Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Time to call it a day

I spent all evening working on ideas for the ATC workshops I’ll be teaching in March, and I’m exhausted. It’s one thing to do it for yourself, but when you want other people to enjoy themselves and stretch creatively, it’s a whole new ballgame.
I also finished off my last digital ATC for January’s challenge. I’m tempted to continue, and maybe I will again at some point. But I want to get back to other projects I left hanging. Leaving them “hanging” makes it sound like they’re people, doesn’t it? Well, they certainly seem to be nagging me for attention.
Even though I’m close to the end of one of my two process journals, I haven’t touched it since before Christmas. Still, I have been working on my stamping process journal faithfully. It started out playful and light, but now it’s degenerated into heavy-duty soul-searching about art and life in general. When I mentioned this to John earlier, he said: “Whinging is still a process.” For those of you unfamiliar with Scottish-isms, whinging means moaning and complaining. At least I do most of mine in my journal.
P.S. I hope no one is offended by the digital beefcake. I uploaded it before it hit me that some people just aren’t comfortable with nudity. But what the heck … it’s still January and we need some inspiration.

Monday, January 29, 2007


The reason why I find it hard to focus is that I have so many ideas. I don’t think a day goes by where I’m not seized by the desire to explore the potential of this or that. Even though I’m very disciplined in terms of carving out work periods, my biggest challenge is staying on track.
For example, last night I suddenly got the bright idea to design and construct an ATC cardholder in the form of a box. After a couple of failed attempts—mainly my errors in measuring—I finally got what I wanted. Then at one in the morning I’m asking myself: why did I spend all this time on it? True, I can use it for the ATC CD I’m putting together, but I had more important things to do, which I totally forgot about in the quest to make yet another idea tangible.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I just got the last of the Christmas decorations put away today…except for my poor reindeer who is frozen to the front lawn. Fortunately I’m not the only one in my area with stuff still out. My Christmas Disneyland neighbor still has his complete set up on display—frozen in place like Rudolph, no doubt.
I hate taking the Christmas things down. Not because I’m lazy. I like them so much it seems a shame not to enjoy them year round. While I was cleaning up, I remembered the time I had my wisdom teeth one June out years ago. When I woke up from the anesthetic, there was a huge, beautiful Christmas tree in the recovery room. My mother found this hard to believe…I’m sure she thought I was hallucinating. But when I went back, sure enough, there it was. Apparently “no one had gotten around to taking it down,” so they just decided to leave it up.

Then I remembered another wisdom teeth/tooth story. Just before Pam went into hospital to have hers out, she put her favorite pair of white jeans in a bleach mixture to rejuvenate them. But she had complications from the dental surgery and forgot about doing this. When Pam finally remembered them, the jeans had completely dissolved and all that was left was the zipper and snap.

Friday, January 26, 2007


I know I’ve used this image of Carlo Dolci’s Poetry on my blog before (not this version of course) but I’m drawn to his painting for a number of reasons.
For one thing, it reminds me of the first time John showed me how to use Photoshop. I chose this image to experiment with, and it’s fascinated me ever since.
I like the idea of Poetry being a woman, and my thinking behind this ATC was a woman checking into a motel to write all weekend. (I once spent a couple of days on my own in a hotel room making collages. But to be honest, what I enjoyed most was ordering room service and having control over the remote).

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just can’t work any Photoshop magic on certain images. I labored over these two ATCs, and finally had to give up because I was fed up. I’m not at my best when it comes to using subtle colors. It’s really a stretch for me, and this time there didn’t seem to be much give in the creative elastic.
Just looking at the calendar, I realize I have six more to do, and then that’s January done and dusted. Right now I don’t feel that inspired to continue on, but I think I can manage to stick it out for another few days and complete my challenge.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Falling Down on the Challenge

I’ve been obsessed with doing transfers for the past three days—so much for my New Year’s resolution not to hyper focus. But seriously, it’s something I’ve always wanted to master, and it’s no easy feat. You can read all the instructions you want to, but when you actually get down to business, it turns out that transferring images is a process you have to experience and work out for yourself. I feel like an alchemist trying to make gold.
Now where was I? Oh yes, what with socializing and transferring I’ve fallen behind on my digital ATCs. Well I guess I’m only a day behind, but it seems to me that I did have to make a tremendous effort just to get these two cards together.

Speaking of digital collage, check out Carmi’s blog yesterday. Her husband Paul bought one of my pictures at Holly Jolly and Carmi did a fabric transfer of the image and embellished it in her own inimitable way. Oh, oh…fabric transfer? No Susan, you must behave yourself and master the paper thing first.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Mini Series

The more art I do, the more I want to use the same image in different ways. In one of the two process journals I keep right now, I’m rubber stamping every time I do an entry. I have used several of the images in previous journals, but I feel the urge to use them again, and it is very satisfying to approach something you’ve already used before in a fresh way.
For yesterday and today’s ATC challenge, I was drawn to this scan of a page from a Polish passport, and I wanted to see what would happen if I combined it with a couple of nineteenth century paintings that have/had no connection with Poland at all. To me this is what collage is about…taking unconnected elements and blending them together into something new.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Of all the ATCs I’ve done for the last nineteen days, this one is my favorite. (Thanks for the little lovely, Jeanne).
I must admit this has been a much bigger challenge than I expected it to be. I’ve discovered that using Photoshop isn’t any faster than working with hands-on media. In some cases—like this one, it can actually be slower. Why? Because you have so many more options, and I tend to mad dog it until I get what I’m after…not that I usually know what that is in advance. The best thing is that I’m being stretched creatively and continuing to learn new techniques. Photoshop is a bottomless creative pit I’m lucky to have fallen into.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Inspected by Sanchez

What I forgot to mention yesterday is that the section on journaling ATCs in Bernie Berlin’s book inspired my doorway card. At some point I wouldn’t mind trying this out myself. But anything you do creatively is like a journal of what is going on in your life right now, isn’t it?
For example, I discovered a little square of paper that read “Inspected by Sanchez.” in a cigar box while I was cleaning up. A real person—male or female (but I’m thinking it’s a man because of the handwriting)—handled that box of Cuban cigars, which ended up in my collection of assemblage material.
Today’s ATC was inspired by a picture of my father’s family (but I overworked it so much that it’s difficult to see what it really is in a small size like this).
Recently I found my grandmother’s journal for 1945, and I scanned a page—which reads in part: “Ken’s birthday. Ted phoned for him to go to Toronto & help him with the store,” and added that to my digital collage. What I find interesting about my grandmother is that she wrote to fit the space available. If she had four lines, she’d fill that…half a page? No problem. Personally, I’d hate to be limited by the micro space in one of those pocket diaries because I do run on so.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I've been tagged by Carmi to reveal 5 things little-known things about myself. I talk so much that I'm sure everyone knows everything. Still, some fascinating things are not common knowledge:
1. I believe a hot water bottle is the answer to most of life's little problems.
2. I hate having one hand wet and the other one dry. It gets me all bijigidy.
3. I cry when I hear bagpipes...guess that's why I married a Scot.
4. I'd like Trinny and Susannah of What Not To Wear to make me over.
5. Margaret Trudeau and I both had a fling with the same guy. But not at the same time.
I tag Mary, Jeanne, Pam and Brenda. You may be blogless, but you must report in by email or some kind of wierd chain letter violation might occur. Actually, I don't believe in that stuff, but I'd like to know the answers anyway.

Monday and Tuesday on Wednesday

I’m behind on my ATCs, but just by a day really. Not that it matters, but I do want to stick to doing 31 for January, no matter what.
With Monday’s ATC, I started out by trying to design a Bingo card. I’m fascinated by what numbers look like and wanted to choose a series that had special meaning for me. But I ended up numberless and substituting “quest” for “Bingo” for some reason known only to the creative muse—in this case Jeanne! Then I added one of the women from my Renaissance, Madonnas and Angels CD. I love her because she looks like she’s about to break into a smile.
For Tuesday, I took something John said and came up with a visual. So this is what I’m hoping for everyone who reads this blog: I want you to open a door inside yourself and walk right through it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Taking a Blog Break

I spent this weekend soul-searching and working, While I didn’t neglect my January ATC challenge, I didn’t feel like writing entries for Saturday and Sunday, although technically it’s still Sunday for me because I haven’t gone to bed yet.
Are you still up Carmi? When I interviewed Carmi a week ago Friday, I discovered that I’m not the only one who stays up until at least 2 a.m. making art. Carmi and I also discussed how keeping a blog is a form of accountability—not to other people, but to ourselves.
My soul-searching (and some heavy-duty writing in my journal) was prompted by three things: my ongoing email exchanges with Mary; interviewing Carmi and recognizing how focused she is; and John asking me some heavy duty questions about my purpose yesterday that basically turned me inside out.
I know I have a tendency to get off track when it comes to doing what’s important. This usually happens because of financial obligations—i.e. the need to make money—and the fact that I’ll become totally absorbed in solving some creative problem that really doesn’t matter much in the long run. So I find myself asking questions like: Who am I? What should I be giving my attention to? How can I make decisions? I thought by this stage of my life I’d have everything all figured out.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What's His Story?

One of things I like about nineteenth century cabinet cards is the fact that they’re posed. Having your picture taken was a form of documentation—often marking a turning point in your life or the life of your family—so you made no attempt to look playful or sexy or delighted: you just were. But who was this young man really?
I don’t know when this photograph was taken, but I’m thinking he might have been one of my great uncles, and perhaps he had just started his first job. I remember my father telling me that in the Victorian household my grandmother grew up in, you weren’t allowed to sit down for meals until you had started working. So right now I'm imaging George just sitting down to scrumptious roast beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Girls

This ATC features a picture of John’s aunt and two of her friends. He asked me recently why I haven’t done anything with all the pictures we have of his family, so I decided I’d play with this one. It turned out much murkier than I expected despite all the time I spent trying to come up with something pleasing.
But who says everything I do has to hit the mark? I’ve found over the years that about one out of every three things I do satisfies me. Those aren’t bad odds really. I feel that all the time I spend working on projects that don’t gel teaches me what I need to know to make those that do.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

ATC Day 10...Bruno

Isn’t this baby too much? I bought him in Seattle when I was there for Artfest. The head looks like it’s been added in Photoshop, so of course I just had to do something with him digitally. (Despite the frock, I’m sure it’s a “him.”)
I’m going to add Bruno—the photo was taken in Germany—to the images I’m compiling for my ATC CD. It will be interesting to see what other people do with him.

For my version, I sandwiched Bruno between one of John’s photos and a layer created with a Photoshop brush designed by Christina Lazar-Schuler.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More on Books

I’m reading and/or looking at two books right now that I really like.
The first is Wabi Sabi for Writers by Richard Powell. Here’s a good quote: “You have to set out with a goal in mind but be ready at a moment’s notice to drop the goal so you can attend to the insight.”
Another book I’m enjoying is Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos & Altered Books by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino. Like Claudine Hellmuth’s two books, I personally think Visual Chronicles is a must-have and I highly recommend it.
While I understand and admire the kitchen-sink approach to making art, it’s not what I do myself. When there’s too much going on in a craft book visually, I find it hard to settle in and make use of the techniques. But Woods’ and Dinino’s approach to journaling is elegant, spare and right up my alley. I particularly like the way their words relate to their images. It moves things above the strictly decorative and gives their work meaning.
I noticed in the acknowledgements that Tonia Davenport—the woman who edited Bernie Berlin's book and Claudine's latest—is the editor here too. Davenport obviously has a real gift for making everything hang together visually and capturing the essence of each book book she works on.

P.S. Jeanne—this ATC is for you!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Reading continued...

Bernie Berlin’s new ATC book arrived this morning, but I managed to exert some self-discipline and control myself. It was only after I’d done a few hours of writing that I allowed myself the luxury of a leisurely perusal. (I’ve always wanted to use the word perusal, but who ever hears it in regular conversation?)
Anyone involved in stamping and making ATCs will enjoy Berlin’s book. There are many different techniques to explore, and lots of different samples to inspire you. Just off the top of my head I’d have to say the projects that appealed to me most were those involving watercolor techniques, mica, fiber fusing or Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel. Speaking of Ultra Thick, I took a fun class with Suze Weinberg a couple of years ago, and I keep meaning to do something with it. Yes, so many things to explore…so little time!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Week of ATCs

So far I’ve kept at least one of my resolutions for 2007—to do a digital ATC every day for the month of January. I’m enjoying this so much it occurred to me tonight that it might be cool to do one for every day of the year (which I’m sure I won’t).
Cori mentioned in her Friday blog that she’d received Bernie Berlin’s Artist Trading Card Workshop as a gift. I got very excited and had to order it immediately. I can’t believe the feeling of complete emergency that rushes to the surface whenever I discover a book that I think might interest me. Like my sister Pam, I’ve had book lust since childhood and it shows no sign of letting up.

Later I started thinking about Bernie Berlin and I was sure I’d read something about her in RubberStampMadness. I went on a hunt through my back issues and found an article on Bernie and her ATCs in November/December 2004.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I spent most of today working on ATCs and my two process journals when I should have been doing other things. Sometimes you just have to step outside day-to-day life and do what you feel like doing. Basically I’m fed up with deadlines and obligations, and I’m questioning everything I do. This could be because I don’t feel I have as much to look forward to this year as last.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thanks Carmi

Whenever I interview someone for an article, I always gain something from it myself—particularly when I have the pleasure of questioning one of my fellow artists about their creative process. Today I interviewed Carmi for an upcoming article about her and her work for RubberStampMadness. I love the way she combines her creative energy with a down-to-earth practicality. Carmi lives and practices her art 24/7, so she has her studio set up and organized to accommodate the things she loves to do like card-making, altered books and fabric art. I came away feeling energized and inspired about my own art, and I’m looking forward to sharing Carmi’s creative insights with the readers of RSM.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Checking In

I started another process journal on January 1st in which I’m keeping my notes and doing some stamping every day. There’s something about the combination of words and casual stamping that I’ve always found satisfying.
Roberta sent me a Rubberstampmadness from 1993, and there’s an interesting article in it called Poet in Rubber about man called Joel Lipman who stamps on pages from books and postage albums. His work is not fancy like the altered books and journals most of us are doing today. But I like the fact that his goal is to be poetic and experimental rather than decorative.
Brenda sent me some books today and included several old rubber stamp catalogues. Looking through RSM, and those catalogues from the last decade, I found it strange not to see any websites mentioned. So much has changed since then. (I’ve been madly working away on ATC backgrounds in Photoshop and experimenting with them—and who had heard of Photoshop in 1993? Actually I did know about it then, but I never dreamed I’d want to use it).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Easing into 2007

I am trying to get this year organized and it is taking me much longer than I thought it actually would. You know that feeling where your mind is racing, but you seem to be accomplishing everything in slow motion? That’s the way I’ve been feeling today.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that fooling yourself is probably a good thing. If you knew how long something was going to take you to do, then you probably wouldn’t bother doing it in the first place!
I spent quite a lot of time today working on my ATC workshops. I have so many ideas that I’m finding it difficult to settle down and focus in on the actual projects. But one thing I’ve decided is that I’m going to do an ATC clip art CD, and then include a sheet of selected images in the workshop kit for participants. I’d like to do a journaling CD too, but first things first...

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year’s Resolutions

John and I had a long talk last night about goals and purpose. He says that goals should stem from your purpose, and when you know what that is then your goals will fall into place. I’m not exactly sure what my purpose is, so I think that will have to be one of my goals this year.
To be honest, I’m not that comfortable with goal setting. I’ve set so many objectives for myself that haven’t come to fruition it almost seems like bad karma to want to accomplish anything at all. For this reason, I plan to focus on overcoming certain habits that hold me back instead of concentrating on so-called tangible results.
One problem I have that I’d like to change is getting off track. Because I throw myself into everything I do, I often don’t question whether or not doing something is in my best interests. So this year I plan to work smarter, not harder.
Another problem I have is hyper focusing. I wouldn’t say it wears me out exactly because I have a lot of energy, but I tend to let everything else slide so I can finish what I’m working on. It would be nice to have more balance in my life and less turmoil, and that balance has to come from within (obviously).
I’d also like to create a more orderly environment for myself. When I’m organized, I’m more creative. Pam once told me about an article she read on happiness where the single thing happy people had in common was the fact that they planned their lives to make room for what they wanted to do and to accomplish. So wish me luck!