Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stampotique Goes Vintage

Regular readers will know that I really like Stampotique stamps, especially their quirky, snarky girls.  The current challenge at their challenge blog is to create a vintage card with a Stampotique stamp. So, I chose one of their sweeter stamps called "crafter" and paired it with some vintage lace and grunge flowers.  I was happy to be able to play with grunge flowers because it's been the only challenge I've missed so far in Studio L3's Compendium of Curiousities Challenge series.  The current challenge is running for two weeks, so I decided to play catch up. I think I was originally scared away from these because I thought they were going to be the spectacular (but difficult) grunge roses.  These flowers are much easier!  I think this also fits the current color challenge at my other favorite challenge blog - Gingersnap Creative.  The challenge is neutrals, plus one color. So, which do you prefer - snarky or sweet?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September Lessons (part 7)

Wow - after this group, there's only one more set of four lessons left.  I particularly like the visuals on these lessons, which all seem to be clearly based on my activities for these days.  On the 23rd, I had a great day at my office.  Since I taught over the summer, I have an easier load this fall, and it's paying off because I've been able to get my office organized and get some work done on some academic writing projects.  On the 24th, DH Paul and I went to a western themed fundraiser at a ranch.  I've been avoiding these things lately, so I was surprised by how much fun we had.  We got to catch up with a bunch of friends, drink a few margaritas and do a little gambling. The 25th was all about taking the bottled spirits class with DD Clara. It seems like it's been forever since I took a real, in-person class, and it was fun!  The lesson on the 26th followed Shimelle's prompt to look to nature for a lesson.  We enjoyed a sunny, beautiful day here on the coast with a BBQ.  I wonder what my last four lessons will be . . .

Monday, September 27, 2010

Frida's Dream (arches and birds)

The theme at Something Completely Different this month has been arches.  I've peeked at the different subthemes but haven't had a chance to play along.  Until this week, when the subtheme was birds.  Here's an art journal page I made with an arch and a bird.  I made it using a picture of an arch from the glass museum in Muron, Italy as my inspiration.  You can see that picture here. The other inspiration is Frida Kahlo and her style. I learned to use other artists for inspiration in a wonderful class taught by Dina Wakley, and I was thrilled to read that she's got a new art journaling class scheduled to start in late October.  I'll definitely be there for that one!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September Lessons (part 6)

Several new lessons for today.  On the 19th, we went to a lovely wedding, and I found that I really enjoyed being back in Church. I am a faith-filled person, and I love being in church.  But I continue to be unhappy with the Catholic Church.  On the other hand, being Catholic is not something that I can simply cast away. So, I continue to mull things over, and it was nice to simply enjoy being back in Church.
On the 20th & 21st, I considered regrets in accordance with the prompts from LSNE and journaled a simple regret that I wanted to record and a lesson I learned from regretting photos I didn't take. Regrets are funny . . . the big things I regret not doing generally put me in a place where I was really happy.  So, I'm not sure I really regret it.  There's an art journal page simmering around in me about regrets. Stay tuned.
On the 22nd, the prompt was about why you are able to learn in September. I'm feeling very productive these days. I think I've been living a philosophy that Jack London captured in the quote I featured: "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." I'll be art journaling that quote, too!
Just when I thought I was not getting much out of this class, I reread my pages and realized how happy I was to be taking this particular journey and to be preserving these lessons.  The sum is bigger than the parts. Are you sticking with LSNE?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Class Review: Bottled Spirits

On Saturday, Sept. 25, I took a class called "Bottled Spirits" with Connie Andrews at C.Andrews Studio in Half Moon Bay.  We started with clean bottles and then altered them to appear as if they were bottles washed ashore, encrusted by time with amazing texture.  Inside each bottle, we placed a spirit that we imagined had been captured in the bottle.  Can you guess which of the bottles above is mine?  How about which one was made by my amazing 12 year old daughter Clara?  Before I tell you, here's my class review. And don't forget that you can always click on any picture to enlarge it and better see the details.
The class was wonderful!  I left the class not only with a wonderful bottled muse but also a newfound confidence in painting altered objects and assemblage.  This has always been the hardest part of altered art for me, and Connie's technique really helped me to "get" it.  The secret was starting with a single base color and then the introduction of a metallic layer before adding a variety of colors.  Another challenge in assemblage and altered art classes can be the question of the proper adhesive.  Connie has solved that problem through her brilliant, innovative use of diamond glaze.  This class was really fun - the process of decorating/embedding things into the bottle and painting both made me really happy.  In addition, the members of the class were all wonderful artists and the chance to spend an enjoyable, stress-free day with my adolescent daughter made it all the better! I know Connie is offering this class a few more times, and I highly recommend it if you are in the San Francisco bay area.  You can find her class schedule at her blog, Connie's Dream.
Now for the reveal.  This is a close up of my bottle:
And this is the one made by Clara:
It really looks like a moody pre-teen spirit to me! LOL! Here's close ups of the other class participants' bottles.  In order of appearance, Maureen, Connie and Cindy (who is apparently a member ot Team Edward, but I like her anyway).
So, do tell, did you guess correctly?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bedroom Secrets (altered book spread)

For the altered book round robin in which I'm participating, I'm working in "The Book of Secrets." I decided to use the Tim Holtz Agate on Grunge technique featured in this week's Studio L3  Compendium of Curiosities Challenge to create my pages about bedroom secrets behind locked doors.  I started by painting the pages black.  For the first page, I used gold, eggplant and rust alcohol inks on the grunge.  For the second page, I used brighter colors to show the wilder side of this couple:
Now that I see this in real life, I think I'll go back and paint the dolls a bit and add a little bling to the black background.  I left a few choice words un-gesso'd that are within the spirit of the page!  I was really surprised by how different the grunge board could appear when different colors were applied.  I hope Cindy likes her page!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who am I copying?

I made these art journal pages based on some stunning art that I cut out of Somerset Studio, but I foolishly didn't write down the artist's name.  Here's her work.  Anyone know who it is?
p.s. Speaking of copying, blog friend Sian mentioned an interesting blog called "copy and paste." Still a little confused by that blog, but it's interesting enough to stay in my reader, and it currently has a very cool post about HAIKUS! You can check it out here.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Regrets: Photos not taken

Today's prompt at Shimelle's Learn Something New Everyday is about regrets.  One of my biggest regrets is photos that I didn't take and then disappeared before I got around to it.  Some I particularly remember:
*a "scarecrow" that really looked like an Easter cross (cross, draped with a shroud) and in a field of farmworkers. This spoke volumes to me about the scholarly work I do.  It was in a field on my way to work for a good week, but I missed the shot.
*a row of sunflowers at a local pumpkin patch last fall
*a field of purple and white flowers that were about four feet tall. They were so spectacular that I saw wedding photographers taking brides out there! Again, I had over a week to go shoot them, and I didn't.
So, the lesson that will go in my LSNE album is to put my camera in the car and take the time get the photo.  
One that I will take very soon is of this stone labyrinth I see on one of my daily walks.  I want to get out there and take pictures of it from lots of different angles.  Today, I settled for a nice hipstamatic shot of it.
Do you remember any photographs you regret not taking?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Graphic 45 Art Journal Pages

Don't you love it when a favorite paper line comes out with a new collection?  I love Graphic 45, and I bought paper packs of their new steampunk line and their new Alice in Halloween Wonderland.  I made the art journal page above with the steampunk line.  The lesson for my art journaling class was to use an ATC as the starting point or focal point for the page. You may remember the "slow down" ATC I made before.  Still loving recycling my artwork!
And I made the following "Alice Says" page from the other paper pack:
Do you have any new favovrite paperlines out there?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art Dolls, part 2

Yesterday I blogged about making some art dolls for the art journaling class I'm teaching.  Here's another set I made. These use the ATC-sized torsos I made a few weeks ago.  It was tun to take them and give them a new life, especially thinking about how they might take on yet a third incarnation on an art journal page.  Got any favorites in this bunch?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Art Dolls, part 1

In the art journaling class I'm teaching, one of the lessons is based on taking an art doll and then building an art journal page around it.  I used to have a huge stash of art dolls, but I found it pretty depleted, so I made up a bunch for my class. Thought I'd share them with yo.  Ideally, they would be colored and embellished before I declared them done, but I'm afraid I don't have time to do that.  Wondering if you've made any art dolls ever? Which of these would you choose and what sort of a page would you build around it?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September Lessons (part 5)

My next set of lessons from the Shimelle class "Learn Something New Everyday."  I've now gotten hopelessly confused about how the prompts line up with the days, but I'm still enjoying the lessons I'm learning.  So, here's what I've got.
Day 15 - half way through and the prompt was to reflect on what you've been getting from the class.  One of the layout prompts suggested using a big picture, so I adapted it by using a big stamp. Journaling reads: "Pay attention and you can learn a lot. And use your stamps."
Day 16 - Lessons learned at back to school night.  "Listen to other people.  They often have useful information. I need to stop assuming I know everything already." Back to school night was on the 15th, so I think this is where I got off-track.
Day 17 - "Call when your plans change. It can help avoid a lot of stress about being late and let others come up with a different plan." Ran late at work; a quick call to each of the kids and we rearranged after-school/pick-up plans.  Easy peasy. But that all occurred on Thursday, the 16th.
Day 18 - "It's fun to make simple cards for others to send, receive, and appreciate." Learned this lesson during an all day crop where I made 20 cards for this awesome program called Operation Write Home.  It's a way of getting handmade greeting cards into the hands of armed forces troops stationed abroad so they can write home.  Check out their website and see if you can find the "Old Spice" video. It's hilarious.  The crop was on Friday the 17th.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Old September Lessons

The last time I took Shimelle's Learn Something New Everyday class, I used it to work on a set of 52 ATC cards I had started in a class taught by Emily Falconbridge. I remember using the Bernie Berlin ATC Workshop book for background. I thought it was last year and that I had followed the prompts.  Well, it turns out I did these in 2007 and very few followed the prompts!  I did, at least, make a card for each day in September. Here's four cards that at least bear some resemblance to some of this year's prompts:
"The Ninth Month" - done on 9/1 to kick off the project
"Captured" - done on 9/5 (learning from old things) - it's a new way to use mica to encapsulate something. I was channeling "Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book" (which is a hoot and a half if you've never seen in). I love the way her bum peeks out from underneath.
"No Half Way" - done on 9/15 to mark the halfway project of the project and think about what I'd learned so far (plus included a photo of me underneath).  The stamp quote reads:
"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."
"The Future" - done on 9/20 and keys off the prompt to learn from the future.
I"ll do another round up of old lessons at month's end.  Anyone else do this class more than once?  How is your project different this year?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September Lessons (part 4)

Here's a few more lessons from the Learn Something New Everyday class.  I seem to be a day behind in the prompts somehow; not that worried, but I do wonder where I went off track.  For those of you who asked , I don't choose my lessons to match my stamp collection.  I have soooo many stamps that I have (so far) been able to find something that's a reasonably good representation of the day.
Sept. 11 - Such an emotional day here in the States. I watched some specials on television with Henry, and it brought me right back to that day.  I turned the events into a more general lesson, though, to also reflect a tragedy that occurred a few miles up the road from us.  The journaling reads "Tragedies strike. . . hold your loved ones close and appreciate each moment." I noted "2001 - terrorists' attacks; 2010 - gas line explosion in San Bruno, California."  Although the tragedies are of very different proportions, my husband used to wok with one of the women killed in the explosion this week and several of my son's baseball teammates went to school with her daughters (one perished, one survived).
Sept. 12 - "It's hard to live up to commitments, like finishing up a baseball tournament when you have an 8:00 am game and no chance to advance, but it's what we do in our family." Carrying through on commitments, especially when inconvenient and seemingly of little value, is a tough lesson for everybody to learn and a tough lesson we had to emphasize as parents this morning when dragging Henry out of bed at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning when he really wanted to sleep!
Sept. 13 - Lessons learned during the work week was the prompt, and I chose "I can 'touch type' on my ipad. I just have to turn it to landscape orientation. How did I not realize this before?'" Read an article at work on using an ipad while traveling and when the author mentioned this point, I gave a big Homer Simpson, "Doh!"
Other lessons learned:
*Choose a walk that will coordinate with errands I need to run.  The coastside trail is on the way to downtown errands."
"According to standardized tests, the kids are getting smarter."
"Washing my hair, putting on some makeup and wearing decent clothes goes a long way to making me look and feel more professional."
Sept. 14 - Lessons learned over and over was the prompt, and I chose "Keep everything in focus. Be clear what you want to be focusing on at work and at home.  Make those things your priorities - work on them a little each day."  My day 14 lesson is probably my favorite stamp of this bunch!
p.s. my computer is limping along in pretty bad shape these days. I was hoping it would last until Christmas, but it gives all the signs of being terminally ill and will likely just quit on me soon.  It moves at the speed of molasses and shows more and more bad sectors all the time.  So, I'm slowly working on backing everything up and patiently posting when it will let me.  I can still visit blogs & comment on my ipad, but if there's fewer blog posts by me, that's the reason.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stencils, Masks and Inchies (and another first kiss)

The Studio L3 Compendium of Curiosities Challenge this week is "masks."  I love masks and their reverse partner, the stencil. I used Tim Holtz' music mask to create an art journal page on the Creative Therapy prompt, "My First Kiss."  Although I already did this page about my actual first kiss in kindergarten/first page, I wanted to do another page about the first time I kissed my husband. I remember it very clearly - it was on a cold, starry night in Berkeley, and my heart definitely felt like a kickdrum! The lyric is from the Avett Brothers.
And here's another art journal page that uses both a mask (Heidi Swapp butterflies) and a stencil (a swirl from Club Scrap).
The clipart is from Stampington's Somerset Studios. It's of an old cabinet card, which bore the notation, "refused to smile."  It just really made me laugh! I used an inchie from my collection that said "remember" because it was such a perfect fit! And, the current Gingersnap Creations Random Redhead Challenge is all about using inchies.  How perfect is that!
I think I tend to use stencils more than masks.  They seem a little more user friendly to me.  What about you? Do you have a preference?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Destination (art journal page)

I taught an art journaling class on Sunday.  It was so much fun but pretty exhausting as well.  During class, I try mainly to focus on my students. But I have found that it can be helpful to them if I am also creating and working on a piece of art. I finished this page in class, and I really like it.  Very different for me; not really sure where it came from, other than the need to demonstrate a variety of techniques.  Journaling reads, "Are you destined to  become a cowboy or an indian? Follow your muse to find your destination."  Background is mainly spry inks over some stencils. Stenciled the horseshoe with purple paint, and I punched the butterflies out of some paper I painted purple.  I love punches, and they're the supply challenge this month at Gingersnap Creative.  Go check it out if you get a chance.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What's your horoscope? (Art Journal Page)

I'm teaching an art journal class this month, and I needed to come up with some prompts.  One of my favorite prompts is: "What's your horoscope today?"  Here's the page I made in response. It reads:  "Daily Horoscope:  Three stars revolve in the orbit of your love. Live gently." Painted background; confined collage stars and hearts; stamp from Club Scrap's Artifact collection; pastels used to color and highlight.  I'm a Pisces, by the way. While I'm not a big follower of the daily advice given in horoscopes, I have found people born under certain signs sometimes fit the typical qualities of their sign.  Pisces are supposed to be imaginative, sensitive, compassionate and intuitive. I've always thought these fit me.  I did a layout  once about the kids' signs:  Taurus and Gemini, and I thought their personalities "fit" the typical characteristics of their signs, too.  So, what's your sign? 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September Lessons (part 3)

Here's my recent lessons from the Learn Something New Everyday class.  On Day 7, I learned (or relearned) "The best time to take a walk is first thing in the morning.  It's quiet, it's peaceful and it's more likely to happen. Plus, if you're lucky, you'll get to see some bunnies."  Additional lessons learned:
*Gentle reminders and conversations with the kids can work just as well as shouting or demanding, especially when getting them off to school in the morning or inquiring about the new girlfriend.
*Cropping a photo can make a huge difference.
*There is more than one good walk in my neighborhood.
On Day 8, I learned the following lesson:  "You may never know how much a kindness will touch someone's heart."  Here's the backstory - when I was out walking, I saw a friend running.  As we passed, he said hi and reached out to touch my hand.  On my way back, we passed each other again. He stopped and thanked me for the words I had spoken at the memorial for his wife last spring.  He said he thinks of them often and they mean a lot to him. It brought a tear to my eye and made me oh so grateful that I had overcome my fears and blubbered through my memories at the service. I'm glad I was able to touch his heart.
My Day 9 lesson, "I love getting packages in the mail - a box of books from Amazon or a new batch of pictures can really brighten the day! Just one more reason to shop online."
I got three books for the girl:  Alice in Agony; Three Cups of Tea (young reader's version); and Number the Stars.  And three books for the boy:  The Hunger Games; King of the Screwups; and Carter Finally Gets It.  Anyone familiar with any of these?  I was reminded of how much I used to love getting Scholastic Book Orders in school as a kid.
On Day 10, I learned "The kids view the bus as a social experience, not just transportation to or from school.  I'm just looking for a little convenience in my daily routine." Clara plans her schedule around which friends are taking which bus.  Henry takes it home to spend time with his girlfriend.
About a-third of the way through the month! I'm enjoying LSNE pretty well, but am really glad I'm keeping it simple.  I'm sure I'd have trouble keeping up otherwise.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Photo Cropping and Other Happy Thoughts

I've been mired in hours of editing and cropping photographs that I let pile up over the summer.  For the most part, I do a quick crop, hit "auto enhance" and move on.  But I spent more time with this photograph because I really liked the way the scoreboard's "Ball, Strike, Out" could frame the whole world of being a pitcher.  I love the way Henry is lost in thought (I think he has his tongue stuck in his cheek) and you can see the ball peeking out of his glove.  I have lots of lovely pictures of him pitching, but I love the way this captures him as "a pitcher." And it all came about in the way I cropped the photo.  Might make this my lesson of the day:  "Photo cropping can make a big difference." Got any good photo cropping stories or tips to share?
In other news, I found the happiest little bit of video on a blog the other day.  Go to this link and watch the video.  It's about dancing and travel and happiness.  It totally brightened my day.
Finally, I've been thrilled recently to receive two bits of design recognition:  one from the Stampotique Designers Blog for this altered book spread and one from the Gingersnap Creations blog for this mini album.  I'm featuring the badges on my side bar.  The blogs are very different - the first very edge; the second very vintage - but I really like both of them.  Check them out if you get a chance.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Freeing the Dream (art journal page)

Had fun art journaling today! This page is based on a lyric by the Avett Brothers: "There was a dream. One day I could see it. Like a bird in a cage, I broke in and demanded that somebody free it."  Seemed appropriate for a Friday.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What does this need?

I've been working on this canvas off and on for a long time.  So long that, in fact, when I started it I had a definite plan in mind, but I can't remember what it was! So, I've pressed forward and am pretty happy with it. The images are photographs I took of street art in Paris. Fiber paste circles and triangles; cloth buttons, black braid, pen nib and ornate charms; painted red circles and yellow square added for dimension.  But it doesn't feel done to me.  I feel like I need something to pull it all together.  I'm thinking something in white maybe?  And I'm not really loving that shade of blue; it's very dark and there's so much of it.
Ideas gratefully appreciated!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September Lessons (part 2)

Here's the next group of pages from my "Learn Something New Everyday" album.  Lesson from Sept. 3 came out of my session doing self portraits.  Journaling reads: "I learned that the Ontiveros have a strong family resemblance.  Embrace/own the good and defend against the negatives.  I took some close up self portraits today and saw my older brother and sister looking back at me. I can't escape my roots, so I need to learn to deal with them." The stamp is of Friday Kahlo, Queen of self portraits.
Other lessons learned that day which didn't make the album:
*Take self portraits from farther away.
*A college soccer game is a petty good way to spend an evening with Henry, especially if we stop by our favorite Chinese restaurant on the way for dinner.
*I'm willing to give up my scrapbook club to finance a better lens for my camera. I simply have too  much paper and too many stamps. And I really need/want new lenses.
The lesson from Sept. 4 comes from a very satisfying afternoon spent in the art studio.  It reads: " "It's harder to finish a piece of art than it is to start one.  It takes creativity, courage and persistence. But it's worth it to gaze at a finished piece with pride and satisfaction" The stamp is from Club Stamp.
Other lessons learned which didn't make the album:
*E6000 adhesive will always be dried out when you need it. Always.
*I create a lot more art in the studio than I do at home.
*It's much easer to edit and upload pictures if I don't let several months' worth pile up in my computer (thanks to Stacy for the reminder). A couple of martinis help to make the task more pleasurable, especially if there's a baseball game to watch on TV.
*Persistence pays off, and I should trust my instincts.  This is a lesson I learn over and over, but it was reaffirmed again when I recovered my sunglasses from the restaurant where I knew I'd left them, even though the staff said they weren't there when I called earlier this week.
Lesson from day 5 reads: "If traffic on the bridges is really bad, it might be best to change plans.  On the other hand, the right company can turn even a traffic-ridden journey to a lame art and music festival into a good time."
Lesson from day 6 reads: "On the road of life, it is not always clear what the next step should be. Sometimes you know basically where you want to go, but you're not exactly sure how to get there."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Let's Talk Self Portraits

There seems to be a lot of talk in blog land lately about self portraits.  Here's an interesting sample:
Digital Photograph School has a fantastic sampling of mirror self portraits at this link. Absolutely love the idea of taking a mirror outside to do a self-portrait.
The Beauty of Different blog selects postings from a flicker group that include a self portrait as well as a proclamation of what the photographer's beautiful different is.  You can read more about it here.  Love the idea, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to go there just yet.
Mel posted a self portrait here, and Tammy Lee put hers in this post.
All of this inspired me to try some self-portraits:
Took all of them using the reflection in my ipad.  Cool, huh?  I definitely learned some lessons from this session, which will show up later in my "Learn Something New" album.  I especially learned from this photo:
In the meantime, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on self-portraits.  Love them? Hate them? Done many? Any good tips to share? 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Treasures of Childhood (Mixed Media)

This piece took a long time to complete, but I am very happy with the finished product! It started as the central 6x6 canvas, which I made in a class on glass bead gel and blogged about in this post. I knew I wanted to incorporate the canvas into a larger piece and searched for a long time for a house-shaped frame.  When I couldn't find one, I considered making one! Sanity prevailed, and I settled on using this picture frame and adding a drawer pull on top to at least suggest the house shape.  Matted and layered the canvas and then added five treasures from my stash. Took forever to select and arrange the treasures; project then stalled because my favorite adhesive (E6000) was dried out.  Quick trip to the hardware store; no E600 available.  Settled on super glue. So what do you think? If you like 3D art, you should check out the Gingersnap Creations 3D challenge this month, where I'm submitting this piece. By the way, three of the treasures are quite old (fifty years or so) and two are quite new.  Can you guess which are which?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Creating in my studio

When playing in my studio the other day, I decided to try to create my own Golden Paint Mixes, along the ones created by Michael DeMeng that I blogged about here.  I am pretty happy with this formulation, which I call "Halloween Night."  It gives the feeling of nighttime but is light enough to be able to create on top of it - a nice alternative to a straight black, I think.  I started with a wash of carbon black on top of a gesso'd ATC (for texture).  I wiped off a lot of the black and then swooshed/pooled on a wash of Hansa Yellow and dried it.  When it was completely dry, I added a wash of transparent iron  oxide.  Do you think I'm on the right track?
And because I'm worried that things are getting too dark & creepy here on the blog, here's a quick art journal page I made in the studio today.  I used the Creative Therapy prompt, "What was your first kiss?" Mine was in first grade with a boy named Michael Tarbox.  I still remember it very strongly (and fondly). Feel like sharing yours?
Speaking of the studio I work in, have I mentioned that we rent it from a woman who makes specialty cheesecakes?  Her creations are true works of art.  Check out this link to see her wedding cake gallery.  A wonderful side-benefit for me is that the studio always smells fantastic! Plus, she will often share "left-overs" with my weekend classes if she has any available!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Butterfly Seller at the Mercado (Dias de los Muertos Nicho)

In addition to Halloween, I also really enjoy creating art for Dias de los Muertos, a celebration in the Latino community which has its roots in All Souls Day and is a way of honoring our ancestors and those who have recently passed away.  "Nichos" are scenes featuring skeletons, as a way of poking fun at Death and thinking affectionately of those who have passed away.  I've starting making nicho frames out of plaster wrap, and this is my first finished nicho.  It's a market scene. And who do we find in the market?  The Butterfly Seller, a recurring figure in my art.  She began her life in this post, and I really enjoy it anytime she makes a return visit.  I've found that some people have a strong negative reaction to Dias de los Muertos, so I apologize if you find this disturbing.  For me it really is a positive cultural celebration.  Your thoughts welcome as always!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September Lessons (part 1)

So, I started a new class, "Learn Something New Everyday" at  Although I'll be creating pages for it everyday, I don't want it to take over my blog, so I'll just post a bunch of pages every few days or so.  I'm using a stack of 4.5"x6.5" chipboard pieces which have been covered with Basic Grey paper.  You can see the front and back covers in the top picture above. For each daily lesson, I'm just embellishing with a simple stamped image. I'm hoping it will be a good way to get reacquainted with my huge stamp inventory.  Each day, I'm making a list of the various lessons I learned that day on my ipad and then will choose one lesson to feature each day.  Here's my first two lessons:
1.  You never know how long a task will take.  I've been putting off renewing my drivers license because I thought it would take forever, but I did it online today in two minutes. One more good reason not to procrastinate.
2. Time does help the heart to heal.  It's been a year since Buster's been gone and while I still miss his gentle presence and wildly wagging backside, I no longer think I catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye or instinctively glance around for him first thing in the morning or when I come home.
And here's some lessons learned that didn't make the journal:
* You never know what you will find when you clean up. I've been organizing my craft desk and found a brand, new, unopened set of acrylic stamps (soccer-themed). I vaguely remember buying these last spring!
*I am actually okay with summer being over. I'm happy to have the kids back in school and to be getting back into a routine after all the fun freedom of summer.
*Clara and I really do wear the same size shoes. When I picked her up from school today, I noticed she was wearing my new Van's!
*It's okay to change plans. I had planned to drive up to work today but decided to stay home and play because it was such a gorgeous, sunny day and because I had not pressing business.
*Plaster dries really fast in the sunshine. Living on the foggy coast, it takes forever some days, but today it was a joy to work with!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Day of School: the bigger picture

School started for the kids last Wednesday, and there's some details I want to jot down before I forget them.   But, before I go there, let me note the bigger picture:  I am so grateful I have these two wonderful, healthy children in my life.  I'm not sure how we got so lucky, but I thank God we did.

Clara is such a funny mix of independence and clinginess.  She wants to do most everything for herself but will still give me a hug when she hasn't seen me for a while. She's very conscious of her appearance, and she just got her hair straightened before school started.  She also had her first facial and a consultation with my estetician so she could learn about how to take care of her skin and about the proper types/ways to wear make up. She's going to continue swimming and working with her math tutor this fall but feels pretty confident about school. She loves to text her friends, play with her cat, watch DeGrassi on TV, read Judy Blume and beg us to get her another pet (usually a dog). She takes the bus to increase the amount of social time she has with her friends.
Henry is such a young man. He loves to practice driving and has become quite good at staying on top of his own schedule. He's finally self-motivated about personal hygiene. He still wants me to drive him to school everyday but is content to take the bus home. He's looking forward to fall baseball and the start of soccer season. He talks to friends on facebook and sometimes via texts. He's following the S.F. Giants and hopes they make the playoffs.  He likes to watch silly reality shows on MTV and loves hip-hop music.