packet was so full of well thought-out goodness, so much journaling material. So much caring and thought went into it. Plus, a journal for you to get started on as a prelude to the event. When I got it, I knew that this event was going to be special, and it certainly was everything I had hoped for. I carried my Journalfest journal around with me everywhere - I didn't dare go without it! It is now a treasured souvenir of such a special, intense, introspective, rich, colorful, lush week.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A shot of old fashioned Dutch coziness

Hello friends!

I haven't updated the blog in quite a while, as I'm sure you noticed, but fear not! I have not been idle on the artistic front during the absence :-) Quite the contrary - I had the extreme good fortune to spend three weeks in July in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and England, and I'd like to share a few souvenirs of my adventures with you...
So, Amsterdam. Depending on your viewpoint, the mention of the word Amsterdam either brings forward mental images of windmills, canals, people wearing wooden shoes, and tulips, or...sodom and gomorrah with canals. Of course, the stereotypes have a bit of basis in reality, but the real deal is far more than any of these things.
Travel is a mind-altering experience any way you look at it. Amsterdam is...cozy, quiet, relaxed, warm, friendly, funky, tolerant, beautiful, zen, juicy. As an artist, you simply must take the opportunity to have your mind altered.....by slowing down and just relaxing, taking photos by the dozen, seeing the art museums.
Listening to jazz drifting in the air as you peruse the colors of Indonesia and the exotic east at the Waterlooplein market.
Pedaling out of town along the Amstel river to visit the windmills. Feeling the quiet settle around you as you whirr past farms with cows and ponies knee deep in the clover and grass.
Sketching the flowers in their planters on the houseboats.
Renting a bike and flying along the moonlit canals with the wind in your hair, floating like a quiet bird.
Laughing, having fun, stopping for some cheese and beer, or a rose and honey flavor liqueur in a 300 year old creaky wooden-floored bar.
Catching the nightly parade of happy families on their boats cruising down the canal.
I'm sure some of the locals must have had cares in this world, but I didn't see them, and so I didn't have them either.
Ah, Amsterdam. Relax and breathe......
July night sky on the Prinsengracht, 10 p.m.

Pedaling along the Amstel on a sunny afternoon

They really do have working windmills! Didn't see any wooden shoes though.

Twilight in the Jordaan District, any second you'll see the boats come out with their Dutch flags flapping in the breeze

A waterfally of color at the Waterlooplein Market

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chapter Three - Happy Technicolor Dream of People to Meet and Things to Buy

Day Three of Art and Soul - Hampton

Day Three and I'm quite firmly in the routine of this whole art camp thing by now. Up for breakfast, scramble to find whatever corner of my luggage all the items that I need for the day's class have fallen into, chase into class and grab a chair, WHEW...

Vintage Metal Deck with Leighanna Light
Transform ordinary metal into fabulous thick, chunky beautifully embellished decks of cards. Each card will represent a meaningful word or theme which will be explored in text on the back, and upon completion they will be bound together with wire and danglies. Learn several surface altering techniques using patinas, rust, gesso, and wax...(bring Modern Options Patina)
So a few days before I left, I was raiding my local Joann Crafts for Modern Options Patina. I am pretty well versed in the exact placement of every item in every row of their store, so after devoting a good 20 minutes to finding a pile of fake rust and striking out, I knew this was not the place to go. (Must be at other craft store...) This theory was supported by the inquiry of the cash register chick, "Did you find everything you needed?"

Note: if a cashier asks you if you've found everything you need - just tell them yes, it saves 30 seconds of babbling inquiry. They don't really care, and they have no idea how to fix the issue. They are apparently just conditioned into asking you a rhetorical question. If you indicate that you haven't found what you needed, they seem universally confused and unsure as to what action to take next. So, they proceed to ring up your items and say, "Oh, well, sorry about that...Did you look in paint?"
Anyway, I made the mistake (against my better judment) of saying, "Well, no I am looking for Modern Options Patina..." Was greeted by blank stare. (me) "It's a two part surface finisher, makes objects look like rusty metal..." (sales person) "Well, can't you just leave whatever it is in the yard for a couple months?" (me: "That will not produce rust by Wednesday!") But I digress...

Leighanna's class quickly grabbed the metal "decks", sandpaper (the worst part, you have to sand everything to get proper adhesion), and were busily pounding away with hammers and dapping blocks and daubing our patinas in new and excitingly rusty ways. (Michaels Crafts carries it, by the way) Class was a smorgasbord of different techniques to try - venetian plaster, stamping with gesso, alcohol inks, paint, tissue paper, and after about four hours, lovely rust! Even in places I didn't realize could get rusty, such as on the drip paper I put beneath my "rust." Lovely effect, by the way!

I have to admit, by afternoon I was getting a little tired. I'm not sure if everyone experiences this, but the creative muscle was shaking a bit from all this flexing. Our class was really great, and I had wonderful table mates, but I felt the need to eat lunch by myself in the empty class room. Batteries were starting to sputter just a little. Art and Soul learning - don't overschedule yourself. Although the idea of studying with all the Big Names at one time sounds fantastic in your studio at home - I really suggest you don't try to push yourself to day and night activities. It's exhausting! Also, there is so much to take in, so much color and funky stuff, so much total creativity - it just gets physically and emotionally overwhelming after a while. A while, for me, was three days.

I kind of got my second wind after lunch, and I wound up with a good start on the deck, but I must confess it is still a UFO (unfinished object). It's on my list of things to do. Leighanna's sample decks, however are really amazing, and I truly strive to be able to embellish as she does one of these days. Our class had a lot of esprit de corps, and I think we all really enjoyed meeting and supporting each other creatively.
(Tablemate Jill, Leighanna, me, and tablemate Kari)

Skip ahead - early dinner - more drinks at happy hour - to the potential promise of parting with unseemly amounts of cash at Vendor Night. I met up the New Zealand gals and hit the convention center with a hundred bucks to spend. Word to the wise - don't get cash advances on your credit card; turns out your trusty credit card company penalises you to the tune of $10 an advance - damn you, Chase Visa! I was quite determined that I wouldn't spend past my hundred. I have the ability to lie to myself quite convincingly. What a crush of people! All the big names are at their booths, with lovely bounty of their creativity for sale. Oh my - the good news was that the truly important stuff was way beyond my budget, but some of the artists had things in the $30-ish range, and that's about where I am. So, one Jane Ann Wynn necklace, a Kerin Gale pendant, a Sally Jean Alexander soldered goodie, and some lovely bits of old sari fabric strips, paint, bits and bobs later - I managed to make it out with only minor credit card damage and quite a few new trinkets to finger covetously. I managed to avoid buying a mini-theater, and my friend from NZ bought the vintage mortician's document box so I didn't have to. We get buy with a little help from our friends.

Me with Sally Jean, the Soldering Queen

Day Four - Paint, paint, paint....

The toughest class yet (though still much better than being at work) that I'd scheduled myself. Adventures in Color, with Claudine Hellmuth. This was a "real art school" type class, in which we mixed colors of paint, mastered the color wheel, and tossed around words like "value", "tone" and "hue" with impunity. Sure enough, within a couple of hours, we were mixing up various shades of red, and green, and getting to match fairly close to the color chips we were given, and starting to branch out on our own with selecting colors and duplicating them. As Claudine put it, "paint matching for the recession!" You too only need red, blue, and yellow paint to make pretty much any color, and I definitely want to practice this new skill some more - I'll put it on the to do list, right after that UFO from the previous day. She definitely made it a lot more fun than my dreaded junior high school art teacher, and I felt like I got at least a glimpse into why people could get into heated arguments of which is a bluer blue, technically speaking.

Me with the spectacularly glam Claudine Hellmuth

By now, though, my energy level was really flagging, and no reflection on Claudine (who is a sweetie!) but I was ready to be done and outta there by the last hour of class. I spent my lunch outside the convention center lying in the sun next to a fountain and not speaking to anyone. I think my nerves had been though every emotion that it's about possible to feel - I was so happy, but so wrung out that I remember bursting in tears at some point and thinking, "But I'm happy!!!" What can I say, it's a life experience. Next time, though, I'm going to take it a lot more easy.

After class I went for a swim in the Embassy Suites pool, fortified myself with one more glass of wine for the road, and went to my last class, Fab Art Boxes with my my roommate - Traci Bunkers. By now, I think most of the conference attendees were about where I was. Creatively satiated and perhaps ready to sit back and put it all into perspective. I had a sense of "I'm ready for this to be done, but at the same time, I'm already missing it and all my new friends..." I decided to just take it very easy and just do whatever with my box in the class and if I didn't finish, if I didn't do a great project, well, hell with it.

May I say I got so much technique tips from this class! Traci is a very laid back, quiet teacher and I think was the perfect person to end the week with. This was not a hard, intellectual stretch - we just started painting and texturing our cigar boxes, and laying on layer after layer of papers and stamps and paint - I felt like I was back home in my studio except with a great art journaler by my side to help and advise. I sat with one of my New Zealand buddies and we just relaxed and did whatever, and it was really great. We went to the hotel lobby and had the last huzzah of the event - just curled up in the big armchairs and drinking gin and tonic and just laughing and relaxing and realizing that it was all over. Other attendees came over and joined us, and it was a laid back, comfortable old velvet kind of party in the lobby. The richness of the time we had all shared, the laughter, the feeling of sisterhood and of finding your tribe. We all reflected on it, and we knew that it was time to transition back to the "real world" but we didn't quite want to let it all go, now that it was done. Not yet....

Two months later - Fab Art box is still not finished, in fact, it contains the bits and pieces from all my other UFO projects from Art and Soul, but one of these days I'm going to finish it. Friends and I went our separate ways, some I've been in contact with since, life has gone back to normal. Most of the attendees have told me they haven't really done too much creatively since, but they're just getting ready to....and that's why I think in the end that I enjoy this so much. It's all part of a bigger circle of life and art and love and there are no time limits on that. It's not about the hours, it's about the moments of transcendent happiness and quiet satisfaction that comes from expressing your art, and by extension your soul.
Thank you all Art and Soul sisters, tribe members, gentle readers - I've enjoyed getting to share my tale with you, and I strongly encourage you to go if you at all can. Invest in yourself, and take your art seriously but lightly. And bring an apron - you never know how many places gesso can get to if shaken without the cap on...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Slight delay on Chapter Three of Art and Soul saga

Dearest readers -apologies, but I spent the afternoon with my fellow Altered Artist of Central Florida, my friend Cindy, painting instead of writing my blog. We were supposed to be making Creativity Cards following one of the exercises in LK Ludwig's True Vision journaling book. What I wound up making is the new banner that you see at the top of this blog. Cindy's work is still in progress as my husband "borrowed" her to practice singing with him. (He's in a band). So, I promise to try and work on the rest of the story this week - please stay tuned and my apologies again that I am a little unprepared to tell...the rest of the story...

Thank you everyone that has sent me wonderful e-mails and comments, I truly appreciate your support and enjoyment of my little story. :-)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Percolating post-Art and Soul - Chapter Two - "Drawing it Out"

NOTE: Please see chapter one, "J'arrive" in the previous post for the beginning of the saga. Well, if you want to...

I am registered. I am really here at Art and Soul. I am really hungry, it's 7 p.m. on night one....

My stomach is pretty disciplined around a lack of food, but not a lack of drink. Thus a visit to the Hampton Inn Manager's Happy Hour was clearly in order. I don't know who this manager is, but I wish I'd been more like him back in the days when I was in management! Free drinks and nutritively suspicious chips for everyone! I didn't have a lot of time, so I grabbed a gin and tonic (the first of many over the course of the next few days until I was actually tired of them and switched to the more artistic merlot), and saw Juliana Coles (my heretofore unmet roommate, and teacher of my first class) in the drinks line.

Juliana is the creator of Extreme Visual Journalism, which is her form of art journaling with an emphasis on raw inner work. She's a bit of a force of nature, and one of those women that just exudes "artist" with her awesome energy and soul and wacky chick vibe. (I mean that in the best way!) Relocating a glass of wine from the hotel to her class, she was quickly emoting in a throaty voice that we should "bear down harder! Ooooohh yeah, harder! Harder!" with our pencils! I'm drawn to gorgeously eccentric like a moth to flame, so obviously an evening with Juliana is far better than the normal dozing in front of "Good Eats with Alton Brown."

First she had us introduce ourselves, then select five magazine images. As you can imagine, everyone thought they were going to express their artistry, their aesthetic values, their ability to select things they might be able to actually draw. When Juliana said, "Now give your pictures to the person sitting next to you, " the lady sitting next to me looked like she was going to have heart failure! To be honest, I wasn't inspired by lovely images of cats (dachshunds all the way for me), nor was she best pleased with my kabuki dude and African women in beads and not-much-else. (actually, the horrified reactions to this exercise was my favorite moment in the whole class.) I think we were practicing letting go. I hope the lady next to me emotionally recovered.

I don't want to give away Juliana's trade secrets, but we did a rather neat and unexpected thing with carbon paper and our journals, and there was no shading of boxes. We then made backgrounds with tape, lots of wild lines on pages (harder! more graphite!), and did some visual note taking of stuff around us. I can't say that I made a gray convention center partition wall look any more interesting than it was, but I did get the idea that really, it's not about the object. It's not about the drawing either. It's about the documentation of your life. You need to practice it. You need to lose your judgments of it, and just get it onto paper. Even if it's harder than it looks. Really enjoyed spending some time with Juliana, and even though it wasn't one of her deep inner work classes, I think I got at least a flavor of why her fans love her.

Yes, I gave the unused kitty images back to my neighbor, my karma is intact.

9 p.m. - still hungry - hadn't eaten since 7 a.m. Is this what they mean by starving artist? I sat in the hotel dining room by myself, and before I knew it I heard a "Yoo hoo! Come sit with us!" from one of my classmates, the estimable Pinky La Rouge. Pinky, another force of nature, is a member of the Bretheren from Juliana's Key West retreat in January. I'd been rather curious to meet her as I've enjoyed her energetic blog posts on Juliana's Extreme Journaling Yahoo group. I visualized her as swathed in a hot pink feather boa, spectacular earrings, and a big saucy grin more or less permanently in place. I'm so glad to not be mistaken! She was exactly who I thought she'd be and was much amused by the Edward Cullen action figure fondling that took place. So, suddenly I was enjoying my solitary shrimp and grits and wine with Pinky, Sandy, Pinky's son and girlfriend, and Juliana.

A note for those of you who have never attended Art and Soul (for those of you who have, you already know this) it is the friendliest, most outgoing group of like-minded ladies imaginable. It's a technicolor swirl of scintillating real women who talk like there's no tomorrow, and who want to enfold newbies and oldbies and anyone passing by into their chat. It's like a United Nations of Paint. If you don't know anyone, you will by the time it'll take you to read this sentence. A simple, "So, what classes have you taken/are you taking?" will occasion at least 20 minutes of gab, an exchange of emails, quite possibly a handover of cool ephemera, and the knowledge that you've found your tribe. And (as I keep insisting) I'm an introvert!

Day Two - Friday - 8 a.m.

I wake up from a dream that Traci Bunkers has told me that I shouldn't put off doing art just because I'm convinced that I need to clean up an entire stable full of manure first. I heard many reports of people having the oddest, most colorful dreams over the next couple of days. Not sure if anyone else dreamed that their roommate told them to not clean up crap, because art is more important. Yes, I got the hidden inner message.

Breakfast and lunch (yay, I'm eating!) with Sophie - wow, what a talented and fantastic person. I really wish that I'd got to spend more time with her; she is just one of those people that I instantly connected with. As mentioned in my previous post, you meet soul sisters at this event that you just know you were supposed to meet in your life, even if just briefly. That's why it's called "Art and Soul" I think. I wear the beautiful crystal necklace that she gave me often, (always to rave comments) and reflect on how lucky I am.

Today was Altered Curiosities - The Illuminated Shrine with Jane Wynn- and it was amazing! Jane is an incredibly generous, kind teacher and gives so much encouragement that before you know it, otherwise well groomed and normal women are getting busy with a drill press. And a butane torch, and a copper pipe cutter. Oh my! What I truly loved about this class, from the pretty bags of mystery objects that we were greeted with to the photo session six hours (felt like six minutes) later was how everyone's individual creativity was so encouraged and supported. We all started with photo frames from Michael's Crafts, and we ended up with fifteen or so completely different illuminated (beyond cool when something is lit up from within!) jewelboxes of ideas. I had no idea what I was going to emerge with - my finished project turned out to be Mata Hari dancing on a glittering stage complete with footlights and a crystal chandelier. My table mates created a winter woodland scene with stars, and a cute little girl with birds. Others created beautiful miniature worlds under the sea, in an English telephone box, and with a glitter queen. For the trimphant class show-and-tell, look at the hyperlink above, my project below (as photographed by Jane Wynn herself.) Just a really inspirational creative class, I highly recommend.

6 p.m. - it's happy hour again! My, that is one generous Manager.

I waded with a "I hope I'll see that person I know in a minute..." look through the crowd, (actually, it was a ruse, I was hoping someone would ask me to sit with them). Sure enough, within seconds I was asked to sit with Jo, Jeane, and Dale. Dale is a patroness of the arts, and the hippest 80-something chick ever. I enjoyed several breakfasts and dinner drinks with her over the weekend, and she is truly inspirational. Jo and Jeane, the Girls from New Zealand, became my new BFF's (best friends forever!) and my great companions over the days ahead. We talked and talked, and closed down happy hour, and kept on talking and drinking over at Harpoon Larry's - and eating some awesome scallops too. By now I'd eaten plateloads of seafood, which just kept getting better and better. We just clicked like friends who had known each other since always, and I laughed harder and more that evening than I have in months. Also, the added amusement value of zooming around the New Zealand Embassy Squad Car to the local WalMart in search of 2 part epoxy at 11 p.m. on a Friday night just can't be beat.

Tune in to this blog for the next chapter - coming in the next few days.

"Chapter Three - Happy Technicolor Dream of People to Meet and Things to Buy!"

(Sneak preview, from "Vintage Metal Deck - Leighanna Light")

We transform ordinary metal into a fabulous thick, chunky, beautifully embellished deck of cards. Each card represents a meaningful word or theme which is further explored in text. Learn several surface techniques using patinas, rust, gesso, and wax.

Patinas! Rust! I'm there...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Percolating post-Art and Soul - Chapter One "J'arrive"

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I confess I have not blogged since before Art and Soul (late April).

Right, got that out of the way!
My nature is completely against all the rules of successful blogging (rule #1 - post often, #3 be timely, #2 be succinct) and journalism (rule #1 about journalism, be timely). I should know this; my (unused) BA is in journalism. But, I may as well just accept it as "normal" for me. What is this mea culpa about, anyway?

I have to percolate after big events.

Like the Art and Soul retreat, holidays in Europe, and to the mountains, that sort of thing. Not just get my stuff unpacked, catch up on sleep, realize just how messy my house actually is when I don't see it everyday -and can ignore the commode that needs a good dose of SnoBol - kind of stuff. (Isn't it funny how you don't notice the toothpaste collection at the bottom of your sink every time you brush your teeth when you see it several times a day? But it reaches out and smacks you in the guilt when you're away from it for a week...)

No, I mean I have to let all the sights and emotions and thoughts and creative pepper just settle and melange together into a rather rich - ok, congealed - stew before I'm ready to start talking about them. Before I'm ready to start creating again after all the firestorm of inspiration that these types of lifehappenings invoke for me. I even dreamed about it last night - and the word "fungestation" actually was said to me in my dream. I looked it up this morning on Google, and I didn't like the rather distasteful implications that this word apparently has in the internet world - but I think I'll keep that word in my personal lexicon anyway and just have my own meaning.

Fungestation - nurturing happy and art-filled ideas and feelings until they have stewed richly enough that they are ready to be brought into the world. Fungestation is synonymous with "percolation."

Percolation (fungestation) time varies depending on the impact of said event. If I had to estimate it though, I'd say the congealed cassoulet that is my mind after a big creative fandango is ready to serve about four weeks later.

So, I'm thinking I'm about ready to discuss Art and Soul Virginia - which I attended at the end of April, and here we are, May 31. I think I experienced about every emotion that could possibly run through my soul in the course of four days - I was overwhelmed on an hourly basis. I met so many wonderful ladies that I just know I'd be art-sisters with if we didn't live hours, days, continents away from in real life. I had the privilege of studying with gifted and generous teachers. I was the recipient of so much kindness and generosity. I was living in a happy, peaceful, glittering, colorful, all-is-right-in-the-world art village with happy hour and room service.
Oh, and just so you know, I'm a newbie to this, and this was a spur of the moment decision to attend at all kind of trip. Although I've been happily enveloped in the world of mixed media art for about four years, up till this point I had only dreamed of attending one of the big retreats. The idea of taking classes with people who you've only met through their books! Talking with other people who understand the many properties of gesso! Who have as many adhesives as I do! I decided the week before the trip to attend. Dare to dream...
Chapter One - J'arrive

I arrived (already tired from getting up waywayway early to get to the airport for a 7 a.m. flight) in Hampton, VA - beautiful large, dense walls of trees, cool, cloudy skies, and the smell of wildflowers and clover and the sea in the air. So emotionally soothing. Anyway, check in to the Embassy Suites (they have the softest towels!) and who should I see emerging from the elevator - LK Ludwig! Incarnate! I felt a bit gobsmacked at this sighting of Altered Art celebrity (aka - BNA (big name artist) stardusting), and I'd only been at the convention about two minutes. I knew, as though I hadn't known already, that the next few days were going to bring out the embarrasing fangirl in my otherwise sensible 40-something self.

Up to my room, I open the door, and there was my never-before-met (and completely last minute got-lucky-to-get-roomates with) roommate for the next four days - Traci Bunkers (and Juliana Coles, but I didn't meet her till later). Celebrity roommates! (I try to stem verbal diarrhea of babbling on how much I admire Traci's multi-layered paint washes, and instead get my rolling tote of art supplies in the door without stubbing toe on wheels again.)

Right - must act like an adult and put clothes away. Yes, very sensible thing to avoid wrinkles. Clothes go in closet...clothes go on hangers...aw hell, I want to go to the convention NOW!

20 minutes later - off to the Art and Soul check-in. Meet the unflappable Glenny Densem-Moir (who should be nominated for sainthood). Glenny is the memorizer of faces, organizer of the schedules, smoother out of issues, and general chatelaine of the event. As I'd only registered a week before the event, I got my welcome packet upon arrival, and was expecting a few photocopied sheets of instructions and a map of the convention center.

What I got was a lovely (deeply practical!) totebag/backpack in hot pink with Art and Soul emblazoned on it, a beautiful keepsake souvenir book with a 45 record and little "faux records" with all my classes and instructors in the record sleeves, a sheet of Claudine's sticky backed canvas, a tube of Golden brand paint, and some other assorted insundry stuff. Off to make a matchbox shrine (see above) at the Make'n'Take, and a souvenir make-your-own commemorative necklace, and general ogling of the many fine items at the Collage store. The real "Collage" store is in Portland, OR, but they apparenly pack up the magical caravan and bring it to the A&S events. They had stuff that even I didn't recognize. I have an entire drawer of adhesives for every need, that they had stuff I hadn't heard of amazed me.

Chapter Two - Drawing it Out

(sneak preview) - "We all can draw. though we may not expect it, or how we think it should look. We can't draw even a straight line. Well, it's time I show you otherwise, because drawing a straight line has nothing to do with expression. We will not be drawing crumpled bags, shading a box, or any other mechanical drawing exercises taught in art school. You will learn to make your marks in your own strange and beautiful hand. Your drawings will not look like mine, they will look like your own..." (from Juliana Coles' Drawing it Out: An Intro to Expressive Drawing)

As the last time I took a drawing class was in Junior High school, with an art teacher who was either only accepting of the fine arts, or more interested in the cuter girls than me. I never really did get my cones and boxes to look all shaded like boxes are supposed to look.

But really, who wants to draw boxes??

Until next post....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Some art journal pages, and Art and Soul!

It's been a very busy few weeks in my corner of the world - I've been taking Sarah Whitmire's Advanced Soul Journaling online course, which was a delight, and I highly recommend it. As part of the course, you get weekly 18 - 25 page fully illustrated sets of instruction, learning multiple new techniques. They are all very do-able, and really don't require any odd or funky materials, so no need to run off to your nearest art supply store. Of course, you know you'll want to ;-). Sarah also has a Yahoo group especially for the class that runs from a few weeks before, until three weeks after the five-week class finishes, and there are weekly online chats on Sunday nights where you can interact with the other class members, talk to Sarah, and just enjoy a sense of community.
Here are a few pages from the early parts of the lessons. I note this because, well, I'm rather behind. I actually considered that I was doing fairly well with attending most of the online chats , but I am definitely rather a late finisher (actually, nowhere near finished) on the class instructions! Ah well, art is not a race to the finish. I am going to finish up the project upon my return from Art and Soul Virginia - which is (yikes!!) starting four days from now.

Art and Soul has been one of my "must-see's" for a few years now, but I didn't really have any plans to attend. Then, I sort of got a wild hair, realized (no doubt due to the economy) that there were still lots of classes available even two weeks before the event, and just decided to jump in with both feet and go. I'm not attending the entire event, just three days, should be more than enough art to keep me inspired for months to come. I'm very excited to be taking classes on drawing, color theory and mixing, assemblage with lighting, and metal patina work. These are all areas that I definitely can use some expert advice in, and with Claudine, Jane Wynn, Leighana Light, and Juliana Coles at the helm, I think I'm going to learn a LOT!

Wishing you an artful spring weekend!

Monday, March 30, 2009

GPP Crusade #29 - Brush Effects

Michelle's Crusade #29 was all about the use of "painterly effects" to make lovely backgrounds for your journal pages - or use them around your altered photos - or use them on top of your journaling - or as well, anything you want really. I had a lot of fun with this, and definitely want to use these techniques again. I used my trusty Golden brand Quin Magenta, my cheapie JoAnn's teal and leaf green, made stencils, a bit of my hand carved stamps. Now I just need to art journal on top of it! Do I dare? Not sure....hmmm....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mandalas - Soul Journal #21

Mandala is Sanskrit for essence, and for containing - they come from Buddhist and Hindu spiritual practices and operate as a spiritual teaching tool inducing a trance state. In the modern world they were also studied by Carl Jung as a means for creating a window into the inner dialogue of the soul.

This all makes mandalas sound rather hard and unreachable, but in fact anyone can make them, and after practicing with a few, I think perhaps everyone should. Wouldn't we be happier at work if we spent a few minutes each day drawing these wonderful shapes and then just coloring them in? If I ever run the world, that's just what we'll be doing!

Mandalas are also the feature of this month's Soul Journaling prompt - so I thought I'd show you a couple of mine, and then encourage you to visit the Soul Journaling homepage, maybe even join the group - and start this addicting and enlightening art form for yourself.

I think that mine both have an "under the sea" sort of theme, which is not surprising as (and I wouldn't have ever noticed this before keeping all my art in the same journal) I have a water theme going on in pretty much all my art. I think it's because my moon sign is Scorpio (the crazy water sign!) which is representative of your inner self - the one you don't reveal to the outer world.
What does your art reveal about your inner world? I find it to be a dialogue with the page, and the muse to reveal things that are sometimes even hidden in your conscious mind. I'd love to be an art therapist one day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The long promised Nick Bantock story

I've mentioned a couple of times in my blog that I would tell the story of how I met my artistic inspiration - Nick Bantock - but never quite got around to it. So six months have gone by, in some ways feels like longer as my life has been very busy with my paying job these days and all, but here you go. Yes, it's a bit of a long story, nothing goes boom, no dreadfully exciting payoff - no impossibly cute vampires named Edward, despite Pacific Northwest setting of story...

I was on vacation in Washington state last August for a wedding. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC, Canada and then took the ferry to Victoria which is on Vancouver Island. Now anyone who has visited Vancouver Island will ask, "Did you see Butchart Gardens?" (It's kind of the main attraction to see.) Answer is, well, no. I really do like gardens, but we only had a day, and about three miles from Vancouver Island is Salt Spring Island - where, you guessed it, Nick's studio "The Forgetting Room" is located. Well this just seemed to be too good to miss, so after having arrived at expensive B&B in Victoria, I promptly asked the husband if we could maybe not spend the next day in Victoria at all, but instead could we rent a car ($50+fuel), buy ferry tickets ($60), get up early to get on the ferry (vacation?) and spend the entire day trying to find an artist's studio? If we got done early enough, perhaps we could see the gardens...

Happily I am married to a very supportive husband; besides, he's had to trek across muddy and cow-pat laden fields all over southern England for me to see some prehistoric rock or another before, so he's used to these things. This was comparatively mild by comparison. So, he rents the car, we get up early, we drive 25 miles to the ferry terminal, and find out we JUST missed the ferry. Next one didn't leave for another 2 hours. So much for up early. Not wanting to waste vacation time (when time truly does equal money) we visited the quaint little town of Sidney, whose motto could probably be "We're here when you miss the ferry..." A pleasant tea and croissant sitting in the sunshine watching people walk their dogs isn't a bad way to spend a morning either. As a bonus, I found the Saltspring Lavender store and we had a lovely and purpley-scented visit (even though I grow lavender myself, I always want more). The store owner suggested we should really come back that night for the summer festival and street faire. I'm not one to let a street faire or farmers market go unvisited, so events were entirely conspiring at this point to never allow me to see the Butchart gardens.

Back to the ferry terminal. I really enjoyed the car ferry, as you can stand out on the deck and watch all these gorgeous islands pop up out of the blue green sparkly sea, plus work on your tan. (Over the course of several ferry rides during the week, my arm hairs bleached blonde! I'm viewing this as practically a BOGO - buy one car transport, get blond hair free. My head remained brown however).
We pull into the tiny town of Ganges - only town on the whole island - and pull out trusty GPS to find the studio. A few wonderful winding miles through tall trees with occasional glimpses of the sparkling sea later, yep, there it was! Just off the road in a little community of artist's cottages. I was so excited I was photographing the door, the window, the "closed for lunch" sign.
Well, nothing for it but back to town, and a bit of lunch ourselves. But first, a visit to Sabine's Bookstore and the Nick Bantock room! Yes, my first glimpse of a real NB painting, in the flesh (well, paint) and first editions of his books, and editions in Japanese, and signed copies, oh my! More money flies out window. I feel at this point that if I actually did get to meet him it would be practically a bonus, and really, what would I say anyway that wouldn't totally embarrass me in a fangirl sort of way. Lunch was delicious - local crab and white wine on the shaded patio of a cafe next to the town yoga studio, with a view of the marina. You can do worse.

Back in the car, winding roads, tall trees, yep, there it is again. And the door was open! In we stepped, to be greeted by a very friendly British woman "Hi, I'm Joyce" (much later turns out she's Nick's wife), who encourages us to look around and make ourselves at home. We chatted for a while, me babbling no doubt incoherently about how much I love the great man's work. She then says, "Do you think you can stick around for a little while? What's your name?" Me, "Oh yes" She then picks up the phone and calls him! Apparently he was off that afternoon with his son visiting from college, but not 10 minutes later this red Mini Cooper pulls up in front of the studio and out pops, well....Nick Bantock! He comes in, all smiles, and says, "Hi, you must be Jane!" to which I can think of nothing else than "You must be Nick?!" Son parked out on the back porch, he then spent the next hour walking my husband and I around the studio telling us about all the paintings, asking me about my art, just really took a lot of personal interest and time. It was like something out of a dream. To top it all off, he even gave me a set of his personal Griffin and Sabine faux poste artistamps and autographed them for me! I couldn't believe it. It's not so often you get to meet your heroes. Much less get to just hang out with them. Such a nice, funny, charming guy. Even my non-art husband was discussing art with him, and told him about how now that he had seen Nick's work, he sees the inspiration in mine and proceeded to inform Nick about my art! (blushing fiercely magenta here - but he got MASSIVE husband points for all this).

After we left, me dancing on cloud nine, we drove back to the ferry, crossed back to Vancouver Island, went to a gorgeous beach and sat on the rocks with our feet in the water, then went to Sidney's street faire, and finally got back to Victoria in time for a late dinner. It was truly one of the best days of my life.

If you're still awake by now, thank you for reading my story and clicking the links (you know you were tempted just to see what they were) :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Completely self-indulgent ramble on how I got started in art

I intended this post to tell you all about how I met Nick Bantock (my personal artistic hero - nay, deity, though he would no doubt be very amused to be deified) but I decided that first I'd have a self-indulgent ramble about me and art and how I wound up with the most absorbing and second-most expensive hobby (after horses but really, who has time or money for that in middle age with a full time job) of my life. If you're reading this, you're probably a like minded sort of person...and I love hearing how people found their art niche, or if they haven't trying to talk them into mine, so here goes. Sort of setting the stage as it were...

I'm a kid - I draw everything, all the time. I love drawing and coloring. Whether drawn well or poorly I don't know, but my cousin (a real professional artist) encourages me with very fancy Caran D'Ache art supplies, my grandmother's next door neighbor gives me her set of antique Reeves watercolors that she took with her to Egypt in the 1920's....I draw horses in the margins of my textbooks.

I get to junior high - I am convinced I'll be either an artist, and archaeologist, or a flight attendant when I grow up. (Stewardesses were much more glam back in the 1960's and 70's when I was young). I take art class. I am completely shattered as I don't really draw apples and their shading very well. The art teacher pays no attention to me whatsoever. I give up.

I take a crafts class in college - yes, as a liberal arts major I really did take Basketweaving. I loved it. I learned how to carve stamps from linoleum and make monoprints, but somehow didn't really pick things back up. Do suspect that there may be a bigger world than fine arts.

1991 - start to hear about a literary phenomenon. See a cool book at a little independent bookstore in town (no longer around, sigh) and lo and behold - it's this phenomenon book. Griffin and Sabine - it's an artful correspondence between two people separated by space, and depending on your theory (it's rather a mysterious story) time. Or maybe they aren't really two people at all (Sabine may just live in Griffin's mind) but they have an enigmatic correspondence in postcards and letters. Their story unfolds via one of the most intriguing ways - opening their letters (incredibly artful and highly illustrated) and reading their mail. It's like spying on someone else's life, and trying to decipher their art along the way. It's just surreal and mysterious and romantic and it totally captured my imagination. It was like the view from the inside of my head had been mapped out, not the one that was there formerly, but the one that wanted to be and the one that felt completely right.

Skip forward through the 1990's and I would occasionally see books and cards and random things whose artwork and sensibilities just drew me in and fired my imagination. Merchant of Marvels, and Paris Out of Hand, and random stuff that just appeared in offbeat gift shops and would call out to me (it called "buy!" incase you're wondering). I didn't know why I liked this strange and exotic look with a dash of humor - sort of a combo of Monty Python cartoons and sensibility, 17th century woodcuts, North African dancers, and the curtains of Marie Antoinette's salon in a kaleidoscopic haze of color. I just knew it when I saw it and wanted more.

Forward again to Spring 2003 - I see Legacy magazine at my local Borders and am intrigued. I saw all these amazing art projects that seemed somehow do-able, had no idea how to do them though. I am fascinated, and at this point....I still had money ;-)

Summer 2005 - after a few forays into jewelry making, the purchase of an occasional rubber stamp at Joann's (no real idea what to do with it though) I happen upon an entire rubber stamp show - I go thinking I'll spend an hour or so. Two hundred dollars and the rest of the day later - I'm hooked. And Nick Bantock appears in my world again (bet you wondered when I was getting back to him) - as one of the many tools in his art arsenal is - yep, mundane rubber stamps. (Sadly, Limited Edition Rubber Stamps who sold his personal line of stamps is no longer in business) Not cutesy bears that say "I heart you beary much" and remind you of the sappy stuff people wrote in your high school yearbook "2 sweet 2 B 4 gotten" etc. No, there were art stamps out there - Stamp Camp, and Lost Coast and Stampers Anonymous and well, a lot of other cool and surreal stuff that would probably scare your grandma. Not mine, she was rather progressive, but somebody's grandma.

I was off and reading every book and magazine I could get my hands on on this wonderful world of mixed media art - with its rabbit holes of all sorts of stuff to do - paper and paint, assemblage, rusty metal, fairy dolls, postage stamps on top of old photos of silly Victorians in paper hats, polymer clay and those stamps - well, it's all a bit endless and if you want to see more - try Somerset Studio magazine...expensive, but worth it.

And I kept buying art technique books, and going to classes and educating myself - and learning to solder, and carve, and emboss, and paint, and journal - and well, as you read in my last post, I'm getting some art published in the aforementioned magazine. Forty years, and I'm finally feeling like an artist. And all because I found out there was a wide world of art out there that didn't rely on being able to draw a good apple. And if I hadn't seen that book, all those years back, by Nick Bantock, then I wonder if I would have discovered this world at all.

So, what's your story? Who is your inspiration? and incase you're wondering - did you ever get to meet yours? Well, that's a story for next week (yes, I know I told you that last August, but didn't somehow get to writing it. Sometimes it takes a while...)Wishing you artful dreams...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Somerset Studio is going to publish my art!

Hear ye, hear ye! Queen Isabella of Dachsonia has made a rare visit to the frost fair on the frozen Thames river in London. As you may know, London has received more snow this year than it usually does, and the good citizens of that city have decided to raise spirits and glasses by holding a frost fair! Queen Isabella has caused a royal pavilion to be established and is currently dancing and enjoying the plays of the great playwrite William Shakesdachshund. The Queen's much younger sister, Lili the Infanta, has been indulging in throwing snowballs behind the tent and inquiring about frozen lizard pops...

In rather wonderful news, Somerset Studio, the journal of the world of mixed media art, is actually going to be featuring this momentous occasion in their upcoming (Nov. 09) special magazine "Somerset Black and White."

And now a note from the scribe of Dachsonia: I'm so excited about this! I've never submitted any of my art to Somerset Studio before, much less actually get published. As you can imagine, my mind is quite filled with all sorts of other pieces that I could make.... Truly, publication in Somerset Studio is one of my artistic dreams come true. Between this and meeting Nick Bantock last summer, I feel very blessed to have found a hobby that continues to inspire and intrigue. Now I think I had better start to dream a little more, maybe a whole article next? I hope this inspires you, fellow artists and readers, to try sending in something - you never know!!

PS - can't wait to see how they photograph it also - this isn't the greatest photo as there is a lot more detail to be seen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Repurposed ink and paint holders, or how to make ugly household items quite fun

These are actually some projects I did last year ("That is sooooo 2008...") but since I never did get around to posting it here, I'm going to claim it's part of my "simplify" campaign of 2009. Self-deception is getting me everywhere - tee hee!
I had been coveting our wall-mounted spice rack for ages and ages (at least six months) because I'd realized it would the perfect thing for keeping all my cheapie acrylic paints where I can see them. And presumably, use them. I have my Golden paints (hardly cheapies) in there as well, for a bit of class, but as you can see, it's mostly the 50c jars from JoAnn's. I love em actually. Being a visual person (and what artist isn't) it definitely helps to have your stuff out where you can remember you have it. It took a bit of convincing the husband that I could put the spice rack to better use than he could, and the purchase of an expensive new spice rack (they don't make this design anymore that I could find, which is sad. Now you have to go much more expensive.) When he finally relented and said I could have it, I whipped it off the wall in the kitchen (there are still bare nail holes) and screwed it into place (it's a bit heavy) before he changed his mind. He marvelled that I had actually hung it myself. I marvelled that I had hung it straight.

Along the same lines I also went to a local thrift store (now sadly going out of business - not sure what it says for the economy when even the grungiest thrift store is closing - does that mean nobody's buying cheap? or that nobody's even spending for junk?) to find the above item. What is it, you say? I can't take credit for this idea, but I had read a few years ago that a great way to store your inkpads (for rubber stamping) is to keep them in an old cassette tape holder. A few of you may remember these ;-) They're generally made from pressboard, you probably threw yours out in a "simplify" campaign of your own at least a decade ago. I did - which is why I had to go to a thrift store to buy another one! Thankfully I found one, classed it up with my favorite Basic Grey Motifica paper and some artful applications of "aging" dark brown chalk ink and paint. Et voila - an inkpad holder!

The paintbrush holder is the bottom of a cannister that held a whisky bottle - sawed in half, covered in paper, rubber stamped on (stamp is fro m Stampers Anonymous Michael de Meng collection), painted on, doodled on. I am quite fond of it!

So, we're reusing, reducing, recycling and simplifying here. Now if only I could think of something to hold all my little tiny "cats eye" shaped inkpads...the quest continues.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Weaving our Dreams

Dreamweaver...la da da...something..morning liiihhhtt...
Well, actually this post has nothing to do with a song from the 70's that I can only remember part of the chorus of (it just amused me) - it has instead to do with this week's exercise from the Soul Journal group on weaving our dreams.

Rather than intentions, and resolutions, and all that stuff that falls by the wayside two weeks after new year, this is about focusing on our dreams. Maybe they'll happen, maybe they won't, maybe you wouldn't really want to do them but the idea is lovely. This little project gives all of them a place of honor.

Also, I felt this went well with the "use what you got" part of the whole simplify thing - my word for the new year. So, I cut 16 strips of paper (you can make yours whatever size and however many strips of paper you want) from my scrapbook paper stash, my leftover bits of art journal backgrounds, etc then wrote some dreams of mine on them. The writing uses my almost-never-used group of letter rubber stamps (oh goodie-using my stuff!) , different colors of ink, and some are just handwritten.

My favorite strip of paper is the green and orange one (my own handmade background - it's cool) - it says "Study art with Nick Bantock", and then there's "Go to Art and Soul retreat" and "Raise lavender on a herb farm in North Carolina" and "Travel to Turkey, Morocco, Thailand, and Indonesia..." - actually I have no idea where Indonesia came from...I want to see the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, not Indonesia. Huh..what am I supposed to see in Indonesia?

Oh yeah, then there's the big one - be an artist!

What are your dreams, maybe for this year, maybe for sometime, maybe just for silly but fun? Write them down!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Soul Journaling homepage art!

Just a quick post to say thank you to Christy and my Soul Journaling companions for selecting the posting below (the picture with the lavender in gesso) for the group's homepage! I am very thrilled to be a part of this fine group, and I thank you all very sincerely for the honor :-)

I am also truly touched to be the recipient of a remarkable piece of assemblage art (and a Teesha Moore print) from the inspired and genius hands of my friend the truly talented BNA (big name artist) Cindy. Seriously readers, you need to go look at her blog and see this awesome piece! Go check it out :-) You'll want to have one yourself, I promise. She is now accepting commisions...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Soul Journal #13 - Textured Background

I live in a place that hasn't received snow since 1977, which of course renders the idea of snow in a romantic, peaceful, and worth-a-12-hour-drive to experience it kind of way.

My Soul Journaling sisters had a prompt on textured backgrounds I decided to stay with the theme and keep mine in the winter whites. The idea is to use gesso to coat and glue down items on your journal page. This creates textures that appear almost fossil-like in the background of your page. The plaster element of gesso kind of binds it all together, and it actually comes out quite beautiful.

The picture below is of my grandmother taken back in the early 1980's, with lavender from last summer now encased in a blanket of snow and ice (courtesy of gesso). In my grandmother's letters, she would always enclose a few sprigs of lavender from her garden and smell being what it is, it would transport me back to the summer before. When I was drying the gesso, the heat tool brought up the sweet and slightly spicy smell of the lavender as though it had time travelled me back 30 years...

I hope that you have an art-filled New Year full of possibilities and joyous flights of delicious fancy!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gesso Resist Challenge #25 - GPP Street Team

I completely missed the deadline for posting to Michelle Ward's Green Pepper Press Street Team - November challenge (11/30/08) but it's never too late to show your results - definitely some interesting backgrounds that are great for my favorite artistic endeavor - visual journaling! For instructions on how these were made (if you're interested) please click the hyperlink above and look for "Crusade 25."

The point of the exercise was to use gesso (normally used to prep paper and canvas to hold paint) for "resists" meaning that you create a background with gesso, then paint over it. The gesso remains somewhat visible in the background and creates special effects. This is definitely a mixed media approach - I don't think that a classical painter would ever quite venture that far out of the box with gesso.

This page was done by stamping with black gesso (not the usual color, but Golden paints makes it) on the left onto pages torn from an old book, and using the same stamp, with white gesso. I then used cheapie acrylics over the gesso, and made all the blue swirlies by painting with blue interference paint (Lumiere HiLite Blue) over the stamped lines. I sat with this page for weeks until I needed something to journal on, and well, this page came in handy. After all, backgrounds are just that - backgrounds.

You can also use gesso on rubber stamps as I used above (note: wash the gesso off the rubber quickly, or the plaster that is part of the gesso's makeup will stick like glue. I wish some of my glues held this well.)
The best example of the resist with gesso is now my new banner for my blog (see above.) Cool, huh? I definitely got some Teesha Moore inspiration on that one too.
My favorite use for gesso though is still for clearing my mind and warming up for art. I love to just paint a coat of it on everything I do from canvas to paper to assemblage. I'd say thats what I use it for most. Just slapping it on paper and clearing my head.

Thank you Michelle for another inspirational crusade - sorry I missed it!