Friday, October 25, 2013

Woodstock in October...

A few weeks ago, the BF and I took a road trip through the town of Woodstock, NY, as we headed to Bethel, the actual site of the famous 1969 concert. I had hoped that we would actually STOP in the town of Woodstock, as we passed through, but the BF is not really into the artsy, giftsy shops in town, so I made a note to self to return with someone who shared my love of art & shopping...

My good friend (and great photographer) Lisa and I took a trip down yesterday, and here are just a few of the sights we captured along the way.... (L to R, top to bottom)...

1,2. It may look like just a simple string being tied around my wrist, but in reality, it's a prosperity bracelet. We bought them at a little shop called Timbuktu. The salesperson/mystic explained how they work...we are to keep them on until they wear off. When they finally wear off, we need to bury the bracelet either beneath a tree or cast the bracelet into a body of water, keeping our intention of prosperity in mind. -- Lisa is already worried that we will not know when our bracelets wear off, and we will lose them. I am wondering if flushing the thing down the toilet is the same as casting it out to sea?

3. Now these are, indeed, spools of string/thread, with no magical prosperous intentions of which I am aware. They were shelved next to several looms, where scarves and blankets are woven.

4,9 . A free form mosaic birdhouse and mosaic dog(?), along Tinker Street. In addition to typical mosaic pieces from broken plates & cups, you can see an amazing assortment of broken figurines and porcelain pieces. Not exactly my cup of tea (pun intended), but definitely interesting.

5. A leaf, found under a tree outside one of the shops. Is it my imagination, or does this look like tie dye?

6. A leaf shaped stone sidewalk.

7. Sips Dips & Sugarlips - Our first stop, for coffee, when we arrived in town at 10:30 am. - None of the other shops opened before 11-ish.

8. A street sign, which has been guerilla-knitted (see the signpost.). I had never seen this before. Very cool.

It was a fun, but chilly day, so while we will return, we may wait until the springtime, by which time, we will be much more prosperous, as a result of our bracelets!!!!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

True confession - I love horoscopes...

...and fortune cookies...and palm readings, and tarot cards. I am not big into psychics, after seeing a total crackpot down in Woodstock when I was in my early twenties, but a well-written horoscope inspires me.

My favorite is the weekly by Rob Brezney. He's been writing them for more than 28 years, and he's published in 120 different periodicals, including our local independent weekly, Metroland, where I originally found him. His horoscopes are part literary reference and part puzzle, which always intrigues me. Also I think he really has the Libra sign down. Or else I am also just a crackpot.

This is my latest, for which I created a quick digital collage, using one of my heart paintings. I think it is timely...

"The door to the invisible must be visible," wrote the surrealist spiritual author Rene Daumal. This describes an opportunity that is on the verge of becoming available to you. The opportunity is still invisible simply because it has no precedents in your life; you can't imagine what it is. But just recently a door to that unknown realm has become visible to you. I suggest you open it, even though you have almost no idea what's on the other side. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stamp carving + art journaling = fun evening ahead!

I've been invited by my good friend Melanie to demo stamp carving techniques for her monthly art journal club tonight. I don't do much stamp carving these days, but whenever I do, I am reminded of how relaxing and fun it is. I also love the actual carvings - a little primitive and rough.

Here's a quick background page I stamped with one of my carvings today, and on the right are some stamps I've carved over the years. I carved the owl last night, in preparation for this demo, but the swirly pattern made for a good background on the page above. 

All you need to carve a stamp...
Carving tool --
One with at least one U tip and one V tip - I like several additional tips for details, but those two are enough to get started. You can find them at any art or craft store.

Carving material --
I like Speedball Speedy Carve (it's pink).

Draw an image on your carving block -- or, if you don't think you can draw (you can, but that's a blog post for another day), you can transfer an image to the block.

Plain old photocopies work best, but you can use an inkjet image (the transfer will be lighter, but usable). Laser prints do not work.

Nail polish remover - the regular acetone kind
a cotton ball

Other tools/materials to have on hand: 
ruler, x-acto knife, scissors, scrap paper, ink pad(s) 

Cut out the photocopy image you wish to carve. Place it face-down onto your carving material.
Using nail polish remover on a cotton ball, transfer the image by rubbing from the back of the photo copy until it is saturated. Peel up a corner to peek and see if image has transferred. If not, keep soaking/rubbing until image transfers.

Decide which part of the image you want to keep and which part to take away (positive vs. negative space). I like to also leave bits of carving material at the edges to enhance the hand-carved look. Test the image by stamping onto scrap paper to see what emerges as you carve away pieces. Continue until you are satisfied with your carving.

It is not necessary to carve deep gouges to get an impression.
A V tip with a light touch will create the thinnest lines.
Deeper gouges and the U tip will create wider areas.

Practice will give you a feel for the material. I encourage newbies to start with something simple - a leaf, a heart -- something that is identifiable by it's shape and a few details, even if your carving technique is still rough. Select more detailed, challenging images as your technique improves.

Most of all, enjoy the process.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sneak peek...

Some new illustrations in the works...

My days are filled with online classes to help me learn more about the business of art, as well as making ART, of course. When I am not drawing, I am working on expanding my online presence, writing, marketing and having minor panic attacks about it all!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Art is everywhere...

How I spent my Sunday... (Part I)

These rock carvings are etched into the cliffs at the site of the Catskill Mountain House, in Hunter Mountain, which just happens to be the backdrop of my childhood home in Palenville, New York.

The Mountain House itself, which was an amazing hotel that hosted artists and dignitaries throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, was deliberately burned down by the State in January, 1963, after falling into extreme disrepair -- but the site, nestled in the Catskill Mountains, still provides one of the most beautiful views of the Hudson River Valley, and is surrounded by hiking trails, waterfalls, and incredible natural beauty. (I'll have more photos to share later this week).

I particularly liked the carving in the left-hand corner... "KIM WILL YOU MARRY ME."

Some might find this gesture incredibly romantic, but if you saw how close this was to the edge of the cliff, you would know that she had no choice but to say yes.

But seriously, the printing etched into the cliffs here is amazingly neat and precise, and you can see evidence that it is a tradition that has been going on for many decades.

Our second stop was Kaaterskill Falls. I will share more photos of that stop soon!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mixing it up....

A little Photoshop fun combining one of my heart paintings with one of my girls...

 Another amazing fall weekend. We are headed down to my hometown, nestled in the breathtaking Catskill Mountains.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


What others think of you 
is none of your business.

-- I saw this quote on my friend Annette's Facebook page recently, and I love it. I don't think I am alone in admitting that I spend way too much time (a.k.a -- any) worrying about what other people might think.

Of course, as I get older, I am much less guilty than I was when I was younger. One of the blessings of age and maturity is learning to be yourself and to stand for what you believe in, regardless of what others may think of you.

But what I loved about this particular quote was the perspective. Because the larger subtext of this quote is --  

What I think of myself is my business. And this should be where I devote my energies. Am I doing what feels right to me? And if the answer is yes, then it's still the right thing. Even if everyone else thinks otherwise.

So I am minding my own business.

Friday, October 11, 2013


 Some call it upcycled. 

Whatever you call it, I love it when something old or discarded finds new life. I particularly love it when that something is transformed into something entirely different and wonderful.

In this case, I didn't transform the piece at all, but I still love it.

Like so many parts of the country, we've experienced some severe weather in recent months -- mostly heavy rainstorms, flash flooding and even a few tornadoes. One of these storms in late spring blew my back fence down. After determining that it could not be repaired, I just had it replaced, but like so many artists and creative types, (you know who you are!!), I could not bear to part with the old fence.

The posts holding it up were rotted, as well as the pegs into which it connected, but the sides were sturdy and had aged to a wonderful gray patina. So the fence company left all the sides at my request, neatly sectioning them and leaning them along the side of my shed.

Today, one of them is now on my front porch, as a backdrop to my wicker furniture. The rest still lean patiently beside my shed, waiting for inspiration and transformation. Thanks to Pinterest, I have lots of ideas!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The impending death of cursive...

I read very recently that Cursive is no longer a part of the Common Core State Standards followed by 45 of our 50 states, which means that many public schools are using this time to teach technology skills. I was at first shocked to read this, and then just plain saddened.


...Seriously, we don't even use actual words in many of our common "written" communications anymore, so I don't know why this came as a surprise to me.

Although I do keep a sporadic written journal, done in pretty messy cursive, I will admit that for ease and readability, I type, text, keyboard -- whatever you want to call it -- much more often than I put actual pen to paper.

Still, I love handwriting. I appreciate words of thanks and support and notes from friends in all their forms, from email to Facebook and blog comments, but a personal note, written in perfect penmanship or a messy scribble, will always be more special to me.

And from the sounds of it, our little handwritten missives will someday be priceless ephemera, when no one knows how to hold a pen anymore. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Coping with uncertainty...

I read an article the other day that began with this:

"According to Dante's Inferno, Limbo is the first circle of Hell."

The funny part was that this quote comforted me. It's nice to know that we're not alone in our struggles, and that in spite of the world of differences that separate us from our ancestors, some basic truths remain.

Uncertainty and ambiguity are unsettling. Period. It is okay to go through moments of joy, fear, panic, and calm, all in one day (sometimes, all in one hour). It's been happening to people forever. And we get through it.

I am busy creating some new illustrations and also a new round of heart paintings that I will be offering for sale, in a variety of ways, very soon! That is the good stuff. The stuff that keeps my head in the stars, but my feet planted firmly on the ground during these uncertain times.

There's also a country song that goes something like this...
"if you're going through hell, keep on might get out 'fore the devil even knows you're there."

So, I've gotta run!!
One of my most recent heart paintings:
12 x12 - Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
What the future brings

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Simple pleasures, simple treasures...

Some of my favorite finds from a perfect fall day with two of my favorite people. Painted tin bucket, metal basket & rolled papers from the Artifacts Store in Melrose, NY. 
Dry sink cabinet from a new favorite place... Stitches and Time in Schuylerville, NY.
And great memories that make me smile everyday.