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?