Monday, December 27, 2010


i never make New Year's resolutions. Maybe i made a few a long time ago, i don't remember, but i just don't do it. i think it's because i strive (without always succeeding) to work on myself and set goals on a regular basis, not based on a date on a calendar. A fresh start can happen anytime, as necessary.

Having said that, i was thinking of resolutions today, and how most often, people's resolutions fall into similar categories:

* weight loss/diet/health
* job-related/financial success and well-being
* personal emotional improvement/changing bad habits
* personal goals for "more" - do more, make more, travel more, etc.

i'm sure there's more, but these were the ones i had in mind. i'd like to point out that i cheer for someone anytime they are trying to improve themselves or better their lives - we are all works in progress. But if i made resolutions, i asked myself, What would they be?

For one, weight loss is not on that list, though clinically, i am overweight, and according to textbooks, possibly "obese" (rolls eyes). Sure, i could stand to lose some weight. i'd probably have more energy (pity on those that know me and know i'm borderline hyper sometimes as it is). i'd find more clothes that fit well and i'd feel better wearing them. i'd probably have more spring in my step and a bit of a self-esteem boost. All good things.

But i know my body. i may be over my "ideal" size, but that size is not a 6, or 8. Or even a 10. As one of my friends said a long time ago, i'm "buxom". i have curves and i will not apologize. i also have a great love of preparing and eating delicious foods, foods my grandmother made, laden with carbs. i have Italian heritage - it would be akin to sacrilege to not partake of pasta. But the key, for me, is i love a variety of foods. A salad of fresh greens is high on the list of favorites, but so is mac and cheese. i love fruits and vegetables, but also most anything pork. i think moderation and variety are ideal. Plus, i make a lot of food homemade, and even if it's loaded with butter, at least there's none of those pesky preservatives or artificial colors and flavors.

So, weight loss would not be on my list. As far as financially, i'd love to have more money. Ofcourse i would! But i have a roof over my head, a fantastic art studio, and though my car is on its way out, there's little else i could ask for. A bigger travel budget would be nice... But i'm good.

Bad habits? Oh, yes. i have a few...and i'll take those one at a time, but they wouldn't really be on my list.

What would be on my list? First and foremost, being a better mom. Parenting is a learning process, and sometimes i joke that i'll have got it halfway figured out, maybe, by the time my son is 18. i want to be the mom my son needs me to be.

Second, pulling out the art that i know is inside me. As creative as i am on a daily basis, i always feel like there's much left unsaid, or unpainted/collaged/created. i may never get it all out, but i damn sure am going to try!

Third, being a kinder, more thoughtful, better person. Try to reign in anger, or expectation, or judgement. Be more self-aware of my effect on others and alter my actions to bring joy and gratitude and not disappointment or hurt.

And fourth, seek to find the joy in everyday, to always see the magic, even in the darkest fog (magic in itself), to live with passion and without restraint (except where it may hurt others), to enjoy this too brief life to the fullest.

i'm going to bundle that list together into one word - resolute. My resolution is to be resolute in who i am, what i believe, what i know to be right and what i hope to achieve in my life.

Thanks for listening. And happy new year's!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hello, Mojo.

It seems that just the act of writing out my frustration here helped release the block i was feeling. It could also be looming deadlines that did it, or both. Whatever it was, hallelujah! i'm back in the flow.

Mostly i've been working on swaps, but also some Christmas cards for my mom, and an altered book for a round robin group i'm in on flickr. Generally, i feel most inspired in the fall/winter. i'm not sure exactly why...something about the cold. And even more so if it's overcast or raining or snowing. There's magic in making a hot cup of coffee on a late afternoon in the midst of winter, and walking into my studio ready to play.

And when it gets colder, i drink a lot more coffee. That evening cup is my favorite - that's when it tastes the best to me. Why does it taste better than in the morning? i've always wondered that.

Lately i've been making lots of ATCs, or Artist Trading Cards. It's been fun doing these little works of art, and many of the ideas put forth there will eventually be put onto canvas. i have an idea for a large piece to hang on the wall based on the ATC below.

i made this for a swap based on the Paleolithic era. i could have hand-drawn the images rather than carve, but i liked the idea of having these as little stamps. The title of the ATC is pretty obvious - "Cave Wall". Hey, sometimes you just gotta' tell it like it is, no muss, no fuss.

i love texture, and i love acrylic mediums. Here i used Liquitex Flexible Modeling Paste. i've only touched the surface of what it can do. Apparently, due to its flexible nature, i can use it on fabric. Oh, imagine the possibilities!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ancient fish carving and wallowing in the mire

i have been working lately, but things are moving slowly. i don't know what's wrong with my creativity, but it's as if i can't count on my muses, as if i've lost some of my mojo. Artistically, 2010 was a full year for me, laden with discovery about myself as an artist, my style and my process. There was a distinct point in the spring where the ideas were pouring out of me, and i remember thinking, This is it! This is my voice! i may never be without an idea again! And really, right now, it's not a lack of ideas that's the problem, it's the implementation of said ideas. i sit down to work and everything feels wrong. i struggle with things that should be easy. i find myself stepping away from my studio after only a few minutes, and finding some other outlet, but this is eating up precious time i could be creating!

i am frustrated because i can't find the source of my frustration. i am struggling and i don't know why...

But, like i said, i am working. Every few days or maybe once a week i manage to create something i feel good or even great about, something i'm proud of, but this is not the norm unfortunately.

i know this is a phase. i know this too shall pass, but right now that doesn't make me feel much better.

These images show one of the few projects that wasn't a struggle recently. i carved the fish image (a depiction of ancient Mexican art) for an ATC swap with the theme of "ancient". This stamp is one of my favorite carvings that i've done to date. i have ideas for a series of carvings with a similar theme.

Included in each partners' swap (there were 2 partners total) was the ATC featured in the first two photos, the bookmark you see in photo one (i love how that turned out - has a batik feel to it) and the card shown above. For the card, i used my Liquitex inks and they did the job quite nicely.

So, for now, i'm going to keep plowing through. i've been here before, in the artistic muck, and i'll be here again. i will break out of this, i just hope it happens soon.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Celebrate snail mail!

Wow, almost a month since my last post. Didn't i mention something a few posts ago about wanting to update this more often? Yeah. And the main reason i've been MIA? Swap-bot. 

i used to swap a couple of years ago on other forums, but my artistic journey led me towards discovering new mediums and finding my own voice, and making art mostly for me. But, i missed swapping, for so many reasons - the anticipation of getting something fun in the mail, meeting other artists and crafters, finding inspiration and having a goal to work towards. i almost always work better with a goal, and that creativity spills into other artwork, and i am inspired more than i am not. i hate feeling blocked, almost as much as i hate boredom. On a side note, i've not felt bored in years. i remember as a teenager not liking to feel bored and seeing it as a waste of what precious little time we have on this planet. For as long as i can remember, my problem hasn't been having nothing to do, it's been not having enough time in a single day to act on all the things i want to do. Anyone who knows me fairly well, knows i always have an art project (or 10) in the works. Add to that a love of cooking and baking, reading, gardening, writing and the daily demands of housework and who has time to be bored? i don't accept boredom; life's too short.

So, i've been swapping, and having a lot of fun. And i'm thinking more about an etsy shop. The only thing stopping me from opening right now is not having a name. i want a name that's me, that's interesting and reflects the fact that i will be selling everything from handmade greeting cards to polymer clay jewelry to handmade blank journals. Oh, and it should be easy to spell and pronounce - that's important! Some people recommend finding a focus for your shop, but i don't see how i could limit myself to one or two items. There's so much i enjoy doing. See? Boredom can't live here. It wouldn't have breathing space.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Page after page.

The journal has always been there. It is a constant, and has been since i was maybe 9 years old. Early on, it was the written word only, page after page in spiral notebooks, the same type of notebook i used for class. Later i added doodles or the occasional photograph, pasted in with rubber cement, which by the way is terrible for posterity. Photos and ephemera fall out of those old journals where i exclusively used rubber cement. (Live and learn.) Then i stopped using notebooks and gravitated towards hard cover, decorated journals. Sometimes i make my own books. Doodles and photos evolved into painted and collaged pages. Soon anything i could glue or attach to my journal was fair game.

My journal can be whatever i want it to be. i can share it with everyone or no one. i can be as open and honest as i want. i can be fully me.

Currently i'm working between two journals, one a Hand Book and the other a Strathmore Field Watercolor Sketch Book. The former doesn't have a single blank page left, so now i'm adding bits and pieces to pages, painting over pages i don't like and journaling on completed pages. The Watercolor Sketch Book is newer and has several blank pages left, though maybe not for long...

When once my journals contained pages and pages of mostly words with little artwork, the opposite is now the norm. It's harder these days to find the words, but the visual pours out onto the pages. What i want to say these days i can't find words to express, so i let the art speak for me.

i need this - a place to make art just for me, a place to record the moments in life that may be forgotten a few years from now. i find peace between these covers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reclaiming the magic.

Remember when you were young and you felt the world was full of possibility? You hadn't yet been jaded or had your heart broken or saw what horrors people could inflict upon one another. Your entire life lay out before you, brimming with potential. There existed a certain feeling inside you, hard to describe, but it was there. You heard a favorite song or read a wonderful book and you could feel it. You could sense it in the change of seasons, smell it in the air when summer turned to autumn. It's a feeling that's hard to pin down with language, but i refer to it as magic. That's how it felt, as if there were magic all around me, inside me, and anything was possible.

i lived with this feeling up into my early 20's, and then one day i realized i had lost it. i struggled with depression for a long time, and wondered if the path i had chosen (or had chosen me) was the right one. i adore my family, but i worried all i would ever be was a wife, a mom, a housekeeper. Being a mom is a great joy in my life and something i cherish, but i feared i had put aside my own dreams to raise a family. i had aspirations to be a travel photographer, an archeologist, a writer. i didn't want to be famous (i don't like the spotlight on me), i just wanted to act on my passions and make them into a career. i wanted to see the world and discover different cultures, meet new people, take amazing photographs, write the stories that were in my head. i doubted that these dreams would ever come to fruition, and i felt trapped.

And then one day, i was working on a piece; i don't even remember what it was, but everything was flowing just right, i was in the zone and i felt giddy. And it hit me, here it is, here's the magic, it's back! It was there all along really, in my son's laugh, in the winter sunrise, in my true love's face when he smiled at me that certain way, in the first blossoms of was all around me, i just wasn't paying attention. But art helped me see it again, feel it again. Some days it's only a low hum underneath the daily obstacles in life - the bill paying, housework, grocery shopping - and other days it's a chorus. The quickest way to tap into it, for me, is through art. In art i can create my own playground, fulfill my own dreams, craft my own little bits of magic. It can be whatever i mold it to be, whatever i dream up. And it's always there, waiting for me to fulfill its potential. Art is part therapy for me; without it i would be lost.

i think we are all trying to reclaim the magic we felt as a child. We do a lot of what we do just to have that feeling again, to feel free and excited about what's to come, what lay ahead, to feel like anything is possible and all our dreams will come true. So today i urge you to tap into that magic - make art, or listen to a song you loved when you were young, or re-read a favorite book, or go outside and watch the clouds, or sit down with your child and fingerpaint, or take a leisurely drive down a road you've never been on. Because what is life without magic, without joy? Open yourself up to the magic and i promise you'll see the world in a whole new way. And if you already have, hold tight; don't let anyone or anything steal that feeling from you. Keep it going and spread it around. Because the world could use a lot more magic.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The greeting card as art...

i went through a period a couple of years ago where nearly all i made were cards. i just got hooked, and plus they allowed me to brighten other peoples' days with a minimal investment in postage. i think the biggest plus is they can be a quick and easy way to make art. i say "can be" because they have that potential, but if you're like me, you sometimes spend way too long trying to perfect your creation.

i still enjoy making cards, and have sold more of those than anything else i've made. i have pretty much become my mom's lifetime card supplier, which is fine with me!

So here's a card i made the other day. i love how it turned out, though halfway through i almost scrapped the whole thing because i hit a wall. i'm glad i saw it through to the end.

Thanks for visiting! i wish everyone an inspired day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kenilworth Castle collage

i love so many different types of arts and crafts, but probably my favorite format is mixed media. i love the layers, texture and depth i can achieve in this realm. A few months ago i played around with the following, a mixed media piece on watercolor paper. i used acrylics, matte medium, extra heavy gel medium, watercolor pencils, ink, photocopy transfers, stamps, crackle glaze...and more. i didn't have a strict idea in mind when i began, just wanted to play and see what came of it.

Have an artful day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

For as long as i can remember, i've loved cemetaries. My dad used to find this to be a bit creepy and felt it cause for concern about the state of my psyche. He asked me about it one day, and after he saw it from my perspective, he realized he needn't have worried. Cemetaries feel like peaceful, beautiful places to me. They're so quiet, and are little pockets away from the rest of the world where time seems to stand still. There are also many oppurtunities for some wonderful photos, and rubbings. The best ones are the oldest ones, where some of the headstones' markings are barely distinguishable after decades of wear, or others  lay broken and cracked. i am also drawn to the stones showing an unusual single family name; one of the best i ever found was "Dancer", that's it, just that word, that surname, carved on an unassuming grey slab. Beautiful.

i have pictures of cemetaries from all over. Here are some shots from earlier in the summer, end of June or so. They were taken in Staunton, Virginia, at a cemetary whose name escapes me right now.

i was told this spot is one of the most haunted places in Virginia.

For more pictures of this cemetary, visit  my flickr page.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday mornin' you sure look fine...

i just wanted to show another card today, one i made a few months back.

i colored the pear with Inktense pencils and then did a water wash (i love the vibrancy and inky quality of these pencils!). To the stars i added Stickles glitter glue for a little punch.

Have an artful day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rest In Peace, Staci.

Not long ago, we lost a precious member of our family, Paul's little sister, Staci. She was born with Cerebral Palsy and spent her life unable to speak or eat without a feeding tube, but she was full of life and personality, for sure! She was 33.

There's not a card in the world that could even barely ease the suffering of a mother who's lost her child, but i made Paul's mom a card anyway to at least let her know we were here for her.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 10, 2010

GPP Street Team: Crusade No.44

i've been a fan of Michelle Ward's artwork for a while now, and probably many of you have heard of her monthly creative challenges over at her GPP Street Team blog. i've been lurking over there for a couple of years now, and even did a few challenges but have never posted my results; today i finally am!

This month's crusade, Crusade No. 44, is called "In a Scrape" and the challenge is to apply paint to the page using only a credit card or similar tool. No brushes allowed. i love applying paint this way and have used this technique many times. i took on the option of adding techniques from Crusade No. 25 - The Properties of Gesso , and here are my results.

i started by scraping gesso onto one page, then after it dried i scraped on acrylic craft paint. i sprayed the page with water and wiped and dabbed with a paper towel.

For the 2nd page in this layout i gessoed a foam stamp and stamped onto the page, then scraped on paint and again sprayed with water and wiped to leave a resist. The wiping left a "glow" around the stamped images that i really like.

Back to page one - more scraping on paint in different colors, then a last scraping of gesso.

Here's a close-up where you can see that i scratched into the gesso with the edge of the credit card.

The second page (close-up) received more scraping with my chosen colors and a layer of scraped gesso as well. The stamped images are now only peeking through these layers.

Here's how page 2 ended up. i attached a mask of letters (by Tim Holtz) and scraped paint over that, then outlined the word with a Sharpie pen.

This was a fun challenge and i'd like to take on more of these and, hopefully, actually post my results more often. These crusades are open to everyone, so stop by her GPP Street team blog and join in!

Thanks for looking, and have an artful day!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


When i saw a friend had posted a link to this on FB, i knew i had to enter (Thanks, Lisa!). i have never bought a die-cut machine - it always irritated me that i was limited to pricey cartridges. i have been waiting for a machine like the Silhouette, at a price within my budget. If you're not familiar with this, it can cut ANYTHING that you have on your computer - any image, any font, any size. Imagine what you could do with this!

Click on the link below to read about it and enter to win one for yourself!


Monday, August 23, 2010

A lot has been going on in my life lately. The biggest change has been moving to a new area. This is a refreshing new path for us as previously we'd lived in the county i'd lived in on and off since i was 7. While i consider that area one of many homes (most of my family still lives there), it had grown stale and confining for me. We're making a new start here and we're all very excited.

Artistically, a lot has been happening, too, as i've talked about in recent posts. i can feel my voice coming closer to the surface every day, and sometimes the ideas come so quickly i barely have time to write them down before another pops up. i'm exploring new media and growing more sure of my abilities to manipulate that media to tell my story.

Our recent move is opening oppurtunities for us, one being the availability of high speed internet. For the past 7 years, we've lived in rural areas where the only options were dial-up or satellite internet. The former is, ofcourse, extremely limiting and the latter costs too much. Now we finally have high speed at home, and now i can finally do something i've wanted to do for awhile now - try to sell my wares online. To start with, i want to open a shop on etsy. i know the biggest challenge will be getting noticed, as there's so many wonderful artists out there. i've never been published in a magazine and i usually fly under the radar, so i'll have to try to get out there in some way. i'll always make art, whether or not anyone likes it or is willing to buy it, but i wouldn't turn down compensation for something i love to do and devote so much of my time to (happily!).

i'm excited, and maybe a little nervous, about this new turn in my life, but the change is a good one.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you all have an artful day!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chipboard Book Collaboration.

Not long ago i proposed a collaboration to my super-talented friend Barb - i had some chipboard books i picked up at Michael's for a quarter a piece and my idea was that we'd each start one, then swap books and finish what the other had begun. There were no rules aside from each of us doing 2 completed pages, 2 half-completed pages and one page left blank before sending the book to the other person. They could be done in any media and with any theme. Barb's book, in which she's already done her part and sent to me, is called The Wee Book of Big Imagination and it's awesome! Once i've done my part in that book i'll post it here, with Barb's permission.

The book i started (and have since sent to Barb for completion) is called Home Is Where the Art Is. This was a phrase i kept thinking about, and i love house imagery, so it seemed like a good theme. Following are photos of my book, pre-Barb magic.


The above page was based on a previous collage that i posted here a little while ago. Barb liked that collage, and it fit perfectly into my theme, so i did another version here. This is my favorite version yet!

This project has been a blast so far, and i look forward to working on something else with Barb in the future. 

i used lots of different supplies here and won't list them all, but mostly it was acrylic paints and mediums, watercolor pencils (Inktense by Derwent, my new favorites!), toner photocopy transfers, stamps and ink. 

Thanks for stopping by, and have an artful day!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Buried Treasure" post...

This is a re-post for inclusion in Seth Apter's Buried Treasure 2010. To be a part of this, just re-post one of your favorite blog entries, then email Seth to let him know when you've posted. He'll add your name to the list of participants. 

This post was originally published on 6/30/2007:

Cards are little creations i can generally finish in a short amount of time, and that helps when you have a young son to take care of, not to mention all the housework, gardening, etc. that needs to be done. When i have more time to play, i love to pull out my polymer clay. Following are some things i made over a year ago during a spree of poly-creating. These have been posted elsewhere on the internet in the past, so some of you have already seen them.
This is a glass container, with lid, that i covered in poly slices.

i love to make beads! My mom calls these "Miami Vice" beads. :)
These are my favorite! They're loosely based on a design i found in a book. On the left is a pendant.
More beads...
Nautical star beads!
i made these with the intention of selling them, and while i still plan to, i have yet to let go of most of them. They're not difficult to make, just very time-consuming, and after spending all that time with them i become very attached and find it hard to let go! i have an entire plastic shoe-box full of bags of poly beads, and i really need to start seriously considering selling them. i'm thinking of putting them up on ebay or maybe etsy. Does anyone have experience with etsy? Would i have better luck there than ebay? If anyone has advice on this, i'd love to hear!
Thanks for visiting my blog. Have a wonderful day!