Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goodbye 2008, hello all that is possible!

Tomorrow is the last day of 2008 and I feel I have come so far as an artist this year. Even just since starting this blog, I have developed and evolved. I am excited about what I've done, and my heart flutters at the thought of doing so much more. I have set myself a challenge for 2009: sell my stuff. My sister said to me the other day that she believes in my art so much that she wishes she could be my publicist or agent or whatever the word is. She thinks it would sell like hotcakes, and if it were realistic for her to do at this point in her life, she'd go into a boutique tomorrow to get people to stock and sell my things. Encouragement like that, plus more from you who've seen my blog now, plus Ambra's insistence that I look into etsy.com just to get started make me believe in myself more than I ever have. I mean, have I really got anything to lose?

Below, my latest creation. The fabric totally makes it, don't you think?

And as a final hurrah, now that Amb's recieved her birthday card in the mail, I can post it for everyone else to see! I used ribbon, bits of fabric, stickers, some collage bits (I believe the word to use now is ephemera--learned that from my arts magazine), a fortune-cookie fortune, photocopies of old-timey women, paper flowers, brads, and the underneath layer is paint and pastels.

See you in 2009!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where's Your Christmas Card?

Merry Christmas to you! Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm so happy to have you here and share with you some of the things I've been working on over the last few months. This blog is about my commitment to creating art and to myself as an artist, for better or for worse. With it, I have simply vowed to make more art, and share it. My goal is to post at least every two weeks, so please come back as often as you'd like. Feel free to look at some of the other postings, and comment anytime. I really value feedback!

To find your piece of the Christmas collage, click on one of the two images below for a bigger view. (The two originally started as one big piece, but it was too big to work with so I cut it in half after painting it!) I knew I'd be cutting it up into small pieces, so I purposely made it very busy. It is made up of many things: random Christmas-themed things I've collected over many years, ribbon, fabric, a letter torn into pieces, stickers, netting, decorative papers, tissue paper, buttons, stitches by the sewing machine, a bottle label, and acrylic paint, all on a huge piece of construction paper. I cut it up into more than 50 pieces and sewed individual pieces to the black card stock. If you'd like to see most of the 50 pieces, scroll down to the bottom of my blog. Can you find yours there too?

Paul and I hope you have a lovely Christmas. Be well and have a splendid 2009!

Edited to add photo of final cards:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Simple or Complex?

A good friend of mine whose birthday is this week loves getting the cards I make for her. She is someone who has encouraged my art from the minute she knew me. So this week I had aspirations of making her something quite complex, using various forms of media. To get started, I found some paper I liked in my stash and was inspired to make circles. I started to play around with different sizes and then how they could work together on a piece of card, and all of a sudden, I was surprised to find that I was 100% satisfied with just the circles on the card. As I told her, all it needed was a bit of bead-store bling, and voila! the card was complete, and just perfect in its simplicity. The second card is made with some of the same papers, for a young 'un I know who's turning one this week!

Along with that theme, two more aprons to show off, which I made in the presence of my mom and sister over Thanksgiving weekend. One of them, much more of a complex design, with a gathered waist (thanks to Mom for teaching me!) and red trimmings, and then the second, just three different fabrics and straight lines. The first one seems more artful to me in the artistic process, while the second one strikes me as something I could easily make in mass amounts and sell. It appeals, probably due to its simplicity, to a large audience. It, too, is artful in a different way, perhaps more in end result rather than in creative process.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Perspecitve, Shadows, and Freckles

You might remember that I commented on my desire to stretch my drawing capabilities when I last posted something drawn (see "Detach"). Well today, I decided I'd take some time to push myself. I looked around the house for something interesting and found a small stone pot
(1 1/2 inches tall or so) and an empty cinnamon tin, and sat down to draw. My challenge to self was to focus on perspective and shadows. It was pretty hard. I'm not at all used to so closely studying an object. I noted the times I finished each one because the shadows are so drastically different for each of them. Indeed, I took a lunch break and called my mom before starting the cinnamon tin! When I came back to the table, I was totally surprised by how different both objects looked.
(Remember to click on the picture for a closer look.)

After the cinnamon tin was done, I decided to have a go at a person. One of my favorite photos of me & Paul hangs on the wall right above my desk, so I decided that mine was as good a face as any to try. It, too, was very hard to draw. Besides the challenges of the head-on perspective and shadows--which can either make the subject look like she has a black eye or, if done effectively, can provide definition to a drawing--I've got freckles! How to not make them seem like mistakes or moles or disfigurements... sheesh!

I'm really proud of myself for giving myself this time to do something I've been wanting to try for awhile. Now I know what I'm capable of if I give it time, and what I need to do to get (again) where I want to be: practice! (And I hope to take a drawing class sometime soon too!)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving
(my fave holiday ever!).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obsessed with Aprons!

Lately, I've been obsessed with aprons! I made my first apron in 2002, when I lived in Hameln, Germany. It was a crazy quilt-like experiment that was faithfully worn through many a cooking adventure. Since then, I have acquired quite a few others. I must admit, my aspiration is to be like my baking/cooking friend Kyran, who always has a dozen (it seems) aprons for me to choose from when we bake together at her house. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting close! Today I made this fabulous thing. I am SO pleased! Up till now, I've only ever worn full aprons (you know, with the tie around the neck), but Ambra wears these half-aprons (for lack of a better description), and told me the other day that it is a matter of changing your hand-wiping habit, but otherwise they serve the purpose just as well.

You'll notice to the right that I've got links to websites and blogs I think are great. Ambra's blog has a link to the Apronista blog. I found the Apronista so inspiring that I had to add the link to my own blog. If you're interested in seeing some super stylish aprons, go there. When my mom viewed the site today, she wrote to me and said: "Seeing these aprons gives me a paradigm shift into another world where people have time to enjoy pretty things, and tinker around in the kitchen for fun." No kidding! Having a fun apron makes it seem like there is nothing but fun to be had in any task you do while wearing it!

The Apronista site is one place I drew my inspiration from for this project today. Other inspiration came from, well, Ambra looking so good her her apron, Martha's quick Christmas apron instructions in the December issue of her mag (which actually were too simple for my liking, but still worthy of inspiration!), and a photo I came across the other day in a slide show of a quilt show in Italy. The apron jumped right out at me from amidst the sea of artistic quilts. When I saw it, I just knew I
had to make one.

I have four favorite things about this apron:
1. The brown retro flowers fabric. I got a fat quarter of it in a lovely little fabric store in Glenwood Springs over a year ago. I knew it would be perfect for some project.
2. The ribbon across the orange that perfectly matches the brown fabric! Thanks, Am, for that fantastically serendipitous souvenier from France!
3. The tiny corner of turquoise velveteen, which I found at an estate sale a few weeks ago and got a good deal on. Perfect for adding some texture.
4. The tapering of the ties around the sides to the narrower black ties in the back. That really turned out well.

OK, I thought of a fifth favorite thing: the big white decorative flower! That was inspired by Jennifer. She's done some thread art and her quilts are always so artfully quilted... pictures made of thread and little scraps of rough-edged fabric.

If I'm lucky, I'll have a chance to post one more time before T-giving, after another full day of arting tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Thanks so much for viewing my blog!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Birthday cards

Today I've had most of the day to create, and it has been splendid! Here are two of the three birthday cards I've made this week. On the left, for my friend and neighbor Chris, the black card stock that serves as the border on three sides is also the back piece of the card (the part you write on). The sign is "hung" with dark blue satin ribbon, and to accent the print on the blue paper, a 3D swirl to match the black. On the right, made for my cousin Addie, I sewed some of my favorite fabric lying around to a card, then embellished it with paper flowers, a metal label frame, and red brads.

Since I plan to art most of Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to CA for Thanksgiving, come back soon for at least one more posting this week!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tiny Moments of Art

On October 29 I went to a great little presentation during my lunch hour called "Not Your Grandma's Crafts." The presenters were sure to state in a disclaimer at the start that they in no way intended offense to any grandmas or their crafts, and that in fact the crafts that they were going to show us today were just some newer, simple ideas using modern materials to make chic things. We learned that day about stenciling using the internet for images, freezer paper, an iron, and fabric paint, and also about wallets made of colored duct tape. Indeed, I was in heaven for an hour, drastically making mental notes!

The election, Halloween, and the prospect of guests in our home once again have kept me from spending much time at length in my art room these last couple weeks. Meanwhile, I've taken respite in tiny moments of art, like the lunchtime presentation I just mentioned. Another day, my friend Haley and I had just collected our "I voted" stickers after voting early, and used another lunch hour to make pins with our stickers. Nothing like a little cardstock, scissors, a safety pin, and a glue gun! I wore my "I voted" sticker proudly until the end of election day, when I finally settled into bed after a long day working at a voting center, reveling in the day's outcomes and Obama's speech.

An invitation to a potluck dinner, where we "wouldn't be let in the house without a costume," inspired my idea to be a pack of Big Red gum, along with the fact that I own all-red clothing, and, well, the hair.... I thought the idea was pretty original, myself. And there's my hero next to me, trusty ol' Captain America. A friend of ours who saw this photo emailed and said, "Does it look to anyone else that Captain America's muscles have atrophied a bit since he first came to America three years ago?" I thought that was funny, considering the great effort that was made for this photo to fluff them up!

And this was my edible contribution to the meal, which I thought turned out so well considering my lack of experience with ganache and cake-decorating! It was copied straight up from a Martha recipe/idea, but instead of just looking at her food editor's perfect crust and candy spider, we got to eat this amazing concoction, a no-bake cheesecake with oreo-cookie crust, lined and decorated with chocolate ganache. And we got the spider from the internet.

Here's to any moments of art we can fit in our daily (sometimes so busy) lives.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wine and Cheese Picnic in a Bag!

In September we went wine tasting in Palisade, CO on our way home from vacation. In a shop there I saw a wine & cheese picnic in a bag... all it needed was wine glasses and the wine & cheese! It was a really neat idea, so for a gift for a wine-loving friend, I tried making my own version. All closed up, the bag measures about 12x16 inches. Inside, you'll find a corkscrew, cutting board, napkins, and a knife, and the bag then serves as a small picnic blanket for laying things on (grapes? Chocolate? Nuts? Mmmm!).

It actually was a good challenge for me, working with ties and pockets. The cutting board pocket was the most challenging. The knife and corkscrew pockets have darts to allow for bulk, and they needed top flaps to secure what could easily fall out if the bag tipped for some reason. With all supplies, it cost more than what I could buy it for in the wine shop in Palisade, but mine was much cuter and more personalized, with nicer-quality accessories.

(Remember to click on the image for a better view!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Making It My Own

Introducing my new header introducing me and my art! It was great fun to make it. I went through all my collage materials, so many things I've kept over the years. I selected things I felt best represented me (including things that just make me smile) and attached them to a bit of paper I've been playing with paint on... experimenting with color and gradient. I've thought a lot lately about how to make this template blog more my own, and knew this would make a difference. What do you think? Am I better represented by this collage than I was before with the pretty floral blue?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Everything Has Its Place

I recently read in the "Studios" issue of Craft, Paper, Scissors one woman's philosophy that all art deserves to be made. I thought a lot about that as I made this piece. Mixed media collage in the style of the "Evidence" piece I made in August, though I feel I'm moving more toward my own style in this one. I started the base of it just days after that workshop, then came back to it--to add layers and depth--after our company left in late September. I am still not where I want to be as far as what my style is, but I am closer than I was before.

I went to a great art show a couple of weeks ago and saw lots of paintings, one of which was called the Red Canoe (I wish I had written the artist's name down), which inspired me. Also, while enjoying a coffee at a local coffee shop with Paul, I was inspired by a tiny painting by a local artist named Betony Coons, who calls her business Gray Sparrow Art (check out her neat website!). Both the Red Canoe and Gray Sparrow's mini painting "Story" helped me to see more where I'd like to go with my painting, so I am going to aim for what I envision what my painting could be, and mix it up with the collage I so love.

Just the fact that there are so many other artists out there is inspiring. They have forged the path ahead for me to follow. I have the courage to create and push my envelope and then share it with you all because they do. Thank goodness for them!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

4th Year - Linen

Each year for our anniversary, I've made Paul a card out of the traditional material usually given for a particular year. First year was paper, second was cotton, third and fifth I got mixed up (leather and wood) so I made a wooden card, and this year, linen. I enjoy reminiscing about the past year and all the stuff we've done together, and usually I include photos. Well, the cotton card from two years ago looked a lot like a book, so for linen I wanted to do something totally unique. So I used iron-on transfers you can run through the printer to make the photos and around the photos, on a long piece of linen, wrote about our memories with colored Sharpies. I then installed it to hang from our ceiling, with tendrils of other strips of linen around it. To present it to Paul, I had him shut his eyes as I led him to a chair that faced it, and when he was settled, he opened his eyes and he loved it! Yay! Happy Anniversary to us!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Something New

While on vacation last week, I spent another hour or so on the collage I began during the Lynne Perella workshop I participated in at the beginning of August, and got to a point where I felt I couldn't add any more. Complete? As Lynne said that day, "Nothing I make is ever complete!" But I am satisfied. She read a poem to us that day called, What's In My Journal, by William Stafford, and then assigned each of us a line from the poem to inspire our piece. The line I got: Evidence to hang me, or to beautify. This piece is about 24" x 36", big for me, but her final technique was folding it up into a book, sectioning the piece off in eighths, which made the whole experience different. You notice such different things, and knowing that the piece was created with the "big picture" in mind, turns out there was a lot of detail I didn't pay attention to until I got to see it sectioned off. I've attached some smaller snapshots of the piece below.

I love the concept but feel that I do need more practice with paint. So I'll keep working on this style. I'm very inspired!

(If you click on the image, you'll see it in bigger form.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Self Portraits

I participated in a wonderful workshop at the Artist's Nook earlier this month in which we did mixed media collage. What I made that day will someday be posted in my blog, but for now I want to show you what I made as we were warming up. Our task was to create a self portrait in less than two minutes out of one sheet of black construction paper. We then hung them up on a white wall amidst each other's. The placement of each person's piece generally enhanced it. It was a good exercise, remembering that art doesn't have to be complex, nor does it have to take forever. And it was fun to see how, if we create together, we create more art than we know, and it is all so interesting. Different perspectives are very enlightening!

Another type of art: pie! I helped make these with two of my former German students who visited us for a weekend. They wanted to have an "American" experience, so we made pie. It was some of the best pie I've made, with fresh peaches. Soooo good!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


There's this neat website called Illustration Friday in which the people who run the site determine a word of the week, and then artists are invited to create something that represents that word, then post it by Friday. It is a neat website. Ambra suggested we try it out together. This week the word is detach. So here's mine. I've thought all week about it. Meanwhile I've hosted company, my bathroom is a construction zone, I've had an extremely busy week at work (lots of stuff to do on the computer), there are dishes to be done, birthdays to remember, babies being born (or new mothers to support), and we have three days before more company comes. There is a lot to do. So I drew this tonight, a visualization of me "using the force" to keep all that at bay while I deliberately make time for myself to make art. To detach from everything I feel keeps me from doing what I most want to do. If I'd had more time, I would have liked to make it all of fabric and paper combined, a sewn picture.

Drawing is something I've done for a really long time, and my drawings often look more cartoony than I'd like, I think because of my use of thin black lines on white paper. I hope to someday take a drawing class. So this type of medium is comfortable for me, and I appreciate its ability to get exactly what I'm trying to say in the image. I can focus so much on detail. How can I move away from that comfort zone and still feel like I'm getting what I want into an image? How can I develop the patience to try new mediums out, experiment,
take the time, when I can count on my old standbys to get me through in times of need?

I want to trust my instincts more in my art, and feel ok about having a few more ruffled edges, a few less clear lines.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mini Quilts

My mom and I figured out how to paper piece about a year and a half ago. I love the medium because it is small scale, and paper and fabric together! I've thought a lot about how I could sell this, since at least an hour goes into each one. Up till now, I've given them away as cards. Ambra has suggested framing them, perhaps in shadow box-type frames. I love the idea. This has been one of my favorite things to create in the last year. Each one ends up measuring about 5 inches square.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A shift in perspective

Until yesterday, I poo-pooed blogs. So many seem to be full of ramblings, inside jokes, poor spelling, and not enough pictures or comments I'm interested in. But then, something shifted in my brain. My best friend's blog is full of words and images that I soak up like a sponge! I crave more, and check hers nearly every day to see if she's posted again. We've been talking about me documenting my art more regularly, and I always want to show her what I've most recently made, and others too.

So... introducing my blog! I plan to use this as a venue to display my art, for better or for worse. I feel like it will allow me to think of my art as work. Assignments due, things to turn in. I have always functioned well with deadlines, and perhaps my wanting to regularly post something fresh for you will be incentive enough to get my bum in gear!

Here's to constant inspiration and making art as often as possible!