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.