Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My "Ta Da" list...

Do you ever feel like you're perpetually busy, completely rushed, and yet, at the end of a week or a month, you haven't gotten anything done? I don't just mean my job, and the daily chores that are unavoidable, but the other stuff, the stuff that life is made of, the stuff that gives us joy and fills the well. For me that other stuff is art - making art, teaching art, writing, experimenting with new techniques, exploring new ideas, and spending time with like-minded friends.

During my last coaching sessions, I expressed this sentiment to my coach, and she pointed out that my perception was inaccurate, and that I actually did get a lot done, but unlike my endless "to do" lists, which sometimes weigh me down with their enormity, I never keep any kind of list of things once they're done - and this is the list I really need - to help me see where I'm going and how I actually spend my time. It's not just a way of patting myself on the back, although there's nothing wrong with that, especially since I do my share of beating myself up. It's also a way of seeing how I spend my time, so I can better prioritize. When I look back at the month, I can see how much time I devoted to what is important - and what is NOT important...and if I'm spending more time on things that are not important to me, I can do it differently next time.

Of course, the hard part is doing less of something you enjoy to make room for something you enjoy more. The word "no" is almost universal, and yet it is the most difficult word for many of us to say. (My dog would argue that point if he could talk.)

So instead of a "to do" list, this is my "ta da" list for the month of January -- as in "Ta da, this is what I managed to get done this month!!" I encourage everyone to make a list, or take note in some way, of all the good stuff. What are some of the things on your list this month?

Ta Da!!!!!, This month I...
gave blood
planned & taught Tranz-it demo at Art Connection
planned & taught new class at Art Connection
planned & taught new class (twice) at Stampassion
planned & taught new class at the senior center
spent a day making art with my friend Debbie
made a list of new domain names for our website (see this blog to vote on which one you like best!)
spent some time "filling the well" at Borders books, the library and Ace Hardware (yes, I love the hardware store for artistic inspiration - more on that later)
participated in two ATC swaps
completed 3 freelance design projects
designed a logo for friend's soap business
posted 11 blog entries
quit my two-a-day diet pepsi habit
started exercising again!
...and of course the usual full-time job, daily dog walks, laundry, groceries, house cleaning, etc., etc.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Studio Friday - on Tuesday... Look who I found

I love to discover new artists and often find them through other people's mention of them. So, introduce us, in words and/or pictures, to an artist, craftsperson, or writer you admire and that we might not have heard of before (i.e. not a famous one). What do you like about their work? How does it inspire your own work?" - Janet
I could publish a rather long list in this category, but I'm going to mention just one whose work I just purchased and was so pleased that I want to give her star billing. Her name is Luann Udell, and her company is called Durable Goods. She's a jewelry and fiber artist who also writes an incredibly informative blog that focuses on the business of being a working artist. I actually wrote about Luann in a previous blog, right after she mailed my order, so I am repeating myself here, but her work and her business ethics are so good that I wanted to mention her again.

She works in polymer clay, but makes it to look like fossilized bone and stone. It is truly amazing. When I see her work, either in pictures or in person (in the gift I bought for my friend), it inspires me to work with warm rich colors and textures, and to combine things like paper, fabric and beads.

If you have the opportunity to do business with Luann, you will not be disappointed.

And while you're here, I need your help. Please click here to vote on what my friend and I should name our new website Just leave a comment with your choice. Thank you!!!!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Help us pick a new name!

As some of you know, in 2005, my friend Debbie and I had a gallery show featuring our art journals. At that time, we developed a website. It was our plan after the show was over to maintain the website in the pursuit of our artistic ventures, but our busy lives pulled us in other directions - until now. This year, we are rolling up our sleeves and getting our site done... and that's where you come in!

Our original website name ( reflected our art journaling and journal making, but we have a wider range of artistic interests now, and we want our new name to reflect our broader identity. Although many of our artistic pursuits are separate, Debbie and I find that our talents compliment one another, so we will continue to share the website (and of course to maintain our blogs as part of the site). We've come up with a list of potential domain names, and we'd like to know which one you like best. They're all similar, but we're curious to find out of one really grabs your attention.

Thank you!!


Thursday, January 25, 2007

My 100th blog post - woo woo!

My first post was on May 5, 2006, and at the time, I naively planned to post something EVERY single day. But as often happens in life, well, life happens and our best laid plans go awry. Still, for me it's an accomplishment to have shown up 100 times in eight months. (btw - blogger numbers them, I'm not so pathetic as to have counted them!!)Blogging has helped me to rediscover a love of writing that I had almost forgotten. ...

On the topic of writing, I mentioned a few blogs ago that I had submitted an article to one of my favorite mixed media art magazines. Well, I was rejected -- okay, my article was rejected, but it's an extension of me, so in a way, I was rejected. But on the positive side, it was a promising rejection that praised my writing skills, so I will definitely try again soon, and I think I'll try to submit this article to a different magazine - one that may not have covered my topic yet, as this one apparently had.

When I wrote the article, I was working with my creative coach, and I was doing a familiar dance - "the Procrastination," (kind of like the Locomotion, but much slower) until she asked me the question that propelled me forward. "What is the worst thing that can happen?"... And for me the answer to that question was to be facing the new year and not have taken the chance at all. So the good news about rejection is that it means that you've taken the chance. And that's life, really. Putting yourself out there, every day, in ways familiar and unfamiliar, and taking chances.

These images are just me having some fun in Photoshop. a couple of before and afters.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

House of Collage

In yesterday's blog, I mentioned my symbolic alphabet. House shapes are among the symbols that have been finding their way into my art for quite a few years. Having a home of my own is very important to me. My husband and I did not purchase our first home until 2003, so home ownership is still new to me, and having rented for 17 years, I appreciate every moment of having our own space. I am sure that this is why I am drawn to the house shape as an icon - it represents freedom (to paint, to plant, to make noise); it represents security, warmth and family - all things that are important to me.

So this house is a class that I am teaching at Stampassion in February. If you live in upstate New York, I'd love to have you in my House of Collage class. We'll be cutting the house covers from foam core, and assembling, painting and collaging an accordian book that can hold your own "house" story. Even if houses are not among the icons in your own symbolic alphabet, the techniques can be applied to the icon of your choice.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My symbolic alphabet...

While visiting one of my recent favorite blogs , she used a term I hadn't heard before but with which I immediately identified -a symbolic alphabet - those items, symbols, colors, images, etc. that keep finding their way into our artwork. Some may stay with us for years - or forever - and some will come and go with changes in our selves and our lives as they are reflected in our art.

My symbolic alphabet includes:

dark & mossy shades of green & dark red
shades of orange and pink together
women with wings
butterflies and dragonflies
birds and nests and eggs
buttons (particularly mother of pearl)
heart shapes
house shapes
old sheet music
tin shapes
bits of muslin
doors and hiding places
printed words
natural elements (sticks, rocks, pine cones etc)
digital photography

These are all symbols that I use to tell stories with images rather than just words. These ATCs that I made for a friend include winged "faeries" which are a recent favorite of mine.

Tell me some of the symbols with which you find yourself drawn. What do they mean to you?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Games people play...

That was the theme for the most recent of my Artist Trading Card (ATC) swaps. I had many ideas that incorporated games, but the ones that surfaced had to do with things like head games and deceit, so these cards have an unmistakable dark mood to them. Ilayered transparencies, ink, dictionary pages, and game pieces to mat board to create them.

...and speaking of swaps, I've just been invited by my friend (and talented artist) Laura, to participate in a charm swap that sounds wonderful. No theme, no real rules, just 15 (or so depending on the size of the group) of the same/similar charm, with a jump ring, and we'll all get the same number in return. I think it will make a fabulous necklace when it's done.

...and speaking of jewelry, I ordered a pair of earrings for my friend Debbie, who celebrated a certain milestone birthday, from Luann Udell, of Durable Goods. I cannot expound enough on what a wonderful experience it was to do business with Luann. I sent and email and heard back within the hour. I wanted to mail payment rather than use my already overtaxed credit cards, and she began making the earrings even before my payment arrived. The order arrived even more quickly than I hoped, and she even sent me a postcard and handmade greeting card to thank me for the order... WOW! For any of you who are in the business of handmade artwork or are thinking of it, Luann does it really well. She also has an amazingly informative blog that focuses all about the the business of art, as well as the making of art.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Though it was absolutely treacherous walking my dog the past two mornings, and I'm sure the weight of all that ice is not good for the trees and shrubs, it was a magical sight to behold. I wish I was a better photographer because these images do not capture the amazing beauty that transformed my ordinary shrubs into these fabulous ice sculptures.

I had an amazingly productive weekend, finalizing plans for all my winter classes, and preparing for the demo I'll be teaching tonight at Art Connection - fabric transfers using Judikins Tranz-it transfer medium at the Little Fat Book club meeting. Fun!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Intentions for 2007

1. Finish reading this book, recommended by my coach.

2. Learn Dreamweaver and build the website I share with my friend Debbie.

3. Read the manual that came with my digital camera (last year!).

4. Write/submit articles and artwork for publication in art magazines.

5. Develop a by-invitation workshop/class to have at my home over the summer, with a group of my favorite art-friends.

6. Swap my small art room with my larger spare bedroom & renovate into a better studio.

7. Spend more quality time with friends and family.

8. Do all of these things with enjoyment, not stress!!!

9. Live, live, live!!!

For many years, I did not write down or formally acknowledge any of my annual intentions (resolutions, goals - whatever you want to call them) because I didn't want to be depressed at the end of the year if I did not achieve them. Unfortunately, I found that I was still depressed at the end of the year because the less I brought my intentions into plain view, the less likely I was to achieve ANYTHING. Just because I refused to write them down didn't mean the didn't exist. My coach (see #1) helped me to admit this out loud and to dig deep to make a list of the most important things I hope to accomplish this year. -- She actually recommended a somewhat shorter list, so that if I only accomplish 3 things, I don't feel like a failure for missing the other 6, but some of these are easier than others, and all are things I want to give attention to this year.

What are your thoughts on this -- do make resolutions or intentions? If not, why not? If you do, what's on your list??

Friday, January 05, 2007

Studio Friday - What would I change my name to?

"I've been reading Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit and here's an idea from her book - " the ancient masters of Japanese art were allowed to change their name once in their lifetime. They had to be very selective about the moment in their career when they did so. They would stick with their given name until they felt they had become the artist they aspired to; at that point, they were allowed to change their name. For the rest of their life, they would work under the new name at the height of their powers." So let's presume we are at the height of our careers - what name would you choose and why? - Susan
What a wonderful question!
I will confess that the first name I chose for myself was Mariposa - butterfly in Spanish (because it sounds prettier than English), but then I googled some quick info on the life of the butterfly and learned that the only goal of the mature butterfly was to mate and reproduce, neither of which I will ever reach great heights doing (ha ha).

So then I started trying out other words in Spanish (again, just because I love the sound of Spanish names), and I settled on Ella Vuela, "She Flies." I love the concepts of freedom, escape, and limitlessness that flying represents to me, and I hope that at the height of my creative life, it feels just like I imagine it would feel to fly. Of course, I still love the butterfly as a symbol of the beauty of flight.

Monday, January 01, 2007

525,600 minutes...

How do YOU measure a year?

630 walks with Max
72 classes and workshops taught
125 trips to the grocery store
65 bottles of wine
2555 hours asleep (about 365 hours too little)
60 Chinese take out meals
52 "martini nights" with my husband
200 hours commuting in my car
35 hours in my garden
2,500 hours on the computer
40 hours blogging
200 hours visiting friends and family

525,600 moments so dear

As I tried to honestly estimate how many hours I spend doing things, it was quite an awakening of how I spend my time... I hope to make some adjustments to the quality vs. quantity this year. Happy New Year everyone!!