Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today at the Studio

Finally back in the studio! My work space may be a little messy, but I was ready to paint! Finishing up the Hope Garden series...close to being done, really!

And also starting some new work! Having a little fun with color and light molding paste!  



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Fun

I'm not quite sure where June went...July? Really? Wow, in my mind, that means a good bit of summer is over. Crazy.

June seemed to slip away in the blink of an eye. I've been busy with family stuff this past week. Other than that my time has largely been spent in the studio.

Which is o.k... It's great even, but sometimes I need to get out of the studio, stretch my legs, and enjoy this summer.  Living in a region where winter stretches on for what seems like an eternity, you learn to savor the warm summer breezes. So with July sitting on our doorstep, it's time to make some plans for how to enjoy the rest of the summer. 

That doesn't mean any big travel plans or adventures...just the simple pleasures of summer.

Some of the things on my summer To Do list--

  • More trips to the beautiful parks in our city. A few spontaneous picnics would be nice too!
  • More day trips out of town. Sometimes it's good just to hop in the car and go!
  • More baseball games. I made a very wise decision back before Christmas to buy a pair of tickets to 20 Twins games (it was a present for me & my hubby). Nothing makes me happier than watching a baseball game. Even better now that they are playing in a beautiful outdoor ballpark.
  • Lots of ice cream (I've been on top of this one!)
  • More time with friends. I needed some time to myself in June to adjust to all the changes in my life. But it's time to re-connect. I'm missing time with my friends.
  • Soaking in the sun. There's something to be said for sitting in a chair just catching some rays.
  • Summer art fairs and festivals. I haven't been to any yet this year. 
  • And near the end of the summer, hubby and I will be making our annual pilgrimage to the Great Minnesota Get-Together: the State Fair. I am a State Fair fanatic. Luckily, my hubby enjoys it as much as I do (better yet, we enjoy doing the same things at the fair--people watching, walking, listening to free concerts, and checking out the fine art exhibit).
So that's my list. What's on your Summer Fun list?

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Educating Risa

    I spent a good chunk of time yesterday "educating" myself on how to build my own website. Holy Moly! Granted, I'm trying to do it on a hosting site with layouts available...but it is still a steep learning curve. This is going to take a while. I feel a little over my head, but determined.

    So I went to bed late last night and dreamed of building that damn website and being preggers! 

    Well, at least building that website is more likely to happen than the latter--I turn 50 this year!

    (Anyone with Squarespace experience that can give me any helpful tips? Please let me know!)

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Blueberry Buckle

     Here's a treat for the middle of the week. It's called Blueberry Buckle, but really that's just a fun name for coffee cake! The recipe is for a square 8x8 pan...these pictures are from a time I doubled the recipe and threw it in a 9x13 pan.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Mix with spoon:

    1 1/4 cups flour
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/3 cup milk
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine (really, butter all the way!)
    1/4 cup shortening (in a pinch, use more butter!)
    1 1/2  tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 egg

    Spread in ungreased 8-inch square pan.

    Sprinkle with:

    1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) blueberries
      (I have used other types of berries, but blueberry is the best!)

    Mix until crumbly:

    1/2 cup sugar
    1/3 cup flour
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine (butter, please!)
    1/2 tsp cinnamon

    Sprinkle over berries!

    Bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown (like top photo!) and toothpick inserted in cake's center comes out clean (my oven runs a little hot so I cook it a little less--you know your oven!)

    I have baked this for years now...frequently taken it to work to share with family love's a summer regular in our house. 

    Baking is just another way I feel creative and I love sharing what I bake! If I could serve you all up a piece, I would! But this is the best I can do!

    Hope you enjoy!

    (Sorry, blogger is not letting me get rid of this white space at the end of the post. Grr.....)

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Rocking Monday

    I had a fabulous Monday. I can't say that I am normally a huge fan of Mondays, but after reading Dora's post over at Coffee and Paint Drips  I decided to rethink my approach to Monday. Weekends are usually loaded with family activities. Hubby and I generally don't have much couple time. But Monday, ah Monday...things slowly return to normal... and now I'm not rushing off to work Monday morning. Instead I'm walking over to my studio to get some painting done. 

    And boy, did I ever get some painting done! I worked on a range of different projects. My morning painting session was all about doing detailed work on works in progress--the one above and several in the Hope Garden series below.

    Then in the afternoon following a lunch break, I started some new abstract work. It was like working from a totally different frame of mind...and invigorating, even if I don't have a clear vision of how these will look in the end.

    I loved playing with light molding the piece texture. 

    After painting was done for the day, I decided to carry this new "I Heart Mondays" theme into the evening by declaring Monday our new Date Night. Historically, Friday has always been Date Night...which is great, but it's generally the night I'm worn out from the week and we're shifting gears towards time with our kids. Plus we have several Friday nights coming up when hubby is performing in a small theatre production. So Monday seems like a great night for Date Night! It gives us the opportunity to re-connect after a weekend of focusing more on our kids. (Yes, our kids are grown, but still very much involved in our lives...all good)

    We came up with this plan a little late, but decided on dinner out and then watching a movie together at home. Simple, but the plan was to spend time together. The cat liked this plan too as he was curled up on my lap throughout the whole movie!.

    Monday, June 21, 2010


    I have a confession to make: I am not a huge morning person. (Those who know me are not surprised!)  I can get up in the morning at whatever time I need to, but I need a bit of alone time in the morning before I'm really ready to face the day (or people, for that matter).

    So most days, I wake up, turn on the computer and "check in" on friends. If I get up early enough, I can look out the window in my computer room to see this view of the river coming to life. 

    I love spending time in the morning, sipping my coffee and slowly figuring out the course of my day. It's time to gather my thoughts and summon up some energy for the day. Once the coffee takes affect, I'm so much more ready to take life on.

    I remember the years of chasing after both my kids, especially my son, and helping them get ready for school...while I was also getting ready for work. None of us were morning folks! Those were some crazy mornings! 

    And I will admit, I don't miss those mornings one bit! I love my kids, but those mornings were not our finer moments. To those mothers whose children just can't get up in the morning (unless it's for Saturday cartoons): I tell you, it's amazing--when they grow up they really can get themselves up for work--all by themselves! I never thought I'd live to see the day!

    Life changes...mornings are much calmer these days! Most days I get that little bit of quiet time at the computer with my coffee in hand. And this morning, following my coffee, I'm off to the studio--where I get more alone time--only with music and paints! Pure heaven! It was a busy weekend filled with family obligations, so not much studio time. I am ready to paint up a storm this week!

    (What's your morning routine? Are you chasing after the little rugrats? Rushing out the door? Or do you find some quiet time to start your day?)

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Do you hear it?

    What in your life is calling you?
    when all the noise is silenced,
    the meetings adjourned,
    the lists laid aside,
    and the wild iris blooms by itself
    in the dark forest,
    what still pulls on your soul?

    In the silence between your heartbeats
    hides a summons.
    Do you hear it?
    Name it, if you must, 
    or leave it forever nameless,
    but why pretend it is not there?

    -The Terma Collective, "The Box: Remember the Gift"

    As soon as I read this in Sheri Gaynor's Creative Awakenings book, I knew that I must share it! Wish I had more time to write, but I'm off for a busy weekend with my daughter. Hopefully I will squeeze in a little studio time and perhaps a little writing time. Until then--Have a great weekend all!

    Thursday, June 17, 2010


    I had a different post planned for today, but I'm feeling a little out of sorts tonight. Nothing major...just the juggling of my changing life right now.

    As I sat down at the computer, perusing favorite websites and then trying to write this post, I had a hard time settling in.  Then I pulled up this video...and listened again...and again.

    I guess I'll be able to write that post I had planned another day. 

    I first heard K.D. Lang sing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah during this past winter's Olympic ceremonies. It gave me goosebumps then.

    Something, I really don't remember what, prompted me to listen to it again this past week. And I keep listening to it because it speaks to me on so many different levels.

    First off, it is a beautiful song...well written, soulful, almost haunting. But it's more than that. Many have sung this song, but in my opinion, K.D. Lang owns this song. Her voice is incredible and she delivers this song with incredible passion.

    But I am not writing this as a K.D. Lang testimonial (well, maybe a little)...

    There is something powerful in watching (or experiencing) someone do something that they are passionate about. When I watch Lang perform this song, when I hear her voice sing with such passion...I can almost feel the power in that. No, I can feel the power. And I can see at the end of the performance how she is moved, nearly to tears, when the audience shows their appreciation for her performance.

    And that part moves me too.

    These days, as I sort out my life, I've been thinking a lot about how to make my life meaningful. I guess that's just a natural consequence of turning 50 in a few short months and losing the job that I've been doing for the past ten plus years. It makes you stop and think...

    What do I want to do with the rest of my life? What am I passionate about? How do I share those passions with the rest of the world?

    I know that I am passionate about making art and sharing it with others. I am also passionate about helping others. Somehow, I want to combine those two things.

    There are no easy answers, for sure, but it's worth exploring. I hope you don't mind exploring some of those questions with me.

    And now I'm off (finally) to go buy that CD on Amazon...I think it would be incredible music to paint by! 

    I did my best, it wasn't much
    I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
    I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
    And even though
    It all went wrong
    I'll stand before the Lord of Song
    With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Report Card

    Last Monday I posted a list of Five Things on my To Do List for the Week. It's time to report on how I've done!

    1. Walking: C plus.  In my defense, can I just say that it's been very wet here in Minnesota. Rainy & dreary! I could use a few sunny days to help with my motivation. Alas, the forecast is pretty much the same this week. So to myself I say: Deal with it!

    2. Clean my Jax (painting) studio. B plus. It wasn't a complete overhaul, but I moved things around & tidied up...enough to free up some creative energy (that was the goal).

    3. Finish some paintings. A minus.  Still working on this...but I was very focused! I concentrated my energies on working on 3 paintings--all in the Hope Garden series. The largest (24x36) is a commission piece, but I'm also working on 2 smaller pieces (16x20, 18/24)! Sometimes the detailed work is the most tedious, but I'm determined to finish these 3 this week. Promise!

    4. Work on my Etsy shop. D. What can I say? I did edit one listing. This morning I took pics for new listings. We're focusing on this stuff in Kelly Rae's course this week, so that should renew my enthusiasm.

    5. Work on my blog layout. A minus. I did it! I converted to a 3-column layout. I've been dreaming about this for a while...and one night I bit the bullet. I'm still doing some tweaking...this week I hope to design a new header.

    So what does that give me for an overall grade? I'm going with a B. Definitely room for improvement, but I'm focused on these short-term goals (along with a few long-term ones). 

    I'm keeping these goals on this week's To Do list.  What's on your list?   

    Thursday, June 10, 2010


    Yesterday I pushed myself away from the computer and stepped out of the studio for a day of inspiration and play. I spent the day with a friend who nourishes my creative spirit. We are both creative souls, expressing ourselves in our own ways.

    We are also walking beside each other as we face the experience of being laid off. While I wish we were not both going through this experience, I am thankful for a friend who understands firsthand what I am feeling these days.

    We had a grand time...traipsing through the neighborhoods of south Minneapolis; stopping to check out fun little shops, enjoying lunch at a small neighborhood place, and then checking out the Foot In the Door exhibit at the Institute of Arts.

    It was a welcome break to spend the day enjoying a sunny summer day, playing. It was a day filled with joy and inspiration...the kind where you feel good about yourself and remember your dreams. The kind of day where you feel like you can accomplish just about anything.

    It's not always easy holding on to those feelings...those feelings of invincibility, power, strength. They can be gone overnight, when you rise in the morning to gray skies. 

    At least that's the way I felt this morning. 

    Try and stay Brave, I told myself, Dream BIG.  I've drudged off to the studio to do some painting. I went for a walk between studio sessions.

    And tonight I sat down to play with this blog layout (again)...determined to convert from a 2 column to 3 column layout. While I knew a website that I could go to for instructions, I was still a little leery. I logged into Blogger, ready to go to work and as I was navigating Blogger I noticed a change--a 3 column layout is now available! Presto! I now have a 3 column blog! 

    It may be a small victory, but a victory nonetheless!

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    The Tilsner


    I just returned from my building's All-Co-op meeting and I'm excited. For those readers that are new to my blog, a year ago me and my hubby moved into the Tilsner.  Physically, the Tilsner is a beautiful old building (built in 1895), six stories tall, still proudly bearing beautiful brick walls and exposed timbers in all 66 units. It is located in Lowertown St. Paul (walking distance from downtown) and if you look outside my window you can see the mighty Mississippi. (Just click on the Tilsner label on my sidebar to see other entries with pics of my home)

     The Tilsner in 1902 and then today. 

    The building was renovated in the 80's by ArtSpace--specifically for artists. Truth be told, no one else really wanted to live in this area then.  That's all changing now!

    My hubby and I lived in Lowertown prior to moving into the Tilsner. We loved the vibe of the artist community. It was a dream to move into one of the ArtSpace buildings.

    It's been an interesting with a group of artists...well, it's a cast of characters! Think about it...all those creative folks living in one building! I love that people here, for the most part, are very friendly. Having lived in many apartments over the years, it's a huge plus knowing your neighbors and feeling part of a true community. If there is a negative it's that with all those creative personalities you have many different ideas on how to do things...and sometimes we all want to do things our way (or no way!). 

    So I was a little anxious about the meeting tonight...I'm not a huge fan of big group meetings. But tonight I was struck by how crazy wonderful it is to be living in a building with such talented folks. We started our meeting with a round of introductions (lots of new residents!)...we all said a little bit about what we do...there were photographers, writers, painters, actors, film/videographers, was amazing hearing what everyone does!

    Just crazy wonderful


    (All photos used are from ArtSpace, or the MN Historical Society)

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Five Things (on my To Do List this week)

    Monday, full of promise and opportunity!  Here's a look at Five Things I plan on working on this week:

    1. Walking. I've been sort of slacking on this one. Big time. I'll admit that I have a hard time getting my butt out the door. But the fact is, I'm a Type 2 Diabetic and exercise makes all the difference. I am working hard to get off some of my medications. I've lost almost 20 pounds this winter, but I still have 10 pounds to go (15 would be like the frosting on the cake!). 

    Once I get moving, I'm into it. Even if I go walking by myself, it's great time for thinking. I have great walking paths near me--including one that follows the Mississippi River. I made it out this morning and regretted not taking my camera. I also think I should take my journal along...and find a spot to sit and write!

    2. Clean my Jax (painting) studio. You've seen my studio when it's all nice and neat (it was featured in the Summer CPS Studios magazine--these photos are from that "shoot")...but things haven't gotten a little messy. I'm getting ready to do lots of studio work and cleaning/reorganizing the studio will help me get more done. I'm not saying it's going to stay clean, but...

    3. Finish some paintings. Lately I've been laying down lots of backgrounds on lots of canvases. It's relaxing and recharges my creative battery. But I need to finish some of those paintings! The time is now!

    4. Work on my Etsy shop. Badly neglected for months now, it's time to give my shop a little love. My plan is to list some of my smaller artwork for sale in my Etsy shop...which means taking some photos, lots of computer work...I'll let you know how that all goes!

    5. Work on my blog layout. I started changing things up a bit last week. More changes coming. And I think I may be ready to start working on a website. It's a little scary, but exciting at the same time.

    I plan on keeping busy...I'll let you know next week how I did on my list!

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Under Construction

    Bear with me...I'm playing around with the layout of my blog. Not sure yet if I will be staying with this layout or trying some others on for size. Not sure about losing the colors that I had on my blog. Thinking about trying a 3-column layout. Yes, I am thinking about changing my header...once I'm ready to tackle that project!

    Please feel free to tell me what you think.

    (Final note: changing format makes previous posts look .... well, out of sync. Not sure what to do about that!)

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Who Does She Think She Is?

    I am slipping into my second week of unemployment. I hate that whole notion...that I am "unemployed". My best friend, Julie, keeps reminding me that I am a self-employed artist. And for right now, until I have figured out the future, that's what I am--a self-employed artist! 

    It is not easy to write that...I am still sorting out what that means. From time to time, I have identified myself as an artist...but I've also added that I have a day job as a social worker. Somehow it makes me feel more "legit".

    Things change. And truth is, being an artist is more the core of who I am. The social worker/"helping others" part is pretty strong too. Honestly, I think my goal is figuring out how to blend the two.

    I decided to take Kelly Rae Robert's e-course "Flying Lessons". It is all about learning ways to help build your creative business. This is not stuff they ever taught you in art least not 30 years ago (well, almost 30!).

    I will, from time to time, write about topics that come up in the course. We are only a few days in and already it's been quite thought provoking.

    Tonight I am sharing 2 movie trailers for a documentary that Kelly clued us in on. The movie is titled "Who Does She Think She Is." It explores the challenges women face as artists, especially artists who are also mothers.

    I have watched these short video clips over and over...I just might have to buy the full DVD. (Available on Amazon). Very powerful stuff.

    I remember, when our kids were small (some 20+ years ago), Julie and I talking about juggling being a mother and being an artist. Certainly at that time, I had no thought of making a living as an artist. But I always made art.

    Sometimes you wonder how these experiences impact your kids. I mean Do they really pay attention? How do they take it all in?  

    When they were small, I had no dedicated space for making art. For years, I slept on a futon so I could roll it up and use my bedroom floor to paint... Often times, my art making would spill over on the dining room table. And many times, my kids would work beside me on their own art projects.

    Over the years, I've picked up on the little signs that told me it did have some influence on who my kids are now as adults. Neither are really interested in making art. But they pay attention to art. All those trips to art museums...they now will take friends to art shows or even go by themselves. A few years back when I was preparing my studio for my first open studio event, I had the help of both my kids. As my son helped me paint my studio walls, he commented as an old song played on the radio that he remembered me painting to that song. Neither would allow me to sell some of my older paintings, the ones they remembered me painting. And I have held onto them.

    On days when I wonder why it is I'm making art, I think I'm going to watch one of these video trailers-- it's sure to get me going.

    As one of the artist's children interviewed in the video said (quoting his mother, I believe)--

    "Art is always a risk and sometimes it's a risk you just have to take."


    Wordless Wednesday