Friday, December 30, 2011

Life, continued

I hate that I haven't had time to update my blog... things have been quite demented around here. Okay, in a good kind of way, I guess :-) I do have some updates on THE Cancer diagnosis. (I refuse to call it "MY" cancer because I'm not claiming it!) I met with a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist to find out more about the treatment process. I also had to have a second surgery because the margins weren't clear after the first one. The good news was that the second surgery left a nice pocket of "nothing" and I found out I qualify for a newer radiation procedure called "brachytherapy". It's a High Density Radiation therapy where they insert a catheter of tubes inside the breast (picture an eggbeater here) and radiate the tissue from the inside. Fewer side effects and it only takes 5 days-twice a day rather than typical radiation therapy which is usually daily for 5-6 weeks. I've had the catheter in for about 10 days now and in a few hours I will have my last treatment and then the catheter will be removed. I tell ya, I'm looking forward to it. It's not easy to sleep with a bunch of tubes sticking out of your body! But then... Viola! Radiation treatments are over with. Woohoo!

Life is going to speed up from now on... next week I have a heart scan, chemo class, and a port put in my chest. On January 10th I start chemotherapy. I hope the folks in the chemo department are as nice as the folks in the radiation department. They helped me laugh and forget the reason I was laying on that table connected to "The Source" of radiation. Big shout out to the techs, therapists, nurses, physicists, and doctors at CDH Cancer Center in Winfield! 

So anyway... chemo will now be 18 weeks long. A big dose (TCH) every three weeks for 6 cycles and a smaller dose of just Herceptin every week in between. After the initial six cycles are over, the Herceptin can be scheduled for every three weeks until January 2013. So next step is getting through that ordeal... 

I've been dabbling in some art work here and there, in between filling orders and ordering merchandise for Artistcellar. We are working on adding some fantastic new art journaling supplies, coming soon. I'm trying to keep up with Wild Precious Studio, this is something I made during a livestream video that Effy Wild does called "Church of Art."  It's highly layered, something I need to practice :-)
And then there's the fear of Copic Markers. I love Copic Markers. They don't smell like the toxic markers I used to use in my younger days. They blend and are bright and colorful and I have a mess of them I've collected over the past year, a few here a few there a few on sale... I had the opportunity to buy some portrait colors at wholesale prices at CHA last summer.  I also still have a fear of drawing faces... so I decided to challenge myself and put the two together. Markers are unforgiving so it was a huge challenge for me. This face was done in ONLY markers. It might not get me an A in art class but I think it's pretty good for a Marker Portrait Virgin :-D 
My hands are twitching to some more art. I think I NEED to do something... so I'll keep you posted. I need to get going now... I hope everyone has a happy and safe new year celebration! See you in 2012!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life, Interrupted.

Dear Blog,
This is going to be the hardest post I've ever written. But first, I am so sorry for neglecting you for so long. I feel terrible about it. It has been quite a ride since the last post. I was mostly preoccupied with Artistcellar. We decided that we didn't want to wait until the new year to launch our new stencil line. And so we went full speed ahead through the ordering of supplies, designing graphics, making art for the inserts, manufacturing, and then packaging thousands of stencils. Whew. All without telling anyone what's going on. 

The launch on October 28th went well. People loved the stencils. We got a lot of positive feedback. We were drunk on the excitement and dreaming of future possibilities. Life was good. A few days later I got a phone call from my doctor. 

"You have breast cancer." 

Four little words. Never in my life did I imagine that I would hear those four little words said to ME. I've never smoked or did drugs. I don't drink alcohol. I eat good foods, and drink organic milk and filtered water. I'm healthy dammit! And then this? I have never been so mixed up emotionally. Along with the excitement of our stencil debut, I am angry, sad, scared, depressed, anxious and full of self pity. And tired. So mentally tired. Already. 

Where am I going to get the energy to kick this cancer's ass? I need a superhero costume...

My whole life has changed in a heartbeat. Some things just don't matter anymore. My family matters more than ever. My friends matter. As more people find out about my diagnosis, more love pours forth. I am amazed by the outpouring of support and prayers. The small stuff? Not sweating it. 

I feel like I have stepped out of my life's story, out of my book, and right into the middle of a new story, written in a foreign language. I'm lost. The door has closed behind me and locked me in this new world and I can't get back. It sucks. Like a bad episode of "Twilight Zone".

It's not fair. 

This Friday, December 2nd, I will have surgery. A lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy. My cancer is a Stage IIa, Grade 3, ER/PR+ and HER2+ (still learning the language...) In English, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, 2.5cm tumor, aggressive. After I heal from surgery I will start Chemotherapy for 3 months, then radiation therapy for 6 weeks. Targeted therapy for the HER2+ factor every 3 weeks for a year. Then hormone therapy for 5 years. (The worst drug I've ever taken? Tylenol 3. I promptly vomited. My body doesn't like drugs.)

I already feel like I am losing myself. Who I am. I don't know anymore... this isn't me. I want my old boring life back.

Dear Blog, I don't want to turn you into a "Cancer Blog" but I will occasionally write about my journey into the dark winter months ahead. I hope this doesn't bother anyone. I try to journal but I find myself gravitating towards the keyboard rather than a pen and paper. I am attempting to make art to help sort myself out but so far I just want to tear up pages and stomp on them. I'll get there. 

Goals: Get as healthy as I can before Chemo. Try to maintain a healthy mind and body during treatments. Collect some really kick-ass hats. Focus on Artistcellar because it may be the only thing that gets me through the day. Put on my warrior costume and fight like a girl. 

And  B R E A T H E 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I'm jumping up and down doing a happy dance! My last post I shared a link for everyone to enter the free Lifebook class giveaway. The class spot was being given away by Effy Wild of Wild Precious Studio. I said "If I was meant to win, I will. If I wasn't meant to win, maybe YOU will." And I meant it sincerely. I guess Karma smiled upon me... because I won the spot! It wasn't the first entry I put in, it was this entry, the one where I shared the link with my friends. The only thing that's a bit sad is that I wish all my friends could win a spot and share this class with me. Be on the lookout for other giveaways. Every teacher will be giving one spot away, so go to Willowing to check out the teachers and their blogs. 

If you're too antsy to wait and try for a free spot, I highly encourage you to sign up for the Lifebook Course. For $99.00 you get 12 months of lessons, videos, PDF's, Community, and FUN with 14 different teachers. And if you sign up using THIS link and then tell Effy ( that you signed up through her, you will get the FREE "Elements: Self-Guided e-course" at Wild Precious Studio! And of course along with the basic Lifebook package you get another FREE course with Tam, you can choose between 5 different courses. So that's a year of Lifebook and TWO self guided e-courses for one price! 

I will also be in the Elements course at Wild Precious, I hope to see you there. And for Tam's free course, I chose "World of Whimsy." I am SO excited about these courses!

I am not only feeling very lucky, I am feeling extremely grateful. Thank you to Effy and Tam, for all you do for the art world!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lifebook Love

Every once in awhile I come across a class offering that resonates with me. Something "speaks" and I feel like if I don't listen I'll miss out on something wonderful. I've been pretty lucky in the past, I've won DVD's, beautiful jewelry, books from various blog giveaways and Effy Wild is giving away a free space in this Lifebook class. (Listen for the whine...) I waaaant toooo wiiiiiin this ooooone. (Thank you very much, thank you...) 

Okay, okay, since I believe that if I was meant to win, I will. If I was not meant to win, maybe YOU were meant to win. So I'm putting in a link to the giveway. Give it a shot and good luck! And I mean that. (Sarcasm free!) 

Lifebook giveaway

The teacher lineup is incredible... Just to name a FEW: the host- Tamara LaPorte (Willowing), Effy Wild, Gritty Jane, Connie Hozvicka, Jane Davenport, Jodi Ohl, Samantha Kira Harding, plus more to make 14 teachers total!

Sigh. Goddess of Luck, can you hear me now? How about now? Am I clear now? How about now?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite! | Video on

A facebook friend of mine posted this on her wall and I HAD to share. My daughter is a doodler. And she's been "caught" doodling in the past, on her homework, on her schoolwork, on the backs of tests, while listening to the teacher read... I told her it's okay, but not sure everyone agrees with me. Take a look at this. It's not too long and well worth it.

Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite! | Video on

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How is this possible?

How can I be homesick for a place I've never lived? I was sitting in my office the other day (okay, it's really a dining room) and looked up at my Bar Harbor mermaid picture that I got from artist Russell D'Alessio and just felt... homesick.
Where I live now, I've lived my whole life. Minus ten years in the desert, an adventure, to say the least, but not a regret. It was a six hour drive to the Ocean, a weekend trip, which fulfilled me, sustained me, until next time. A week long trip down the Oregon Coast and I fell in love. Someday, I swore, I would live close to the ocean. I always thought it would be the Pacific Northwest. Somewhere near Portland. Oregon, that is. Certainly not Maine. That dream crumbled when we realized that the west coast was just not US. Too many people. Too expensive. Too close to Planet California.
It's strange. I'm not a swimmer. Or a surfer. Or a sailor. But I've always dreamed of the sea. I've written poetry about the sea. I feel happy when I see pictures of the sea. My favorite colors are sea and sky colors.
I want to be around the sea, not necessarily in it. I want to see it and smell it and taste the salty air.
Then we went to Maine. To be fair, it's the first time I've ever been to the East Coast. Mt Desert Island is the only place on the coast of Maine I've been. But I'm completely enamored. I feel like someone put a spell on me. I believe in love at first site again. I could live there. For the first time in years my husband was happy. I was happy. Celia was happy. 
(There are lots of rocks there.)
People tell me I'm crazy. (Not a secret.) They tell me it's really cold in Maine. (It's really cold in Chicago.) They say it's so far away. (Yeah. so...?) You'll have to do better to convince me. Especially when I sit in my car in the middle of the day on Roosevelt Road, in a crawling, bumper to bumper, horn honking, swearing, running red lights type of traffic jam. At one in the afternoon on a Thursday. I ask myself... Is it worth it? Is this what life is all about? Trying to breathe when there are a few million people sucking the air right out from in front of you?
I feel split in half. Half of me isn't "here" anymore. Half of me is wandering the shoreline. Yearning for a simpler life. Fresh air. Room to breathe. Nights dark enough to see the billions of stars that remind me how small and insignificant life is. And to not waste it anyway. The other half of me is surviving. Living in the endless overcrowded suburbs. Signing papers for mortgages and paying $7000 in property taxes and not even being able to get a library card. Watching my husband go to a job every day that physically makes him ill because the indoor air quality is so poor. Seeing my child grow up in an area where I don't feel safe anymore.
I miss the ocean, the salty spray, the waves crashing against the rocks, the seagulls crying.  I miss the color.
So now what?
How many of you are where you want to be? Doing what you love? Are you absolutely sure? Can you honestly say you're happy with your life? Do you deserve to be? Or is it an unattainable goal that you just dream of? 

And you end up just surviving life rather than living it?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Got Junk Mail?

Last winter, inspired by a friend's junk mail journal, I decided to make one of my own. God knows I get enough junk mail around here. Interestingly, most of the pages are credit card offers. I just gessoed and painted over them, sewed it up the binding, and then the fun part began. Embellish, embellish, embellish. Most of the embellishing used some type of junk or daily ephemera. Some I added from my stash. Some of the ATC's were made by my kidling. This is also my very first video I ever shot. I used my digital camera for this one, next one I will use my VideoCam. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Fiber Arts Studio Tour

Last Saturday I went to a local Fiber Arts Studio in Big Rock, IL. It's called Esther's Place (I learned Esther is the name of a sheep!) and I think I'm still drooling a little bit. My friend's daughter is taking a spinning class there so Celia and I tagged along. Oh. My. Goodness. What a neat little shop filled with colorful soft wooly goodness. They say to fiber artists it's like a kid in a candy store, but I say it's more like crack to drug addict! (Not that I would know...) But seriously, what is it about little colorful balls of wool that make you feel so comfortable and cozy? Or maybe it was the owner's mother, Donna. Sweet lady, so easy to talk to, instant friend. She threw a bunch of wool roving on the table and let us sit and felt to our hearts content. 
I made a flower pin, my daughter's hands are working on a penguin and her friend Diana is busy with her creation. Diana and her sister and their mom are are pros at this. The whole family can do amazing things with yarn!

Every nook and cranny held some visual and textural delight, including this felted vessel. 
And how cute are these little curly haired felted sheep? Who knew you could felt natural curly sheep hair on a felted base like that? I didn't! And then there were the bins full of dyed curly hair! 
Oh, and who knew there was a MACHINE that could card your wool for you? I didn't either! 
I am in love with this wall hanging the owner, Natasha Lehrer, made. It just came back from an exhibit in Verona, Italy. It's made with hand dyed silk, wool, wire, cloth, oil pastels, beads and threads. It is absolutely gorgeous, pictures don't do it justice. 
Now I want to make one. I have a box of wool in various stages of "readiness" that my friend Anna sent me, and okay, like a crack addict, I HAD to have some of those colorful balls of goodness from here. (No, that's not my shopping cart, just a display!) I didn't know sheep come in so many different colors! (hehe)
Donna threw in for free, a felting foam pad and a couple of felting needles... and I have everything else I need to make something wonderful. I want to start out with a little mini project, abstract-like, maybe use some of the silk fibers and beads from my store, a little sparkle, a little bling...

Does anyone know where to start? What kind of base I would use? Any good fiber artists I should look up or you tube videos I should check out for inspiration? Any help would be appreciated!

Have a wild and wooly weekend!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Breathe. Repeat.

If you are feeling stressed out, or need some cooling down from the heatwaves hitting our nation, this is a little gift for you.

Sit with me on the rocks on Otter Point, in Acadia National Park, Maine. Listen to the waves crashing over the rocks. The sea gurgles as the waves run across the rocks and back into the ocean. Sea gulls glide above. The cool salt spray mists your face while the sun warms it. Soft warm breeze in your hair... Take a deep breath. Relax.  Repeat. 

That's all. I needed that. How about you?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Back to our regularly scheduled program...

That's an order! 

It's been very difficult getting back to "real life" after a visit to one of the most beautiful places in the country. My little family just took a 1200 mile road trip from Chicago to Bar Harbor Maine, with a 2 day stop in Burlington, Vermont. I've never been east of Indiana so it was all very exciting. I did keep a travel journal, but I'm ashamed to admit it's not "finished". I took notes along the way but I can't write or draw in the car without a bit of barfing to go along with it. Plus, I needed some of the 400+ pictures I took. I'll elaborate on the trip once I get my journal together. Just trust me when I say... [Loooooong Sigh]

I bought the picture above from a Vermont artist, Dug Nap. It resonated with me and I hung it up in my studio. Check out his web site, he comes up with some truly crazy stuff! Instead of tacky tourist souvenirs, we ended up supporting some local artists and bought some prints and artwork for our home. 

I had the most wonderful time gallery hopping in Bar Harbor, Maine. I met so many beautiful, friendly people and talented artists. Oh, so much to tell... but not all right now. One of my favorite galleries was D'Alessio Gallery, run by artist Russell D'Alessio and his wife Linda. I walked into his gallery, into his newest show, and there were Mermaids/Sirens of the sea hanging on the wall! How perfect is that? (I LOVE Mermies!) Linda told me about a class they were having in a few days with polymer clay artist Suzanne Anderson... and I thought I'd challenge myself. I've never seriously worked with clay before so Celia and I signed up. She was a great teacher and we came away from the class with several completed objects - a cool pendant and matching earrings. 

Not bad for a beginner, eh? Celia made a bunch of little beads and a replica of a nesting doll, but those I still have to bake and harden. It was such a fun day, creating with my hands, chatting with other artists, Russell even played his ukulele for us and Linda served us beautiful cupcakes :-) I was so sad to leave. All my artist friends are online so it was nice to talk to artists in "real" life. 

I think I'm in love. I don't like where I live right now, the endless stinky suburbia of a large city. I want to live here... by the ocean, by like minded people, where the air is clean and the water tastes good right out of the tap, and there's space around you and mountains to climb and stars to see at night. 

[Looooooong sigh]

Friday, July 8, 2011

The time is near!

Just a quick post to remind everyone that Artful Gathering 2011 is about to commence! Classes start July 16th. Have you seen the teacher lineup? It's fabulous! Drawing, painting, collaging, bookmaking, journaling, jewelry, dollmaking, tool-using. Well, the one BAD thing about this event is choosing which classes to take! Today I'm leaning toward Jodi Ohl's class "Mixed Faux Encaustic Discovery." It's the type of art I want to focus on... but tomorrow I may change my mind. Good thing it's online and seats won't "sell out." I wish I could take all the classes... but alas, I'm not independently wealthy (yet) and I'm currently taking "21 secrets" and want to take a class at the upcoming CREATE event when it comes near my hometown in August.

In addition to this 'what class to take' conundrum, I'm very excited that ARTISTCELLAR is a sponsor of Artful Gathering! We have a very nice sponsor page over there, and if you leave a comment for me at the bottom of the page, you'll be eligible for a drawing for FREE goodies! I've put together an "appetizer platter" that includes a bottle of colorwash spray, a distress stain, a stencil, a jar of Stewart Gill Byzantia paint, and a pack of fibers. And I'm talking full size stuff... not mini-samples. So be sure the stop by, check out Artistcellar's sponsor page and leave a comment over there. The drawing will be very soon, Zinnia is working on the video right now. Here's a picture of the prize:
And this is only the FIRST giveaway prize. There are more giveaways to come. Other sponsors are also giving away prizes so be sure to visit them too! 

See you there!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wild Hearts

Happy July!
When someone on my SketchbookProject group suggested making some Wild Heart Art this is what came to mind. Of course it was the complete opposite of what was intended... she was talking about giant art, giant canvas, painted freely with wild abandon. Umm. Not really me. Besides, I have NO wall space available to hang large canvases or paper. That I can drip paint all over at least. That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.

This is tiny art. It's a 5' x 7" canvas board that was collaged with bits of paper - maps, foreign text, music paper, etc. The a wild heart painted and layered and painted and layered, same with the background. Last, I painted the bold black outline and the words. I dedicated this one to Effy Wild over at Wild Precious Art Group at ning. It just seemed to fit.

Anway, I've got a whole series of hearts started on a bigger canvas size, with different words on them. What word describes YOUR heart? Hmm. Maybe I should make custom ones.  *~* DING *~*

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Marie Antoinelephant

I'd like to introduce you to... Marie Antoinelephant! A very elegant regal Pachyderm who lived in the 1700's. She coined the term "Let them eat Peanuts!" Below, you can see she is ready for the grand Masquerade ball. 
She enjoys a bit of tea and crumpets in the afternoons with her lady friends. 
Although quite a beauty, she still has her insecurities and will be frequently overheard asking her ladies in waiting "Does this dress make my butt look big?"
Of course her Ladies-in-waiting assure her, no matter which direction she faces, she is beautiful!
I'm sorry that I can't take credit for this beautiful piece of artwork. It was made by my mini-me, Celia. My very special 10 year old partner-in-art. She got a paper mache elephant from the craft store and dug into my bin of Marie Antoinette "stuff" and created this piece of art. It's going to be represented by a New York Gallery and priced at $13,000. Haha. Not.

Celia says: 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cuff Love

This is the first cuff I ever made and I think I'm in love. Talk about a quick and easy project... and beautiful too! (I love instant gratification projects!) My base fabric was a strip of canvas and I just started layering laces and cheesecloth and more laces and ribbons and finally sewed on a row of buttons. It has a button and loop closure but I may change that because it's hard to put on by myself. Here's some more views:
Then I thought... hmm. What if I used some brighter fabric and some metal embellishments and made a funkier mixed media cuff? 
I sewed some black netting over some metal washers on some painted fabric squares. Then sewed those squares to some hand dyed fabric which was sewed to my canvas strip base.
To add some more metal goodness, I sneaked some metal Heishi Beads from my inventory at Artistcellar and hand sewed those on between the squares. To close the cuff, I added two metal snaps. 

I really like the way it turned out. So I made another one. They are like potato chips... can't have/make just one! This time I took step by step pictures. My focal point was a beautiful fabric ribbon flower my friend Sox sent me.
First, like with the rest, I started out with a plain canvas strip that I ripped to size. 
Next, I got out my Brocade Stencil and some Adirondack Color Wash Spray.
Gave it a good spritz with the Color Wash spray in Denim. Oh yeah, I'm real precise here. I just layed the stencil on top, just like you see in the picture. 
Next I auditioned some laces. I found some that was just the right width and transparent enough to let the painted base show through. 
And sewed it on top of the canvas base with a regular straight stitch on the sewing machine. 
Next I wanted a narrower ribbon to run up the center. I wanted it to stand out so I went with this heavier, opaque trim and stitched it up the center. 
Before adding the delicate flower, I needed to figure out a way to close it. I went with two white metal snaps, so easy to put on the ends. 
Last, I hand sewed the ribbon flower to the center of the cuff. Viola! A beautiful, delicate Flower Cuff! 
What do you think? You want to make one now don't you? I'm warning you... they're addicting. But if you do try it, send me a link in the comments section cause I wanna see too!