Monday, November 30, 2009

November Class Review (and a winner)

Graffiti Art Journal Cover (click to enlarge)

I took three classes during November. . . well, sort of.  I completed two and bailed on the third. It was partly my fault, but I think the class structure was also partly to blame.

1. Dina Wakley's Graffiti of My Life Art Journal Class, offered at Get it Scrapped. This class was fabulous!  I learned several new art techniques, especially working with stencils, gesso, spray inks and acrylic washes.  It also taught me a lot about how to build up layers on an art journal page.  Finally, I learned a new book binding technique.  Lots of techniques = lots of bang for the buck in my book.  In addition, I walked away with a completed art journal that I love, love, love. I love the size of it, and the feel of it in my hands.  I love paging through it, and I love the cover (pictured here).   The class did not focus on the written part of art journaling, but Dina has other classes for that, and I will take at least one of those in December. The class consisted of 8 lessons, spread over 4 weeks.  Each lesson included a thorough, illustrated PDF, and, even better, a video!  These were fun to watch and really helped me understand HOW to make the techniques work. There was also a class forum and gallery where you could ask questions and share your worker.  Priced at $45 - it was definitely worth it to me.  A winner!
Edited to add: I just found this link to the blog from a fellow classmate who put her journal to music.  If you like Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, it's awesome!  Even if you don't, it's worth clicking here.

2.  Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers.  I loved this class.  It inspired me to create this blog.  It gave me the confidence to figure out the technology.  It introduced me to many of you.  It gave me the answers to questions from what to write about to how to format it.  The class materials were superb. They began with a introductory PDF explaining all the basics about how to set up a blog and ended with an amazing booklet, "A Year of Prompts."  In between were three weeks worth of week day lessons. Each lesson covered a different potential prompt that could be used for blogging and/or scrapbooking.  Each lesson had suggestions for posts if you had 2 minutes, 30 minutes or several hours to spend on your blog. Each lesson contained an illustrated PDF, written in Shimelle's clear, insightful language. Plus, there was an online forum to discuss issues, form friendships and get even more questions answered.  Truly an invaluable class for any scrapbooker or artist who has a blog or is considering starting a blog. The most amazing thing. . . the whole class only cost $15!  I have no idea how Shimelle manages to price her classes so reasonably, but she always does.

3. Jessica Sprague's Holidays in Hand. This class left me confused and a little frustrated. It was a seven day class, which, I think, should lead you to complete a series of prompt cards to help guide your holiday activities and an album in which to feature your holiday activities.  I say "I think" because the purpose of the class and what you were supposed to do each day was never really very well explained . . . at least to me. Sorry, I just didn't get it.  Now, part of it may be my problem because Jessica Sprague's site and classes are definitely geared to digital or hybrid scrappers, and I'm not either.  The class included a bunch of free downloads, which others really seemed to appreciate.  Also, to be fair, I could have given it more of a chance, but I bailed when I couldn't see the big picture.  The other thing I should mention is that it was free!  It was a good way to see if Jessica's style fits yours, and, I learned that, for me, it's not a good fit.

I'd love to hear what other people thought of classes they took in November.

OH, I almost forgot . . . the winner of the Christmas ATC's is Jacky!  Jacky, email me your address (to rinda1961 at yahoo dot com), and I'll drop your prize in the mail.  By the way, I made two of the ATC's.  I made the Angel and the Santa.  By the way, Jacky was the only one who got two entries in the drawing by correctly guessing the "A" was mine.  To all who guessed Reindeer and Madonna, those are very much in my style.  For those who want to know what an ATC is, check back later this week.  I'm planning a post about them!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Scrapbook Sunday: on shortcuts and pumpkins

Posting a little late today, but the incentive of "Scrapbook Sunday" pushed me to get some scrapbooking done yesterday.  I scrapped seven pages!  They're pretty simple, but I'm happy that they're done.  And they were very relaxing to make.  I did them while the whole family watched Forrest Gump on T.V.  Surprisingly, none of us had ever seen it before!

The pages were simple to complete because I used two tools offered by Club Scrap - Assembly Line Scrapbooking (ALSB) and their Deck of Cards. For ALSB, you actually complete blank layouts, then find photos later to fit.  I know it doesn't seem like it should work, but it does.  The first layout is evidence of that.  The Deck of Cards is a set of 52 sketches that include instructions for which paper to gather and how to cut it.  The second layout was built with that method.  The first layout was made with Club Scrap's Perfect Ten Collection and the second layout with Club Scrap's Natural Resources Collection.

I'll pick a winner in my weekend giveaway tonight and post it tomorrow, along with a review of November classes.  Tuesday features Twelve Tags of Christmas.  Enjoy the rest of  your weekend!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tending your inner light with holiday art

There are so many potential art projects for the holidays.  In particular, there are many Christmas Journals designed for you to be able to chronicle your holidays through scrapbooking, journaling and art.  I have looked at a few of these and thought about doing Ali Edwards' December Daily or Jessica Sprague's Holiday in Hand, but I've decided not to.  I think that either of these would just make me feel pressured to have an "authentic" holiday season, when I'm just really not in the mood. I mean, either you're authentic or you're not, right? You just can't force the feeling!  LOL!

When I am in the mood, I love the idea of Christmas Journals, and I adored participating in Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas a few years back.  It remains one of my favorite art journals, and I'll be posting it here for you, as a slide show on Christmas Day.

What I do feel like doing is Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of Christmas.  I love these, and I am thrilled he's doing them again this year.  Check here on Dec. 1, and you'll see my tags from last year.  I may even put the 2009 tags in a mini-album with a few Christmas memories from this year - the authentic memories, that is!

How are you tending your inner light this holiday season?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Weekend Giveaway - Christmas ATC's

I was part of a very cool ATC swap.  Each person chose one letter in the word "Christmas" and made a Christmas-themed ATC incorporating that letter.  The beauty of this collaboration is that you can then put them all in an ATC holder, and they spell out Christmas!

If you're looking for a fun holiday project to do with your art friends, this could be it.  For this weekend's give-away, just leave a comment guessing which ATC in this collection I made.  If you guess correctly, I'll put your name in the give-away twice!

The winner will be picked Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m.  The winner will receive an assortment of Christmas-themed ATC's!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gratitude with Attitude

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!  Today I am thankful for family, friends and quirky stamp designers like Daniel Torrente at Stampotique Originals.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mining for Creativity

Here's a simple photo post.  This really cool sculpture was in the Louvre Museum, summer 2008.  I've used the photo on a variety of photo cards.  It's fun to come up with great captions for it.  I like to think of it as someone mining for creativity.  Speaking of creativity, I received my second blog award!
I received this from Lizzie.  I need to list seven things about myself:
1. I have taught in Dublin, Prague and Budapest.
2. I have walked on The Great Wall of China.
3. I have five brothers and sisters, and 51 first cousins.
4. The last book I read was The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
5. Two DVD sets on my Christmas list are The Tudors (season 3) and Life on Mars (the U.S. version).
6. I don't sew . . . ever.
7. I wish I had tried out for basketball in high school.

Now, to nominate seven other wonderfully creative bloggers who have inspired my creativity:
Connie at Connie's Dream
Nancy at Squirrelly Art
Carol at Life and Howe We Live It
Connie at Creating with Connie

If I nominated you, you are supposed to put this award on your blog, list seven things about yourself and ass the award on to seven other bloggers.  Thanks to each of you for being an inspiration!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cards a la Jacky (click to enlarge)

Jacky, over at the ScrappyJacky blog is quite the card maker!  During our Creative Circle Blog Party, she posted this wonderful card.  Using it as inspiration, I made a bunch of cards over the weekend. I started with this card, featuring a JudiKins image, colored with twinkling H2O's, and patterned papers from Cosmo Cricket, Scenic Route, and Basic Grey.  I embellished with ribbon, flowers and buttons. Sentiment from Club Scrap.

After creating three of those, I still had a lot of paper left over, so I went about designing other cards with a similar feel.  The card on the left uses a Stamp Francisco image and the card on the right uses an image from Alpha Stamps.  Jacky's style is a little sweeter than mine, and she managed to get more layers and details on her cards than I did on mine.  But, I love these cards and really appreciate her inspiration!  It's so much fun to work in a different style while still incorporating your own.  Thanks Jacky!

P.S. The wonderful Lizzie sent me another blog award!  I love getting these, and I will be responding it to it tomorrow.  Thanks Lizzie!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Monday!!!

Guardian Angels (mixed media shrine)

What a wonderful time I had during the Creative Circle Blog Party!  Thank you to everyone who stopped by.  The winner of the weekend giveaway is . .  . Margi of The Maverick Crafter blog.  Congratulations Margi!  Email me at rinda1961 at yahoo dot com with your address, and I'll get your prize in the mail to you.

Don't you love this shrine?  I made it in a class taught by Julee Herman.  It features a heritage photo from my collection.  My mom is the awesome woman on the left, and she's with her girlfriends from nursing school.  It makes me so happy to see them - young and powerful around 1950.  It sits on my bed stand, and I sleep peacefully as they watch over me.

Something else that makes me happy?  I got my first blog award.  The wonderful Mel sent it to me.  Thanks Mel!  I need to list five random facts about myself.  So, here they are:
1. I live by the beach and can't imagine living far from the ocean.
2. Growing up, I lived in the same house from the time I was one year old until I moved out to go to college, and I have now lived in my current house for as many years.
3. In real life, I am a law professor who specializes in labor and employment law.
4. I shoot with a Nikon D50.
5. We're a Manchester United family.

I'd like to pass this award along to Paula at It's All Apart of Life's Rich Pattern because I love her "Monday Matters" feature. It always brings a smile to my face because it's all about making the world a better place.  Check it out!

One of my favorite places to make a difference is Operation Write Home.  If you're a cardmaker with extra cards, they will put them to good use.  Please stop by their site and consider sending them some of your extras.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Creative Circle Blog Party Continues!!!

Welcome to the Creative Circle Blog Party - Eight Stops for Creative Adventure (including food)!!!
What could be more fun that that?  Seven friends and I have each developed a creative project to share with you on our blogs.  At the end of each blog, you'll find a link to take you to the next blog stop.  If you get lost, you can return here and find the list of blog participants at the bottom of my post for today.  But it might be more fun to just follow along!  Also, don't forget that once you have visited all eight stops, you can return to my Friday post and leave a comment about your experience to be entered into my weekend give-away.  (I'll actually pull entries from this post and the Friday post to avoid confusion.)

It's Sunday, and I've visited all the blogs. They're terrific.  Sorry there's no Scrapbook Sunday page today because I want to keep the party going and because once I started making Jacky-style cards, I lost all track of time.  I'll post those on Tuesday, along with any other projects I've made.  I'm definitely going to order a bunch of 8x8 photos and make a grid like Gemma suggested.  Plus, I bought buttermilk and pumpkin to make Sharyn's lovely cake!  And I'm thinking hard about Mel's cute little pieces of art, too!  Enjoy my project, and enjoy visiting the other stops in the creative circle.

Here's my project:  Patchwork Collage on Plaster
1.  Start with a 4x4 inch base.  I like to use plaster bandages (sold as rigid-wrap in the United States), but you can use watercolor paper, chipboard or any heavy cardstock.
2.  Tear three or four different scrap pieces of patterned paper into random shapes and adhere to you base.  I like to use gel medium for this, but any good liquid adhesive will work.
3.  Stamp or draw a heart (or other open image) onto your background.  If you're stamping, use a good quality, waterproof ink like Stayz-on.  If you're drawing, a charcoal pencil or a sharpie both work well.  If I'm drawing, I usually go over the image, using a fine paintbrush, with black acrylic paint.
4.  Create a wash of acrylic paints by watering down some of your paint.  Apply the paint to everything on your base, except the image and its interior.  Let dry or dry with a heat gun.
5.  Add other stamped images and/or collage elements.  The dragonfly heart uses a grungbord dragonfly, painted with crackle paint, and stamped images.  The bird king uses a German Scrap bird and a crown from a collage sheet.
6.  Admire your work and then move on to the next stop on our creative adventure:

If you get lost, you can return to my blog and go to any of these creative circle participants:
My blog
Jacky’s blog
Sian’s blog
Mel's blog
Sharyn’s blog
Gemma’s blog
Fiona’s blog
Lizzie’s blog

Finally, if you're visiting my blog as part of the Blog Around the World blog party, the picture of my world is in the sidebar. The next gal in that blog trip is the the wonderful Kathy M, who lives about 45 minutes away from me, and who I have known for a long time. Just click here to visit her blog.  After you blog around the world, please come back and join the creative adventure!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Inviting you on a Creative Adventure (and a Weekend Give Away)

A Tiny Ripple of Hope (mixed media on plaster)

Do you like this piece?  Want to learn how to make it?  Want to win it?
Then stop by my blog this weekend and join me for a Creative Adventure!  Starting at 1:00 a.m. Saturday California time (that's 9:00 Saturday morning for my U.K. friends), you'll find instructions to visit eight different blogs, each featuring a different type of creativity activity.  After you visit the blogs, return here and leave a comment about something you learned or liked, and I'll enter your name in my weekend giveaway. I'll pick a random name, and the winner will receive this mixed media piece. Weekend give-away entries close at 9:00 p.m. Sunday, California time.

The title of this mixed media piece comes from a quote by Robert Kennedy, whose birthday is today:
Each time a person stands up for an ideal,
or acts to improve the lot of others...
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,
and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring,
those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

See you tomorrow!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sports Photos I Will Scrap

Soon, when I get some time to scrap, a few things I can work on . . . . .

Finally:  A Banner of Their Own
     Henry has been playing baseball with these boys since they were four and five years old.  They have had some success in travel ball, and they took a terrific trip to play in Cooperstown, New York.  But one goal has always eluded them.  Their all-star team had never won the District. . . . until this year.  The bottom photo is the traditional "Banner Shot."   I prefer the first shot.  Zak, always the character, has wrapped himself in the banner, during the post-game meeting.  Coach Rich is talking to them about dreaming big.  "Mission:  San Juan" was their rallying cry during All-Star Season because the Western Regional was being held in San Juan Capistrano.  They boys didn't make it that far, but Coach Rich convinced them that they were capable of it, and they came very close.  It was a successful summer in many ways.

A Passion Shared
Henry and I both have a passion for the game of baseball.  We followed the Giants all summer on television and decided, on the spur of the moment, to actually go to the ballpark one night.  We landed great seats, and I was able to get some excellent photographs, including this one of Tim Lincecum.  I have sold this photo (along with a two others) in triptychs and also given them as a donation prize in silent auctions.  It is likely my favorite shot of a professional athlete.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cherish Your Heritage

Cherish (Mixed Media Collage, click to enlarge)

Here's a piece that brings together many of the things I've chronicled on my blog.  I created it in a class taught by Connie Andrews about collaging with black gesso, and I based it on this piece of hers.  By the way, some of Connie's other work is prominently featured in the new Somerset Studio Gallery - how cool is that! You have taught me not to worry that I'm copying too much, so I'm going to publish it here and proclaim it as my own. (And how cool is it that Kelly Rae came by to comment on my post about working in someone else's style!)  It's also a piece that took me a while to declare "done" because I kept fiddling around with which charms to add.  Finally, I think I took a decent photograph of it based on your various suggestions.  So, enjoy!

I also want to let you know that this Saturday, some of my blogging friends and I will be taking you on a creative adventure. Check back on Friday for more details. Here's a sneak peek . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Artists, Musicians and Social Justice

Jacob's Ladder (Art Journal page, click to enlarge)

On Sunday night, DH and I went to a concert at the amazing Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.  This local treasure, a beach house owned by Pete Douglas, has been hosting jazz and classical performers in an incredibly intimate beach-front venue for over forty years. As we watched the 15-piece Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra perform, I thought of my struggling artists friends and wondered how each of these artists could manage to make a living practicing their art. Midway through the second set, I realized that each of the performers just seemed grateful to have an opportunity to be playing the music they loved, with dear and talented friends, in front of an appreciative audience.  It reminded me of the time I participated in a juried art show, and the other artists just kept saying how happy they were to have been selected and to have the opportunity to show their work. It seems that all artists, no matter their field, share common ground.

Although we didn't know this before going to the show, Marcus Shelby is a performer concerned with social justice, as evidenced by this project.  Social justice is also a big theme in my art work.  The Art Journal page above features lyrics from "Jacob's Ladder," a black spiritual song based on Genesis 28:11-19 originally performed by  Bob Seeger and recently adapted by Bruce Springsteen on the album, "We Shall Overcome:  The Seeger Sessions."  Although this is the messiest and grungiest page in my Graffiti Art Journal, I like how the lyrics flow and how the birds seem to be rising up out of a storm and into a brighter future.

Apropos of this post, DH and I had Sunday night relatively free because we had been planning to go see the "Playing for Change" concert in San Francisco with friends.  Those plans fell through, but I wanted to share this video with you, so you can see what it was all about.  It features street musicians from all over the world singing Stand By Me, and it's a very upbeat way to start your day!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Something's Coming . . .

and it's going to be a ton of fun!  You're invited to an artistic adventure.The adventure kicks off Saturday morning.  Check here Friday for more details.

Some Cards . . . and a Winner

Paper Artists Online, a forum that I frequent, just celebrated its one year anniversary.  There's lots of fun stuff there, including a monthly card swap.  The October theme was trees, and the November theme was wild animals.  Here are the cards I sent in (you can click on them to enlarge them). The first features a SU Giraffe, embossed in metallic copper, and some star-shaped confined collages.  The second one features Tim Holtz stamps.  For the tree, I painted twinkling H2O's onto the rubber, misted and then stamped.  Happy Anniversary PAO!

The winner of the weekend give-away is (according to the random number generator) #16 - Amy of the lovely blog, "Over at Our Place."  Amy, email me your address, and I'll send you a domino.  You can even choose the one you want!  My email address is rinda1961 at yahoo (you know the rest).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Scrapbook Sunday

I've been a little surprised by how many people are voting to see scrapbook pages on my blog, so I've decided to dedicate Sunday posts to scrapbook pages.  Hopefully this will motivate me to scrap.  I'm really hoping this will evolve into a weekly feature on heritage scrapbook pages, so that I will get to that project sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, here's a couple of pages for your enjoyment.  And don't forget to leave a comment on this post after you vote in the poll to have an opportunity to claim the prize in this week's week-end give away. The deadline is 9:00 p.m. California time.

So Strong (click on layout to enlarge it)

Product used:  Club Scrap Solstice kit
Why I chose this layout:  it features some of my most recent photos, and I wanted to capture my thoughts before I forgot them.
Favorite bits:  the journaling and the pictures.  Journaling reads "I hadn't seen Clara swim in a while, and I was taken aback by her performance in this meet.  Five races, five personal bests.  Already chasing A-times at the 12 year old standards.  But what really struck me was her demeanor . . . so strong.  Gone was the goofy, nervous novice, replaced by a strong, powerful competitor.  10/31/09"
What I would change: the journaling on the left should be about half an inch higher.

Huntington Beach (click on layout to enlarge it)

Product used:  Club Scrap Maritime Collection from 2009 Cruise
Why I chose this layout:  because it features a picture of my big brother, Pete. His birthday was Friday.
Favorite bits:  the seahorses; the tag (which I made in the very first class I ever took at a LSS); the journaling on the left which I added after a Shimelle prompt on improving your journaling. Original journaling read, "The big cousins play in the waves while M. watches from the shore."  I added:  "Is this what we looked like?  Could that be Dad holding Tricia's hand while Cordie, Petey, Tommy and I play in the waves? I have such strong memories of going to Huntington Beach as a child, but I never thought about it from my parents' point-of-view before."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Creating in the Style of . . .

I love these pieces.  I created them, and they speak to me on some very deep level about motherhood and the beauty of children.  But I have a problem with them.  I worry that they aren't truly "mine."  You see, each was created in the style of another artist.    "Homemaker" was created in a class taught by Judy Wise through Artful Journey. I modeled my collage on a couple of her pieces, called "Nonnie" and "We Were All Angels", found in the June 4 post on her blog, which you can find (with some scrolling) here. "House of Love" was created using an article by Kelly Rae Roberts in the magazine Cloth, Paper, Scissors. Edited to add: I found a link to one of Kelly Rae's prints that she has for sale which uses the same technique that I used for House of Love.  You can see it hereI have also made other work, which I love, based on classes I have taken with Connie Andrews.

So, I worry if these pieces are somehow not my art. Kelly Rae Roberts has written her opinion about this issue.  It's a very reasonable opinion, but it still worries me because I'm not sure I follow all her rules, and I think of myself as a very ethical person and artist.  I just know that I internalize what I learn, and I'm sure it comes out in what I teach and sell.  So, I don't work in her style anymore.  Tim Holtz has never published anything on his philosophy, but I have corresponded with him by email, and his approach is "go for it."  As long as you don't reproduce his class handouts, he's all about teaching and putting the ideas out into the universe.  He figures nothing but good can come of it. I find it all very confusing and a little disturbing.

My children are adopted but they are "mine" to their core.  I wish I felt the same about all my art.  Thoughts?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Updates, A Poll, and A Giveaway

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by my blog! I'm thrilled that people are responding so well to it.  I wanted to provide a few updates/answers to posts from the last few weeks.

First, the Dina Wakley class "Graffiti of My Life" is almost over.  We still need to do the book binding and covers, but our pages are done.  I'm featuring one of my favorites up top.

Second, Kathy M asked if I was looking to teach in my area, and the answer is generally yes.  I really enjoyed teaching at a LSS in town before it closed.  I just don't see myself travelling very far to teach because, as much as I love to teach, I don't love it enough to go through the work of finding a venue and establishing a new group of students. Ideally, I'd like to do something locally.

Third, with regard to my post on finding a signature style, Keitha wanted to continue the discussion.  So, I have a few things to add.  Tami, at Get it Scrapped, will be teaching a class called Styles. In it, she says you will experiment with a variety of different styles to see what appeals to you and what your style might be.  I remembered an exercise I found in Ali Edwards book, A Designer's Eye for Scrapbooking.  She suggested taking six of your favorite layouts and jotting down for each one:  the materials you used; any special techniques you used; and what you loved about each one.  By reviewing your notes, you can get a sense about what your style is. I've done this exercise occasionally with my layouts and pieces of art and found it very helpful.

Fourth, Mel asked what I plan to do with my Latino Service piece.  Right now, my plan is to hold onto it as part of a collection I'm developing on Latino Heritage. I've been very intirgued with the idea of organizing my various art pieces into collections that share common themes and/or techniques.  The idea is not fully developed yet, but one goal I have for this blog is to help catalogue my art into these various collections.

Fifth, I did decide that this piece is done.  It just needs a title and a signature.  Thanks for your feedback!

Sixth, Gennifer asked what I planned to do with my "Organic Art" pieces.  I think I will frame those and hang them in my studio someday.  The someday being when I actually have a studio!  I envision a white mat and black frame.

Seventh, Jen commented on how much she liked the idea of collage dominoes as gifts.  I have photographed a few and attached the picture below.

Finally, Kimberlee guessed that art created by Michael DeMeng in my "strong sense of style" post was art by Liz McGrath.  I checked our Elizabeth McGrath's website, and she makes some very, very cool stuff.  In related news, Michael DeMeng is back from his trip to Mexico, and he's got some awesome new posts on his blog.  Check it out!

A Poll
I am interested in what you most like seeing on my blog, so I'm setting up a poll.  I envisioned the blog as showcasing my mixed media art (like this and this), but I've had very good reactions to the cards and scrapbook pages I've featured.  Yesterday, I just went with one of my photographs. (If you want to check out a post that features a card, two mixed-media pieces and a scrapbook page look at this one.) Please take a second to vote in my poll and let me know what you most like to see here. If for any reason, you can't vote, you can still participate in the weekend give-away. . .

Weekend Give-Away
For the weekend give-away, simply vote in my poll and then post below saying "I voted."  Feel free to add other comments as well. As always, you can post as anonymous, but will need to put your name in the comment, so I can tell who you are to send you a prize. I'll pick a random winner Sunday night, 9:00 p.m. California time.  The winner will receive a collaged domino!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This makes me smile

I love this picture.  I remember wandering the back alleys of Venice (Summer 2008) and coming across this clothes line . . . such beautiful whites and that one pop of color!  I've used this image in several pieces I have sold.  It would be fun to order some more prints and create with it again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Art Goals - New Classes and More

There are several things I want to work on in the future:

  • Return to teaching classes. I know that several of you have asked when I will return to teaching, and I definitely plan to. I have several classes planned out. Rustic Treasures (Designs on Plaster); Creating Cards with Collage Images; and Stamp, Emboss and Paint! are the three new ones. Plus, I'd like to return to a few favorites that I haven't done for a while. Next steps are to figure out where, come up with a schedule and get some students. Feel free to let me know what classes you'd like to see and what times generally work best for you (i.e. weeknight, weekend morning, weekend evening).
  • Experiment with my "signature style."
  • Work on my Heritage Scrapbook and Wedding Scrapbook. These are the projects that never seem to get done.
  • Complete DD's Grade School Album . . . hopefully before she finishes middle school.
  • Complete the catalogue of my completed art projects.
Today's blog features a collage on plaster I made for Veteran's Day called "Latino Service."

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's all about the Light . . . and a Winner

I received so many great suggestions for how to take better still-life pictures. The most important think I learned is that "it's all about the light." Turning off the flash and shooting in natural light (either outside or inside) seems to be the easiest fix. If you want to turn it up a notch, a light tent or light box is a great idea. You can buy a 2'x2' Cubelite from Lastolite for about $135 or you can make your own! I've always been a bit intimidated by trying to manipulate light - I think because I am most comfortable with sports photography and travel photography, where I work with the available light. I remember once when I was shooting soccer portraits on a cloudy coastal day, and my friend Erik said the light was perfect because it was just like shooting inside a giant light box. Now I finally know what he meant! As an aside, I came across this blog post where someone was experimenting with manipulating light outside.

The dominant suggestion for lens setting was to get close and use the macro setting on the camera (the little flower). I had been using the portrait setting, so I learned something there! Someone else suggested using a fixed 50 mm lens. Since I have one of those (I use it to shoot at indoor, low light basketball games), I'll definitely give that a try, too.

As for composition, many suggested the need to shoot straight on, rather than at an angle . . . unless you're photographing a woman and want to hide any extra chins, then shoot from above. Suggested backgrounds for jewelery included using nature (hanging from a tree branch, wood, rock, uncooked rice, uncooked beans, etc.), a framed screen, or a solid color paper or fabric that won't reflect light (velvet, velveteen, flocked paper, etc.) Other interesting ways to "set the scene" for a book thong were discovered by searching in for book thong.

Wow! I learned so much. Thanks for all your great ideas. I took the photos for today's post outside, in the morning, with my flash turned off and the camera set to macro. I hope to build a light box someday (or get one for Christmas), and I'll definitely experiment with my 50 mm prime lens as well.

The winner of a book thong is . . . Kathy M! Email me with your address (or I'll find you), and I'll get your prize in the mail. Thanks to everyone for participating.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stencil Mania

I am taking a fabulous art journaling class from Dina Wakley at Get It Scrapped called Graffiti of My Life. Dina uses lots of paint and spray ink and stencils. I am pretty familiar with stencils because Club Scrap, the monthly scrapbooking club I've been a member of since 2001, always has a stencil in their monthly kit. It's been so much fun to see how Dina uses them in her art journals. On her blog, she recently posted about one of her inspirations in the stenciling world - Ed Roth. When I checked out his blog, I realized that the Paris Street Art I fell in love in Summer, 2008, was actually stencil art. I took lots of pictures of the street art, did a scrapbook page with the pictures, turned the pictures into a collage sheet and have incorporated the images into all kinds of art including the card, fisheye collage, and textured collage seen here. It's amazing the things you learn when you take a new class!

I also think my photography has definitely gotten better, as a result of the suggestions that have been posted so far in response to my weekend give-away. You still have until 9:00 pm. California time tonight to comment on this post to get a chance to win. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Finding Inspiration in the Mundane

Wednesday was a day when I needed to pick up the house. . . . take down the Halloween decorations, gather the dishes and dirty clothes the kids had left strewn about the house, clear off all those horizontal surfaces that had gathered mail and books and junk. You know that kind of day. I also had to clean up my craft desk, which was impassable. Not a very inspiring kind of day, until I found my Michael DeMeng Demented Toy creation (which, truth be told, I wasn't that happy with) sitting on top of the Frida Kahlo painted panel (which you can see down in the lower left-hand corner of my blog, in the "about me" section). I realized that what I didn't like about the piece was the face (it's a Jon Miller bobblehead, by the way) and the fact that the entire creation did not have any kind of a "shrine-like" quality to it, which is what normally draws me to Michael DeMeng's work. I was inspired to use Frida's face on a cloth mask to turn the creation into something in which I am now really happy. Who would have thought clean-up time could lead to such inspiration?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Weekend Giveaway - Photography Tips

I consider myself a pretty good photographer. In fact, when it comes to sports photography and travel photography, I consider myself a very good photographer. But . . . I have trouble with still lifes. Which means I have trouble photographing my art. Case in point: these book thongs. Yes, you read that right - they're called book thongs. They're basically beads and charms tied onto either end of waxed linen thread that you place between pages of a book. Think about it a little while, and you'll figure out why they're called that. Very fun to make and highly giftable. But I digress . . .
I had trouble figuring out how to photograph them so they looked good. Layout, lighting, camera settings all gave me fits this morning. So, for this weekend's giveaway, leave a comment with your best photography tip. It can be for photographing a still life or for anything else. Entries close Sunday at 9:00 pm California time. I'll draw a random name from those who comment and send them a prize. I bet you can figure out what it will be. Here's a hint - it will be for your bookshelf, not for your underwear drawer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A strong sense of style

Look at these two pieces of art. Do you know who created them? If you're familiar with the artists, you will know them without peeking at the answer below. Even if you don't know the artists, you can see the differences between the two and easily believe that each has a style that is instantaneously recognizable as their own.

I am fascinated by artists who have developed such a strong sense of style. I wonder if they revel in it or feel boxed in by it. I am sure it helps "brand" them and make their art more salable. It also seems to make them more of an Artist with a capital "A" because you can recognize a Van Gogh or a Monet when you see it. In many ways, they have created their own signature "look." I know I'm not quite there yet. I have some sense of my own style. My collage, "Wings," which I feature on my blog, includes many of the elements which make up my style. But I haven't settled on or created a unique signature style - one that people look at and say, "That's a Maria Ontiveros." I have one in mind, but it's still in the incubation stage. I'll be sure to share it when and if it works out.

In the meantime, here's a list of artists who I think have a strong signature style:

January Hooker (a local artist, without a website, but you can get an idea from this picture)

And, oh, here's where you can peek at the answers:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What do you plan for it? (a semi-regular series)*

Answer #2: Gift it!

I love to give my art as gifts. Some of my favorite pieces of art to give away are collage dominoes. I often give those small tokens to friends and family in times of mourning or spiritual crisis. The small tokens are just enough more than a card that I feel like I am giving something tangible. The recipient finds them meaningful, yet also manageable. Plus, I love making them.

Occasionally, I give away larger pieces of art. I am planning to give this collage as a gift to a very special couple for Christmas. The problem is that I can't say who because I don't want to spoil the surprise. I can give some hints, though:
  • this couple enjoys art and has taken art classes, even though I don't think of them as part of my group of art friends;
  • this couple creates art and even displays their own original art in their home;
  • this couple has given us original art, which we have displayed in our home;
  • this collage features an image from a collage sheet I made which includes an element from their home; and
  • I am indebted to this couple for creating a wonderful human being
Do you know who it is? If so, please don't spoil the surprise.

Have you ever given your art as gift? It's a wonderful thing to do.

*"What do you plan for it?" is a semi-regular series which suggests answers for what to do with all that incredible art we make.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And the winner is . . .

Alison! Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented. And a super big thank-you to those who have decided to "follow" my blog. I'm sending Alison this surrealistic painted panel as a prize. Look for another weekend give-away and more art coming your way soon.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Women Gathering

On Sunday, I gathered together with a group of friends to scrapbook and papercraft. We used to meet every week or so at our local scrapbook store, Luna's Memories. Unfortunately, the shop closed its doors last spring, and we have all missed our regular gatherings. So, after summer ended and the fall got up and running, we recommitted to gathering again. I worked on Christmas cards and made 40 of them! We also talked, laughed, ate, teared up and reminisced. I love creating with a group of women - whether it's mixed media art, scrapbook pages, cards or anything else. The energy and camaraderie always makes me feel good.

This month I am also starting a class on "blogging for scrapbookers." It's a different kind of gathering, but a gathering none the less. In the class, I look forward to blogging everyday - using my blog to catalog my art and connect with other artists. I also hope to learn how to use the various bells and whistles to make it a nicer place to visit. I know that I will learn and receive creative energy from the other women who are gathering for Shimelle's class. I look forward to spending time with all of you.

Dias de Los Muertos Art, Part 2

Here's a variety of art that I have created to pay tribute to and remember my loved ones who have passed away. The first collage is dedicated to my mom, who loved roses and let me have cats. The second collage is for my father - he was the "patron" who loved to tell stories. The house features photos of both my mom and dad. The last photo is my newest tribute - it's for our family dog, Buster, who passed away over Labor Day.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dias de Los Muertos Art, Part 1

I really enjoy making art for Dias de los Muertos. Here's a few things I have made. The first is a faux sugar skull (made in a class taught by Connie Andrews). The second is a shrine that includes an altered domino (made the shrine in a class taught by my friend Sally). The third picture includes a slide shrine that I made in a class I taught last year and a metal tin shrine.
This post is Part 1 because tomorrow I will post some of the art I have made to pay tribute to particular people who have passed away.

Also don't forget that today is the last day to post a comment in response to "Is it Finished" from Friday. Entries close at 6:00 Sunday night California time.