Sunday, September 25, 2011

Last Week and Today...

My Mono Printing Mania
*love, Love, LOVE this tool!*
How very different a day can be, one week apart!  Last Sunday, I hit the road at 10:30am to be in Raleigh (at the lovely and hospitable DiGiulio Studios) for an afternoon of fun with my buddies in the Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild.  It was our 3rd Quarter Day of Creative Play; we were to indulge in an afternoon of food, fun, and the fellowship of group creativity.  As they would have said in the small town weekly of my youth "a good time was had by all!"  As a group, the nearly 30 of us on hand enjoyed four (4) brief demonstrations on different *and very fun* art techniques; as individuals, we enjoyed the remainder of the afternoon by trying our hands at each of the workstations.  This is the second year that we have enjoyed such a Mixed Media Round Robin -- and I am fairly certain it won't be the last ;-)

I gave a quick overview of my own accidental discoveries on mono printing; using both my own, homemade alcohol ink sprays and *my newest 'favorite plaything'* the Gelli Arts gel printing plate with basic acrylic paints.  I had several samples in hand, and as I spoke I showed examples of what the different 'tools' I had brought to share yielded in the way of texture and mark-making.  Hard to believe that such simple ingredients can bring forth such varied and colorful results -- but it's true!  The proof is in the printing - ha!

Jeanne's Set-Up for Frisket Fun
Our founder, and master of all things resin, JR, led us through alternate uses for frisket/masking fluid.  Rather than utilizing it merely as a 'masking agent' to preserve the white space beneath *as intended* she showed its fabulous repurposing as a textural ingredient!  With the addition of Jacquard PearlEx powders and Silk Dyes, this rubbery liquid became a magical material -- holding fast the micro-metallic mica of the PearlEx, and adding an easy-to-manipulate dimensional element to vivid washes of color.  

Donna's Scraped Paint Samples
*acrylic alchemy in vivid colors!*
Demonstrating an addictive paint application she learned from L.K. Ludwig, DS introduced us to the beauty of Scraped Paint.  Her workstation was well-populated throughout the afternoon as members visited and experimented with what seems to be acrylic alchemy!  Applying paint in thin layers and lightly adding water made magic, right before our very eyes!  If this sounds like something you might want to try, point your browser to the lovely, online tutorial for more details.  In spite of having sworn off any more 'new things to try' until I get some sort of order imposed, here on the Acre, I must admit to having procured a new set of cheap-o acrylics to more fully explore the boundless potential of this technique.  *ahh, yes!  Temptation, thy name is Jerry's! - lol*

The Big Reveal
*do we look delighted, or what?!?*
Our resident "Material Maven," RLM, delighted us all with fantastical Tie Dying Silk Scarves *nope, that's not a typo -- that's what we did!*  Everyone brought a handful of silk ties as part of our 'tool kit' for the days activities; after following the simple instructions, the results of our own colorful creations stunned us all!  Some sort of chemical reaction involving the aluminum pot, plain white vinegar, and blank silk scarves bound with sections of silk neckties, rolled in muslin, wrought a bevvy of wildly colored scarves.  This activity, alone among the four, required us to wait our turn - as the pot could only accommodate so many scarf rolls at one time.  The wait was well worth it, and the 'reveal' after the required boiling time was as highly anticipated as any reality TV cliffhanger!  The 'ooohs' and 'ahhhs' were audible throughout the neighborhood, I am sure!

There is something very powerful in having such gatherings to look forward to!  I enjoy our monthly meetings and the various other opportunities to take in the artful goodness in and around our community with these amazing, talented, and generous women.  But to have these longer days, and the time to linger... Well, that's a special joy; and one I hope I never take for granted.  It is a rare gift to have such a diverse and supportive group of artists to interact with on a regular basis.  I am constantly amazed by the sheer knowledge of so many different things, the combined experience and wisdom that is housed among our number.  As my Granddaddy would have said, 'I am proud to know them.'  

A Rapt Crowd
*always as eager to share as to learn*
They have all, in their own very different and unique ways, enriched my life in a manner not altogether evident on the surface.  This truth follows me into all that I do - much like a favorite rock or sea-smoothed shell fragment can instantly conjure the memory of when it came to be mine - the lessons they have taught me are like snippets of a song, caught in passing by an open window:  brief, yet poignant; fleeting, yet eternal; personal, yet universal.  Lucky am I.  Special thanks, too, to SD and DA for allowing the day to lengthen into a blissful evening - more good food and easy laughter, tales shared and dreams strengthened!

It was another week on Fast Forward, here!  After that delicious interlude of friendship and creativity, the real world reappeared.  With it's ringing phones, countless questions, trivial frustrations, and "what next?!?" moments, the week had me thinking 'weekend thoughts' by Wednesday!  I made plans to be decadently selfish.  I would paint, fondle paper, dream a bit in my journal, gaze fondly at The Man -- fill the precious weekend *my first full weekend at home in over a month!* with the wants of my heart instead of the needs of 'life in general'.  *Sounds wickedly wonderful, doesn't it?*

My Beloveds
*circa April, 2006*
Instead, I savored the weekend in a different manner -- one that we don't get to enjoy very often:  The Girl came home!  Home, as in our house -- not just 'to town' (i.e. the other house).  While it wasn't what any of us had planned, it was a most wonderful time of togetherness!  Oh, how I miss those days of early morning chats on the way to school, daily updates and the who's, what's, and *incessant* why's of the younger years, lovingly packed lunches with silly notes, and knowing that she was always near.  Friday night found us yammering into the wee hours of Saturday morning; marveling o'er the latest accomplishments, laughing at our own silliness.  Saturday brought the pangs of realization that she is, indeed, growing up and out of her former existence; putting into storage furniture that is beloved, but not necessary in the current living arrangement -- shared memories of long-loved things...  In spite of still missing the little girl that she was, not all that long ago, I am regularly amazed at the confident, focused, and incredible young woman she has become!  Along with all of the good visiting, we managed to take in a movie, too (another rare treat for me and The Man)!

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes was truly amazing.  This was not, however, some new attraction for me. *nay,nay!*  I have loved these movies for a long, looong time -- back in my own days of lunchbox toting, I secretly envied my cousin's Planet of the Apes lunchbox.  In fact, a few years ago, upon acquiring the box set DVDs of the original movies we hosted a gathering based on the movies -- running them all back to back!  Fast-paced, well-acted, and graciously inclusive *with nods to each of the other installments in this franchise,* this incarnation proved to be the perfect outing on a weekend spent in awareness of the nature of change - of the past vs. the future - of where we have been vs. where we are headed.

So, my 'decadent selfishness' eluded me in favor of something sweeter.  Did I paint my Masterpiece?  No...  In truth, I haven't even gotten my hands dirty this weekend.  I was, however, given the opportunity to revel in a creation of a different sort:  the embodiment of giving and receiving that is at the heart of Family.  The full engagement of 'being there' -- no need too small, no memory too distant -- the wonder that comes from living with, and overcoming, all that Life capriciously tosses our way.  Lucky am I, indeed!

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:*
 "Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.
Whatever you call it, you need one."
                                    - Jane Howard

"...You don't choose your family.
They are God's gift to you, as you are to them ."
                                      - Desmond Tutu
Photo Notes: 
     All photos generously provided by D. Sloma and M. Davis Petelinz, with many thanks!
*bonus:  two quotes, today - one for each Sunday!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sketchbook Project 2012, pt. I - OR - The Gift of Giving

Sketchbook Project Logo
customized for our merry band"The Sketchy Characters"
As I mentioned in my last post, several members of The Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild and I have embarked on the Sketchbook Project 2012 ("It's like a concert tour, but with books!").  In addition to submitting books to the project, we plan to visit the nearest stop on the Tour, Atlanta, next year!  With forty (40!?!) themes from which to choose, the results promise to be as varied as the wildly divergent talents of our members -- I can hardly wait to see them all finished!  Alas, wait I must, it will be January before I see them all in their completed finery -- we will be having a grand send off for them, before they are shipped out! 

DIY Thermal Binding
inserting the pre-glued spine strip
 The first stop on the journey, however, was getting our 'sketchbooks' prepared for the rigors of travel with such a 'mixed up' crew of creatives!  Had we all been planning to merely sketch, everything would have been fine 'as is.'  However, this is a group that embodies the 'mixed' in Mixed Media!  Within days of receiving/distributing our books, the questions were already popping up on our forum ("is there a way to ...?"  "what if I want to...?"  etc.)  To aid in the effort of creating more 'user friendly' books, we planned a Re-Binding day; so last Sunday, 09/11/2011, found us in the classroom at Jerry's Artarama.   I must say:  it felt very good to be in fellowship with like minded souls, making something, on a day remembered by so many for so much destruction/loss.  I came armed and ready with some of my favorite tools for an afternoon of bookbinding.  I had two options to offer the eager participants:  thermal and sewn.  Lots o' tips and tricks flew about; and I think it is safe to say that a good time was had by all  ~>;-)

Two Bindings - Myriad Possibilities
(L) Long Stitch binding, (R) Thermal binding
The thermal binding was based on an example from Dorothy Simpson Krause's fabulous Book + Art - Handcrafting Artists' Books.  After some 'fiddling' *and, yes, misreading the instructions - ha!* I provided one sample with 140# watercolor paper folios bound in a re-enforced SuedeTex cover, and another with three, pamphlet stitched signatures in a Nujabi cover.  This format was a big hit with the crew!  The sewn option was a basic long stitch -- improvised to suit the various formats of each artist.  Depending on the thickness of the paper (watercolor *90# and 140#*, bristol, drawing, etc.), the number of signatures varied (4, 5 and 7); the results were all fantastic! The best part of the day was seeing the excitement of my fellow Guild members in learning something new -- it was more than excitement, tho', it was JOY bordering on downright giddiness!  I would be hard pressed to say who was happier:  me, for the sharing; or they, for the receipt of the "how to."  Therein lies the beauty!  My love for my favorite art form was reinvigorated by the sheer pleasure of my friends' appreciation at having a chance to 'just do it!'  Lucky am I!

Everyone left with not one, but TWO newly bound books -- I should say "at least two," as there were a few who ended up with 3 completed (and, most left with materials at the ready for additional bindings).  I count the day as an enormous success; it puts me in a great frame of mind for next years bookbinding offerings at Jerry's!

The Orchid
*AKA, my visual crack!*
In addition to waves of gratitude, I was *quite unexpectedly* gifted with a gorgeous orchid (((hugs to KS!))); which has become my ruination, in terms of distraction, this week (o.o)  It is simply stunning!  I had the foresight to apologize in advance for the great likelihood that I would *undoubtedly* kill it *in short order*...  When I got home, The Man 'oohed' and 'ahhed' appreciatively; then wondered *quite aloud!* how long I thought it would 'make it.'  Apparently, my magpie tendencies are rather renowned - ha!  I am very pleased to report, however, that at one week we have managed:  successful watering, perfect lighting, and a brand new blossom!  It has created in me an urge *nee, fervent desire* to paint!?!  *yeah, i know, i know...  just what I need:  one more thing - LOL!*  Whether I actually end up painting it or not, I am enjoying it immensely!  My photo doesn't do it justice, tho'...  It is so beautiful as to appear unreal!?!  

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:
"Grief can take care of itself,
but to get the full value of a joy
you must have somebody to divide it with."
                                      - Mark Twain
Photo Notes:  
   Sketchbook Project Logo from Art House Coop (modified for CMMAG group by moi).
   Thermal prep photo by Katherine Stein (iPhone camera app)
   "Two Bindings"  taken with Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - set to natural light, slow sync/red eye flash.
   "The Orchid" taken with Motorola DROID Vignette Demo App, set to random, vintage frames and auto flash.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mea Culpa!

Mon Dieu!  SERIOUSLY!?!  *rabble, rabble, rabble...*

...OR, as my sweet, little Grandma would have said:  "my, stars!"  In case you haven't figured it out, yet, I am beyond flummoxed that it has really been 2 weeks since I was last here :-\  *oh, sna-up!*  This reminds me of a very humorous greeting card I found years ago -- on the front (very cartoon-y) was a young boy with the total SAD face, looking at a rather obviously dead gold fish in the typical glass bowl.  Inside, it read something along the lines of  'sorry it's been so long -- if you were a gold fish, you'd be dead by now' - ha!  I have been careening along, at full Warp Speed; having extremely 'bloggable thoughts' -- not that you would know that!  *especially since I relegated you to a grocery paperback for your Labor Day beach trip by missing my own deadline to tell you about some totally readable tomes - ACK!*

Anyway...  As I seem to be in the habit of playing 'perpetual catch up' here, let's get to it, shall we?  As you will see, there has been plenty happening in my little neck of the woods -- during all of which, The Quest for Floor marches haltingly onward!

The Man and I enjoyed a magical visit to The Moore Boys Farm on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend (after a wonderful, albeit brief, visit with MDP at The African American Cultural Festival in downtown Raleigh).  The Brother cooked up some amazing *read:  make your mouth water, even in the re-telling!* ribs; and my sister in law served up some ferocious sides:  baked beans, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and yeast rolls *mmm, mmm, gooood!*  

The Man required a nap before dessert!
*the mark of an awesome meal!*
As IF we needed any, the dessert was plentiful too - pecan pie and cheesecake (two of her specialties)!  Everything was delicious -- including the time spent with the Angel Babies (not such 'babies' anymore)!  I played checkers for the first time in over 20 years *yep!  thoroughly trounced by the 8 year old!* -- and Wii for the first time EVER!  I LOVE Wii!  I made up for my dismal performance in checkers by way of a solid WIN in Wii Bowling -- great fun -- not to mention much kinder to the back than slinging around a massive bowling ball -ha!

Big, fun, happy happenings in Guild Land from now through the end of the year, too!  We are launching a special project to benefit the Duke Children's Hopsital chapter of Arts for Life; readying for the unveiling of our latest collaborative project, CanvaSynergy, at our return to Art of the Carolinas (AoC) in November (is this really our 4th year!?!); a group of 18 of us are working feverishly on our submissions to The Sketchbook Project 2012; a creative Play Day this Sunday; and...  *whew!* it just keeps coming!

Managed to work in a long overdue visit with the Mammoo!  Enjoyed a chance to get caught up on all of our favorite folks, with the added bonus of an incredible lunch at 'our' Italian place and a quick jaunt to Michael's for additional arting fodder!

Last Sunday, the aforementioned "Sketchy Characters" (the name of our Sketchbook Group) were invited out to Jerry's Artarama for a Re-Binding Day.  Being the Mixed Media gals we are, we knew upon receipt of our books that we would need some heftier paper on which to work our mixed media magic.  I was armed and ready with two different binding options (with different papers) for reworking our sketchbooks within allowable dimensions.  What FUN!  Really, this day deserves a post of its own *and it shall be so!*

THIS Sunday, the Guild will enjoy its 3rd Quarterly Creative Day of the year in the lovely DiGiulio Studios!  I am doing a demo on mono printing; three other members are sharing more creative mojo, and everyone will have a chance to join in the fun by trying each of the techniques being demonstrated.  This is our 2nd Annual Creative Round Robin, and the perfect opportunity to get our creative juices flowing for AoC in November!  Our quarterly events are always highly anticipated, as it is rare that we have the luxury of 4 of 5 hours to spend together making cool things *a favored activity of this amazing Tribe!*

Along with ALL of this life-drenching goodness, I have a set of classes on the books (pun intended) at my 'home away from home' throughout next year!  I will be teaching a series entitled "Adventures in Bookbinding" at Jerry's Artarama in Raleigh, NC from March through December of 2012!  I am over the MOON excited about this incredible opportunity; you, gentle readers, will have front row seats to the 'sneak peeks' as my samples and variations are born!  The website for next years workshops will be up before AoC -- stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.  Since you might be too far away to hear my ululations of utter joy where you are, worry not, I will kindly be providing all the pertinent details as they become available.  *who loves ya'?!*

Wise Words, Indeed
*'nuff said!*
Speaking of books, be on the lookout for a special post about a super cool new book!  *got your attention?*  It is super cool not only because I know the author, having tooled about town with her in my very own cute ute just over a year ago; and not only because it showcases some way cool, down-home talent from right here in NC, in the form of a bookbinding guru and metal-smithing maven -- it also has *are you ready?!?* work by ME!  You could have knocked me over with a feather!  Not trying wholeheartedly to be a tease, but I seem to be making a grand go of it, eh?  *good LORD, people -- if I give it to you all in one go, you'd be reading 'til next Tuesday!?!*

Yep, yep, yep!  The cogs of the writing machine are grinding along with a satisfying hum, now!  *...and I am pret-ty sure it isn't just the incessant ringing in my ears!*  I refuse to believe I am setting myself up for failure!  Yoda is my Zen Master!  There will be MORE!  It will be SOON!  *I can DO it!*

There now!  ...all better *okay, with the obvious, glaring exception of telling you about the reading from my months in self-imposed exile!*'s coming, it's coming!

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:
"...To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
                                      - Tennyson
Photo Notes:  
   Taken with Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - set to natural light, slow sync/red eye flash.