Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Last week we had an ice storm here in the Midwest. Temperatures hovered near 32 degrees F and it alternated between rain, sleet and snow. It was a cold, white Christmas Eve we woke up to. But what a beautiful sight! I'm trying to establish the habit of having my camera nearby at all times and I'm glad I had it with me that morning. I walked around the yard amidst the frozen downed tree branches. While I snapped away, the ice melted and dripped. The pictures I took without a flash were just ho-hum so I tried "flashing" them. And this appeared. The tree is a swamp maple and I don't know if these are buds or what. (And if they are buds, what the heck are they doing out in December?) The branches are usually way above my head but the weight of the ice brought them down to eye level. It was breathtaking. Each bud was encased in a magical "snow globe" of ice, which magnified their beauty. Within hours the ice was gone and the branches ascended and the world looked normal again. I am grateful I had the opportunity to see and record this bit of magic before it disappeared. And to be reminded... it's always around us, isn't it?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

DONE! Bye-bye Sketchbook Project!

First I thought... I can't do a project like this! I did it. Then I thought... I am NEVER going to get this done in a month! I did it. Then I thought... HOW can I send my original art away permanently? For thousands of strangers to see? I did it. You know what, negative voices in my head? PPPHHHLLLLTTTT! I DID IT! And you can't stop me anymore!!!

Now that my inner dialogue is out in the open, I feel much freedom. Actually, it might be that this project is DONE and over with. Don't get me wrong... I am SO glad that I committed myself and completed this sketchbook. It proved to those negative voices in my head that I could do it. Those voices that said "You suck. You're not good enough. No one wants to see your art. How are you going to fill 20+ pages with a theme of Past-Present-Future? Hmm?" (PPPHHHHLLLTTTT!) I had fun for the most part. Some pages I LOVE. Some pages are just ho-hum. I learned A LOT of technical stuff like... don't put gel medium over colored pencils or your pages will stick together and tear up when you rip them apart. Use matte gel medium to seal pages instead of gloss gel medium or the pages will stick together (except in above colored pencil fiasco-just don't use anything!) Don't use Perfect Paper Adhesive to glue on magazine pictures to the pages... it has too much water content and will wrinkle the hell out of your pages. And NEVER squeeze an old tube of Rub-n-Buff while it's aimed at yourself and/or your furniture. These lessons also taught me how to salvage pages in a creative way when I was ready to toss the book out the window. And it taught me that Rub-n-Buff does not come off of clothes or plastic storage carts.

But the BESTEST part of this whole project are the new friends I made. I like to think of them as the "Sketchbook Ladies" and without their invaluable inspiration, talent, kindness, motivation and sense of humor, I don't think I would have had the courage to finish. Or at least I would NOT have had ANY fun doing this project. I feel like I have known them for years and I hope they will be a part of my life for a long time. You are awesome ladies, thank you!!

Here are a few of my favorite pages:

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Kingdom of Odd

Most of you know I love to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. Well, that involves "keeping" things around in case I need them, right? (Ok... hubby says I'm a huge pack rat!) But take a look at these cute little guys. They used to be CLOTHES. Every since that second issue of STUFFED magazine came out, I've been enamored with Stuffies. And what better way to reuse clothes that would be thrown away? Now, don't get excited... I would never throw away perfectly good clothes, I am a big proponent of donation. But the Stuffies made out the red fabric came from a shirt I bought at a resale and tried to alter so it would fit my daughter. I really screwed it up. So Monkey, Lulu and Olive were born. And then the dutch twins, Skar and Hapi. (All out of one little shirt!). Blue guy Hiram was made from a really ugly pair of blue velour track pants I got at the resale shop. No, I never intended on wearing them but I thought they were so ugly they probably wouldn't have been sold. Ever. So I saved them from rotting in a landfill. A lot of stuffies can be made from one pair of pants... Hiram is going be a big brother many times over. The leopard print Stuffy, Sookie, was made from a perfectly good shirt I bought for 50 cents at a resale. Gulp. Yes, I bought the shirt for the sole purpose of making a Stuffy.

Why do I love making these guys? They are all unique. Sure, I make the patterns myself, and may even use the same fabric (like the dutch twins) but no face ever matches, so they are all one of a kind. Unfortunately I fall in love with every one. I am such a sucker for a cute face.

Now... what to do with them? They're not really appropriate for small children because of the buttons sewn on them. I'll probably end up putting some up on etsy (as soon as I figure out how to list stuff!) I'll probably keep a few. Right now they are all sitting on top of my quilt rack. They look a little bit like the 7 muses...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I should be on Project Runway...

...she says with a laugh. Thursday night at about 8:50 my daughter informs me that she's supposed to wear something Christmas-y to school the next day. Well, she has no holiday wear, I generally don't agree with themed clothes, call me a grinch, call me practical. BUT we did have 2 yards of beautiful Christmas fabric we bought several weeks ago. SO... I got out the paper and scissors, an old Christmas tree skirt my daughter has been wearing as a girl-skirt the last few Christmas's, my trusty sewing machine (best gift ever!) and got to work. ONE hour later and she had a beautiful skirt to wear to school for the holiday party. I had her twirl and twirl for the camera. She got dizzy. But it's so TWIRLY. It's basically... well, a Christmas tree skirt! It's a complete circle. With an elastic waist. I like it. She loves it. And she can't stop twirling.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Love is a Battlefield

Well, this page looks like a battlefield! I was making a page for my sketchbook journal about the heart, love, science, emotion (all timeless) and ended up with a mess. I used Perfect Paper Adhesive to glue some thinner collaged pages into the sketchbook. The PPA gave the pages a beautiful matte finish (with no tackiness) but I ended up with a disaster. Serious wrinkles. Think elephant butt here. I had to put the book away for a few days to avoid ripping the pages out. I took it out the other day and on a whim, started sanding it and grunging it up. Then I took some blue, black and red china markers and started scribbling all over it. Being silly. Well, guess what? I like it better now than before, even IF I didn't have all those wrinkles. That just goes to prove that sometimes creating on the fly and not thinking too much about it is good for the soul. I think I'll keep those pages in the book.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ta-Dah! New Look

Whew, the emails were flying today with my girls over at Sketchbook project! Two new blogs were born today, congratulations to Janet and Joanna. I'm so proud of them! I'm not going to link to their pages because I don't want to freak them out. But they took the big step into the blogosphere, with encouragement and a bit of help. Which encouraged me to learn more about Blogger. You know all those tabs and boxes that I ignore because I have no idea what they mean? Well, it's time to learn. I'm watching a tutorial at the moment. Well listening while I type, obviously, because as much as I'd like to do two visual things at once, I only have 4 eyes. (Just kidding.) Seriously, some of it is pretty basic so I can listen while I type. Anyway, the site is called and has TONS of tutorials about everything and anything that has to do with computers/software/www. I'm talking about any software, any subject, any vendor, and any author. They are broken down into manageable sections, from a few minutes long to a total of up to 20+ hours long for the whole lesson. Sure it costs something... but it's worth it for real video tutorials. You can't put a price on education. Besides, hubby needs it for work.

What brought this on? I decided I wanted to put a header on my blog to "pretty it up". I see a lot of blogs with pretty, colorful headers. Well, of course it wasn't as easy as edit: add header because I picked a difficult template. But after playing around in photoshop and trying different things I finally figured it out. I just used a photo I took of our garden angel as my background. One of these days (when I figure out how to use photoshop better!) I want to make a header that actually reflects my artwork. But for now, I LIKE IT!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Her Wings Were Small

Well, after all the great comments and encouragement I received after posting my FIRST attempt at sketching I decided to try my hand at another page. It was funny... I was drawing my Girl from the back and it looked a little funny. My daughter walks in the room and looks at it. She says "the shoulders are too high. Move them down and make the arms smaller." You know what? Without questioning her, I got my eraser and "fixed" the Girl and she looked so much better! Hmm. Art advice from an 8 year old. I tell ya, the eye on
this girl amazes me. She is always teaching me something. I should have her finish my sketchbook, hehe.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Random Sketchbook Journal Page

I have been slowly plugging away at my sketchbook journal. I put it on hold the past few days to attend to other business (and because the last page spread I did turned into a wrinkled disaster and I got fed up!) Truthfully, I'm not thrilled with my book as a whole. I LOVE some pages, I'm just "ok" with others. I find that when I force myself to make something it doesn't turn out so good. But this page above was one where I just pulled out some oriental type ephemera and let the muse take me. I didn't think much about it, I didn't force it. I fell in love with this quote by Rumi, which inspired the whole mood of the page. I really like the feel of it.

I think I'm having a hard time interpreting my theme "Past, Present, Future". My left brain wants to think linear, wants to make comparisons, wants numbers and dates. I've made a few pages like this and they are my least favorite. I think I just have to tell the left side of my brain to shut the h*ll up. I've already decided to design my spreads randomly. (Random. I love that word.) I started in the center of the book and just add pages here and there. I wanted to assure that it wasn't linear. I'm going to take another day off and not think about it (while I abuse my brain by going to the mall on a Sunday a few weeks before Christmas!) I really need to pick up the pace; I want to finish most of it by the end of next week. Because after that the kid and hubby will be on Holiday break and there'll be too many distractions. I think I'll be glad when I finish it... although I have been having major second thoughts about sending this book away!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Birth of....

There was a journal prompt listed a few weeks back on one of my art groups and it's been floundering about my brain, trying to get out. I had done a quick sketch back then and just came back to it and finished it. This is a BIG first for me, using my own words in a picture. I usually use a quote by a famous person or song lyrics to express something. Also a first is actually drawing something myself. I wouldn't call myself a sketcher. I've managed to avoid that class in architecture school. Oh, I've done drawings, tons of them, but they've always been on the technical side using T-squares and rulers and guidelines. That's where my comfort level lies. But I had to get this girl out of my head and on paper so I just did it. I think I did okay with my first public display of a semi-portrait. Someone commented that it reminded them of "flash fiction" and I absolutely love that idea! I'm thinking that it's also a kind of birth... or evolution... I can't wait to see where this story takes me. I've got 40 pages in my sketchbook...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Life is... Just Cold Right Now!

I'm sitting here in the Midwest, freezing my... toes off. If this is an indication of winter to come, I've gotta come up with something warmer to wear. Like an indoor snowsuit. As long as I have my hands free, that'll be good. We're supposed to get snow that sticks next week. The shoveling kind. I can't wait (she says sarcastically.) Don't get me wrong, I love the snow, the trees and bushes and ground covered with pure white. The way it insulates sound and muffles everything...the crazy neighbors tend to stay indoors, no adolescent screaming and Harley's revving. As long as I can stay indoors too and look out my windows at it (while wearing that indoor snowsuit.) Fat chance. Time to find the ice scrapers and snow shovels. But then again, I live in Chicago, it's December. What else should I expect?

As promised, here is another Teesha Moore inspired page from my journal. Honoring... ice cream! Makes me cold just thinking about it. I don't eat ice cream in winter. I usually switch to a bimonthly coffee drink. Like a peppermint Mocha from Starbucks. Mmmmmmm. Those are good. I feel a coffee inspired page coming on....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Budding Artists

The day before Thanksgiving I decided to treat my mom to a matinee movie and took her to see "The Twilight Saga: New Moon". Believe it or not it's been EIGHT years since I've been out ALONE with my Mom. (Hmmm. That's exactly how old my daughter is! Interesting!) We had a great time thanks to my 13 year old nephew who agreed to kid-sit Celia. Of course I had to give them a project to do to keep them busy - I decided they could create a "Teesha Moore Inspired" page. I gave them everything they needed out of my giant magic backpack of art supplies. I LOVE what they came up with! Here is Celia's picture:

I love the way she did the dog's head on the girl's body. And how she put the giant cookie in her hand. Can't really tell from the scan but the background is metallic colored pencils. Matches with all the stars on the page. (She knows "stars" is my little trademark I guess!)

My nephew Jacob is an awesome kid. He is bursting with creativity, he just doesn't know where his niche is yet. He can knit and crochet with expertise. He makes jewelry. He loves to do anything artsy and craftsy. (He's my kinda guy!) He writes stories and does backstage work for his school plays. He is also an awesome chef. There's not alot this kid can't do... AND he loves Twilight! His picture is dedicated to Kristen and Rob (I gave him an OK! magazine to get his images out of!) although if you're familiar with the stars, you'll know those curves are NOT Kristen's! Here's his pic:

It's hard to tell on the scan but Rob's face is polka-dotted with metallic silver dots. It's hilarious in real life, I smile just thinking about it. And the "Doesn't He Sparkle" just sets me off. I think he did a great job.

Don't you love sharing art with kids? I am fortunate enough to share art with my kid everyday but it's special to me to share it with my nephew as well. Love you Jacob!

Tomorrow I will scan and post my next "Teesha" inspired page. I have to think of about 30 different flavors of ice cream first....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Time to start making the Holiday cookies! This was last year... do you think I should get her an apron?

Well, now that the Holiday season is officially upon us (I refuse to acknowledge it before Thanksgiving is over!) it got me thinking of some things. I know alot of artsy folks love to reuse and recycle items for their artwork and I think that is wonderful! I'm an avid recycler (and my husband would call me a "hoarder") and I love to see things reused in artwork rather than thrown in the dump. Here's an example: TeaBot made by Inka's husband over at Altered Artifacts. Think of all those little metal pieces he saved from the landfill! I know many people who use old books for journals and/or actually alter books into pieces of art. Well, there's a million examples of reusing items. I recently made about six Stuffies out of a shirt my daughter no longer wears.

Which brings me to the subject of re-gifting. Ah, what a delicate subject. I want to know how many people have "regifted" something they got and passed it along to someone else (or gave it away or ebayed it!) I admit it, I did. A few years ago, at a family grab bag, I was lucky enough to get a chocolate fondue set. Of course I was desperately trying to lose weight at the time. My family probably doesn't know the struggles I go through with my sweets addiction and it was a nice gift (and I love you dear family! You know who you are!) But I couldn't keep it in my house. So I ebayed it and probably bought some art supplies or books with the money. Is there anything wrong with that? Once it's mine, I can do with it whatever I want, right? And no one wanted to trade with me...

Then, as I was going through some Christmas boxes yesterday I was reminded of a re-gifting story. I found a very pretty tin, about 3" in diameter and about 10" tall. (I'm thinking a little robot dude in the making?) It used to be filled with cookies. I got it from a supervisor/coworker last year when I left my job to pursue a better opportunity. My last day was a week before Christmas break. I was touched that she thought of me and cared enough to give me a gift. Well, a week later I broke open the tin and opened the packaging, only to be met with a strange odor... the cookies were completely RANCID. Hmm. I looked at the expiration date to find that the cookies had been expired for about a year. UGH. Obviously a case of regifting. It was probably a wedding gift she had in her pantry for a couple of years. I can tell myself that it was the thought that counts... but really? The tin is really pretty but every time I see it, I feel bad.

So let this be a lesson in regifting... ALWAYS check the expiration date on any food item you may give away! That includes the fruitcakes (do those have expirations??) And PLEASE at this time of year many food pantries are asking for donations... DO NOT clean out your pantry and donate expired cans of food! Only give away (to friends/coworkers/donations) food that you would like to get yourself :-) Now go forth and contribute to the economy :-)