Happy New Year!

Best Wishes to all, and may everyone have a good and prosperous year! Let’s hope that goes for us as well. 2013 has been a tough one, not sorry to see it end. Of course there were blessings, too many to mention, but this year there were many obstacles to overcome. The best thing I can say about this past year is that Dan and I weathered it together, and despite all of our troubles, we have never been stronger. That’s pretty good. Time to change our own luck. This will be our year. That is my final resolution to post on this blog. There are those private ones that I made mention of last night, so there is a rather long laundry list ahead. I can do it, we can do it.

For tonight a very simple project, a romantic dinner for two. Two years ago for Christmas, Dan bought me “Menus for Chez Panisse”, by Patricia Curtan. It is a lovely book filled with marvelous menus in both the food listed and the menu design. Right up my alley! I was so inspired that I had intended to make menus for every special occasion and the meal that accompanied it. Of course…best intentions. Although I have made a few. One for tonight, a really quick one because I spent much of the day on the phone, logistical planning for my Dad and his dinner this evening. I’m going to throw in a few old menus just so you get the idea, and possibly some food pics. I haven’t done that in a while, but it really is just another form of art for me.Dinner Invitation

A Summer dinner party#1

Our October Fest oktober fest menu

The October Fest Menu2013 Menu

Tonight’s menuIMG_3449Blue Cheese, Date and Bacon Tart-lets with Blue Cheese Stuffed Date, Bacon wrap and Blue Cheese Sauce…IMG_3450Avocado and Arugula with 20 year aged BalsamicIMG_3478And finally our entrée. Smokey spiced rubbed Filet, with Chimichurri Sauce, Lobster Tail and Roasted Red Potato with Garlic Aioli

Dessert will be in a while, crepes with coffee ice cream and cookie crumble. Happy New Year everyone!

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The List Grows

Oh no, I’ve thought of another resolution. I need 2014 to get here quickly before I think of any more. I, like so many people, swear I don’t make resolutions, but I do make them, just not publicly, at least not before now. It’s a little game I think we play with ourselves, promises for bettering ourselves in the new year, quickly forgotten, or in most cases falling under the, “I’ll start it Monday” heading. I do have a few that I am keeping to myself, but I have one more to add to my list of “artistic resolutions”. I still have far too many half done projects that I had prior to this project, and in the last eight months since I started this I have begun a number of things that are not finished. Resolution number four: I must finish what I start. I began this resolution a little early. Last night I posted photos of a cigar box that I started. I finished it today. However, I have a little dilemma, it’s one I’m sure most artists and crafts people run into, how to price my work. I started this box last night, and spent quite a bit of time on it today. If I charged for my time the box would have to sell for a large sum of money. Too much for a paper cigar box no matter how good I think it looks. It isn’t that I don’t value my work. Funny, I just typed that and thought to myself, “You don’t value your work.” I constantly under price things. It is a discussion that Dan and I have had several times. I ask his advice on pricing, and then I immediately shoot it down. Always claiming that I wouldn’t pay that much. It really needs to stop. I need to look at my new-found confidence and ask what my work is worth. I would guess that this means resolution number five. (I really need to get through the next forty-eight hours without thinking too much.)

I finished with the gluing and burning of the box. In the process the lid was becoming loose. It was an easy enough fix. I made paper bag hinges, one set on the outside, one on the inside, and then I simply glued and burnt those. Embellishing was next. I looked on-line and found a Shakespeare quote about love:

Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs,

Being purged, a fire sparkling in lover’s eyes,

Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers’ tears.

What is it else?

A madness most discreet,

A choking gall and preserving sweet.

I printed it on a piece of vellum, burnt the edges and decoupaged it to the top of the box, added a metal heart piece that I had, and the addition of a hinge and small padlock completed the outside. Inside a decoupaged vintage botanical photo, and a copy of a French postcard I own, again with burnt edges. It looks really old, and really does look like metal. A finished project, let the new year begin!IMG_3413The original box

IMG_3422Last night’s beginningIMG_3427The finished boxIMG_3431IMG_3432

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It Might Be An Obsession

I know, I know, what happened to resolution number three? Getting my post done early? It’s only December 29th. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.) Back to my mad scientific experiments once again. I was at Michael’s Crafts yesterday and saw unfinished wooden frames for a dollar. Intended for Valentine craft projects they have a cut out of a heart. Not that I in any way needed another project or more supplies, but I was curious about what I could do with them. I figured at the very least I would do something with them and put them up for sale on etsy. Time to play in the studio. I painted the first one white and then added some dimensional paint on top of some stencils, when the dimensional paint dried I painted that white as well. Then added a little antiquing mixture for patina, and finally a quote about love. Nice enough, but not where I was hoping to go. I decided to try the burnt glue technique. I figured if it works on paper, why not unfinished wood? It works beautifully. However, unlike the paper/glue burning technique, the unfinished wood needs to sit for a half hour or so to cure. When it was completely dry I dry rubbed in some antique bronze and pewter acrylic paint. Amazing! I made the addition of a vintage key and vintage door plate and I love it! You know it couldn’t end there. I started thinking about other things that might be possible candidates for this technique. The cat? Too much cat hair, although I did see that crafting with cat hair book at the store… Searched the studio and found an empty cigar box. So cool. I’m obviously a little obsessed. I won’t have time to finish the cigar box tonight, but it is well on its way. I have a few ideas for additions to the top, but those will have to wait until tomorrow, meanwhile I’ll be thinking about what I can cover next. A wooden chair?????????? It may be time for an intervention.IMG_3420

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Going Old School

New Year resolution number three: Post blog earlier. I have promised this on a number of occasions, but it just never seems to happen. I let too many other things to get in the way. Today I took care of some very important things, but then I made time, daylight time, for art. The result? Probably one of the best things I’ve done in a while, and I did it “old school”. By that I mean in a continuation of the last few days of painting without thinking too much about it, or obsessing over whether what I am doing is “wrong” or “right”, I just painted. Think of it like a small child. Children have no in-habitations. No one has told them yet that they have to be deadly serious all the time, or not find joy in the silly things. I was like that when I began to paint all those years ago. Without someone to tell me I was wrong, I painted for the sheer joy of it. It was only when I did try to take art in college that I was told I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s why I switched majors. I lost the freedom of expression that came in those early days. I became hung up on the rights and wrongs, the lack of art lessons, and in general my self-esteem, which while not great in everyday life, was stellar compared to my artistic self-confidence. I am three-quarters of the way through this year-long project, and it is without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I am feeling confident in my work, and have lost the chip that occupied my shoulder for far too long. Today I truly went old school. I sat on the floor and painted. It’s how I began painting, sitting on an attic floor in our Chicago Bungalow, not enough light streaming through the window, but it was my space to paint, and that made me happy. I have two standing easels. One is large and heavy, Dan bought it for me at an antique store years ago. It was downstairs in our home, and I didn’t want Dan to go to the trouble of  bringing it up. The other broke earlier today. It fell over several times yesterday. I kept knocking it over as I cleaned. This afternoon I grabbed my palette, paints, brushes and water (I was painting in acrylic), and sat on the floor, my canvas leaning against a bookcase. I turned on my music and painted just as I did when I was a teen. Two and a half hours flew by. I was happy and content. I think it shows in the work. The painting is of a tree I have often admired when down at the shore in La Jolla. I was there one evening as the sun was setting and snapped a few photos. I’ve often thought of painting one of the photos. I love the color, and hope I have done it justice.12 28

 

Let The Resolutions Begin

It’s that time of year again, New Year’s resolution time. It’s also the time of year when stores everywhere have everything needed for organization on sale. The stacking boxes and baskets called to me from the morning paper, promising a better life through tidiness. (I feel like tidiness is a goal that is achievable for me, unlike the empty promise that my purchase of a treadmill would be) It was enough to spur me into finishing the mess I created in my studio weeks ago. It took me more than a couple of hours to clean and organize, but now the illusion is complete. My life will be better because everything is in its place, right? That’s the plan anyway. I promised myself, and by that I guess I’m making my first resolution, that I will move forward and really put effort into getting my work out there. There is unfortunately the aftermath of cleaning the studio to deal with. There are more than a few piles of “to go through” stuff sitting in our loft. It means a little more cleaning and organizing in the morning, but once it’s done there will be no excuse to not get down to work. I think its time for the kids to leave my nest and live with someone else. Yes, it’s time to start to sell some work. In the last several weeks there have been days when I’ve just thrown something together for this blog due to my heavy crafting schedule. I’m looking forward to getting back to doing the larger pieces I haven’t had the time for. The work I want to sell.

In case anyone is wondering, the portrait of Dorian Gray…I mean Jessica, is still in the dining room. Jessica asked me the other day if the portrait was aging. I told her that it was creepy, it’s getting younger. (If you are new to my blog, Jessica’s portrait has a long back story. Short version: First ever full size portrait. Started it months ago, chickened out, haven’t finished it. I will, I swear I will..oops, resolution number two)

I tried something a little different tonight. I did a small watercolor using only three colors. I’m really pleased with the results. To be honest I was exhausted from cleaning and wanted to do something simple. It is yet another piece of work where I didn’t plan ahead and just let things happen. I feel like it’s working for me.12 27

Heeding My Own Advice

I’m longing for Spring. Not for the reason you might think. While much of the Country suffers the Winter cold and ice, we are enjoying beautiful weather. It was 79 here in Temecula today. What I need is for the clock to change back. Daylight Savings I need you! In the short amount of time since the clock switched back my body has refused to cooperate. I cannot seem to sleep past five these days, that in spite of how late I go to bed. Christmas Eve that meant bed near one in the morning, and rising at five. It affects my ability to function, with my art as well as pretty much everywhere else in my life. I began three entirely different projects today and couldn’t get my mojo together enough for any  of them. That’s when I thought about what I wrote the other day. I decided to take brush in hand and see where it went. It went in the direction of what I long for, longer days and spring flowers. 12 26

Merry Christmas

What was I thinking? I said last night that I would possibly make some art for myself today. I think not. Not after all of the cooking, and the cleanup. A few weeks ago I filled a special request for a personalized ornament. I couldn’t post a photo of it because it was meant to be a surprise. So while I technically didn’t create art today (or did I? Pork Roast, gravy, spinach and garlic bread pudding, homemade chunky applesauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, chicken and spinach lasagna, and a Frango Mint Cheesecake, all of which was made today…) I am going to use my special order as my project for this evening. Long day on my feet. I’m tired, off for some sweet dreams. Merry Christmas to all! 12 25 1

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Straight Out Of Dickens

Merry Christmas Eve to all. Quite some time ago I posted about my orphaned paintings, work I started but never finished in fear of being judged. I pledged at the time to rescue some of the orphans and see them through to completion, I did a few, but then I moved on to other things. Today I have rescued an orphan. Consider it to be straight out of Dickens, a rescued orphan. You may also consider it my ghost of Christmas Past. My son is now twenty-three years old. The painting is of him…at eight or nine. It’s obviously been awhile. One could almost hear the cries from my studio, “Please Ma’am, won’t you finish me?” I have made a gift for everyone in my family this holiday season except for Dan. I had something particular in mind for him, but alas time hasn’t allowed me to do what I wanted. This painting was also for Dan. He has been waiting for many, many years to see it finished. Well, Merry Christmas Honey, it’s done. For Christmas Present, I’ll try to knock off something tomorrow, maybe something for myself. Christmas Future? I have been writing about moving ahead with my work. Getting ready to present my stuff to the world. I’ve been writing about it, but I haven’t been doing it. I had a doctor appointment this morning for the mysterious pain in my side. (I’m not dying or anything, graceful girl that I am it seems that in my efforts to stay healthy, when I walk I am not doing it right. I am pulling muscles in my thigh or something…only me. The doctor asked if I stretch before I walk. My reply? “Why would I do anything the right way?”) Back to the future…I began a conversation with a lovely woman who works for the doctor. She likes art, she has a friend who opened a gallery in nearby Escondido. As if it were meant to be.  Just last night when Dan and I walked I spoke of trying to sell my art…do you think maybe someone is trying to tell me something? I need to get there, I need to get somewhere. It’s time, and there’s no time like the present, and wouldn’t be wonderful to think about the future and feel cheery and bright.

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Letting The Canvas Speak

Sorry fellow pyromaniacs, no burnt paper or cardboard tonight. I had an overwhelming urge to paint this afternoon. This was more difficult than you might imagine due to the fact that my studio looks as though Blick (Art Supplies) has imploded. I decided last week to completely reorganize my space, and why wouldn’t I with Christmas right around the corner? It’s not enough that crafting had put me behind in my normal Christmas cleaning, Christmas decorating, Christmas shopping, essentially everything. I went upstairs today to work and there wasn’t an empty spot to be had, well except for one, and that was the floor. Not that the floor isn’t covered too, but a little bit of pushing piles around with my foot did the trick. I grabbed a few brushes, a canvas, some acrylics, and sat on the floor in the midst of my disaster. I really had no idea what I wanted to paint. I started filling the canvas with paint, layering thickly with a brush. I hated it. I had a full size scraper within reach so off with the paint. Still no idea where things were going I tried again, scraped again, painted again, scraped again, and then something began to reveal itself. A reflection of color from above and below were left on the canvas, really beautiful, but I just couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I started adding paint, and I absolutely ruined it, scraped yet again. Meanwhile silently berating myself for not stopping, for not having enough confidence to know when to quit. Instead of the brush I grabbed a small palette knife and began to pick up some of my discarded paint, and again something began to reveal itself. I noticed in my box of paints a bright, deep pink, I dipped my knife in and smeared a little of it across the top of the canvas, and then I knew where the canvas wanted to go. Quite often when I go outside in the early morning, or at dusk here in Temecula there is a rich pink hue in the sky. It’s incredibly beautiful. I began to see my painting take shape. Mount San Jacinto Evening was born. Its been a really long time since I took the time to let the brush and canvas speak to one another. Sometimes I’m just trying too hard. Too often I concentrate on thinking that I don’t know what I’m doing.  Tonight I didn’t think, I painted, something I need to do more often.

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Addicted

I always say I don’t have an addictive personality. I’ve thankfully never smoked, have a take it or leave it attitude about drinking, and…well OK, there is chocolate, but I don’t consider that an addiction, I consider it a necessity. Oh, and there’s coffee, and my secret unhealthy relationship with Double Bubble. What did I say about not having an addictive personality? Never mind, because I am addicted. To what? To the paper, glue and candle crafting I did last night. Today I decided to go for it again. I saw a photo on Pinterest again, this time it is the sign that hangs in front of The Writer’s Museum in Scotland. I loved it, showed it to Dan and he loved it, so that became my project for tonight. This time recycler that I am, I decided to try using a box that a book was delivered in. I had visions of never throwing away another box and making great art in the process, you know a one woman show, “The Box Lady”…  Not so fast. The box was corrugated. It did not cooperate, it did not want to be cut out with an exacto knife. Thankfully the piece wasn’t as intricate as last night, but still by the time I had finished cutting it out my wrist was throbbing. (Thank you 18 years at the grocery store for giving me carpal tunnel) It did take the glue and burning technique OK, but not quite as nice as last night’s board. Color is another issue. It took the metallic hue, but I am not satisfied with the result. I decided to rest my hand and go back to it tomorrow with some light bronzes and gold acrylics that I have. So here you have it. I’m good on about three-quarters of it, but I also am not crazy about the size. I want to go bigger and bolder with it. I have to admit I’m pretty excited by this stuff, and I don’t get enthusiastic about anything…except maybe chocolate.IMG_3266The original box top drawing

IMG_3270The excruciating cutout

IMG_3283The not quite where I want it so it’s not quite finished piece.