Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boxing Day

I'm quite obsessed with houses. I've been doodling them since my childhood and seeing a little house, a toy... a well done birdhouse... always makes me smile.
These are gift boxes I made from recycled shipping boxes. I snatched the idea from a recent Craft: magazine and ran with it. (I just can't keep it simple apparently!)
This was a grocery box that was pretty much covered with writing, so I covered it in choice papers and vintage scrap for my mom, who loves Victorian and old-fashioned looking things.
This was for my sister and we tucked Asian-themed gifties inside. I used various recycled scraps - the roof is made from heavy weight paper ads from a graphics magazine.
My personal challenge in making these was letting go of perfection. I really like tidy edges and symmetrical things, but using packing boxes doesn't allow for that. Plus, it's hard to get better as you go as each box is different and things glue differently to them, they cut differently, and so on. So, wabi sabi, right?

I hope the boxes go on to find another life in their new homes or even travel on as gifts to other people. I like thinking about them on little journeys into the future.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tagging Back

I've always been enchanted by the concept of random acts of kindness. I like surprising people, but I like to keep it simple. And I like to be surprised in return. That's why I'm a big fan of www.sendsomething.net. There are no strings attached. You post a profile and see if the universe sends you something- a random act of kindness. The other fun part of the site is that you can generate random addresses and surprise someone back. Or you can search for different interests or key words and get a list of people that fit your search.

In late fall I received a fun handmade postcard from a woman in Pasadena, California. I set it aside and when I had the time, I painted and collaged a piece to return. (Mine is the one in front, her card is in back.) I wrote a brief note on the back, packaged it in a clear cello mailer with goodies tucked inside and sent it along to sunny California.

I like the simplicity of just sending something and expecting nothing in return. I find the idea of moderated 'trades' or a site like www.postcrossing.com too confining. (oh, and don't get me started on swap-bot.com - a place in my opinion that wrings the joy out of creating!) These formal places don't suit my busy life or my need to just make someone's day... without expecting something in return. And I suppose I also learn, each time I send a small, original item, the beauty of letting go.

But a tag back or tag forward is always wonderful!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tiny Inspiring Things

If you're like me, you like to walk at dusk and look inside people's houses. Not in a creepy way, but a passing glance as you stroll by and the lights come on.... You see people cooking dinner, watching the news, going about their evening tasks, all alight with purpose and meaning.

Here's a peek inside where I create. It's a little like glancing into the lit window of my mind.

This old wooden box is on the wall, directly to the right of where I sit in our studio (I share the space with my partner). I have a thing for old tins, especially little ones or unusually shaped ones. This box houses a bunch of them, and most of them have little supplies inside.

The 'Lustra' beaver tin (top right) holds the scraps from paper hole punches - hundreds of perfect, tiny colorful circles. And yes, I do use them!

The oblong silver tin on the next shelf down has giant paperclips inside. It was a gift from my mom, who adores objects that are scaled oddly - like miniature books and giant tweezers...tiny little kitchen gadgets and giant paperclips!

The bottom center cubbyhole are two of my favorite tins because they have stars on them. I love stars. In fact, I have a star crown that's encrusted with tarnished metal glitter that I sometimes wear when I'm so moved. Just because...

I also have little favorite things squirreled away and tacked to this box... the tiny celluloid bird that I can't bear to use, a tiny metal lion, foreign coins, a package of vintage razor blades... a changing collection of tiny things that inspire me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sow's Ear

At our recent art retreat, my sister Carol and I took a short class by Bernie Berlin called Resist This. I should have known there would be trouble when I looked at the supply list... an iron, rubber stamps... egad - paint AND hot irons? Rubber stamps? I'm so not a 'stamper'.

Here's the recipe...
1. Layer copious amounts of acrylic paint onto quality water color paper. Then crouch in a corner with your heat gun and try to get it completely dry.
2. Stamp your painted page with a rubber stamp using colorless embossing ink.
3. Back to the heat gun.
4. Then layer even more paint on top. Repeat drying process.

Allow me to interject here with the part about how little patience I have with waiting for paint to dry. Add to that the fact that we had paint everywhere by this point... well, suffice it to say we were not being star pupils.

5. Then fire up your iron. I was using an old travel iron that gets hot enough to brand cattle.
6. When your iron is smoking (okay, it shouldn't be smoking apparently - we figured that out by the horrified looks from the other class participants and the instructor's nervous laugh), lay a plain sheet of parchment paper (oh man, was it parchment - please don't follow my instructions!) over your painted page and simply iron, and lift, small areas at a time... simply iron, and lift! Lift quickly...and voila - a batik like pattern should emerge.


Okay, at this point, my sister and I had dissolved into laughter and snorting. Each time we'd 'simply iron and lift' the paper would begin to scorch and would not 'lift' but instead leave great streaks of paper on the page. But we soldiered on, and attempted to rescue our work by using wet wipes and water to scrub the paper off of the page. We were quite hysterical (no doubt somewhat fueled by the wine we had before the class..) and I'm pretty sure hugely obnoxious to the people in the class that were merrily creating beautifully patterned pages.

So, we laughed and managed to have a fun time. I ended up with two, count em', TWO pages of 'custom' paper suitable for use in other artwork and collage. Yeah.

The cards you see here are the end product of the paper. The paper is the base for a simple collage.

I call them them Silk Purse Note Cards.

You may call them whatever you like!

(And my apologies to Bernie Berlin, a lovely person who put up with our jackassery with grace!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hard Landing

It's never easy coming back to reality after spending days playing with art supplies and laughing with friends, new and old.

As promised, here are a few of the things I created at the RAEvn's Nest Art Retreat.

The assemblage is the (almost) finished piece from Michael deMeng's class.

He was a wonderful teacher - witty and informative and not too 'directive', so everyone had a chance to use his techniques and run wild. One of the best parts of the class was the end, when we all got to show our works and he critiqued them - mysteriously finding only the positive in each one! (Thank-you Michael)

I'll pop another post up soon about Jill Berry's wonderful book making class.

How can entire days just fly by? Spend them creating with creative people surrounding you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blowing in the Wind

Okay. I decided that I absolutely needed to post some more photos on this here blog. 

Here's a taste of the ATC's (artist trading cards) that I'll be taking to trade during the retreat. . 

I like to package them in little bags with tabs on top. Must be the retailer in me.

I also spent a fun afternoon with my partner and sisters visiting a consignment shop. It's not like I don't have gobs of material for art projects, but there's something so seductive about a treasure in a dusty box...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Retreat into Inspiration

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans... More like, work is what happens when you'd like to be doing something else! 

My apologies for the lack of posts. I must confess that my creativity as of late (oh, the last two months) has been channeled into solving work dilemmas. But hey, it pays the bills, right?! And I've been producing some amazing creative work from writing to changing up ad campaigns -so that counts!

I am excited to report that there IS a way to make room for more art  - take a retreat! This coming week, my partner and my two sisters and I are retreating to the Raevn's Nest Art Retreat in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. 

I'm looking forward to learning from such luminaries as Michael deMeng, Bernie Berlin, Judy Wise, Jill K. Berry and Laurie Mika. There will be music, mingling, art trades and of course wine. And I'm sure much laughter and shared ideas with my fellow retreaters and my irrepressible sisters!

And then after, an outpouring of posts and photos surrounding my new creations and insights. 

I can only hope...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Personal Inspiration

I'm trying to find the inspiration in the everyday. It becomes too easy to look at other's artwork and think, "Gee, that's cool" then to realize that everything you create after it is derivative of the style you just looked at. 

So on a recent trip, I tried to take photos of things that captured my imagination. It made for an interesting vacation album!

I loved the colors and patterns of this storefront. In general, I love color, yet oddly I find that I lean towards using very subdued colors in my work. What struck me about this store was that appeared to have sprouted like a crazy bouquet on street filled w/ historic brick buildings. 

Hmmm...Maybe this photo was more about me and how I feel (I'm a crazy bouquet sprouted in a sea of brown and navy blue) than what I like to look at... but that's the heart of art isn't it? The feeling behind the images and colors...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lady of the Sea

I can't think of a better way to begin than
 to talk about failure and disappointment. And this is coming from an optimist!

I've included an example of one of my recent disappointments 
- let's call her lady of the sea. This is a great example of having a vision in my head that my hands can't seem to translate. Every layer I added seemed to render it more contrived and graceless. 

I wanted to love her, this lady of the sea. She was supposed to be dreamy and royal. I wanted her to impart an anointed saintliness to the mysteries below. Instead, she lives in the corner of my studio, waiting to be finished and reminding me that you have to just dive in sometimes and start creating. And let go of the outcome. 

I'll finish her some day, or morph her into something else. I'm a big fan of recycling and reusing, so she'll have her day!