Friday, April 29, 2011

A (not so) Funny Thing Happened On the Way... the idyllic Birthday Beach Getaway (my gift from The Man)!  Namely, the day before our departure, I managed to injure myself - AGAIN!  *grrr!*  SO...  long story, short:  (a) I have some of THE most awesome friends in the Universe *many thanks: DA, MDP, BWM, KJ, and JP* , (b) I am apparently, actually, "growing UP" - as evidenced by a voluntary visit to the most awesome Lakeview Urgent Care, and (c)  I had an absolutely splendid time, in spite of only leaving the room only twice in four days - HA!

So...  when last we met, I had issued a wacky proclamation *h3ll, i'm not selling anything!  {yet?} shouldn't/doesn't really matter HOW many people read my odd ramblings, right?*  I am rather pleased to announce that, although we did not reach the "followers = age the day before b-day" mass that we thought we needed, we DID manage to welcome an impressive number *w00t!  13 - another FAVE!* of new friends!  BIENVENUE!  ...glad to have you ;-)  ANYway...  I figure it does a body good to give, so in that spirit, I will have a most loverly treat for one lucky winner in my next post *i KNOW, i know...  such a tease -- i really do need to 'catch up with myself', tho!*  Just think of it as something cool and mysterious to look forward to, 'k?  It's not everyday that one is given that particular option to mull about, now is it?
...he ain't heavy - he's my bootie!

AYE!, an unfortunate misstep has left me with a major sprain (not to mention the Uber P.I.T.A. of having more meds, more physical discomfort, and more limitations)  *lovely...  juuust lovely!*  If nothing else, 2011 has (thus far) been the 'year of appreciation for various and sundry medical practitioners' -  lol!  Now, it's two weeks down, 1 or 2 more to go, in every fashionista's DREAM footwear:  da' BOOT!

Before I leave you, I wanted to share a glimpse at our fanTABulous retreat to the beach!  We headed out into a beautiful, sunny mid-afternoon on Friday...  A quick stop at the grocery store, on the way in to round out our stores; and we were checked in by 4:00 *sweet!*  First stop?  ...directly to the deck, and the view that makes my heart SING.  I have had the great fortune to witness this view in every season, and it never ceases to amaze!
The shadows of the late afternoon stretch toward the sea

One of the two times I emerged from my haven, we went to a new gallery *thanks, JS!*  It was great to meet Christine, Janet and Mo.  There were many treasures to be had!  However, there is a surprise for The Girl among them; you'll have to wait until after her b-day *ahh!  the enticements continue! - hee, hee* mayhap the most memorable - due to the approaching weather - was the incredible clanging of the hand-forged wind chimes along the store-front side walk!  The wind was really blowing.  The weather forecast had called for scattered thunderstorms through the day, but we had enjoyed clear, sunny skies all day ~>:-?  Little did we know what all that wind meant elsewhere!  History was made on my birthday; not the 'good' kind, though :-\  After returning to our lovely environs by the sea, we caught the approach of the rain...  There was booming thunder and crackling lightning - accompanied by sheets of rain.  Dusk came early with roiling clouds filling the sky!  A very impressive storm; not at ALL what was taking place back home!  *i believe the final count on the tornado touch-downs of 04/16/11 was 62 throughout a swath of eastern NC!?!*
The welcoming entrance of Artful Living Group

It was what happened when it stopped raining that made this storm so truly awesome!  As the storm clouds moved away from the coast, they appeared to become a wall of lightning -- with brilliant streaks coursing through the mass of churning clouds.  At times, the moon (2 days short of full) would glow from between the shifting, thick clouds.  We watched this incredible show for over half an hour before it occurred to either of us that there was NO thunder!?!  At roughly the time it ceased pouring down rain; the thunder became more sparse, and quit altogether...  Later still, the cloud bank retreated further out over the ocean, and it was even more visually curious to see a clear, moon-lit, starry sky ABOVE the still-crackling wall of clouds on the water -- and the only sound was the steady rolling of waves onto the shore -- almost eerie...  I did manage to get a half-decent video with my camera before the battery died :-?  It went on for over 4 HOURS.  We were still marveling over it Sunday morning; when Kevin spoke to our Inn Keeper, who declared that he had lived on the east coast most of his life and never seen anything like it.  I somehow felt more justified in my slack-jawed amazement *the video does not do it justice!  ...and it get better just after the middle - not proficient at editing, just yet ;-) *

Sunday was markedly different in the weather department!  The ocean, which had been fairly choppy since our arrival, looked more like a LAKE than the sea!?!  The sky was a crystalline blue, with n'ary a cloud to be seen.  Still quite windy, and much cooler *and this was the first time i can remember leaving home w/o a denim shirt in my truck - derp!*  

The near-full moon rising o'er a peaceful sea.

This was the first time we have gone here that I didn't walk on the beach, or out to the end of the pier :-\  And while I had packed them 'just in case,' we didn't fly kites this trip either.  On the other hand, it was a most incredibly relaxing weekend -- tended to like a Queen, I was ;-)  We read (check the Shelfari book case for the latest!), we enjoyed great music and good food, and we spent a few *very rare!* days with minimal intrusion via phone/fax/e-mail/etc...  All around a wonderful trip.  I am quite the lucky girl!  I was gifted with birthday greetings from near and far, and capped off the evening with a totally decadent desert!  Ahhh, as I say *quite regularly* Life IS Good!

Mmm, mmm - chocolate cake & red wine!
I hope that you all enjoyed a revitalizing Easter, and I leave you now with the warmest of wishes for all of your days!

Onward & Upaward,

Words of wisdom for today:

"As every thread of gold is valuable,
so is every minute of time."
                                             - Mason

   Photo Notes:
   Gallery photo and Video taken with my trusty Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - Remaining Photos taken with the Motorola DROID using the Vignette Demo App, set to random frames and auto flash.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Light-Bu'b Moment!

Greetings, Blog Land!

I logged in, today, only to discover a pretty cool thing!  I currently have 21 followers *w00t!*  Here's why this is so cool:  IF *...and I know it might be a stretch* I reach 42 followers by next Friday (04/15), I will have a number of 'followers' equaling my age!

On Saturday, April 16th, 2011 I will become 43 (interestingly enough, 4+3=7 - a prime number -- not to mention, my FAV-O-RITE one!) -- Sooo, I thought we might have our 1st ever, Happy Birthday Give-Away!  Here's how it would work:  If you are already a 'follower,' just invite a friend to follow along on our meandering journey through the Swiss Cheese that is my thought process; and leave a comment that you have added a new artistic adventurer.  If you are not yet a 'follower,' just sign on and leave a comment that you have joined us!  if we reach 42 by Friday, I will put together a suitable item to 'gift' the lucky follower, next Monday (winner to be selected by Wito the Wonderdog).  I have an extremely cool thing in mind; but might very well come up with something even better by then - ya' never know?!?

SO...  if you feel so inclined, bring a friend; and we will continue our artful journey together!  Someone will win a groovy, cool treat to help me celebrate my b-day; and we will forge on -- new discoveries to mine, and visual treats to unveil!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Visual Journal Workshop #1 - C'est Finis!

Happy Weekend, Blog friends!

I am happy to report that my work(s) in the Strathmore Visual Journal Online Workshop #1 ("Recycled Journal Pages" with Pam Carriker) is finished! *w00t!*  Not only are the spreads I created for this class done; but I also managed to work in an ALL NEW spread -- beautifully tangled with some of my favorite Zentangle patterns!  Life is GOOD!  This whole experience has been great fun; and like any new experience, has added even more ideas to the grist-mill of my mind!

Week #4 * - Spread 1 of 3
"B-ing Me"
* technically, this one was done @ Week #3
We'll begin again where we started last time, looking at the 'hows and whys' of the developmental changes in following along with an online instructor...  The first spread in this series completed in this Workshop was really 'finished' after week #3.  This one was borne of itself, and seemed to take form without a whole lot of thinking on my part ~>:-?  I love it when things fall together this way; but it is one of those totally unpredictable things...  Life would be EVEN better if everything advanced as smoothly as this particular piece of work!

Week #4 * - Spread 2 of 3
"Bloom Where You're Planted"
The second piece has been an 'on again - off again' love from the beginning...  The base image inspired it all; and the security envelope additions really added to the 'feel.'  I scared myself with the addition of the initial pastel layer; but was relieved to see the vast improvement following the 1st gesso wash.  Week 3 drove me to the edge, again!  But it seems like it all smoothed out with some more tweaking...  I love the finish -- I used the suggested paint pens to write over the previous pastel/gesso treatments; and (although I probably won't do a whole lot of it) enjoyed trying out Pam's lettering style for the over-writing.  The first three letters of "planted" were outlined with a copper metallic paint pen as highlighting, as they are my initials.  Overall, I am happy with this :-)

Week #4 * - Spread 3 of 3
"This Bird has Flown" - OR - "Pieces of the Sky"
My third spread was a 'late comer' to the game; but it actually gave me the proper stance in relation to the techniques presented in the class (i.e. reworking an existing piece of work to tell another story).  I really took that task to hand with this spread; and LOVE the final outcome!  This is the first time I have ever done anything 'in memory' of someone...  It is hard to lose someone, regardless of their role in your life; but to lose one of your own 'brood' (?) words fail me!  Still wrestling with the title, here -- vacillating between "This Bird has Flown" and "Pieces of the Sky".  Both have their righteous claims; but it may be that this is a conversation best resolved internally - knowwhatimean?

Bonus Entry
"Art is Good for Your Heart!"
Last, but most certainly not least, is this sweet 'jewel-baby' *ooh, I am channelling the Uber Brother!*...  The initial image here was a snippet from Remedy magazine *and NO, I don't know why I get it -- it just shows up* featuring an EKG line issuing from a syringe.  Odd?  Sure...  Inspiring?  You betcha!  I knew, when I first laid it down on an angle (and extended the EKG line with a blue Sharpie), that it wanted to be 'tangled!'  I have done some smaller, "real Zentangles" (defined as: black ink on a 3.5 x 3.5 in. 'tile') as simple, relaxation exercises for the past couple of evenings -- it really is a neat way to decompress!  I love how this came together.  Several of these patterns I had never executed before this journal spread.  Using Zentangle is like playing with an amazing jigsaw puzzle (with over 250 'pieces,' and counting) that you can put together a bazillion different ways, and it looks different EVERY time!

 I am already looking forward to jumping into the 2nd Strathmore Workshop:  Linda Blinn's "Start Where You Are" -- although, it seems to me that that would have been the one to 'start' with :-\  *oops, there I go -- thinking, again!?!*  That should give us more to consider and enjoy :-)  It's not too late to play along!  If you want an 'invite' to the Online Workshops at Strathmore's Online Workshops, give me a shout -- I don't know why one has to be 'invited'; but I am happy to help, if you decide to flex your creative muscles with some new ideas and techniques.

Until next time, I wish you happiness and sunshine!

Onward & Upaward,

Words of wisdom for today:

"Love is a canvas furnished by nature
and embroidered by imagination."
                                             - Voltaire

   Photo Notes:
   All photos taken with my trusty Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - set to natural light, with slow sync/red eye flash.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Looking Back - OR - Catching Up in Three Easy Installments: Pt. III

Almost there, gentle readers!  This post provides a 'behind the scenes' look at my latest (and largest, to date) creation:  "Ode to Cornell in A Minor" -- currently on display at Artist Alley in Southern Pines, NC as part of the Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild's Take 25! challenge show.  For the third year in a row, we have returned to March Mixed Media Madness with a new take on the "artist's scavenger hunt."  In years past, we have received:  (1) a box filled with the ingredients that we must use to create our works, and (2) a listing of items that we might interpret as we like to reach that end.  This year, each participant added an item to the list of goodies that could be used as creative fodder, up to the limit of twenty five.  To make them easier to find, I have made each of the required elements bold and blue throughout this post (there is an actual list on the postcard for the Opening, at the bottom)  ;-)

My Ode
Mixed media assemblage on wood panel

In accordance with the rules of engagement, participants are allowed the use of any and all colorants (paints, pastels, inks, etc.), adhesives (tape, glue, resin, etc.) and connective devices (screws, wire, thread, etc.); and may add up to two additional items (i.e. substrate, 'accessories', etc.).  One also had the option to delete up to two items from the list.  After receiving the list at the beginning of February, my wheels started turning.  Trying to figure out how to combine all of these elements into a cohesive piece of work is really at the heart of our challenge events; and this year was no exception.  Snatches of ideas, whirling thoughts, snippets of dreams -- you never know from whence your inspiration will come; and there were times when some of us felt that it might just not show up, at all!?!  I was fortunate, in that I have had the notion of a series devoted to Joseph Cornell kicking around in my head for quite some time.  In light of the disparate items on this list, it was almost like being given the charge to "make it be so!" 

Having been an admirer of the shadow-box assemblages of Cornell for many years, in addition to being quite the collector of ephemeral bits myself, the choice was rather easy.  The implementation of that choice, however, was downright nerve-wracking at times!  I have a tendency to work 'inside my head' in the early stages of any creative endeavor -- I often need to be able to see it to make it happen.  Such was the case with this years challenge...  I consumed *some might say 'wasted' - but I say "Nay! Nay!"* the first couple of weeks by filtering ideas through the winding paths of my Swiss Cheese brain.  The only way for me to make it work was to figure out how all these pieces fit together to tell a story worth 'hearing.'  The final telling was an interwoven tale of Cornell and me (with nods to special people and things, and events in my own life).

It all started with the perfect work surface.  Using an 18 x 24 in. cradled panel, I applied a thick layer of gesso with a palette knife.  The end goal was to create the look of old plaster.  I had read that Cornell often put his boxes in the oven to speed the drying/curing of the gesso (and encourage the cracking of the surface treatment) -- which is all well and good when one is working with a cigar box or a bureau drawer; but not so much when you have a two foot board!  *surprise!  it didn't fit in my oven - ha!*  I took advantage of a bright sunny day, and prayed that the outdoor critters wouldn't be too interested in what I was up to ;-)  Once the base layer was dry, I added dimension with a glaze of Burnt Umber and Matte Medium -- working darker around the edges, and wiping away portions across the surface.  TA-DA!  Instant aging!  It looked a little 'flat' tho' -- so the next wash was a tiny bit of Payne's Grey and Matte Medium to grunge things up a bit; and bingo!  ...that worked like a charm.  I could have been looking at a section of wall from an old villa in a far off land - happy was I, indeed!  Background elements were then added from dictionary pages (wording and illustrations), and map legends/notations - placed to accentuate the next layer of the story.  These bits and pieces were somewhat obscured from view by an additional wash of Matte Medium very lightly tinted with Burnt Umber -- just to knock them back a bit.  To draw the eye around the canvas, the various definitions used were highlighted with silver paint (applied with the curious ingredient of a toilet paper roll).

A Magnificent Array of Metals
...all embossed, and ready to go!
Then, the individual components of my story needed to be constructed...  Ain't it always the way:  you figure out the perfect approach; but grossly underestimate the time it takes to bring it to being!?!  As my very wise Mammoo often intones:  "It always takes longer than you think!"  *ahhh, truer words were ne'er spoken!*  Since it was I who suggested the use of "a shot of the hard stuff - METAL(S) - any and all," I was well set to utilize one of my favorite things on the planet:  the deliciously colored art metals from Ten Seconds Studio!  I managed to incorporate NINE different colors of their metals, which were embossed using their molds and other texturing tools.  Since I wasn't actually working within a box, having all of these different 'vignettes' within my piece was key to giving the work the depth that I wanted.  Enter the next curious component:  cardboard!?!  With my trusty Stanley No.199 utility knife in hand, I went to work reducing a DHL Express box to customized platforms of various thicknesses on which to "float" the various pieces of my artistic puzzle!  The actual letter C was nestled on an embossed metal background that allowed me to highlight my own first initial, to boot!  Additional metallic goodness came in the form of:  old, rusty keys, antique pen nibs, star frame (actually a promotional ashtray lid) for photo of Bacall, the compass on the book cover (both metal and glass), and more *read ON!*

Key Element:  Cardboard
(used throughout as risers and supports
for various components
Select items (portrait of Cornell, bees wax background, Rose Breasted Grossbeak mini assemblage) were housed in metal tins and/or lids; thus providing additional layering elements.   I had the great fortune to stumble upon a North American Bird Migration Map (ca. 1974), which allowed for the inclusion of a very 'Cornellian' element in the mini-shadow box tin housing the Rose Breasted Grossbeak (along with a downy, white feather) -- birds were a common feature in both his collage and assemblage works.  Highlighting the years our kids were born using the page numbers from an old dictionary added the 'old school' archeological feel to the bird eggs, which were meticulously crafted from polymer clay.  The paint job on those eggs was one of my finest moments in this piece -- they are spot ON representations of the actual eggs of the Rose Breasted Grossbeak!  *and I fully realize that that probably matters to no-one but me - lol!*  Placement of the three Walnut halves made for a logical tie-in to the whole birds/trees part of the story; and let me check "nut" (organic or otherwise) off the list!

Nekkid Eggs
Did You Know?
The average clutch of Rose Breasted Grossbeak
eggs contains four (4) eggs.
 Cornell often used imagery that evoked the constellations in his backgrounds.  That knowledge informed my use of a map of the night sky over New York, NY on December 24, 2010 (12/24 being his birthday) as the background to the vignette featuring a photo of Lauren Bacall.  He was quite infatuated with LB; and created one of his signature shadow boxes featuring her image as part of his "penny arcade" series.

As I have done each year thus far, I managed to incorporate a book into the construction of the final work.  I created a spiral folded book from a coast-to-coast cross section of a US map -- the end-leaves of which were maps of Hollywood, CA  and Queens, NY (a wink at Cornell's near-obsession with various starlets over the years - in spite of his rarely leaving the state of NY).  A pair of vintage, aluminum coasters covered in embossed metal became the covers. This book is an interactive element; and is attached using Velcro (which was also used to create the closure for the book, accented with a tiny, metal hinge).

Full Metal Jackets!
Man, oh, man - I love some metal
The photo of an elderly Cornell was framed with a mirror, after a portion of the backing had been 'distressed away' with a wire brush and 000 steel wool.  The brackets that housed my trio of bottles (glass) were a fortuitous discovery on a recent hardware store romp -- they were given an industrial finish using a metallic under coat and a patina solution.  The corks in the bottles are actually tightly rolled strips of cardboard from a Starbuck's cup sleeve; and each was sealed with tinted bees wax.  The bottles contained:  (1) brightly colored, dyed seashells, (2) a lock of hair *which totally freaked out the poor dog - even tho' she leaves way more than that on the floor, every day!*, and (3) a single, natural seashell with glitter as sparkling sand.  I looked long and hard to find glitter that didn't look like glitter; and was thrilled to discover "glow in the dark" glitter that actually looked like sand *bonus!

The skirt on the embossed metal dress form allowed me to incorporate the required fabric element; and it was finished with a hand beaded waist-band of fine-gauge, copper mesh. I aged some cotton lace ribbon with super strong instant coffee, before threading an old, metal tape measure through it's central openings -- which had previously housed a solid satin ribbon.  This component was attached with copper tacks, and embellished with a 'pull-tab' fashioned from a decorative hinge.  Additionally, the horizontal line of beads on a wire allowed for the handy inclusion of necessary hardware bits -- how could I not embrace the opportunity to employ the use of a wing-nut!?!  *besides, I just love saying it -- WING-NUT!

I incorporated the broken piece of jewelry by creating string of watch faces and tiny brass gears that mimic the path of the sun through the sky -- highlighted by an additional metal treasure:  a Claddaugh fashioned from pewter.  A piece of metal filigree served as a breast plate on the dress form, and was adorned with an additional, rose-bedecked watch face.  The old paint tube was distressed with a layer of copper antiquing solution; and blended nicely with the overall palette of the piece.

Whispers of Other Places
Maps add loads of visual interest,
and beautiful colors without paint!
I was thrilled that "a map or portion of a map" was on the list of allowed items.  I love maps!  I have used them in loads of other work and had lots of fun with varying types of maps in this piece.  Using a coastal current map, an aerial navigation map, atlas pages, and various scales/legends added details and visual texture throughout.  This made for a very, very happy me!

Finally, the placement of three puzzle pieces painted with Metallic Bronze and accented with silver question marks invite viewer to ponder this visual tale -- while, at the same time, adding another visual cue to help guide the eyes.  On the lower left hand corner, attached with copper tacks, is an old metal file tab frame with a snippet from a map legend reading "Explanation."

So, in the end, I managed to use all but one of the listed items *I just couldn't comfortably find a way to include the fringe (?);* and only added one additional item:  the panel on which it was all married together).  Try as I might, I have yet to be able to get everything in!  Maybe next year...  

Opening Event Postcard
It's not too late to take in the show!
The Take 25! Exhibit will be on display until April 16, 2011 at
Artist Alley - 167 E. New Hampshire Ave. - Southern Pines, NC
Visit anytime, Monday - Saturday from 11:00 - 5:00

I am extremely pleased with the final result!  I'd love to hear your thoughts, too (?)  Who are your creative mentors?  Do you find yourself working in the style of any particular artist?  While this piece was envisioned as a tribute to Cornell, I don't feel that it is merely mimicry of his work and/or style.  The process of creating this years Masterpiece was a wonderful experience.  It has my creative juices flowing, again!  ...and visions of paper-love dancing in my head.

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:

"All art is autobiographical;
the pearl is the oyster's autobiography."
                                                          - Federico Fellini

   Photo Notes:
   All photos taken with my trusty Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - set to natural light, with slow sync/red eye flash.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday

Greetings on this most blustery day!  I awoke this morning to discover that, as we slumbered, we were under a Tornado Watch; AND that there is a frost advisory for tomorrow night *what's up with THAT!?!*  I also awoke with an awareness that I have an odd shorthand for referring to my various and sundry family members/different groups of friends; and folks who do not know me that well may have a hard time understanding who I am talking about sometimes...  Thus, the notion of Tutorial Tuesday popped into my Swiss Cheese noggin!  This should clarify things a bit for the more far-flung followers of this ongoing verbal venture!

When referring to my beloved husband, I rely mainly on the following descriptors:  The Man, Wonder Hubby, D.O.G.G. (inside/family joke), and my Sweetheart.

...and I love you, too!

My mom, previously unmentioned, *but, it's not like I was found under a cabbage leaf, ya' know?!?*  is known as Mom, Momma, Mable (in answer to her lifelong desire of a cool nickname), and *even if only by me* Mammoo!  Note:  If you never hear from me again following this post, it will be because my sweet photophobic Momma has killed me *insert maniacal laughter, here!*

Our youngest is most often referred to as The Girl -- a bit of a misnomer, as we actually have two daughters; but the eldest girl-child is decidedly 'anti-interweb.'  SO, the disparity is not likely to cause problems in the real world.  It would stand to reason, then, that our oldest would simply be called The Boy -- and yet he is not *due in large part to the fact that I don't call anybody "boy" ~>:-?*

Mable & The Girl
Thanksgiving, 2010
My brother is quite simply The Brother; or, as the astute reader will recall, sometimes The Uber Brother ;-)  His gorgeous boys (my nephews) are alternately:  The Moore Boys, Angel Boys, Rug Rats, Knee Biters, and/or Hellions - lol!

The Moore Boys
Christmas, 2010
I am blessed with a wide assortment of incredible friends.  The longest standing group of 'besties' are known far and wide as The Bs  (...and we'll just leave it at that ;-)  These are my 'sisters from other mothers' -- and we have been through some wildly wonderful and wickedly woeful times together.  I am lucky to have them; and they are a treasure to me!

Bahama Mamas!
In the Bahamas with The Bs - October, 2009

A more recent grouping of girlfriends are the members of The Sofa King Cool Crew!  Talented, funny, generous, beautiful, and wise beyond their ears -- this is primarily a group of art buddies; and we are spread across the country from PA to OK (with members in NC, TN, NJ, ME, & OH)!

The latest gathering of the SKCC - September, 2010
(this is less than half of the 'official' crew,
but we had enough fun for the whole gang!

In what might be considered a sub-set of the SKCC -- in so much as we are the 'locals' -- are my Sister Friends!  We are fortunate that we live close enough to see one another with much more regularity than we see the rest of the Crew.  I have often wondered how I managed to find them -- Lucky am I!

Sister Friends!
Warming up for the Take 25! Opening - March, 2011
(we were missing one of our number)

Now, I realize that I know and love many more people than those referenced by these labels.  I don't want anyone to feel 'left out' -- so, we'll leave it like this:  it's Tutorial Tuesday, not Tuesday's Tome - HA!

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:

"When I reflect on my family and friends
I am lifted up in celebration."
                                                          - Maya Angelou

   Photo Notes:
   All photos taken with my trusty Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1)

Looking Back - OR - Catching Up in Three Easy Installments: Pt. Deux

Cabin Fever Reliever XI
February 17 - 20, 2011
SO... The catching up continues with a look at one of the most enjoyable learning experiences I have ever had *absolutely NO offense intended to the many other teachers/venues I have visited and enjoyed!*  I think that what made my first adventure at the Pocosin Folk Arts School "Cabin Fever Reliever XI" such a unique and memorable experience was the total immersion in my chosen media (bookbinding).  I had the extreme pleasure of spending four *yes, FOUR* whole days, gloriously fondling/manipulating paper into fabulous book forms!  The retreat is an annual event, and this year was the 11th incarnation.  I have my dear friend, Jean Skipper, to thank for even knowing about this event; and a kinder deed has not been done to me, of late!

The lovely Jean Skipper at our evening picnic
in The Brickhouse Inn
There were three of us subscribed for the adventure:  me, Jean, and Toni.  We set out the day before, and over-nighted in beautiful, historic Columbia, NC so that we would arrive bright-eyed and well-rested for all the fun in store.  We stayed at an absolutely lovely Bed & Breakfast (The Brickhouse Inn); and were able to take in some of the sights of downtown Columbia before heading out to the Eastern 4-H Environmental Education Conference Center for registration/check-in.  We went a little crazy at the old fashioned hardware store, downtown (who can resist the musty confines of a good, old hardware store!?!)...  Despite my well-intentioned preparedness *camera?  check!  spare battery?  check!*, I took precious few photos during our adventures ~>:-?  Not because there wasn't plenty to take in; but more because I lost myself in the wonderment of having nothing but my greatest artistic love to nurture!  I am hoping that my continued dedication to maintaining this blog will also aid in being a better documentarian of the incredible experiences that I have *hey, a girl can dream!

Eye candy at the hardware store
Everything about the retreat was fabulous:  my class, the classes that I observed others enjoy (Jean took an Art Marketing class from the genius of that realm, Thomas Mann; and Toni spent four days metal-smithing with the world-renowned Bob Ebendorf *of note is that the distinguished Sir Ebendorf is a professor at ECU*), the meals, the studio time (available 24 hours a day!), the incredible people!  It really was an amazing thing *sigh!* -- so much so that I find it hard to believe that it really happened!  My class, "Beautifully Bound", was lead by Lisa Beth Robinson -- an AMAZING instructor.  Even more amazing:  she teaches at ECU (East Carolina University) -- yep, yep, yep, the very same school that is currently educating The Girl!  Lisa Beth is an incredible book artist; and I was lucky enough to win a piece of her work in the silent auction that ran during the course of the event *w00t!*  I also had the pleasure of meeting a most amazing jewelry artist:  Tim Lazure.  He was in the bookbinding class; but in 'real life' he is an Associate Professor of Metals Design at... *wanna guess?*  ECU!  Serendipity abounds!  He makes the most beautiful tools!  I am now the proud owner of an awl, a scribe, and a slobber-worthy set of rivet setting tools.  *Oh, yeah -- there was shopping involved, TOO!

Where is your Muse leading you?
I feel like the work I created in my four days at CFR XI was among the best I have ever done.  There is something truly magical about being able to fully embrace doing something that you love.  Meals?  All we had to do was be at the dining hall on time (and, BONUS, the food was really good)!  Accommodations?  We bunked in a suite that housed the three of us, and a new friend (who was also in the class that Toni was taking), Mary Frances.  I spent every night but one in the studio, working until 12:30 or 1:00 in the morning.  The only *well, not the only, but another* damper on the long weekend was the ongoing (nee, just beginning) recovery from my accident -- I was working slower than I normally do, so I made up time by taking advantage of the open ended hours for studio time.  In addition to those pictured, I also have: one work *still* in progress, and completed a small Blizzard book *an 'apple' for the teacher - lol,* one folded structure that was a warm up exercise (many thanks to the spectacular Kiki for the mapping exercises and inspiring poetry!), and a new *to me* folded structure that was our final project together (The Turkish Map Fold -- way, way cool) -- so, there is always more!

My beautiful little darlings!
Italian Long Stitch, Sewn on Tapes, Stiff Leaf Binding,
and Double Pamphlet
Day-time was dedicated to class work; and in the evenings we enjoyed (if we could tear ourselves away from the work-tables) a BYOB Happy Hour *I think I made it to one!?!* before dinner.  Following dinner, we enjoyed presentations from each of the instructors, two each night.  What a TREAT!  We got to hear how they came to "be" in their respective disciplines, learn about their travels in pursuit of their specialties, and enjoy a glimpse at the work that inspired them.  Again:  Incredible!

The most amazing part of all of this was the palpable sense of community among the attendees -- the vast majority of whom had never met before.  Oh, yes, there were long time supporters of the event; but easily as many 'newbies' as 'old hands'...  Regardless the camp that one fell into, the sense of comfort, interest, and just plain 'niceness' was evident throughout the weekend.  Heck, it was the day before we left to go home that I realized that I had been chatting up the Director of the Pocosin Folk Arts School like an old chum since day one!?!

Four Day Family

Retreats are often the gateways to new friendships, and *ideally* a source for solid learning in one's chosen area(s).  This one managed to be all that and MORE!  My hearty, albeit belated, thanks to the Pocosin staff and the army of volunteers that banded together to make this such a wonderful and enriching experience!

Bookbinding Buddies!
Back Row (l-r):  Maia, Lisa Beth, Kiki, Maura
Front Row (l-r):  Tim, Val, Yours Truly

...*whew!*  that felt good!  One more stop on the "way back" machine, and we will arrive in real-time (for a day or two, anyway - HA!).  Until we meet again, I will leave you with the words of a remarkable young lady:  "Think Happy Thoughts!"

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:

"It is from books
that wise men derive consolation
from the troubles of life."
                                                          - Victor Hugo

Photo Notes:  
   My apologies for the lack of photo info, this go 'round!  The scale at the hardware store,  book grouping and the class picture were taken with my camera:  Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - but, for the life of me, I cannot tell you who took photo of our class (?)
   The PFAS logo and the group shot were shamelessly lifted from their Facebook page.  
   The beautiful photo of the amazing Jean was taken by the equally amazing Toni (with an iPhone).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Looking Back - OR - Catching up in Three Easy Installments: Pt. 1

The time - she is rapidly flying away; and I have been swamped, here in my little corner of the world. I need to finish catching up, so we can advance together down the path that winds its way through the cobbled alleys of Blog Land!  Much news to impart, and good things to report.  Let's begin, shall we?

Life is never dull, here in HoCo!  Adventures present themselves to be savored; but apparently, they need to be savored 'post haste!' -- because the next one will be here ANY minute!  What seems like ages ago, I shared with you my entry into online classes with a look at the progress I was making in my Strathmore Mixed Media Art Journal.  And while the second class (Linda Blinn's "Start Where You Are") has come and gone, I have not yet fully completed the FIRST one - OYE!  But, as is my mantra:  Onward & Upward!

When we last visited the VJOWS I had completed the 1st session of Pam Carriker's Workshop, "Recycled Journal Pages". In the weeks that followed, I managed to incorporate each of the techniques that she shared, albeit in my own way.  The last photos that you saw were the results of my efforts to 'play along' even tho' I wasn't actually reworking any of my own work.  Thanks to a creative romp in late January, I was able to add a spread that allowed  me to participate more fully in the class as it was intended.  So, moving into weeks 2 & 3, the number of 'spreads' that I was actively working on changed; but I was very happy with the evolution of the pages I chose to focus on through the reminder of the workshop. 

Week #2 - Spread 1 of 3
In week 2, we added dimension to our spreads by accenting them with oil pastels.  Shadows appeared that provided a new depth of field to the flat spreads of week ones work.  In what has become my favorite (of the moment) spread, "B-ing Me," this addition brought a stained-glass look to the pages.  I have a tendency toward (over)use of the primary colors; but, in this case, it seemed the perfect way to accentuate the message of this spread.  After adding shadow/color with the oil pastels, we 'toned it down' by adding a wash of white gesso thinned with water.  The oil pastels acted as a resist -- in this case, lending my would be super hero a misty appearance.  I really like where this one is headed!  What do you think?

Week #2 - Spread 2 of 3
The effect garnered from this technique was more noticeable on the second spread.  I used Pam's suggestion of 'under-journaling' to add more meaning to the piece.  The quote is a favorite of mine from Anais Nin:  "And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom."  Light shadowing was added to  the underside of the security envelope lines, and the quotation was rendered in graphite.  The blooming lady and her sunshine balloon received equal treatment; and the spread was veritably transformed!  I like it much better after the gesso wash -- which effectively muted the original quotation, and hid some of my 'shadowing flaws' (lol!)

Week #2 - Spread 3 of 3
All of which leads us to the piece that was the 'newbie' to this exercise!  By scanning and resizing the composition from my Tattered Mosaics class with the lovely Jane Powell, I actually had some work to recycle!  In the spirit of this class, the recycled work is freed to tell an entirely different story than the original -- how cool is that!?!  My paper mosaic birds were given new dimension by wearing one anothers colors as their wings.  Additionally, the sky itself became their eggs - one of which is *sadly* broken.  This was one of those (somewhat rare) situations in which I did not see the work in my head before I started making it; rather, it 'came out' as I played with the various pieces I had at hand.  Right now, it is without a title; but there are warring ideas in my head (ain't that always the way?!?)...

Week 3 brought about the addition of extra elements to enhance the stories being told by each of these spreads.  Ephemera, journaling, extra color, and other suggested items further transformed the works in progress to great effect.  This workshop *for me* was all about learning new ways to use the myriad art supplies that I have on hand, as well as to get a feel for the whole "art journal" craze.  As I am not a journaler at heart, this has served as an effort to expand the creativity quotient in my daily life, as well.  So far so good - even if I am running (more than) slightly behind the curve - HA!  Following are each of the three spreads after the addition of the 'extra bits' in week 3.  In truth, I do not know exactly when we will revisit these lovelies; but I have made a promise to myself that I will not move on to the 2nd workshop until they are D-O-N-E ;-)  So, I suppose that gives us all something fun and different to look forward to, eh?

Week #3 - Spread 1 of 3
The "B-ing Me" spread may as well be considered finis, as I am Uber Happy with the results after the addition of a few ephemeral bits (meticulously trimmed from a collage sheet from the Divas D'Este), a repeated, rubber stamped bee, a *well-deserved, IMNSHO - lol!* rub-on crown on my inner Super Hero, and a super imposed, lower case b.  VOILA!  It would seem that B-ing ME is an okay thing to be!  *yay!*  It would also seem that running behind can yield surprising results -- who knew?!?

Week #3 - Spread 2 of 3

The second spread ("Bloom Where You're Planted") benefited from the Week 3 treatment with the addition of a rub-on clock face over the "sunshine balloon," ivy rub-on embellishments to her wings, and the addition of a stenciled background using a Pitt Big Brush Artist Marker in Cold Grey III.  The addition of some extra oil pastels and an extra gesso wash really brought this one together, for me.  Week 4 should bring some additional journaling to this spread; but I don't know if I really want to add anything else (?)  I suppose that is how it works...  It's really not any easier, as the artist, to finalize the decision as to whether or not it is "finished" -- and while I can see that this spread is 'capable' of having some additional work, we have now entered the crucial phase in which any more could well end up being too much (?)  Ahhh, the endless conundrum of the engaged artist...

Week #3 - Spread 3 of 3
Our newest comer to the "recycled" works ensemble was greatly benefited from the addition of some vintage ephemera (hand notated music, and an outer wheel from an astrological wood cut), and a stenciled sparrow (thanks, Jane!)  Even though this one came 'from the ether,' it is speaking to me, now -- loud and clear!  While I was initially vacillating over the title ("This Bird Has Flown" VS. "Pieces of the Sky"), that deliberation has resolved itself, too!  The moving power of art never ceases to amaze ~>:-?  This one really needs an additional gesso wash, and some rubber stamping -- but I can totally see it, now!  I never cease to be amazed by the power of art to move people; but it is totally astounding (from this side of the looking glass) to experience the power of art to move even the Artist! 

SO, let us continue to seek the beauty of Life every day, and find a way to share that beauty with all that we encounter.  I am not so naive as to believe that this is an easy charge to answer; but I am just idealistic enough to believe that we can each play a part in making it be so!  

Rental #2 - the lovely Ford EDGE
On a more personal note: I have not only driven yet another vehicle - the surprisingly comfortable Ford EDGE (in the quest to actually repair my own); but, it pains me to say, my beloved Cute Ute is destined to once more return to the shop for the addressing of just a few more niggly bits :-/  Such is life, after the advent of a fiend!  An added, albeit not always so pleasant, bonus is the requirement that I continue to seek the hands-on care at Schultz Chiropractic.  I have been most fortunate to have found a fantastic practitioner; and, in accordance with the latest edict have now added a most incredible Massage Therapist to the regimen...  Many thanks to Lady Stephanie for the magic hands and superior wisdom in my treatment/advancement from this devilish setback.  We are far from done; but I feel confident that I am in good hands for the duration :-)

So, dear ones, the 'catch up' continues; and I am very much looking forward to our further ventures in Blog Land!  Be good to yourselves and others, and I will 'see' you again, soon!

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today

"We are living art,
created to hang on, stand up,
forbear, continue,
and encourage others
                                                          - Maya Angelou

Photo Notes:  
   Journal shots taken using Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - set to natural light, slow sync/red eye flash
   Vehicle photo taken using Vignette Demo app for the Motorola DROID (set to random)