Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pushing the Envelope

Can you tell I've been messing with the cover of the journal some more? What I've done is build up layers and layers of tar gel, drying under a heat lamp after each layer. A drying gun will wrinkle the gel - I guess it dries it too fast and the surface crawls and shrinks while the under layer is still wet.

Then after I got it all built up (scraping through to the black outlines before it was dry) I brushed satin gel over the skin areas. I make satin gel by mixing shiney and matte medium together. That way there is contrast between the surfaces. I also added a moon since the quotation referred to moonlight.

And I added powdered pigment as I built up the layers and color in her cheeks. If you paint between the layers as they are added you get a great effect of floating color similar to oil paint.

So gold pigment on the bathing suit and silver on the innertube. I can almost smell the black rubber as I write this - once as teenagers my friend Sondra and I floated all the way down a long river in Arizona that is famous for rafting (I'll think of the name later I'm sure - Verde? Salt River? hmmm). We each had a black innertube and at the end of the river we were far from our car but there were a bunch of Indian guys there that were really nice and drove us back to the headwaters where we were parked. I remember we sat in the bed of their clunky old pick up with our innertubes and we were both sunburned. Good times!! Okay, I'm outta here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Coptic Journal & Weekend Update

Yeah, she's floating alright. With a to-do list as long as your arm once again I've been seduced by the book muse into making a new journal. This time, from out of the blue, the small but mighty Emma put a coptic bug in my ear and off I go doing what I swore I'd never do again and that is make another coptic journal.

For this one I had 8 x 10" luan (mahogany door skin material) panels left over from the stack John cut me to take to Arizona. So I tore various papers into 15 1/2 x 10" sheets and folded those for the signatures (I always use a variety of sized, unsized and hoshi sheets just to keep things interesting) and proceeded to file the boards and then sand the edges.

Since the wood splinters easily I pre-coated both sides with matte acrylic medium.

This is the front cover in process. I decided to use the innertube metaphor on the cover. And since I'm a pisces and spent the first 12 years of my life in a swimming pool (typical exaggeration) I like to identify myself as a swimmer.

Mom would dump me and my sister off in the morning at the local over chlorinated swimming pool where we would spend the day until our dad picked us up on his way home from work, starved, sunburned and blissed out. We'd be so tired that we'd fall into bed too exhausted to give our folks any trouble. It was heaven. My first kiss was underwater with a 16 year old boy named Bobby Gifford. Now that was mermaid bliss! (my parents had no idea.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. The journal. Here is my funky stitching with one big mistake I may or may not correct. All in all a successful if imperfect effort.

And then over to Stephanie's for Susie's Birthday Sushi Party. (say that real fast 3 times) Here is Nathan who loves to ham it up for his Grandma (not). He is still uncommitted about traveling to Mexico with the old folks for Day of the Dead this fall. Say "yes" Nathan! Say yes! (He's probably afraid I'll aim the camera at him again and post him on my blog. One must indulge the grandma.)

Back by popular demand - more photos of Liesl and Jeremy's wedding. Irene emailed this morning to say the photographers have put up additional photos. Can you say popsicles? Intrigued? I was. They even had a kissing and polaroid picture taking booth at the wedding. Read all about it here.

Isn't this a beautiful shot with which to end the post? The newlyweds have had blessings from their parents whispered into their ears and all the prayers and hope that friends could wish on their union; love, hope, faith and nature will take care of the rest. Go forth and shine.

(Once again, the wedding photos courtesy of La Vie Photography.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wherein You Read My Journal

It's more than a journal; it's a lifeline. I envision a little plastic innertube around my tummy to keep my head above the waterline. It has seen me through so many joys and sorrows.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Fairy Tale Wedding

You all know how much I love a good story. Well, this one is about a lovely young woman that I've known for most of her life. Liesl's mother and I are friends; we met at an art fair many years ago. Maybe you'll remember when I posted about the painting session several of us shared some time back.

Liesl went from a toddler in a stroller (just yesterday I swear) to this grown up beauty, met the man of her dreams, enjoyed a romantic whirlwind courtship, and last Sunday evening, in the company of family and friends, married her beloved Jeremy. (proud parents Rich and Irene with Liesl)

If you want to share in their joy, there are a set of photos here that are worth your time and that culminate in the bride and groom riding off on a bicycle built for two! How often do you get to see a bride in high heels on a bicycle? Very original, very "oh my!"

This is to wish Liesl and Jeremy and all lovers everywhere a long and tender life of happiness in the arms of one another.

(photos of the wedding by La Vie Photography) The painting was a gift to the newlyweds.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Ramble

Man, I love summer. Sleeping in, strong coffee, writing, visiting blogs, writing some more, strolling through the garden and then hitting the studio. Maybe some toast with Pilar's Apricot Pineapple Jam and butter.

Look who I found clinging to a corn stalk. I really must read the directions for my camera some day though. I know it has a macro setting but darned if I could find it in the excitement of the moment. Little froggie was no bigger than the tip of my thumb.

This is Mr. Hermanito looking sheepish after his walkabout. Now when he goes outside he has to have a minder. John follows him as he slowly scopes out his territory. Hermo told me he likes his new security guard.

I'm starting to pack boxes of art supplies for teaching at Art Unraveled in Arizona. Check out the studio chaos. Very confusing to keep everything straight and not leave anything behind. I finally figured out how to print and purchase the USPS labels on my computer and to put in a pick up request for the boxes. Thanks to Emma for putting that bug in my ear.

This is a dish of Verdolagas, part of our supper last night. It contains olive oil, crushed amaranth, chopped verdolagas, onion, green chilis and tomatoes. Shredded cheese is suggested as a garnish but we ate it with corn tortillas (it was spicy). If you go here you can read about the extraordinary nutritional benefits of this wonderful green.

(..."contains more Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Simopoulos states that Purslane has .01 mg/g of EPA. This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for land based vegetable sources. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid normally found mostly in fish and some algae. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves). Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies.")

Here is John with the wonder plant. Mexicans know this plant as verdolagas but when I was growing up we just called it pigweed.

End of today's nature tour.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jesse and Drama

First the drama. After Katie left yesterday I slept for 4 hours. Exhausted after so much energy output in the form of painting, visiting, catching up, all the things friends do who have so much in common. When I finally did wake up and get my wits about me John came and asked if I'd seen Hermanito anywhere. For the next 4 hours until after dark we patrolled the neighborhood calling and searching for our cat. We knocked on the doors of strangers' houses and trespassed on private property as we scoured the pastures and hedgerows for our friend. Finally we returned home where we drank wine and cried; my eyes are so swollen this morning that I look like a prize fighter.

John went out again at the crack of dawn and came back to the house to wake up a hung-over me with hopeful news. He had heard weak crying from a blackberry thicket at the end of our lane. Hermanito is so old, so arthritic, so weak and blind that I don't know how he made it so far but we ran to the brier patch with our gloves and loppers and started hacking our way through the canes and sure enough, there was our boy, disoriented and weakened.

He is home now and all I can do is croon to him and lay next to him as he purrs and talks to me of his adventure. I feel like nearly losing a loved one puts my life in sharp relief; priorities are clearer and I must say more than ever John is my hero as he persisted against heavy odds and would not give up looking for our very helpless little guy.

End of personal drama now and on to Jesse Reno - a very nice man who just happens to be a world class teacher and painter. Generosity. That is what I look for in a teacher. Jesse holds nothing back. Here be the man.

He told us exactly how he got where he is today. He had just gotten the news on Friday that he will be travelling to Mexico City to paint a mural with some other awesome well-known artists. He is a painting machine; he seems to live to paint and with a passion like that it is no wonder he has become so good at his art.

Here we are with our big 2 foot by 4 foot boards laid out and our paints at the ready. Many of us I dare say had never painted so large. That's Jesse. He does things in a large, fearless way and we all caught his energy.

He likes to paint on the floor.

This is my finished ginormous painting. I also painted on the floor and under a table where I was out of the way. I loved it under the table. So cave-like and private. But I need to get some knee pads.

I adore this picture of Jesse. If you get to take a class from him he will give you as much personal attention as you desire. He was 100% present for every student. Fabulous.

My amiga Linda Womack with her beautiful painting. She hasn't painted in acrylic that much but I really think she should. Her color palette was amazing. I think most of the people in the class had original palettes and ways of expressing themselves. The work that came out was our own and not like Jesse's. That was a good thing.

Here he is again, this time showing us a detail from some of his finished paintings.

Katie and Jesse, lookin' good. Very energized at the end of the day we were and very very happy too.

Here are a few of the somewhat finished paintings by katie and I. She wants to do more to hers but I like it as it is.

Whew, that was a long post! Now I have to catch up on the emails and all that I've neglected. The days are simply barreling by; summer is really much too short.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stencil Fun

I woke up this morning with serious stencil withdrawal. This usually happens when I'm supposed to be doing something else; in this case cleaning the house for a guest and getting laundry caught up. Bor-ring. Forget I even brought it up. So of course I printed out a photograph from the stash Peggy-from-Ohio sent me. (kisses Peggy, wonderful photos!)

I always try out the first copy in my journal and then make a few more cuts before investing hours into the collage part. But I love the long, lazy session of choosing pretty papers and pasting, composing, digging through the stash.

I made 2-8x10 canvases with the stencil. Here they are. Guess which one I like the least. (ha ha. hint: it's nearly a toss-up.)

I guess I was just expecting more and I do think I can do better but not today. Any day in the studio is a good day whether you love the outcome or not. Now I REALLY have to clean the house.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

July Love

Saturday, July, sunshine, friends, mail art, procrastination, feeling good. That's the list for today. Blessed with kind people in my life. With work to do and rest at the end of the day. It's good and I am grateful for the season with all of it's joys and challenges.

Yesterday I received a piece of mail art that made me cry. I have a hard time accepting gifts. I picture the beautiful sender putting something together just for me and it puts me over the top. I am humbled.

Melanie and I met 2 years ago at Artfest at the evening bonfire where I was blown away by her heartfelt and brilliant journal pages. She made an instant and deep impression. Thank you dear Melanie. You have an admirer - no, you have many admirers, I am certain.

Last night we visited John's cousin and her husband who live in this fabulous purple cottage. Jonna is also a talented collage artist and maker of books who has decorated her house so sweetly. Pretend this is my house, okay? Pretend I have the energy and talent to have created this.

Sweet John and his talented cousin Jonna. Mmmmm, she cooks too and works a difficult job all day. Another jewel of a human being; contributing to society by being a model Granma, mom and wife. Women rock!!

The blue hydrangeas are blooming in Portland. We will bow to their awesome blueness.

Behold the gorgeous farmer. Behold the goddess cousin.

Hey Emma, for another nickle she could have had purple!

John went to the farmer's market this morning and came home with beautiful organic cherries and apricots. He reported that the farmers are getting a pretty penny for their efforts and I replied that there's no one I'd rather see fairly reimbursed than a hard working organic grower.

I sincerely hope July is favoring you with some green and joyful days. Happy Birthday to all the Leos.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A July Day

The canvas above shows photographs of my very own ancestors; it was done for Project Eight in a variety of mixed media techniques. It's wonderful to have photographs of your ancestors to dream over, don't you think? To see your features in their features and to wonder over how nature uses the same genes over and over, just like artists do to recombine and create anew. I see my mother in me now as I get older and my father's stern English features too. My parents were both intelligent though without advanced education and they were ethical and conscientious in all they did. I got that from them and it is the best part of me. I wish I could thank them now. I was a bratty kid, it's all easier to see from this vantage point.

Well, enough about me, let's look at my journals now - ha ha. Blah blah blah goes my overheated brain. That's all you need to be an artist. A broken thermostat.

My daughter once described me as monomaniacal. Funny how something like that stays with you. I do not dispute it. How can I when I look at these pages crammed full of what falls effortlessly out of my head in addition to all the think think thinking I do. Aaaargh.

Here I am just being neat and tidy. I can do that too. In my busy business way. Oh, I've been working. Prepping kits for my upcoming classes, making lists, schedules, filling orders. And the emails! Aye with the emails.

Then at some point to clear my head I walk outside for a mental health break and pluck a few ripe strawberries and my world slows down and my brain shuts up and bliss descends as the sweet nectar takes me back to my purely animal nature. Five senses. I have to remember to use all of my senses, to be a happy animal, as well as living in my big, monomaniacal brain.