Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Beginning mixed-media work

I wanted to share these "works in progress". I am working with photos of WWI soldiers. I think these are "portraits" that were taken before these soldiers were sent overseas.
To me, these portraits speak volumes. They feel so powerful and when I "rescued" them (along with a huge box of vintage photos taken from my mother's house...they once belonged to a great aunt) I knew they were an art project in the making. Finally, I am starting to work with these photos.

First off, these photos of my work aren't the best pictures--I'm no photographer...and then after I snapped a few, my camera battery died...I'll take more as the work progresses...and these are works in their beginning stages. I am working on small canvases--6x8, 8x8, & 8x10.
My daughter just saw these photos and didn't like the red...looked too much like blood to her. I think that's just the affect of the photo, especially the close-up shots. Also there was another layer of the blue-grey color paint applied after these photos were taken, so the red has already been toned down. I was using the peeling paint technique and liked how it turned out.
I'm now at the point of applying finishing touches...I will be adding words definitely (but not exactly sure what words) and other artifacts?
I would welcome any comments/feedback. And by the way, I've been thrilled with all the recent comments. It's exciting to share my work with others. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Finding my Muse

I went back to bed for a little bit this morning, but after the cat jumped over my head a few more times I decided it was time to get up and truly start the day. Over breakfast I checked in on some of the blogs I've been reading lately. I was reminded while reading Lynne Anderson's blog that sometimes we need to take a break and step back in order to "find" our muse.

That was the all reminder that I needed. First of all, I realize that I've been putting a little too much pressure on myself "to be" creative. Part of that comes from the fact that I've been a little more focused on goals since we're facing the start of a new year. I have a lot I want to accomplish in 2009! Secondly, since I'm on a break from my 9-5 job I wanted to spend a lot of time at the studio and get some painting done. As each day has passed, I've felt the time slip away...and haven't really felt I've "accomplished" much.

So I headed to the studio with a different attitude today. I thought about where I find my inspiration, how I recharge as an artist. Just spending time at the studio is like a retreat for me. It is my sanctuary. Whether I complete a painting or some other work, I nurture my creative self every time I step into the studio. It is my time for me. I put on some music (central to the creative process) and set to work.

Today, with a little VanMorrison playing, I pulled out four small canvases (11x14, 8x10, 8x8, and 6x8) and started painting. Basically I just laid down a base color of paint for some future collage work. I'm not really sure yet what I'm going to do...I was feeling inspired by some vintage-styled paper. And that's all the inspiration I needed to get started.

I'm not worried about what the final product will look like. Just mixing paint and using the brush to cover the canvas with paint...well, that is bliss for me. I am a painter at heart.

I can't wait to get back to the studio tomorrow.


Squeakers, my lovely cat

I had a hard time falling asleep last night (finally did so after midnight)...I just wanted to flip a switch to turn off my brain for a bit. I thought..."maybe just a pause button"...which I guess is what I got, because I've been awake, thanks to the cat, since 5 am. My cat has been in this nasty pattern of coming into the bedroom early in the morning, trying to get me up to give him his spoonful of "the good stuff" (canned cat food). Sometimes he sits beside me as I sleep and lightly "paws" me in the face as if to say "hey, it's time". When I ignore that, he jumps up onto my dresser and starts knocking things off. That's what woke me this morning. (Yes, I know...just shut the bedroom door...then he just annoyingly paws at the door) He is overall a lovely cat, but not so lovely so early in the morning.
When I was trying to fall asleep, I was thinking about all the different art projects I want to work on. And yet, when I was in the studio earlier in the day, I felt unable to start. Starting is sometimes so hard. It's easy to feel distracted by too many ideas and hard to know where to begin. I guess the important part is just beginning.
I'll update later on today's beginnings.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blue than blue

Couldn't help myself. I did it again: snagged a treasury! Really there has to be a 12-step group for this affliction. I hear there is a treasury about to open and I'm there, glued to the computer screen waiting for a spot to open up.

This one's theme is: Bluer than blue. It features artwork by etsy artists that is blue in color and somewhat in theme. Please check it out!

I'll try to post a picture of it later!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Blessings

I guess Christmas is officially over.

Amazing. As crazy as the time leading up to Christmas seems, it seems to come and go in an instant.

December is always a whirlwind...and I know it is that way for most folks. For me December means a lot of juggling between work and my own family life. I work as a social worker at a therapeutic preschool. Our agency works with families that are struggling through poverty to raise their children. Often there has been a generational history of abuse and neglect. I primarily work with the parents, visiting them in their homes, providing parenting support and education.

The closer it gets to Christmas, the crazier my work becomes. Crazier and harder. As you can imagine, the holidays is a difficult time to be in the line of work of "helping others". Stress piles up for everyone and it's hard not to feel that. I try to bring home with me the good stuff...the joy in helping make the holidays a little easier for families that don't have a lot of resources. My hubby and I had a good time playing Mr & Mrs Claus for the families (even if we came home with the flu). It was a tough year for our "Holiday Store" for our families...donations were down, but we managed to serve all our families (our parents get to shop the Holiday store for gifts for their family, no charge).

And while I worked the last few weeks to help "my families" get through the holidays, I was trying hard not to go crazy making Christmas better for my own family. Like many of you, I struggle with the desire to buy the "perfect" gift, decorate my home, bake holiday goodies... And then on top of all that, I'm still trying to make it over to my studio to get some work done.

This year I had a hard time getting it all done in the way I would like. Well, honestly, it didn't happen. I got the tree up just after Thanksgiving, but except for lights, it had no ornaments on it till Christmas eve. It still is not decorated properly. I was shopping up to the last minute. I still have plans to bake some of those holiday cookies.

But in the end, it's all good. I spent Christmas Eve with my kids and hubby. Yes, Santa was very, very good to me (Thank you honey!). In the end, it's all the little things that make the holiday complete for me...The most important thing to me is spending time with my family. My kids relish the traditions that we created as a family...and it's the replaying of those traditions year after year that make my holidays complete. Even if we don't get it all done the way I would like, the fact that we have those traditions and stay true to those traditions--that is what I treasure. My kids are young adults now, juggling their own lives. We are very close, but I know in years to come they may not always be able to spend the whole holiday with me. This year, in fact, my son juggled spending time with our family and his girlfriend's. That was a first for him. I was touched when he called me at midnight Christmas to wish me a Merry Christmas. He sounded a little sad and I asked him what was wrong. He said he missed being home with all of us the whole Christmas. Little did he know that sharing that with me was the greatest gift he could give me.

I feel blessed.

So now that Christmas is over, I can sit back and relax. Thankfully, I get 2 weeks off from my job over the holidays. I have one more week to do with whatever I like. I plan to relax, spend time at my studio, and sometimes do nothing more than watch "stupid" tv. Heaven on earth.

(If you would like to learn more about the agency I work for, you can click on the following link and even watch a little video a local news station did about our agency-- )

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Love me some treasury

It's been a very lovely Christmas (more of which I'll write later), but I just want to share some Etsy treasury love.

First, I created a treasury featuring beautiful artwork by Etsy artists. Here's the link:

And then today one of my necklaces was featured in a treasury created by 3zArt. Yay, the first time I've been featured in a treasury. Here's the link:

Be sure to check them out and 3zArt's shop too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All kinds of creatures are stirring, but hopefully not a mouse!

Happy Holidays everyone!
I really should be in bed...tomorrow (or today actually, it's 1 am) I will be having a family dinner with my kids and husband, followed by gift opening. I've been trying to finish the wrapping of presents. People who know me think I enjoy wrapping presents...I guess they think that because I'm the creative type. Wrong. I mean if it's one present for a birthday, fine, I can get into that. But wrapping so many presents all at one, not my favorite thing to do. I'm a big fan of gift bags. Unfortunately, I ran out of gift bags several hours ago.
Of course, I'm still fighting that urge to go out at the last moment (Christmas eve morn) and buy a few more things. But I think I'm done.
I spent a few hours earlier today at the studio...continued working on the collage pieces. I really wanted to stay at the studio to work, but too much to do in preparation for Christmas.
And then, completely on a whim and purely as a result of being at the right place at the right time (so to speak), I created a treasury tonight on Etsy. I titled it "Random Acts of...Beauty". I pulled together a treasury of artwork by Etsy artists...some who are inspiring me right now. I look at it as inspiration to get my own original artwork in my Etsy shop. Soon. Goal #1 for 2009.
So, here's a link to the treasury. Check it out. I think you will like it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Outside my comfort zone

I made it to the studio today...for a little bit at least. I started some collage/mixed media work, something I've been itching to do for a very long time. I could say that I haven't started this work before because my studio time is so limited. Time might be a factor, but fear and uncertainity would be closer to the truth. I am trying to go into this without getting hung up on the end results and trying, trying really hard to push myself to try new step outside my comfort zone.

With that comes a feeling of vulnerability, but also some excitement. I have never been one big on physical adventure...I'll never jump out of a plane or jump off a bridge attached to a bungee cord. But I will push myself to take risks as an artist. And for me, the thrill is just as great.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

And the winner is...

I threw all the names in a little box and randomly pulled out a name. Mel, your name came out on top.
Thanks everyone for participating. I will be doing this please come back to visit. I'm working to improve my blog and always appreciate your feedback and comments.

Sugar Cookies

So apparently just writing about feeling overwhelmed and juggling helps you feel better about things...good enough to make some of those cookies. I've been making these cookies since I was in junior high...just a recipe I found in some church cookbook...and it's been a favorite ever since. These will melt right in your mouth (thanks to all the fat in them)...but sometimes you just need to indulge yourself.
Happy Holidays!
Sugar Cookies

2 cups white sugar
1 cup margarine or butter (pick your poison)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 egg yolks (nope, not the healthy part of the egg)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

Cream sugar, butter, oil and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Roll in balls and place on cookie sheets. Press with a fork or meat hammer. Sprinkle with sugar. (Using a meat hammer will create a lovely pattern and hold the sugar better. Use colored sugar for the holidays) Bake at 35o degrees for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Juggling Christmas and painting

It's been snowing all day. If you don't have to go anywhere it's pretty, I guess, but since I have Christmas shopping still to do...not so much. I managed to get out earlier and get a few more things crossed off my list. When will it ever be done? Um, December 24th this year.

Later I headed to my my haven. I love walking in that door. For those of you that have never been there, I've posted a few photos. I love that I was able to paint this place whatever colors I wanted. I painted the walls a palette of warm blues, purples, and pinks. I got the paint from a discount paint store where I could only get one gallon of any particular color, which made it more of a creative challenge...and more interesting if you ask me. When I've had the studio open to the public, I've gotten lots of positive comments about the colors. Even on a cold snowy day it feels warm in there.

I worked on finishing some of my christmas ornaments. With work being so busy and exhausting the last few weeks, I haven't been over to the studio in a few weeks. I still had some ornaments to finish. Now I'll finish them up and likely just pack them away till next year. I love these ornaments...I've made them in all sorts of colors. I was hoping I would sell some of them on Etsy, but I guess there is always next year.

It is so hard to find time for the studio while juggling my 9-5 job and the rest of life. It gets that much harder as the holidays get closer. I love the holidays and all the decorating and baking that comes with it. This year I have not managed to do much of it. The tree has been up for weeks, but except for lights, remains undecorated. I hope to remedy that tonight. I have done some baking here and there, but want to do more.

I struggle to accept what I am able to get done. I think it is part of the curse of being a creative person. I have visions of pulling off much more than I am capable of.

Because while I have visions of creating this holiday spectacular at home, I also want to be over at the studio painting like crazy. I have 2 weeks off from work and I want to spend much of it over at the studio, my haven. There are ideas swimming in my head that I need to express on canvas. I have new techniques I want to experiment with. It's that difficult thing...I need to be patient and wait a few days till Christmas is over to really get working on new stuff.

And until then, I'll be baking some awesome cookies!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Giveaway #1

O.k. I'm a little excited...and I hope you will find this as fun as I do!

I've been working more intensely on my art for over a year now. In that time, I've had my studio open for a few art crawls, I sold a painting (!), opened my Etsy shop, and I am now showing some paintings in a coffee shop.

I'm excited about all the possibilities in the coming year.

One of the things I am learning is that it also requires a fair amount of work "to be seen"...and that's part of what I'm hoping to do with this blog...I want to share my artwork with others. In the coming weeks I want to spend more time developing this blog and I hope to attract more followers. I have also been working to draw more attention to my Etsy shop. So, as a fun way to promote both I am offering this giveway.

Here is how it will work:
1) Visit my Etsy shop and my blog;
2) Post a comment on this blog (in this entry)--give me some feedback about my blog and/or my Etsy shop (or at least say hi!);
3) In one week, on Sunday, December 21st, from the list of those leaving feedback, I will draw the name of one lucky person--who will win the necklace pictured above. (You can see a very similar necklace in my shop, in the featured listings).

I hope you will check back often...this may be so fun, I'll do it again!


It's gloomy outside today. It seems like it's more like 6 am rather than 9. The house is still quiet...which is nice. I love having time to myself on Sunday morning. Time to catch my breath from the week before and in preparation for the week ahead.

I'm kicking myself for not getting out yesterday. It was a "beautiful" day outside...beautiful being relative. Here in MN, "beautiful" in December means above freezing temperatures and some sun. Not truly beautiful in my book, but I know it was probably the nicest day we'll see for a while.

And it was the sort of bright day I should have taken advantage of by working in the studio. But I am feeling worn out from the 9-5 job and I know this week will be tough as well. Is it ok to just want to do...well, nothing?

I did do something. I created a beautiful Etsy treasury. Spent a lot of time on the computer doing some networking. Finally sat down with my current copy of Artful Blogging and visited some other blogs. I'm planning to pay more attention to this blog when my vacation starts...I think I'm ready to share it more with others. So yesterday I laid some of the groundwork for that.

Oh ya, and I did make some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. My husband would prefer plain chocolate chip, but I prefer to be a little more adventurous at times. Stacy, I think I'll be bringing cookies to work!

So today...probably another lowkey day. My daughter has the day off, so I'll be hanging with her. I'm hoping we will make it to downtown Mpls to check out Dayton's, er Macy's 8th floor display. I love doing that with her.

So, I guess I'll get moving for the day. SLOWLY.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Treasury West

I did it again....snagged a treasury. This morning I almost got a main treasury, missed and since I had everything ready, waited for treasury west to pop up. Got one. Theme this time: brown and teal. Wide variety of items. They say it is possible to hit the front page with a treasury west collection. Help me out and take a peek: .

Ooh, I also found out my lizard/gecko necklace got picked as an alternate for a treasury. I'll let you know if I actually make it as a full-fledged pick.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Well, it's almost Friday. Just one more long day to get through till the weekend. Thank god.

This is the time of year when being a social worker is very depleting work. It's exhausting. Our agency always tries to do more during the holidays to help our families, which is good, but leaves staff (like myself) feeling like they have less for their own family members at home.

Which means my days have not been filled with much in the way of creative endeavors (except for making some simple necklaces for clients as gifts). I worked 10 hours today. I have been so absorbed with work that I have not even stopped at the coffeeshop to look at my paintings. I've barely even told anyone about it. I keep meaning to do that (both stop at the coffeeshop and promote the thing), but it's too far down on the list of things to do.

I'm hoping to catch my breath this weekend. Maybe spend some time in the studio. Definitely send out some emails telling folks to stop by Tillie's Beans.

And then after next week, I'm off for 2 agency closes over the holidays...sort of the consolation prize for working our tails off for the past month. I'm not complaining about the time off. In fact, I'm very aware that that is the reason, or a BIG part of the reason I'm at this job...the fantastic amount of time off...time that I can spend in the studio.

Almost as good as lying on the beach on a deserted island.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tillie's Beans

Sorry for the long overdue post. Work (meaning that 9-5 job) is in that holiday frenzy mode. And then for my birthday, I got the flu. Thankfully the flu came after the birthday dinner with the family...but it was/is nasty stuff. Me and the hubby are still recovering. But I managed to salvage a lovely few days away at the bed & breakfast we love. It was just where we needed to go to recuperate.

Now back to the grind. But first, a big announcement:

Last week I dropped off four of my paintings to be hung at my favorite morning coffee shop: Tillie's Bean located at 2803 E 38th Street (right near the light rail station). The paintings include the Birch Trees pictured below.

More on this later...I just wanted to get the word out. Stop by to see them. And buy some coffee (I can't recommend the best coffee...I'm not a coffee drinker...but the chai is Wonderful).