Monday, March 31, 2008
Saturday I went to Debbie Smith Doyle’s house for a day of eating, stamping and yakking with the Red Hat Stampers. I feel fortunate that they adopted me into their group three years ago. They’ve been together since 1995 and are still stamping up a storm (although I didn’t do any of this myself at our get-together).
At the moment I’m on a colored pencil jag, and spent most of the day meticulously coloring in ATCs I’d already stamped the night before. I find this a therapeutic activity—kind of like the way I felt about coloring books as a child, or jazzing up maps in high school geography.
Then last night I went to Cherri’s Moote’s house for dinner. She had some of her friends over to meet book artist Beth McKee who has created this amazing 44-foot long accordion book based on a speech about women given by Stephen Lewis. You can read about Beth’s project and see a picture on her website. To make the figures that run along the bottom of each page, Beth carved stamps out of foam and then collaged on their clothes. After she had shown us how to do this, we tried it ourselves. It was like a grown up version of paper dolls.
But now it’s time to retreat back into the work zone. I wish I was preparing to enter the Battistero in Florence looking all floaty and voluptuous like the Victorian maiden above. In reality, I’ll be in sweatpants wading through the mess my inner sanctum has become.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Jen is off to Artfest next week and I’m excited for her. I had a wonderful time when I went a couple of years ago. There’s something about being in the Artfest environment that makes you feel like you’re at the center of things creatively. I had thought all the amazing artists I met there would intimidate me, but instead I came away inspired and rejuvenated (when I caught up on my sleep that is).
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The heart card by my friend Paul Foster is one of my favorites. He uses foam stamps and acrylic paint layered on watercolor paper that he decorates first. Yet another thing I’d like to try but haven’t!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
My two top picks, though, would have to be New Zealand (I even dream about it) and Firenze, Italy. Simonetta in the ATC above is looking across Il Portico degli Uffizi e Palazzo Vecchio, which I think roughly translates into The Porch of the Uffizi and Old Palace. (If I’d known how interested I’d be in Renaissance Art one day, I wouldn’t have slept through those two years of Italian in university, but when you’re 20 years old, 9 a.m. is the crack of dawn).).
Now my third choice would have to be Hawaii, so tonight I did what I could. I visited Leslie’s blog, listened to Elvis sing Blue Hawaii while I looked at her pictures and pretended I was there.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
For the ATC shown above, I used an image of the Palazzo Ducale in Venice and a protractor so it’s nice to have new images to work with. But I think I need to take a break from doing this for a couple of days because I'm bug-eyed.
I told John tonight that making collage sheets reminds me of knitting. Once you get into the rhythm of doing it, you can’t seem to stop. Then when you finally go to bed, you feel like you’re making sweaters all night—or even worse, doing the same one over and over and over again.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Every time I check out Ronna’s blog, I want to start drawing again and I keep promising myself that I will. So on March 12th, I finally took a deep breath and decided I’d just go for it. Basically I’ve been doing a drawing a day since then. I’ve sketched various dead plants, a teacup, shells, a doohicky I found in the parking lot outside David’s work, a scrunchie and a pair of socks that don’t look like socks at all ... at least the way I've interpreted them.
I thought it would be harder to get back into drawing than it’s actually been. It was never my strong point (if I do have one) but I’ve never been afraid of it either. Danny Gregory says there are no bad drawings and I think this is a healthy approach to the process. The interesting thing is that all the work I’ve done in Photoshop is helping me. Not because I’ve become more observant over time but rather I’ve finally learned that if you want to become better at something you just have to keep plugging away at it.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
When you work at home, receiving mail is always a high point—whether it appears in your email inbox or through the door. Zanne sent me a couple of beautiful spring cards recently and Jennifer Pearson Vanier, some of her unique ATCs. You can see a sample of their work above. It occurred to me this morning that when I receive something handmade, I’m not only hearing from a friend but I’m also adding to my art collection because I save and treasure everything that comes my way.
Speaking of another kind of mail, I went to a printing seminar today and the audience consisted of fourteen men and me. I couldn’t help thinking that it would be a good place to meet a man if you were looking for one. The material was way over my head though. No wonder people get discouraged and overwhelmed with all the technicalities involved in running a computer program. But I resisted the urge to bolt and hung in until I was able to find out what printer to buy next. At one point, the guy next to me leaned over and whispered: “How much of this do you really understand?” “Oh, about five percent,” I replied, and then the two of us giggled like a couple of kids failing tenth grade math.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
All I can see out my window at the moment is a maze of dog/squirrel/raccoon and rabbit paw prints. I know there’s an interesting candle holder rusting out there somewhere too, but since showing you this would involve digging it out of a snowdrift, I’ll pass on it for now.
This project ended up turning into a looking through my inner window kind of thing done in Photoshop because frankly, I’d like to ignore reality. I’d prefer to be leaning against a balustrade overlooking the Mediterranean like this faux Greek goddess is doing here, and looking fabulous while I’m at it. But really, I can’t complain. For one thing, I won Jen’s random draw last week and I’ll be receiving one of her polymer clay encased hearts soon. Being a big fan of all things heart-related, I can’t wait to see it and hold it—and I’ll be sure to post a picture when it arrives.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
When I finished this digital collage I called it Elephant Thoughts. It seems to me that an elephant must have plenty to think about, and that these thoughts probably wouldn’t involve doing his or her taxes or emptying the Dustbuster.
Then just a few minutes ago I came across this great quote from Aristotle. Apparently he once said that the elephant was “the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind.” (I’m not sure whether or not Aristotle considered human beings to be beasts but it’s certainly something to ponder).
Monday, March 17, 2008
A couple of people asked me on Friday night where I got the image of the doll, and the answer is that I bought it from istock royalty-free images. The original was a black and white photo that I added color to digitally by incorporating other layers including a map of the solar system. I also worked on the eyes to make them stand out more.
When I first started experimenting with Photoshop, I didn’t find much to inspire me online, but there are plenty of people doing digital collage now and some of them are fantastic. If you’re interested, you can check out my two favorites: Maggie Taylor and Alicia Buelow.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
What always happens at these meeting is that you see things you just know you want to try. Marissa painted an acrylic background and then stamped on it. Daniza cut up a doll magazine so we all got something different. And Colette used a zigzag stitch to attach a doll’s head to her ATC. I may be the only female in North America without a sewing machine, but I want to do this too. Does anyone know if those tiny machines really work? (I’m afraid I’d end up sewing my own hand to the paper with a full-sized one).
P.S. While I was looking at our ATCs and writing about some of them just now, I realized that I forgot to photograph my own, so I’ll post it next time.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
This assemblage basically pays homage to the letter “E” for no other reason than I liked the type block. I also used a drawer from a piece of doll’s furniture, a red glass pebble, a burnt out light bulb John gave me and a protractor. Mathematical instruments fascinate me even though I was never any good at geometry at school.
I’m often surprised at what I end up with when I do assemblage. Everything sort of progresses in a haphazard manner and then finally comes together into something I doubt I would have pursued if I’d had a clear picture to begin with. It’s always a voyage of discovery—of what I’m not really sure—but I’m usually glad I decided to take the trip.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
However, it was Raphael who did this portrait of twenty-year-old Bindo—and he turned out to be anything but a love object. Shrewd, canny, and heir to a large fortune, Bindo became the powerful banker to the papacy, and a major opponent of the Medici family who dominated Italy in the 16th century. He was also a patron of the arts and friends with many important Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo, Cellini and Vasari (who painted frescoes in Bindo’s Roman homes, as well as an altarpiece for the family church in Florence). Makes you wonder what happened to that cute guy you had a crush on in high school, doesn’t it?
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
When I was debating about what to say this morning, I wondered if I should write about the bad fall I took on the ice over a week ago, and how long it is taking me to recover. But I’m really not comfortable talking about things like that. I am fascinated when other people write about it, though, because most of the time, they don’t sound like they’re whining which I know for a fact I would.
So my entry today is simply a digital take on a cabinet card that I bought in Seattle when I went to Artfest in 2006. Did you know that millions of cabinet cards and carte de visites were produced in the U.S. alone? I think that’s an interesting figure because while the photographic means of presentation was common, each image is unique because it’s a record of someone who actually existed. I often wonder if descendants of these people would like to have these photos, but obviously I have no way of knowing. Nevertheless, I think that’s the main reason I don’t like to tamper with the actual image—just in case.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
P.S. Someone told me recently that one of the reasons a bird finds it easy to attain lift off is because it gets rid of its waste first. We humans could learn something from this, I think.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
All That Once Was Will Be Again was written by Alex Mogelon and beautifully illustrated by his daughter Ronna (the editor of ATC Quarterly). What I loved about this book was that I became so engrossed in reading about the Iroquois girl and boy—and their culture—that I had to read it straight through in one sitting. I felt like I was right there, and when I finally came up for air, I realized I’d learned a lot too. It has what I’m always looking for in a novel: a good story and great writing. Sample: when Uncle Ohne focuses on one bright star and hopes he will "be taken up to it and become a part of its brightness."
Emma thought I’d enjoy Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert—and she was right. After a painful divorce and an unhappy love affair, Gilbert goes on a yearlong voyage of healing. She eats heartily (and learns the language) in Italy; spends time in an Indian ashram; and then finds true love in Bali, where she also raises funds to buy a single mother her own house. This book is full of metaphysical and personal insights. But make sandwiches before you start reading. All I wanted to do was eat during the first section where Gilbert rhapsodizes over Italian food.
Emma also thought I’d like Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. The title gives you a good idea of how intense the writing is in this coming of age novel about a sixteen-year old called Blue. Each chapter is named after a classic novel, and Pessl quotes freely from all sorts of books—some real and others imaginary. It’s impossible to do this book justice in a few words, but it has a terrific ending … something you don’t usually get with literary novels, and why I usually avoid them.
Thanks Emma! What have you got for me to read next?
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I spent some time tonight looking at our next club challenge—a calendar made from blocks of wood housed in a small cabinet. Carmi warned us that we might not like it, but I was delighted because I’d already picked up one from the dollar store months ago with a view to altering it. However, as I was playing around with the one Carmi gave me, I realized that I would like to start working larger. This means actually using my tools and constructing things from scratch. I think I’ll dig out my copy of Crafting Personal Shrines by Carol Owen and see if I can pick up some tips.
Monday, March 03, 2008
The ones on the upper left and lower right have embossing powder backgrounds. I smooshed on pigment inks, then tossed on different embossing powders that appealed to me to see what would happen.
The doll is made was made from a large jigsaw puzzle piece with scrapbook paper glued on over it. Her head is an eye that opens and closes holographically, although it’s hard to tell from the photo. Then I gave her a tulle scarf and a hat made from a paper clip.
I also did a mini collage with a heart and map of New Zealand since that’s one place I’ve always wanted to go, and right beside it is a mini playing card with layered papers and a bird sticker. The little picture in the upper right hand corner is made from a round slide mount.
It was amazing what people did with the wallet challenge. For instance, Sharon used it to form the roof of a house and then added shingles made from stale gum she’d painted. Now if that isn’t creative, I don’t know what is!
It was my turn to do the demo and we made a little ATC box that I’d designed to hold cards. I also took some organic chocolate for everyone to try.
John’s friend Fred Jene makes his own from scratch grinding and roasting cocoa beans and then sweetening it with maple syrup or agava from a cactus plant. Apparently chocolate contains lots of magnesium so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating it because it’s good for you! For more information, visit Fred’s web page at www.foodnotcandy.com.