Thursday, April 30, 2009


We all know there’s such a thing as writer’s block, but how about fear of starting a new journal? Actually, fear is probably the wrong word to use here because it’s more like the I might wreck it so I’ll wait until I know I can do something fabulous with it syndrome. In other words, you just keep putting it off until you’re feeling perfect, which as we all know is basically never. Enough of that, I thought to myself. I’ll just jump right in and do whatever. Whatever turned into a big question mark for me, so what else could I do but go with it?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Liberate Your Inner Writer

When Artful Blogging asked me to write an article for the Summer 2009 issue, I knew immediately that I wanted to do something about writing. When I first started my blog, I thought coming with interesting visuals would be the hard part. But as it turned out, my main challenge was writing entries.
Of course you can do what you want to when you blog, so I seriously considered dropping words altogether. And just when I thought I’d made up my mind to go this route, a huge snowstorm hit our area.
Now you’re probably wondering what a snowstorm has to do with all of this. Well, what happened was that I saw two of my neighbors leaning on their snow shovels deeply involved in conversation across the street. What was so interesting to them that they would stand around talking instead of shoveling, especially when the snow was coming down so heavily?
That’s when I realized that I had to keep writing. One picture may be worth a thousand words, but it’s good to hear (or read) at least some of them too. My article: Liberate Your Inner Writer covers a few of the ways I’ve found that make blog writing go easier for me, and, hopefully, for you.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Lynne Perrella Experience

While I was looking at my photos from Artfest this afternoon, I realized that I hadn’t written a post about the workshop I’d taken with Lynne Perrella. But this probably has more to do with procrastination than oversight.
Over the years I’ve taken quite a few art classes. Most of them of them have been focused on incorporating new techniques into a finished project, so this kind of workshop is usually easier to write about. However, a show-and-tell really doesn’t do Lynne Perrella justice because she’s on a different wavelength entirely.
Even though Lynne shared plenty of techniques with us, what you take away from her is an experience rather than a how to. Personally, this is my favorite kind of class. I figure you can always pick up techniques from a book, and while you may not do them well, at least you have a starting point. But once you’re given a window into the mindset and practice of an artist you admire, you gain the kind of inspiration that stays with you long after the latest technique has galloped off into the sunset.
Lynne herself is an interesting mix of the controlled and the spontaneous. If I could describe her method of working, it would be that she has a definite way of proceeding, but will deviate from this in a heartbeat if takes her to where she wants to go. And where she’s always headed to is that place where she expresses herself best by staying engaged in the process.
Of course I went off on a tangent myself and didn’t finish the class project as usual (see a snippet above). In my opinion, another couple of days with Lynne would have been ideal. But it was the Artfest workshop I gained the most from, not only in terms of what I could do with my own art, but also how important it is to stay tuned into your own vision of things and to stick with it.
P.S. If you want to see more from Lynne Perrella’s class and other Artfest stuff, visit my friend Janne’s blog and check it out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Self Portrait

This photo of me as a child was one of the first things I worked on when I started learning Photoshop. I rarely use images of myself because I find other people more interesting visually. But I like this picture because I can see my present self in it, albeit with no wrinkles!
Of course I know a lot more about Photoshop now than I did seven years ago. Still, I did manage to use the Threshold command properly and to add wings, But now that I understand about layers and digital painting, I had to color me up and put in a background.

If you would like to use the canning label, you can download it for free from the Graphic Fairy’s blog.

Monday, April 20, 2009

For Leslie

The April theme for our ATC group was music. Even though I couldn’t make the meeting on Friday night, I thought I’d join in digitally anyway.
While I do have a jukebox stamp that would have worked well here, somehow I kept thinking about this image—In a Garden: Corfu, painted by John Singer Sargent in 1909. When I finished my ATC, it immediately reminded me of Leslie, music muse and ardent reader …so girlfriend, this one is for you! (After all, there are few things more enjoyable in life than reading and listening to music, especially when you're doing them together).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Homage to Vegas

John was so intrigued by this mini Las Vegas sign that he had to make a video. It really made me laugh and I hope you do too. Just turn up your volume before you begin.
P.S. Yes, I did a little gambling and actually made five dollars!

Moo Challenge #49

One of the things I love about Photoshop is that I seem to be able to do it anytime, even when I’m feeling jet-lagged like I am right now. So—home is where the heart is—this week’s theme at Make a Moo or Two seemed tailor made to get me back into the swing of things creatively.
I decided I would do everything from scratch digitally, and as I was working (or rather: playing) away, I realized that it would probably be much easier to accomplish this in Illustrator, an Adobe program I basically know nothing about. Maybe one of these days I’ll give it a go, but somehow it makes more sense to build on what I already know instead of thinking that I need to learn something new in order to express myself.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back to Reality

How can I describe the Las Vegas experience? I think the clichéd expression: What a trip! says it best. Where else can you take a helicopter journey into the primal majesty of the Grand Canyon, and then visit scaled down versions of Luxor, Paris, Venice and New York? Half of you longs to go on your own personal vision quest to the Grand Canyon or desert for several days. The rest of you can’t wait to load up on tacky key chain rings, mugs and T-Shirts emblazoned with the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas logo.
Emma and I had a wonderful time together. We visited as many over-the-top resorts and casinos as we could fit in, went to Cirque du Soleil, shopped (mainly window), relaxed by the pool and trekked out to Viva Las Vegas Stamps which has more rubber stamps than I’ve ever seen before in my life. Most of them are designed by the owner Stampo who takes his Bichon Frises and cats to work with him every day. Speaking of cats, there is a lion exhibit at the MGM Grand that we were fascinated by. And did you know that the Las Vegas area is the biggest producer of kitty litter in the world?
One night we went out to dinner with several of Emma’s friends who were in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Then we drove down the strip in Mustang convertible (top down) and headed off to the top of The Palms—55 stories up—to go clubbing. I had a pretty good idea that I would be old enough to be everyone’s mother there, and I was right. Instead of it being a weird experience though, I actually had a lot of fun.
But the best part of Las Vegas was spending all that quality time with Emma. When you love someone, you can never get enough of her (or him). Thanks for the trip baby. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Off to Las Vegas

I don’t know whether or not I’ve mentioned this on Artopia Update before, but Emma gave me a trip to Las Vegas for Christmas, and the two of us are off first thing in the morning to fly to Sin City.
I am super excited about spending five days with Emma. We’re booked on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon—something I’ve always wanted to do—and also visiting Viva Las Vegas Stamps and going to Cirque du Soleil.
It hardly took me any time to pack. All I did was open my suitcase and toss in a pile of clothes. Not like Artfest, that’s for sure. I even had time to do this week’s challenge at Make a Moo or Two, which is “eggs.” I love eggs because they seem to be full of possibilities to me.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you here when I get back on Monday.

The Encaustic Class

Wax the Casbah was the only Artfest workshop where I managed to finish both of the in-class assignments (see above) …although the one on the right could use a little something extra now that I think about it.
I don’t know whether or not encaustic is something I’ll pursue because I’m sure you need way more than one day to get the hang of working with wax. I’ve never done anything with glass, but judging from what David says, wax is like glass in that you must adjust to it rather than it adjusting to you.
What I enjoyed most was the painting. I’d taken a full set of Claudine Hellmuth’s new Studio Paints with me, and as I hadn’t used them yet, I decided that I’d christen them at Artfest. I just love them!!! Nice and buttery with great coverage, and they really worked well with my set of Portfolio Oil Pastels.

Waxing the painting was more of a challenge. I tried a number transfer on the left hand piece but applied too much heat and it fragmented. When I asked Judy Wise what I could do to correct it, she laughed and said: “You’ll have to learn to love it.” I think this might be my new mantra …i.e. I’m going to love it anyway.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Clayboard Class

I’ve never been very good at following verbal instructions when I’m taking a workshop. What often happens is that I hear (and see) what I’m supposed to do, then I immediately wonder how I can give things my own spin and go off on a tangent. I get so involved that I ignore what everyone else is doing (even the instructor), and I usually end up with something completely off base. That’s what happened here in the Clayboard workshop at Artfest, so I wasn’t very happy with what I “produced.”
Sometimes I think my main role in this kind of experience is to make everyone else feel better about what they’re doing! Not only was I the slowest person in this class, but I also failed to use most of the techniques that Mary Beth Shaw showed us—like how to mix colors—and I could certainly have benefited from that if I’d been paying more attention.
One thing I did notice was that I spend way more time on composition than other people do, instead of just going with the flow. While there are times when this works to my advantage, in this case, the means didn’t justify the end.

Martha told me that she always follows exactly what the instructor says so that she can pick up new techniques and use them properly. I just wish we’d had this discussion before Artfest instead of on the plane coming back.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I'm Back (sort of)

I don’t know about Martha, but I’ve felt wrecked all day. Our journey home started at 8 ‘o clock yesterday morning from Fort Worden, which is about 2 hours northwest of Seattle, and our plane landed at 11:30 last night. (I took the photo above from behind the dorm where I was staying just before we left). Although I never mind traveling on my own, it was certainly a lot more pleasurable sharing the experience with Martha. We gabbed, traded reading material, had takeout McDonald’s in Chicago and even took pictures of a mouse running around the terminal there.
Both of us had a fantastic time at Artfest. I know I enjoyed it even more this time than I did in 2006. Most of the anticipation I experienced beforehand revolved around the workshops I knew I’d be taking, but I’d forgotten how much fun it is socializing with so many like-minded people especially Brenda, Anita, Antoinette, Adriana and Tammy. There were serious discussions, hi-jinks and lots of laughter. One high point was meeting the poet Susan Wooldridge and getting to know her. Another was going to the journaling bonfire night on Thursday.
I’ll post a couple of photos of what I did in the workshops and tell you more about them soon.