Sunday, December 27, 2009

Here comes a new decade...

The holidays are often so frenetic and full of angst that when they are over when feels as if there is a hole, a missing something---post Christmas depression…not this year…

This year the holidays were warm and full of friends and family and genuine hugs and lights and tinsel and an old fashioned laid back feeling that I haven’t felt for years.

People hugged genuine hugs, warm loving deep hugs not just that male chest bumps I have come to expect-my sweet dear niece has a way of hugging and I don’t want to let her go I just absorb that youthful clean warm affection that hasn’t had a chance to go bitter yet.

Maybe it’s almost a year of therapy? My mental state is so much better than it was…not fully repaired (can it ever be I wonder) but more appropriate, more grounded and less fragile and all in all I refuse many times to let the anxieties and other assorted BS of mental issues get in my way anymore than they have to.

I continue to crank out the ATCs and other bits of creativity-I have ventured into some interesting areas of making little fat books for people but more and more they are infused with my original first love sketching and pen and inks-I have made the first steps towards selling on Etsy although what I sell there remains to be seen---that will evolve---but will be grounded in my drawings and less digital stuff-I need to go back and come forward again-I need to revisit and re-explore my roots in the arts and see where they are now.

Many years ago someone gave me a lovely leather bound journal and when I opened it the first entry was done for me-she had written a forward to the rest of the book where she explained that by breaking the fearful specter of the first blank white page she had driven back the phantoms of self doubt and the curse of the first entry.
I gave each or my niece and nephews a sketch book and pencils eraser and sharpener and in each book I started the first page with a drawing that was specifically for that person-I also did a comp book where I did the first entry for the recipient…sometimes I don’t think people get it.

There is theatricality to art and artists and a sense of “let’s pretend” I’m sad to say the response to that has been dull and lack luster-almost an embarrassed acknowledgement that perhaps I am a bit too eccentric.

Perhaps I am-I need and want to play-I want to embed a sense of wonder and pretending in things-I love going to wonderland where everything is just a bit off kilter and askew-it’s better there than here.

I would love to know how some crafters are able to turn out their mechanically neat and starched work so professional and tightly finished-I have felt my work is shaggy and a bit haphazard.

While friends reassure me that style is about professionalism and my style is professional at all times I guess I need to compulse less and enjoy the process more-As I have said repeatedly I know when I have done something good because I spend a long time looking at it-what I have been doing lately is taking the good stuff (or at least the pieces in which I am satisfied) and reworking them so they can be sent out for a variety of swaps and themes-something I have never heretofore done.

Originality being important to me I always employ a new idea when I begin to design but the sluggish responses and half hearted offerings I have received from some swap partners make me less enthusiastic about putting time into what I send out.

With all these disappointments and presuppositions I will have to evaluate my feelings and get past them because I also receive things that are close to miraculous, often generous and frequently pleasing and heartfelt (both work and comments/critiques).

ART, Design, all the things we do are exhausting to the system and while they lift us up they can also leave us gasping for air and out of creative breath when they come in too large a group of waves.

I think I need to prove my vitality to myself and I took on far too many swaps and projects so I ignored the learning curve and just jumped in everywhere at once and turned out huge masses of work.

I will pull back from that a bit this year.

This evening I snuggled down and watched JULIA and JULIE on pay per view-a delightful journey and full of wonderful performances-I’m sure Meryl Streep will be nominated but I wonder if the subtle and intricate range of emotions and moods evidence by Stanley Tucci as Julia Child’s husband will get an Oscar nod and the same goes for Amy Adams and the fellow who plays her husband-subtle wonderful naturalistic styles played against the bigger than life canvas portrayed on Meryl Streep’s side of the picture-the entire thing was charming and satisfying.

So now to get past New Years eve-I detest New Years activities and usually hide out-it has been my tradition for many years to find some really fine cinnamon rolls and along with a pot of well brewed coffee I sit alone and rip apart the Rose Parade designs-this year I can do it in 40inch 1081 120hz High Def-probably with a Bob’s Flower Garden candle from TRAPP adding the smell o’Vision aspect to the event.
I hope all of you have a rich, fill healthy 2010-here we are a full decade into this new century isn’t that remarkable?

And may each of us find a connection with our creativity that is new and fresh and resparks the passion that drives our creativity…

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

Frosted windowpanes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree
Santa's on his way
He's filled his sleigh with things
Things for you and me

It's that time of year
When the world falls in love
Ev'ry song you hear seems to say
Merry Christmas
May your New Year dreams come true
And this song of mine
In three-quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SPARKLE

Christmas and the holiday design trends this year are really fascinating…

The colours of apple green, fire engine red, turquoise, lime and coral were everywhere.

There wasn’t nearly enough sparkle for me-luckily I had stowed away enough glitter, bugle beads and tinsel from last year to make sure that everything I touched ended up with micro glitter fallout and that’s what I love…

If I could get away with it I would be covered with micro fine glitter all the year through-always sparkly and magical-it comes in every colour…

Year ago I horrified people when I glittered a sopranos lips brilliant red for TALES OF HOFFMAN and another singers eyelids like peacock feathers—now that would be tame and ho hum.

Levels of taste come and go.

In the early 60s I used to roll coloured tissue paper into small cones and then I would cover cardboard circles with them points outward till the entire pieces was sort of a prickly wreath in interesting colours and with a dusting of icy sparkle-I also made matching cone trees in various sizes…it was considered very avant garde.

I stripped my Mothers Maria Theresa chandelier of its crystals and replaced them with glass icicles of assorted lengths-it was stunning but people didn’t get it.

I took white sprayed and icy glittered tumble weeds and wrapped them lightly in tulle and tiny white lights and sparkly glittered black Styrofoam “coal” and made fantastic snowmen but people didn’t get that either…

Luckily my family allowed me to be eccentric and now that I’m on my own I don’t have to apologize to anyone for the hot pink lights and Christmas tree in the bathroom or the vintage style aged tinsel decorations I have come to love-enough glitter mixed with loose bugle beads and packed onto almost anything makes an incredible sparkle---

In my world that sparkle needs to be made by reflected light not direct harsh spots.
There is something wonderful about frost covered lawns in the reflected glow of streetlights in the dark, ice crystals on bare branches-decorations in store windows that still sparkle long after the shoppe is closed.

That soft crazy explosion of tiny bits of light I find immensely appealing.
I loved the first year I was at Disneyland when I could walk out of the park late late at night when it was silent and misty and not all of the lights were on…that’s magic…

I can be mesmerized by the way light hits and reflects off shiny things or how a sparkly thing will insist on sparkling even when there is barely enough light to catch and reflect.

Maybe it comes from those days of standing in the wings as quiet ghosts rushed by onto the stage in costumes that glittered and gleamed even in the dark…

Sparkle is considered GAUCHE, tacky, loud, and cheap even tasteless by some…surprises me…it’s like suppressing the child inside…nature sparkles quite often especially in winter…

The haughty sit sedately in their tasteful homes with three matte finish chalk reindeer on the mantle and a few good Lennox or Swarovski ornaments allowed to shine quietly in the soft yellow white light of Christmas bulbs on a dimmer…their packages not in a ferocious jumble arrayed in foils and ribbons, here they are crisply wrapped in plain colours and with soft satin ribbons or airy tulle bows, perhaps a sprig of pine.

One year not so long ago I wrapped my packaged in chipboard brown boxes with bows of white and ivory tulle dusted with clear microfine glitter and held under the bow a single large glittered swan feather-also white…as if a guardian angel had happened past and plucked one feather from their wing as a remembrance of the occasion.

I put them sedately beneath a tree decorated with things from the sea…shells and starfish some real some glass all in colours of soap bubbles, turquoise, lavender, greens and pinks…all sparkly, softly reflectively sparkly lit by pastel coloured lights.

In my sage green, ivory and black living room with a touch of chinoisserie I thought it was quite the most tasteful Christmas display I had ever seen.

A friend who visited commented, “Well wouldn’t you know you’d find a way to be theatrical and over the top!”

I was crushed; I thought I had achieved that sedate Martha Stewart elegance that meant one has the sense to know the difference between beauty and crassness.

It took me awhile to understand that we who art live in a time warp-ahead of the trends, making the trends, leading the way…

I never again worried about what someone else might think-that one years I wrapped my gifts in Mardi Gras Colours and another years in black with pearls…My Christmas trees have been everything from insane to traditional red and green but never dull or boring and I surround myself with textures and colours and shapes that I find comforting-I am just as likely to leave a set of vintage village paper houses in their box or a package of tinsel unopened as to discard an element of the totality of its design because it’s eccentric to do so…

I like what I see and that’s what I want about me at Christmas.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wrong if you want all yellow ornaments on your tree or you made a manger scene out of plush toys…if it’s what you see encourage your vision into reality and to hell what someone else thinks.

I love to come home this year to my house with just a few precious objects scattered here and there that sparkle seductively in the reflected light of the far too many twinkle lights I have draped across the front of my small apartment-I love the difference between the way microfine glitter, glass glitter and rhinestones sparkle and how that variance of sparkle makes a texture that says Christmas to me.

The song goes, “It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…” and I do fall in love with the sights and smells and colours of the holidays be they stodgy and sedate or gaudy and bright-it’s all beautiful to me but given the choice I’ll take it all in a dim light, reflected from twinkling lights in the dark, catching the light in a subtle way like microscopic fireflies swarming on diverse surfaces.

I think it’s because in the real world it’s the closest thing you can get to living a memory.

May your days be Merry and bright…but May the best part of Christmas be the nights…

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thoughts at 3 am

I feel like, in many ways, I burned brightly but have now burned out when it comes to the digital art I have been doing.

I need to clean up my supplies, reevaluate the keeps and the recycles and start anew next year with a different perspective on the way I approach the engineering of my images.

I have good, interesting if quirky ideas- I like the swaps that challenge me to do a single striking piece that will speak to someone immediately-on the other hand I now need to start looking at making money and that will never be possible from ATCs but perhaps they can overlap with other art I make like my pen and inks.

I’m going to try it anyway.

Etsy seems to be a place where things sell out quickly if people can find them-interesting to explore and see what happens.

I MUST create-I must be creative-my calm and focus depends on it.

Sanity is overrated but on the other hand there is a nice warm centered feeling to being a bit relaxed and with goals and achievements dangling out there before you.

Simply an atypical use of colour can make me very happy, what I need to do next is not work it to death and get stuck trying to recreate the success again and again in the same way.

Variance is also important-Variety, new, fresh, unplowed fields and uncluttered unfamiliar landscapes awaiting the decorative aspects of imagination.

See it in the mind create it in reality-even electronic reality.

It’s a birthing that cannot be ignored once embraced.

On the other hand there is a grounded familiarity to taking up a pen and meticulously putting your ideas into a drawing that there is one of-an original that is only alterable after it is scanned into the computer world-and in that mixture of milieus I have had a good time making a mix of the real and the real-the original and the mixture of harvested and altered.

So wither I goest now?

Remains to be seen I suppose where I will land next in my lifetime of finding and seeking the next method of my expression.

There is still sculpture out there hovering-but I really don’t want to invest in more stuff…

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sisters of Mercy


I want to share this piece of work with you-It’s not particularly original-I got the idea elsewhere and just put my own tweek on it…

The images are mostly from a digital ephemera pack I purchased…

The reason I’m showing it here is that my work has become stale…

I was looking at early things and then at some recent things and I see that I have a set of composition styles and ideas that were interesting and then became molds into which I fit other images.

I pride myself on originality and occasionally I do something that I really like-I know when it happens because I spend a great deal of time looking at the finished product and enjoying it.

I have been looking at other ATCs and noticed that there isn’t a lot new or fresh or exciting-a lot of the work going around is getting stale and everyone looks like everyone else…

I don’t want to pick on anyone but take STAMPIN UP for instance…nice company, good products but it seems (at least from the UTUBE demos) that they are appealing to a group that is already challenged by insecurity and saying. “COPY THIS and feel better about yourself”.

I suppose that’s ok but where is the challenge and the impetus to move forward in the “copy it” school of thinking?

Most companies will say it’s a starting out point and by copying you learn (see the Renaissance art studio movement) and as you learn you will begin to experiment and move off in your own direction.

People who are frightened, insecure and feel “less than” aren’t known for their great interest in setting out into the unknown wilderness of creating armed with nothing but a collection of copies and some rubber stamps.

CRICUT (Provo Craft) is another TOOL that costs a great deal of money and does the work for you so you can layer together bits and bobs and come up with something that ultimately looks like everyone else’s.

HOWEVER-in defense of Provo Craft: They have gone an extra step and designed an ART STUDIO software program that claims you can design your own things and encourages you to explore the wonderful world of design (read: Photoshop for Crafters) – if it’s true I like it and say BRAVO Provo!!!

TIME seems to be a huge issue with people who want to craft-they haven’t any.
Maybe they just would rather watch “Dancing With The Stars” or “30 Rock” and do the paper crafts later?

I am one of those people who has HEARD a million movies but actually has seen very few-the Telly keeps me company-sometimes the radio-I listen to the Talk stations but mostly I work on my stuff-stale though it may be.

Also, as many who know me will attest I am often horrified to find that I started a project at noon and suddenly the sun is coming up on a new day and I have forgotten to eat or sleep and everything is cover with confetti and snippets and bits but I have 100 ATCs done and in their envelopes.

PASSION? DRIVEN? CRAZY?

Probably to all three-I do have a one mindedness when it comes to ARTISH things and I will ignore pain and growling stomach in the quest to finish.

Maybe therein lays my problem…

I am the same about video games.

I love those find the hidden object solve the puzzle and the mystery epics but once I start them I have to finish them (same with a good book-page one to the end in one sitting). Crossword Puzzles…

Maybe it’s all a puzzle that requires finishing and anything with pieces that must go together and end up neatly wrapped at the finish is in the same drawer high up in the great file cabinet of my brain?

There is something about this that feels correct…I may have done my own therapy.
So that would also explain WHY some people are slow to finish-it isn’t a game or a quest or a driving force with them-they actually enjoy the process and want to linger over it OR their fear of the process puts the obstacles in their path to send them away from finishing and off to do the laundry or the whatever instead.

I also am not responsible for any living thing but me-not cats, gerbils, fish or children---the latter being the most time consuming although they are often easier to entertain than CATS.

HUSBANDS, like children, also require a certain amount of one’s time…and are decidedly harder to entertain than children since they find crayons and Barbies insulting.

They often don’t know what it is they want (other than attention) but they want you to figure it out for them instead of having such a good time doing whatever it is you are after with the papers, inks and glues.

When I was teaching I actually had a husband tell me (in a menacing manner) that he HATED me because I had convinced his wife that she needed some time to work on her ART and she would rather do THAT than have SEX with him.

WELL DUH…???

A couple of hours making something pretty or 11 minutes of wonderful you?

Do the math…

Perhaps SIR, if you were to glitter yourself (after bathing) and gargled with something spicy and potpourri like? Then hide a craft store gift card somewhere on your person (don’t be crude) and play find the treasure (clean sheets, scented candles and preferably NOT at the end of an exhausting day considered).

Men, alas, seldom are this creative which is why I suggest finding them a hobby and preferably one that doesn’t cost as much as GOLF doesn’t include BEER and has no component named LOLA or TIFFANY )or GEORGE for that matter).

But I digress as I always do-I am told my brain is wired more like a woman than a man and to exist in such a state is not an easy thing…I have no intention of rewiring I assure you-since I like women better than men in most cases I am happy to share some degree of thinking like and understanding them.

ANYWAY back up above there I said I wanted to share the ATC with you not because it was so original but because of the words-my old pal Leonard Cohen…

“I’ve been where you’re hanging I think I can see how you’re pinned, when you’re not feeling holy your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.”

Be VERY kind to yourself and if no one else will GIVE you time then you MUST take it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Have yourself a MERRY...

What a trying few weeks it’s been…back problems, tooth problems, just one thing after another…

I’ve managed to keep up with my ATC production and have one or two more projects to take care of before I’m done for the year.

Wish I felt a little better.

I feel like Christmas this year, a different kind of holiday drive than I have had in the past-I am not driven to go shop and spend money, more an enjoyment of the lights and the decorations and just the feeling of the season.

I missed Thanksgiving altogether-heating pad and I spent the day trying to quell the spasm in my back.

I hate missing TURKEY and all the Thanksgiving stuff.

For a number of years my tradition had become going to the buffet at the CASTAWAY (or the Odyssey) either of which overlook the valley and are lovely at the holidays.
I always scheduled my reservations so I would be there for the pearly part of the afternoon as evening drops down misty and soft and the lights twinkle on in the homes below…pretty, tranquil and comforting.

Full and miserable I would then drive to Griffith Park for the city light show which is a couple miles of Los Angeles landmarks and holiday icons done in Christmas lights and sponsored by the department of water and power.

Always a nice way to kick off the holidays-CD in the player with some nice Christmas tunes and way too much food trying to digest but a familiar and luxurious discomfort.

For quite a few years after my Mother became ill the holidays just became a jumble-some Christmases I spent alone with her across the yard not feeling well and I couldn’t leave her alone and go off and have a good time-so I would just sulk out the day feeling sad and alone.

The new improved me would have made other arrangements.

I have come to understand how MUCH (too much) we are forced to shoulder because of guilt.

I hope I have moved right on past the period in my life-I intend to live and enjoy the things I love, conversations and friends and being where I want to be and when I want to be there not because I HAVE to but because I WANT to.

I have learned this year that we must never assume our bridges are built and secure-we must always be building new bridges, new connections with others who share in a positive and nurturing way our values and feelings.

People do not always score 100% on our click meter but there are a huge number who do better than 60% is we allow them.

Long back I ran my life by a view of what things “COST” me-no monetarily but in other ways.

Somehow when we are younger political views and social values are so much more important in the people that you hang with.

As we get older it seems to me that it is so much more important to have people who share our interests in daily life-art, crafts, books, films, TV, whatever little stuff and giggles we get that make life like the best frosting in the world-the cake is assumed and holds up the rest but I loves me some good frosting.

“People frosting” isn’t fattening, doesn’t clog your arteries, seldom has to be beaten or whipped and is just the yummiest thing when it flows on smoothly and challenges you in ways that are good and electric.

There are those bakeries that mix Crisco and powdered sugar and call it Frosting and then there are the real buttery, heavy cream and good vanilla bakeries that are worth going out of your way for.

That where I live today in the buttery, yummy world of good frosting and if I find that there’s Crisco added-well I have the right to chose how often I patronize that product-sneaking in artificial vanilla makes it worse…

I am so tired of negativity…we all have negative things and it used to be a part of my DRAMA BUBBLE-negativity is a prime component of DRAMA-think about it…

I find myself running from DRAMA and Negativity more and more-I don’t believe it’s unavoidable-sometimes it just has to be stared down or quelled I’m talking about the “somebody else’s crap that they are loving to share with any and everyone” kind of Drama and negativity-that’s the mess I just can’t be around anymore.

I am or have been for most all of my life a FIXER-I need to help people fix things even at my own detriment.

What I learned is you can’t fix anyone but yourself-so I am now a voice of reason and opinion-here’s how I would do it and take it or ignore it but that’s the extent to which I care to play.

This is probably the biggest lesson I have learned since I discovered that one can say “NO” and you probably won’t lose a true friend…

So FAH LA LAH LALA I am off to enjoy the holiday-I doubt that anyone will be able to coax me out for New Years eve-since I don’t get drunk its always obnoxious to be the sober one in a room of people who will end up caressing the toilet bowl during the Rose Parade while I will be having hot cinnamon rolls and critiquing Raul Rodriguez’s newest reimagining of the same overdone crap he’s been doing for years…and feeling so superior in the process (It’s the PROJECT RUNWAY of Holiday events).

I hope you have a wonderful whatever it is that you celebrate this year…I hope your holidays sparkle like microfine glitter in halogen lights, I hope every light twinkles just for you, I hope there is good food and elegance and your own special sinful delights (I had me a JACK IN THE BOX eggnog shake the other day-yummy)…

Tuesday I am going to the North Woods Inn with my little neighbors who come in from Minnesota for the winter-I love the NWI at the holidays-it’s just Christmas with filet mignon and cheesy bread and yummy stuff; old fashioned and about as PC as Donna Reed…

May Angel’s Music fill your dreams
And keep you through the night
May magic, love and mystery
Be seen in every light
May chocolate clouds and sugar puff snow
Be the worst of the weather you see
And may this year be the one you’ve wanted
These wishes are your gift from me


All my love goes out to you my dears and darlings and health, happiness and all things beautiful in 2010.