Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Art & Soul envy

So Art & Soul here in Portland starts tomorrow and just about a mile down the road from where I work. Sadly, that is where I will be - at work. I went back through their website tonight and followed many links out of curiosity to see just how many of the instructors are Pacific Northwest artists. I was pleasantly surprised to discover my suspicion seems to be confirmed. A disproportionate number do seem to live right here in the neighborhood. I wonder what it is that seems to make the Pacific Northwest such a mecca of artists! I added a few of the blogs and websites to the list at the left so I can "lurk" for a while and see what they have to say.

In the meantime I prepared for LK Ludwig's online class which starts tomorrow. I wonder how she is pulling that off, teaching at Art and Soul AND launching the online class. Busy woman! Anyway, I went to Staples and got a new cartridge of color ink since I know I'm almost out and I bought a pack of fancy genuine HP paper for printing the photos to use in my journal. I'm excited to get started and just hoping my little journal I got on vacation (at the hippie store) will hold up. The pages seemed pretty thin based on her recommendation so I glued them together in groups of three. That still didn't seem very sturdy so I went back and machine stitched them along the outside edge. We'll see. While I was there I found some REALLY cool paperclips that look like musical notes. They will be perfect for one of the "inspiration sets" I am putting together for the Etsy store I plan to open later this fall. Oh, oops, almost gave that away! Wasn't planning to talk about that just yet.

On another topic. I was very moved by Jenny Doh's blog post last night. It's the one dated September 29. It is the keynote address she gave at the Squam art retreat. It was very moving and at one point I sucked in my breath because it started to sound like she was saying goodbye. I might have to write her a letter. As editor of the Somerset magazines she provides SO much validation and encouragement by giving artist all around the world the opportunity to publish their work for a larger community to share. Long live Jenny Doh!

Monday, September 28, 2009

You can never have too much sky.

Those are Sandra Cisnero's words. They might be from "The House on Mango Street", I don't remember for sure. I just love the way she word wrangles! You can check out her website here. There is also a link on the left side of my blog in the Inspirations section.

I also added a new link to Teesha Moore's blog. I have admired her journaling style for a while and only recently realized she is another Pacific Northwest artists. It must be something about the climate here! She hails from Issaquah WA. I follow a few blogs from other parts of the country but I especially enjoy following the like-minded artists right here in the neighborhood.

This canvas is another one of my background experiments. Way too dark but I like the thought so you get to see it. I learned two important things from making this one. I like to use my printer to print the words on the paper from sewing patterns then paste them on. I used a more modern pattern this time and the paper is different so it shows more than I would like. I also discoverd that in Word you can actually type a bigger number in the font size box and go higher than 72. Who knew?? I know I didn't.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time off for good behavior!

I really buckled down this week on learning how to use the camera to produce the results I'm looking for so last night I gave myself some time off for good behavior and worked in my journal. I started on a two page spread about my right brain and left brain characteristics and obstacles.

They argue.

It isn't finished yet. I am still planning on adding some collage and probably some more words since I usually start reflecting when I'm adding the art. I wish I could post what I've got so far but it's a two page spread which means I have to make two separate scans and combine them side by side. I just tinkered around in Photoshop to see if I could figure out how to do it but NOTHING IS EVER EASY is it!!! And I can't face any more learning tonight. Did I mention I spent my day in a class on project management??? I have learned enough for this week. I know everything I need to know at this moment. I wonder if that's my right brain or my left brain at work.....
The journal I am working on was prompted by a book I am working my way through called "The Creative Entrepreneur" by Lisa Sonora Beam. Go here to see it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Making ART is hard but taking pictures is HARDER!

As if making the ART wasn't hard enough! Tonight I have been struggling to figure out how to take digital pictures that look as good as the "real deal". Holy cow there is a lot to learn. I read the book. I READ THE BOOK. That's a start. I took pictures in macro mode, pictures with zoom, pictures in 'sport' mode (12 of those by the time I figured out what was going on), pictures on the kitchen counter, pictures on the floor, pictures standing on a ladder. I took pictures. Boy howdy did I take pictures. Took them until the camera was exhausted. It told me so.
I'm pretty happy with the really close-up shots of individual elements. There is one on this post because I want to see how it looks on line.
I still have a way to go on the longer shots of the whole piece. I finally figured out a way to hold the camera steady but there is glare on the shiny parts. Dang shiny parts!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Poke Sack

I am happy to report another victorious search and rescue at the thrift store. My affinity for "poke sacks" is well known. Poke sacks, poke boxes, poke bags, bags o' unknown crap, call them what you will... I CANNOT resist one. All I need to see is one little trinket that catches my eye and it's all over. I have to find out what else is in there! All of this loveliness was stuffed, in a tangled mess, inside a large plastic bag just waiting for me to sort and smooth and oh and ah as I brought order to the chaos and respect to the possibilities.

I won't bore you by cataloging everything that came home with me for my $3.98 but it includes many bundles and several spools of acetate ribbon, the kind used for floral work, many, many colors of satin ribbon, lace, both old and older, rick-rack, braid trims, seam binding, some thread and a thimble, zippers, many sizes and types of elastic and a cool piece of ephemera offering an apron pattern for 25 cents.
I have heard it said that you should bring nothing into your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. I try. Really. Some things cry out in a way that is almost audible - RESCUE ME!
Over the years I think I've seen just about everything at the trift store, from bronzed baby shoes to a burial urn. Yes, really. A burial urn. As I was unscrewing the lid my brain was processing that I was UNSCREWING the lid and I realized what it was at about the same moment that I peeked inside. Luckily for me the only thing left of the occupant was the metal toe tag. So I really have seen it all, cradle to grave.
My favorite rescue are the poke boxes of buttons and sewing notions. As I poke through them I get an impression of the former owner. You can tell a lot about a woman from her sewing box. Many utilitarian buttons, removed from the garments and saved for mending punctuated by random glass or rhinestone buttons saved from a few "special" dresses. Uniform buttons strung together on a piece of darning thread, perhaps all that is left of a loved one's uniform. A few marbles and bullets (yes, I have found bullets) retrieved from pockets on the way to the washer. A felt needle case with "MOM" crudely embroidered on the front, surely a gift from a young daughter. A thimble stamped with S&H for the green stamps. Hand-tatted lace cut from the endge of a worn out pillow case so it could be repurposed as trim from a baby dress. Bra extenders because she put on a little weight as the years went by. You can tell a lot about a woman from her sewing box.
It tugs my heart when I find these poke boxes in the thrift store. Some one grabbed a box or a bag and up-ended the drawers of the sewing cabinet to "get rid of all that junk". Big sigh. It makes my heart glad to rescue them and respect that they are the artifacts of a creative life.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

FIRST TIME EVER - an art class

I'm so excited! I just signed up for LK Ludwig's class called "Point and Shoot Journaling". LK LUDWIG, how COOL is that!!
Okay, I know it's just an online class and not like going to some big deal thing like Art and Soul but STILL, I am finally taking an art class! Back in "the day", when I painted for profit, I refused to take classes because I was afraid I would end up painting like someone else instead of like me. I don't know if that was fear or arrogance or what but now I find myself really looking forward to hearing/seeing someone else's technique and creative angle. Plus there is the opportunity to connect with the other participants through the class blog. I only just barely know how to use the camera so I hope I will be able to keep up. I think I will use the funky handmade journal I bought at "the hippy store" aka head shop while I was on vacation. What fun! It starts October 1.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Teach Me

This is another one of my background practice pieces. I'm still not thrilled with how dark it is but I really like the how the flowers turned out. The petals are cut from vintage sheet music then stained with yellow paint. They are outlined with black charcoal pencil and smudged.

I learned a lesson a long time ago about brushes. You get what you pay for and you really cannot get good results from cheap brushes. I think I am ready to see if the same thing applies to paints. I have used acrylic "craft" paints for years, mainly in case I left a project for a period of time. It can be pretty frustrating to mix your own colors and get exactly the same shade a second time. They are difficult to mix because the pigments vary so much. The amount of pigment in one shade of yellow is different than another shade of yellow and the amount of pigment in a bottle of blue is not necessarily equal to the amount of pigment in a bottle of red. Crap shoot. I think I am ready to try the 'real stuff', Liquitex fluid acrylics. They are easily 4-5 times the price of craft paints but I want to find out if they will give me the color control I am looking for.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Art room re-organization

Good grief, what have I gotten myself into! I finally bought a nice tall bookcase to replace that rickety little table/shelf I've been using since I first reclaimed the room and set it up. I have waited and searched, hoping to find something vintage but everything I find is always too big. I found a tall, narrow bookcase at Bi-Mart for just $99 so decided this will work just fine. Solid pine, even had a circle on the box with the words "no particleboard" and a line through it. LOL! One side of the box says Solid Pine and the other side says Sold Pine. I guess that's accurate since I did buy it. Notice I said box, meaning I had to assemble it. That's 2 hours of a Sunday afternoon I'll never get back.
So far so good, then I brought it in the house. Have you ever noticed how nothing ever goes back into the same amount of space it came out of??? ARGH! One thing leads to another and this needs to go over there and that needs to go over here and I might as well sort through this and now I am two nights into it and wondering why I did this to myself. Good grief!
Maybe I'll take a picture when I'm done. Or maybe I will just weep in relief.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Green shoes

I made my weekly pilgrimage to The Volunteers of America this morning and barely walked through the door when I spotted these awesome GREEN SHOES! How cool are these. Aeorsoles in my size, never worn and only $3.99. OMG some days you just get lucky. I also scored a wooden ruler with some neat thing on the back for measuring angles but it looks like a sunrise to me and an almost full box of 100 sheets of 24lb #100 cotton paper in ivory color, for my printer. This will be perfect for my family tree books. PLUS I found a sparky butterfly pin. Life is good.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The moments that are REAL life

For many of us our lives are filled with work and responsibilities and it's easy, dangerously easy, to get caught up in those things and fail to recognize the moments that are our REAL life. Today was an especially stressful one in the office. I lamented to someone that my brain had imploded on two separate occasions and it wasn't even noon yet!
Lucky me, I had a lunch date with a dear friend that I talk to often but seldom have the pleasure of seeing face to face. It's amazing how much catching up two women can do in an hour. Maybe it was the stress of morning, maybe the time was just right for me to put it OUT THERE. Whatever the reason, I shared with her the "plan" that is emerging from my discovery journal I have been working on. As I told her the things I had discovered about myself and my motivations I had the feeling these were things she already knew about me and I just had to find them for myself. She encouraged me and that encouragement SO validated that I am going in the right direction! How lucky am I to call her friend!
As if that wasn't enough bliss for one day, my daughter-in-law stopped by my office a couple of hours later to drop off an Avon order for a co-worker. She came into my office and held out her closed hand and said "I have a present for you". A present! She opened her hand there were four tiny, perfect acorns. I sucked in my breath and said, "Oh! how cool!". She said "I don't know what's wrong with me, somehow I've started getting your genetics and I've started picking things up off the ground, yesterday I found a feather." OMG! How lucky am I to get a daughter-in-law that I love like she was my own but, maybe more important, I get to count her as FRIEND.
When I go to sleep tonight I will not be cursing the stresses of the office. I will be counting the blessings of my LIFE!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Making ART is harder than it looks

I mentioned a while back that I was working in series. I have been working on learning some new background techniques. They have been coming out a little darker than I intended so still a work in progress. This states it well and I have it hanging on the wall in my art room.... Making ART is harder than it looks. And that's a fact!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation...

I am physically exhausted and mentally relaxed. I think it worked. I maintained a pretty break-neck pace, which is typical for me. Trying to feel caught up with some of the maintenance and projects around the house and trying to squeeze in the art and the gardening and the junking I love. Whew! I'm tired.

We started off with a trip to the coast. I was no where near decompressed enough to say I was relaxed but it was a perfect start to the week since leaving home means leaving behind the "to-do" list. My favorite things at the beach were watching the sea lions, walking on the beach, a Bloody Mary at the Sea Hag in Depot Bay and shopping at Pirates Plunder in Newport, the Newport place I call "the hippy store" but I think it's really a head shop (do they say head anymore?) and that mom and pop place in Lincoln City. The treasures included great ephemera, vintage rayon seam binding (the most luscious ribbon EVER!), old postage stamps, incense with beautiful graphics on the packages, a set of prayer flags to hang in my pergola, and a fabulous little vanity suitcase that I'm going to make into my traveling art kit. I played with the camera and took a bunch of pictures but haven't even extracted them yet.

Once back home I got back to work on that to-do list.
1) The doors were all painted for the hallway project but I still had the mouldings to repair and paint, the hardware to strip and re-installing everything. The last doorknob went on today after much jury-rigging and adjusting from the husband. I felt bad for him. This was supposed to be MY project and boy, howdy did he get sucked in on that door. It was stubborn but all done now and looks beautiful with all the sparkly glass doorknobs!

2) Weeding and pruning and dug many of the calla lilies, some moved to a new spot in the yard and some potted to share. Dug two azalea starts, took a cutting from my Frank Klaeger lilac and air-layered the Camila, all for the kids yard at the new house. I might be a little late so we'll see what "sprouts"!

3) FINALLY sanded and repainted the little white desk in the spare bedroom. Yes, sanding it was as miserable as I thought it would be and explains why have procrastinated doing it for about 8 years. Good grief. Done now.

4) Trekked out in search of a new bonsai pot for my giant redwood. It is about 10 or 11 years old now and stands about 2 feet high and just as wide so starting to look a little goofy in the tiny pot. Larger bonsai pots are kind of hard to find and YIKES are they expensive! I found just one in the size I want and it was $80. EIGHTY DOLLARS for a flowerpot. If you're looking for a career change this might just be it. No, I did not buy it. I will look a little longer....

5) Visited Rita Deco in the Hollywood district. Drove there myself. Really. Around and around in circles and then there it was! OMG, who knew! That Hollywood neighborhood has antique malls right and left. I need to get out more.

6) Made a vain attempt at improving the looks of the front door to our house. It is a marvelous old mahogany door and I love it and wouldn't think of changing it but the sun has dried and faded it, not to mention the scratches. I tried Old English Scratch Cover, I tried Watco oil, I tried. I guess this will be a project for a different year. At least, after two trips, we DID find a new rubber gasket for the threshold to replace the broken one I fixed with duct tape. Yes DUCT TAPE, I know.... but I couldn't close the door, I had to do SOMETHING! And it did work for 5 years. My husband doesn't like to rush into things.

So what about making art? Well, I had an epiphany (that's epiphaMy for you, Carol!) I will be talking about that in a separate post but I have to say I'm kind of excited about it.

If I had any sense at all I'd go log on to the office now and start slogging through the emails in self-defence. But nobody every accused me of having any sense.