Saturday, March 31, 2012

Storytelling Sunday: "It's easy, mom!"

Clara: "Can I have your old camera mom?"
Me: "Yes you can, once you learn how to use it."
Clara: "I know how to use it mom.  It's easy. See?"
Yes, my love, I do.
This post is offered as part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday Year 2: Pictures (and just a few words). For more great stories, check out this link.
P.S. I posted my April stamp give-away a day early. But it's not too late to put your name in the draw. For a chance to win a set of very rare and quirky stamps, click here and leave a comment.

Friday, March 30, 2012

April Stamp Give Away

Once a month, on the first day of the month, I post a couple of new or gently used stamps to give away. This month I'm offering a quirky set great for cards, art journals or collage work. (I'm also posting a day early because on April 1, I'll be posting to Sian's Storytelling Sunday.)
If you want a chance to win this pair of rare stamps, leave me a comment by 10:00 p.m. Sunday night, April 1 (California time). and let me know. I'll pick a winner by random draw. The sentiment stamps are both from Club Scrap. The girl on the left is Laurel Burch by All Night Media.  The girl on the right is from Portfolio.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

11 Things You May Not Know About Me

A while ago, my friend Carrie of Rosalind Revival tagged me with eleven interesting questions. I thought today was a good day to answer them because it is also the day to post my self-portrait for Urban Muser's "In the Picture" challenge. The theme for March's self portrait is black and white.  I took the picture above on my back deck.  Now, on to Carrie's questions and my answers:
1. What is the last concert you went to?  New Year's Eve, 2012.  We saw a funk legend called Maceo Parker. It was so much fun!
2. How many rooms/bathrooms are there in your house and who do you share your home with? We have three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, plus a living room, dining room, kitchen and laundry room. I share them with my husband Paul, daughter Clara, son Henry, cat JJ and dog Gypsy.
3. If you could listen to only three CDs for the rest of your life, which three would you pick?

Grateful Dead, American Beauty
Avett Brothers, I and Love and You
Who, Quadraphenia
(Yeah, I know these are seriously dating me)
4. What is your all-time favorite movie?
Philadelphia Story - love Jimmy Stewart, love Cary Grant, love Katherine Hepburn
5. If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
I'd have to say my dad.  I miss having dinner with him - enjoying good food and drink and listening to his stories.
6. What is your favorite number? Any particular reason why? 31.  It's followed me around adult life.  Our first apartment address was 316 Torino, followed by 3316 Brittain Avenue, and now we are at 331 Avenue Granada. Freaky, huh?
7. What is your all-time favorite song? This is a really hard one - it might be "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen.
8. Did you participate in any extra-curricular activities in high school?

I was heavily involved in speech and debate.  Qualified for the national tournament twice and the state tournament three times. Traveled all over the state and country. It was a great experience. Totally nerdy, but you know what? Shimelle also did speech and debate!
9. What are your favorite pizza toppings?  Cashews. Yes, seriously! But they're hard to get.  If I can't get them, then either sausage and mushrooms or Hawaiian.
10. What is your favorite retail store to shop in?  Nordstrom's.  I'm perfectly happy to pay people to be really nice to me when I shop.
11. Where is the coolest place you've ever visited?

The Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. Or possibly the northwest corner of Wales. Or maybe Edinburgh Scotland. No. It was Isla Santo Espiritu - an island off of La Paz, Mexico.  We kayaked and one night we went out and splashed around in the bioluminescence. Magical.  And definitely cool.
I'm probably supposed to "tag" someone else with these questions. But I try to avoid doing that sort of thing. But I'd love to hear you answers to any or all of these questions -go ahead, pick one and answer it in the comments!
p.s. if you're looking for my PPF post, check this link. I posted early this week b/c of meme overload.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More "Wild" Art and Thoughts on Scale (PPF!)

Here's another art journal page I made in the "Art of Wild Abandonment" class.  It was such fun to cut leaves from various patterned and textured paper and also to make little houses to hang on my branch.  I liked it quite a bit. On the other hand. . .
I wasn't as crazy about this page. I painted vellum and the cut it up to make the butterfly and the poppies. Made some mushrooms/toadstools out of old sewing pattern paper.  I think there's something "off" about the scale of everything.  It feels huge and a little clumsy to me.  Maybe I'm just more comfortable with small, detailed things. . .
What about you? Are you more large scale or small scale?
p.s. edited to add that I'm linking this Thursday post up to Paint Party Friday because I'm posting my monthly self-portrait on the last Friday of the month. Confused? Don't be. Go to this link to see lot of other painterly goodness for PPF!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Operation Write Home Cards

Cards are a great way to de-stash and use up patterned paper. Ali Manning has been running this challenge focusing on doing just that this month, and here's my last submission for the challenge.  I used a variety of patterned paper to make these cards which I plan to donate to Operation Write Home.  If you're a card maker who likes making cards for a cause, check out this link to learn more about a terrific organization.  They even run cool challenges - right now there's one open for masculine/Father's Day cards.  Check it out here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Let's Talk Paper Piecing

This week, "The Art of Wild Abandonment" (the online class I'm taking) is focusing on paper piecing and using other texture elements. It's not something I've done a lot of in my art journals, but I found it a lot of fun.  It is also a good way to use up patterned paper, so it fits perfectly into Ali Manning's De-stash Challenge to use patterned paper.  For this page, I paper pieced some quilts which fit three different sides of my personality (my inner country girl, my seaside home, and my urban/rocker chick self). I'm really quite happy with it.
The Wild Abandonment class is co-taught by Christy Tomlinson who I take it does a lot of paper piecing in her "She Art" classes.  She has this very cool video on her blog where she makes a canvas using some of her product line that allows you to skip the paper piecing part of a She-Art canvas. Paper piecing does seem to be coming a bigger and bigger part of paper crafting.
So, let's talk paper piecing.  Do you do it? Do you like it? Hate it?
Is using pre-made paper-pieced products "cheating" or just part of the fun? 
Are punches and quick-cut, sizzix, etc. dies better or worse than cutting things my hand?  
Is it "original" art to use premade shapes? Does it matter?
Do tell.  I'd love to hear your opinions.
"Let's Talk" is a semi-regular series designed to inspire frank discussion and sharing of information on issues relating to photography, art and blogging. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

House Warming Pot Luck Blog Hop

Welcome to my house!  Come on in and around back to the garden:
I'm assuming you're here as part of Deb's House Warming Blog Hop Pot Luck?  If not, you may want to check out Deb's post here to find out what's going on.  But, you're welcome to stay, regardless of how you got here!  Have a seat on a garden bench while I get you a drink:
I want you to enjoy a real, authentic California Margarita.  Not something made from a mix, but something made from actual ingredients.  Here's what you'll need:
Limes (one per drink- look for thin skinned, juicy ones)
Tequila (100% agave - silver is usually best)
Grand Marnier
Agave Nectar (look in the sugar and sweeteners aisle; available in grocery stores in the US)
To make the margaritas:
Place ice in a shaker.  Squeeze the juice of one lime for each drink. Add one shot of tequila and 1/2 a shot of Grand Marnier per drink.  Add one large squeeze of agave nectar per drink.  Shake well.  Pour into glass over ice.  Float a little more Grand Marnier on top.  Taste and correct sweetness as desired.
I usually serve these with tortilla chips and guacamole, but I also like to offer pistachios or spiced nuts, as well. Emeril Legasse has a good spiced nut recipe at this link, but be sure to read the comments for some hints on following it. Martha Stewart has a healthyish recipe here
You're welcome to stay as long as you like, but please don't give any tequila to Gypsy, no matter how cute she looks when she begs:
And when you're done, click on this link to hop on over to see Beverly in North Carolina, USA.  She's got a yummy appetizer waiting for you!
If you get lost along the way, here are links for the entire blog hop:

Deb @ PaperTurtle –
Rinda @ Gallo Organico –  (This is me!!! You are here!)
Beverly @ BE glorious -

Alison @ Life in the Slow Lane –
Fiona @ Staring at the Sea –
Amy @ Over at our Place -

Side/Main Dishes
The “Not So” Small One @ From High in the Sky –
Jacky @ Scrappy Jacky -
Deb @ Deb’s World –
Ginger @ Ginger’s Life of Spice -
Karen @ Tales from the Scrapheap -
Karen @ Random Reflections -
Ruth @ Everyday Life of a Suburban SAHM -

Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita -
Ruth @ Chatty Crafty Arty Pig -
Margaret @ Finnegan Begin Again –
Becca @ La Jolie Fleur Rouge -
Cheri @ Scrap Dreams -
Carrie @ Rosalind Revival – 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PPF: Prayer Flag Sampler

One of my favorite current projects is a sampler of ideas for prayer flags. I posted my first page here.  As predicted, prayer flags seem to be gaining traction in the crafting world. The magazine Cloth Paper Scissors just ran this cover story.  You can read a blog post about the article at the Prayer Flag Project here.  Recently, I made a cover for my prayer flag sampler (above). Although I still haven't made any actual flags, but I'm still collecting ideas in my sampler.  Here's a new one:
And one more with a face I particularly like.
This post is part of Paint Party Friday.  For more painterly goodness, check out the links at this post.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Peek Inside My Sketchbook

Three months ago, who would have thought I could have made this passable sketch of my dog Gypsy?
Certainly not me!  It's not perfect, but it certainly surprised me.  How about you? Have you done anything to surprise yourself lately?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reflecting on my OLW for 2012

For 2012, I chose "home" as my One Little Word.  I've been using it as an inspiration to get my physical home in order - organizing and purging room by room.  I've made a lot of progress but still have a lot to do (mainly the garage, which will take many, many sessions).  I've also been focusing on (as the art journal page above says) "the place my heart calls home." I've been working on my relationships with my husband and children - challenging but rewarding!  Finally, I've been working to find the place where my artistic muse feels most at home.  I've been learning drawing and water color painting.  And am happy with how I'm integrating these into my art journaling and mixed media collage.  I know I'll never give up photography, but I need to learn more about how to use my new camera.  I've done some scrapbooking and card making, too, but those have taken a bit of a back seat during the first quarter of 2012.  But that's okay.  Those will find their time, too.
So, did you choose a "one little word" for 2012? What are you doing with it? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

A funny thing happened to my owls . . .

In the Art of Wild Abandonment class I'm taking, the instructor Junelle Jacobsen created a wonderful art journal page featuring owls.  Here's an example of one of her owls, taken from her blog "Yes and Amen."
It was a totally fun exercise to create these whimsical creatures.  But a funny thing happened to my owls.  As I drew in the wings, they looked more and more like baseballs.  Which, of course, makes sense because drawing and art journaling taps into the artist's experiences and subject position.  And, you know, I'm all about baseball.  So, I went with the baseball theme and created the art journal page up top.  I titled it "The Joplin Night Owls of 1910," (named after a Negro League team from back in the days when American baseball was segregated).  I like my whimsical owls, and I realized that in many ways they reminded me of a baseball photograph I took and used in this recent art journal page.  I had been toying with the idea of doing a painting based on the photograph during Alisa Burke's Finding Your Muse online class.  Obviously, my subconscious hadn't let go of the idea.  So, I went with it and created this art journal page using acrylic paints:
I think one of the things I love most about art is the way it taps into my subconscious and brings out the things which are percolating inside my head.  Junelle has described the process as one where we "Let our hearts speak through our fingers."  I guess my heart is more full of baseball than owls!  Are there things in your heart which you find your fingers speaking about over and over?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Modigliani Monday: Granny's Photo Album

The Gingersnap Creations blog has a challenge titled "Granny's Photo Album," and it inspired me to create this art journal page.  The journaling reads "Every little girl deserves to feel like a princess.  The image is a photo of my mom which I altered using this Modigliani painting as an inspiration:
It was a lot of fun to transform my mom's image and even more fun to create the collage. It's been a while since I messed around in my mixed media bin.  For this page, I used sewing patterns, napkins, flowers, Graphic 45 paper, a vintage dictionary page on which I had stamped/resisted a bee, and some other fun embellies. Lots of shades of acrylic paint, too! Thanks so much for the inspiration. Who knew there was a Modigliani waiting in Grandma's photo album?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sketching Spring

I took out my sketchbook to draw some thumbnail sketches using the prompt "spring," and I came up with these images (which I water colored).  One of the exercises in the Art of Wild Abandonment class I'm taking is to make art journal pages using your sketches.  So, I took my chick idea and made this page:
It's water colors on a gessoed page with ink highlights.  The journaling reads "My two little chicks have grown up so fast . . . " I'm really enjoying this process.
The chicks remind me that Easter is just around the corner.  I'll be traveling that week with one of my little chicks to go tour colleges! We'll be seeing Oregon State, University of Oregon and Gonzaga University. Do you have plans for Easter?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Mail

I participated in a "vintage" themed twinchie exchange sponsored by Gingersnap Creations.  You can see the little two by two inch pieces of art I sent out in this post.  Yesterday I received a wonderful envelope from hostess Ali Manning, filled with the wonderful pieces up top. Aren't they all lovely? It's hard to pick favorites, but I did especially love the button lady in the top row and the silvery red butterfly in the bottom row.  What about you? Is there one that catches your eye?
I also recently received these two lovely cards from two amazing card makers - Karen and Jacky.  If you like cards, you should definitely check out their blogs. Thanks Ladies!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

PPF: Watercolored Sketches

I just started taking the online course, The Art of Wild Abandonment, taught by Junelle Jacobsen and Christy Tomlinson. The first week's lesson introduced me to the idea of working in a sketchbook.  I sketched some lavender sprigs and colored them with watercolor pencils and a waterbrush:
I'm really quite pleased with how they turned out because, before this year, I would have said that I couldn't draw!  Practice really pays off.  Working in a sketchbook is completely new to me.  Although I work in art journals often, the sketchbook feels different.  The sketchbook pages are done more quickly, and I feel even less concern about whether the drawings turn out "right."  It's a very freeing process.  And I'm really beginning to understand how my sketchbook will provide tons of ideas for things that will become art journal pages - or prayer flag samples, canvases and other works of art.  I think I'm hooked!  What about you? Do you work in a sketchbook?  How doe you see it as different from your art journal?
I'm sharing this as part of Paint Party Friday.  For more painterly goodness, check out the artists listed in this link.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cards, Cards, Cards!

I occasionally say that I'm going to give up making cards.  
But . . . sometimes when painting or art journaling just seems like too much work; 
when I don't want to haul out all my scrapping stuff and figure out where my pictures are; when my wrist hurts too much to work on editing images; 
but . . .  I still want to create, then it's fun to pull out a stack of patterned paper and make a bunch of cards.
And it's good to have a stash of cards for the important events in life, including the sad times when someone needs a sympathy card:
Thanks to Ali Manning for sponsoring this de-stash challenge which encouraged me to use up some of my patterned paper.  Each of these cards used 3-4 different patterns, and it was fun to get them out of my stash and into my card bin.  And easy. And sometimes that just what an artist needs.  Is there something you turn to when you want to create but are low energy?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Signs of Spring

Just a simple art journal page, with a certain sign of spring around here.  Has spring arrived where you live? And what signals its arrival? 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Modigliani Monday

This month Ayala is hosting this challenge to paint pictures based upon the work of the artist Modigliani.  I started this week and have made pretty good progress.  The first one I completed was this watercolor:
based upon this painting:
It's a reasonably accurate representation, and I got some good experience working with my watercolors.  But. . .
it many ways, it didn't really feel like me.  So, I stared at this painting for a while:
And looked at an article called "Narrative Collage" by Anne E. Quinlan in the Jan./Feb. 2009 edition of Cloth Paper Scissors, and I came up with this:
Now that's much better!  Much more me! And very much where I want all this painting practice to be able to take me in my art journaling.  I've got a representational acrylic painting in the works and another narrative collage. Thanks Ayala for encouraging me to practice and for giving me the opportunity to find my muse.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sunday Inspiration

I've been working on art journal pages inspired by my photography.  You can see a one here and one at the end of today's post.  Today, since its Sunday, I'm sharing this page based on another photograph.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I laid down white paint in the shape of the angel and then went in to add the outline with black paint and sharpie marker. It's similar to the process for making faces starting with either watercolor or acrylic "face blobs" that I learned in Carla's 101 Faces Class.  Here's the inspiration photo:
The only element I drew out of it was the angel. I love the shape of the angel, as well as its symbolism and personal connection (my late mother made it for me).  So, it felt right in this page reflecting on the value of a religious upbringing.  I'm definitely feeling much more confident these days with my drawing and painting.  The various classes are really starting to pay off. 
P.S. To answer my challenge from yesterday, the art journal page was actually based on the photograph of the bicyclists in the Cambridge alley.  When I went to complete the page, the background and sun/moon face were already on the page.  In looking to complete it,  I drew on the sense of scale, the sky and sense of movement in the photograph.
Can you see the connection between the journal page and the photograph?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ten (12 actually) on the Tenth: Inspirational Starting Points

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently worked my way through the wonderful free class "Finding Your Muse" by Alisa Burke.  I shared a painting I made based on one of my photographs.  Today, I wanted to share ten more photographs that I find inspiring. The problem was that I couldn't stop at ten, so with apology to the others who are playing along with Shimelle's Ten on the Tenth, here are Twelve on the Tenth! 
Photograph 1: I love the sunflare and the perspective of taking a picture of the back of someone. I like the sense of movement which is implied.
Photograph #2 Love the street photography feel of this. Plus, Mexican wrestler parody - what's not to love?
Photograph #3 Love the sky, love the strength, love the anonymity of another shot taken from behind.
Photograph #4 I love the difference in scale between the boy and the firetruck. I love that I know he is thrilled to see this truck. Another photograph taken from behind and another street photograph.
Photograph #5 Love the solitary feel of the tree and the movement suggested by the path. Love the subtle color palette, too.
Photograph #6 There's something about the way this tree hugs the wall that suggests family to me.  Nature composed such a beautiful pattern with those branches, too.
Photograph #7 More street photograph, catching a slice of life from behind, with lots of movement and interesting scale. I'm certainly seeing some common threads running through here.
Photograph #8 I love the magic of the forest suggested here through its texture, as well as the color palette.
Photograph #9 I love the colors and the rustic nature of these animals, and I love the packed composition of the photograph.
Photograph #10 - I love the composed nature of this photograph, the depth of field and the texture.
Photograph #11 I love the intensity of the color (juxtaposed with the pop of white) and the sharpness of focus.
Photograph #12 I love the subtle colors and the way the ribbons flutter in the wind. I'm sure this is what first got me thinking about prayer flags.
The next step is the process suggested by Alisa is to actually do something with your inspirational starting point.  Up top is an art journal page based on one of the photographs. Can you guess which one?