Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Earlier this month, we did a spontaneous trip to New York City to celebrate mine and my husband's birthdays - as a good friend of mine says, "Wow, when you get spontaneous, you go to New York City. When we get spontaneous, we go to Cold Stone Creamery..."  I can't believe I've gotten to this mid-life age, and never been to New York before!  This will be remedied in the future.  I thought I'd share a few shots with you of the city in winter. 
Macy's - and I never made it past the first floor.  I definitely didn't get to Santaland, (and if you have never read "The SantaLand Diaries" by David Sedaris, do yourself a favor and do do.  It is everything you love and hate about Christmas in a nutshell. Extra points to you if you have ever worked in customer service, as you, dear readers will especially appreciate this one!)

Ice skaters in front to Rockfeller Center.  

The famous Rockerfeller Center tree; it was so amazing to see this many people all going to visit an evergreen.

 It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
The old dairy next to the sheep meadow, Central Park.

Merry Christmas, Blessed Solstice, and brightest blessings for your New Year.  I hope all your artistic dreams come true.  Seasonal hugs, Jane

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why I don't like iTunes, but won't trade my iPhone for anything...a non-rant

I don't like iTunes.  Everyone else seems to think it's so intuitive - no, I cannot concur.  I find it entirely counterintuitive, and irritating.  But, lest you suspect a rant coming on - this is not in fact a rant.  It's a....not sure what opposite of rant is - er, praise?  Can one have "a praise?"  Well, I will proceed to do so anyway.

This is a praise of the iPhone, despite the perfidy of its operating system, because for photography apps, it just can't be beat.  My favorite of all?  Hipstamatic.  It enables one to take those artsy sort of photos that one admires in the journals of people like Sabrina Ward Harrison and so forth.  Folks that just ooze artsy and effortless in making crap photos look so intentional and good, but yet so carelessly tossed off the lens as to be barely worth a mention.  You know what I mean - some people just make you think "artist" with everything they do, and they usually take craptastic photos. With apologies to Sabrina of course, because she probably doesn't have to resort to trickery, or even Lomography.  And she's totally amazing.  Shanti, shanti, shanti... But I digress...   
So the truly artsy types have had a bit of help over the years - they started using Lomo cameras before the rest of us.  The Holga, the Diana - such plastic bodied, light-filtering in, exposed film decadence!  But those still require that you actually develop the (long outdated) film.  The Hipstamatic for iPhone requires no more than a quick download off the camera..

All that fussing with using manual SLR's back in my college days.  No, I don't regret taking proper photography - I learned how a real camera, and developing film, and printing in a darkroom actually properly works.  It was my favorite class I ever took along with archery (except when I shot myself in my own arm.  The teacher said in 20 years of teaching, she'd never seen anything like it.  I was sidelined until a spot in badminton opened up.  Best weeks of PE ever.)  Oh, and "lifetime crafts" - how cool is that?  I learned how to cut linoleum blocks to make stamps for printing.  This would turn out much more useful in later life.  I do love liberal arts colleges.
But the Hipstamatic app for iPhone is so much MORE FUN!  Even better, you get multiple "lenses" that produce all sorts of truly magical effects.  These photos were taken with the Dali lens package.  More surrealism than a mere phone ever had daydreams of.  Can you believe it's really just a phone?  This still amazes me.
So are you making handmade Christmas gifts for all your relatives and friends?  I'm sure hoping that mine appreciate my slightly off the wall photography - coz they're gettin' it in some form or another!  You saw a sneaky peek.'s our secret.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Finds, loot, stash...from the Fancy Flea

From my last post, I had mentioned that I'd show you my snazzy finds from the Flea - so here they are...a lovely little chest of drawers in miniature size  (it's probably 18 inches tall, with little drawers).  All handpainted - you can see it on the left behind the blue candle.  Then, from the same artist, a handpainted candle holder to go with it all.  That's the one with the yellow circle with the dots on it.  So fab in the studio!
 Here we have a bumper set of chandelier crystals - just waiting to be transformed into some jewelry.  Or some "faux chandelier" treatments of my own.  See, I'd love to own a chandelier and decorate the studio with it, all Parisian attelier inspired and generally decadent.  But I live in a climate that only resembles Paris on the hottest days of summer - the Parisians install a "tropical beach" called the Paris Plage by the banks of the Seine in August just to try to make it bearable.  If you could get out of town, you would....and it's like that much of the year here.  So, practicality wins out, and a ceiling fan wins.  Doesn't have to look like an ordinary fan though.  And so hence, faux chandeliering - I'm slowly but surely adding bits of crystal on where I can and stringing it from other beads, and fishing line if that's what it takes.  Its as faux French as my command of the French language is...
 Now isn't he just looking all mysterious and evocative sitting on the top of the painted chest?
 and here it is, the piece de from the Fancy Flea...the typewriter.  You remember I said I was going to take a chance on buying it, because I wasn't really all that sure if it was going to work.  So last weekend, I took it out of its case (the original) and gave it a good once over with the eyeballs.  Well, pretty soon I could tell that a key seemed to be stuck in the operative position.  One that was not about to allow any other keys to do what keys were meant to do (i.e. strike paper.)   Other than this, however, it seemed to be in pretty good shape.  A couple of hours of typewriter research go by.

Who knew that there was a market for vintage typewriters in this age of technology?  Not I.  But, "Each man has his peculiar interests" to quote Lincoln, and so it goes with musty old office equipment also.  I found a place that repairs them about two hours from where I live.  Not really fancying the drive, but what can a seeker of art supplies (oh yes, that's why I wanted this baby to work, so I can use it for making vintage looking text to add to mixed media work) do?

Well, one invites one's handy husband to take a look at one's "new" typewriter.  So get this!  My husband - who took apart many of his family's appliances as a child and apparently reassembled most of them - fixed up the vintage typewriter for me!  He whisked it off to the garage, and emerged with it cleaned, oiled, and running beautifully.  I couldn't believe it.  I ordered it new ribbons this week - and it should be in pretty good shape at that point.  Particularly for a 75 year old machine.  Did you know there is a typewriter database?  Oui.  Mine is a 1936 Royal Model 0 standard portable typewriter; I'm very pleased with it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Fancy Flea

My new friend Kim, (who I just met this week - this very week! how fortunate am I?! ) is featured in the bible of artsy style Where Women Create magazine.  Because of her wonderful art blog Dear Daisy Cottage, I found out about a lovely, French-style flea market right in my hometown - Lakeland, Florida.
This pinnacle of gorgeous baubles and hip rediscovered treasures is called "The Fancy Flea" and what an apt name it is.  It's just like a flea market except much, much better because its filled with all the things that an artsy wacky chick such as myself needs.  Handpainted furniture, vintage chandelier drops, fashions from the early 60's, homegrown plants, handmade jewelry in unexpected jingles and luscious drops.

When I saw Kim's posts on previous Fancy Flea events, I thought, "well that must be in some wonderfully hip and totally artsy place, like Portland, or Seattle, or San Francisco, or anywhere that's at least a thousand miles from where I live.  Le sigh."  Turns out that sometimes artsy and fabulous can be just an hour down the road!

Isn't it interesting how you can let go of your convictions that nowhere near you can possibly be fun, when you just look around a little bit with fresh eyes?

Yes, the sky was really this blue, and these birdhouses really looked like they were about ready for me to take up residence.

 So many yummy flowers and vegetable plants for sale - even European olive trees!  How I'd get one of those back in my rather tiny car, I'm not sure, so I settled for treasures from the market that were a little more portable.  Specifically a portable Royal typewriter from the mid 1930's!  Now I just have to find somewhere to clean and oil it, and replace its ribbon.  I'm told it works fine otherwise...I took a leap of faith on this one.  It was just that kind of day.
I've been totally in an orange frame of mind for a while - which is funny because it's not a color I wear or anything, but somehow its snuck all over my studio at home too.  Which is probably why I got a super fab nested box of drawers painted all pink and yellow and orange and teal at the Flea.  Did I mention it was handpainted?  Did I mention it was $15?!  I do love it a lot.  I'll show you a photo of my flea market finds soon... 

And if I hadn't already spent a bit more than I intended...and wouldn't you with all this luscious temptation....I sure would have loved one of these juicy ripe purple goodies.  Intense, non?

I bet you're making mental plans for their next Fancy Flea event in your mind, aren't you?  I am!  I'm not sure exactly when the one one is yet myself, but I think it will be in the spring.  Yes, we have beautiful weather here in the spring too.  Summer is another matter, but we have gorgeous Novembers, and simply lovely Aprils.

Is there somewhere near you that is unexpectedly artsy and cool, and you just never realized it?  Maybe there is, and it's just waiting for you to discover, or re-discover.  Thank you again Kim - you're a treasure!  If you'd like to see more photos of this beautiful event, please stop by Kim's blog (this is the post where she talks about her visit to the Fancy Flea) - I guarantee you will be as charmed by her as I was, and her photos are much better than mine - simply to die for!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dancing with late summer

In the part of the country where I live, autumn meanders slowly into our lives.  It teases us with the occasional day of weather in the 70's, then unerringly shoots back up to sticky before you know it.  This dance of climate uncertainty straggles through October, leaves still mostly green, grass baked from a long summer, stillness daring the cooler nip of fall to just try and intrude.

I wait for the spell to pass, as do we all.  I begin to doubt that the heat will ever break.  I swear that it has never been this hot, for this long, in any other year ever.  Despite global warming, the weatherman assures us that this is not a record.

Due to a love of ritual raindancing I decide that surely a change in the season could be prompted by my dusting off the lovely copper and plum jackets in my wardrobe.  Perhaps an attempt to don wool (and get strange looks for my trouble.)  Perhaps the conjuring works, as eventually we do (shhhh! don't scare them off!) get a few cooler days, to reassure us that the autumn change will finally arrive.

On one of those days, when you feel that you can safely leave your air conditioned home to go about touring, you might take the time to seek out the few corners that still exist in my overdeveloped state (you have to look hard) where time doesn't change any faster than the weather does.

Where the occasional sigh of Spanish moss as it drops from the live oak branches high overhead is about as clear a sign as you'll get that autumn winds will truly arrive.  Well, maybe.

Oh, I do envy the people that have four seasons.  My heart practically aches when I see pictures of fall colors on the mountains of the Blue Ridge. The misty otherness of Halloween celebrations on the Oregon coast, or my own memory of the bright dance of trees in Washington state.  But for now, this is where I am, and  it does have its own peculiar charm.  The wood creaks just a little more as the summer dampness dries, the cicadas stop their chirps, perhaps they share more certainty that autumn will finally arrive.

PS - A special note of thanks to all of you that are following my blog - I do appreciate it!  I don't post very often, not for lack of intent, but keeping up a blog is rather time consuming and if its an art blog, like this one, then even more so because, well, all those pictures! I do wish Blogger was a little less clunky in formatting and easier to stick the pictures where you want, and the size you want, etc. It's hard to retain a steady readership when you don't post often, and so then one doesn't get much commentary and traffic, so (confessional) it's less motivating to post to begin with.  I do it too - stop following blogs that don't update often.  I'm guilty as much as the next.  Anyway, thank you all for sticking with me even though I'm your friend you don't hear from too often.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Camera in Your Pocket

Oh, so much to talk's been ages since I have posted here, but I assure you dear readers, I've not been idle in the art world!  Oh no, not at all.  I think I have the opposite of a creative block going on - more of a creative bottleneck. 

I was truly blessed to have a the art trip of a lifetime this past May when I got to go to Spain and study collage with Nick Bantock for a week!  That's Nick in the picture, along with some of the other folks in the group having one of our many wonderful dinners by candlelight in the cool Spanish evening air. Just the food and wine and company were heaven itself.

Yes, it was as incredible as you would think it would be.  We went to Ronda (setting for Nick's book "The Forgetting Room") - those are wild poppies growing on the hills that you see in the photo below.  Such a beautiful town and so wonderful to go there with other artists.  To see it with the eyes of an artist and have the time to just wander the back streets with a camera and capture all the richness.  Nobody saying, "come on, you HAVE to photograph every light post and door hinge..."

Then on to the Alhambra in Granada.

Cordoba during the Festival of Flowers. 

 This is the Mosquita - amazing..

Oh, we saw flamenco, we danced, we sung, we painted, we drank LOTS of wine. Oh, more posts to come on this one.
When I got back, I started taking LK Ludwig's The Camera in your Pocket iPhone photography course - and that has been totally fun and really got me back into photography again.  It reminds me of when I was in college oh so many years ago and was taking photography and had all these photo assignments to do - ah, so much easier now in the world of digital!

And now, a couple of weeks ago, I started Mary Ann Moss's "Remains of the Day" class - which is a shabby journal of scraps.  Now, I've been having a few technical hitches with my sewing machine to say the least, but overall this is a brilliant course, and I've been very glad I've been taking it.   More pictures to come on this.

So....lots and lots of material for upcoming blog posts to share with you.  So stay tuned!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Walking around and looking artfully at the world

So one of my favorite things about making art a part (p-ART!  hah, I amuse myself) of your life is that I think you notice things more.  Appreciate the effort that others make, or that just seredipitously happens, to make the world just cooler.   I also really enjoy the Toy Camera iPhone app - you can get artsy on the go.  That's what these photos were taken on.  Note the faux-Lomo camera effects.  Badly taken shots turn artsy!  Except much cheaper, as you aren't dealing with real film and real developing and prints as you do with a Lomo camera.  Do I want a Lomo camera?  Of course I do.  I'm also a bit cheap.

Speaking of prints, I do wish, however, that iPhone would make an agreement with the Pogo Printer from Polaroid.  Have you seen these things?  It's a little tiny mini printer that hooks up to your camera and prints out pictures directly from it. As stickers, no less. I was fortunate enough to see one in Art Journaling action at Journalfest last October, and I think it's going to add bells and stars and twinkles to journaling on the go.

Now for my other exciting bit of news - I'm going on a trip to Spain in a few weeks!!!  As you can imagine, I'm planning on using my Pogo Printer for all my art journaling while I'm there.  Delivered by Accident in Twilight - The Art of Collage with Nick Bantock. Now doesn't that sound like something you just HAVE to know more about?  It hasn't really even sunk in that that's actually me, and actually me in Spain, with the grand master of the collage world.  It's on the verge of intimidating.

In the meantime, until the way exciting tour de Spain, here were a few sightings from my local Thai restaurant.  Just flowers, and wall hangings, and rugs, but don't they conjure up images of exotic, lush art filled rooms?  The food was great too.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A few experiments with paper cloth

I've been a little ordinary old paper lately, and I've been taking an interest in cloth instead.  To this end, I've taken a few basic sewing and quilting classes - not with the idea that I'm going to become a real quilter (not sure that I have that kind of patience - I think quilter would turn into quitter fairly soon.) Not really with the idea that I'll become a real seamstress either - I am perfectly fine with purchasing my clothes.  There is no such thing as anything being "sew easy!"

I never learned to sew at my mother's knee (I can't recall her ever sewing other than when she complained about having to sew my brownie patches onto the uniform).  So to make up for this lack of prior training, I've been taking classes at my local Joann's Fabric with the patient Miss Brenda. Me and the other eight year olds that can outsew me any day.  I'm still pretty intimidated by the women at the fabric counter, the bobbin on my machine still makes me feel a bit uncertain, but I'm slowly learning the nomenclature and thinking of small (very small) things to make.  My goal is to make an art quilt - something nicely impractical. What's the difference between art and craft - how useful it is!  Well, no, that's not really my definition, but it's funny.  In the case of an art quilt, however, by the time you've got all that stuft stuck on there, it would cower in front of a washing machine.

Anyway, to that end I've been reading the book Stitch Alchemy and have found some inspiration in the idea of making "paper cloth" which is basically muslin or similar cheapie fabric saturated in gluey water and then covered in paper strips.  You let the stuff dry overnight, and then collage and embellish - just like regular paper.  This I can deal with.  You can see a couple of examples of what I've been up to with this in the pictures.  I think this has distinct possibilities!

I'm a little concerned that this is definitely in the impractical for regular use category, as I think the dye/ink/paint will most likely run right off the second its exposed to water, but I'm going to experiment with covering it with spray-on sealant, and with sticking gel medium on it, and maybe decoupage medium.  See what sticks, so to speak.  It's some fun, very non-intimidating to make stuff though.  And it's almost like paper - paper I can deal with!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nesting and stitching

Nesting and stitching

Swimming through the sea of reeds and murk

Watching and waiting

Listening in limbo

Wondering if the sleeper is going to awaken

Hello friends - apologies that I haven't posted to this blog in months.  I really am here; I've just been on sort of an art hiatus.  Its not to say that I haven't been doing a few things in the background here, I redecorated my studio, made the 12 days of jewelry at Christmas (guess what were given as gifts this past year?), danced around the edges of art, was fortunate to spend an art playdate in January with my good friend Sarah Whitmire . Heck, i even made a creation for submission to Somerset Studio for an Impressionists idea if it will be accepted, but at least I submitted, right?  The issue comes out next month; haven't heard anything, but I'm viewing it as no news is good news, right?

As a note, still waiting for "Queen Isabella at the Frost Fair" to appear, this was a piece I submitted probably two years ago for Black and White challenge.  I was very excited to have my first published piece of artwork in SS, but due to outside factors beyond anyone's control, (the economy) it's publication was put on semi-forever hold.  It is supposed to be appearing in this Summer's upcoming Somerset Gallery, so hopefully it will and then will wend it's way home.  I'll be happy to see it again!

But all that being said, I haven't been feeling inspired to jump back in to art for me for months. 

I do experience these creative recessions every so often; my muse just goes into sort of a long winter's nap.  She and I normally have a very cool and groovy relationship, in which she spins and dances and keeps me up at night. But, sometimes she just needs to be the introvert like me too.  The bigger me (that's the one the rest of the world sees - has been feeling pretty introverted too.)  I have a long list of correspondence that I need to return letters to, a long list of to-do's that I need to accomplish so I'm less of a feral friend to the folks that send me letters and attempt to keep up with me.  Lord love em!

I feel a bit (a lot) guilty for not making art, but then there's other things that I also really enjoy, like genealogy, and bicycling, and gardening, and so for a while now, I've just done those instead.  And then of course, there's all that boring "real life" stuff like holidays and Christmas cards, and post-holiday hangover (not a real hangover, but I swear I don't recover from December until the end of January) and family matters and a six-week stretch of cleaning out our entire house of nicknacks and junk that have been a bit time and energy consuming. A dear lady on one of the bulletin boards that I read described this sort of thing as "nesting" rather than flying, and that made me feel a bit better about the whole thing.  The guilt and so forth.  Made it seem less lazy, and more necessary.  The creative flow stopping to pick up sticks so to speak.

But as the months have gone on, I have been waiting and wondering and listening to see if the muse is done with her nap.  Beginning to wonder if this hibernation is going on a little too long.  I listened to the very inspiring podcast by Rice Freeman Zachery (notes from the voodoo lounge) on "10 Ways to Jumpstart Inspiration" and followed her suggestion of "try something completely new" so I did a few quilting and sewing classes - way the heck out of my comfort zone.  I'm a paper artist, darn it!.  Overall I quite enjoyed them (though very stressful!  Argh! So much math in sewing!)  and I do want to get a bit more into art quilts, definitely, but I'm not sure that they are the whole answer either.  I redecorated, and I sewed a sofa cover (not artsy, in fact of all things, it's beige, but my dogs seem to love it.)

Which all brings up to today; I was out for a bike ride with my beloved, and we were talking about the-rest-of-our-lives (hey, we're middle aged, the span of time suddenly seems a little less elastic) and he suggested I really do need to get on with this art teaching and getting my art business going.  And with the conviction that spring and sunshine and birds and orange blossoms bring, it suddenly seemed like an awfully good idea. Ideas are beginning to churn around

Am I over the long winter's nap yet?  Jury is still out, but I'm feeling a bit of creative fluttering.  I hope so.

Do you have any muse nap wake-her-uppers?  Any suggestions for your fellow artist(s)?  Bring em on!