Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I looked up

from beneath the tree in my yard, through to the blue sky above, on another beautiful autumn day.

This tree (which came with my house, and therefore I do not know its species)is a visual delight in every season. When it loses it's leaves in the fall, these wonderful yellow berries appear. In winter, they turn red, then brown, and even when it is bare, it's a perfect silhouette of snow and ice. In spring, it flowers in white, but if you look closely at the petals, they are rose-colored in the center. In summer, the white petals blanket the ground and green leaves greet me again.

In spite of the fact that I am essentially allergic to the fall (mold, leaves, hives, itch, horrendous, two weeks, end of story!), this has been one of the most beautiful seasons I can remember. We've had perfectly mild weather in the day, chilly and crisp for sleeping at night.

Art stuff...

I organized one of my many journals last night =-- my IDEA journal -- and it was a good exercise to remind me of all the sketches I made and ideas I have for holiday projects and also for techniques I want to try. As this year rapidly comes to a close, I am looking back at the year to see what I've accomplished, and making my list of intentions for 2008. Those who know me or have followed my blog for awhile know that I used to dread (and avoid) making resolutions or intentions, because my logic was that if I didn't do them I would feel badly, whereas, if I never admitted to having them, I could not fail...

Of course, this was very skewed logic. I certainly wasn't fooling myself. I still felt awful when a year would go by with nothing to show for it. With the help of a wonderful creative coach, I was able to see this flaw in my logic. So now I declare my plans and intentions -- often quite publicly in this forum -- and just such a simple declaration makes them real, and is the first step to realizing them.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


We have a total of 10 participants, including myself, and I will be packing up the sets, along with brief instructions, this weekend. Because of the Veteran's Day holiday on Monday, sets will go out by the middle of next week. Thanks to all the participants!!

What IS an altered art challenge, anyway?

For anyone reading my blog who is not a mixed media artist, here's the deal:

There is no theme for this swap, and the goal is to turn the set into something unrecognizable as its former self. Some participants may create some kind of functional art piece; however, the end result can also be some kind of assemblage or sculpture, with no practical purpose. I do not supply the participants with anything except the same identical chess set. They can use anything at all to alter it and if they prefer to chop it into pieces, that would be permitted -- although women don't usually do that sort of thing, and all the participants happen to be women. The participants are primarily paper and fabric artists, so they will most likely use paint, collage, fabric, found objects etc.

Such a collaboration usually results in new friendships and new ideas, and makes me seem just slightly less crazy for having purchased a dozen sets of a game that I don't know how to play. Right?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I know it would really mess up the whole calendar/time/clock/seasons thing but I would love to add an extra hour to every weekend. My Sunday seemed so leisurely, which is rare. That one extra hour seemed to multiply for me, and I felt both accomplished and rested for a change. In my extra hour (and then some)I treated myself to a budget-conscious shopping spree at two of my favorite dollar stores and the Goodwill store in town, and as always, I found many treasures. Here are just a few of my finds. My most exciting find were these portable wooden Chinese chess sets pictured here. I don't even play American chess and have no desire to learn to play Chinese, but the tiles and boxes were irresistible!!

I've never done any kind of interactive blog challenge before, but I am starting today. I have 10 extra chess sets to send off for altering... so here's the scoop!!

I have a chess set for myself, a set for my friend Debbie, and 10 additional sets, so I can accept a maximum of 10 participants. If you agree to the rules below, and I hear from you within the first 10 people, I will mail you a chess set to alter. I anticipate that the sets will go out no later than Nov. 23, and possibly earlier.

1. For the sake of contact privacy, click on my "view profile" in the upper right of my blog, and email me with your contact info (name, email address/mailing address). Don't leave your email or mailing info in my comments section, as that is public.

2. You must agree to return your altered chess set to me by mail, at your expense, along with a brief explanation of how you completed the project. I will take photos for posting on my blog, and prepare documentation in the form of a color printed booklet for all participants. I will return your altered set to you, at my expense, with the documentation, when the challenge is competed.

3. Depending on the results of this challenge, and the agreement of all participants, we may decide to submit this project to one of the major altered art magazines along with an article for publication. If this happens, I will make arrangements for the future return of all of your sets at that time. I had several articles published in 2007, and all of my items were returned unharmed.

4. Deadline: Because the holiday season is busy for everyone, and particularly artists and craftspeople, the deadline is Friday, January 25, 2008.

5. If you wish to participate, I'd like feedback on whether you think this challenge should be holiday related (i.e. for Christmas of next year -- or Valentines day 2008, since that will be upcoming, or if it should be anything goes, or if it should perhaps incorporate some other theme. I will share suggestions and we can see what is most appealing to participants.

6.As you can see from the picture, the set includes a wooden box and 32 pieces. You may alter it in any way you wish, using as many or as few pieces as you need to create your work of art.

7. If I don't hear from at least 5 people, I may decide to postpone this challenge to a future date, and I will notify anyone who signs up. If you think you'd like to participate, but the deadline presents a problem let me know. I am totally flexible with this project!! I am making it up as I go!!!!

That's all I can think of right now!!! I look forward to hearing from you!!! -- If you know of a friend or two who would like to participate, please send them to my blog as well.


Monday, November 05, 2007


My sisters and I got together for my dad's birthday on Saturday night. I cannot say enough good things about my sisters. We all have busy lives now, so we don't get together as often as we'd like, but when we do, it's the most comfortable of relationships, where we know each other so well that there is no effort at all involved in being together. They are smart, funny, energetic and just really good people.

It was a rather typical family gathering - a delicious dinner, a fabulous dirty martini (okay two) made by my sister Cheryl , my sister Jennifer making sure that everything runs smoothly, a little meltdown from my 3-year-old-niece, who has been battling all of the usual plagues of daycare, and quiet conversations as the evening wound down. I had also meant to stop on my way into town to take a picture of the Catskill mountains a little beyond peak for leaf peepers but still a breathtaking backdrop to my home town, but when approached the turn for dad's, I was anxious to get there, as I always am, and didn't take the moment to stop. I should have, because by the time I visit again, the mountains will be bare, or snow-capped. One of these years, I will actually slow down and take it in.

Friday, November 02, 2007

My 200th blog post!

An interview...with myself

I noticed about a week ago that I was approaching my 200th post (blogger keeps a count), and I have been trying to think of something original to post, that is consistent with my art & life blog focus. I've decided to interview myself...Fortunately, I was available. This was the result of my interview with me...
"Do I mind if I smoke?," I asked myself.

"Yes," I replied. " Actually I do mind. I don't smoke."

"Right, I was just seeing if I was paying attention. Do I mind if I drink, then?"

I rolled my eyes. "Of course, I don't mind. Let me pour the first round," I said.

"So, let's start at the beginning, with the obvious question: When did you know you wanted to become an artist? Was there a defining moment?"
I could see the spark in my eyes as I answered myself...

"I remember one day in the womb, toward the end of the third trimester, and I was floating around in the amniotic fluid.... Okay, I'm only kidding. I have no in-utero memories, but I was very young.

"I don't remember the exact play of events, but I can still evoke the feeling of excitement I had the first few times I saw my mother or grandmother pick up a pencil or paintbrush, and create an identifiable image on a blank piece of paper. And I knew at that moment that I wanted to be able to do that. I know I was very young - probably two or three years old, and I thought it was absolutely magical. I still look at illustration and painting that way. I love the endless possibilities that are created every time a pencil or paintbrush touches a surface."

"Describe the perfect artful day," I encouraged me.
"I'd get up around 8 am, and walk Max for an hour in cool, sunny weather. Then I'd make a pot of coffee with cinnamon, and have some breakfast, while reading a library book for a half hour, change into comfy clothes, and quickly brush teeth and hair. I'd bring a second cup of coffee into my art room, and turn on some music - right now it would be James Taylor's October Road or Hourglass. Then I'd get started making things. I might decide to paint, collage or plan a class. Often I start by priming a canvas or sorting through bins of collage materials just to get the juices flowing. I'd work for a couple of hours, and then take another outdoor break with Max, and have some lunch. Usually by afternoon, I am in "the zone" and the ideas and images flow freely. The rest of the day flies by. I'd break around 6 pm to start dinner and give Max his evening walk. I'd have some wine and dinner and (more) wine, and then work until bedtime. I might catch a little food network or hgtv before bed. That's one idea of a perfect artful day. My alternate perfect day would be taking art classes and workshops all day with friends.. Of course, I rarely have the perfect artful day, and I certainly don't wait for it. I try to strike a balance between maintaining a home, enjoying the company of friends and family, working full-time, and making art. I never have enough time to do it all as well as I'd like."

"What do you hope readers learn from this interview?" I aked myself.

"I hope they ask themselves if they are doing what gives them the most joy, even if they can't devote all of their time to it. We all need to ask ourselves what makes us excited, and spend time doing the things we are passionate about, whether it's painting, music, physical activity, social causes -- whatever makes you real."

I want to thank myself for taking time out of my busy schedule to talk with me.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My October Ta Da list...

So here it is folks. The list you wait all month to read. This is where I've spent my creative energies this month. I do not include the endless mundanities (is that a word?) of life, like cleaning, yardwork, laundry etc., but I do include cooking, if it's my recipe and I enjoy it, as cooking can be a wonderful creative outlet.
Wow, I can't believe it's November already. Where in the world did this year go?? I really felt quite productive this month, although from the looks of this list, all I did was sit around and read. I actually have no idea how I managed to read this many books in one month. I usually only get through one or two. Of course, if you were to take a look at my yard, I think you'd find the answer to that question.

So, without further ado...
--I painted four acrylics on canvas - this was by far the most fun I've had just making art for me in a very long time. I really do love the process of painting. It is so meditative to apply brush and paint to a canvas and see what emerges.
--I made Halloween-themed ATCs for a monthly swap.
--I began a new writing journal.

--I read 6 books!! Reading is one way in which I fill the well and feed my imagination, so I always include it on my list:
- Through the Narrow Gate by Karen Armstrong
- The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong
- I feel bad about my neck by Nora Ephron
- The Italian Girl by Iris Murdoch
- Within Arm's Reach by Ann Napolitano
- Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

My favorite book quote of the month, from Through the Narrow Gate:
"As soon as I stopped trying to exploit my literary skills to advance my career or enhance my reputation, I found that I was opening myself to the text, could lose myself in the beauty of the words and in the wisdom of the writer. It was a kind of ekstasis, an ecstasy that was not an exotic, tranced state of consciousness, but in the literal sense of the word, a going beyond the self."
..At its best, that is what making art means to me. If I manage to make some kind of success of myself with my art, it is secondary to the process of losing myself in the act of creating.

--I also re-designed my blog header (again).
--Created this digital house quilt.

That's about it for October. I am hoping that as the yard and garden work comes to an end for this year, I can redirect some of my energies to my art studio and nestle in for winter. I do not love the extreme cold, but I welcome the change of seasons for the way they make us shift our priorities.