Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bird Fat book pages

Well, except for embellishment of twigs, my second set of bird pages are finished. I did get one finished and photographed so you can see what the final product will be. In real life, the pages are very tactile. I'm pleased with them but gosh, what a lot of work! I was up at 5:00 this morning working on them non-stop until about 9:30! Now, to add the eyelets and finish tying the twigs. Anyway, here they are:

The grid page is a photo of one of my watercolor painted birds adhered to black paper and then cut into one inch squares and reassembled onto fabric which has then been overlaid with vinyl and sewn. The twig is tied to the page through eyelets.
The back of the page, the bluebirds, are others I've painted. These were originally cut out and collaged onto fabric. For this piece though, I printed photos of the collage. I then cut a window out of the page to create a frame for the photo and sewed it in.
I just was at the mall with my boys and now I feel like I need a long nap. Buying shoes for Max is TORTURE and next time, I'm planning to make Chuck take him! Although he is very active and social, he melts down when he's around a lot of activity for very long. He was in major melt down by the time we got home. And we were not even out for 3 hours!!!
Time to get a cup of Joe.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Canaan in the Desert

Today, my women's Bible study group met at a prayer garden called Canaan in the Desert which is run by a group of Lutheran sisters who solely rely on God's provision for them daily. They are so sweet. The garden is wonderful and you feel the presence of God strongly the minute you turn into their drive way. It's a peaceful haven in the middle of a bustling city. I love going there. I took several photographs this morning and after I got home, I couldn't wait to plug my camera into my computer to see if they looked good on a screen bigger than my camera screen! Most of them turned out awesome! Back in January, when I went on an all day silent prayer retreat, on the way there, God spoke to me about my art and told me to "look at what's in front of you." I have been making an effort to really see what is around me and actually seeing the incredible beauty that is even in the midst of the desert, that I've never seen before. I was always so busy envying anyone who lived in "green" places that I failed to really see what God has put in front of me. Now, I seem to go nuts with my camera when I get in the desert! Hey, God is even in the desert!!! The touch of his hand is everywhere. You just sometimes have to look a little closer. I'll try to choose a couple of my favorite shots to share with you. I got over 20 GOOD ones but think you may go nuts if I post them all! Here are some of my favorites:

Check out this bird nest! This bird even used cactus skeleton pieces and toilet paper to build this nice comfy nest in the cactus!

Doesn't this cactus look like chenille?!
The last one is my favorite. Tree bark just really excites me! Maybe it's the color... no, the texture... no, the color, no, the texture...... Aren't all these things just gorgeous! It was a great morning with perfect weather except the wind kicked up and I ran straight home and took an allergy pill!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

charity art auction on e-bay

A fellow artist runs a no kill shelter in Tennessee and is having an art auction on e-bay to raise money for all the animals she cares for. The artwork was donated by artists around the world. I donated a beach glass bracelet, an altered board book, and seems like something else but I can't remember! My pieces haven't been put up yet. Anyway, here's a note from Bernie about the auction:
Greetings from Bernie Berlin and A Place To Bark!!!This is just a little note to let you know that our art auction for "A Place To Bark" has gone live this week. We have some of the best known artists in the mixed media & publication arenas featured, as well as many artists who need to be known and showcased. All the artwork is just fabulous!!! I will continue to post the art over the next couple of weeks, we have quite a bit, so please check back often...Since we moved to Tennessee a year ago we have rescued close to 400 animals all of which would have been put to sleep. Our rescue is growing and so are our vet bills and expenses. The humane societies in Chicago and Wisconsin have been such a blessing with the placement of the animals. All animals are placed within 7-12 days of arriving there.Without their help and the help of the artists and animal lovers we couldn't do as much.So I'm asking that you spread the word of the auction to all your art and animal loving friends and contacts. Together we can help the animals that can't help themselves:)We're hoping to build a small shelter this summer, after our vet bills are paid, so fingers crossed..
Here is the link to the auction: Updates can always be found on my blog at: Thanks a million to all of you that support me, create the art and those of you that rescue & love the animals!!!
Bernie Berlin
"A Place to Bark"

Now go look and Bid!!!!! If, for some reason, my e-bay link doesn't work, go to Bernie's blog address and you will find it there... along with the sweetest pictures of all these babies she saves. But be prepared to shed some tears along the way if you read much of the stories about these animals. I so admire Bernie's endless dedication to these animals. I guess you could say she's one of my heroes. See, when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a vet and I had a plan to do exactly what she is doing. But by the time I got to high school, I realized 2 things: (1) you had to go to school like, forever, to be a vet... yuk! (2) and most importantly, I knew that emtionally, there was no way I could handle either job... being the vet or having an animal rescue. I knew I'd be a total sobbing wreck all the time. So, there is a little of me in what Bernie does and she has my utmost respect and admiration. God is surely with her giving her strength and courage every day. And she does see such joy in the midst of such unjust suffering.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Queen, Mud bog, and a journal

OK, so you are wondering what those three things have in common, right? Well, nothing other than they all happened in the past few days! It's been so warm here that I let my boys play in the hose and make a mud bog in the back yard. They were happy campers for a few hours! To get them in the house and to the tub, I made a "mud bus"... really, a plastic laundry basket parked by the door. They had to get in and they were pulled to the bathroom and put into the tub! LOL! Hey, it worked!

The Queen is Minya, my red abyssinan. Max made her a crown and I snapped a few pictures of her wearing it during her first moments of being crowned Queen of the house. Max is always coming up with something new for Minya. I swear, if he had been born a girl, Minya would have lived the remainder of her life in doll clothes. Max and Minya have a special bond and it's still shocks me at what she not only tolerates, but sits and begs for considering that she was a cat that didn't like kids AT ALL before I had Max! Now they are practically inseparable. She's 18 now and I know we won't have her much longer. I'm gonna' have one very distraught little boy on my hands when she dies... not to mention the shape I'll be in.

The journal is one made from a composition notebook. I took this photo of a cactus skeleton and it's one of my favorite photos I've ever taken. I decided to give it an interesting look by cutting the photo into 1 -inch squares and then gluing them to the front of the journal. I also attached a small piece of the actual cactus skeleton that I collected after taking the photo. This journal is being donated to a fund raiser for our church mission trips. A major fundraiser is held every March. It's a music night and silent auction. This year, one of the things I put in the auction were 2 blocks of 2 classes in my home studio to create your own journal or collage on canvas. I've had several people ask me if I teach and I figured this would be a good time to try it out! I'm auctioning a 3 hour class for up to 4 people but it's being split into two separate auctions for 2 people each. I am donating the journal for a sample as well as an auction item. I also put together a small photo book containing photo samples of many of my collage pieces. I have also donated one of my soldered china necklace pieces and some items that will go into a basket that our book club is putting together as well as another for our Women's Bible Study basket. It's always a fun night. Now, to find a sitter....although, it might be fun to take the boys this year. It's just that then I'd have to leave early to get them home to bed. Ugh!

Well, I'm off to get some things cleaned up and maybe watch a movie with the boys. I can cut birds out for my next fat book page while we watch!
Oh, and I couldn't resist this photo! How precious are the hands of a little artist! I took the boys with me to Michael's yesterday and they had these little kits for wooden cards, boats, submarines, etc... They came with paint and glue and they were only $1.00!!! The boys each got two and came home to build and paint their stuff. These are Max's hands. Aren't they darling?! :)
OK, now I'm really signing off....

Friday, March 16, 2007

Art frenzy

Well, I took a much needed break from cleaning the art studio to do some art! Boy, did I need a fix in a bad way! Even though I SWORE I was not joining in anymore swaps, when a Bird themed LFB (little fat book) was proposed with the diva's, I knew there was no way I could resist. I LOVE birds and they are my favorite thing to paint. My intention was to do some new birds to include in the book but I simply haven't had time to focus. And watercolor painting requires focus like nothing else I do when it comes to creating. The fat book pages are due the first week of April and the due date has been looming over me like a dark cloud. I not only signed up for a page in this book, I signed up for 2! And for those of you who don't know what this means, when you sign up to do a page in a LFB, you do one page DESIGN but make enough pages for every person in the swap! In this case, it is 29! Quality copies with embellishments were accepted in this particular swap but try as I might, I can't seem to wrap my brain around the copies. It was more mental work to try and figure out what a background would be, what elements would be copied, cut out and then glued on, and then what the embellishment would be than if I just make all the pages originals, which is what I'm doing. So, as we take into account the front and back or two page designs, that means 4 x 29= 116... yes, that's right... 116 pages that are 4x4 inches in size. I must've lost my marbles somewhere.... Anyway, I'm working on them. My kids are out of school for spring break next week which really doesn't play well into my art plan! I've been like a mad woman working on the back and front of the first page yesterday and today. I have all of side one finished and side two is almost finished. The sides of the other page are still in process of design in my head. Since I was bent... and still am, on using all my own bird images, I'm printing them out from photos of my paintings that are in my computer. Here is side one of the first page:

Some of the elements don't show up well in the photo but here is what I did. The cardstock base is painted an antique metallic gold. The rest of the piece was done separately with layers of deep plum fabric, gold sheer, and some other varigated fabric. It was placed under that matte photocopy of the bird painting close up. I sewed the image to the fabric and then highlighted the "window" with gold thread. Then the whole piece was sewn the the cardstock. This original painting is hanging in my house and is quite large. It is titled "Through the window".

Here is the back of the page:
For this page, I used 4 different colors of ink directly onto the cardstock. Then I stamped the oriental text. Next I went over the whole piece with a light wash of gesso with a tiny bit of water using a dried up baby wipe to spread it. The chick image is a close up of a painting I did last year that was put into an altered book in a Circle Journal Round Robin. I printed the image on a transparency and then adhered it onto a light golden yellow cardstock to put back some of the original color lost in printing onto the transparency. I cut the images into the size I needed and then sewed them onto the page with french knots. I LOVE doing french knots! The back of the page is the signature page so, before I adhered the transparency to the cardstock, I wrote my name, city, and state so it shows through the transparency. The pages look slightly off centered because they are! Room has to be left on the binding side of the pages. When all my pages are finished, I'll be mailing them out to the hostess, Kathy McElroy, who will then swap out all the pages with all those from other participants and then coil bind the books and send them back to everyone! While working on this, part of my craziness has come in the fact that I have too many ideas. I think I need to do some more painting of birds and create my own bird book of all my images. That would be fun to do. Now, this is my only swap I'm doing this year because I detest mass producing anything. I swore I wouldn't do this again but the subject was too tempting. I think I'll be pleased as punch about the end product! OK, back to work....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Studio progress report

Well, I had Bible Study today so I didn't get to do much work here in my studio but it's looking much better and I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel. So, I thought I'd post a few progress report pictures. Just keep in mind that it still isn't finished! I have come a long way but still have a couple of baskets of paper items to sort through, purge, and file as well as the pile that is now at the end of the one table. These baskets are full of small embellishment type things that have to be sorted. You know, the kind of things that make you want to pull out your hair one strand at a time? There's also one large plastic bin with some assemblage things to sort. So far, I have given away two flat rate boxes of stuff, have two 12-gal. bins of stuff to pass on to the Unraveling room at Art Unraveled, have had 4 people dig through my toss out piles of paper and fabric stuff and take what they wanted, given away a garbage bag full of fabric through Freecycle, and thrown out 2 LARGE trash bags and am on the third... full of nothing but trash... and that doesn't cound over half a dumpster of recycle stuff!

Now, I swore I wasn't allowed to do any art until I was completely finished. But I'm having serious withdrawals from not getting to do any art. It's been weeks since I got to create anything and with my mom being in the hospital last week, I lost several days in my schedule for finishing my clean out so I could freely do art this week. So, now that the stuff left is somewhat managable, I HAVE to do some art! I'm waking up in the middle of the night wanting to crawl out of bed in the dark just to create something. I can't take it anymore. I won't be able to do much tomorrow because it's my boys short day at school and I have to go pick up a polaroid camera someone is giving me. Since the lady lives near Fran, I just CAN'T be that close to her and not stop to see her! Especially since she leaves on Thursday for Hawaii for 10 days with her sweet hubby, Dave. I may get to do something in the afternoon though. Maybe it calls for a trip to the library for a new movie (babysitter) for the boys! ;)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Resurrected from the black hole

OK, I know every thinks I fell down a black hole... and maybe I did, of sorts. Anyway, I've crawled out! I'm trying to think where I left off! I think it was just about when our church's 24/7 week of prayer was starting! Well, The time of prayer was so amazing and affected so many in such an indescribable way, that instead of it being a week of non-stop prayer, it turned into TWO!!!! We had 14 days of prayer going on 24 hours a day! It was a powerful time. Out of the 14 days, I was there 12 of the 14 days either setting up, tearing down after it was over, making coffee and setting up refreshments during the second week, replacing candles, straightening things up at various interactive stations, or just having my own prayer time. The response from our body has been overwhelming and I've heard God specifically telling me to "get the prayer room ready". See, we have a very small room off of the sanctuary designated as the "prayer room" but up until this point, it wasn't really being utilized for it's purpose and besides that, it needs help! It's ...well... how do I say this? In a couple of words, ugly and uninviting. The atmosphere in the room feels more like an office rather than a safe haven to sit in God's presence. But that will be changing pretty quickly. And it was so encouraging yesterday at church when another girl from the prayer team came to me and said, "I'm getting a strong sense of God saying we need to get the prayer room ready."! I squealed,"Me too!!!!" So, the ball will start rolling. First, and foremost, there needs to be a paint party with a warm color to create a calm feel. Right now, white just isn't cutting it. Bleh! I've been asked to help with Vacation Bible School for the 5th/6th graders again this year and gosh, it was soooo fun last year. But I've prayed about it and am still not getting a clear answer from God so I think I just need to wait. I won't commit until I'm sure. I jsut know that right now, I need to take some leadership and responsibility to get the prayer room ready for people to really use it for prayer!

Chuck is leaving for Texas tonight on business and will be gone a few days. I'm always incredibly productive with projects when he's gone! I don't know why that is. More than anything, I'm so very thankful that he's finally got a good deal going with work. God always takes care of us but going over 6 months with no income has had us, let's say, a little nervous.

I've been doing a MAJOR studio clean out over the past couple of weeks. I mean MAJOR!!! I"m being very brave and posting my "before" pictures. Scary huh? I'm going through every single drawer, box, basket of stuff. I'm handling every single piece of paper, testing every pen for ink, etc... I can't believe how much stuff I have accumulated over the past few years! I'm having to really look at what I have and take into account whether or not each thing will fit into the direction which I see my art going. If not, it goes. My best bud, Fran, gave me sets of clear plastic drawers, sort of like iris carts. I have organized all my paper stuff into drawers by color families and type. Fran came over last Monday and helped me go through all my fabric. You guys, I had 9, yes, that's NINE 12 gal. plastic bins of nothing but fabric!!!!! With Fran's help and direction... and believe me, I needed it, I weeded out a couple of large trash bags full of fabric I don't think I will use, Fran took some, and I'm still trying to pawn the rest off on someone! What was left was organized by types of fabric. My obsession with small scraps is scary. I think I scared Fran! :) I organized those by color families and put them into ziplock bags. However, I know myself way too well to know there's no way on earth I'll keep them that way. I love plundering through them. So, I got some plastic shoe boxes that will fit down into the plastic bin. I'll put each color family into it's own little box. That way, they are still separated but I'm not having to dig through a stupid plastic bag!

Since I share my studio space with my boys play area, I rearranged and organized their side too. I know I have gotten a ton of stuff done out here but I swear my stuff is breeding at night and has babies by morning! It seems I'll never finish. I WILL finish this week! I am DYING to do art again! I feel art starved!

Over the weekend, I literally sat down and went through a huge stack of books I had purchased at a thrift store. They are called American Heritage books published back in the 70's. They are only about an inch thick and on the larger size. The pages in the book are at least 8-1/2 x 11, maybe bigger. Anyway, I had purchased these strictly to cut apart because they are full of great images. However, they were literally taking up an entire drawer in a filing cabinet when stood on end! So, I thought that realistically, I won't be using these so I sat down and gutted every book. The covers of many looked like they'd never been handled. They are in great condition. I love reconstructing books so I'll use the covers to make new books. AS for the contents, I went through and took out the pages with images and put the text pages in the recycle bin. I will be donating boxes of ephemera, 3-d embellishment stuff, assemblage stuff, etc... to the Unraveling room at Art Unraveled. For those of you who don't know about ArtUnraveled, it is an art retreat held here in Phoenix every year. This year it starts August 5. Artists from around the country come to teach as well as learn! You simply MUST check out the classes offered this year! Here's the website: . I'll be taking 2 all day classes with Katie Kendrick. I can't wait to meet her! We have become friends online over the past couple of years and I own a few pieces of her art. She mades the most fabulous art dolls on the planet! I'm happy to have one sitting on my shelf! I'll also be taking an assemblage class with Michael De Meng. I took a class with him 2 years ago and really, really enjoyed it. He's a fantastic teacher and just all around nice guy.

Last week was a very interesting and exhausting week. I went over to my mom's house after Bible Study on Tuesday and about 15 minutes before I had to leave to pick my boys up from school, my mom started acting strange. She was very confused. Her memory wasn't right. I got very concerned and got my step-dad and had him come talk to her. We both quickly became alarmed. When I left to get my boys, he dragged her into the car and took her to ER. Once I got my boys home, Chuck happened to be home so I ran back out the door to the hospital. My mom completely lost her short term memory... and I mean, from one minute to the next. She spent the next 8 hours asking the same EXACT questions over and over and over and over and over.... with no memory whatsoever that she had just asked the question or gotten an answer. And she had no memory of anything earlier that day or the day before. It was very weird, scary, and frustrating. By the next day, she was "back to normal" however, Tuesday just got completely erased from her memory. She still doesn't remember my being at her house that day, nothing we talked about... not a thing. Anyway, she was in the hospital all week having every test done that was imaginable. I dropped kids off at school every morning and spent all my free time at the hospital until it was time to pick up kids. I'd then run errands, take care of kids, try to keep up with my house, which I failed at completely, and then passed out from exhaustion by 8:30 every night. I don't remember when I have been so tired. And gosh, how much coffee can a person drink a day before it becomes lethal? After a while, it just didn't work anyway. Dealing with the Dr.'s was incredibly frustrating because the first one was a blankety-blank-blank... you can fill it in with the worst words available that aren't in my vocabulary. He was quickly "disposed of". Dr. #2 was ok but then his opinions weren't exactly in line with those of the neurologist. It just got frustrating trying to figure out who to believe. The overall diagnosis, however, was unanimous. My suffered from something called Transient Global Amnesia. I'd never heard of it but there's lots of info with a Google search. The doctors had differing opinions as to whether some of her medications may have played a part or not. I was not at the hospital on Friday when the Dr. came in so I could badger him further before he released mom. I still don't quite understand their thoughts behind some things that transpired and I think mom just didn't care what they said at that point other than, "you are free to go home." That may not be true but some very pertinant questions didn't get addressed... but that's just my opinion. Anyway, I get frustrated every time I think about it. I pray it never happens again. It scares me most to think of it happening when she's out alone or when my boys are with her. I think that for quite a while, at least, they can only be at her house when Fred is with them too. So, the weekend was spent trying to catch up on my house, time with my boys, and sleep.

OK, time to stop writing and get back to my studio cleaning. I'll post my after photos hopefully by the end of the week!!!!