Saturday, April 28, 2007


Sometimes my days and weeks feel very cohesive. This is when I am most creative and productive. Unfortunately, this was not one of those weeks. No matter how much I accomplished this week, there were 40 more things I needed to do. Hopefully, I will make time today to catch up on a little housework and a lot of artwork. The garden also beckons. A friend gave me some daylilies and I cannot wait to plant them alongside my house.
I did manage to experiment a bit in Photoshop yesterday to create this collage. And tomorrow I teach a class on art journaling, and I cannot wait. Art journals are such a wonderful and free way to get out of your own way and create with wild abandon. I hope to instill this in my students.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A page from my dog's diary

I found this under the sofa as I was vacuuming the other day. What a discovery. I didn't know that Max could type...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This moment is all there is...

I've been trying to think of something meaningful to post in light of the tragedy at Virginia Tech two days ago. My heart is aching for all of those broken hearts and so much human potential lost.
I cannot imagine what it must be like for the families who raised and nurtured children and provided them with the opportunity of a promising life
to have it all snuffed out in a moment. On Sunday, those 32 people were still among us, living their lives. Now they're gone.

And yet it also makes me determined to appreciate every moment that I have the privilege of taking another breath. How else can we honor those who no longer have that privilege?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Spotlight On...Art Journals

While my blog has become an easy and consistent way of documenting and developing my artistic growth, I love hands-on, tactile art...and one of my favorite forms of artistic expression and experimentation is art journaling..

So I am very excited to be teaching a class on that topic at Stampassion at the end of April (the 29th) and in May (the 20th).

My art journals are a very personal and free form of artistic expression, and I hope to pass on my passion for this medium to my students in this three-hour workshop. We'll explore breaking the blank page with some fun and colorful background techniques, and I will provide ideas and guidance so that students can find their creative voice and boldly go where they've never gone before!!!

Here are a few pages from the journal that I am working in now for the class...

One exercise that I want to get students thinking about is to explore and embrace their symbolic alphabet, which is a term that I recently became familiar with through Anahata Katkin's blog. She's got an amazing outlook on art and life, and I identify enormously with her creative philosophy. I find myself saying "yes, yes" when I read about her artistic vision, and I hope to pass that kind of energy and excitement onto my students.

Friday, April 13, 2007


In a couple of previous posts, I mentioned that my friend Laura Jones was hosting a charm swap in which I was invited to participate. I was treated to a wonderful boxful of charms in my mailbox about a week ago, and I wanted to share some of my favorites here today. In truth, I loved them ALL, but these were some that particularly stood out for me. This was such a fun creative exchange, and as you can see from this selection, no two were even remotely the same!! My absolute favorite was a charm that Laura made from a small Christmas lightbulb, adorned with seed beads, inspirational words, and wire. The simplicity and absolute genius of using an object in an unexpected way just made me smile.

Charming artists, l to r. top row, then bottom:
Debbie Wachel, Michele Merges Martens, Laura Jones & Laura Jones (my fave!)
Linda London, Mary Devenpeck, Marilyn Rock, Melanie Phillips, Laura Jones

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Far out, groovy swirls & symbols...

I have to begin this post with a big THANK YOU to Liz Ness, who posted a digital mini-workshop on her blog about how to create swirls. I've been scanning a lot of pre-made swirls to incorporate into my digital collage pieces, but I much prefer being able to make my own. I started this piece just as a practice session on making the swirls. When I finished, I flattened the image and added my favorite bright color palette, which reminded me of the Pucci patterns of the 1970s. I framed the pattern in a circle, which reminded me of 70s symbols like peace signs...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Catholic school vs. art...

Some of you may have had wonderful experiences attending Catholic school, though I've yet to hear anyone I know use those exact words to describe it. My own experience began in first grade, just before my sixth birthday, and ended after seventh grade, when I finally convinced my parents to please, please, please let me go to public school. Of course, my begging had nothing to do with it. My dad, who was not Catholic, was more than happy to put an end to the tuition bills, followed by the constant pleas for money for all of those things that tuition didn't cover.

When I think back to my grade school years, I often wince. I am well aware that while youth has many wonders, it is also filled with cruelty and anxiety, no matter where one goes to school. One expects it of children, but that the nuns contributed to my misery during those years I have no doubt. That I had any confidence to pursue a life and a career in art after the experience is a testament to the resiliency of youth and the power of the artistic spirit.

In first grade,it was primarily my printing which was criticized as sloppy, even after extensive practice. Oh, and my desk was a disaster. I would periodically be asked to stand, while Sister John Anthony lifted my desk, tipped it sideways, and emptied the contents onto the floor. I suppose I should be grateful that she didn't dump out the contents with me still sitting in it, but my humiliation as I had to collect my pencils and neatly return my books to their cubby left no room for gratitude.

In second grade, when I had finally mastered printing, we had to learn cursive, and I was equally bad at it, according to Sister Ann. Even my 75-cent, school-issue yellow Palmer Method pen could not save me from her wrath. I actually had no difficulty MASTERING penmanship. My problem lie in the way Mr. Palmer decided that left-handed people should position their paper and pen, but there was no convincing Sister Ann that I knew more than the man who invented these handwriting lessons and had a pen named after him.

In third grade, Sister Rita, a cranky red-haired nun with a canker sore and a perpetual clump of spittle on her bottom lip, would make us sit with our palms down on our desks for ten full minutes each day, which was an eternity to this eight-year old. I always needed to move my hands. I wanted to grab a pencil, scratch my nose, anything but keep my hands still. According to Sister Rita, my inability to master this discipline indicated that I was a thief. I prefer to think that it was my artistic nature that made me want to constantly be DOING something with my hands. Fortunately, I did not pursue a life of crime in spite of Sister Rita's summation of my character.

In fourth and fifth grades, I had lay teachers, which probably explains why I don't recollect those years as painfully. Although Mrs. Clampett, my fourth grade teacher, did make me sit with chewing gum on my nose one day when I was caught chomping away in class. Public humiliation was by far the most widely practiced (and effective) method of discipline at dear old St. Patrick's. Ms. Como's fifth grade class actually held a positive artistic memory. I remember winning a pumpkin decorating contest -- actually, I think it was a tie between me and Eddie Skelly, who was not happy at all to be sharing accolades with a girl who chose to adorn her pumpkin with false eyelashes, lipstick and my mom's wig. (Yes, my mom had a wig. It was 1974!) She was one pretty pumpkin, I do recall! -- I was referring to my contest entry in that statement, though my mom was quite attractive as well.

And this trip down memory lane would not be complete without mention of Sister Vincent, who decided after she had finished reading our first book reports, to call us to her desk, one by one, and publicly torture us, in uniquely violent ways, for our miserable writing skills. In my case, as with many of my female classmates, she decided to pull on a fistful of my long hair, yanking my head dangerously close to the corner of her desk. You might think that the boys, with regulation-short haircuts, might have gotten off easy, but she chose to shake them by the shoulders until they lost their equilibrium and their heads were bouncing off the chalk board. I'm sure that's what motivated me to become a better writer. Incidentally, my dad (a state trooper at the time) paid a visit to the principal's office after hearing about this incident, and while Sister Vincent verbally abused us in many creatively evil ways for the remainder of the year, she never again laid a hand on any of us.

While I did time in Catholic school for one more year in junior high, the climate was very different from my grammer school, so my story will end here today.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The egg...a perfect work of art...

As I filled the pot to boil eggs for my dad's deviled egg request for this Easter, I contemplated the egg. Like all of God's creations, it's one we cannot top. Smooth, perfect, symmetrical, simple, colorful (if we consider eggs beyond those of a chicken), and if I do say so myself, wow- what an amazing thing for a bird to pass (can you say ouch in bird language - holy tweet!!) Not to mention all of the ways in which this particular work of art can be enjoyed, beyond viewing, holding, and decorating. Just a few of my faves are soft-boiled, hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, the omelet, egg salad, and quiche.

Incidentally, I googled info on the origins of why they are "deviled", and it has the explanation that I settled on has to do with chopping and the piquant spicing, rather than the devil, so I am safe to serve them at Easter!

Happy Easter!!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Art in the most unusual places...

Whenever I visit my sister, who lives in the Boston suburbs, she always has something from her grocery store in her home that I think cannot possibly be purchased in a grocery store. Some of the items that come to mind are thjavascript:void(0)
Publishe world's freshest salsa, the most amazing fresh cut flowers, and yummy trail mix, but these are just the tip of the iceburg.

This is Whole Foods. We actually have a really great grocery store chain in upstate New York (Hannaford Bros.), but it pales in comparison to this amazing and healthful place. These photos are just a glimpse into their produce market, which is the first thing you see (after the fresh flower bouquets) when you step over the threshold.

Talk about a work of art. In my retirement, I may just apply for a job as a produce stacker at Whole Foods.

Note: I have not been paid or in any other way compensated for this blogpost. I just spend enough time shopping for groceries and eating them to appreciate this innovative approach to good whole foods!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The "Ta Da" list for March

This is my niece Avery, who had a "ta da" moment of her own, over the weekend, when she was given a plate full of 7 different "blobs" of paint, and immediately decided to swirl them all together, while exclaiming. "tie dye!" -- May we all be inspired by the uninhibited spirit of a three-year-old!

The March "Ta Da" list...
(If you are wondering what this is, visit my Feb 28 post for an explanation)

Made & posted a piece of art to my blog every day for the month (almost!!)

Read book: Saving the World, by Julia Alvarez

Planned & taught Easter/spring card class for Watervliet seniors

Finished 15 soldered charms for a charm swap (and only 1 burned finger!)

Enjoyed an artist's date with my friend Debbie - we made art, ate lunch, & watched a Claudine DVD

Submitted a bid for a freelance project with the NYCLT (New York Center for Liver Transplantation)

Completed 2 freelance projects for event planner and friend Lori

Helped my stepdaughter design a wedding invitation & program

Submitted 8 greeting cards to Stampington & Co. for an article in Take 10 - the autumn issue!! (they asked me to submit based on a sample I sent)

Was invited to submit artwork to Somerset Home, Volume II, for possible publication -- I created tealight candleholders, velvet bookmarks, and ceramic tile memo boards, & sent them off last Friday!!

Raised $300 (and counting) for Children's Hospital, Boston, in honor of my niece Avery, who was born with a congenital heart defect. -- for donation info, please leave a comment!! - it's not too late to give to an amazing cause!!

Encouraged my soap-making friend Ali to get blogging. In addition to this link, her blog is listed at the right in my blog list. Even if you don't use soap, (you know who you are, stinky), you will love her insights. She is witty, irreverent, and adorable... and she gave me a lifetime supply of soap to say so.

Found out that some of my artwork and related articles will be published in a number of upcoming Stampington & Co. publications - I am holding off on specifics because the publication dates don't start until late summer - but it's up to 4 different publications... & counting!! woo woo!!