Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sweet March

Ten days ago a group of 15 women met at a lodge in this forest to honor our friend Liz and the upcoming birth of her first baby - a girl. Friends flew in from both coasts and Canada. Liz is loved by so many good women.

This is the Frog Creek Lodge where we met. It is enormous, full of bedrooms and light, a great big kitchen with modern appliances and on a peninsula near the water in Washington state. There is a labyrinth nearby that I had all to myself one morning. I found a wide peace at this place and a connection to something in myself that is strong and enduring.

Jen Goff is the woman on the left and she organized this event for Liz who is soaking her feet in a warm bath of lavendar water and herbs while being strewn with rose petals. Close your eyes for one moment and take a deep breath and change places with Liz. Go ahead. You deserve it. You are beloved too. Feel the warm foot bath and inhale the mingled fragrances of the flowers. The universe loves you. (some would say God. Either way.)

Here we are. Friends of dear Liz, wishing her safety, joy, blessings and strength for the journey ahead. We will keep you safely in our hearts and help you in any way we can.

Nature will encourage you too, and show you the way. 

This is my new painting from Stephanie Lee. We were scraping a recycled canvas in Katie's studio when she started noodling away with a paint brush and before I knew it this was leaning against a wall. Then she said I could have it. Okay, maybe I did beg a little, not that it was necessary. She is all that and generous too. Wow. It's hanging in my living room now, glowing like a prayer.

We have baby goats.

Fresh eggs from our dear friend Shannon

More baby goat.

Went to my eye doctor yesterday and got the all clear on my previously torn retina. Oh, once again I am a lucky woman, a cat with nine lives, little Miss Smartypants. John and I breathed a sigh of relief and drove around the corner to this taqueria where we felt 18 years old again and celebrated.

Passion Fruit and tacos. Life is good indeed.

Journal page. Some real good recipes there. mmmmm

This is the last face I painted in my face book before I took the book apart to send to the quilt ladies. 

Another journal page.

A week from today is my surgery. (ha ha. I just typed survey. can I do a survey instead?)

I am uplifted by many hands. I am an old gal and have surely had my share but naturally I want more. This may or may not be the last post before next Tuesday. You know me, it's hard to keep quiet for long. I go in Monday for some procedure where they poke something in my vein in the groin and send up some iodine for a look see and then do an embolism to some veins going into the tumor and blah blah blah. It sounds like something I'd rather not be involved in but I am.

Okay, what is, is. Make art and talk back. Love yourself and each other. xo

Thursday, March 25, 2010


This last week has been huge. In that time I have spent several days at a 15 woman gathering in Washington state and following that a visit to a friend's house where 5 of us collaborated on as many paintings. We completed 5 canvases together until we agreed the canvases were finished (more or less. they are probably still evolving).

To see the video I made of the painting process just follow this link. And thank you Katie, Misty, Stephanie and Jen. A nice round of applause.

There is so much more to share but one thing at a time. I am frankly swamped under email and personal stuff. It seems like life is coming at me faster and faster.

BTW, this is my first edited video. You guys are awesomely patient with my learning. I feel so proud every time I try something new like this. xo

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Whole Buncha Things

I've had the best couple of days in weeks. Yesterday a friend invited me and a half dozen other artists to her garage party; a space she's organized with tables and art supplies and heat guns and all sorts of inspiring eye candy. For several hours we each played in whatever media suited our fancy while we visited and nibbled and laughed together. It was what women have done for ages; cloistered together in friendship and fun. Incredibly good medicine. I made the journal page background above.

I had a couple of bags of vintage wallpaper scraps with me so I made another background page with those (isn't glueing fun?) and then loved the pages so much that I'm not sure I can paint over them. That old paper is just so gorgeous.

So a couple more journal layouts here.

I always thought of St. Paddy's Day as my personal holiday since it falls so close to my Birthday. I have a special connection with four leaf clovers and made a rubber stamp many years ago that I like to use around "my" holiday. Lucky me and my four leaf clovers.

I promised you photographs of my journal creation and I did take a few shots but they are still in my camera and I'm packing for a weekend trip so this is all I'll post for now. This is the back cover of the journal that I printed on fabric (ironed sheeting onto freezer paper and run through the inkjet printer then coated with acrylic gel and matte medium). The colors are very soft when you do it this way. I've also printed onto decal paper that you iron onto cotton sheeting as well as glueing a plain lazerprint onto the Davey board and all three methods give different effects. Inkjet is the most subtle.

While I was in a funk I started this experiment. Took a stack of computer paper that was printed on one side (you know, trash) and painted whacked out stuff on the reverse. Just anything to get the paint moving and do something for crying in a bucket. I figured if nothing else I could tear them into strips and use them as journal borders later.

So these are a couple of the pages I dashed off. It is very freeing; you have to go faster than usual to force yourself to work from automatic pilot instead of the left brain. The best part is plugging in the iron and ironing the curled up sheets when they're dry. I love ironing paper. (And I wouldn't dream of ironing clothes!)

This is the beautiful necklace I purchased from Nikki Blackwood. I know a lot of you know her from the art retreats. The art just gushes out of this woman; her home is like a gallery, museum, and cabinet of wonders. When I saw this hanging from a display screen I snatched it right up and now it's mine all mine, whoopee! I'm not even taking it off to sleep. (okay, that might have been an exaggeration.) She has others too that she hasn't listed on etsy so I'm nagging her to get busy.

Lastly, I want to tell you that this book came in the mail 2 days ago and it is a real gem. Bee has included just about every collage technique there is in this book. If you want to get a taste of what she's put together go to this blog and look in on what the women there have created from the chapters. I wish this had been the first book on collage I'd ever purchased as it has about 6 books worth of ideas to inspire you.

Well, tomorrow I throw clothes, art supplies, cameras, myself and lots of diet pop in the car and head up north to be with friends for the coming weekend. We will be honoring a friend as well as painting and catching up on our winter stories. Women talking. What could be warmer or juicier?

BTW, here's what a card said that John gave to me.

     "I just don't like to see you waste your time on silly things" he said
     "Well then," she said, "close your eyes".

hee hee.

"The greatest enemy of creativity is common sense"      --Picasso

Now I'm off to dream of my car trip. xo

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Walking My Path

I was so impressed with Kelly Rae's post where she described with such honesty how difficult her first months of pregnancy have been while at the same time balancing that with the joyous anticipation of the baby itself. I felt like she had gotten inside my head where there is a disconnect between my optimism toward the upcoming surgery balanced against the new reality that there is mortality involved in this adventure we're all on and that this is one of those times when you inevitably spend some time holding the concept in your thoughts.

I've been a little bored and depressed. Today was the day I was to have left for Australia. Under the circumstances I am relieved that I can sit in my jammies and blog but I wonder where my happy twin has gone to. She who nearly fainted from joy at the thought of an adventure to such a far away place; that dream-come-true. Illness will test you in new ways. I find it fascinating. I have been so fortunate to have been so healthy all my life. Now I will learn a new lesson; uncertainty and humility.  I will be called on to let go and trust.

I cannot imagine getting through all of this without my journal. She is such a patient friend. (tears spring to my eyes as I write this). She has known every stage of me as I grew from a self-centered child through motherhood and art career to the person I've become today. This week I went on a trip down memory lane and read old journals for hours. It helped me see how much I have grown, especially in the last 10 years. I made so many mistakes. And the bigger the mistake, the more and better I learned.

I should be out photographing the baby goats for you; they are precious beyond words. But no, this is a time for warming my shins by the wood stove and giving thanks, being thoughtful, taking stock. It's also a time of a 4 day special diet before one of the tests I have to take. Imagine if you can; no caffeine, no alcohol, no chocolate, bananas, avocados, peppers, citrus, nuts or cheese! This is day one of the diet - I should be pretty ready for my coffee by the end of it.

I'm making my next journal too. I tore all the pages for it yesterday and will make the covers today. I'm in a quandary about the covers. They are my favorite thing to design and think about. They have to feel just right for a woman who is where I am, who I am, at this junction of my life. I'll take photographs for you. I'm using 4 different kinds of paper at least. I love to spring from one surface to the next. Paper. Mmmmmm.

I hope you can enjoy this great adventure. I hope your heart is peaceful and that you are not in pain. I hope you grasp that each day is a precious and irreplaceable miracle.  Aren't we lucky to be alive, even on the difficult days!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Finding the Really Good Stuff; Taking My Time

Yes, I'm still here. Just spent a wonderful weekend with friends; we visited the Art Museum (Cy Twombly and the  "Disquieted" show), then to Russo Gallery for Rene Rickabaugh's show, then to Navarre for a meal that was awesome. That was Saturday. On Sunday we had an Oscar party at my daughter's with a Taco bar and lots of oogling the movie stars. Good stuff. Now I'm in the process of catching up.

The only art I've been doing is in my journal and in my head. I am eager to get back into the studio to paint again for a couple of galleries here. It has been a long time since I've gone into the studio just to explore on canvas.

I believe I have gradually come to the decision that this will be my last year teaching at retreats that require plane travel. I haven't announced it before because I am one changeable person and just the right carrot dangled at just the right moment ... well, you know. But John and I both want to do more travel in the future that involves lighter luggage and I admit that sometimes we have to actually choose between the things we love. Maybe there will be online classes next year; no promises yet. And these are nascent ideas, I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, for you people in the Southern California area, here's a reminder that March 15th is the deadline for the 10% early pay discount when signing up for classes at the Idyllwild Arts Center. I'm teaching 2 classes there: Journalling and Waxy Layers. I've already heard from some of you planning to attend so this is for you.

If you have a moment watch this and turn it up loud and let it rock your soul. I can't get enough. xoxox

Bettye Lavette