Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Club

Tonight is the last meeting of a book club that I have been in for the last year and a half. So, in honor of this, I remind you to

Some of my favorites are: Time Traveler's Wife, Water for Elephants, Cold Mountain, Bluebeard, The Pleasure of My Company, Shadow of the Wind, Never Let Me Go, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Middlesex, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, The Kite Runner, The Constant Gardener and A Thread of Grace. Some that I haven't cared for but get all kinds of great press and word of mouth: The Solace of Leaving Early, Atonement, and The Poisonwood Bible.

I'm always looking for a great book. I haven't read a really, really good one in a while and am dire need of a great read. Please send me the titles of your favorites. Or, join me on Goodreads a friend.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Foreclosure on a Sunny day - Up close and personal

Foreclosure on a Sunny Day: I thought you might be interested in seeing what the house photo looked like in the artwork I did for my Altered Sister's Round Robin book, Foreclosure on a Sunny Day, before I altered it. It's not a great picture, that's for sure. What a dark, dreary December day it was! When I took it I was looking at the form of the houses rather than the surrounding stuff. I like the way the houses go up the hill.

Up close: And, here's the altered version that I used in the artwork...

Personal: The photo was taken in my husband's hometown, Olean, NY. As far as I know none of these houses are in foreclosure but a couple of them looked like they could be.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Altered Sister's Round Robin

The Altered Sisters have begun a Round Robin that will last for about 10 months. We've not challenged ourselves in this way for quite a while and it's time. We've each chosen a theme and started our books with one spread.

My book theme for this Round Robin is Altered Photography. I have always enjoyed Karen Michel's artwork and I've had her book, The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery: Mixed Media Techniques for Collage, Altered Books, Artist Journals And More, for years as I've always hoped to do more with my amateur photos. Not only is my book theme Altered Photography (in which all participants use one spread in my book and have to alter a photograph in some way) but I vow to alter a photo for each of their books as well, no matter the subject. I think this is the only way I'll begin to explore the technique.

Remember that book page I started at the Portage District Library Book Fair? If not, see the January 11 post for more info. Anyway, I started with an old Winnie the Pooh board book and turned one page into this:

And this is what the spread looks like now:

Foreclosure on a Sunny Day

The spread uses my typical bright colors but marries them with a horribly serious subject. Since I often use houses in my artwork I've been struggling with how to broach the subject of the banking and housing crisis. This is one attempt. One advantage to using a board book as a canvas is that I can carve into the piece. The word "foreclosure" is not written on the artwork but actually carved into it and helps provide a bit more dimension.

I've gotten some new subscribers lately. Welcome! And, as always, thanks to all for looking!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Brain Freeze not caused by Ice Cream

I've been spending way too much time on the computer. Come on, you know what I mean. Too much ruminating about what to say on the blog. Too much exploring on other people's blogs. Too much time trying to figure out Facebook (still not sure why I am doing that but I'm told it's good for marketing). Too much, too much, too much.

When I finally tore myself away today, I didn't have the gumption to get started on anything. I've come to believe that the computer is not unlike the television. It fries your brain. With TV, however, it is usually because the shows are so dumb that your brain doesn't get used. With the computer, it's because your brain gathers so much information it freezes up and can't function well when you're away from it. That's my hypothesis and I'm sticking with it!

So, my way of overcoming my inability to act today was to do something in the studio that is rather mindless. I made sheets of mosaic tiles. With mosaics, making the sheets of tiles is meditative, automatic, repetitive. The challenge with mosaics is putting them together and making something else. That's for another day.

Here are today's sheets of mosaics, all made from scraps of paste paper. And notice, I went right back to the computer to show you!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Arttechniques Fatbook Swap - Received

Yesterday's mail brought a box to our doorstep. I knew right away what is was. "The new Fat Book is here, the new Fat Book is here," I yelled in my best Steve Martin voice. (Of course, the kids looked at me as if they always knew I would be an embarrassment to them eventually. Thankfully only one of their friends was around to witness the disgrace.)

Since I've not gotten permission from any of the participants to post pictures of their work individually, I'll just show you what 120 4" x 4" pages look like splashed on the floor. Quite a pile, huh?

The purpose of this swap was to share a technique using recycled/repurposed materials. Some of the techniques I've done before, some I've wondered about, and some I've never thought to pursue. I'm now intrigued by many of the shared wonders and have some fun new things to try.

I've not done a swap for a long time and I had almost forgotten what a kick it is to get the return package in the mail. If you're thinking of participating in a swap: go for it! I learn something every time and almost always meet some new artists that I enjoy too.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Arttechniques Fatbook Swap

A couple of months ago I joined another Yahoo group (like I needed another group) called Arttechniques. I joined at a good time as sign ups were just beginning for a Technique Fat Book. Each artist was to send in to the hostess 4" x 4" samples of a particular technique that used recycled materials in some way. Well, I can do that!

The response was enthusiastic, to say the least. The number of "players" continued to rise until the swap was closed at 120! That meant that each artist had to make 120 4" x 4" pieces of art using the technique that they had chosen. I chose paste painting (big surprise there!) and made six large sheets, then cut them down to 4" x 4": easy. Then I had to glue the brief instructions of how to do it on the back of each 4" x 4" piece: hard, time consuming and a big pain.

Anyway, my pages were shipped off at the end of February. In return I'll get 120 sheets back each with a different technique shown. The hostess of this swap is really on the ball and I'm told that the return package is already on it's way back to all 120 players!

Here are some of the samples that I mailed out:

These are unusual for me as I used black as my base color. I never use black but it was leftover from a workshop that I taught. This was a challenge for me and I had to keep going over the dried paste with new colors in order to brighten the sheets up.

I did get frustrated a bit, but trying new things is often why I do these swaps anyway. And this one should be remarkable: 120 swappers, all with techniques using recycled materials. I'll show more pictures when I get the package back.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

I've been named a Kreativ Blogger by Gera Scott Chandler at Amused Creations, I'm honored that she chose my blog as a source of inspiration. We found each other through the One World, One Heart giveaway last month. She works in polymer clay and I work with paper. Nonetheless, we apparently inspire one another as ideas can come from anywhere, anyone and any medium.

I explored the internet a bit to learn more about this "award" and discovered that it has been given to all different genres of blogs: art, religion, writing, etc. The requirements have varied over time but the main idea is to provide a list of things on your blog that inspire you. You then pass on the names of other bloggers that may have inspired you so that they then may inspire others. Lots of inspiration being thrown about! So, basically it is like the children's game of tag "you're it", or if you are on the cynical side, like a chain letter that arrives in the mailbox promising 96 different pairs of socks.

I choose the more enticing tag analogy and provide this list of seven things that inspire me (in no particular order) and three other bloggers (also, in no particular order) that make me think, smile, drool and/or stop in my tracks for a bit:

* Color - I don't have any brown in my house except for a wooden floor (which I love), kitchen cabinets (which I like) and one chair (which is just ok). To offset the brown chair, there is a fun small, orange patterned ottoman that goes with it. I especially like to observe the way one color will play off another.

* Water - I am always drawn to water. It is never the same: calm/dangerous, sparkly/dreary, blue/black, shallow/deep, cold/warm and so on and so on and so on.

* Vacation - Our annual week-long vacation to a cottage "up north" on Long Lake near Traverse City, Michigan is always special for so many reasons. Actually, I guess most any vacation is inspiring. New mental images can be provided for such a very long time afterwards.

* Teaching - I always learn when I teach. If I didn't continue to learn a bit of something from my students, I don't think I would continue to do it.

* Other artists - Enjoying the company, support and talents of other local and online artists is immeasurable. I am in awe of some because of their talent, others because of their generosity, others because of their ability to talk about their work in a way that is illuminating and not boastful.

* Learning - I love taking workshops because learning always can enhance what you are doing or will do in the future. I'm not usually very social during a workshops because I become so self-absorbed. If I'm ever in a workshop with you, please don't take my concentration and lack of conversation personally.

* Family - My kids are talented, bright, fun and eager (most of the time, I'm not delusional thinking they are perfect!). My husband is working harder for much less payoff right now. Nonetheless, as he must, as we all must do, he keeps going.

As for other blogs that inspire me, I nominate the following three bloggers and hope that you might find them inspiring as well:

Joanne Thieme Huffman at Ad Libitum,

Kathy LaRocco at Artful-Musings,

Lulu Moon at How Art Saved My Life,

Have an inspiring day!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Certainly there are enough pictures of Florida's beautiful beaches and palm trees out there in the world. With my tiny snapshot digital camera I cannot add anything to this genre of landscape photography. However, I can add a couple of photographic memories from my trip with my son to Florida that are just my own. (Geographic update: son was in Tampa for the Olympic Development soccer camp; after I dropped him off, I left for Marco Island to visit my parents; hubby and girls were the true troopers and stayed home in the cold.)

Anyway, I hope this first one will remind you of a beautiful sunset somewhere. I've been lucky enough to see incredible sunsets in many places including Washington's Pacific coast, Florida's Gulf coast, California, Lake Michigan, Cape Cod, France, many inland lakes and even in often cloudy England. No two are the same and even if the sunset of the evening is a "dud", it still is special because you slowed down to look.

I am fascinated and disturbed by pelicans. Have you ever seen a more ugly, yet simultaneously graceful, creature? If one thinks hard enough, surely there is a lesson somewhere in that for humans!

More soon. Being away from the regular routine sure gets you behind in a hurry!

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