Saturday, February 27, 2010

Published in Somerset Studio

I had read in the email newsletter a week or two ago from my LSS (local stamp store) The Queen's Ink that owner Patti Euler had in the latest issue of Somerset Studio. Normally, I would have run over that day. It's only about eight miles, and I used to have to drive 80 miles roundtrip to get any decent magazines back in Indiana.

But, I've had a viscious case of the winter blahs, and so I didn't go. Until today. Imagine my surprise when the magazine fell open on the way home to a page with a piece of art I recognized well!

Seeing my "Alice" piece, above, was even more of a surprise because I had been expecting Somerset and Stampington to come out with their planned Alice in Wonderland issue. Hearing nothing, I had just sent an email the day before asking what had come of it. It also was a complete surprise to see because normally the magazine sends a postcard and/or a free issue to let you know you are going to be published.

But who's complaining? Not me. A surprise is nice, and being published is even better, especially when one has the blueblahs. By the way, the face in my collage above is from a collage image sheet I bought from Traci Bautista at Art and Soul, after taking a class from her. Here is some of the other work I sent. Very excited for the Alice movie to come out March 5. It looks crazy.

Yummy Color Books to Devour

What gets your blood pumping? For me, it's anything to do with color as I described in yesterday's review. And if color has to do with arts and crafts, so much the better for me. A fabric store feels like a candy shop to me, even though I don't sew. Bins of buttons, rows of embroidery floss make me feel like Willy Wonka. Same with bolts of cloth, skeins of yarn, thread and other rainbow-hued notions.

If fabric stores or sewing or quilting excite you, too, then you’ll be gushing over Material Obsession: Modern Quilts with Traditional Roots by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke (2009, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 208 pp. $27.50. Note, there is also a second book). I can barely sew a lick and have never quilted but the vibrant colors are what drew me to the book. Quilters, I am sure, will appreciate the handiwork even more than I could, as well as the included patterns and templates.

My favorite quilt in the book, called The ‘Burbs, inspired me with its rough-cut, crooked, child-like houses and paper dolls, a deceptively-simple looking riot of color that just might make me give quilting a try. As the book says, “the thing to remember about the quilt is…let yourself go! This quilt is a recipe, not a pattern…There are no rules here-just cut, sew and enjoy.”

If that’s not enough to suck you in, then the names of the quilts will get you, too: Annie’s Garden, Three-Ring Circus, Cowboy Baby, Gypsy Squares. These aren’t your grandma’s quilts, but the ages-old process is the same. Projects range from easy to intermediate and advanced, with basic quilting instructions included for the beginner. And if, like me, you are a beginner who may never actually begin, you can enjoy the coffee-table-book quality of the photographs of the quilts and fabrics in this soft cover volume. Textile-great Kaffe Fassett, whom I first discovered in my yarn-stash phase, lends his thoughts to the forward.

For those who get their color kicks from paper, the very fun All Wrapped Up! Groovy Gift Wrap of the 1960s by Kevin Akers will have you oohing and ahhhing at all the paper possibilities and cringing over all the vintage gift wrap you wadded up and tossed decades ago, if you were tearing open gifts as a kid in the 60s, like me. This Chronicle Books compendium (255pp., $22.95) was published in 2005, but it my color quest; I just discovered it in a museum gift shop. I was drawn to the full-page and many double-page spreads of gift wrap from my childhood; I was sure I recognized a few. It is a vintage-lovers’ delight, from the psychedelic swirls and paisleys to the child-like, cartoon-ish people and oh-so-60s fonts and colors.

I originally thought I might (shhh! Don’t tell!) cut out some of the full pages for use in my paper-crafting and altered arts (not creating plagiarism of course, but for personal enjoyment), but then, like so many other books in my library, I realized it was too beautiful to redact for my own use. If you appreciate graphic arts, the Mod era or even if you got a ribbon in gift-wrapping in 4H as a youth, you’ll enjoy this thorough compendium and color explosion. More than half the pages are full-color reprints of vintage wrapping paper.

Whatever your color vehicle of choice, from flowers to yarn, embroidery floss, beads, paint or fabric, there’s inspiration wherever you go. While beading might not be your thing, looking at the color wheel through a beader’s eye or studying hues in skeins of embroidery floss can lead to a brand new combination or idea for a project in your own area of expertise. Sometimes, I think my area of expertise is buying beautiful books!

Here are a few more of my recent favorites. The titles will denote their area of focus, but don’t limit yourself to only things you already know how to do. Remember, it’s all about the colors! Sew Sunny Homestyle, Tonne Finnegar, 2009, David and Charles, 158pp., $24.99
Fabric Art Collage, Rebekah Meier, 2009, C & T Design, 96pp., $26.95
Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty, Helen Dardik, 2009, Walter Foster Publishing, 96pp., $12.95 Embroidered Effects, Jenny Hart, 2009, Sublime Stitching LLC, 158 pp., $24.95 (Note: this book is spiral-bound and includes many pages of hot-iron transfers and a pocket for storage). I can’t wait to make something from all of them, but even if I don’t get to it soon, I’ve already enjoyed pouring over the pictures many times over. You will too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm a chick with sticks now, not just a hooker

In my continued enjoyment of all things color, I pulled the two bins that make up my yarn stash down from on high to help me decide what to make now that I am learning to knit. I've just had one class so far, but I love it. Once I got past the initial awkwardness, since knitting is so different from crochet, I was able to fly along. Admittedly, I've only learned one stitch, the knit stitch, along with casting on. Too eager to wait for this weekend's class, I found the purl stitch in two different books and have tried to learn that also.

My goal with knitting is to be able to make colorful doll hats and sweaters like those I just featured on my Blythe blog. I'm afraid that will be a long time coming, because that's tiny, skilled work. The two afghans I crocheted above, Hello Kitty and sock monkeys, were not even small work, but took plenty of time not just to finish but to master the stitches and understand the patterns.

But, I love learning new stuff, and I have no predisposition for or against knitting versus crochet as some people do. They are just so totally different. And they produce such different results, some of which I hope to post here some day!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beaded Colorways: New Book from Beverly Ash Gilbert is Superb!

The recently-released Beaded Colorways: Creating Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes by my friend Beverly Ash Gilbert (2009, North Light Books, 128pp., $24.99) is fantastic. Even if you are not a beader or a jewelry maker you can appreciate not only the amazing handiwork but also the included removable custom color wheels that will be a help to anyone: artist, painter, decorator, photographer or lover of color. The book is perfect for those who think they can’t match an outfit or choose a color for a wall.

Beverly is a brainy dynamo disguised as a wisp of a woman, humble and modest enough not to mention in her book that she is an engineer by degree and a former corporate-type who was able to break out of a constricting role/schedule to make time to develop her substantial talents and her eye for color.

In fact, her first book was Eye for Color: Interchangeable Templates and Color Wheel System, available on her Web site. A color enthusiast herself, whose deep appreciation for color can be seen on her blog via her own breathtaking photography of her surroundings in Kirkland, WA and on her beloved Whidbey Island, Beverly takes great joy in sharing and teaching an appreciation for and understanding of color to anyone who is interested and curious or who feels they need a little help.

Her open, sharing nature is evident as she explains color theory and bead-weaving basics to open her book. Even if you have never picked up a tiny little seed bead or a bead-weaving needle as was my case when I first met Beverly in the fall of 2008, she will gently guide you first through combining various beads and textures in monochromatic mixes she calls seed bead soups. As she warns early on, even non-beaders can get hooked on the beauty of the colors, enough to quite contentedly display the seed bead mixes in clear vessels as an object of decor – without ever having to make a thing! And she’s fine with that.

From understanding the uses of the color wheel and color relationships – complementary, analogous, etc., to learning about hue, saturation, value and more – Beverly helps students graduate to blending multi-color combinations that satisfy their own particular cravings for color in their surroundings, and of course in their beadwork.

Besides the basic peyote stitch, which is simply sewing two seed beads together, and three-bead netting – both of which anyone can do (with proper lighting and eyeglasses if you wear them, or perhaps a magnifier) – Beverly explains freeform beadweaving, including freeform peyote stitch and freeform netting.

While the finished projects in the book might look like intimidating works of art, Beverly breaks them down into step-by-step instructions with large photos and helpful hints along the way. She suggests color mixes and alternatives and shows how to blend the beads to create an eye-pleasing palette for the project. Her bead soups have tempting names like tropical surf and rain forest and autumn sunrise, enough to get even a color neophyte or reluctant beader to stick a toe in the water.

By the end of my first day with Beverly, I had two gorgeous and very different pendants made, and I am all thumbs and wear bifocals! Her book offers more than a dozen colorful projects as well as a beautiful gallery of finished wearable art and plenty of resources and links to get you beading, or at least learning more about color.

And if this isn’t enough, and her book will definitely leave you wanting more, you can find Beverly teaching around the country this year and signing books, at such notable events as Adorn Me (March), I Dream of Beading (April-May) and the national Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee in June. Her blog offers something for everyone, including an appreciation of family, food, good friends and nature, all as depicted by Beverly, a true gem herself.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Marie and the rodeo girl

Here are my two finished paintings (16 x 21" ea) from the on-line class I took from Suzi Blu and blogged about below. I have one more class to do: Day of the Dead, and conveniently, I have one more spot on this wall o' whimsy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Doesn't Cancel On-Line Classes

I completed this "Rodeo Girl" Wednesday night. She's one of Suzi Blu's on-line classes. I signed up for the 'continuing education,' so I have the videos for Marie Antoinette, Rodeo Girl and Day of the Dead. It was only $35 for these three projects in one class, and well worth it, even if I hadn't made anything, just to watch Suzi's entertaining videos.

My Rodeo Girl is 16" x 21", the same size as my Marie, and I think I will hang them together. I found these great, deep frames, very reasonably priced at Utrecht's, which accommodate deep canvasses.

Speaking of deep, I have been snowed in since last Friday, with the exception of a little time on Tuesday. We are at 46" and counting, and that's no exaggeration. It's getting a little old. Thankfully, there's been no loss of power. I think my wireless laptop is the only thing keeping me sane.

My Rodeo Girl didn't quite keep me sane because, as usual, I can't stop touching it. I have a very bad habit of not knowing when to quit. I messed up her face about five times, and kept having to repaint it. At some point I resorted to finger-painting to try to get more control, and all that usually results in is a mess.

I even brushed beeswax over the whole thing, per the class, which is not only normally the finishing touch but generally prevents any further work because you can't paint over the beeswax. But, ta-da! I discovered my Lyra gel crayons go on nicely and smoothly over the wax, and you can easily wipe them off for a sheer effect. So I did. Then I didn't like it. Then I did it some more. Story of my life. But I like it now. I glued a little cowboy hat on her skully balloon and a little star 'badge' on her vest. Coordinates well with my Marie to which I glued a Juicy Couture perfume bow and charm.

By the way, I did something weird with this painting. Normally, one would paint the background first and then, per Suzi, collage it with bits of paper, molding paste, glitter, etc. Well, I decided I wanted to draw my girl on first, which I did, because I needed her to tilt a certain way to coordinate with the Marie since I want to hang them together.

Just to make things difficult for myself, I guess, I then painted her in, first with watercolor crayons. Then I had to collage the background around her and paint around her, and at that point, I painted over her first draft, this time with acrylic paints. Made it harder, but interesting. And with nearly four feet of snow outside, one needs interesting!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We interrupt this blog....

You might think I'd be interrupting my art blog to talk about the THIRTY inches of snow (so far) out my window. Or I could complain about the knitting class, cancelled, that I was supposed to start today....or the stack of manilla envelopes from my Blythe sale that I won't get to mail....but, I am sick of talking about the snow! Yawn. So six inches ago.

People have gone completely bonkers here around Washington, DC and Baltimore. The record snow is the only thing anyone wants to talk about. It's the only thing on the television and radio, and, well, it is the only thing I can see out the window. Any delineation of sidewalks or parking lots is long gone.

So. Let's talk serial killers. Nice segue, huh? I realize very few people will be able to fully appreciate this post, about a lovable serial killer. But you have to understand Tim Dorsey, or Serge, his protagonist, or both. (Can't you just hear Coleman asking what a protagonist is?) Yes, only Tim's fans will understand "lovable" and "serial killer" in the same sentence, but Serge is the Robin Hood of serial killers. And it's all in good "fun." It's sort of a giant tongue-in-cheek nod to the great madcap capers/detective genre/mystery/fiction/south-Florida wackos. You've just got to read Tim's books to understand.

I'm not done with Gator A-Go-Go yet. I've been moving slowly for me, because I've been busy. But so far, so good. Last year's January release, Nuclear Jellyfish, was a scream. I was lucky enough to attend a Tampa book signing the week of the release and meet Tim. That's me above (denim jacket) at Inkwood Books in Tampa on a warm and rainy night. I've been a fan of Tim's since early on, shortly after Florida Roadkill was released in 1999. You don't have to start there at all, but it's not a bad place to start. Might I also recommend Hammerhead Ranch Motel (#2)

I was a Carl Hiaasen fan (back when Carl was wacky and "Skinky") and Dave Barry (forget the middle-age-man-emoting, read Big Trouble) when I discovered Tim. I had also been reading all the "cozies": Carolyn Hart, Lilian Jackson Braun, Sue Grafton (yes, Sue and Kinsey are "cozy" to me). Then I found Tim. And I haven't looked back. In fact, I'm always looking forward. It's very hard to wait a year for each book. Meanwhile, if you like wacky with a message (not that Tim's don't have a message because they do) try Christopher Moore. He's a nut; just check his Amazon author photo. My fave is You Suck, but Practical Demon-Keeping and Island of the Sequined Love Nun just get me for their titles. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove was a fave, too.

Back to Tim. We exchanged a few emails. I love his sly little references to Indiana now and then. (He lived there briefly as a babe). Nice nod to Ball State in 'Gator'. I realized before we met that he used to work at the Tampa Tribune with someone I know well. Such a small world. And he's in the same journalism geography as Carl Hiassen and Dave Barry. Just another south Florida coincidence no doubt.

So, back to the review of Gator A-Go-Go. I'd review it, but I'm busy having a blizzard. Just read it; it's great. Anyone I've ever sent to Tim has thanked me profusely. But then, I only send "certain" people to Tim. You know who you are.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Art & Soul, Hampton, VA May 20-24 (Images belong to the artists)

If this collection of artwork above isn't a kaleidescope of magnificence, I don't know what is. To me, it is like candy from the prettiest candy store ever. And in May, I will get to experience all of the above first-hand at Art & Soul in Hampton, VA. I am taking classes with the artists whose work is pictured above, some I've met and some I haven't, but I couldn't be more thrilled either way. It's nearly five months from now, and I am already gathering supplies and making lists.

Traci Bunkers, Kansas, (top, photo of a journal page from her blog), is teaching The Maiden Voyage: Journaling for Beginners, and although I am not quite a beginner, I can't bring myself to write words in my journal-- a dilemma Traci addresses in a blog post. Most of these artists have books out or coming out, and Traci is no exception with Print and Stamp Lab.

The whimsical girl in the tire swing belongs to Carla Sonheim, Seattle, whose book, Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun, comes out this summer. This picture is appropriate since I am taking Practicing Whimsy from her. Carla was one of my teachers for a short "drawing blast" class--mostly with charcoal--a couple years ago, and I just loved her and her gentle, helpful, non-judgmental style. I wish I could have taken her drawing class this February, set outside on the Las Vegas strip!

The Sweetie Birds belong to L.K. Ludwig, and that's the name of the two-night class I am taking with her, to make these birds with paper clay. I also met L.K., of Pennsylvania, at a previous Art & Soul and absolutely love her many books, including True Vision, Nature Journals and Collaborative Art Journals. I'll be sure to be taking one of these to get signed.

The reliquary below the birdies belongs to the inimitable Michael deMeng, everyone's sweetheart, a mixed media artist who keeps the ladies swooning...especially since there are so few men on the mixed media circuit we all frequent. Nearly everyone knows and follows with a smile his romance with one lucky lady and artist in her own right, Judy Wilkenfeld of Australia, who met Michael when she was a student in one of his classes in Italy--truly an international art love story.

Michael was one of the first to come out with an altered art book: Secrets of Rusty Things, and he has another one on the way: Dusty Diablos. He has also been featured in many other artists' books and teaches around the world, stopping at home in Montana now and then. I am taking a Dia de los Muertos class from him called Playing Dead. Supplies include toy action figures, a plastic or rubber skeleton, a display box, clay, epoxy, paint, superglue and more. Should be great!

Lastly, artist Misty Mawn, another Pennsylvanian, was someone I happened on to nearly three years ago when I was starting this blog. And she was one of the first artists whose work I saw when I discovered Art & Soul. A photo of her in action in class graced the Web page I first came across. She's considered "famous" by those in altered art and mixed media circles, and even though she doesn't 'have a book,' she's been featured in many. I am taking It's Still Life! from her and can hardly wait to learn from her particular style. This isn't your Rembrandt's-fruit-in-a-bowl, that's for sure!

Meanwhile, I am trying to figure out how to squeeze at least one more art retreat into 2010. I am looking longingly at Teesha Moore's ArtFest in Washington in March, where talented bead friend Beverly Ash Gilbert is headed, and Inspired! in Concord, NC in May, where Pam Garrison will be teaching. Her needlework and journaling make me drool. And I'm geographically fairly close to friend Lisa Kettel's Art Opera in New Jersey, April 7-10, and really should attend that. We shall see.