Thursday, January 31, 2013

Celebrate

It really is a celebration of art to say I have created every day. The watercolor I made tonight could be called "Confetti" when I consider the fact I really have completed one month and tomorrow is February.  Only eleven months left!

I have learned so much and trust in my abilities to create even when it feels like nothing will show up. Tonight was one of those nights. I never set out to paint confetti, yet the pieces showed up as i went along. Today was a day I rested because of some weird cold. I slept most of the day and really didn't feel like anything very good, but I started with the tape again. After a quick background, I masked off the lines and then painted in the open spaces. I masked again and painted again. Then, I had actually planned to put "friends" in near the bottom, but decided against it. Still, it needed something else and the confetti makes it happen. 

Next, after the watercolor, I created the calendar for the month. It was fun to create last month, so i figure it's a great way to keep the momentum going on this year-long project. I used the same hearts from the Beautiful Family piece and they came from the template I used from January's calendar page. I just used them to paint over for the date markers and intend to use them again for another project. 

I thank you for taking the time to visit today. Thank you and have a fabulous February!

 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The story of Us

Me + You = Us

We have been together for just about two and a half years, but have known each other since the sixth grade. He drove to Vegas from California nearly every weekend for the better part of two school years very recently and I moved to him this past September. I am so thankful we are in the same place, breathing the same air, hanging out with our pooches and creating a life together.

We had some conversation heart candy tonight and they taste a lot better than I remember. They used to have that sort of chalky taste, or maybe even Necco-ness of the past, but there seems to be more fruit flavor these days. I bought the little box a few weeks ago on an artsy craft excursion to Michaels and I've been wanting to put some of them down on paper. This is what I got tonight.

This month is the most I have worked with watercolor ever. I've usually been very attached to colored pencils because they offer great control, but the problem is colored pencil takes a lot of time for the deliberate detail I wish to see. It takes layers upon layers of color to get the exact style and feel. Plus, I am in need of a set of Verithin Prismacolor pencils in order to achieve the best effects for me. Valentine's Day is not far away....

Until then, I have really enjoyed working with the watercolor medium. I realize the way I've been using them seems to look a little more like acrylic, but acrylic is next on my list of explorations. Also, I have never used gouache, but I've been told it looks like I have. I don't even know what that means, really and I am willing to find out.

Light and shadow make the heart stand out. Quite simply, neither does well without the other in existence. They can exist separately, but together they compliment one another and create a very expressive and interesting space. Kind of like me and my sweetie.

Cheers, for tomorrow is the last of January!



Materials:
Strathmore Windmill Watercolor Paper, 140 lb. 9x12
Faber Castell Watercolor Cakes

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hold on.

These words are in the first verse of the song, "Hold On! I'm Comin'" by Sam and Dave. I love playing the horn parts and it just oozes classic soul. A friend of mine posted part the title today, and I saw this in my mind's eye. Whenever I hear this song, I smile. The message is great and I feel the groove in my whole body. I tried to follow the phrasing of the song and bring out the emphasized words by making them larger. I wanted to be able to see the song in front of me. It's also nice to be using some brighter colors.

The Creative Every Day Challenge has a monthly theme; January was 'dark' and February is 'light'. I am so thankful to be bringing in colors of sunny and brighter days alongside everyday Valentine images. Yes, I love hearts, but I believe every day is Valentine's day and hearts will creep in all year long. 

Have a wonderful day!

Hold on! I'm comin'!

Materials:
Canson XL Mixed Media, 98 lb paper
Faber Castell watercolor cakes
Staedtler black permanent fine Marker

Monday, January 28, 2013

Give it a Little Heart

 I'm thankful for my car. It sure is a pain in the rear when it loses charge every time I go someplace, but I cannot deny the fact it runs when it does. The fact remains, I cannot get a new car to replace it until I have a job. There are a lot of things that don't make any sense about me moving here without first having a job, but we have food, a home and transportation. Most of all, we have each other and that is the reason for me being here and no other place. Job hunting has not been good to me, but it is a blessing of sorts.

And yes, there is a Catch-22. I cannot get a car unless I have a job and I cannot have a job if I don't have a reliable car. But, it has charged up pretty well until the last couple of days. Thankfully, I've only been in places where my angels, Julie and Catherine, have been able to help me out. That is no coincidence. I simply haven't traveled very far in order to be sure I will be able to get back home. But that is a Catch as well, because the further I drive, the better the charge on the battery, yet it is just a waste of gas if I am just driving around. I could use the drive time to visit friends I haven't seen in so long, find new vistas, and enjoy the drive, but it is hard to rely on something so unreliable. And yes, it is true Mark works for a major car company, but we cannot afford the payment on a new car until I am working. It is what it is. Difficult and true. 

I am thankful for my life and the people in it. The car is a thing and will remain a thing, yet it has given me the opportunity to drive across the desert, mountains, hills, and plains in order to visit my family all over the Midwest. I drove that trip from Las Vegas, Nevada to St. Charles, Illinois three times in the summers I was teaching, and it is the first car I have ever purchased on my own and have the title in hand. But it is not a person and I needn't be attached to a thing like this. Maybe its shutting down is simply in my favor, because I will be so mad that it has failed me I will be ready to let it go. But it is a thing and things don't think and give reason. They either work or they don't. I will keep hoping to let it go sooner than later.

The heart is how I feel - unclear and tangled. Things will get better in the car department when the time is right. Until then, I'll focus on the love in my life and care for my heart with matters that matter.

Materials:
Strathmore Windmill Watercolor Paper, 140 lb, 9x12 paper
Faber Castell Watercolor Cakes

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buds and Blooms

Things I've noticed the past few days....

My favorite flowers are starting to bud and bloom in the back yard and that means spring is on the way. I am hoping it warms up for my family and friends in the Midwest as temps and snow have kept people indoors way too often, I'm sure. Hope is here and it is showing up in more places than just the garden.

The other day I posted about perhaps teaching a type of wine and canvas class, where participants can come and relax, paint a picture and take it home the same night. It is really something I would love to do more than anything. I've been talking it over with two of my friends over the past few days and it seems like the idea is in the budding stages. We have been discussing materials and constructing easels from materials we can re-use. It is exciting and fun to the dream is on its way to being real.

And just as Saturday's conversation ended, it picked up when another friend called me today. She has a studio in Laguna Beach and I brought the idea to her. We discussed it only a little bit when I asked if she might be interested in hosting such an event at the studio. She has put it on the calendar for the last Wednesday in February! It's a done deal. I am so excited! After the call, I went and danced silly dances because I am so happy! I hope for more buds and blooms.

I am hoping to put a twist on the Painting class and, perhaps,  re-use older paintings found in thrift stores and garage sales to create some fun Pinterest art. Pinterest is filled with so many ideas, has millions of followers and, I bet, a small circle of people who do the things they've posted on Pinterest. But I bet there are a lot of buds out there waiting to bloom along with me! I sure hope so.


 Have a wonderful day, and
Good night!





Materials:
Strathmore Windmill Watercolor, 140lb, 9"x12" image
Faber Castell Watercolor Cakes
Staedtler Permanent Fine Black Marker

Saturday, January 26, 2013

No direction

Well, I guess if I liked the band "One Direction", at least that would be one, but today it feels like there are so many directions maybe no direction is best. I had a hard time creating tonight. The picture started as some really beautiful color on paper and became layers upon layers of super pigmented opaque color that turned sort of muddy. The outline layer is the Sharpie Marker and metallic is notorious for not photographing well. In person, the effect is really pretty nice.

A friend posted the Emerson quote, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." It is one of my favorite quotes and it has inspired me to dream a little more and feel the direction I am being lead. It is exciting and scary, but I have faith it all happens for a reason.

On a separate note, I found another nice cabinet for the house today at Restord for $60. It is great to find a good deal now and then. The cabinet contains a pull-out desk drawer where I wish to create my work space. Maybe if I am at an actual desk instead of my bed, I will actually finish a blog entry without heavy eyelids. Regardless, as I type in bed, it's about time to turn in. Cabinet will come home hopefully Monday! Exciting.

Ciao, for now!

 

Materials:
Strathmore Windmill Watercolor Paper,
140 lb, 9"x12"
Faber Castell Watercolor Cakes
Sharpie Silver Marker

Friday, January 25, 2013

Saving a spot for LOVE

OK.
I have to find another time to work during the day.
Mark and I have date night on Fridays and I fell asleep on the couch when we got home. He even made me go to bed a couple of hours ago and I just wouldn't give up on posting. He might have been a little annoyed and I don't want that, so I will work to change up the creative schedule a bit.

This is the second time this week a post nearly missed the midnight deadline. Maybe after walking the dogs in the morning would be better, at least to start working, and then I could finish it up a few hours later. The post tonight is one that was partially finished on the day I made the simple "K". I knew it would work sometime and today is it. 

Also, I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I belong to the page "Create Every Day". There is a button on this blog that will lead you there if you're interested in finding out more about it, but it is easy enough for me let you know the theme for January has been "Dark". The theme has been swimming around in the back of my mind and it has put a darker twist on the pieces I've created, but today is a little different. I feel like the darkness is beginning to wear on me and the colorful bit of love has brightened things a little. It is exciting to wonder about the theme for February, although I'll admit, there will definitely be some more hearts headed this way soon.

I had some otherwise creative time with a couple of friends today and although we didn't make anything, we discussed about a million ideas for future projects and creativity realized. I got to know someone new today and it was really great to just relax and enjoy the company of friends. Plus, they helped me get my car battery jumped when it died at their house. I'm so thankful for the help. Love is a good theme for the day.



Materials:
Canson XL Mixed Media 98lb, image is 5"x7"
Prang Watercolor
Prismacolor Pencils
Staedtler Permanent Fine Black Marker

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Encouragement

This morning I received a message from a former colleague in Vegas letting me know I should try teaching events like the "Wine and Canvas" set-up. Just so you know, Wine and Canvas is b.y.o.b. and during the session, students learn how to create a work of art on canvas using acrylic paint, canvas and lots of instruction. The friend told me in the message she was serious and I really should consider it as a job. Honestly, it would be a lot of fun and I might have started YESTERDAY!

But one thing at a time. And seriously. DREAM! 

Then I chatted with another friend who has ideas for how to sell my work, if that is what I decide to do. The thought has definitely crossed my mind and I wonder how many of you might help in the selling of the collection, come day 364/365. She encouraged me to keep going and find a way to get some Valentines up on Etsy by next week. Challenge accepted

There will be new hearts and a set of older ones that I created to join up with my Grandma's Palette Club Bazaar in 2007. They were never sent in and shortly thereafter, she passed away. At that point I was really just trying to pass time as a substitute teacher and made the drawings on mornings when I'd get up and listen for the phone for potential jobs. The art was soothing while I waited and it used up some prep-times while I subbed in the locaLl schools. I had been given the gift of time then, like I have now, and decided making art was the least I could do to contribute to a fine cause.

In other news, I am waiting to hear on a job...
In more other news, I should get a decent tax refund this year as I started it by myself today. I didn't know the IRS doesn't start drafting refund checks until 1/30, but I am very happy with the check that will eventually show up. 

My eyes are getting heavy as I type. I've gone over a few things here and already erased the nonsense that shows up when my eyes are killing my head with a migraine. Sometime, I should just type while I am truly falling asleep and see what my brain comes up with....

On the gentle serious encouragement, I have a friend has been giving graciously of her things for me to reuse/repurpose/repair for her and some to keep for myself. Her encouragement is to believe. It's her word for the year and it fits completely. Sometimes I need the gentle reminder to breathe, believe, paint and dream. She helps me with that. There's never a dull moment here as I continue to bring more into the house than I take out, but she helps with that, too. She helps me stay on track, so to speak, and she believes I will do something great. So do the other friends I was in contact with today. One typed, "I'm serious", and that's funny only because I have not known her to spit out useless unfounded advice, ever. 

So seriously, Dream. I'm about to
Cheers for the dream and all that comes with it.

Love always, ME!   Have an awesome day!

  


Seriously. Dream!
Materials:
Strathmore Windmill Watercolor Paper, 140 lb, 9x12 inches
Faber-Castell Watercolor Cakes
Faber-Castell Gelatos
Staedtler Permanent Black Fine Marker

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Beautiful Family

 As we finished up our trip to the Midwest over Christmas, I was scanning Facebook from my phone in the airport while waiting for our flight. One of the posts was from a long-time friend and she'd re-posted a picture from the "Life Is Good" company. The picture was a simple teal background and had line-drawn hearts connected, side by side, and all that came to mind was her beautiful family who I've only ever seen on Facebook.

Facebook has been a wonderful way to catch up with people from years back and see family pictures we might have only been able to see in person in a flip-book. My friends live in little pockets of this and other countries and though it would be wonderful to see them all again in person, the reality is Facebook might be the only hope we have to keep in touch. Snail mail is always an option, but once I found out how easy it is to navigate and send messages, Facebook became my instant friend.

With this connection tool, I can keep up with so many and share beautiful moments, funny memes, and necessary updates. I am grateful to have reconnected with so many- including my Mark! And to the friend for whom this picture is intended, I am grateful for all you have shared and continue to share with me. That is why, when I saw the picture on Facebook, I immediately sent her a message and told her I wanted to draw a version of what I saw for her family. I hadn't even set the goal to create everyday yet, but I had full intention of delivering the product. And now it is done. 

I knew today as the day to complete it because it started with a headache. Along with pain, my head was spinning for what to make on a day when I need to rest and clear the stupid headache. They kill my days and if I get anything done, it is good. But with a plan in mind, getting things done is doable if the headache dies even a little bit. Thankfully, it cleared around two in the afternoon and I was glad to have made the plan. I was able to get a few things done today, rest, and carry on with the art. I am so thankful for where I am right now. So thankful.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping to read!


Beautiful Family - Life is Good
A gift for a friend and her family- one heart for each member.
Materials:
Canson XL Mixed Media, 98lb, 5.5"x14" image size
Faber-Castell Watercolor Cakes
Faber-Castell Gelatos
Prismacolor Colored Pencils
Staedtler Permanent Fine Black Marker

'Round Midnight

I made this post just past midnight today and I am bummed the label will forever read January 23 for this post. After I took the pictures, I couldn't decide which one looked best and then I got tired. I fell asleep watching TV and I am sure Mark tried to wake me, but I'm also sure I said something while sleeping that made him think I would get up soon. I guess I talk while I sleep, but I have no recollection of telling him anything. And that is sleep talking? Not sure, but sounds like it qualifies. So here I sit with eyes drooping trying to finish this post. 

I spent most of the day purging things from my bedroom. I would like to create a better space for us in there but have not found a way to shift the boxes just right since I moved. The answer? Get rid of more stuff. I found a bag from AmVets that they left behind on their last visit for stuff and put it in a box to stand it up a bit. It hasn't taken long to fill it and there will be more stuff to fill in it tomorrow - well, today.

I bet SuperWoman wouldn't get tired from purging stuff from her bedroom. She'd whip around at the speed of light and have no trouble sorting what needs to stay or go. Her wardrobe would be simple and consist of her superhero outfit, cape, and a few normal looking ensembles to look like Plain Jane any other day. My bedroom isn't so easy. 

There are way too many clothes in this room filled with stuff. In fact, I don't know why they are all here and I want more and more of them gone. Later today, I will begin again and transfer some of the old me into the donation box. I have found when I give things away, there will be a special delivery blessings headed my way soon. 

Just sad I didn't publish before midnight. Well, there is tomorrow....WAIT. It is tomorrow....

'Getting Warmer'
Materials:
Strathmore Windpower Watercolor, 140 lb., 9x12
Faber-Castell Watercolor Cakes

Monday, January 21, 2013

Milestones

Today marks the place in history for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, the Presidential Inauguration, and twenty-one days of consecutive posts on this blog by me. Not sure my accomplishment warrants arrival in the same sentence as MLK and the Prez, but to me it does. As a matter of perspective, apparently, it takes 21 days to create a habit and 28 days to break one. The greater number of days spent on the habit supports automaticity and growth in said habit. In this case, my habit is growing on me and it is one positive habit. I am learning so much and it is a certain challenge to keep going.

Even so, I've always loved to see, "Bloom where you are planted" show up in great places. I consider myself growing roots into the beautiful Southern California soil where the seeds of friendship have been planted. I have taken some steps to cultivate these seeds by caring for them while they grow on their own and I try to cultivate the plants when they have shared fruit with me. 

My friends are part of the roots that have grounded me in so many places and I continue cultivating them to this day. Some are like the succulents, who live very happily with little water and without constant attention. However, some need the extra water, nutrient-rich soil, and prunings to grow further and more wonderful with time. Just so you know, pruning sounds like a bad word, but it really isn't. It just means some things need to be removed and cleared in order for twice as many things to be added back in their places.

Twenty-one days is just a start and This plant is growing. MLK's sentiment follows with the darkness I've been feeling lately. It feels as though no time is guaranteed and I came across this quote today that emphasizes life and its possibility. I am thankful for possibility, friendships and love.

I pray for the blooming.



“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Struggle for the light

Sometimes it is a struggle for the light. 

Life is beautiful, and so ugly, at the same time. How it can be so cruel and unusual is never for us to understand. And only hope for understanding, in time, will help coping with truths of time. I want the peace that passes understanding. Today I am thankful for the lives in my family, friends and those who have passed away.

The theme of "reaching" has been occupying my mind for most of today. I've been reaching to communicate, reaching out to some who are hurting, and reaching inward for calm. It is so easy to advise a hurting person, but when it comes to me, I have difficulty finding that which will calm me. This writing has been helping and that I will continue. Spending time with friends and family is high on the docket, as well as more prayer.

Tomorrow, I will be visiting Restord to do some sorting (reaching out to help others helps, too!) and then I'll head home to play with the cement hearts which I made just yesterday. This blog is for the art I make on paper, but it has become clear to me I need to show what I have done in other projects as well. Perhaps I'll start some tutorials. Anyone interested? 

Peace and Love to you, and those around you! Have a great week.

Materials:
Canson XL Mixed Media 98 lb. 11x14
Prismacolor Colored Pencils
Staedtler Black Permanent Marker, Fine point

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Spicer is Nicer

This morning I got a call from a relative explaining about the illness of his uncle. In about ten minutes, I had contacted three other family members to get word spreading and it all just settled like lead. The reality is harsh and certainly unexpected and there is no way to make that sound nice, except it forces us to talk to one another and cherish our time together. Life is so precious and we only have moments- none are guaranteed.

Once I'd hung up from the short conversations, I intended to get some work done and then create heart-stones from cement in the backyard. It was all I could do to keep going and let things sink in a bit and pray. I was outside looking into the pool and watching the tiny currents swirl with dots of shadow here and there while I thought of times long ago in Spicer, Minnesota as a kid.

Aunt Eleanore is my Grandma's sister and was also the best babysitter a kid could wish to have. She let us make forts, stand on her counter tops, crush graham crackers, play the piano, and with all of the chaos, she just chuckled. We were encouraged to be creative with our play time and we'll never forget that spirit. 

It was at her house where I invented a system to play the piano like my first grade teacher did in class. For all I knew, Mrs. Knudsen had done just that to remember which keys to play and in what order to play them. The piano at Eleanore's house is an antique, yet I had no concept of what that meant. I wrote on the keys with a ball point pen; some had ivory, some had none. After I had figured the tune by ear, I wrote the numbers on a piece of paper so I could remember it. 

There was no yelling, no spanking, no discipline for what I had done. She wasn't even stern with me. I remember her telling my Mom what I had done and that maybe I should have piano lessons. According to Mom, they looked into it, but teachers in the area didn't want to take on kids who played by ear. That's the story I know, anyway. I cannot imagine, after teaching all of the piano lessons I have taught, refusing lessons to a kid with an ear. At least I made that different in the future... Mom might have told me not to write on the keys any longer and I might have told her, "It's ok, I already have what I need."

Another one of my fondest memories is watching clouds in the summer. We would lay on the green grass and look up at the sky. Actually, we had probably pestered a neighbor who was sunbathing and she found a creative way to keep us busy. Regardless, I remember the deep blue sky and the big puffy cloud circuses and auto collections, stuffed animals and weaponry- well, there was a boy in our little gang after all. Those summer days were so carefree and full of the best times.

Today was filled with blue sky and no clouds. All I could do was try to soak up the good memories and be thankful for each one of them. It isn't Eleanore anyway, and she is 95. But it is one of her sons and I know how hard it was for my Grandma to lose a son. None of us wants Eleanore to hurt and we don't want to hurt either, so we'll pray for Rick and hope for better days. Miracles can happen. 

The sentiment on the piece today is from Psalm 19:1 and was posted by my friend Lynn today. It wasn't until I wrote the verse number tonight that I realized it is the same as the date today.  We have been on similar wavelengths lately, so I am not surprised her post resonated strongly with me today. 

Hug the ones you love and call the ones you hear from least. Even a few minutes brings us closer.

Materials:
Canson XL Mixed Media, 98 lb, 18x24
Faber-Castell Cake Watercolor
Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, 05 Purple
Prismacolor Colored Pencil

The pictures just don't do it justice, by the way. :)




Friday, January 18, 2013

Color #2

More fun with tape!

Materials:
Canson XL Mixed media, 11x20
Faber-Castell Watercolor Cakes
Prang Waterco
lor Ovals
Faber-Castell Gelatos
Painter tape

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"What were you trying to spell?"

When I was in marching band, my parents sat in the stands at St. Charles High School and watched our formations on the field. When I was collected to go home, they commented on how nice we sounded and looked. Then Dad asked the question, "What were you trying to spell?" That's just it. We weren't trying to spell anything and that was my Dad's sense of humor.

Sometimes marching band formations can be a little like abstract art. The formations are rehearsed and engrained, then music is added and rehearsed, it starts to look better but sounds shaky, and then it is complete at game time performance with the hope it looks and sounds like it was intended to look and sound. From the four pictures I took, the process was the same.

The title of my piece is called, Color #1, because I wasn't trying to "spell" anything. It was just an exploration into using tape for more than just a border- and I love to play with color. If you are looking for something in it, there really was no intention of making anything in particular. Just art. It would have went the same way for my reply if he asked me again, "Dad, we weren't trying to spell anything."

Abstract art process

Materials: 5x7 Image on
Strathmore Windmill Watercolor Paper
140 lb, 11x14
Paint Tape
Prang Watercolor Ovals
Faber-Castell Gelatos
Faber-Castell Cakes



Foundation/Formation


Add Color
Dress Rehearsal


 
Final Performance

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Be Yourself

 There is another MeetUp group I have joined and it consists of local artists who gather at a studio to talk and create art around the table. We meet once a month and I have gone twice so far. It is interesting to watch other artists create in the two-hour period and discuss how the pieces come about. 

The studio owner has mentioned she has a "default" subject of hearts when she's not particularly struck with other ideas. She knows the default heart will help her get started painting and they are the shapes that make her happy to begin. Just as well, I have a default subject and it comes in the shape of a star. I also enjoy hearts, but tonight I needed the "default".

It's all good! We went to dinner and got home later than I thought we would. The midnight deadline loomed in front of me and I had to get started, so I began with the simple star. I taped the edges again and hope to do that as long as I have tape because the whole page just looks better. 

Earlier today, I posted a quote about being yourself, and a friend's mother then posted another quote from Oscar Wilde. I like the one she posted, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." because it is so real. 
Just be me!
It is refreshing and exciting to finally learn what that means.

With just minutes to spare, I finished the watercolor and I like it. More soon, and more just me, too.
Cheers!

Materials:
Strathmore Windmill 140lb Watercolor paper
Faber-Castell Gelatos
Faber-Castel Watercakes
Prang watercolor

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
-Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Possible Donation

Recently, one of my friends posted on fb about having a dream so very real that she expected to find evidence of any of it happening and none was found.  Mine wasn't that extreme last night, but it was interesting. I know I was with friends, but am not sure who they were because it was dream style. I do know it seemed like they had been planning something and were trying to be sure I wouldn't go where the surprise lurked. Suddenly, like in any dream, I saw my Dad standing there looking at me. For those who don't know, he wore glasses every day and had a dark mustache with blue eyes. In the dream, his glasses were gone and his eyes shone the brightest blue I 'd ever seen. It was like my friends set it up so we would just run into him. When I finally made the connection, I screamed, ran to him, hugged him and started weeping! Heavy weeping! It was only a dream, but I feel like he was here today telling me to keep my chin up and to be happy. It was awesome!

I just had to share because Mom celebrates this day alone now. Nobody should ever have to outlive the spouse. There will be a time, far away in the heavens, when we will all be together again. I just have to believe it!

The rest of the morning was spent chatting with a Vegas friend who I miss dearly. I miss all of my friends! I believe in silver and gold friends. And with precious metals as these, once they are my friends, my friends they will always be. And I got to chat with a former middle school buddy from wayyyy back about some health issues, as well. It's all good! Friends are truly the best and are there for us when we need them- especially if we need to get warm :)

For the past couple of years, a dear friend of mine from all the way back in middle school, now lives in Memphis and has invited me to attend a benefit for Breast Cancer. Last year, I thought it would be fun to have donated something creative for the auction, but I ran out of time once I started back teaching after the holiday break. Since my own Mother is a Breast Cancer Survivor, I knew I wanted to make good on a donation of some sort, so this year I really am donating a piece of artwork to the 5th Annual Think Pink Luncheon, Fashion Show and Auction. 

The committee looked through the pieces I have posted so far and they seemed to like the style of  "Twenty Little Souls". Tonight I actually prepared the paper as I should and used a masking tape in order to get crisp corners. Then I started work on the product found below. I love creating this type of background using watercolor and Gelato gel sticks. Once the foundation is made, I can wet the brush and create the shape in the paper by removing pigment from the paper. I kept adding Gelato until I found the consistency I wanted and then moved on to watercolor pencil highlights and permanent printing. I used special silver and gold Gelatos to signify silver and gold friends. I hope this one "cuts the mustard" for the group and they can make a few bucks from its sale. I will be so happy if it does! It truly is the least I can do right now.

Honestly, I prefer the Canson 140 lb paper to this stuff. Somehow the Canson accepts watercolor much better than its counterpart Strathmore. Well, I am learning a lot about the various papers I have collected over the years. For all of this I am so thankful!


Materials:
Strathmore Windpower Watercolor Paper, 140 lb. 11x14
Faber Castell Watercolor Cakes
Faber Castell Gelatos
Derwent Watercolor Pencils
Staedtler Black Fine Point Permanent Marker


Monday, January 14, 2013

A day to be Restord

Transition is always tough, but as I begin to grow roots in a new community, I've discovered many opportunities to give back, thanks to two of my new friends here. They told me about this fun resale shop, Restord, where they volunteer and whose profits are put to use helping women and girls who are transitioning to new life after struggling with substance abuse. I am happy to be putting in some volunteer time for this organization because I believe in the mission and the people at Restord are the kindest one could meet. It feels like home when I walk in to the store.

As a volunteer, there is always something to do; Donations need to be processed, hangers need to be sorted, areas need decoration and merchandising. One time I played saxophone for an open house and this morning was spent working on clearing out shelves in the warehouse/garage sale area for new goodies arriving daily.

My two friends and I looked through the shelves, tossed old and broken pieces, rearranged/organized remaining pieces and then sort of merchandised things for sale. One of the benefits of working here AND being part of the ReMakin it MeetUp group is we get some of the discards for re-use and repurposing. I have always loved going to garage sales, but my collection of things just keeps growing. Some of my treasures will become subjects for the February art pages. I just love glassware and mugs, so those alone are a pretty good hint of things to come. And then I can always donate when the things overflow from home.

I got to spend the rest of the day, with one of the two friends, visiting a home furniture consignment store and two other thrift shops. She likes finding wool and enjoys reusing the wool to make new purses and bags. We checked through all of the clothing to find sweaters and coats that fit the bill. It's fun to accompany her on her searches because she's let me in on where to find even more good stuff! And, you never know what you are going to find.

We also made a stop into JoAnn Fabrics and found the Gelato gel sticks my two friends had had trouble locating. I had shared them with my friends at our last MeetUp and they wanted to have fun, too! But there is a story with that medium.

After winning a set of four last spring that were priced at $9.99, I had to do some research because I knew I would need more than just four! I found out the set for kids are called Gel Sticks and the set for grown-ups are called Gelatos. I also found out the "grown-up" collection of 28 goes for about $60 and there is a set for kids for $12. Any comments I read told me there is no difference when it comes to using them and after I've used them, I agree.

But on the trip to JoAnn today, lo and behold, the Gelato sets are on clearance and marked down to $2.97. With that price, I had to buy another set knowing full well the current set will wear out. Also on clearance is a set of Faber-Castell watercolors in the "cakes". I decided to buy them for fun and to maybe discover another diamond in the the rough.

What an amazing day filled with activity, good deals, and laughs!

Now I am exhausted and ready for bed- so please excuse typos and the like because I'm just getting this in under the people nap. Like the past week...at least it's further from midnight.


Too early for hearts? Nah. Never too early to celebrate LOVE! Love is everywhere. I started this piece with the "cakes" just to play around, then finished it with the Prang for highlights. It was fun, but the jury is out. The cakes give a lot of pigment but not a lot of versatility. Then again, what could I expect from a kid set on clearance for $0.97? Fun. That's what.

Materials: 
Canson XL 11x14 
Faber-Castell Watercolor Cakes (found in the kid section!)
Prang Watercolor Ovals

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Riffing

I spent a long time on yesterday's work, so today I made it quick and painless. There were no water spills- instead, only my pen and a couple of Gelatos fell to the floor. As I look at the picture, I may have to add another because I am not thrilled with how pink the edges appear and the clarity is fuzzy in spots. The rest of the color is true, but I'll try again in the morning. 

In the past few days, a couple of people have made references to a couple of artists with whom my art could be compared. Both Timothy Botts and Flavia have illustrated words and I have seen their work in the past. Although I've not studied either of their works extensively, I am familiar with it and I am sure bits and pieces have surfaced. It can be likened to improvisation in jazz music. 

Jazz musicians study other musicians by listening to soak up riffs and style. They practice playing through chords and try to place the melodic bits into their own improvisation. Soloists quote other musicians all the time and it is cool when another ear hears what's been quoted because that ear has probably studied a lot of the same quotations over time. It is great to quote and even better when the music produced becomes a style all your own, filled with the experience of life and true expression. No matter what, when two souls can relate to the given expression, that is when the art happens. 

Maybe there are other artists whose work mine resembles, but I can honestly say it is mine and filled with my life. I am thankful to be able to express art and share it.  

Tell me, whose art do you see?

Materials:
Canson XL Mixed Media 98lb 
Prang Watercolor Ovals
Faber-Castell Gelato
Staedtler Permanent Black Fine Tip Marker

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Twelve.

Since I moved to California, I have envisioned the word "create" to be part of my studio in the front room of the house. It only makes sense, but sometimes I need a reminder and am sort of a fan of word art. This is the first one to show up.

When I started the piece today, I had gotten comfy on the living room couch with the two pooches basically on and around my lap, but under a blanket. I had a feeling I was pushing it by having my watercolors and the small repurposed spice container filled with water sitting upon the drawing surface. 

I drew the "C" with a nice wide brush. Memories of learning calligraphy flooded my head and I began to create the next letter. I quickly realized there would not be enough room on the page for all of the letters and began thinking I had already failed because the font would be squished toward the end of the word and I would have to start all over again even though I had just started. Once all of that flashed past, a dog popped up and bumped the paper spilling the water all over the paper and onto my pants. 

Hmm. 

I took the paper pad with me to get a towel as it was just convenient to do. Then I saw the drips on the page and couldn't resist getting my hands into it, so I spread the water to cover the entire page, let it dry a bit and decided to complete the letters in an imperfectly fun way. They fit across the page and I am pleased with how the imperfect made it seem perfect today. 

I think I will go back to the "studio" tomorrow and rethink my setup.  



Materials:
Canson XL  Mixed Media, 98 lb. 11x14
Prang Watercolors
Faber-Castell Gelatos
Staedtler marker, black fine tip

Friday, January 11, 2013

This One Goes to Eleven

Eleven.
Eleven pieces done and one sketchbook complete. Where is the twelfth sheet? I drew a cupcake in 2006 as a thank you and had it copied for the family who got it. But this sketchbook goes to eleven. 

Eleven pages were pretty much empty when I started this project last week. The pages are filled! The water has buckled the pages so they don't sit well - they have messages to share! Soon I will have to find a way to store my books. Or display them.

And I will just keep going. Not in a way that an accident has happened and we pass just to get traffic flowing, but in a way that keeps the sketch and drawing muscles flexed and working hard. This is the art of staying unstuck and creating daily. Just keep going. If it doesn't flow, just put a little color on the page and see where it takes me and have fun. It's worked so far.

Just keep going. Yes. Sometimes I think I'm here and I've reached my destination, but then I get the message to just slow down in traffic and have a look to soak up what I need, because the destination keeps changing. For sure, the beauty is in the travel.

This year has so much to be discovered and I am not settling. I will just keep going and explore the possibilities, the view and the product. I am tired right now and need some duct tape for my eyelids, so I think it is bed time for me. I will just have to keep going in my sleep.

What can you do with eleven?
 
Materials:
Canson 140 lb. Watercolor Paper
Prang Watercolor
Derwent Watercolor Pencil
Sakura Micron 0.5 Green Pen


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Remembrance of Twenty Little Souls

This is a post I made on Facebook last month, but the art has been swimming around since. Today, it fell to paper and I am thankful.
12.18.12 Thankful for everybody who works in schools. We practice the drills, and hope the unthinkable will never occur.

In my experience, middle school kids usually don't seem to care much, for to them, it's time away from class to see friends. Yet, I once had a class who did so well with their drills all year long- no funny business- and I never had to tell them- I rewarded them with Panda Express at the end of the year. It was just a small token to let them know I really cared about them and their safety.

All drills were no laughing matter for me. My kids meant too much to me. I rarely yelled, but told them, I might yell over the noise of the alarm if I ever had to get their attention. They knew that was serious.

I lift my heart to the teachers and staff who had the courage to face a horrible fate, but saved so many when they did. They stood up to danger, looked it right in the face.

The custodian, who, in some schools is sometimes overlooked and underappreciated, ran through the halls protecting the children he loved everyday, not just on occasion.

The principal was not locked in an office somewhere, but facing down a nightmare. Standing up for her world- her school.

And the children. My heart is broken. It breaks any time I see those faces. My sister teaches first grade, and she shared a story of how honest and sweet they are in first grade just days before the incident in CT. I can't wait to hug my sister! Her kids were playing rock, paper, scissors with mittens on and simply told each other the sign they held inside and went on with their play. That is what makes me so sad. Sweet, playful innocence.

If you got this far, thanks for reading. It's clear we are all struggling with the events and horror that took place.

Be kind, hug a teacher, hug a custodian, and a principal. Hope that kids will be calm and listen to their teachers. Hope that this nation will finally understand the value of a teacher and how we, really, don't do it for the money. Hug everybody a little closer- not just after a crisis, but everyday.
Let love rule.