Friday, April 30, 2010

Birthday Ramblings and a Reminder....

Happy Friday, April the 30th! It's my birthday and while I usually tend to keep my blog on a less personal note- or as impersonal as art CAN be, I thought I'd "treat" you to a bit of birthday rambling and pondering......For me, as my birthday approaches each year, I find myself thinking over accomplishments- those accheived and things I'd hoped to do but somehow never got around to.

In looking back, I feel like I've done a LOT for someone my age......
I have:
  • been lucky enough to know that I wanted to be an artist at a very young age
  • been blessed with a loving family
  • managed to survive the death of my brother (who was also my best friend) when we were seniors in High School
  • I went to a college that I LOVED learning at and really learned about being an artist
  • met and married a wonderful man who also happens to be my best friend- even after 18 years!
  • have three wonderful- if challenging ;) children; Caroline- 16,  Emmie- 14, and Garrett- 10
  • had the joy of living in the Carribean for seven years
  • I was given the oppurtunity to design and teach the art program at my kid's school
  • Won "Teacher of the Year" my last year there
  • Been strong enough to help my children (and myself) readjust to "stateside" life while Bill traveled weekly for his job
  • Once again become a full time artist
  • Found Etsy and became active on it
  • Began blogging and through it found lots of lovely friends in Bloglandia
So you see, I feel that I've accomplished a lot in 42 years!  Of course there's been heartbreak along with the joy and lots of growing pains throughout the process- what life doesn't have this?  I feel very blessed in the knowlege that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be- today, who knows where I'll be meant to be tomorrow?

Oh and speaking of tomorrow, don't forget to stop by Inspiration Avenue to LEARN YOUR LESSON at our "tutorial" blog party tomorrow and Sunday!
Have a great day, I know *I* plan to!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

ART me in the Garden.........Inspirations for my New Painting

Even though I'm taking the week off from painting to recuperate from the show and to regroup; the garden keeps marching on!  This week, the stars are irises- they're not all in their full glory yet, but many have started their show.  This is a perfect time for me to take some pictures as references for my iris series- as of yet there is only one painting in the series and since it's focused down, I want to do one that includes more of the plant.

So here are some of the pictures I took this week in my garden and also my Mom's, Dad's and my brother's.
From my brother's garden- I'm not sure what this variety is, but I AM sure that I hope he's willing to share some!  LOVE the play of light on the petals.......yummy!

From my garden- the pink iris is waiting for her accompanying orange iris' to complete the symphony....

I love the Japanese irises- the way the light shines on them is so beautiful to me....

This is part of the garden I've been designing for my Dad- I love how the Peony is almost "serenading" the budding iris.  I'd probably use the composition of the first image with the detail from the second.  Don't you LOVE that shadow from the peony on the iris' leaves?

This is in my Mom's garden and I think I'm probably going to have to use BOTH images- the focused down one with it's play of light and shadows is calling to me.....

Of course there are other things going on in the gardens this week- here's a brief recap.....
Perle d'or Rose

                                                 Here is the side garden.......excuse the bag of potting soil that I didn't move before taking the picture!

Somehow, I haven't been able to get a good picture of the foxgloves or the clematis both of which are doing their thing- I keep trying every day though.....
Hope you have a chance to get to your garden this week!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Home and Studio Show!

Whew, it's finally over!  I swear each time we do a show, my Mom and I get to the point of *almost* not caring how it goes as long as it goes......well not really- we DO care 'cause how awful would it be to do all that work and have NO ONE come?  I will say that after setting up spaces for 8 other artists plus a vignette and distributing more than 600 promos individually onto mailboxes we WERE tired.......
But we got it all done and it was a great show!  Even though it rained all day Saturday, we still had a ton of people come through; so in the end, we were quite thrilled with the overall success of the show.  We had a really varied collection of paintings, fine art photography, jewelry (from which I happily bought myself a birthday necklace!), stoneware birdhouses, hand painted silk scarves, antiques and lots more!
Here are some pictures of the set up- I wish I had a photo of the jewelry but I took these before she was done setting up HERE's the link to her Etsy shop though.

This was the front of my display......

just a hint of the vignette we put together.......

and the other side of my display

So that's about from me for now.  I'm not planning on doing much painting this week.  I need to do a major cleaning of my house and the garden is in dire need of attention too!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You're Invited To a Blog Party!

As a celebration of our successful auction, we at IA are having a Blog Party! We managed to raise over $500 for the girls at Angel Faces. So Thank You all to all who contributed and while I'm at it, I'd like to give a personal thank you to those of you who regularly visit my blog- you enrichen my life on a daily basis!!

This Blog Party is a bit different in that everyone who attends will get a goodie bag in the form of's a tutorial exchange!  And if you're asking yourself what can you bring to the party; we'd love for you to share a tip, or tutorial, or idea of some kind showing something that you know how to do, and that you'd like to share with us all.  Maybe you make special paper to create with or know a secret technique for editing photos, perhaps a super recipe that's a favorite.....the possibilities are endless- anything goes at this party!

Post it on your blog and leave a comment at Inspiration Avenue so everyone can visit your blog and learn something new! Click the badge on my sidebar for all of the party info! If you like; grab the button to add to your post- we'd be thrilled if you'd help spread the word by putting the button on your blog!

The party takes place May 1 and 2, 2010 so save those dates!

That's about all for now, I look forward to seeing you there and learning something new!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekly Challenge at Inspiration Avenue- "Magical Transformations"

In the craziness of getting ready for the Home Show next week- THIS week (!) I still wanted to have something to enter for the weekly challenge at Inspiration Avenue......the theme was "Magical Transformations" and I wanted to create a new altered book of Flag Book format....but oddly enough I didn't have time.........this is one I did a couple of years ago:
It's three paintings cut and glued to create a transition.....but in looking at it, I don't think it actually is a "transformation" SO, instead, I'm entering a painting that I was unhappy with and spent Friday transforming. It's finally where I wanted it to be when I first painted it a couple of months ago...
Here it is before I started changing it:
The more I looked at it, the less I liked it, I kept thinking it looked like someone had thrown a tangerine in the middle..... the colors were too bright and garish instead of the soft lovely muted hues I'd been going for.  Here it is after I reworked it; I'm really happy with it now and it's ready for the show!
Don't forget to stop by Inspiration Avenue to see everyone else's entries, they'll be fabulous as always!

Friday, April 16, 2010

ART me in the Garden.........Soon come

Since I promised new pictures of the garden, I took a moment yesterday to wander around and check on progress.  It looks like it's going to be a race as to who blooms first.....will it be the foxgloves, peonies or clematis.  I also have two roses showing some color and lots of of iris as well......the anticipation may well get the best of me!
This is an adirondack chair that I rescued from the road to provide a frame for my Jude the Obscure rose and Anemones- it also has Foxgloves, Creeping Jenny and Iris's to keep it company. 

I think I'll only have to wait another month or so for my Hydrangeas- it's worse than waiting for Christmas EVER was!

Here is phase one of our dry creek- I took the picture standing on what will eventually be the bridge once I get the other half dug.  We ran out of rocks..........oh and we're waiting for rain to check low spots before we finish the "bed" with sand and pebbles- but you can at least get the idea of what it will look like.....

This head of Diana was the first piece of sculpture I ever bought- well actually the second, I had to buy her TWICE as the first one got stolen from our garden.  I like to hope it was a prank, but I've had other pieces of garden art stolen as well.  Now she "lives" well away from the street.

Peony nestled in with my Cinco de Mayo rose- oh I can't wait!

Jackmanni Clematis getting ready to do her thing.....

This is one of six heirloom tomatoes we planted last week- it's called a Mortgage Lifter- I've heard that it's the best tomato you'll ever taste!  We also have started seeds for squash, beans, chard, cukes, watermelon and japelenos.....again; I CAN'T wait!
So, that's what's up in the garden, I think the next time I take pictures there will be a LOT more color to share!
Cheers and Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Exploring the Realm of Altered Books

Evidently school holidays put me into some sort of time warp......because I thought I had a  good solid two weeks before the show and then my Mom gave me the wake up call, not two weeks; one week from Friday oh !@$$%!* , I mean, "Oh WOW"!  Anyway, that drasticlly changed my work plans for the week!  I've stepped up the altered books to front and center (at least for the first half of the week).  But since I've been a "bad blogger" lately and not posted since Saturday, I thought I'd feature some artists whose altered work I admire on Etsy......

"Summer Escape" by Chrys Tal of Eclectic Soul

"Find Your Way" by IM Girl

"deComposition no3" by Kenneth Rougeau of Sychonicity 313

Book 5 by Daniel Lai

"Cassandra" by Glimmering Prize

And there you have it, just a handful of artists reveling in the venue of mixed media.  I hope they inspire you as they do me!  Now, I must get on to waking children, making breakfasts and getting all on their way to school so I'll have a few hours of altering my own books......I'll try to check back in soon- need to post new pictures of the garden in all it's Spring glory and then of course current WIP's...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

what's UP in the studio- some new Altered Books

With all the kids out of school this week, I haven't even tried to work on my painting.  Instead, I've been spending most of my time savoring our beautiful Spring weather and working in the garden.  But I do have several new projects in works- two of them are new altered books from my "Seed Series"  I planned a handful of my flower paintings to be of flowers that easily grow from seeds so I could feature prints of them in altered books- these were really popular at our last show!  Anyway, here they are....
I don't know why I'm loving working with torn paper right now, but who am I to question inspiration......
the nasturtium book is made with two prints of the painting- one has been diffused and then brightened, I left the other alone.  I like how it changes the image- same yet different.  And of course Nasturtiums are my favorite Summer flower.

I just realized the the Morning Glory print is a s big as the book I'd intended it for- oops!  Luckily, I can save this image for something else- maybe another stripey book (?) and print another for this one.  It will be folded and glued into a pop out book- both books will have pouches on the back with seeds in them, and because both books are prints; I can sell them for a little less....
The other project for this week was the promo for our Spring Home Show.  My Mom and I have been hosting this for two years now, and each time we do it; it gets better and runs more smoothly.  Those of you might recognize the background from the collage I did for the "My Town" challenge.  It's an antique map from the 1800's of Decatur (which is where the Home Show takes place) with an abstraction of my garden superimposed over it for color.  My Mom and I are really happy with it, and I'll probably use the map again with different colors for our Summer and Fall shows.....
Anywho, that's it for me for now- I'm ready to get back to painting, but I HAVE been needing to do more with my altered books so this week has been good for me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ART me in the Garden.........Bluebirds are in the house

OK, so here's the deal.  This time of year, I can't help but be in the garden.  I'm sure my neighbors think I'm nuts- "did those plants really change in the two hours since she last looked at them?"  Probably not, but I just can't help myself- I LOVE flowers and vegetables and growing them.  And I catch myself wandering my garden over and over again each day this time of year, making sure that I haven't missed anything. 

Then there are my birds.....I haven't actually NAMED my them, but I feel like I know each one.  I can sit and watch Cardinals playing their courting chase for hours.  Listening to the various songs and try to guess who's singing what.  I do a mean imitation of a seven hoot, hoot owl....Boring?  Maybe to some, but for me, I LOVE it! 
Yesterday, I'd resigned myself to the fact that we probably weren't going to have a bluebird nest this spring because their house is right where we've been doing all the work on the dry creek and the raised beds....and I felt we'd hindered their nestbuilding efforts but, I decided to take a peek.  As with entering anyone's home, the proper etiquette for checking a bluebird house is to knock before opening the door.  So I knocked and there was no answer....I felt like this was confirmation that they had left, but still, I opened the door just to take a peek.  AND, I scared the CRAP out of Mama bluebird, who had evidently forgiven us enough to raise her babies with us again. 
YAY!!!  Last year was the first year we had a bluebird house and we were fortunate enough to watch three broods of blue birds being raised- we were REALLY lucky enough to see one fly out of the nest.....I have their house placed so we can see it from both the kitchen and dining room windows.  Like I said, I love watching them :) 
I also enjoy feeding my birds pretty much year round.  The feeders aren't as busy this time of year, but we do get some activity.  I was assured that bluebirds will not actively feed at feeders- suet or hanging ones because they can't land properly on them- no "swoop factor".  I guess, my bluebirds don't know how to read, because they LOVE my suet and visit it regularly all year.....
  Squirrel Repelling Suet Recipe
1 cup lard
1 cup yellow cornmeal
 3 cups rolled cereal oats
 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
 1 cup sugar 6 fresh habanero  (we grow them specifically for the suet)
 4 tbsp. powdered cayenne pepper
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup of dried fruit (my bluebird's fave is blueberries)
  1. Pulverize the fresh habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers in a blender or food processor. I wear safety glasses and plastic gloves for this step, I also try not to breathe too much......these peppers are STRONG! Set aside.
2.Put the lard and the peanut butter in a glass microwave-safe bowl, and melt them in the microwave. Stir the melted lard mixture very well.
3.Combine the cornmeal, sugar and powdered cayenne pepper in a large glass mixing bowl. Blend well.
4. Pour the lard mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix everything very well. Spoon in the pulverized peppers, nuts and berries. Add the rolled oats a cup at a time, and blend following each addition. The suet should become so thick that you won't be able to stir it. If it isn't quite thick enough, keep adding more rolled oats.
The squirrels will TRY to eat this, but eventually they will associate your suet with tummy aches and leave it alone.  Mine usually lasts two to three weeks with lots of woodpeckers, chickadees, finches and of course blue birds.  While it might get soft in the heat, it never melts.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekly Challenge at Inspiration Avenue- "I"

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it!  For the challenge at Inspiration Avenue this week, the theme was "I" or what makes you, YOU- what defines your artistic style and really says that YOU created this piece....
For me, my Joie de Vivre altered books really represent me.  The style I use creating them is a lot looser and freer than I can let myself be when doing my detailed flower paintings.  Don't get me wrong, I love doing both, but I feel that my altered books reveal a bit more of my personality.
So I finished a new Joie book with tags and new for me a removable bookmark. 

Have a great day, I'm off to arrange flowers.....