Saturday, August 18, 2007


Come visit me at my new version of Fifi's Graffiti.

I'm still working on the site so things may be dusty for awhile.
see, I'm still breathing that construction-site dust!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

hot time in the ol' town

It's finally feeling like summer. It hasn't rained in almost a week (was beginning to think I lived in Seattle again!) and the temperature is inching up towards 100 degrees. It's mighty late for summer to just be starting.

Yesterday was one of those fine days that makes me happy to be outdoors. The ground had dried enough so the mowers were able to cut down much of the prairie grasses that border I75 from here to Allen. I had the windows rolled down and just inhaled the sweet smell while the wind whipped my face. A convertible would've been nice. I didn't need the radio. The sound of the highway was all my ears wanted for the 45-minute trip to work. Only one minor slow-down where the poor sandblasters, covered head to toe in their work get-up, were prettying up the low concrete walls of the freeway divider; otherwise it was clear sailing at 60 per. What more could a girl want?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

hard worker

The body is a strange and wonderful thing, but when it gets tired the brain gets confused over its conflicting messages. The thunder rolled through this morning, and my brain dimly perceived that it was a good thing to continue sleeping. I did. Later, my bladder urgently prodded my brain, insisting it attend to that bodily function. The brain demurred, or was it the rest of the body? "Don't move," someone crooned seductively. "Get up!" asserted the bladder. "No, sleep on," purred my gentle friend. "Get UP!" shouted the bladder. I listened to this argument for some time in a semi-amused semi-comatose state.

Finally I got up.

Monday, July 30, 2007

pair o'pears

I took my camera out yesterday but it started pouring down rain about five minutes later so here's about all I got. We thought we had a Bradford Pear tree outside the back door; imagine our surprise to find real pears growing on it. The squirrels (or other critters) got most of them so there are only about five left on the thinnest, most precarious branches. These two are the largest. They are 2 1/2 - 3 inches long and hang almost at eye level so they smack us in the head when going down the back steps. Don't know what kind of pears they are yet.

Monday, July 23, 2007

fight corporate domination

I've been in the dumps lately because I'm so tired. Yesterday I realized (again!) it's no good having the attitude of "I'm so tired, my brain's so numb, I can't do anything." I knew I'd better snap out of it. Today is Day One of my new attitude. I'm trying to get back to my old routine as much as possible, thumbing my nose at tiredness. It's a fight every day.

I did this page in my art journal a few weeks back. I was experimenting with layering rubber stamps & it was the first time I attached tags to a piece (at least I think it was). It was a premonition of how I knew I was going to be feeling after a few weeks of long hours and unfortunately it came true.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

altered signal

Last week there was an extra-bad backup on the freeway so I exited ASAP and took the "back roads" to work. Along the way I spotted this little character on a corner. I didn't have my camera but I retraced my route a few days ago and captured its likeness. Three good lessons learned: 1) a blocked road can mean opportunity elsewhere; 2) always carry your camera; 3) take an alternate route on purpose.

Monday, July 16, 2007

flower hydrant

I know I've been neglecting the blog. I'm working long hours and my brain is mushy. I have trouble making decisions. Sometimes I've been able to keep up a journal during the summertime crunch at work, but I'm more tired this year. I think overtime is wearing thin.

The sun has been shining brightly for a few days now. Even though the rain has kept temperatures in the low 90s I'm hoping it will go away for a while.....two months would be good for me.

I like fire hydrants. Here's one in front of a dentist's office that someone turned into a garden ornament. Is this legal??

Monday, July 09, 2007


Was there a droopy dwarf in Snow White? Let's see: Grumpy, Happy, Dopey, Sleepy, Bashful & Doc, who am I missing? oh, I'll look it up later.

I feel droopy like this sunflower. We've had a couple of breaks from the rain, where we've gone almost 48 hours without moisture from the sky, so that perks me up a little, but I'm still getting used to my summer work schedule. My inner clock wants to wake up at 8 am but my body needs to sleep til about 10:30. Maybe I'll be adjusted by next week.

I had to put my art projects on hold as I switched gears to work on the bathroom again. Someday I'll finish it.....

I watched an old re-run of The Twilight Zone a few days ago and suddenly realized most of the episodes are about men. I'd never noticed that before. I'll have to keep that in mind if I watch it again.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

beyond fashion?

"It's going to be beyond fashion." (quote from fashion mag.) Hmmmmm. If we think about just what that might really mean perhaps we don't need the fashion mags or anyone else telling us what to wear.

I experimented with some magazine clippings after looking at some of the faces Teesha Moore has made. Mine didn't turn out as well but I'll get the hang of it.

I was a little bit appalled at how similar the facial proportions were in photos of the same size. One set of eyes or lips easily replaced those in a number of other photos. It says a lot about the narrowness of the fashion industry's view of feminine beauty.

Monday, July 02, 2007


What I came up with for this week's prompt on Inspire Me Thursday, which was "Light."

Dreams and Vision are two recurring themes in my art so it wasn't a stretch to realize "light" is a part of that. This is the first full-page spread in my new homemade journal, made of watercolor paper bound with twisty-ties. I dug out my old set of acrylics to try something other than yellow and red as a background. I like this Phthalo Blue - who comes up with these names, anyway?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Studio Friday: Studio Summer Brunch

CHILL! is the motif for my summer snacks and also the cover of my new home-made journal. you can't see it well in the photo but there's a found beer bottle cap that says "chill" on the palm of the hand. I've got to fight that summer heat with cold stuff. My favorite snack is fresh mixed berries when I can get them with yogurt and poppy seeds on top. I also love "nutty buddy" frozen ice cream cones. In the meantime I drink a lot of lemonade or iced tea and maybe an occasional iced coffee. If I get a really big craving for cold coffee flavor I might make a "colorado bulldog". Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a glass, saturate with kahlua, and fill glass with ice cold diet coke. yummm.

Here's a friendly visitor with his snack of choice - a black-capped chickadee with sunflower seed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

altered book - kubla builds his dream dome

First spread, wherein Kubla decrees his will.....

I did this spread with a completely different background and ended up ripping out both pages and starting over. I saved a few elements and re-used them and this was the result. I had been trying to duplicate a cool background I saw in one of my art books and it flopped horribly. I really wish I could attend some workshops on altered books and/or collage. I found a class listed for this past spring at the Dallas Craft Guild and am crossing my fingers that it will be offered again in the fall. I get the feeling Dallas isn't really into this type of craft although I think it's one of the major scrapbooking markets.

It's still raining. I don't know where all this water is coming from. This is Texas, for cryin' out loud; it's supposed to be hot and sunny. I think the polar ice caps are falling on us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

turns and towers

A happy result of the wrong turn I took on Sunday was ending up on the street next to this water tower. I've had a project in mind to shoot a bunch of water towers in this area but haven't had a blue sky for a while as a background. When it's overcast the towers just fade into the background. I've tried shooting when the sky is dark with clouds and those haven't come out too well, either.

I can see this tower from the freeway, but had not tried to find its exact location, so this was a doubly good find. I had to enhance the sky in Photoshop but was glad to get the shot. This tower is in the city of Richardson.

Monday, June 25, 2007

altered book beginnings

Sometimes it pays to get lost. You think you're somewhere and then you think you're not. Then you know you're not. It can make you nuts, you know? Or it can make you change the way you look at things. That's what happened when I took a wrong turn yesterday.

I started work on my first "real" altered book a few weeks ago but have been hesitant to post anything for fear I'd put myself under so much pressure I would run out of ideas. So I've procrastinated with the few ideas I have and have found that NOT proceeding with them is worse than proceeding and failing. I've already ripped out one page and started over on it with no real damage done.

Anyway, the book is inspired by the poem "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge was addicted to laudanum, a form of opium, and he said he imagined the poem during an opium reverie. The poem is a lovely collection of uneven meter, mismatched rhyme and confusion; and I expect my book will be the same. It should be a fun trip.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Equanimity - or lack thereof

It rained hard again last night. A year ago we were beginning to be desperate for rain; now we complain about it. "The lakes are full," we say. "Stop, already!!"

We humans can't seem to be happy with things. The weather, our possessions, our selves. We want things to be different.

One of the traits Buddhists aspire to is Equanimity, which I interpret as being accepting of any circumstance you find yourself in. Yesterday while sitting on the freeway for almost two hours I realized a traffic jam was a mighty test of Equanimity. At the first stoppage, a wreck on the High Five interchange, I was irritated. At the second stoppage, a tractor-trailer rig stalled in the second lane, I was equable. I rolled down the windows even though the air was hot and muggy because I didn't want to overtax my car's engine idling with the AC on. I found a radio station playing really old country music from the 50's. I let people cut in front of me from both left and right lanes. I thought I had achieved equanimity. At the third stoppage, another stalled car in the 3rd lane, I got desperate. The radio went to commercials and I switched it off. I began to will the car in front of me to "move........move.........move" to no avail. Alas, my brief experience with Equanimity was gone.

And today I wish the rain would stop for a while.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

why did the turtle cross the road?

I rescued a turtle on Sunday. I spotted it crossing the road about four blocks from the building where I work. It was huge! It was headed toward the parking lot of a large apartment complex, so I put it in the car and when I got to work I released it in a field next to our building, which is near a large pond.

A few minutes later I was sloshing through the water-logged turf with my co-worker, who had volunteered to take the turtle home and settle it in his "atrium". We almost couldn't find the critter; it was traveling at such a high rate of speed it had almost traversed the whole field.

The turtle is a Red-eared slider, an aquatic turtle common to these parts. It was 9 1/2 inches long and almost 8 inches wide. I don't know what it was doing so far away from a large body of water. Of course, with all the rain we've had lately, it wouldn't be wanting for mud puddles along its way.

My co-worker went to PetSmart for some turtle food and found them selling these same turtles as pets. They offered to examine the turtle for any health problems and to determine its age and sex. That'll be exciting. My guess was that it was a male at least 5 years old. I feel like it's "my" turtle, too, even though it seems to be well cared for in its new home. Here's a photo of it with two of its caretakers.

Its name is Gamara, after the Japanese "monster" who defends against an evil alien.
Here's a trailer for Gamara the Brave, the twelfth and most recent incarnation of the transformed box turtle. Personally, I don't think Gamara's face looks nearly as cute or as menacing as a real turtle.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

collage mosaics

I finally got the 3D items glued to my pages for the "Around the World Chunky Swap" on Flickr. This was a really fun project but I got stuck at the end. It was as if I didn't want the fun to end. I put the pages aside, and before I knew it two weeks had gone by and I'd lost my previous enthusiasm. I'm hoping that finishing the project and getting these in the mail will set me back on the road to creativity.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

the blahs

I haven't been able to get into a creative groove this week. Things are gearing up at work for the summer crush and I've been spending most of my time at home ripping out the three layers of linoleum covering the bathroom floor. Dare I hope that we're past the half-way point on its renovation? The physical labor is hard on my back and I'm stiff most of the time. Walking hasn't helped much lately. Today I'm not going to work!!!!

I worked all week on the the first full spread of my altered book and yesterday, when I thought it would be finished, I realized I hated how it turned out. I ripped out the pages and saved the bits I like so I can try again. At least I still have plenty of pages to work with.

I found another unusual spider yesterday. It's a Texan Golden Lynx Spider. Look at those spiky hairs on its legs. It's a hunter and harmless to humans. I used to be terrified of spiders, but I think I must like them, now. I can't get over the variety of species I'm finding in McKinney.

Monday, June 11, 2007

my zoological alter ego kicks in

It's got a stinky name, but this pretty little bug is a good guy to have in your garden....maybe almost as good as ladybugs. I saw a tiny spot of red (less than 1/8 inch) moving among decomposing leaves and clods of mud and was able to get a few shots before I lost it. It's called Euthyrhynchus floridanus, or Florida Predatory Stink Bug, and it's one stink bug that feeds on plant pests rather than the plants. This is the nymph phase; the adults are metallic blue with orange spots. I'll have to be on the lookout for them.

It was 88 degrees when I got off work at 10pm last night. One good thing about living 30 miles north of Dallas is that it's just a tiny bit cooler; it was 83 when I got home. Now I know summer's here. I'll be shifting to my summer work schedule next week; 3pm to 1am until at least Sept. 1. I'm hoping my co-worker who usually takes the graveyard shift will do so again this year, as we used to take nightly walks to spy on the local wildlife, and to take advantage of slightly cooler temperatures for exercising. My face feels sunburned when I take my morning walks, now, even though I wear a brimmed hat. I'll probably be talking about the heat all summer; it seems to be a "hot" topic of conversation for everyone.

I'm also finally starting to work on an altered book project. I bought this book almost two years ago and never knew what to do with it. I've recently been inspired, but I'm not going to destroy it the way I originally planned.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

chunky page

It's good to have visitors but it's also good to get back to your regular schedule. I'm not good about keeping up a journal when my schedule's all screwy. I've managed to do it a few times while vacationing, but when I read it later it seems to be a pretty sparse piece of writing.

Anyway I'm back to my somewhat-normal schedule and I have time to work on some art. I'm working on five 4x4 pages for an 'Around the World' Chunky Page Swap. This month's theme is monocolor mosaics. This is my "blue page", which turned out pretty well.
I think I need to add some "grout" between the "tiles", as I had a lot of trouble getting the pieces to line up just right. I think I'm square-impaired, as this is the same thing that happened with my tiling efforts in my bath's tub surround (which is still awaiting grout).

Here's another mosaic of sorts: four lovely cherry tomatoes from our garden. Yumm! My mom has been going outside every day to cover the plants with an old sheet to prevent sunburn. Yep, the blast furnace weather is here to stay, I think. One brief thunderstorm yesterday morning and now the forecast is for hot and humid from now on. That's ninety-plus degrees during the day and we'll be lucky if the temps fall below 75 at night. The waterlogged earth here is already beginning to crack; such is the temperament of clay soil.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Studio Friday: SP(E)ACIAL!

Take a look around your at your studio much space do you have?
Take a look at your does your space influence your art in any way? Do you create small or large art works? Do you see a parallel?
Take a look at your dream studio space (yippieh!)...what does it look like? What is the layout? Is it big or small? And most important of all: What art do you create in it? Will it be on a larger or smaller scale than before? And what can you do to get closer to your vision this week/month/year?

I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but my office/studio is a long narrow room that was a porch once upon a time. Before we moved into the house I pictured it as a cozy workspace; now I feel hemmed in. It may be partly because of the shape, but it's probably more from the clutter that I just can't keep in order. As we're remodeling, this room becomes the catchall space for stuff that's in the way elsewhere, so I end up working at the kitchen table. I have to go through my mom's bedroom to enter this space and that can be limiting, as I sometimes like to work late at night and I don't want to disturb her sleep. Overall, my creativity seems to be hemmed in; that part of my brain is a narrow cluttered place without easy access.

I know the situation will improve and that I will have to be patient, so instead of an ideal studio, I'm dreaming about how to make my existing space work. This old window that is currently the wall between the office and the sunroom will be removed and replaced with a french door. That should allow more natural light to immediately begin streaming in. The opening from the office to my mom's bedroom will be walled up and I'll be able to put up another set of shelves to contain the clutter. I'll then be able to lower the work surface so I can sit instead of stand while working. The carpet will be taken out and hardwoods installed over the old porch flooring. Updated wiring will provide me with good lighting and enough outlets to power all my doodads. And proper insulation in the walls will ensure it's a comfortable place to work year-round!

I've got to finish the bathroom first, though!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


We had a day off from the thunder- storms but they returned with a vengeance this morning. The butterflies took advantage of the sunshine yesterday to browse amongst the weeds and flowers in our garden. This is a Pearly Crescentspot, Type A, I think.

We've got 4 or 5 whopper-sized tomatoes on our vines, as well as several dozen cherry tomatoes. I've been taking 2 or 3 cherry tomatoes in my lunch every day but am looking forward to the day when one of those whoppers ripens. "What would life be without home-grown tomatoes?" as Guy Clarke wrote in one of his songs.

We're expecting company this week, our first out-of-town guests. They haven't seen the house yet so I've been stashing stuff in the closets and tidying up the cans of paint and joint compound so that it looks more like our home than the construction site it usually resembles.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Studio Friday: RE-Cycle

This is a no-brainer for me. The majority of the paper I use in my collages is recycled. When people clean out their offices at work I'm there scrounging for paper samples, cards, anything that looks interesting. I pick up used lottery tickets and bottle caps when I'm out walking. In this corner on my workspace are some good examples of things I use, which include clippings from catalogues and old magazines, receipts, price tags, paint chips, and leftover wallpaper from a home remodel project. I save boxes, too, to house my clippings. Part of this is because I like to save money, but as long as I can remember I've clipped and saved pictures or articles that I liked. When I started collaging I realized I could actually use some of those things instead of hoarding them.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

the poison path

I've lately become enamored of Dale Pendell, chemist, ethnobotanist, and poet, author of the PHARMAKO trilogy. Pharmako/Poeia is the first volume of the series and I can't seem to keep my nose out of it. It's a poetic masterpiece, dedicated to the Power Plants, the herbs and flowers who are both Allies and Poisons. This is an adventure into history, culture, religion, psychology, literature, horticulture and chemistry. He sets the tone in the opening sonnet; here's an excerpt:

Come on, O rueful Syrians,
and all you thick-smelling
solanaceous plants;
You cultivated-in-rows tobacco and coca plants;
You maligned poppy plants and worshipped
grapevine plants --
All forgotten plants, and fad plants:
Come forth, you motley troop --
not a gentleman among you --
Not one that wo't lie, cheat, or swindle
a ride --
Come, all ye ruffians:
Be fruitful, we have need of poison.

I discovered this book while listening to a podcast of David Presti's neurobiology class from UC Berkeley. As a former hippie who dabbled in plant poisons during the 60s and 70s the class is a fascinating description of the molecular changes that occur in the brain when various things are ingested into the body. As a student of cultural anthropology it's even more fascinating to learn about humanity's long-running relationship with plants in general, and poison plants in particular. According to Presti, everything is a poison; whether it cures you or kills you is all a matter of the dosage.

I wanted to depict the flavor of Pendell's poetry, but there's so much good stuff on every page, I'm hard-pressed to choose. I will leave you with his description of addiction; in which he admonishes the user to beware the ally-poison:

An ally is like a half-broken horse, a horse with spirit. A horse that will carry you many days, only to suddenly knock you off on a low branch. Some allies are the subtle type. Maybe you have an ayahuasca ally. She is friendly. She gives you things. She doesn't seem at all malevolent. Or maybe you have an opium ally. She is more than friendly. She'll call you up and invite you over. And she is voluptuous, so you go. She is so good to you it seems like heaven.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gears of the Grind

a journal page for "A Day in the Life of Me" for "Inspire Me Thursday." I was thinking my daily routine is pretty much just that: routine; and then this morning I've been disrupted by more thunderstorms traveling through North Texas. The ground is so saturated already that flooding has become a real concern. McKinney seems to have much less of a problem than Dallas does, which I'm thankful for. It got dark about 9:00 am, and the thunder and lightning was so intense it seemed wise to disconnect the computer and modem for a while, so I've fallen behind on my morning e-mail chores. The rain came down at a two inch-per-hour rate so I didn't go for a walk. I've been reduced to reading the comics and doing my crossword puzzle, the treats I usually save for my after work, before bedtime, time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The bathroom project has reach a new stage: I need to pull out all the layers of old flooring so a new floor can be laid. In some ways demolition is one of my favorite parts of home improvement because it's an archeological dig. You never know what you'll find. The scary part in this old house is that I never know what I'll find. Termite damage? Rotted wood? Bare wires? I've found all of that so far and so far have been able to deal with it. I didn't have time to rip out the floor before my mom got back from her trip and now I'm enduring her constant worrying about it. She says she's always afraid when I start tearing things up. Well, it has to be done, and I'd rather not pay someone else to do it. Besides, I would lose out on all the archeological excitement!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Doll Face

The prompt this week on Inspire Me Thursday is "Copycat", exploring repetition in your art.

I shot this photo of a doll's head I'm going to use for another piece, and then I experimented with filters in Photoshop. It's really more of a reference page than it is a piece of art. I really liked some of the combined effects of the filters, and I'm hoping this exercise will inspire some future projects. Then I'll be doing another copycat piece!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Studio Friday: May's Studio Treat

Treat yourself to something your heart desires, maybe some chocolate or flowers or new art supplies... a nice little something (no spending of a fortune involved). Celebrate yourself !!

I decided to treat myself to a subscription to Somerset Studio magazine. It's such an awesome combination of eye candy and tips that I still thumb through the one issue I have that I bought almost two years ago. It's a little expensive at $7.95 a pop (anyone remember when magazines were cheap?) but hey, I'm worth it! I got a better price by ordering online from Stampington. I missed the deadline for the July-August issue, so it will be a bit of delayed gratification and a wonderful surprise in the mailbox when I finally get my first issue.

I've been working on several home improve- ment projects which include such glamorous things as sheet rock repair, texturing walls, and removing old curtain brackets. One of the fun projects was making these curtains to hang over the kitchen sink. They're made from an old broomstick skirt that I bought at a thrift store several years ago simply because I couldn't resist colors in the fabric. It was really too small for me but I couldn't part with it. I didn't want to use the sewing machine on this fabric, as the loosely-woven cotton is a bit stretchy, so I stitched the curtains by hand while listening to "Grey's Anatomy" on tv last night. I hardly ever watch that show, but I know who the main characters are, so I could get what was going on, at least for the duration of the episode.

have a great weekend; after two or more inches of rain yesterday we're gearing up for yet another line of thunderstorms today.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

dark skies

Phoebe's been waking me up early this week while it's still dark outside. I'm used to getting off work when it's dark, but not used to getting up before it's light out. It's been overcast as well, so I can't get any sense of the time of day by looking at the sky. My internal clock is out of sync with the world. It's hard to get going first thing in the morning. Most places don't open until 10 and outdoors the mosquitoes eat me up when I venture out this early. It's nice to have your routine shaken up a bit but I'll be glad to get back to my old schedule. I am not a morning person.

Here's a shot of the old pharmacy in downtown McKinney with its rotating mortar and pestle. Not as nice as the old Raven pharmacy in Oak Cliff (Dallas), but a cool sign just the same. Can you tell what time of day it was? It was shot about 10am on a sunny day, but this side of the street was still in shade. It's pretty similar to what the sky looks like right now.

I switched from art to home repair the last few days. That protestant work ethic just won't leave me be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Big excitement after a long morning. I thought the HVAC man would be here early today to check the air conditioner. I don't know how old the thing is or when it was last serviced, and I wanted to be sure it would get us through a hot Texas summer. He didn't show up until noon but it was worth the wait. He had to check something under the house and as he was replacing the panel on the outside of the foundation perimeter he nearly jumped out of his shoes when he saw this little critter hanging on the top edge of the panel.

I can't remember the last time I saw a tarantula in an urban setting. This one was about 3 inches long and seemed interested only in sitting on the panel where we found him. I had to go get the camera, of course. I wasn't sure how close I wanted to get but the spider wasn't aggressive in the least. They really aren't. People just tend to freak out when they see them. Well, I got the lens about an inch away from the spider, hit him with the flash a few times, and generally pestered him to pose for about ten minutes.
Only once did he rear up into a defensive position, and that was when I tapped him with a stick to get him to climb around to the light side of the panel.

Finally I got him into a jar and released him out near the back fence where there is a lot of ground cover and plenty of insects for food. My dog accidentally stepped on him and he went running for cover, which shows they're more scared of us than we are of them.

It wasn't til I got out my spider book that I found out tarantulas are nocturnal. No wonder he wasn't interested in posing. He was trying to sleep! I hope he or she sticks around. Maybe we'll have a tarantula family come July.

Monday, May 21, 2007

shrine assemblage

This week's prompt on Inspire Me Thursday was "Circles". This assemblage, made of recycled parts, is my submission.

I had a few square wooden rosettes we removed from some of the doorframes as we're remodeling (someone tried to give the illusion of an update) and thought to do something with the circles on the block. I've been wanting to experiment with assemblage, so this was a great opportunity. The collage elements are clipped from catalogs and an old book. The spikes are roofing nails, and the spire is from an old birdhouse that couldn't stand the weather. The buttons are from my longtime button box. I'm very happy with the results and look forward to doing more. Maybe this is my little niche!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Studio Friday: 3 Wishes

If you had a magic wand what 3 creative issues would you solve? Maybe they are space issues that you are experiencing in your studio or issues about creating itself?

Only Three Wishes? well, I'll try to whittle down the list.

Number One Wish would be for a more ergonomic work space at home. I seem to end up doing most of my work at the kitchen table since moving to this house. I used to stand up and work at a glass-topped light table, but my back doesn't like doing that anymore. My mom is out of town for a week so I'm making the kitchen table my studio for a week - getting stuff laid out as you can see.

Number Two Wish: more time for art. I was going to say to get organized to to be more focused, but I think if I had more time those two things would naturally follow.

Number Three: Some hands-on learning with like-minded artists. I get tips and tricks from books, experiments or online, but it would be really nice to attend a class and connect with local artists with some similar interests.

As a postscript to this - as I was thinking about my wishes and what to say about them I realized I was simultaneously thinking about how to get the things I wanted. I'm thinking about some workspace solutions that will work temporarily until my office space is remodeled. I'm thinking about how to make better use of the time I have now so I'll be able to do better with any future extra time I may get. I have a week off from work and have been a busy little bee as I continue to throw out old stuff and arrange my supplies more neatly. Finally, I began searching for any craft classes nearby that I might attend. I may have to wait until September, but at least I know there are a few options out there. As for community, I've begun to better appreciate all of you at Studio Friday and Inspire Me Thursday. This online network is teaching me a lot about how similar many of our emotional and creative experiences are, even though we are working in many different areas. Thanks for sharing your experiences!!

Friday, May 18, 2007

this morning's catch

I picked up a couple of more pounds of junk from the back yard. Usually I have to dig down an inch or so, but all the rain we've been getting lately seems to bring stuff right up to the surface. Maybe it's washing away the dirt I already loosened. Anyway, this is typical of what I pick up when I'm puttering around out there. Usually it's rusty nails, broken glass, and bits of old roof shingles.

This morning I found some pieces of broken pottery, including one with a scalloped surface and one with some nice blue edging. Also two plastic beads, a plastic flower-shaped bead, a pearl-like round thing, a piece of glass with an "R" showing, and a heavy rusted metal plate about 5x5 inches. I think the elongated green and blue things are plastic pieces from some kind of game or maybe from old Christmas lights? I'm keeping most of this stuff now in order to possibly incorporate it into some kind of future art. I've been getting inspired by some of the recycled junk turned into art around the neighborhood.

Originally I hoped to find historically significant items, but I think it's mostly what was left of an old tool shed that was torn down. The historical preservation officer told me to try to find evidence of our house's original color (it's now white) so I'm hopeful I'll find something with original paint on it. We've found evidence of green or turquoise paint on the old cypress fence and red and green paint in places on a door. Today I found two pieces of some strange material with green and turquoise paint on it. I don't know what the material is yet. Maybe it's wood and maybe it's some kind of plaster or stucco. I found a piece of caulking with evidence of red paint and it also had newspaper print embedded in or transferred to it.

No cans of money yet.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

retro fun

We've had a brief respite from the hot muggy hazy days of early summer and this morning I walked to downtown for the first time to shoot some photos. Usually I have Phoebe with me and we skirt the business area but today I left her at home. I've been in McKinney for almost six months and this was the first time I really took the time to just lollygag about the place on foot. Some of the shops were open and others were setting their wares out on the sidewalk in preparation for the day's tourists. My camera battery died so most of my gawking was caught only in my brain's memory.

I liked this retro mannequin in front of a soda shop. I'll post her face later. I've got to get to work early today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

chunky book - travel

"Lulu was always ready at a moment's notice to take off anywhere!"

I got this beautiful little collage in the mail yesterday from Tyn at pookieville. It's part of another chunky book swap I'm doing at Flickr. The theme is "travel" and I love the way Tyn interpreted it. She is much more generous with her stamps than I am!

It was the kick in the pants I needed to finish the five pages I started on Saturday. They are drying as I type this. I'm still trying to get the hang of this chunky book thing, but I learn a lot from the pages I get from other artists, just as I did when I was trading ATCs.

Here are my pages recalling a trip to Vermont several years ago.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Invention of Dreams

I got a request to trade an ATC I accidentally left in a swap group two years ago. I thought the group had disintegrated but apparently it has been recently revived. I couldn't find the original ATC so I made this one as a substitute. I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy making these little art pieces. They were my real introduction to collage.

I hope the recipient likes it. It's always so hard to let go of the pieces because I know I'll never be able to replicate them. (one of those clinging desires Buddhism tries to free you of)

I've been discouraged and/or uninspired of late, and had been thinking all the time I was spending organizing my clippings and tossing out extraneous papers was just a useless exercise in busy-ness. It had begun to feel like an excuse to not do art. Making this ATC showed me how nice it is to have things in a place where you can find them. I think I'll feel better about continuing the spring collage cleaning now.

Now I have to get to work on some pages for a chunky book swap due this week.

Monday, May 14, 2007

after the silence

This week's prompt for "inspire me thursday" was "Silence." I'm one of those people who doesn't mind silence. My offbeat work schedule, which includes Sundays and evenings, means I'm often the only person occupying my side of the office building. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, but often I just revel in the quiet as I do my work. I'm inspired by silence so often I couldn't think what to do for the thursday prompt.

I decided my take on "silence" would be to abstain from posting on my blog or on Flickr; in other words, I would silence my web voice for a week. I realized I had become a bit obsessive about posting. The break did me good, as I was feeling uninspired anyway, and I spent my blogtime taking my dog Phoebe for an extra walk. I didn't worry about whether or not to photograph or write about what we saw or did, and the payoff was seeing and smelling the changing season. We're moving from spring into very late spring or early summer and the magnolias are blooming. The flowers smell so sweet!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

altered postcard

ok, I have been lazy, sort of. Partly I have been uninspired. I felt like a slug last week. Maybe the hot muggy weather and a case of poison ivy had something to do with it. (Yes, I stumbled into that lovely venomous vine with three leaves. It's clearing up now and I'm sick of the subject.)

I perked up after a day in which it did not rain. Like the roses in my neighborhood I've been weighted down by too much moisture, and I'm just now getting my branches back up towards the sun.

I made this postcard for Michael's Let the Postcards Do the Walking project. I hope it makes it across the Atlantic to Chesire!

Monday, May 07, 2007

old mckinney

I really like living in the historic district of McKinney. When I take Phoebe for a walk I can take a different route every time and almost always see something new. I have been leaving my camera at home, but here's a fairly recent shot of one of the gingerbread gables. Many of these houses have lace curtains hanging behind them, which really make the windows look pretty. I think I may need some for my own windows. Dallas was preoccupied with tearing down old houses in order to build brick McMansions, so it's a wonderful feeling when I see that not every city has that awful mindset.

I took a break from working on the bathroom this weekend to sort through my collage stuff and to think about priorities. These "Studio Friday" essays on the Seven Deadly Sins, coupled with my reading of "Hooked!" has me re-assessing things almost daily. I had a stack of magazines that I had collected for collage and decided I needed to either use'em or lose'em. As I paged through them looking for items to clip, I found many of them were useless. I had been hoarding them for no good reason. I was "attached" to them. So I'm letting them go, now. It feels good. I'm finally getting some space for the stuff I do use AND it's slowly becoming organized as well.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Studio Friday: Seven Deadly Sins (Pride)

Number 7: What feeds your desire to feel that you are more important or attractive or better or more special than others? How does this excessive feeling of pride feed your Ego and distort your reality? How does its shadow become your downfall? Is there a way that you see towards a healthier way of being?

My first thought was that Pride is not a big issue for me. I take pride in my work, so I try to do a good job. I'm proud of my accomplishments, but I try not to brag about them too much.

I think where my pride really injures me is when it comes to asking for help. I've always been proud of my independence. Since I never met "Mr. Right", I learned to do many of the things my friends always had their husbands do, and felt really proud of that. The unfortunate consequence was that when I met with something that was too much for me to do it was nearly impossible for me to humble myself and ask for help from my friends. I thought it would puncture my aura of the-woman-who-can-do-it-all. I've mellowed a bit over the years, and now that I have a tricky back, I have the ideal excuse to ask for help.

I want to thank Tine for coming up with this Deadly Sins series. Even though I came in at the third or fourth one it's been a worthwhile project for me to re-examine my motives for some of the things I do. It coincided nicely with my reading of "Hooked!", the collection of Buddhist writings on greed and desire. I read something yesterday which is worth considering: The Seven Deadly Sins only become deadly when they become indulgences.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

altered altoids

Here's my first mini assemblage made from the Altoids tin I "rusted" with bleach and vinegar. I left the pieces outside for several days, and the slimy goo that covered the metal dried nicely and stuck to the can. It got rained on, too, so some of it may have washed away. If I rubbed the surface the "rust" came off on my hands, so I covered it with a thin layer of gel medium to seal it.

This piece is my submission for Inspire Me Thursday. The theme this week is "Words" and how they fit into your creative process. Melanie poses some interesting ideas to think about: Do you begin a piece with a word or phrase in mind? Or do words emerge as you create? Do you often use words in your work? Are you more inspired by words or images?

I have a particular fondness for words (of course! why else would I be blogging?!). I use words or short phrases in many of my collages. I usually start with an image and that will bring a word to mind. If no words come, I may sort through my collection of clippings until I find something appropriate. I tend to like puns or odd juxtapositions of images to words. I shoot photographs of signs or words with this same attitude. In photography the words will usually inspire the juxtaposition, as I can't pick and choose them.

Here's how this piece came about: Since it was an experiment, I didn't really plan anything; I was more interested in how paint, gel, etc. would work with the surface. I found an old illustration of a peasant girl and glued it down. As I wondered what to do with it, the word "toil" came to me. The girl was "toiling", yet the illustration was remiscent of "toile" fabric. I added a piece of quasi-toile fabric and some buttons; finally a piece of grass representing the girl toiling in the wheat field. To me, it's ironic that luxury-minded folk would indulge themselves with "toil" fabric. I don't know how well my idea is conveyed to others.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

bla bla blah

We're having some dark rainy days after a weekend of hot sunshine and it's wreaking havoc with my arthritic joints and my sleep. I'm getting up early because I don't sleep well, and I am NOT a morning person. Even a pink flamingo sighting failed to perk me up. Art projects are languishing. I have tried doing a bit of cut and paste, or journaling, or reading when I can't sleep but usually my brain is as blank when I put the project away as it was when I took it up. I did make this silly poem.

What to do at night when sleep won't come.

cut & splice
eat some rice
shoo some flies
close your eyes
climb a hill
take a pill
kill some time
make a rhyme.

Monday, April 30, 2007

experiment in rust

I didn't have much energy for art this weekend, but I did experiment by concocting this solution that's supposed to "rust" objects. I've been wanting to do some assemblage and thought a rusted Altoid tin would be a nice starting place.

The recipe is equal parts of vinegar and household bleach. I used white vinegar. DO NOT TRY THIS INDOORS!!! Well, I guess you could; it doesn't seem to be volatile, but the stench is horrific. I did this outside and was still almost overcome by the fumes. Even my dog did not venture within five feet of the stuff.

I separated the parts at the hinge, poked some holes in them with a nail, haphazardly sanded the surface, submerged the pieces, and waited for the magic. Oh yes, I placed a rusty nail in there, too, which is supposed to accelerate the process. Two days later, this is what I got. What looks like rust is a runny slimy brown goo. There's a bit of oxidation around the edges, where the sandpaper bit more deeply, and where I scratched with the nail, but overall this is not what I expected. I'm letting the pieces dry to see if the goo will harden and/or stick to the metal. If not, I will probably sand a bit harder and try again.

I don't know what to do with this stinky pan of bleach and vinegar. I don't think it would be good to dump it on the ground or put it into the sewer system. I could let it evaporate, I guess. I don't know if I want living creatures to have to inhale the stuff. If I knew it wouldn't explode if put into a glass jar, I could do that and drop off at the hazardous chemical place. I should have thought of this beforehand.