Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Altered Sisters Round Robin - Surprise Me

The Altered Sisters met at my house this month for a holiday brunch, show and tells and the unveiling of another month of work in various altered books.  The brunch goodies were quite yummy, the conversation flowed and we've all agreed that this Round Robin has lasted quite long enough!  Two of the books are finished but most of the books still have another month or two to go before they go into the finished pile.

I worked in Susan's book this month.  The theme was "Surprise Me".  Well, that's an easy theme!  It means anything goes.  I've been playing with scans of my textured and painted handmade paper and decided to use this, in the form of a color copy, as a background.  There is some paint and pastels involved with this as well to bring up some of the colors and to soften the edges.  You may remember that I promised I would use a hand altered photo in every book I worked in.  I kept to that promise at first but this photo is being used just as I took it..  It was taken in Port Townsend, WA in April 2008 when I was lucky enough to attend ArtFest.

I can't help but wonder if these handmade paper scans have the possibility of a commercial life?  I'll show you more when the holiday rush settles down a bit.  I think I missed an opportunity when the whole scrapbook paper craze was still going strong.

Back to the topic of the Altered Sisters.  We gather once a month to share our artistic adventures.  If you don't have art buddies to share some time with, I strong encourage you to find some!  Art is usually a solitary venture.  But, it's so good to have positive people, who understand the ups and downs of an artist, that can be helpful, be supportive and be good friends.  I know there is the whole cyber world out there now, which is a huge helpful community and I'm so happy to be a part of it.  But warm, live bodies are even better.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I like the pretty, twinkly little white lights, especially when they are dusted with snow or highlight the simple beauty of a wreath.  However, my favorite lights are the big, chunky, old fashioned lights in mutilple colors.  Gee, there's the bright colorful thing again!  :)  At least I'm consistent.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

George Bailey Connection

Many (most?) of us will watch It's a Wonderful Life at least once during the holiday season.  Not only is it a classic but something seems to be missing from the season if you don't sit down to watch it.  George Bailey continues to make friends and influence people long after the movie was made and Jimmy Stewart went to that big rabbit hutch in the sky (reference to Harvey). I guess that was one of the points of the movie, wasn't it?

In a recent post I mentioned how I had named my handmade paper, plaster and acrylic piece Bailey Park.

Due to the wonders of technology, a singer and songwriter named Carolyn Sills contacted me with the following comment:

Hi Lorrie - I really love your Bailey Park piece. I'm always searching the internet for pieces written on George Bailey... it's nice to see some artwork as well. I'm a big fan of his and the movie, and I recently wrote a song called 'George Bailey.' I would love for you to take a listen... you can do so off of itunes or my website. Have a good night!

How cool is that? Her song can be heard at


Monday, December 14, 2009

Handmade Paper Notecard Gift Packages

At this point in the holiday season I finally know, for the most part, what I'm getting everyone for Christmas.  But I still have to actually go get many of those things on my list.  If you have a few "holes" on your list and need something unique for a work collegue, a drop in guest, or even for dear Aunt Martha, these handmade paper notecard  gift packs might be just the thing...


Each package has four handmade paper cards, made by yours truly.  The sheets of paper are accented with some type of inclusion (natural garden "pretties", glitter, bits of ribbon, etc.).  Each card measures 4 1/4" x 6" and is lined with white paper on the inside for easier writing.  You can wrap the gift pack or just give it as is with the pretty ribbon already tied.  The gift package is about 7" x 9" and envelopes are included in the pack.

If you'd like a package or two, tell me the colors you'd like, send me $10.00 for each (I have Paypal now!), and let me know your address. I'll have in the mail to you within a day and the USPostal service will do the rest. 

Happy Shopping.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Family Portraits

I know this is a blog about my artistic life, but not today...

In honor of my parents' 50th anniversary this past summer, when the whole family was "up north", we had family portraits taken.  It's been almost 6 months already and if I don't get those portraits printed and hung soon, the kids will have already changed again.  It's no fun hanging "old" pictures, no matter how great they are.  For the adults its not so critical.  At this point, it's basically a couple more pounds on the frame each year. 

The gal that helped us out is Scarlett Piedmonte.  You can find her at Photography by Scarlett.  She helped us rather non-photogenic people relax.  She took hundreds pictures, in various configurations, of the whole crowd of 16, plus a dog.  I highly recommend her for those living in the Traverse City, MI area. 

So, without further delay, here are a few of the pictures she took of just my family.  (And for those that haven't noticed, I have a new Profile photo on my blog and Facebook, that is much improved from the old one!)

This last one is of all the cousins.  What fun!  I had it enlarged to 11" x 14" and am cropping/matting it just below the sand and just above their heads.  It will be displayed in a very horizonal frame .  To get this back on track to art today, I will suggest that photos and artwork often look better when cropped differently or rather severely.  Try it on your own artwork.

On the first snowy day of the season, these warm summer pictures look very inviting!


Friday, November 27, 2009

A Special Connection

At the Handmade Paper Guild show last weekend we had a decent crowd and sales were ok.  How's that for compeling blog copy?  Pretty bad, I'd say.  But wait, now it gets interesting.  During the show I met one special young lady with a story that should have you stick with me today.

On Friday, when I happened to be working the show, a young college-aged lady asked us to put aside one of my frames because she needed to think about it and didn't want it to be gone when she returned.  She came back later, put the frame back on the table, came back again, left again.  She may have even repeated this cycle one more time.  She was with a friend, and you could tell that they kept talking about this frame.  Ok, finally, a decision appears to have been made.  She was turning to go without it.

I was at the door as a greeter and had been watching this unfold over an hour or so.  So as they passed me I made some silly comment like "you're not taking it home today?"  She explained that she was on a tight budget and couldn't afford it right now.  The reason that she really wanted it was because her little niece had passed away and one of the last pictures they have of her was at a lighthouse.  This frame was perfect, she said.

My regular readers might remember that I make the paper mosaics in honor of my niece, Taylor, who passed away in May 2007.  I told this young gal this and her eyes got big.  We then discovered that both girls died from a heart problem.  Now all eyes got even bigger and very watery.  After some more talk, this lovely young lady left.

Minutes later, she came back in a rush.  Connections, kizmet, coincidence, fate.  Whatever you call it.  This connection that we made almost required her to go home with the frame.  It could not be ignored.  We made some finanical adjustments.  The frame will be given as a gift to the mother of the little girl.

I am thankful for connections such as this and for the many people in my life that help me remember what is important.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Artist Spotlight - Gera Scott Chandler

I've been toying with the idea of doing some artist interviews for quite awhile.  I'm always interested in how other artists, in all media, approach their work and thought you might be too.  So, with Thanksgiving approaching, and most of us thinking more than usual about what we are blessed with, it seems like the right time to start.  As there are so many amazing artists out there that deserve some added attention, I plan to make the Artist Spotlight a monthly feature. 

I am thankful that I met Gera Scott Chandler last February during the One World, One Heart blogging event.  Out of all the blogs I visited (hundreds!) during that chaotic event there have only been a handful that I've revisited and then tried to establish an online connection with the artist.  What is it about Gera's work that entices me?  Color and texture.  Texture and color, what else?  :)  She is a polymer clay artist and does beautiful work.  Not only that, but she seems to be a beautiful person (and loves to read).  Please take a look here, visit her blog and enjoy.

Where are you from?
I live in Victoria, which is a city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.

What is your art education?
I taught elementary school for ten years with a prime focus on art education before heading to Emily Carr College of Art and Design. I was planning to focus upon Ceramics but ended formal art studies when I had my children. I used the computer as an at-home art school and explored paper arts and gourd art before becoming fascinated with polymer clay as a foundation medium.

Have you always been an artist or are you "new" to it?
I'm one of those people who has always been an artist... my earliest memories involve boxes of crayolas and the joy of a big new sketchbook.

What is your specialty? And, have you always worked in this medium?
My specialty is polymer clay. I've been using it in various capacities for almost 15 years.

What does your work space look like?
Between January 31st and February 26th, 2009 I blogged about the complete redesign of my studio. The finished pictures are here.   As I look at those pictures, I can't understand how something so crisply organized has turned into the chaotic environment that surrounds me now. I TRY to be organized but once I'm working I find it impossible to put anything where it's supposed to be. I've recently tidied up for an upcoming studio tour but I don't expect things to stay tidy for long.

Please describe your work.
I've undergone a huge shift in my approach in recent months and it's very exciting for me. I'm combining digital photography with polymer clay and found objects to make very organic three dimensional compositions on canvas. My current theme is west coast shores. 

Do you have any special art tips for others?
Experiment! I'm always surprised at how many people email me explaining an idea they've come up with and asking me if I think it would work....I'm always delighted to offer my two cents worth but why not try it yourself? The fun is trying, perhaps making and mistake but learning through the process of experimentation.

What inspires you?
A walk on the beach or through a garden, fashion magazines, random Google Image surf sessions and visits to art galleries and shows.

When you’re not making art, what are you doing?
Reading, watching TV (I’m an addict), noodling on the computer, gardening or trying to tidy up.

How can you be contacted about your work?
Please visit my blog at aMused Studio or email me at  Gera also has an Etsy shop with lots of cool things.

Thanks very much Gera for sharing your work and part of your life with us!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Handmade Paper Guild Holiday Sale

This Thursday, Friday and Saturday the Handmade Paper Guild of Southwest Michigan will be having it's annual Holiday Sale.  We join forces with Kalamazoo Valley Potters and Art Etc. (a group of area artists) on the campus of Kalamazoo Valley Community College, 6767 West "O" Avenue.  You'll find lots of high quality, handmade items that make perfect gifts for loved one (or yourself).  I'll have an assortment of everything I do:  paper mosaics, cards, ornaments, handmade paper fish and mirrors and more.  Come join the fun:
Thursday, November 19, 5:00 - 8:00
Friday, November 20, 9:00 - 8:00
Saturday, November 21, 9:00 - 4:00

Handmade paper fish

Paper mosaic mirrors and picture frames.

Paste Paper Card Packs

Handmade Paper Mirrors

Greeting cards and collages

Paper mosaic artwork

Have a good week!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Everyday Textures of Fall

I had lunch with a dear lady this week.  Her husband was the man that gave me studio space to work with handmade paper and instilled in me an artistic confidence.  Sadly, Paul Robbert passed away a year ago.  One of the tasks that Ros is faced with now is pulling together an inventory of his work.  Oh my, a bittersweet task, for sure. 

One of the pieces I saw for the first time on Monday, and covers one complete wall of their home, is a painting that he did long ago of grass.  Yes, just grass.  And, it is stunning.  It brought to mind the textures of everyday life.  So, I grabbed my camera and shot some close ups of the tall ornamental grasses that are in my backyard.

What a wonderful riot of color and depth!

Reach for the sky!

What's in your backyard?


PS.  Of course, we also have these not so wonderful Everyday Textures of Fall:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Altered Sisters Round Robin - Book Six

For months now the Altered Sisters have been working on a Round Robin book swap.  This is the Round Robin for which I vowed I would incorporate an altered photograph into the artwork of each book.  Well, this month, I caved.  No photograph.  I just couldn't work up any interest in the idea.  That's not to say that the whole altered photograph thing doesn't have huge and wonderful potential.  I'm just not feeling that potential right now.  Gotta go with the muse, or in this case, the lack of one.

For November I had Catherine's book called "Open the Door to Color".  It is a well crafted effort with beautiful pages from each artist.  Catherine was one of my first customers when I started doing my paper mosiacs and she loves artwork that features houses.  So, it seemed like a natural fit to include a mosaic house along with the riot of color.  Here you see "Green House."

This book spread uses acrylics, paper mosaics, collaged flowers and oil pastels.

If you're interested in the altered photograph work that was done in each previous book, please visit the posts on March 22 and 25, April 7 and 11, May 4 and 8, June 4 and 9, and August 30.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Old yearbooks are great sources for vintage pictures.  The pictures in this mini-collage are from the 1920's.  I'm sure his guy was just a gem and I felt funny giving him the devil's horns.  And maybe the lady was rather bitchy.  Who can know? 

I think this is why I have mixed feelings about using real photos of people I don't know.  On one hand, it's fun to tell a story of my own.  But, on the other hand, I don't like turning real people (yes, I know they're dead now) into something that they were not.  Any thoughts on this?


I have three trick or treaters going out into the night this evening.  The weather forecast is for rain.  Nothing like a bit of rain to kill a good evening of candy grabbing.  I hope it isn't too wet and they can forage for the entire allowable time.  I have a selfish reason for this:  I get all the candy that they don't like.  I know, it's usually only the Almond Joy and Mounds bars, but I'll take what I can get!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lorrie Grainger Abdo - Yep, that's me!

Here's my new booth sign for several of the shows I'm doing during the holiday season.  Cutting out all those letters was an exercise in patience.  I also have one in the works that says "Paper Artist and Instructor" (even more letters).  It seems obvious to me that what I do is all paper related but people almost always seem surprised when I tell them that the mosaics or the collages or the paintings incorporate handmade paper or are made from paper that I've painted.  I'm hoping a sign will help.


Friday, October 23, 2009

New Artwork on Blog Header

You may have noticed that I changed my "header" from this:

To this...

This is a small swatch of handmade paper that I made and then painted.  I still like the collage, and I still like creating collages, but since I haven't done any for a while I thought it best to have the header better represent the idea that I am a paper artist.

What do you think?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Peace Out Man! Recent Paper Mosaic Work

I chuckled to myself as I wrote that headline.

Here I am trying to be cool when everyone knows that a person that actually uses the word "chuckle" is not cool but, in fact, is probably a chucklehead! In addition, I don't dress cool. My hair isn't cool. And, my car is definitely not cool. But, I do think my artwork is cool. Please check out my new Peace Sign mosaics...

paper mosaic peace sign9" x 12", ready to hang, has a small black border, $50.

paper mosaic peace sign 12" x 12", ready to hang, patterned border shown on top and bottom is also on both sides, $60.

paper mosaic peace sign 9" x 12", ready to hang, has a small red border, $50.

paper mosaic peace sign 9" x 12", ready to hang, has a small black border, $50.

Thanks for looking. If you're interested in making a purchase, please contact me directly. These pieces are also available as digitally-reproduced greeting cards.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

ArtPrize Quiz and Grand Prize Winner

The introduction to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids was in my last post. This one is about the wonder of materials that artists use. Visual art certainly isn't just about paint. And, anyone that knows me, and my art, knows that the texture of things is one of my inspirations. So, with that in mind, I offer you this ArtPrize Quiz.

ArtPrize Quiz Question #1: Digital art? Maybe. What material gives these faces their pixelated look? This was part of a series of three very large pieces, each about 4 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Called Portraits by Eric Daigh of Traverse City, it took 3rd prize.

Surprise, it's push pins.

ArtPrize Quiz Question #2: The surface was so, so smooth. The workmanship of the cuts perfect. The cut outs in the paper and the entire structure of this piece is made from...

a set of World Book encyclopedias.

ArtPrize Quiz Question #3: Sorry, no close up for this one from which you could make your guess. Hundreds of bowls made from one basic, critical ingredient called...


ArtPrize Quiz Question #4: Here's Julie at the dump. No, not really, this installation uses nothing but...

Plastic bottles.

ArtPrize Quiz Question #5: Mr. Moose by Bill Secunda is huge, a 5th place winner and made entirely from...


ArtPrize Quiz Question #6: This huge kinetic sculpture swayed gently and squeaked loudly. It is made of...

wood and brass. Field of Reeds by John Douglas Powers came in 7th place.

ArtPrize Quiz Question #7:
Who won? Well, frankly, all the artists and viewers did. But, they actually did award $250,000 (biggest monetary art prize in the world) to...

Ran Ortner for Water no. 24. This is an oil painting, folks, not a photograph. Beautiful.

Apparently some art critics are saying that ArtPrize was nothing but a popularity contest. They should just shut up, look around, absorb the excitement and come to the realization that there's nothing wrong with that. This event made the community at large come alive. It wasn't just the artists that got excited. It brought very good art to masses of people in a way that a museum could never achieve. Sure, it also brought weird, ugly stuff (not sure even I can call it art) to the public. But, just like life, this event showed it all. With all the hardships that art education and art venues are experiencing right now, ArtPrize was a shot in the arm that should help keep the interest in the arts alive for a long time to come.

For more information go to ArtPrize.


Monday, October 12, 2009


Last Thursday a friend and I traveled about an hour north to Grand Rapids, MI to check out ArtPrize. Rick DeVos, a super rich guy and an art lover, spearheaded this event and it was amazing! From the website here are the basics about ArtPrize:

At ArtPrize, any artist—from established to emerging—has the chance to show work. Any visitor can vote. The vote will determine who wins the largest art prize in the world. We also took the unusual step to allow people in the city to open a venue and choose the artists to show in their space. There is not one official curator or jury for the competition.

The number of venues is fluid, so the number of competing artists is fluid. The possibilities are wide open.

We can't predict what will happen, but it should be a lot of fun finding out. Come and see.

Top prize: $250,000

Dates: September 23 - October 10

Location: Grand Rapids, MI USA

Winner is determined by public vote. (Lorrie's note: kind of the American Idol of the art world)

All attendees of the event can vote.

Top 10 entries will receive a prize.

Multiple artists can collaborate on an entry.

Artists may only submit one entry.

Property owners/renters in downtown Grand Rapids can become a venue.

Number of artists represented is only limited by number of venues that become available.

So off we went to check it out:

Grand Rapids is nicknamed Furniture City because of all the fine wood furniture makers that have set up shop here over the years. (Although not known for their fine woodworking, the best known company currently is probably Steelcase.) This giant table and chairs is on a pedestrian bridge over the Grand River and was done by Sarah Grant. Anyone that spends time in some "up north" galleries will recognize her rustic and quirky furniture style. 8th place.

This picture was taken from the pedestrian bridge that I just showed you. This is called the Grand Dance by David Lubbers, 4th place.

This is Nessie by the Nessie Project. If you look closely in the lower right of the furniture picture you can see how she is placed in the river and how big she really is. 6th place.

The following pictures are pieces that I thought were interesting but I didn't make note of the names of the artists.

This piece was outside and quite large (over 6 feet tall). It is made of wood. Just beautiful.

These wood tiles comprised a very large piece (+10 feet?). The encaustic colors were luminous.

Tile mosaics. A Bird in the Hand.

Painted strips of wood, probably 8 feet tall.

In the end they had placed 1,262 artists at 159 venues and counted 334,219 votes! It sure seemed like the overwhelming majority of the artists were from Michigan. Given the downtrodden state of our State, I find pride in this. Julie and I spent about 4 hours there exploring many indoor and outdoor venues. It wasn't nearly enough to see what was being shown but we got a great taste of the event and the art and enjoyed our day immensely.

I took more pictures than I'm showing you here. In my next post I'm going to give you a quiz to see if you can figure out what materials several pieces are made from. Also, the grand prize winner. Stay tuned...

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