Alone Again, Naturally

I’m a little out of sorts this evening. Jessica and her husband, John came for dinner tonight. I wanted to have a nice “moving out” celebration for Brian. It’s a big move for him, and as excited as he is, it is equally hard for me. When you have your babies you don’t really think about the day they will leave, and they will, it’s the way it is, as it should be. When he came over tonight he was really tired, he and his roommates had their first gathering last night, so I’m pretty sure he didn’t sleep. Dan told me that Brian was going to spend the night here, that he was too tired to go to his new place. I didn’t say anything, but I was thrilled. In the end he went back to his place taking just a little piece of my heart with him. I’ll adjust, it will take time as it did when Jessica moved out. Your kids are your everything. It comes to a point when you don’t remember life without them, and then suddenly they are grown and moving out. Now begins the true rediscovery of self, still a mother, always a worrier, but now mothering and worrying from afar, and figuring out my place in the world once again. I think thanks to this blog/project I have a good head start.

I have a not quite finished project for tonight. I started working on old piece I had, a long narrow vanity mirror. I bought it several years ago at an antique store. It was painted red when I bought it, a dull flat paint, but I loved the floral detail at the ends. I’ve been meaning to do something with it for years. I painted it cream earlier today, and then I went back with a little distressing. Tomorrow I want to add a little antique glaze and silver leaf. As for the mirror, I discovered a process a few years ago in distressing mirror. Through a happy accident I ended up removing all of the mirror in one section. I added a photo from France behind it and loved how it looked. I wanted to do something similar here. I removed the mirrored surface in the center of this long rectangular mirror in an oval shape. It isn’t perfect, it wasn’t meant to be. I started out with another French photo but wasn’t achieving the look I wanted. I had some new photos that I took of the dried bridesmaid bouquets from Jessica’s wedding. Just what I needed. I printed the photo on vellum, I love the translucent quality of it. I wrapped the piece of cardboard under it in a piece of white paper. When you print on vellum and use white beneath the colors really pop. The flowers look like live flowers beneath the glass. A few finishing touches in the morning and it will be ready for etsy. I love it, but I can’t keep everything. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself!)2 9 14


The Death Of Imagination

A little bit of a somber post tonight, and for me out of the ordinary social commentary. Dan and I had a discussion this morning while walking, it was about imagination. The topic was inspired by my search for supplies provided by Mother Nature to add to my ever-growing ideas for the fairies I make. Not long ago I was asked by a friend how I get my ideas, and what inspires me. I touched on it a bit here in the blog. Then the other night a new friend asked why I make fairies, again I said that I’m not really sure. This morning as we walked along and I treasure hunted, I think I figured some of those answers out. I honestly don’t have any idea where much of what I do, or the inspiration for the projects come from except to say that they are from my imagination, and I believe that much of that comes from my childhood. We spent several years living next to the elevated train tracks in Chicago. Under the tracks there was nothing but empty space, weeds and occasionally trash.There was also an empty lot directly across the street. We played under those tracks and in that empty lot. We played house and pioneers amongst other things. We gathered sticks and rocks, and anything we “imagined” to be something else. We came home from school and played “school”. We read books voraciously, and added color to the black and white line drawings of coloring books. All of that activity spurred the growth of more imagination, and if you were like me and born with the drive to create it was fuel for the future. Several years ago my son commented that Dan and I must have been really bored growing up because we had no video games. I said, “We used our imagination.”  No there were no video games, no DVDs, and television was limited to the three major networks and a local channel. No one was telling us how to play, no one was putting the ideas in our heads. Violence on television wasn’t the realistic gore of today, unless of course we had on the evening news in which case we watched the war in Vietnam in our living rooms. There is so much trash filling our kids heads, so much “celebrity”, it isn’t reality. Sometimes I am shocked at how little class people show, how they debase themselves for their fifteen minutes of fame, it sends out the wrong message to everyone who watches it. My childish brain was full of scenarios of my own creation, and I didn’t have to grow up before I was ready. So much of what I do is born of the kind of childhood I had. Fairies? “The Fairy Who Didn’t Believe In Children” by Marjorie Barrows, a story I loved. I wonder how much time kids these days get to pretend to be something other than who they are, if they even know how. How much time is being spent with a good book in hand instead of an I Pad, or a video game controller? Who will write the next great fairy tale, the one that will last for generations?  We hear so much talk about what skills kids need to learn in school to be competitive in the future, I think maybe we need to add to the curriculum, a class titled “Imagination”, no books, no video, a room full of sticks and empty boxes, and inventiveness. Just imagine what could happen.

Last night I was juggling three projects. Tonight I’m down to one. I’ve put my suitcase box idea off for a day in order to cook something special for Dan for Superbowl Sunday. I focused on finishing the keyhole box, and I am again very pleased with my results. Instead of painting over the metal finish I added a scan of one of my vintage French postcards, and then on the other side I decoupaged a beautiful photo I took a few years ago. It is of a bouquet of dried roses and hydrangea. The photos are just beautiful and I’ve used them on several projects. One more vintage postcard, and the glue and burning metal technique for the back.

Just to make your mouths water “imagine” this: Korean Barbeque Short-rib Tacos, creamy homemade guacamole, a chipolte mayo coleslaw, and a lemon Sriracha aioli, and sesame seed, on small appetizer size corn tortillas. Amazing. Probably the best thing I’ve ever cooked. I think great cooks have a gift for inventiveness too.

A reminder of the front that I posted last night…IMG_5328

…The interior of the finished box.IMG_5343

A side viewIMG_5342

Just one more to add a picture to your imagination…my tacosIMG_5334

The Art Of Juggling


Today was one of those days where I barely functioned. I had less than four hours of sleep. I spent most of the day in a zombie like state only to find myself with a burst of energy at about eight p.m., that’s when I suddenly found myself wanting to start all kinds of projects.Tonight I am actually working on three projects at once. Playing a little catch up after a lost day yesterday. I have finished the tin box with my grandmother’s gypsy photo, but have realized as I photographed it tonight that I would like to add a piece of old chain that I have to hang it from. I posted a photo on the night before last of another cigar box project. I managed to glue the vintage keyhole in, but that left the interior of the lid a mess. The backside of the keyhole poking through my rough cut did not look good. I tried covering it with an additional piece of wallpaper but it was awful. I turned to my old standby, the burnt glue technique. I grabbed the back off an old pad of paper (which by the way I always save), as always terrific results. I will be making some additions to that lid tomorrow including a color change. I also have a small wooden box that served at one time as a child’s school box. There is still a name written on the outside corner. To me it looks like a small suitcase, and I believe that’s where I’m headed with it. I have pulled out a stack of vintage French postcards that I own to use on both pieces. I also made the addition of some small metal pieces on the corners of the cigar box. It gives the cover a nice finished look. As you can see I’ve put a lot on my artistic plate at the moment, juggling the three projects at once, but very happy and feeling inspired which is always a good thing. I am hoping after a good nights sleep to knock these out tomorrow.IMG_5324




The school boxIMG_5325

Possible idea???????



Under Lock And Key

Onto more of art of a different kind. As I near the final stretch of this three hundred sixty-five day project I haven’t used nearly enough of the supplies in my studio, which as I pointed out a few weeks ago was the inspiration for this project. I have several cigar boxes that I bought without having a project in mind. I also have quite a bit of hardware. Old drawer handles, knobs, light switch plates, etc. I seem to be on a roll with the lock and key designs. I have a fascination with vintage locks and keys. It makes me wonder if it has anything to do with that love of hiding as a kid, or the more likely cause, my horrific claustrophobia. I got locked in a bathroom when I was five, big old wooden door with old-fashioned key lock. It seemed like an eternity before my Uncle Johnny climbed through a second floor window to rescue me. I think it may have contributed to some control issues as well. I’m OK as long as I have the control, or the key. It’s funny how you can have these moments when you remember something in your life that takes you back, and you can realize as an adult how it contributed to the person you have become. I would consider myself a very introspective person, I like to analyze the who’s and why’s of myself and other people.

The cigar box I used today is wood, I managed through a lot of trial and error to cut a hole big enough to set a vintage keyhole into. Once I had managed to get the hole into the box I covered the front in some vintage wallpaper and added a little bit of copper leaf. The inside of the lid is a quandary for me at the moment, how to cover the hole in the inside of the lid but allow the keyhole to remain open. As for what else will occur with the box remains to be seen. I’m just not sure where I want to go with this one. As for last night’s project, my altered art piece, I have a piece I want to add to it that I can’t find at the moment, hopefully tomorrow. I’ll post photo of the finished project when I have it completed.1 30

Learning To Let Go Of What’s Right

Tonight an exercise in thinking outside the box. I am someone who has spent their entire life trying to do things the “right” way, for the most part I have been successful. I’ve touched on this subject once before, many, many blogs ago. That need to be right and do right interferes with my creative process. When you are a person who is compelled to follow the rules, creativity, which by nature has no rules, can be difficult. Obviously I have skills in traditional art, I can draw, I can paint, but what I can’t do is get past my own limitations on the “right” way. It is an issue that I struggle with on a continuing basis. Paintings that get ruined because I think they aren’t “right” or “perfect” enough, so I change something organic and beautiful into a muddied mess. I’ve completed only a few other altered art projects along the way in this blog, and tonight decided it was time to face my demons once again. I look at the altered art pieces of other artists and absolutely love them, in fact I think the more nonsensical the piece the more I love it. There’s a childlike freedom in altered art. I would define it as art before you were told what art was “supposed to be”. Composition is of course as always important, but other than that there is freedom of expression, sort of “everything including the kitchen sink” art. I have several photographs of my grandmother Florence, that I love. The one in this project is from a costume party when she was seventeen. The original is in sepia tones so I colorized it in Photo shop. An old tin box from some postcards (recycling once again!), a photo of the window that faced our apartment in Paris, a couple of my multitude of sky photos, and butterflies, lots of butterflies. I’m not finished, a day that found me with a bad headache once again, so the components are here, the pieces will come together in the morning. It’s coming along nicely, very different for me, and something I think I need to force myself to do more often to loosen me up a bit creatively speaking.1 29

Mission Accomplished!

Three days in and I’m finally finished with this project. As I said last night I will never be able to charge enough to cover the amount of time I’ve spent on this project, but I had a few mishaps along the way, as well as some areas where I rethought the way I was doing things. I’m pleased with the finished project. In all there are thirteen pages in this miniature accordion folded book. Each about the size of a business card. It has a velvet ribbon inside to keep the accordion in place, and the same ribbon to tie it shut. I’d really like to expand on this idea. The one I created for Dan has photos of us, and more personal notes and quotes. As I thought about the piece today I thought it would make the perfect vehicle for a romantic proposal. I may offer them with blank pages for personalization, places for photos, song lyrics, anything that someone might want to add to make it a really special gift.

I admittedly have still not really bitten the bullet and put any of my art up for sale. Dan and I talked about my artistic insecurities again this morning. I really don’t understand what’s fueling these feelings at this point. I’ve produced a lot of work I love including what I did tonight, but I can’t seem to shake the insecurity. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a good cook, actually a really good one. Last night we had dinner at the winery. My food was good, not great, but considering how fussy I can be it was really good. I got up this morning determined to recreate last nights meal, only better. I didn’t hesitate, it never once occurred to me that I couldn’t do it, I recreated that dish and it was better. I am completely fearless in the kitchen. I want that fearlessness when I pick up a brush as well as a spatula. I’m going to put at least five pieces up tomorrow. I need to force myself to get over the hump. I know that as I move forward there will be judgement and rejection, it’s part of the game. I just need to find that belief in myself so that what anyone else thinks won’t matter so much.1 26 (2)

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Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

I was definitely over optimistic about this door project. It is taking me much longer than anticipated, and will most like turn into a four-day project. I’m really enjoying the process, but it is definitely time-consuming. I applied two coats of gesso to the fabric, but the texture is definitely rougher than using a canvas that has been factory prepared. I’m using some Folk Art floating medium which is certainly helping.  I started with only Titanium White and Yellow Ochre on my palette, initially thinking that I wanted to work in only two colors, but I wasn’t achieving the depth I was looking for. I added some Folk Art Metallic Taupe to the mix and it was perfect. I didn’t really have a particular design in mind when I started, sort of the “flying by the seat of my pants” work I enjoy. Here’s my problem now, it’s a problem I often encounter, I’m falling in love with this piece. I have a very intimate relationship with much of the work I produce. I’ve denied my artistic soul for so long that I often fall head over heels for the piece of the moment. The thought of selling my work is something I have yet to come to terms with. I’ve been selling things for years of course, but mostly the kind of craft stuff that I just don’t care that much about. I sold my first painting at fifteen, and not much since then, but I can’t keep everything. I would also like to earn a living at this, I can’t do that if I can’t let go. Many years ago in response to my Dad giving my work away, I began to give my work to my boyfriend. Then we broke up. It meant I broke up with my paintings as well. I heard through the grapevine that his apartment was robbed, and to add insult to injury the thief or thieves put a knife through one of his paintings, my painting. I was heartsick. I really do put so much of myself in my work, even the craft stuff that I claim to not care about. The thought of selling my work and never seeing it again kills me. (Do you think I could arrange for visitation?) I know I will have photographs to look at, but it just isn’t the same. I’ve agonized over it here in this blog before, I still haven’t bitten the bullet, but I will. I took the first step by opening a Facebook page to begin showing the work. I’m hoping to start listing prints on etsy soon. As for original pieces (I think I just felt my heart drop) those are next. Someone will break my heart and take my babies away. This is assuming anyone wants to buy them.  Maybe I’ll just be happily ensconced in my piles of work by the time I hit my seventy-fifth birthday. I’ll leave all my work to my kids. (They had better like it, it’s all they’ll be getting)

The door, day two…IMG_3844



Beginning The Countdown

As I contemplated what to do tonight the old 99 Bottles of Beer began to sing in my brain. You know, 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer…except my version has something to do with 90 more projects to do. I’d write out the whole thing but:

A. You really don’t want to read it

B. It makes no sense at all.

Anyway, I’m feeling a little pressured these days. The three hundred sixty-five day project is three-quarters of the way through. As much as I have accomplished, and it is a lot, my studio is nowhere near cleaned out, which was in the beginning the idea behind cleaning out my “artistic refrigerator”. I still have multitudes of supplies, and worse yet I bought more! I also feel like I didn’t get to enough drawing, or oil painting in the last nine months. Both are things I’d like to spend a little more time on, but there is also the random supply crap. You know, the bits a pieces that one might pick up along the way and say, “Don’t throw that out, I can make something with that.” I have lots of that stuff. The unfortunate thing is that with my random stuff it tends to be on the larger side, like Theresa’s kitchen cabinet doors. Remember those from a few months ago? I took a stack, did a few projects, had a lot of great ideas, and never followed through. I have decided I need a list of what I hope to accomplish in these last three months. I’m going to work on the list tomorrow…what’s the line from the other song? “I love you tomorrow, you’re always a day away…(I think the blood may have pooled in my brain from the two hours I spent in the dentist’s chair today)

Tonight I decided to grab one of those cabinet doors and do something with it. One of my favorite pieces of the last few months was the reproduction of a business card I did for my husband. It was from the restaurant in Paris where we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. The piece now hangs in our kitchen. I took a larger cabinet door, some drop cloth fabric, glue, and gesso, to turn the door surface into something I can paint on. I prefer turning the door over where the trim is a flat panel. I glued the drop cloth down, not cut perfectly, but I plan on trimming it out anyway, and right now I am waiting for the first coat of gesso to dry. At this moment I’m not even sure what I will be painting on it, but I have drying time to brainstorm…Brainstorm is over. Valentine’s Day ahead, I’ve got an idea. A heart, not a cheesy red Valentine, but a tone on tone, thinking sepia, in the center, a lovely quote, again tone on tone, and random crap to be added to frame. Unfortunately the gesso isn’t dry, and it still needs another coat. Looks like a two-day project. While we wait for that to dry (Because aren’t we all waiting for me to be finished?), I have another project. Years ago I picked up a vintage souvenir box from Mount Vernon at an antique store. The box was trashed on the inside. I redid the inside with some beautiful moss-green velvet. Tonight I replaced the top with one of my photos from Paris (note to Dan…Dear Dan, I must return to Paris, running out of photos to use, must return to replenish my supply…) The top had some flaking on the inside of the glass frame that I chose to keep, I like the patina of it.  I think it came out really nice. Definitely one for etsy. Tomorrow I will return to my cabinet door. I hope to add an additional coat of gesso before bed tonight.

Before photos…


IMG_9734After photos…





Orphans Of Another Kind

Last night I brought out one of the “orphans”, my half done works of art. There are however other “children” lurking in the corners of the studio. I have mentioned that I’m a little A.D.D. in the art department. I start many other projects that I am completely interested in at the moment, but then my attention gets drawn to a different project and I forget all about the first one. Many of these orphans happen to be furniture pieces. Always with the idea of resale in mind. I have more of these projects than I care to say. Pieces that fill my garage and even my garden in hopes of one day finding a new home. I have chosen to adopt one of them as my project for today, and possibly tomorrow. It’s an old drop leaf table I bought a few years ago. One of the reasons I haven’t finished it as of yet is that I kept changing my mind on how I wanted to paint it. I have finally decided to paint it like an old hand painted Victorian plate. I have a small collection of these beautiful antique plates, some of them are exquisite. One of my favorites has both Violets and Hydrangea on it, which just happen to be amongst my favorite flowers. I thought if the top were down it would be a beautiful piece of art on its own. I still have some work to complete on it, but I think I’ve finally hit on what I want to do. The base of the table is still painted from another incarnation, but the top is well on its way to where I want it to be. I want to get it finished tomorrow. There are way too many unfinished art projects cluttering up my house and my head. New year, time to clean up the clutter, and more importantly time to make some money.IMG_3565



Taking Things A Step Further

Feeling so much better today. My feet are beginning to forgive me, and my knees are almost back to their daily pain instead of the almost intolerable aches of yesterday. Have I mentioned that they creak? If you’ve ever seen the old Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella television production starring Lesley Anne Warren you will understand. One of the ugly step sisters (as if it weren’t bad enough that she was ugly) had creaking knees that made noise, that’s me. My days of sneaking up on people are over, I sound as though I click castanets when I climb the stairs. Most days its just part of my life, some days are like yesterday when I start picking out which Rascal I want to drive. I’ve become accustomed to the pain. My doctor tore her A.C.L. a few years ago. When she saw me she said I was the first person she thought of, and then she told me she sold her two-story house and bought a ranch style home because she now had a bad knee. I called her a wimp. I probably go up and down our stairs a minimum of a dozen times a day. I’m stubborn, I refuse to give up.

Today was a day that I was up and down more than twenty times while working on my project. I am so happy with the results of the glue and burning technique that I am anxious to see where it can go next. I went into the studio to see what I had to play with. I had purchased a couple of four-dollar mirrors from Ikea. They are unfinished wood and a terrific surface for painting or decoupage. Originally I had planned to just burn the glue right on there, but then I remembered that I had some Anaglypta wallpaper. It is wallpaper that is embossed. (Created by Thomas Palmer and introduced in 1887. Thank you for the history lesson!) I’ve used it for covering hat boxes before. I have a couple of rolls from my Dad, one of the advantages of being the artistic daughter of a house painter is that there is some pretty cool stuff lying around. One of the rolls has a Fleur-de-lis pattern on it. I glued it to the surface of the wood frame and then added another coat of glue on top. Then I burnt it. Very cool, looks like tin ceiling tile. I added my usual metallic paint treatment to it. I loved how it looked but it seemed ordinary to me. Up the stairs again. I have a box of metal odds and ends. Old drawer handles, door plates, keys, springs, etc…thanks again Dad. I figured there had to be something I could add. I toyed with the idea of adding something to hang stuff on, like necklaces, but it seemed impractical. One of the drawer handles stood out so I glued it to the top. Still not enough. Back up to see what else was there. I dumped the box out. At the bottom was a piece from a very old candelabra that sits in my room. It had fallen over and a piece broke off. I saved it because I save everything. That’s when I decided to add it to the front of the mirror to turn it into a mirrored sconce. The addition of two other vintage drawer handle pieces to brace the candle cup were a great addition. It isn’t fully completed. I may or may not add some paint to the metal pieces, and I have some soldering to do tomorrow, but it looks so amazing I hot glued the pieces enough to put it together for a photo tonight.1 3 14 (2)


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