Friday, December 10, 2010

The Heart of Things

In my last post of 2009, I wrote about a much-loved heart ornament that mysteriously broke apart. My sister Pam has given me a deluxe replacement (see photo to left)—probably to get me in the mood to put up the Christmas tree. When we changed to an artificial one, I was thrilled to have a tree that looked realistic. The only problem is that each one of the 10 zillion branches has to be inserted individually into the trunk. It’s a lot more fun shopping for the ornaments that’s for sure.
Speaking of shopping, the annual Holly Jolly Sale is being held tomorrow in the Toronto area. Mary Ambrose, Sharon Ginsberg, Carmi Cimicata, Karen Arts and Marissa Decepida-Wong are all participating, so I’m sure you’ll find some unique gifts for those special people on your list.

Check Marissa’s blog for details.
Although I won’t be at Holly Jolly this year, there’s still time to order my book for Christmas.

Creating from the Inside Out: Motivational Strategies for Artists and Writers is 177 pages: 6.5 x 6.5" and coil bound. It’s filled with inspiring quotations, mini essays on the creative process, over 75 black-and-white digital collages. It also comes with a Thank You CD of 10 collage sheets to use in your art.

The cost is $25.00 CAD plus postage and you can use PayPal to pay online.
To order: email me at

P.S. Because I am starting to run low on copies of Creating from the Inside Out, I will probably start offering my book as a digital download when they run out. If you’re interested in being notified when I do this, just let me know.

To read reviews of my book in recent issues of Somerset Memories and RubberStampMadness—and to see some sample pages—click here.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Checking In

One good thing about blogging regularly is that you not only feel like you’re keeping in touch with your friends, you also find it’s easier to come up with topics to write about. You simply launch your word boat into the online flow and rev up your motor. But when you leave it for a while as I have been doing, you tend to ponder too much about the possibilities – especially when there are so many interesting topics to write about …like the difference between butterflies and moths, or why some people put up their Christmas lights the day after Halloween.
When I was teaching creative writing I would give my students a sheet of words and ask them to pick one out randomly, and then write about it for ten minutes to focus their mind(s). As I recall I got the idea from one of Roger Von Oech’s books and it always worked like a charm.
My brother Robin and I used to play a lot of writing games too. My favorite was where we would each write a paragraph and then swap, but we could only read the last sentence and then had to carry on from there before we traded again. Robin has been a much more prolific writer than I will ever be because he jumps right into things and is disciplined as well. You can check out Robin’s poems, plays and fiction on his website, and catch a brief video of him talking about his work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lily turns fifteen

Leigh took this picture of David and me with Lily recently. It’s hard to believe our doggie is fifteen years old today because she raced down the stairs and out the door like a shot chasing after a couple of squirrels this morning. Not that Lily is a threat to them, or to any cats or rabbits invading her territory for that matter. No, her barking is basically a lot of hot air. Well, I guess there were those two skunking episodes a few years ago, but I like to think Lily's maturity has brought with it a good measure of canine wisdom. I could be wrong there though.
According to Stanley Coren who wrote The Intelligence of Dogs, Cavaliers like Lily rank number 44 out of the 80 breeds he surveyed, so she has "an Average Working/Obedience Intelligence." For example, in order to understand new commands, a Cavalier needs 25 to 40 repetitions, and he or she will obey your first command 50 per cent of the time or better.
I’m not a big fan of statistics myself, but just to let you know: if you have a Border Collie, a Poodle, a Doberman or a Golden Retriever, your dog is way smarter than mine. Nevertheless, I think it’s interesting that while Coren might have a couple of smart dogs himself, he also has Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Banshee (see below) who is referred to as “old” (whatever that means) in Coren’s online biography.
P.S. What I’d really like to read is a book on disgusting food that your dog loves to eat and nevertheless thrives on. Aside from the virtuous home cooked meals of steamed broccoli, string beans, lean ground beef and chicken, Lily loves toast and peanut butter (breakfast),  grilled cheese sandwiches (lunch), and her all time favorite: Kraft Dinner, which she will be chowing tonight for her birthday dins. (You go girl!)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Julian Schnabel

Ever since I visited Buffalo’s Albright Knox Gallery in 1998 and saw a giant “broken plate” painting by Julian Schnabel, I’ve been curious about him, and I really enjoyed his retrospective, which is on at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto until January 2, 2011.
His work won’t be to everyone’s taste because it’s so free and individualistic. Some of the paintings are 22 feet high, but whether large or small everything seems to be on a monumental scale. Schnabel says he was inspired to become an artist after seeing a Rembrandt. It was the glow emanating from the painting that inspired him, and now as a practicing artist, he says, “I know how to lean towards the light” (adding that while he always knows how to start a painting, he doesn’t know how he’s going to finish).
There are paintings done on giant tarpaulins and in the photo of Schnabel with two of his pieces (see above), the one on the right is painted on a sail he bought right off a guy’s boat on the Nile. To the left is a “Big Girl” painting, a rendition of a small picture he bought in a thrift shop, which is also on display at the gallery.
The curator also chose several portraits painted by Schnabel, including one of Gary Oldman as a matador and the twin daughters of Steve Nash, the basketball player. Schnabel describes the shiny finish he applied to their portraits as “liquid glass.” Obviously Carmi isn’t the only one crazy about resin!
Schnabel spends most of his time in his pajamas and slippers even when he’s going out for dinner or shooting one of his movies. I can totally relate to this habit because I’ve worn my nightgown to go shopping on several occasions, although I always wear a coat to cover it up.
You get the feeling that Schnabel really doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about his painting, and that’s very liberating and inspiring …to me at least. I came out of the show feeling that I’d never really let go in my own work because I’ve barely scratched the surface of who I am creatively. But instead of feeling overpowered by this insight, I felt energized to go deeper into my imagination and see what happens.

Below: Schnabel with two of his surfer paintings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Book of Life

I wouldn’t say I’ve been suffering from writer’s block for the last few months, but it’s something akin to it I’m sure. Even though I always have lots of ideas, wrestling them into shape verbally is often a problem. It’s so much easier to express and understand things visually.
For example, you know those before-and-after pictures in a magazine like People? The ones where you have to spot the ten little things that are different between them? Well, I’d rather do that than a crossword puzzle because I can usually pick up the things that have been Photoshop-ed in right away. Unfortunately the only time I’m successful with a crossword puzzle is when I Google most of the clues.
When I think of a word, a picture almost always comes up—even if that word is an abstract one. For example, I know I’d like to “write” another “book” and the first thing that that popped into my mind was one filled with random pictures that didn’t seem to be connected to each other in any obvious way. Apparently it would be up to the reader to unite things visually and come up with a story.
I did get a title though: The Book of Life.
Naturally I went straight to Google, and it turns out that The Book of Life is mentioned in Christian and Jewish spiritual teachings, and is also the title of by a 1921 novel by Upton Sinclair. You can’t copyright a title of course, but I think I’d shy away from using something someone else has already come up with.
I’ve heard writers like Wayne Dyer, Dean Koontz and Neale Donald Walsch all say they can’t start writing until they have a title. In Wayne Dyer’s case, he even visualizes the cover and has a mock-up done by his publisher to inspire him during the writing process. As for me, there’s no cover yet, but there’s already something inside.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Recent Publications

When Emma and I went to Indigo just before the wedding, I headed straight for the magazines on everything digital. I usually pick up Advanced Photoshop and Photoshop Creative because they include a CD with free clip art and brushes. In my opinion, anyone doing digital work can never have too many brushes to choose from.
I also buy Somerset Digital Studio because it’s always jam-packed with a wide and inspiring selection of art. This issue—Fall 2010—has one of my collages on page 121. (See above). When I got home, I compared my original print with the one in the magazine and the color was spot-on. This actually surprised me. If you’ve ever had any of your art published in a magazine, it can be upsetting when you see how it’s reproduced. Sometimes you don’t even recognize it.
Daniza emailed me on Thursday to say that the current issue of Somerset Memories has a review of my book Creating From the Inside Out. I haven’t read the review yet, so I don’t know what was said. But the fall issue of RubberStampMadness has one too. The reviewer, Barbara Blanks, says: “I think her most important advice is: create in spite of your moods”—advice I should be taking to heart right now!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Emma & Bryan’s Wedding

Emma and Bryan got married on Saturday at my sister and brother-in-law’s cottage in Meaford, Ontario, and it was such a joyous day. The ceremony was performed by the Reverend Doctor Brian Goodings at 4 p.m. under a tent overlooking Georgian Bay. There were 150 people in attendance from age 6 months to 89 years old, and the violin selections were performed by my friend Andrea Currie Jefferson.
John gave Emma away, and David did a reading, which made everyone—including David—teary. It was a very romantic service, and I have to say that I’ve never seen two people happier about getting married than Emma and Bryan.
Afterwards there was a fantastic dinner (lots of comfort food like fried chicken, beef tenderloin and Emma’s favorite—mac and cheese, plus home-baked pies instead of the traditional wedding cake). Then there was lots of dancing—and more dancing—until 2 a.m. It was a splendid day and the perfect start for my dear Emma and her new husband Bryan.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Playing with Pictures

If you’re interested in vintage photos and collage, and you’re in the Toronto area, you might want to catch the exhibit Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage before it closes on September 5th. Not everyone will love this AGO show because it’s not large, flashy or painterly (things I admit usually appeal to me when I visit an art gallery). However, it’s fascinating what these Victorian artists did with pen and ink, and watercolor …incorporating photos that couldn’t be resized.
They didn’t have our cornucopia of tools and materials to work with, but given their work, you get the feeling most of them would have loved the digital. For example, the collage I did above incorporates a cabinet card, one of my own photographs and several pieces of vintage line art all altered and layered together in Photoshop. I didn’t pick up a pen or brush, and I played with colors, sizes and effects until I got what I wanted.
I’m not the only person who recognized some kindred spirits in this show. Just look at all the people who submitted digital art to the Playing with Pictures Flickr group below.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Review of Carmi's Book

I think it was Harlan Ellison who said that anyone who can make out a grocery list thinks he (or she) can write a novel. Ellison is well known in the sci fi community for his cynical bent on life, but my guess would be that most of us recognize that writing anything – even a grocery list – can be a test of our mental prowess.
Because I’ve written and illustrated a book myself, this gives me an instant bond with anyone who has gone through a similar process: like Carmi Cimicata, for instance.
Carmi has written and illustrated the Art Girl’s Guide to Paris which is chock full of her quirky charm. There are lots of great photos and suggestions on places to visit like shops, palaces and museums where you can have the complete Gallic experience. In other words, if you didn’t want to visit Paris before savoring this book, I guarantee you will afterwards.
I’m actually on my second copy now. The first I sent off with my brother Robin who was meeting my sister-in-law Wendy in Paris earlier this month. Like Carmi, Wendy makes an annual pilgrimage to the city, and her take on the book when she got back? “Oolala – it reminded me of places I’d adored but forgotten, and introduced me to new things to do and places to go. Loved it!”
Now you may think because “Art Girl” is in the title that it wouldn’t be of any interest to men. Wrong! John is Carmi fan too. “I think the book is really good,” he says. “Not only does she make me want to go back to Paris, but she inspires me to write a book too.”
For more information on an Art Girl’s Guide to Paris, visit Carmi’s book blog. To see the first few pages of the guide, check out her site on Blurb.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Work of Art

I have to admit I’m hooked on reality shows like Project Runway and So You Think You Can Dance because the people competing against each other are usually skilled at what they do. So when I read about Bravo’s Work of Art on Lennie’s blog, I knew I had to start watching it. After all: how could I resist a show about artists?
But it’s harder to make judgments about art. Somehow knowing what constitutes a good meal, a great dress or a fine singing voice seems much easier. What does make a work of art though? You could list all sorts of requirements like harmony, rhythm, balance, use of color, development of ideas, and so on, but in the end, it’s usually how you spontaneously react to a piece that convinces you whether or not it’s art—for you.
China Chow, the host of the show, says it best: “Art is one of the most authentic ways for a person to express themselves. Clothing has to be functional, food has to taste good – but art is the purest form of expression, existing without set boundaries.”
That lack of boundaries is what makes Work of Art so interesting. At first I was baffled by how the artists on the show struggle with the process of implimenting their creative ideas. Then I realized that what I was watching was normal. Most artists find art-making a challenge at times, and focus is often a problem. The advantage to being on this show is that you are pushed to produce art in a short period of time, so you can’t help but benefit from the creative stretch even if the work you produce isn’t that good. And a lot of it isn’t. As a viewer, I personally don’t think this matters because it’s fascinating to watch how artists really work.
On the other hand, a couple of the judges seem to have their own boundaries (read “prejudices”) firmly in place. Listening to them critique the artists makes me uncomfortable. They have a tendency to promote the slick, the sophisticated and the manipulative. In other words, if you’re cool, anything you do is basically cool. But if you happen to be odd in an unfunky way, well, you might as well just forget it.
To me, this cult of personality has created an emptiness at the heart of the mainstream fine art world, and I’m just happy we have blogs and the Internet to expose us to all sorts of amazing and inspiring artists—artists we would be denied acess to if those pretentious, professional windbags had their way. (Moral to this story? Go forth and create anyway!)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Who do you write like?

After having a chunk of his writing analyzed at a site called I Write Like, John informed me that his style resembles Kurt Vonnegut’s. Not too shabby I’d say. Then he mentioned that my brother Robin’s writing style alternates between Edgar Allen Poe and the sci fi writer William Gibson. I was almost afraid to ask who I write like. But he told me that Stephen King kept popping up when he entered some of my blog posts. I once stayed up all night reading The Shining, so I was quite pleased about being compared to SK.
What about my book though? Apparently here my style resembles David Foster Wallace, a writer I’d never heard of. But I wikipedia-ed him and plan to read some of his work. All I can say is that I’m glad I didn’t know my style resembled Wallace’s while I was writing Creating from the Inside Out. It probably would have intimidated me.
Now when it comes to my fiction, two names came up: Stephen King again—and James Joyce. I think that’s absolutely hilarious; my split writing personality might just be the reason why I’ve never managed to have a novel published.
If you want to find out which famous writer you write like, get some of your writing together (a few paragraphs at least) and visit this site.

P.S. Just analyzed this blog post and got H.P. Lovecraft. Hmmm. I may have to revise the split personality thing to include multiples.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Mind Implements

Last time I posted here I wrote about my favorite art implements. Since then I’ve been thinking quite a lot about implements of the mind. In other words, you can have all the nifty art supplies in the universe, but unless you’re actually using them, they won’t fulfill their potential. Or you either.
Why is it so difficult for some of us to use our stuff? A few weeks ago a friend told me the reason she doesn’t do much art is because she’s lazy. But I don’t buy that for a minute. Lazy is one of those judgmental words that’s just guaranteed to make you feel worse. I know when I think of myself as lazy, I tend to act that way which is always counterproductive.
From what I can see, there are plenty of reasons why people procrastinate. This can be anything from just needing to take a break to feeling you have to do things perfectly or you shouldn’t be doing them at all And of course, let’s face it: making art isn’t always easy—and sometimes we just need things to be undemanding.
I read somewhere that the pleasure of writing is never equal to the pleasure of reading, so that’s why it’s easy to suffer from writer’s block. It’s the same thing with art. When you look at a fabulous mixed media piece, you can be inspired to do something of your own. But then when you actually get down to work things are usually more complicated than you think they will be. So what to do about this?
Sometimes I feel that art is more about problem solving than anything else. It doesn’t really help to think about it as a problem though. I find that looking on it as a project is the most helpful to me. A project implies things like brainstorming, planning, playing, tinkering around, fine tuning, taking detours and so on. In short: if you look on your art as an on-going project there’s more room for fun.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Favorite Art Implements

Brenda sent me and some of her other art homies a nifty little booklet called the Implements of Art Creation. A couple of her favorites? Tear by Hand Scotch Tape and a Pigma Micron Pen. Of course as soon as anything approaching a list appears in my mail or inbox, I have to sit down and make one up too …although I’ll admit that most of the time, the list stays inside my head (mind you, adding to it there is a great way to fall asleep, if you’re having trouble drifting off).
My list turned out to be a lengthy one: Golden Crackle Paste, and Titan Buff fluid acrylic; Liquitex Matte Medium and Black Lava; Pitt artist pens; a black Versafine dye ink pad; baby wipes; Zip Glue; E6000 glue; a miniature screwdriver kit; an X-acto knife, and cutting mat; a set square; Prismacolor pencils; and my two supply totes (not precisely implements but handy all the same).
The first time I ever taught a workshop at a stamp store, one of my “students” brought along her massive just-in-case supply tote that included every pencil, ink pad, paint, paper, marker, pen, pencil, punch etc. known to woman (or man). It was like being invited into an art circus. Because this contraption seemed to take up about 10 square feet of space, I vowed then that I would never ever have a tote.
But words are meant to be eaten, aren’t they? Eventually I fell in love with a mini journaling tote and a larger one that keeps most of my supplies handy. Not that I’ve been using them much these last few months. But truly—sometimes I think the satisfaction of keeping everything organized is almost on a par with making something.
Now where was I? Oh yes, what I realized when I started my list is that there’s one implement I absolutely couldn’t live without, and that’s Photoshop. Over the last eight years, Photoshop has gradually unlocked a whole world of creativity I always suspected existed and now I know actually does. Sure there’s a big learning curve, but that’s fine with me. Art mirrors life after all, and what is life but one long learning curve? Just when you think you’ve got something figured out, you realize you haven’t. C’est la vie.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Shadow Box Stamping

I’ve been stamping for about twelve years now and never lost interest in the medium. Unlike most of my art buddies, I prefer to stamp in my journal, so I’m not much of a card maker.
But I’ve always thought stamping is underutilized when it comes to doing creative projects, and since my turn to do a workshop for the Stampers of Southern Ontario is this Saturday, I decided I wanted to try something different. Instead of my usual approach (doing something stamp-ish with an origami book form), I came up with the idea of incorporating stamping into a shadow box. I guess I’ll find out on Saturday whether or not the members signed up for my workshop enjoy this approach.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Home is where the heart is...

Our ATC theme for May was home, and I was tempted to let it slide because I’m still playing catch up with everything that’s been going on in my life recently. But since I’ve been angling for this particular theme for a couple of years now, I decided I just better get down to business and produce some cards. Besides, it would give me a chance to use these Teesha Moore stamps I love, along with some colored pencil—plus home is a wonderful subject to contemplate visually, isn’t it? Rather than an actual place, I think of home as a state of heart and mind. Ideally you carry it around with you and some situations, groups of people and activities can be more home-like than the so-called real place. That said, I do feel happy in my own little nest tonight. I have my flashing Las Vegas sign on, the angel is hovering over my computer and Lily is recovering from the indignity of having her nails clipped by snoring triumphantly away at my side.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


I’ve always been drawn to outer space images …everything from the planets in our own solar system to galaxies that may not still even exist. That’s why I was excited to discover that you can actually download a selection of l-a-r-g-e images taken by the Hubble telescope’s camera in space. You can print them up, or import them into Photoshop and go to town—although what I found when I downloaded this 16 x 20” photo of the Carina Nebula was that I was too awed to alter it.
The Hubble website describes this image as a “turbulent cosmic pinnacle” that lies within “a tempestuous stellar nursery” so I guess I’m not the only one who goes gaga over things like planets and nebulae.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Victorian Photocollage

There’s a show on right now at The Met in New York City called The Art of Victorian Photocollage I’d love to see. Apparently upper class Victorian women during the 1860s and 1870s were experimenting with collage by combining photos and watercolors like the two examples shown here. What is fascinating about this is that avant-garde artists like Braque and Kurt Schwitters who are considered to be the originators of collage—and the Surrealists—hadn’t even been born yet.
Obviously these women were well in advance of their time and it makes me wonder what those of us experimenting away in Photoshop will end up inspiring sixty years on down the line. Of course by then all art may be taking place inside our heads. But in the meantime, I thought I’d pretend to be an aristocratic Victorian photocollage artist—with a little help from Photoshop. (Wouldn’t those women have loved using it!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Pattern of Her Thought

I haven’t been keeping up with my blog for a while now and there are a lot of reasons why not—reasons I know most of you could relate to. Instead of cataloguing them though, I thought I’d mention the post on Copyblogger that convinced me I needed to get back on the horse again. Well, not that I fell off exactly. I’d describe it more like taking a long voyage into the interior and staying much longer than I probably needed to.
Anyway, according to the writer on Copyblogger, the five warning signs you might be a “Blograstinator” include: (1) You keep postponing (2) You push so hard it hurts (3) You are easily distracted (4) You’re constantly generating ideas (5) You’re a chatter, not a writer.
There didn’t seem to be a category for I’m-too-busy-watching-TV-and-reading-at-the-same-time, but I could see from the list it was obvious I was postponing things—and the longer I kept putting things off, the easier it was to continue doing this. So enough is enough. I’ve done a spring-cleaning mentally and decided I have to get with the program and start blogging regularly again. Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I wanted to do something different for our ATC meeting this month. The theme was whatever we wanted it to be, so I chose “Identity.” I think I know who I am, but identity seemed to give me lots of scope to ponder its meaning in Photoshop—and I decided to use a booklet created by Brenda Shackleford for Artfest last year as a guideline.
If you want to try it yourself, just double click on the image above and download it to your desktop. To print it out, set your paper orientation to “landscape.” The area to cut out measures 10” x 7” …just trim along the outside edge.
To make up the ATC booklet, fold in half, quarters and then eighths as shown below. Open out and cut a slit between the four center panels. Then fold in half horizontally and pop out along the center fold so that the front cover “Identity” is on top.
Sound complicated? If you’re like me, you’ll do better with a demo. Just follow this link for video instructions, but you don’t need a staple as they suggest.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Lynne Perrella’s Latest Book

What would your ideal studio space look like? And on a more practical level: how would it all work?
You’ll probably find yourself asking questions like these while you’re perusing Art Making & Studio Spaces (An Intimate Llook at 31 Creative Work Spaces) by Lynne Perrella because I know I certainly did.
Even though I loved looking at this incredible profusion of eye candy—many of the artists featured have huge collections of fascinating stuff—I found myself drawn to the more streamlined and utilitarian studios like Michael deMeng’s. I personally find that having all my stuff out is overwhelming and distracting. If I have too much choice, I can’t make any decisions. That said, I’d jump at the opportunity to visit any of the artists Perrella interviewed for this book!
Some of the studios featured are quite small, but most are on the large side and several are self-contained spaces like Bee Shay’s and Sas Colby’s. I remember seeing a photo of Edward Hopper’s Cape Cod studio years ago and it looked just like a boathouse. I’d love something like that.
But one of the featured artists, jeweler Nancy Anderson, says she’s learned from experience that you don’t need a perfect space. “Give up that thought now. The perfect space only exists in your dreams. I say: Just create. Let it happen in your basement …on your kitchen table. Just do it.”

Monday, March 01, 2010

My Mum: 1919 to 2010

After two months in North York General Hospital, my mother Dorothy Fulford passed away in palliative care there last week. Anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer knows what an excruciating and heart-wrenching process it is to watch them go downhill. But mixed in with the sadness is a feeling of relief that they no longer have to suffer.
Up until last fall, Mum was still driving, making fabulous desserts, hosting dinner parties, attending her book club, volunteering and shopping for new outfits. Even though she was in her 91st year, she still had lots of life left in her and was aware of us all up until her final moments.
Mum deserved a quick, uncomplicated passing after celebrating with everyone who loved her at a gigantic party. She didn’t get that of course, but at least we were all able to say goodbye to her before she went and to hold her close.
John took this picture of Mum enjoying herself in September of 2008 and I think it captures her perpetually sunny nature and love of life perfectly.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Imagining the Past

Remember When was the theme for our ATC group last month, and I couldn’t decide what to do for the exchange, probably because there are so many choices available. I’m at the age now where my own past is full of all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies (to me at least.) I actually remember wearing white eye shadow, ironing my hair and meeting Manfred Mann in an Eskimo art shop at Yorkdale Plaza.
So what to choose?
I debated doing an ATC of The Beatles concert I went to with my friend Barb on September 7th, 1964. I saw The Stones, James Brown, The Dave Clark Five and The Mamas and Papas in the 60s too, and lots of bands like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Supertramp, and Genesis in the 70s. One balmy night I even experienced Yoko Ono wailing from inside a burlap bag.
But the problem with being a 60s and 70s girl is that while the years may be piling up, you’re still not copyright free. So this led me to imagining a past for the threesome shown above.
I like this carte d’viste because the little girl is being hugged by her dad, which is an unusual thing to see in pictures from this era. And I’m guessing he must have been especially fond of her because you usually see the young ones grouped around the mother. Then again, maybe the woman shown is her stepmother. Or perhaps the man is the little girl’s grandfather, and the woman he’s seated with is his much younger second wife who is not that that happy being photographed with the grandchild he adores.
There are really lots of scenarios available to anyone with an active imagination here. But it occurred to me that it might be more interesting to rewrite your own personal history instead. I think I'm going to add dating Mike Smith of The Dave Clarke Five to mine.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


As I was getting into the car the other day, a perfect snowflake landed on the sleeve of my coat. But this tiny ice mandala only lasted for a moment before vanishing. I remembered reading that no two snowflakes are identical (just like each one of us) and I wished I’d had a camera handy to make a record of it like Wilson Bentley, the Vermont farmer who made photographing individual snowflakes his mission in life.
Bentley’s obsession with snowflakes began when he received a microscope for his fifteenth birthday in 1880. He tried drawing them but since they melted too quickly for sketching, he eventually turned to photography (see below) and took thousands of pictures of snowflakes until his death in the 1930s.
Today I discovered that Bentley was the one who came up with the no two snowflakes are alike theory, which is now generally accepted as a scientific fact. “Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated,” he told a reporter in 1925. “When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”
I really like the idea that the universe in general is teeming with abundant individuality …everything from an atom to a star, although I don’t think I could reproduce the snowflake I saw. One thing I do know is that it was different from anything else I’ve ever seen and has enhanced my life in its own small, sweet way.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Believe in your plant

Hazel—one of my plants—has had more lives than a family of contented cats. She has been completely dead (apparently), sort of dead, on the verge of passing on, semi pathetic, extremely pathetic, depressed, deflated, so-so and so on. Well, I’m sure you get the picture. But as you can see, Hazel is flourishing in her present incarnation. One blossom is in full bloom and another couple are just waiting to unfurl. Given Hazel’s history, I’m ashamed to admit I considered tossing her into the compost many times. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it because David gave me Hazel for my birthday a few years ago, and it just seemed plain wrong to abandon her. And I’m glad I didn’t.
Hazel has convinced me that you shouldn’t give up on anything that’s important to you—no matter what the evidence seems to suggest. Even though it appeared she was a goner, John put her in a new pot and I watered her anyway. Everything else Hazel has done on her own, and it’s very gratifying to know she’s got a new lease on life.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Color for 2010

“Turquoise Transports Us to an Exciting, Tropical Paradise While Offering a Sense of Protection and Healing in Stressful Times,” says Pantone the company that provides professional color standards for the design industries (and obviously loves to capitalize Just In Case We Miss Anything).
This year the company has chosen Pantone 15-5519 Turquoise, “an inviting, luminous hue,” as the color of the year.
“Combining the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green, Turquoise evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of well being.”
Whew! But wait, there’s more…
“In many cultures, Turquoise occupies a very special position in the world of color. It is believed to be a protective talisman, a color of deep compassion and healing, and a color of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky. Through years of color word-association studies, we also find that Turquoise represents an escape to many – taking them to a tropical paradise that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy.”

Personally, I love the color turquoise, but I can’t help wondering—would Pantone ever pick Beige as the color of the year? Could a copywriter wax poetic over Beige? Having been one myself, I’d say if I had to, I could. But I think I’ll just settle for wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy, Creative and Colorful 2010.