Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Artfest Bound

Just popped in for a hasty virtual hug before I twirl my scarf around my neck and head off to Artfest. This is my 4th year at Artfest; my second year of teaching there. How I love the solitary drive up I-5 with my big notebook at my side, writing down an occasional idea as the scenery passes by. I do some of my best thinking in the car. And I'm so excited about Artfest; every year I think it cannot possibly be better than the previous year and every year it gets better. It is a gathering of open hearts and sharing.

These were in the camera so I'll share them. Peppers in the foreground and tomatoes in the rear. Husky little brutes and swarthy too; growing so fast they'll need re potting soon.

Tomatillos for the green salsa and mole. It does a heart good to see growing things. Notice how the patient gardener (John) has supported each sprout with a twist tie. He is the best plant mother in the world.

Talk amongst yourselves. I'll see you in about a week. xoxoxo

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gaining Momentum

Few things give me more pleasure than making a new journal. I still have a few pages to go in my present journal but just checking on my paper supply, pulling out the creamy, lovely paper, counting the sheets, determining that I have everything needed is enough to pull me into the delicious process. It's funny how often this has happened to me. Always when I am supposed to be doing other things is when the journal-making inspiration strikes. And every time I cannot resist the siren song. I have to make it NOW.

So I tear the paper for four signatures. It's going to be a pretty thick book. Mmmm, I like that.

I choose an image for the cover and then for the endpapers (above) and back paper. I paint a strip of canvas for the spine. I look at it this way and that way and tell myself it's going to be wonderful. I write a secret prayer inside the canvas of the spine. Life takes a good, firm spine.

I lay out the parts and smile. It feels right. Colors I have never used before. I am not a fan of purple but this soft twilight shade feels right. I use a color copy for the front, just because I've never done that before and I want to see how it wears. The back is a painted piece of textured wallpaper. I use matboard instead of bookboards; two pieces for each cover glued face to face. Also an experiment. In the past I've used wooden boards, acrylic sheets, Davey board and canvas board. It's all good.

I use some beads that were a trade 3 years ago at Artfest. Artfest! Yeeks, only a few days away and I'm very excited. With a zillion things to do I'm making a new journal instead. Yes, this is how I work; lots of sideways movement.

I find some alphabet beads and use them on the spine of the book. The "P" is for John's last name which I use when I feel especially wifey.

This shows the textured back cover. You could get a similar texture with crumpled up tissue paper I think. It's all ready for me now. I can't wait to get in there and make my mark!!

Yesterday I found a special gift in my mailbox from the very thoughtful Pilar Pollock. She works circles around most of us, participating in swaps, keeping up with her blog, etsy store, selling prints at Imagekind and also keeping her store stocked at Zazzle.

She said she used her "spider wisdom" to choose the color and how perfect it is. So if you want to see some great mixed media work, stroll over to one of her sites and look around. The work there is wonderful. And thank you again, Pilar.

Whew, I'm tired now. Time for chocolate. Hope your day held some special moments and I'll see you later this week. xo

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dreams of Italy

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

~ William Stafford ~

The thread that has been consistent in my life has been art. Through every upturn and downturn, art has been there to nourish and guide me. It has taken me safely through every danger and provided me with all I've ever needed. Over the years I've learned that by feeding the things that sustain me, life keeps getting better.

That's why I take classes, reach out to new experiences and travel. I know what lifts me higher. This afternoon my grandson phoned asking for help in attending a conference in L. A. in a field he is interested in. And of course I will help him participate. I want him to learn early that it's experience that makes a life - not things.

He is a nerdy boy. Big brain. Boy brain. His interests are a great mystery to me. But I told him this, "When you find your passion and feed that passion, you will fly." It's my mantra.

I've started dreaming about the class I'll be teaching in Italy in September. Katie will be there with her students at the same time, an added bonus. John is coming too and promises to be a lively addition to our group of seekers. We have a big party planned and you are invited!

My Daphne has put on the biggest show ever this spring. Clouds of fragrance waft into the studio every time I open the door. If you want roses, you have to plant rosebushes.

I'm taking my acrylics and all my sketching, journaling and mixed media tools with me to Italy. I'm going to paint and paste and draw and collect and record make beauty with my friends and eat gelato every day.

John will have a birthday while we are there so I have to plan a special party for him on that day. But I expect the entire week to be a party.

Six months away from travel I always have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming or not. There is a wonderful attraction to just opening that door to adventure and possibility and finding out what's on the other side.

I'll need to bring lots of raw sienna, yellow ochre and plaster. Mmmmmm, these are some of the things that make my heart smile.

Wine tastings, cooking classes, making art, visiting with other people who love art like I do and making memories together - that's what's on my mind today.

Here's where Orvieto is located, just a train ride north of Rome.

This September. Think of it. Slow food. Luscious, golden Italian autumn. A very small group of like minded friends. Daily art making in the most splendid city imaginable. You're invited.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

IEA Meeting

Last night our local IEA Group (International Encaustic Artists) met at the home of Linda Womack. We had 10 members in attendance, food and libations and another informative meeting. There was a time for sharing projects and then we repaired to Linda's studio for a chance to try out some of the new tools she's been collecting for a class she teaches on encaustic tools.

Members Andrea and Shannon. The work of other members in our group can be seen at the website by scrolling down.

Here is Karl Kaiser trying out a tool that is a woodburning tool attached to a rheostat to control the heat. On the tip of the tool is a metal calligraphy pen tip made especially for wax and available from Enkaustikos. We all got to experiment with the various tools.

This tip is a variation on the tjanting tool. It heats to a controlled setting and the metal tip pokes through the end of the tool, plugging the wax until gentle pressure lifts the plug and releases the wax. This allows you to write or draw on the surface of the wax without fusing afterward.

Linda has several new torch tips that attach by a hose to a large cannister of propane. The tip in the photo above allows her to fuse large areas with the fan shaped flame. She's pretty excited about it! (Natasia Chan in the background.)

Linda demos the mondo flame-o. A good tool for speeding up fusing time on large paintings.

The loops above are the tools that I came home and purchased this morning. They are to be found here on the web and cut through the wax without leaving a burr, saving time and making a cleaner line in the wax.

Next month we are each bringing in paintings of a dessert in wax. I love to paint food, especially pink and yellow food so I'm uber-excited about this assignment. I just can't decide between pink ice cream or lemon meringue pie . . . oh, the yumminess of a waxy pie. So when I get ready to do that painting I'll photograph each step for you.

BTW, my friend Liz phoned yesterday and gave me some exciting news about a wonderful secret that is happening at the Be Present retreat on the Oregon coast in June. I can't let the cat out of the bag yet but for you who have signed up - big doin's. Shhhhh.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Poco a Poco

These are John's peppers, sprouting lustily in the garage under the grow lights. He plants 5 seeds in each little grow cup; after the seeds have germinated he carefully scissors out 4 of the lesser sprouts leaving one to go on to maturity.

This has always seemed a cruel waste to my way of seeing the world. In my garden all the seedlings grow skitter-skatter, choking each other in their exuberance and allowing none to reach optimum strength.

This is what I've been thinking today as I look at my schedule, my interests, my studio, my life. There is a dense jungle as I've let everything in at once. My little garden overfloweth.

I am not to the solution stage yet. I am not a good pruner, I simply want all the cookies. I wish I could sit down with you, one by one, and talk this over. How do you keep your life manageable? How do you have enough studio time? How do you choose when you love it all, every art medium, every opportunity; when you are a big glutton of life? I have no sense of moderation.

Today I tore apart the sick bed, put all the medicines away and declared myself over the illness. I walked in the sun, shot photos in the garden and smelled the glorious Daphne. I returned to the studio and painted the girl with the life that needs pruning.

No more sickness, please, no more of that. My ribs and diaphragm hurt from coughing so much.

I have plans; making beautiful packets for Artfest, getting out into my garden and weeding, welcoming my roses and tulips and irises. I want spring and the warm sun and the smell of the earth.

I want to write some of the lousy poetry I love writing so much; to celebrate my days in paint and words, to re-connect with my friends and exercise my body and see a movie and not cough.

I've had reports of illness from friends that shake me and make me sad. And also make me want to breathe my life deeply while I can and to have the deepest experience of all that I love that is possible. I want to inspire others and in doing that, inspire myself.

I think it comes down to the fact that we never get it "right" but that we're always trying. Veering from too much to too little and then back again as we seek that elusive balance. It's a daily practice - a course marked by corrections and reassessment.

Anyway, I'm mostly back now and hope you are making progress in your personal queen-doms. And kingdoms. If you were here I'd take you out and buy you an ice cream cone and we'd sit in the sun by a tub of daffodils and just smile at each other without saying a word. Just because life can be a sweet thing. Ciao.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Adios San Miguelito

Well the good thing about being this sick right now is that it means I'll be well in time for Artfest, right? *snort ... hack* My head is like the swamp thing.

These are the last of the vacation photos. It's time to turn over a new page.

This is a shot of a corner of the living room of my friends' home on Quebrada Street. The coral paint on the right hand wall is more plaster painting done with dry pigments and lime on dry plaster. The ochre brushwork is actually gold; very luscious up close.

Me and Guy admiring a giant blue agave on our friend's hacienda.

Roses were inexpensive and available all over town. I heard they grow them in Peru.

Strange seed pods in a vase.

I admired this painting at Patsy's Place. Whoa!

And on the day we went to Pozos we had lunch at the Posada de las Minas. David Winslow took us on a tour of all the beautiful rooms there. I remember Katie telling me that she took a workshop here from Michael de Meng a couple of years ago. It is a gorgeous place; very quiet and well designed.

Nopales salad. Those cactus paddles again.

Now we're at the home of Thom, a collector of things strange and wonderful. He's the guy with the Memory Jugs. This is his collection of monkeys. I have no idea what they are or what they stand for but I like them. Everywhere I turned in his house there were collections.

And OMG, the library. Books I didn't know existed; rare books, limited editions and many handmade. He also had a table of models he'd made in wax that will be cast in bronze and as well he had Sculpey dolls he'd made. He's worked in ceramic too.

This is the cathedral at night. Gabriella told us that the architect based his design on Gaudi's work and I think you can see the resemblance.

Homeward bound. Tired but contented. Ready for the next adventure. Little did I know there was a bug lurking on that airplane, ready to jump my bones and flatten me.

Here's to health. xo