29 December 2007

I Have A Crush ...

... on a dying man.

Randy Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September, 2006. After surgery, chemo and radiation, he found out that his cancer had returned in August 2007. He's posted full details of his story on his website.

I've never met Randy in person, but I've spent a few hours in his company. On September 18, Randy gave a lecture at Carnegie-Mellon as part of their Journeys Lecture Series. On November 28, Randy gave another lecture -- this time at the University of Virginia School of Engineering. I've watched both videos a couple of times and have been amazed by Professor Pausch's intelligence, his courage, his humor, and his grace. I'm not sure that I would face the same circumstance in the same way he is. I think I'd be more whiny.

His first lecture is about dreams -- how he accomplished his childhood dreams and how he's helped other people accomplish theirs. It's inspiring, funny and interesting. The second lecture is on Time Management. Borrowed heavily from The One Minute Manager and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, this lecture is full of practical advice for managing your time more effectively. Randy jokes at the beginning of the lecture that he has the right to talk about time management, since he has so little time left to manage.

Watch the videos and be inspired (and touched) yourself.

(Thanks so much to Jillian for turning me on to Randy's story.)

24 December 2007

Happy Holiday!

Just a brief post to wish you all a happy holiday, however you celebrate it. May you be surrounded by loved ones and get lots of neat prezzies!

12 December 2007

Jil Jensen Winters

The world is a less beautiful place now.

On 07 December, 2007, Jil Jensen Winters made her transition. You'll notice in her obituary that she was a psychotherapist; she was mine. She stood with me, as a magnificent witness to the unfolding of my personal story. She just sat with me in my grief, not offering words of comfort, when there was no comfort to be had. She just sat there; she was present, sometimes the greatest comfort a person can offer. Jil laughed with me whenever there was a reason, but she never laughed at me. She celebrated with me, and often for me, when I couldn't find cause -- or more likely, the emotional energy -- to celebrate myself. We were together for over three years and had a deep affection for one another. We occasionally talked about the unusual therapeutic dynamic between us; had we met under any other circumstances, we would have been the closest of friends. We talked about how unfair it was, for both of us, that she got to know me, deeply, and I didn't really get to know her.

But I realize now that I did know her. I may not have known that her middle name was Maree, or that she, too, had lost a brother, but I knew who she was. I knew that she was a woman of deep faith and a woman who loved -- who cherished, who treasured -- her family. I was surprised to read that her oldest children were her step-children; she never referred to them as such. To her, they were nothing less than her son -- her soldier -- and her daughter. I knew that she loved her husband, deeply. In fact, I hoped to sustain my excitement about my husband as well as she had sustained hers. Once, I asked her how long she'd be married and she replied, "It doesn't matter." I took that to mean that it didn't matter how long they'd been married, but how well they'd been married.

I've experienced those eyes, locking on mine. She didn't stare, she observed. She made eye contact. Sometimes, she would just look at me, really look at me, no words. It wasn't awkward; it was actually very comforting. I was being taken in. And the hugs! Oh! Those hugs! They weren't just cursory pats on the back. She was really present, as I always knew her to be.

The last few times we met, we talked about my involvement in the 37days project. That led to conversation about the concept behind the 37days website. In a nutshell: What would you be doing if you had 37 days to live? Of course, I did most of the talking; Jil did most of the listening. We agreed that our lives should be lived with intention and deliberation, that they should be lived "on purpose". Jil celebrated with me, as I had an art moment that was the kind of profound experience I had always hoped that art would be for me. She counted my blessings with me. She helped me find my joy. I saw that, should I be living in my 37 days, I was happy. Ironically, she was living in hers.

I am so proud to have known, to have loved, this magnificent woman, and to have been known and loved by her. She was passionate about her work and she loved her patients. She said we taught her so much. I feel humbled by that, as I have learned so much from her. Although I don't feel particularly strong right now, I am stronger for having worked with her. I know more about my illness, about its dynamics. I'm not so afraid of someday being hospitalized (though, of course, I hope it never comes to that); Jil's told me so many stories of working in the hospital, that it's not a scary place anymore. She's done so much to make me more comfortable with my illness, without becoming a label. For that, and so much more, I'm grateful.

Yes, the world is a less beautiful place right now, without Jil ... although she wouldn't want me to see it that way.

10 December 2007

Something to be Thankful For

I've gotten my days and my nights mixed up again -- something I do frequently. To keep myself busy last night, I made gratitude journals. They came together very quickly, and were fun to make. I made two; one for me and one for a friend. Tonight, I'm working on two more. Hopefully, I'll be sleeping some tonight, though!

08 December 2007

Images Are Back!

I think my image problem has been solved. I had to re-upload (is that even a word?) all of my images to the blogger servers. That meant deleting the old code and then uploading each image again, one by one. Some of my earlier posts were quite image intensive, so it got rather tiring. If you run across a post where the images don't work, please leave a comment and let me know, so I can fix it. Thank you.

Panera Bread

Just got home from dinner and a little grocery shopping. John and I ate dinner at the new Panera Bread in Redlands over by Albertson's. I had the Orchard Harvest Salad - half portion with a bowl of French Onion Soup. John had an Italian Combo Sandwich. We both had the rather pedestrian soft drink to go with our meals. The food was yummy and the decor was nice, although some of the art was a bit silly. It all had a bread theme. There was a Stonehenge made of bread painting, and a baker juggling several pieces of bread while riding a unicycle. Like I said, some of it was silly. We were both full, so neither of us had dessert, but we did stop and look at the bakery when we were done eating. The Caramel Pecan Brownie looked pretty tempting, as did the Very Chocolate Brownie. The small breakfast menu and bagel selection sounds good, too.

07 December 2007

Disappearing Pictures!

I know my images have disappeared. I'm migrating my blog from godaddy to blogger and having some issues. Please bare with me until I get things straightened out. Thanks!

Great Site For Collage Artists And Altered Art Fiends!

Lisa hosts a "countdown" during most of the major holidays, offering a different downloadable image each day of a holiday season. Christmas is no different! Drop by the Christmas Countdown page and see what goodies she has to offer. But hurry, because these images won't last long.

30 November 2007

All Finished!

That's my final Challenge Card illustration, for this essay. This was a particularly difficult one, but everyone seems to like it. It's very simple, and I like that. The essay is about existing in those liminal spaces that we occasionally find ourselves in -- We've let go of one thing, but have not yet embraced a new thing. It is in those oddly uncomfortable spaces that true change can take place.

Digh, in her essay, uses the visual of the trapeze artist and of the childhood gym toy, the monkey bars (hence, the title) to talk about that place between letting go of one thing and grabbing hold of something else. I looked for images of both/either to use in my Challenge Card, and didn't see anything that really moved me that I could get permission to use (back to that nasty permissions issue). And even with an image, I couldn't think of a concept. My husband, John, mentioned that the visual he got after reading the essay was of a person standing alone (thank you, John). That really worked for me, as a concept, because we usually travel through those liminal spaces by ourselves. And what better way to represent a threshold than with a doorway? A doorway is, after all, a threshold into a new place.

It drives me crazy that the doorway is somewhat askew. I swear on the original, it's not that noticeable. Well, it is now, but it wasn't before! LOL!

This is not the image that I originally had in mind for the focal point of the illustration but iStock didn't come through for me. In fact, I didn't hear anything from them after our email exchange in which they asked about contest rules. I just decided that it wasn't worth it to keep hounding them. Instead, I went looking for a suitable replacement image. This one works for me.

Many, many thanks to Jon Johnson for the use of his image. It was used under a Creative Commons License, so my final work is also licensed under the same license. I'd also like to thank meatcats22, Miss Twiga, and Felix63 for giving me permission to use their photos. I ultimately decided not to use them, but I appreciate their kindness and consideration. Many thanks go to Jer from Flickr who taught me an easy way to search for images that can be used commercially. Her techniques helped me find the photo that I did use as my focal point.

By the way, there is a Flickr group set up for sharing scans/pictures of the Challenge Cards as they are created. Considering how many entries there probably are, there aren't very many being shared, but there is some really great work. There are a couple of other Challenge Cards on various artists' blogs. Be sure to check out the featured artwork on Patti's site, done by 11-year old Callie. It's great!

28 November 2007

Let go of the monkey bar

No photo to share with you yet. I'm emailing with Client Relations at iStock.com, hoping to get permission to use a wonderful photograph they have there. We've had quite an exchange which culminated in my sending Biliana links to all the posts in Patti's blog where she talks about the contest. I've even sent a mock-up of my illustration. I'm jumping through all their hoops, and hoping for the best. Biliana is super-nice and is really working with me, rather than just dismissing me. She seems to want to help me. I'm really impressed by their attitude at iStock.

Special thanks to Sandy Davies, an art friend. Tuesday afternoon, I bundled up all my mock-ups and took them to her office. We spent a fair amount of time, going over each one, talking about what worked and what it needed and why I did what I did. It was an excellent exercise for me. Sandy is an artist herself and a great teacher. In situations like this, she doesn't just lecture, but tells why she thinks what she thinks. So, in addition to getting another pair of artistic eyes to look at my illustrations, I got a mini art lesson! I also got some great advice, which made my pieces better. Thanks Sandy!

Go see the tiny Ninjas

This is one of my favorites, mostly because of the way it came together. I had read the essay several times and couldn't get beyond the visual of the tiny Ninja figures. I wasn't seeing what the essay was really about. It wasn't until I was emailing a friend (I know you've already read about this, but bear with me. I love this story) for advice, and I distilled the essay into a few sentences that the door opened for inspiration. I said to Tammy, "This essay is a bitch. It's about seizing the moment, showing up for life. It seems to be about tiny Ninja theater doing MacBeth at the Kennedy Center, but it's really about putting one foot in front of the other, and being present for your own life. A couple of quotes from the essay: 'And for a bright shining moment, this little tribe of Ninjas made all the world a stage.' 'Get yourself to your life.' 'Rise above the aches and pains, the nausea, exhaustion, general malaise. The show won't run forever.' I'm really loving the essay -- I love this woman's writing style; it's very conversational -- but I have absolutely no inspiration. Wish you were here to brainstorm with."

Well, it wasn't long after I sent that email that it hit me -- putting one foot in front of the other! What a visual! So off I went to Google Image Search and a few pages later, I run across this photo. The file name is walking-to-treatment.jpg. That really struck me. When I looked at the blog that the photo is from, I realized that the woman in the picture is fighting breast cancer. Not only is that poignant, but it makes the photograph perfect! Talk about putting one foot in front of the other! Going through the grind of fighting cancer. I commented on Marilyn Kass' blog entry that included the picture of the feet; she emailed me right back and quickly gave her permission for me to use this exquisite photo.

After I finalized the use of Marilyn's photo of her feet, the rest of the layout just fell into place. Oh, by the way, the Chinese character in the middle of the collage is Energy. I thought that was appropriate, given that it really does take energy to put one foot in front of the other and to show up for your own life. Asian stencils were designed by Keith Bishop for Plaid Enterprises, Inc.

I'd also like to thank Shari L. Ireton at the University of Washington School of Law for allowing me to use this photo, even though my Muse and I ultimately went in a different direction. I really appreciate her cooperation.

Consider the flea

Here is the illustration for Consider the flea. Image is used by permission of Jillian. I was determined to use this image somewhere, somehow. I just love it. The men were really the inspiration, thinking of how I could manipulate the photo to illustrate the essay. Since the essay talks about 17th-century Dutch microscopist Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, I was inspired to go with a magnification theme.

Celebrate every orange flag

Here is the first of my four essay illustrations. It was done in mixed media collage -- though mostly cut and paste. The little girl is from Digital Collage Sheets. The birthday candle is from Kathleen Peirce at Peirce Clipart.

The work is meant to illustrate this essay. Go read it. It will make you smile and buy birthday candles.

Speaking of which, I'd like to thank babybluebbw for her permission to use this picture. I decided on a different photo, but I appreciate her cooperation, none-the-less.

26 November 2007

Inspiration Comes From Funny Places

Well, I've come up with the idea for my fourth illustration, so all is right with the world. I'm still waiting for a few permissions to come back for the third illustration, but I'm working away as though they will. It's my intention that this project will go smoothly. I have looked for back-up images where needed, but I'm counting on not having to use them. I have found some awesome images, though. There are some really talented photographers out there.

I mentioned that I found my fourth idea. It came while I was kvetching with a friend, via email, about the last essay and how I wasn't coming up with any ideas for it! Since I didn't know if she had read it or not, I told her that on the surface it seems to be about tiny Ninja figures and MacBeth, but in reality, the essay is about showing up for life. It's about putting one foot in front of the other, and getting on with the business of living. Gee, does that bring a visual to mind for you? Well, it did for me! And I found the most amazing photograph! What makes it the perfect photograph is that the woman is on her way to get treatment for breast cancer, I believe (to be honest, I've only taken time to scan her blog, but I'll be reading it in depth once this project is over). Talk about putting one foot in front of the other! Talk about showing up for life! I wish there was some way to tell the publisher the provenance of this image, so she would understand how well it illustrates the theme of the essay.

I quickly commented on the photograph and held my breath -- and I had an affirmative response almost before I closed the page! It was a great feeling. From there, the page just fell together.

Am I teasing you, by talking about the mock-ups and not showing them to you? I would but my camera takes truly hideous photographs as the flash doesn't work reliably. Or rather, it most reliably doesn't work! LOL! And you've heard the I-don't-have-a-scanner woes. Tomorrow I am going to be near a scanner. Maybe I can scan the mock-ups then. The problem with that (I know: Excuses, excuses!) is that the elements aren't glued or taped down, so that I can more easily move them around and try different layouts. Hard to scan something when the pieces are floating around!

You can bet, I'll be sharing the finished products, though. Visit again around Friday and you'll see them then.

25 November 2007

Project Progress

Well, I have three mock-ups complete, although I'm not sold on the third one. I haven't run it by my in-house art critic (my husband) or by my friend who is brainstorming with me. He has read the essays and is giving thoughtful critique to my illustrations. In fact, he inspired the third one. I'm also waiting on permissions for the focal image, so please, keep your fingers crossed with me. I'll have to buy the image, but I love it, so if I can use it, I'm happy to pay for it. I've written to iStock Customer Relations to see if their license covers what I want to do. I think it does, but I thought, "Better safe than sorry". Or is that, "It's easier to apologize than ask forgiveness"? If I don't hear from them in a timely fashion, I'm going to go ahead and use the image. I am also continuing to look for other sources of images I can use. If you know of an image with a similar feel or theme that I could easily garner publication rights to, let me know. Thanks!

24 November 2007

Busy, busy, busy ...

My blog entries for the next several days will be short and sweet as I'm knee-deep in an art project for the 37days website. I'm entering a contest, where the winners will get to illustrate an upcoming book. It's all very exciting.

I've chosen to create four entries. My assigned essays are:

I've got mock-ups of the first two illustrations done; the last two have left me blank. This time last night, I didn't have a clue as to what I'd do for Consider the flea, so there's still hope that my Muse will visit me in the night with an idea. Or that my great friend, Jillian, or my darling husband, John, will brainstorm with me and help me come up with an idea. There's still hope that I'll meet the 5:00 PM, EST, 30 November, 2007 deadline!

23 November 2007

Time Flies!

I can't believe so many days have past without me posting! Chalk it up to the craziness that was the Thanksgiving holiday. We didn't go out of town, so I don't have that as an excuse, but John and I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time yesterday and I just didn't have time for several days to do anything but prepare for it. You'd have thought we were having an army over, the way I cooked! But I was just doing my mother proud! I grew up in the South and we like to feed people, so feed people, I did. We had snacks before dinner, then a full menu, including turkey and most of the trimmings.

Good news, though, for those of you who are following along: I found my cell phone! It was in the back seat of my FIL's car, so it was never really lost; I just couldn't find it. He found it the next day and promptly returned it. I was happy again.

18 November 2007

My Cell Phone *SOB*

I love my cell phone. Now, I'm not one of those people who is on her cell phone constantly, talking about nothing, but I love my cell phone none-the-less. I love the security that having it gives me and I love texting with my husband at odd hours when he's at work. In fact, I rarely actually talk on my cell phone at all, but I still love it.

Well, this evening, I lost it. It just vanished. I had it in my backpack and heard it *zing* for a text message and decided to answer it in a few minutes, as I about to get in the car. When I went to answer it, it was gone! I drove back to where I last heard it and looked all over the ground and it wasn't there. It was no where to be found. I've called it several times, thinking whoever found it would answer it, but so far, no luck. My husband even drove to where I lost it and looked around and he didn't see it either. I guess it's really gone.

I loved my cell phone.

17 November 2007

Off To Bed, But First ...

Of the million medications I take, one of them has the side effect (for me, at least) of putting me in a near coma each night. I've already taken it for the evening, so thought I'd better post to the ol' blog before it kicks in. Judging from my typing -- which thankfully is correctable -- I'm a little too late.

There's nothing really going on to write about. I did errands all day, in preparation for Thanksgiving. I did more grocery shopping, some Wal-Mart shopping, and bought candles for the dinner table. I talked with the in-laws about what they can bring. All-in-all, in was a productive day.

Tomorrow is Art on State Street, an annual event put on by the Redlands Art Association. Part of State Street, where the gallery is located, is blocked off to traffic, and artists set up and display their wares for the day. This year there are approximately 40 artists participating. It promises to be a gorgeous event. I'm the Event Treasurer, so I'll be there all day. Luckily, I'm only really busy first thing in the morning and last thing in the afternoon, so I've plenty of time to look around.

Hope to see you there if you live in the area.

16 November 2007

Holiday Progress

This evening John and I bought our holiday turkey: 13.39 pounds. This is the first holiday dinner that we are hosting. We are very excited. I noticed something at the grocery store that I thought was odd. Turkeys up to 17 pounds were $.65 a pound; turkeys 17 pounds and over were only $.48 a pound. That's sizism! Discrimination, I say!

I have most of the housework done. Tomorrow I'll work on the shopping and do a little bit around the house, but mostly things are in check. The only guests we are having are John's parents, but still, we want everything to be nice.

15 November 2007

NaBloPoMo -- OhNo!

I can't believe I missed a day! The NaBloPoMo challenge is to blog once a day, every day, for the month of November. And I missed yesterday. I can't believe it. I laid down to rest my feet (doctor's orders, if that counts for anything) at about 1:30 PM, and I was out. OUT, that is, until the wee hours of this morning. It never occurred to me that I would sleep for 17 hours, or I would have posted before I went to rest.

I'm already out of the running for prizes, because I didn't start at the beginning of the month, so this isn't a major catastrophe. But now, I'm out of the running for meeting my commitment, too. That sucks.

Forgive me?

13 November 2007

Blogroll Updated ... Again!

There are things I shouldn't do when I can't sleep and play with Blogger is probably one of them. That said, I've been awake for the past couple of hours with a horrible case of Restless Legs Syndrome, and I needed something to do to occupy my time until my meds kicked in. So, I added a NaBloPoMo badge and a Moon Phases widget to my sidebar and updated my blogroll. Again. I won't be adding anymore blogs in the foreseeable future, but I was tired of typing in URLs that are written on notecards and postit notes and laying around the computer.

I say I won't be adding anymore blogs, because, yes, Virginia, I really do read all the blogs listed under "Inspiration and Education", every day or two. Some of them are there on a trial basis as I'm still getting to know them -- trying to decide what I think, so they may be removed. If you see your blog on the list, a link back to Mixed Grill Favorites would be appreciated, but isn't necessary or expected.

I'm Readable! Are You?

When playing with the NaBloPoMo Randomiser and reading random posts, I ran across an entry about a widget that will check to see how readable your blog is; that is, what level of education one needs to read and understand your posts.

cash advance

There's no excuse for not reading Mixed Grill Favorites; while I do use the occasional three or four syllable word, it's basically understandable at a grade school level.

Like Leigh, I prefer this more comprehensive readability test, but it doesn't have a handy little widget or nifty badge to display. Ultimately, it gives me the same information, but it also tells me that up to this post, 10.43% of my words have been three or more syllables long; that comforts me.

12 November 2007

I Won!

I never win anything, but I won! To celebrate her 100th post, Marissa over at The Other Side of Me was having a contest with two fabulous prizes. Not only did I win something, but I won the best of the prizes, a shadowbox made by her. Don't get me wrong, the book would have been a great prize too, since I love art/craft books. But the shadowbox is an absolutely gorgeous, one-of-a-kind piece of art. I like art, especially this kind. Drop by her blog to see pictures of it.

11 November 2007

100th Post -- Me, In Second Grade

It's my 100th post, and I'm not even having a contest. I feel so lame.

Today, I ran across this picture of me as a second grader. My mom made that dress. She made most of my clothes back then.

Wasn't I a cute kid?

"Lost" Piece Finished

She started out so beautiful, but then I messed her up by gluing and talking at the same time! I worked on her at my Hands-On group in October and glued the lace on while I was talking and listening to others talk. It's upside down! I didn't mean for the hard edge of the lace to face the inside of the canvas. By the time I realized it, the gel medium was dry and there was no turning back! The buttons helps soften the hard edge, but it's still a little bottom heavy.

Oh well, it's finished.

10 November 2007

Sign of Things to Come ...

I've only been participating in NaBloPoMo for four days and I can't think of anything to post about ... this is going to be a long month!

09 November 2007

Prosperity Challenge Piece

I promised you a better picture of my Prosperity Challenge piece; here it is. The colors are off a little bit, but you get the general idea. I purposefully broke the 'three-button' rule; two buttons just looked better to me, so two buttons it was.

08 November 2007

The Nicest, Strange Thing

I'm not a big believer in coincidence, but the nicest, strange thing happened to me this evening. I went to Barnes & Noble tonight. A very pleasant looking man held the door open for me. I looked at magazines; I shopped; I ate cheesecake; I looked at magazines again. Finally, I'm ready to wait in line and make my purchase and the same pleasant looking man lets me go in front of him! Since we checked out at roughly the same time, it's no big surprise that he held the door open for me as we left. We get to our vehicles, and he's parked right next to me. I debated to myself, and then I spoke; he replied and an agreeable, albeit short, conversation endued. Mostly we talked about the soap bubbles in the fountain in the shopping center, but still. It was an enjoyable little chat on a night when I was feeling a bit lonely.

It was the nicest, strangest thing.

I said I did some shopping at Barnes & Noble. I looked at several art books before deciding to purshase one. I was impressed by The Art of Personal Imagery by Corey Moortgat. I only glanced through the book, but it looked like there were several techniques taught. One drawback (?) that I saw was that all the art showcased is her own, so the styling is very similar throughout the book. That can be a minus, as it can get a bit boring and repetitive, or it can be a plus, as it is visually cohesive. I liked what I saw.

I also looked at Layers by Shari Carroll. I only looked at a few pages in this one before I put it away and went on to something else. It seemed too scrapbooky to me. I have a scrapbook, but I don't scrapbook. That is, my pages are mostly just pictures and journaling on plain colored backgrounds. Oddly enough, I just don't get into making the mini-collages out of my scrapbook pages. In fact, I don't really enjoy scrapbooking at all.

I almost bought Collage Unleashed, but decided that it was a little fabric oriented for me right now. I'd love to work with fabric more than I do -- which is hardly at all -- but I just don't have the space for it right now. I can barely get to my sewing machine in the office and I'm afraid to run it on my dining room table. It weighs about 60 pounds and my dining room table is glass topped. I'm definitely going to put this on my amazon wish list though!

I ended up with Journal Revolution. I'd been wanting it and Visual Chronicles since I first saw them in Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago. I went with Journal Revolution over Visual Chronicles simply because I could find one and not the other. Journal Revolution made me cry when I first picked it up, so I'm thinking it is a book I need to own.

I also bought the current issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. I don't know why I don't have a subscription to this magazine, as I have every issue!

07 November 2007

Two New Challenges

I found two really cool challenges while I was blog hopping this evening, one which I will be participating in, one which I just don't think I can manage.

First the one I won't be participating in ... Art Every Day Month, although I think it's a cool idea. There are a variety of reasons why I won't be participating. One, I'm in an artistic slump. Two, I'm hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year. What difference does that make, you ask? Well, I don't have a dedicated art space, so I tend to do art at the dining room table. Since I'm already six days down and I'd have to miss a week during Thanksgiving, it seems silly to make a commitment to make art everyday. Plus, I don't have a scanner or a reliable digital camera (Am I the last person in the civilized world?) so posting pictures of my work would be problematic. But I plan on following the web site and checking out the Flickr group.

Now the challenge I am participating in ... National Blog Posting Month. The challenge is to post to your blog everyday during the month of November. Well, I've already messed that up, but I can post everyday from here on out. It's really something I intend to do anyway, post everyday. Now, I just have more impetus.

06 November 2007

Updated Blog List

I've just updated the list of blogs I visit on a regular basis. There are some great blogs there. Take a few minutes to visit some of them -- and tell them I sent you!

03 November 2007

2007 Weblog Awards

Voting for the 2007 Weblog Awards is now open! You know I'm a big fan of the art journal. Well, guess what? Art journalers and authors of Journal Revolution and Visual Chronicals, Linda Woods & Karen Dinino, have been nominated in the Best Diarist Category. Why don't you go vote for them now?

28 October 2007

Progress On The Art Front

It's not a very good picture, but I've been a little arty lately, and that makes me happy :) It's a piece that I've been working on for Hands-On, a group of women that get together once a month to work on art/crafts together in a supportive environment. A couple of months ago, we were each assigned a theme and given complete freedom in how we brought that theme into fruition. My theme was "prosperity" and this is my result. I'm happy with how it turned out, especially given my recent dry spell. I'll try for a better picture, though.

I've been quiet for the past week because I was tired of nattering on about the same things, with nothing new to express. I was boring myself, so I can only image how I was boring you!

17 October 2007

Process vs. Product

Thanks so much to Life is the Art for pointing to this great post over at Scott H Young. Both articles have some really great things to say about process vs. product, something you know I've been struggling with.

I've not put it into those words, but that's what my Art struggles boil down to, isn't it? Somewhere along the line, I've lost the joy of doing Art for the sake of Art; I get too focused on the end results, wanting mine to look as good as the next person's. Well, as Max Ehrmann's Desiderata says: "If you compare yourself with others,/you may become vain and bitter;/for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." I think that's what I've become ... a bit bitter.

Scott says, "When you approach an area of life from a process focus, you see the entire path, not the goal as the reason to start. Run a business because you love running a business... Interest in the process is more important than the result of a goal." That's what I've lost, the interest in the process. I am, thank God, slowly gaining it back. Since I've started my art journal, I'm remembering the joy of doing art for the sheer joy of it. I'm remembering how much pleasure comes simply from smearing paint on paper, with no rhyme or reason.

Go read both posts -- you'll be a little richer for it!

16 October 2007

Three Words

Thanks to my friend Jill for passing this on to me via email. It made me stop and think.

What are my three words? I AM AFRAID.

I aim to change that.

13 October 2007

11 October 2007

From My Journal ...

Last week I watched a 6-year-old DRAW, and she was just FEARLESS. She turned out drawing after drawing w/o worrying about how good they were -- and they were good! -- or about proper composition. She just drew with JOY and ABANDON. It was happy to watch her, but it begs the question -- What am I afraid of? Why is the perception of quality more important than the JOY I experience? Where did this notion come from -- that I had to be "GOOD" to do art? Suzi reminds me -- this ART JOURNAL reminds me -- of what it is like to draw & paint for the sheer pleasure of it. Just splashing colors on paper, playing with crayons and rubber stamps with no DESIGN in mind, just throwing them on paper because it's FUN. JOY, I tell -- that's what my life is missing, what I need more of. And I think I'll find it on the colors on the page, the smell of paint as it dries, ribbons flowing from the cover and FEARLESS ART rather than "GOOD" ART.

Oh, to be six again!

09 October 2007

Who Am I? -- Assignment From SuziBlu

The latest SuziBlu Assignment has us writing a letter to her, but stapling it in our journals, about who we are. A completely positive letter, by the way, no negatives allowed. Do you know how hard this is to do? First of all, I came to the realization that, in my 40s, I don't really know who I am. This is something that I've struggled with since my 20s. I'm a bunch of labels -- John's wife, bi-polar, a wannabe artist, an Aquarian, etc. -- but even if you understand all of those labels and how they apply to me, you still don't know who I am. Hell, I don't know who I am!

Here's a copy of the letter that I wrote for my assignment and have ready to staple into my new art journal:

Dear Suzi,

Thank you for asking who I am. I'm not sure I know, but I'll do my best to share what I think with you.

You already know me as the "Bi-Polar Princess". That's not a negative; that's just a fact of life for me. Sometimes up and sometimes down and sometimes an even keel. It's interesting, to say the least, to live in my shoes.

What do I do? I love my husband, first & foremost. We've been together for about 11 years, married for almost nine years. He's my best-friend, the person I most like to be with. He's also my biggest fan & greatest supporter. I'm a good wife. We have three delightful cats -- Frankie, B'Orange, and Nana -- and I'm a good "mommy" to them. They are my babies.

What else do I do? I write in my blog, sometimes about art, sometimes just about my life. I write fairly well, it's one of my talents. I don't know if anyone reads it regularly, but I blog for me. I enjoy writing and putting myself out there. I enjoy sharing myself.

When I'm able to, I love to sleep. I especially enjoy the sweet feeling of falling asleep. I don't always experience that feeling, but cherish it when I do. I enjoy dreaming. Lately, I've been dreaming about art more and more. I like those dreams.

I make art. Although I strive to make the best art I can, I don't really worry about quality. I do it because it makes my heart happy. I do the best I can, of course, but my main goal is to immerse myself in the process and have FUN playing with my materials. I look forward to your lessons, as right now I'm in a bit of a dry spell, idea-wise. Your lessons are like prompts that give me ideas. La la la, I'm making ART baby! It's scary, to make art, but you help me do it anyway. You are helping me make art in a new way. You are helping me find more JOY in it. I love to paint, even if it's just painting layer upon layer to create a groovy background. Even gesso-ing feels good and makes me happy.

What else do I do? I thank policemen, firemen, and especially soldiers-in-uniform for their service. I make friends with grocery store clerks. I'm shy, nervous & anxious, but on good days, I strike up conversations with strangers. My husband says that I can make a new best friend every where I go. For the most part I like people; they have interesting stories to tell.

My talents? I'm not sure. I've been told that I have the gift of gab, that I can talk to anyone about anything. I'm not sure that's true, but it's nice to think so. I'm a reasonably good cook, a good wife, a good friend. I'm articulate; I communicate well. I'm good with numbers and fairly good with logic. I have a good sense of humor and occasionally tell a good story.

One of my talents is loving my body -- it's something I'm learning to do. It has served me well even though I haven't always taken very good care of it. It's large & soft & squishy. My favorite parts are my breasts (even though they are kind of floppy), my toes, my hair, and my smile. Liking my smile is new, but then, my smile is new. Last month, I had extensive dental work done and now my smile is pretty again. Shy, but pretty.

Why am I lovable? I have no idea! If I knew that I probably wouldn't be in therapy! Seriously, I think I am lovable -- and you are lovable -- because we are children of the Universe. We deserve love simply because WE ARE.

My hopes and dreams are simple. I hope to live a good life: One that, when I come to the end of it, I can be satisfied. I dream of creating something -- visual or literary -- that touches someone. I hope my marriage thrives. I dream of being not just understood by another person, but *experienced* by another. I want to make art. To use your term, I want to live "juicy".

Thank you again for asking who I am. This was a good exercise for me to do. I'm looking forward to the next part of the assignment.


07 October 2007

Art Journaling Self Portrait

Last week's exercise in art journaling from Suzi Blu was to do a self portrait. She stressed that it didn't have to look like me. She said not to get all uptight about it; just draw an outline and fill in the colors. That's what I did. I know it's no great work of art, but it brought me joy to do. I made a commitment when I started these exercises that I was going to do all of them (I still haven't done the one with the brads and the pockets) and that I was going to share my results. So, even though this was scary to do -- and even scarier to share, here it is.

La la la, Suzi Blu!

PostSecret Video on YouTube

I'm a big fan of the PostSecret Project. You should be, too!

30 September 2007

Art Journal Scans

These are the first two pages in my art journal. I won't be sharing all my spreads, because this is my journal, after all. This art is intensely personal, in a way no other art I create is. But I wanted to share the beginnings, in hopes that Suzi Blu will see these spreads, since she's the one who inspired me to do this. I think that raw art journaling will be good for my soul. I can't thank her enough for inspiring me to finally do this.

The first spread is self explanatory. I've decided to keep an art journal for myself. The exercise that Suzi gives in her video suggests that you get a picture of yourself when you were five years old, and that you dedicate your art journal to that five year old. Great idea, except that I'm 1300 miles away from my childhood photographs, and didn't want to wait for my mother to maybe dig one up for me to use. So, I improvised. My journal is not just for myself, it's also for my husband. Not that I expect his approval of every spread. Rather, I think it will bring us closer. As I get to know myself better through art journaling, it can't help but impact our relationship, and I'm betting for the better. Anything that frees me up, personally, will free me up in our relationship, too. So, I journal for him.

The second spread describes how I was feeling over the course of a couple of days. I think I was supposed to take all week, but I just couldn't wait to get my hands dirty with paint and pastels. Two days is all I could last! And two days provided a unifying theme. I felt blue, sad, depressed ... and I felt lost. Both pictures represent the feelings I was having. I didn't need pages of words to convey the emotions. I'm a paper journaler from way back; what took me two pages, and two words in this spread could have taken four or five pages and hundreds of words in a verbal journal.

I didn't feel the need to create another spread today, because I'm still feeling blue and lost. I don't need to recreate that picture.

Be Careful At 3:18 AM!!!

In the wee hours of this morning, I decided to play a bit with Blogger. I changed the template that we are using for our blog. In the process, I lost all of our blog links and our sitemeter. I can't remember the login or password to sitemeter and our email addresses have changed since we got that account, so they couldn't email me the password. We had to start all over. No real big deal, but I had to go through several steps that I wouldn't have had to go through if I'd been paying attention.

I also lost all of our the blog links along the right hand side. I actually use the list, so it shouldn't be too hard to recreate, huh? Well, it was time to drop a couple, as I find myself not reading them, and one I couldn't find an address for. So, I added a couple of new ones and called it done.

Before I started playing with Blogger, I was going through my issue of Artful Blogging. There were a few blogs that I really liked:
Really, they were the only blogs that featured the kind of art that I enjoy so much. The rest of it was a lot of photography -- some of which was really great! I liked the blogs that showed what someone called "hands on" art. I struggle with that, because I think that photography is art; it's a talent that I certainly don't have. But just as I distinguish fine art from altered art, I distinguish photography from both of those. I enjoy some of it -- just like I enjoy some fine art -- but none of those blogs really spoke to me the way these did.

Go check them out and see what you think!

Keep On Blogging ...

I mentioned to a new friend that I was having a rough time. She's read a few recent entries so I think she already knew that. During the course of our conversation, she said, "Keep on blogging." I took that to mean, among other things, keep doing what I do, and the rough time will work itself out. I'll make it through, as I always seem to do. And, keep sharing where I'm at, artistically and personally, because others have been there, or are there, too.

So, it's 1:58 AM; John is in bed and the cats have quieted down for the night. Sleep is no where in sight. I've answered every email in my boxes that needed answering. I've done some art. I've caught up on my Yahoo groups. I've blog-hopped. And what am I doing now? I'm sitting here with you. Doing what it is that I do, hoping that the time passes quickly until this period is over. Hoping that someone else, who is feeling the way I feel, will find this and identify with what I'm writing.

Thanks so much those of you who commented on my last entry. I really appreciated hearing what you had to say. I took comfort in knowing that others understood -- maybe even have felt a bit that way themselves. Knowing that I'm not alone really does help take away the pain.

When I say I've been doing art, I've been working in a brand new art journal! I have two spreads done, and I'm waiting for them to dry sufficiently to put down on a scanner. Don't want to muck up the glass, now do I? They aren't pretty. In fact, both have elements that I have to fight myself to keep from doing over. But the point was to express myself, not make perfect, pretty art. That, I definitely didn't do!

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the paints and the oil pastels (not Portfolio brand. Gotta get me some of those. I have them on my Amazon Wish List but suspect I'll be buying them for myself before the next gift giving occasion comes up!), smooshing them around on the page. I'm not a painter, and I'm certainly not a sketcher, but I drew little arrows on one of the spreads. Sounds like a little thing, I know, but to me, it was a MAJOR deal, almost doodling like that! I want to be painting now, but know that the book will never get dry enough to scan if I don't let it sit, undisturbed, for a few hours!

Thanks again to those of you who read and comment. Hell, thanks to those of you who read and don't comment! Thanks for letting me share a little piece of myself with you.

Now, I'm off to blog-hop some more! If I can't be smooshing paint around on a page, I can at least be looking at others' efforts!

27 September 2007

Afraid of Art

Rather than start from scratch, I'll just post part of an email I just sent to a friend:

I'm not sure what is going on with me. This unsettled feeling started yesterday when I was at Barnes & Noble. John was looking at gaming books, and so I went to the craft section. I found a book on Art Journaling, a topic I've long been interested in, but have never pursued. I started reading through it while John was doing his thing and I started crying. Just a few tears, but crying nonetheless. I'm glad I wasn't sobbing (although I was on the inside; it was a very emotional moment for me.). I chalked it up to being emotionally exhausted and having had therapy a little before. Why else would a book on art make me cry?

In the middle of the night, when I was NOT SLEEPING, I was blog hoping, and I found a post about a video on YouTube about art journaling. I clicked over to it, and started crying again. What the ... ? So, there's a second video, with a challenge that starts "Get a photo of yourself when you were five years old..." More tears, as I doubt there are any photos of me at five years old still around. There are probably slides, and there are definitely home movies, but my mom and dad had three kids before me. Snapshots of the baby wasn't a novelty anymore. Somewhere around my house is my second grade school picture, but I have no idea where it is. My rigid perfectionism told me that without the appropriate photo, I couldn't play along. Maybe I'm just still in the very tearful mood that yesterday's email found me in.

I think it's pretty obvious that I ought to be art journaling, huh? Something about the concept has really touched me today. So, I journaled about it, the old-fashioned way, and came up with some startling insights. Well, startling to me, but probably either obvious or boring to you. I'm emotionally exhausted because I tend to keep my emotions in tidy little boxes. I need to have, and have joked about this in the past, a breakdown where everything just comes tumbling out, tidy little boxes be damned! I tend to look at these boxes and I've labeled them appropriately, but I don't ever really muck around in the boxes. I spend more time feeling *about* my emotions than I do feeling the emotions themselves. Even with the emotional pain and discomfort I've felt lately -- over the past couple of years, even -- I've not really FELT what was going on with me. Thus, the exhaustion. I'm tired of holding it in. I'm tired of restraining myself.

So, what does all of this have to do with art journaling? Art journaling is MESSY. It's RAW. It's FREE. Definitely unrestrained! It's some of the "ugliest" art that a person can make. But it's expressive and emotional. It's journaling with art techniques, so it's all about getting it out there, putting yourself out there. To me, it's the real art, because it is about expression. What I do may be pretty enough (and lots of days I feel like even that is debatable), but it doesn't express anything about what I'm feeling or what I'm going through at the time. It's just the accepted use of line and color, arranged in a pleasing fashion. I think I need to be expressing myself visually instead of ... what's the word for "through words"? See, there's no such thing as parallel construction in a visual journal! There are no damn grammar rules! In fact, there aren't really any rules at all! I need to be doing this, and yet, I'm intensely frightened by the idea. Yep, scared of art. I'm frightened of what may happened, both emotionally and artistically, if I were to start purposefully poking holes in the damn I've built. That may sound a bit melodramatic, but that's what I'm feeling right now. Fear. Intense fear.

I'd love to hear from you. What do you think of what I just said? Is there any form of expression that you're scared of? Am I just being neurotic?

Art Journaling

Thanks to Tyn at pookieville, I found a video on YouTube about keeping an art journal. Just half a day after a book on art journeling at Barnes & Noble made me cry. In fact, this video made me cry, too. Think I need to be doing some art journaling maybe?

26 September 2007

Halloween ATCs

I'm finally posting pictures of the much talked about Halloween ATCs. Just a reminder, these are for the Halloween Challenge in the TheLatestTrendsinMixedMediaArts
Yahoo group. The Challenge was that we were all supposed to use the same image, provided by Twisted Papers. Here is my offering:

These are the cards that I used the roof flashing, alcohol inks and transparencies for. They were so fun to make that I think I'm going to make another set or two for the swap at Stamp Your Heart Out. If I make eight of these, and use my two gargoyle ATCs, that will give me my ten minimum to play with. I'm just not into Halloween. I may make some regular cards, too, in case there are others not into it either. I've mentioned in a previous post that I'm just not really into the whole holiday season. I mean, I enjoy getting together with friends and family, and to an extent the decorations. But, to be honest, I get tired of the commercial aspect of the holidays. It's only September and I'm already seeing Christmas decorations in the stores. Not a lot, but there are some there. I really respect that Christmas is a meaningful religious holiday to some people, and I do appreciate the idea behind Thanksgiving. But since I've become an adult, these holidays just don't have the fascination for me that they once did. Not just because I don't get presents or get days off school, either!

I tried explaining this to someone this morning and I don't think I did a much better job than I'm doing right now. I'm not just ambivalent about the holiday season, I'm actually indifferent. The only redeeming aspect of the holiday season is the personal holidays (hubby's birthday, in-laws anniversary, Ward's birthday, our wedding anniversary, my birthday) that take place during the official holiday season. In fact, John's birthday and Ward and Margaret's wedding anniversary every year mark the beginning of the holiday season for our family.

25 September 2007

Lost -- In Progress

She isn't finished, but this is how I spent my afternoon.

Actually, it started last night, when I wasn't sleeping. I mentioned in a previous post that I had been painting on an old canvas. I turned out a beautiful pastel background with a piece of pattern tissue paper across it, and thought that I wanted to transfer the focal image onto it, instead of collaging it. I sought help from trusted art types and jumped right in. I decided to do an inkjet transfer, for the first time, onto this lovely background. After finding instructions on the Inkjet Transfers Yahoo group, I proceeded not to follow them very well, and did my first inkjet transfer! It was much easier than I expected, so I'll be trying it again, but my results were horrible ... Not just because I didn't follow directions, either! I didn't have the brand of transparencies recommended. That may not be a totally big deal, but the directions specifically say not to use QUICK DRYING transparencies; I suspect that mine were quick drying but didn't advertise themselves as such. Another problem I had was finding something to support my canvas as I burnished the transparency. I was working on an 8x8 canvas that is gallery wrapped, so the opening in the back is about 4x4 -- not even big enough to fill up with CD cases! I ended up folding paper lunch sacks and stuffing them in the back. They didn't really offer the kind of support that I suspect one needs.

So, what did I do with my horrible mess? I gesso'd over it and started over! I used the same colors (I'm pretty sure the pink is the same; I know the other two are) and the same techniques, and it came out different! Perhaps, in my impatience, I didn't let things dry well enough before moving on to the next layer. I decided to collage an image instead of trying to transfer again. I just didn't have the patience to try to overcome the support problem. I could have tried a caulk transfer, as someone suggested, but by now I was just ready to move on. A caulk transfer takes about 24 hours! I ended up changing focal images, too. The original image was much too square to collage onto the background. I'm much happier with this image, even though I like the original (lost) background better.

She's in progress -- so how am I going to finish her? I think I'm going to print "Lost" on a transparency, cut it out and sew it onto the upper left hand corner. I thought about transferring it, but I'm too far into the piece for experimentation of that sort! I'll also look for a ribbon or piece of lace to put along the bottom, so that she doesn't look as though she's floating in air.

I have two more canvases to play with, and I'm eager to get to them!

Happy Again!

I am creatively happy again.

I've been in a slump for a few days. I got my ATCs done for the TheLatestTrendsinMixedMediaArts Halloween Swap, and I even did a quick 4x4 for the Halloween Lottery over at Altered_stArt. I was reasonably happy with both of them (pics to follow, probably this afternoon), but then the joy just went out of creating. Probably partly because my sleep schedule is mixed up, days for nights, and I'm feeling a bit out of sorts in general because of that. Maybe because I've got Halloween ATCs looming over my head for the next swap at Stamp Your Heart Out and I'm not particularly fond of Halloween. Okay, I'm not particularly fond of any of the major holidays these days, but that's another post. And here we have a slew of them coming up, all calling for creations of their own. I just know that all the mingles, swaps, and lotteries coming up will focus on the holidays, and that leaves me feeling blah, just as I've started to getting involved in things like that. Added to all of that is the general discomfort that I'm still feeling from my recent oral surgery.

So, that's probably why I'm in a creative rut. Not to be helped by the fact that I started a piece with someone specific in mind, and more than half-way through it, I realized it wasn't working. I was working on a CD, something I've never done before. I had colored it with alcohol inks and the background was somewhat dark for stamping, which I wanted to do. So, I added some silver mixative to the background, thinking that would lighten it up. It did, but it still isn't light enough for stamping, even with my black Staz-On. I know, because I tried. So, I could go buy some of the Opaque Cotton White Staz-On that I've been wanting and start over, but that thought bores me. And I would have to start over, because I'm no good at stamping over something I've already stamped. Besides, the silver mixative makes the background too light for the white Staz-On ink.

So, why am I happy again? In order to find something to do this evening while I'm not sleeping, I pulled out an old 8 inch square canvas that I have and started painting. Not really painting, as in painting a picture -- I don't do that. Couldn't if my life (or worse yet, my husband's!) depended on it. I started glazing and wiping. I've got four different colors of paint on it right now; three different layers. It's drying while I type, and while I try to decide what to do next. Probably more paint, then some collage. But just messing and playing in the paint has made me creatively happy again.

John asked me at Denny's this evening if I'd ever go back to large surfaces, since I've had so much fun with ATCs. I'm really enjoying this smaller size. The larger sizes intimidate me. I think I've written about this before. Maybe I just don't have the right imagery and ephemera to fill a larger canvas. For whatever reason, I'm happier for the time being working on this smaller scale. I didn't even enjoy the 4x4 as much as the ATCs that were so similar to it.

All of that having been said, I have a 50x58 canvas (or some such size) awaiting me, and I do have some ideas for it. I bought it from the Beryl Larkin Collection at the Redlands Art Association. Seeing the larger works that Beryl did gave me some inspiration. I may have to work out those ideas on some smaller canvases, first. I'm thinking mostly texture and color, no collage work. I would have liked to have studied with her, so I'm going to use this canvas as a kind of study in Beryl Larkin. She did some remarkable work.

22 September 2007

Transparency Play

My transparency play is going well. I bought some roof flashing this afternoon at the local Home Depot. 25 yards for $10.75. I could have gotten less for less money, but I liked the width of this. In addition to making ATCs out of it, I'm going to make a few 4x4s out of it, too, so I went with the slightly wider version. I've cut out four ATCs and one 3.5 x 3.5, and still have tons left, of course. B'Orange thought it was great fun. He loves scissors and sharp things and anything dangerous to him. You'd think after the sewing machine incident he'd learn, but not so much.

I "painted" all my cut outs with alcohol inks -- Meadow, Eggplant and Butterscotch and the Gold mixative. I wish I'd had Pearl instead of Gold, but I've spent enough money on this project! I'm not buying more alcohol inks, too! The backgrounds turned out really nice. The first time I've ever been happy with alcohol inks. I think that before I was trying to do too large a surface at a time. I think they really work best on small surfaces, so you can cover the surface before the applicator dries out. I wish I had a scanner, so I could show you the backgrounds (I use my father-in-law's scanner to post scans); they really did turn out well for a freshman effort.

Then I cut out the details from my homemade transparencies (I'm still getting a kick out of that!) and Xyron'd the small ones to the ATC and to the 3.5 x 3.5. I don't know how I'm going to get the larger image on the ATC as it won't fit in my Xyron. I have the Xyron 150 and have been thinking about buying the Xyron 500. In fact, I'm thinking about putting my clothes on and going to Wal-Mart and getting it! The only problem is that I've taken out my plate and my partial, and I don't really want to go out with them, so I'll probably wait until tomorrow night. I also need to go to Collective Journey and buy a piece of cream colored card stock to print my words on. I just bought a piece and can't imagine what I've used it for, so there should be a piece around here somewhere, but I can't find it.

I'm eager to get my cards done, as this is for the Halloween Swap on the TheLatestTrendsinMixedMediaArts Yahoo Group. The catch was that everyone had to use the same image in some way. I decided that this would be a good excuse to use some new techniques. Everything I'm doing is totally new to me -- working on metal, working with alcohol inks, working with transparencies. I'm pretty satisfied with the results so far.

The 3.5 x 3.5 will be bordered by a piece of black cardstock and turned into a 4x4. I'll add fibers to it and enter it into the lottery at the Altered_stArt Yahoo Group. I'm just now starting to participate in swaps, lotteries, and mingles. It's interesting, rising creatively to the occasion. I don't always have it in me to create "on demand", but I'm trying to grow as an artist, and that's one of the things I need to work on.

20 September 2007

New ATCs

Before I go back to bed, I thought I'd post scans of my newest ATCs. I made these all before the dental surgery; I'm just now getting around to posting them.

When I ordered from Collage Stuff a couple of weeks ago, Lisa included a little bag of goodies. In that bag, there were two images of gargoyles. Normally, I don't just love gargoyles, but I knew right away I had to do something with these. Using a technique described in Let's Trade Artist Trading Cards, I made a really cool background that reminds me of stained glass.

Secrets uses the same background technique. This is my first effort at being creative on demand. One of the Yahoo! Groups I belong to, Altered_stArt, has a mingle with a theme. I've never participated, partly out of shyness, but mostly because I just couldn't be creative on demand, come up with something that spoke to me about the theme, whatever it is. But the current theme is "Secrets" and that really hit me.

The card didn't turn out quite the way I envisioned it; I think the alphabet stamps that spell out "Secrets" are too whimsical, but that's what I had. I was determined not to buy anything new for this card, since I'm spending a ton on the card I'm creating for TheLatestTrendsinMixedMediaArts. Well, maybe not a ton, but I've bought transparencies and I'm buying roof flashing. But I think it will turn out really nice, so it will be worth it. Plus, I'm working with all new techniques, so I'll be learning a lot.

Now, I'm off to bed!

ATCs Traded For

I woke up with a sore mouth, so I just had a bowl of ice cream. Yum. I thought, before I went to bed that I'd post scans of some of the ATCs that I traded for over the week-end. This is just a few of them, the ones that the artists listed contact information for. I've asked everyone if I could post a scan of their card, although I wonder if that was absolutely necessary, since technically the card is mine now. I haven't heard back from everyone yet; if I get any "nay" responses, of course, I'll remove their cards at once.

Brown Bagging It by Joan

Don't Be Afraid -- Play by Diedre LaGuardia

Hello by Colleen Kwan

Memories of You by Micki Antinone

Proboscis by Erika Fabian

School Again by Mary Sweet

Soliel by Michele Daly

Untitled by Megan Peacock

19 September 2007

I Survived!

Just a quick note to report that I survived my dental surgery yesterday. As it turns out, I didn't go completely under. They used some kind of IV sedation that numbed only my mouth. It was very effective. I did come home and sleep for most of the afternoon and evening. I just had one moment of concern. I was eating a yogurt and got very light-headed. I managed to finished eating and threw away my container, then was working my way back to bed. My legs just gave out from under me and I crumbled to the floor. That was kind of scary, but other than that, I did fine. My mouth is still very sore today, as you might imagine.

I went back to the dentist today for an adjustment. The lower partial fits much better now; it's much more comfortable. I sound funny when I talk -- lots of lisping. How did I talk when I had a mouth full of natural teeth? Hopefully, that will get better as I get used to having all these teeth in my mouth again. I haven't had a full mouth of teeth in years.

Thanks to everyone for their concern and especially to my in-laws for their wonderful care during my recuperation.

18 September 2007

Late Night Find

I just got home from Wal-Mart (it's 2:45 AM), where I found a package PrintWorks Transparencies, 10 for $7.84. Someone in the TheLatestTrendsinMixedMediaArts Yahoo! Group told me I might find some affordable ones there. There were also suggestions that I check at the printing centers of the big office supply stores; sometimes they sell them individually, but I figure I'll go through 10 pretty easily. I'm not going to do transfers, at least not yet. I'm going to make ATCs out of roof flashing, color them with alcohol inks, and adhere the transfers to them. I hope they turn out okay. I don't work much with my alcohol inks, so I'm not very confident with them. This will be a project just full of new techniques for me!

But don't get excited! It will be a few days before I get around to this. First of all, I'm having MAJOR dental surgery later today, and expect to be laid up for a day or two. I'm having 16 teeth extracted, and getting an upper plate and a lower partial. I'm both excited -- no more toothaches for me! -- and a bit apprehensive. I'm being put completely under for the process. That's the only way I could stand it, as Novocaine doesn't work on me. So, I expect to sleep all afternoon today, and into the evening. I'll probably still be a little groggy tomorrow, and maybe a bit sore for a day or two longer. So, no art for me this week, probably.

Secondly, it will take me a few days to gather my supplies. I bought my transparencies just now, but have yet to buy my roof flashing. Then, I guess I need to order a sealant for my transparencies so the ink won't run or smear when I apply adhesive. Then, I need to get the image ready to print out. I've got the image on my hard drive, but I don't have it sized right, nor have I made a document with several of the image for maximizing the space on the transparency. But, I'm excited to try this, so it won't be too long.

Wish me luck!

16 September 2007

ATC Swap Report

I told you I was going to go to an ATC swap at Stamp Your Heart Out yesterday and I did. First there was a demonstration of the QuicKutz Die-cutting System aimed at ATC makers, showing us how to make ATCs using the QuicKutz systems. It was interesting and, of course, now I want one! There are things I want more, first, so it will be a long time coming to this household, unless I just find an incredible deal. I'd like to have Photoshop Elements and a scanner, first, although I may be content to use my father-in-law's scanner for a while longer. That QuicKutz was mighty tempting! But then you have to buy all the dies to go with it ... I dunno.

Anyway, about the ATC swap. That's what you're really interested in, I know. At first, it was kind of slow. I swapped with one woman, Deidre, that I'd met last week in the store, but after that I didn't know what to do. I mean it doesn't sound like rocket science, but I can be a bit shy in unusual social situations, and this was completely foreign to me. I had no idea what to do. Plus, everyone had their cards in binders, and I had mine in a cigar box, so I felt different right away. But when Teri, the woman in charge said, "You can start trading now" everyone just turned to the person next to them and asked if they wanted to trade. It seemed like lots of people had made editions or series, but most of my cards were originals. I got lots of positive feedback, and everyone loved my cigar box! I eventually saw someone else there with a box, but hers was pretty and decorated. Everyone was very nice and the store handed out goody bags and had great refreshments.

If you've never had the experience of trading face-to-face, I'd suggest that you try it. It was great fun. I had a BLAST!

14 September 2007

ATC Swap!

I'm sooo excited! Tomorrow, I'll be driving to Claremont for an in person ATC swap at Stamp Your Heart Out. I've done the background swap with the arttechniquestatcs Yahoo! Group, but I've never done a face-to-face swap before. The store does this on the third Saturday of every month. I've visited it twice now, and found it much to my liking, even though it is a little out of the way for me. They have a few ATC supplies, some great papers, and marvelous rubber stamps. They are not a scrapbook store, so they don't carry too many papers, but the ones they carry are great for card making, ATCs, or altered art. I still love Collective Journey, but it's nice to have options, and a place that's into ATCs.

10 September 2007

ATCs Posted

I mentioned earlier that I had been working on ATCs over the past several days, and I posted the one that I added elements to from way back, finally calling it finished. I tried to post the rest in my yahoo group, but I had trouble. Yahoo said something was corrupted. I could have kept messing with it, but I decided it was easier to post the ATCs to my blog and refer people here. This will be a long post, as there are several ATCs and a few comments.

The man on this card and the one that follows, Man About Town, was my grandmother's husband, Paul Simmons.

This is a Tim Holtz style card. In fact, I copied it from a book on artist trading cards, just for the experience of working in his style. The book gave permission for copying -- it even gave directions on making the individual cards!

This is the first of a larger group of cards I made out of the same background papers. This set, not really a series, is worth mentioning because the individual cards are based on the lay-out lessons at Lisa Vollrath's Go Make Something. The lessons teach the kind of things I thought we'd learn in Basic Design class, but sadly, we did not. I'd provide a link, but you must be a registered user to see the articles. Registration is free and easy and there is lots of interesting information, tutorials, and videos.

This is my first series, Circle Takes The Square. Again, based on one of Lisa's lay-out designs and lessons. I couldn't decide which paper to use, so I made one out of each paper! I enjoyed finding the coordinating ribbon and circle elements, so there may be more cards in this series, simple as it is.

This series is made from fabric, following the instructions in Lisa Vollrath's booklet on Artist Trading Cards. I tinted the lace with Walnut Stain, although you probably can't really see that in this picture.
Another Tim Holtz style card. These were fun to make, although a tad bit more cluttered than I really like. Maybe it's a matter of confidence.