Lots of heat and rain means the clovers are reaching up from earth, wanting to find the sun. The lucky ones always manage to get noticed, at least by me. Evidence:
Something else that wants to get noticed....she always has to see what's going on, and is very much at home with us now. We took down the gate so Lucky has the full run of the house but she's never too far from any of us and we track her with the sound of her little green bell. I didn't think I could open my heart so swiftly and easily after Winston, but she's a charmer and has brought us so much joy.
The final report card came in. Fallon's highest marks ever. Pretty good considering some seniors tend to slack off as the year winds down. At college orientation we learned that parents aren't given access to grades. ??? You'd think that signing your name on tuition checks might give you some privileges but it's time to let them fly, and trust that they'll continue to do well and communicate with you. I'll be filing away this last report, with some of the other remarkable items I've saved over the years. Onward we go!
We are so proud of you Fallon - bravo!
Had a great time with family last weekend. Mom and Dad, John and Renee, and my nieces Morgan, Mackenzie, and Meg joined us to celebrate Fallon's graduation. We spent a day at the shore, rode some terrifying rides, got in the ocean, and enjoyed walking the refurbished boardwalk. As the slogan on the airwaves keeps reminding and reassuring us: We are stronger than the storm. There's still alot of work to be done following superstorm Sandy but it was wonderful to see the crowds filling up the beach.
Summer is here! Be well and behave ;)
I'm pre-programming this post because this week we have family visiting and tonight is Fallon's graduation. I will be back with photographic evidence of that in a few days, but for now here is more cardboard manipulation. If you are in Jersey, or nearby, you might be interested to come take my Debris Journal workshop at CREATE - NJ either Thursday, July 18th or Saturday, July 20th. That's one month away - can't wait!! I will be teaching four days plus vending on the Friday night. Hope you'll join us.
I'm still playing with cardboard. Here's something I tried this weekend. I traced the stencil onto the cardboard panel, then cut and lifted out the negative. I was so excited by the concept that I wasn't so careful about the cuts and used a chunky blade. I may have done better with a finer knife but who has time to look for one when you're ready to try something? Don't forget that stencils aren't just for paint and spackle - they are cool with pencils and knives too.
As I've mentioned, when I'm behaving, I store my stencils in page protectors in 3-ring binders. When I'm not behaving I toss them all into a large clear rubber bin. But as John Shaw once said, some of my stencil designs do not play well with others (lots of parts that can get tangled) so I do try to separate. At Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago I found this presentation portfolio. Couldn't be more perfect for my new Gothic Collections stencils and masks! Come on, HCIT?
Speaking of the new collection, I've had new customers who are asking what to do with unmounted rubber sheets. There are lots of ways to use them - temporarily mount on acrylic blocks, or if you are a grab-and-go girl, then you might like my method. I use thick foam as a mount as it provides the cushion necessary for a good impression, and it is grab-able, similar to a wood mount. Just pay attention when you are cutting the foam so you have a nice straight line where the rubber ends for aligning on your stamped surface. Here's a quick tutorial:
Gothic Collection stencils, masks, stencil/mask sets, and rubber stamps available at GreenPepperPress.com
I've been enjoying the slow collection of vintage tools. So many of our devices are plastic, that it's really nice to come across an old once-loved and well-used tool for my studio. The tracing wheels are terrific for rolling in paint and then frolic up a page, or better yet, poking through a corrugated cardboard surface. The newer ones aren't as pokey, with much smoother edges on the wheel. The old ones may not be safe but they can assist you to do cool stuff. The awls are so nice to hold, and they force nice holes. I am so happy to have a toolbox that is filling up with these treasures.
Inspired by Louise Nevelson's monochromatic assemblages with emphasis on shadows, I have been manipulating surfaces in cardboard as part of demo sample for the Debris Journal workshop in July. Similar to working in altered books, where I believe it is much more interesting to alter the text and minimally modify the page with subtle markings versus full-on coverage with paint and collage material, I think that starting a cardboard journal should be all about how to respect the material and then determine methods of achieving interest with clever cuts, folds, and punctures. Below you can see some examples I'm preparing - the die-cut circles and the bull-nose corners were part of a cardboard package. I can never resist unusual findings when it comes to cardboard as they make for great pages in the journal.
Below is another vintage tool - a man-made protractor for determining angles. Some person scored in these lines with precision. Amazing, don't you think? Found on ebay about ten years ago!
I love that these tools belonged to someone. I love that there must be stories about how they were used. I really wish I could rub the wood and learn the history. Since I can't do that I will just carry the artisan in my heart when I'm working with their tools.
It was an action-packed weekend! The rain shut down the opening ceremonies Friday night for the Special Olympic Summer Games, but the remainder of the weekend was perfect for the event. Many athletes and their families enjoyed two full days of competition and awards. Thank you to our Piscataway Chiefs coaches, and the hundreds of volunteers who make this such an amazing experience.
It's been quiet here on the blog. I've been active in the studio wrapping up the last phase of an overhaul by clearing up piles, putting things back into drawers or on shelves, and bagging lots of old stuff - unused supplies that will be donated, unwanted clutter that is clogging up the space, and unfinished projects I'm releasing by discarding. It feels good to see the bags fill up by the back door. I've accumulated a small stash of debris that will go in my journal - clippings that I can't part with because they are part of a narrative of my creative journey. While I dislike blocking off time to devote to getting organized, I love the results. More space opens up on my table and in my mind. The process allows me to experience closure. A re-evaluation takes place, and I am clear about the direction I'm heading. I can part with materials that used to hold value because they no longer fit with what I'm interested in doing.
As we wind down the final weeks of school, I'm feeling a mixture of nostalgia, completion, and pride. There are lots of activities - like tonight, where I accompanied Fallon to the Art Show at the high school. She had several pieces hanging up from her Graphic Design class and her Photographic Design class. The exhibit was amazing - I love seeing the efforts of all the students, and got to thank the teachers for encouraging my daughter's creativity. This Friday is prom, then graduation on the 20th. This precious little thing, who arrived last to complete our family, is gliding right into this milestone with grace and charm and old-soul-wisdom.
The bags below are holding the dresses she'll be wearing to the two events. It's a very special time, made even more exciting as she has registered for her first semester of college classes. I'll be back with prom pics in a few days.
I'm not sure if it's proper blogging etiquette to announce your own birthday. I can't recall what my practice had been prior to 2008, but I know on May 17th of that year I drew attention to it, and told the story that I share the birthdate with my sister Shannon. I made a post about us, flashing big birthday wishes for her, knowing she'd visit my blog from her hospital room. She turned 40 that year. It was her last birthday. We had forty birthdays together. And now I've had five without her. Five. When a loved one departs for heaven, you tend to mark the time by the hour, the day....then one week has gone by, then one month....you notice the date on the calender with every page you turn. The 10th. As time passes that number seems less significant. The day to honor is the day they were born. The day to celebrate is the one you were gifted by their presence on earth. And so today, the 17th, I have to call attention to my own birthday, because it was hers too.
Before 2008 my gardening experience was laughable. A few attempts of growing herbs or vegetables were pathetic. Sure, I potted flowers on the deck once...but then Graham took over and they fared much better. In July, five years ago, I planted a pink rose bush to honor Shannon. Then I planted a few more. I was chicken to cut off that first blooming rose, but learned that the more you cut, the more it grows. So now I have 21 rose bushes and that first one is 10 feet tall. I'm a rosarian. Who knew? I have an angel watching over my garden, I'm certain of it.
While I love discovering the first bloom each May, I also love looking deeper to see all the buds that are waiting to show off. So much life tucked in there. Maybe they will open up today, and wink at me, as a sign from her.
I've shown many pictures of the two of us together on this blog....here's one from the archives that you haven't seen yet. A glorious Spring afternoon, skiing in Aspen with my parents and our brother. I believe it was 1983 but I could be wrong. What I remember clearly was singing loudly on the chairlift together, and giggling. Look at the twinkling smile of hers, I bet she is thinking of that too. *blows kisses to the sky* Happy Birthday to US.
Above: two happy instructors following another wonderful weekend as we took on Far Away Places. Another enthusiastic group of artists met us in the generous studio space where we sprawled out and got messy for three full days of numerous creative projects. Some stellar work and special memories forged at our lovely venue. Oh, if we could just bottle up that energy and feed off it every day! We extend our thanks all the courageous voyagers and hope to meet you again, here or anywhere! Lynne and I had an utter blast and are already looking forward to next year, with lots of ideas for what that will entail. Stay tuned to our websites if you are interested in joining us - annoucement likely in just a few months. We need to catch our breath and soak in all the good vibes generated over these past two weekends.
Unfortunately, I never did the rounds with my camera on the first weekend, my apologies to the artists. Below are just some of the art pieces being made in the second weekend. Most students created three or more works of art - so fun to revisit the work spaces and busy hands through these photos!
Winner for the book giveaway: Diana Wilson!
Thanks to all who entered, and thanks to Julie for the generous offering.
Check out today's harvest of four leaf clovers. It was a beautiful day and I hit the jackpot when walking to to mailbox! They pulled through for Fallon and I as we shopped for prom dresses this afternoon. We were at the fifth store when we found a dreamy selection tonight. Whew! I think I will spread the luck around by offering a giveaway.
My talented friend Julie wrote (and photographed) this cool new book with her workshop partner Chris. They signed copy and Julie sent one for me to share with my faithful readers. How cool is that? Acrylic Solutions: Exploring Mixed Media Layer by Layer by Julie Prichard and Chris Cozen. You will love this one - super clever to have it as a spiral bound format so you can leave it open on your studio table and work through all the informative and useful chapters on creating with paint and all the juicy options for building in layers. It's one of those books that you will continue learning from as you endeavor to elevate your work. Don't you love when a book reveals lessons just when you need them? I've already put post-it notes on pages that I will return to soon. Lots of handsome visuals, and tons of great tips. If you want to see more, check out Julie's workshops. She powers out some stellar online classes, with well produced videos you can watch over and over, then get feedback and assistance as you work through the lessons. An amazing value, from the convenience of your own workspace.
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO BE ENTERED IN THE BOOK GIVEAWAY. I will draw a name out of the top hat on Sunday, May 12th. It will be a Happy Mother's Day for a lucky reader, and a tip of the hat to Julie who is celebrating a birthday then too!
Just back from Connecticut where Lynne and I hosted an enthusiastic and talented group of artists for the first edition of our workshop. This is the only evidence photo I have - so you'll have to believe me when I say it was an utterly delightful crew of travelers, a fantastic venue, and a very special experience to teach, learn, create, and explore together for three full days.
It was such a pleasure to meet new friends and reconnect with returning students. Thank you ladies, for a memorable weekend. It was such a treat to see each of you express yourself so beautifully with individual flare and finesse. Keep the momentum going!
We are looking forward to a repeat adventure next weekend! Plus, Lynne and I have already been conjuring up our agenda for next year! The question is: how do we top this? Ha! I'm cracking myself up because that statement might be hint for our preliminary plans. I will keep you posted as we flesh out the concept and prepare to announce the workshops for 2014.
The day is almost over, but the month has just begun. A very full schedule ahead. My lilacs are fragrant, bursting open yesterday. I found my first four leaf clover of the season. I didn't get a ding-dong and flower basket (like we did as kids on May Day) but the mailman did ring the bell to deliver a big package of merchandise with the new HIM cd!!! Mini-tour has started, I get to see them soon after a very long dry spell. Bags and bins are packed and ready for my departure tomorrow morning - to Far Away Places - a workshop with my friend Lynne. Looking forward to riding in the van with my band, not literally of course. A road trip is the perfect way to become immersed with a new album. I will report in on the weekend after I get back. The first batch of pre-orders from The Gothic Collection will go out tomorrow too. Thank you so much for the enthusiastic response. My manufacturers pulled off a fast turn around. Life is good!
The first video....
*waves, and blows kisses*
p.s. Gabriele, I got your lovely envelope, and clipping on the collection. I ordered it...should be here anyday. Thanks for thinking of me. It was a super fun thing to get in the mail. <3
I've been off the radar as it's been a busy few weeks here. I feel like a new parent. We are very in tune with our new resident, Lucky. She's a sweet little thing. We've only heard her meow a few times - the tiniest little sound, although her purring is much more audible. I'm afraid to let her have full access to the entire home yet so we have her blocked off from the basement and the studio. Speaking of which, the overhaul went really well. Still a few things to sort and stow or shake off. I've gotten rid of so much stuff - it feels really good to have organized alot of it and allowed more s.p.a.c.e. I've also been designing lots of new things which I will reveal soon. Some prototype stencils arrived and I had to take a break from cleaning and taxes to shoot them with some spray paint. These are going to be super fun and will coordinate nicely with the existing stencil patterns. There will be several in the next release that feature multiple sizes of my favorite shapes. More soon. Sending hugs to Boston - my home for many years.
I said I was going to continue my I Love Art series, so I'm back with another one. Gathering Supplies. Whether you browse around to look for new stuff, or you tour your work space and rediscover forgotten stuff, the gathering phase of a project is something I recognize as a vital part of my creative process. Let's say you determine on a plan for making something new - a collage, an assemblage, a journal....you have an aesthetic you hope to express, and you begin visualizing the many ways to approach the project, and the various tools and resources that will be useful. Very often we rush through this stage, when perhaps it might be enlightening to stretch it out, as we listen to the inner voice tell us all the clever directions that might be considered. Pre-planning and gathering, of both supplies and ideas, has merit. As the actual art-making begins, we may stray from the intended plan. It's all good.
So I'm taking advantage of the school Spring break, with no real commitments this week, to finally clean my studio. As I organize, purge, and pitch, I am accumulating a box of supplies into a journal kit for a new project I've just started. It's a journal with the theme "It's Elementary". Inspired by the darling stitched tags I got from Anthropologie a while back, I have wanted to fabricate a journal from kraft file folders, and use all my favorite red and turquoise stuff. As I sort and file all the piles of stuff around here I toss in everything I find that I might want to use in this journal.
While I'm in clean-and-organize mode I have started to get together all the materials and samples for the upcoming Far Away Places workshop this May. I have stacks of xeroxes and painted scraps that will go into my supply box. The gathering of images for these pieces, and the handouts for the workshop, was so much fun. I love looking through all my clip-art and other resource books to see familiar designs with fresh eyes, based on a particular project. I want to procrastinate the cleaning and do more fun stuff with the elements I'm finding but I am determined to get this studio in better shape. I will dangle a carrot for myself to allow some play time once I have a cleared off work surface. (That may not be until Friday!)
EDIT: I forgot to mention this - this falls under gathering too. Lynne and I have curated a Far Away Places Pinterest board. See HERE. My personal issues with Pinterest need not be aired here, and I acknowledge that it isn't going away anytime soon, so we've found a constructive way to utilize the platform. We've linked locations and books and other interesting resources to get us and our students motivated for our two workshops.
Another aspect of gathering - when you scoop up an item with no immediate purpose. Whether a found or reclaimed object, a new tool or material, or something that jives with your aesthetic, you just know when you see something cool that you will find a reason to use it. I put one of each of these in my "me first" journal, so now I can use these with abandon. I came across the envelopes at www.MuhsHome.com and when they arrived I was tickled. The boxes are as fabulous as the contents. Who knew you could get kraft in 'natural' or 'orange'? Had to have both. I also got their brass tabs - look for them under metal if you visit their site.
A final word about "gathering supplies" - while I wholeheartedly believe that moderate accumulation of materials is a vital part of the creative process, there is danger when we employ that as an excuse to shop and hoard. Use your stuff! Make cool things. Feel the need to discover something new? Dig through your own stash and invent a way of using what you have. I'm finding all kinds of good stuff in here today, and I'm realizing I'm ready to part with alot too. Shakin' it off...feels good.
I've been saying it for years....even had a ring made that says it: I'm a Lucky Girl. And now we have one! Yesterday we adopted a little female kitten. She is precious - still very shy and skittish as she gets used to our home, but she is very loving and a cuddler. We are crazy about her already. Her name is Lucky.
I didn't think I would ready for another cat this soon as we are still mourning our Winston. But one day when I was driving in the car, sobbing to myself as I was thinking about him, a black cat ran across the street and I almost hit it. Swerving over to the side of the road I said to myself, 'that was lucky'. And for some reason it felt like a sign that it was time to visit the shelters and see if we might fit with a new friends, and open our hearts and our home to another black cat. It's commonly known that black cats are the hardest to adopt out, maybe because people think they are bad luck? I've only had two cats and they are both black. I guess, like this bowl of jelly beans, the black ones get left behind. Lucky for me, I love the licorice, and I will gladly invite a black cat home. So with the help of the kind ladies of Second Chance for Animals, and the Franklin Township Animal Shelter, we brought home our girl. They think she was born sometime in March 2012, so we are claiming today as her birthday. Fits, right?
I haven't had time to mess around with graphics to create a St.Patrick's Day greeting for you, so I am pulling up the one from 2009. They say you have to make your own luck....done!
I did a little organizing yesterday as I'm launching into a few new projects and had to clear the debris from the table. As I was putting things away, I stumbled upon these polymer clay cutting devices. I know I own at least three sets of these....they never seem to surface when I'm looking for them. So I had to dip them into the wet paint nearby and tap them off on scratch paper. Cool tool for clay, but also handy for making little marks on your journal pages! Now I've put them in a place where I will find them the next time I need a quatrefoil fix.
So I didn't manage to post my declarations for loving art every day in February, and this post will go up March 1st, but this has been fun and there's more I want to say on the subject so I will continue the quest.
Today's subject, no surprise, is stencils (and masks). I'm sure I'll post more about it at another time when I announce my new collections. I love finding stencils, and making my own, to use in my work. I tend to rely on spray paint as a medium because of the quick, deliberate but random means of getting cool effects on the paper or canvas. As you may know, I launched a series of stencils with Stencil Girl Products in 2011 - it was such a thrill to be invited by Mary Beth and John Shaw to join their team. I'd been wanting to have stencil line for a long time and so I started with them (and have more coming!) and then I wanted a more personal series, mostly for my workshops, so I now offer stencils, stencil/mask sets, and coordinating rubber stamps at Green Pepper Press. There will be more designs coming this Spring! Just last month Stampington started carrying the Stencil Girl Michelle Ward stencils! If you are interested in making your own, to cut images that elevate your work as unique and authentic, visit my tutorial page.
I went to school to be an architect and ended up with a degree in interior architecture. One of my positions was a dream job of planning hotels around the world. I got to design furniture, light fixtures, ballroom carpet, fabric, and some very cool architectural details in lobbies, restaurants, and guest room suites in far away places like Marrakech and Bangkok, and closer to home in Boston and New York. I love studying architecture and get great enjoyment just paging through the collection of books I have on the subject, or even better, visiting glorious places. Architecture definitely influences me and finds its way into my work. My favorite style is Gothic Revival, and my favorite guy is Pugin. But I also love Mackintosh, and Starck. I didn't take the time to photograph my shelves, but thought I'd share some recent acquisitions. The tall book is 26" high, and opens to scaled drawings of all the bell towers in Venice. Equally cool is the panoramic views from both sides of the Grand Canal - over 42 feet long accordion folded, printed on both sides. The day before I left on my trip the Venice Sketchbook arrived. I love this series! Makes me want to draw more. Scroll down for workshops samples that are full-on evidence of what I love.
I'm a fire hazard. I have hoards of paper. I love to use paper in my work. I love to visit specialty paper shops - nothing was quite as special as carefully selecting from the spoils offered in Venice! I have this trick - if I do what I call "me first journaling", then I free myself to be able to use the paper in a project. How often do you collect cool papers but never use them? Do you wonder if you should save it in case a better use for it comes along? Don't be silly, use it! Then you can shop for more! Take a little clipping and attach in your journal. Let the piece flap up or pivot on a brad so you can write underneath it where you got it, when you got it, and maybe a note about why. Then use it!! Here are some of the treats I brought home in a waterproof tube so they wouldn't get damaged during the Aqua Alta of Venice last year.
Continuing my declarations of art love for the month of February....the new Somerset Studio arrived yesterday so I thought I would talk about matchboxes, the subject of my Make It Your Own column. I started using matchboxes a few years back when I was interested in making mini shrines. I love that they are on standby, ready to assist me in projects, in a bin on my studio table. And when they are pre-painted it's even better. Recently I started embedding them into canvas surfaces. I had so much fun doing it - the possibilites are endless with what you can put in them, how to compose your piece, and I thought it would make a great class so I'm teaching RECESS at Art Is You, Stamford, CT in October. Get it? The boxes are recessed, plus taking a workshop is like getting to play at recess. I crack myself up! So here are some of the pieces that appear in the article.
I started doing gravestone cakewax rubbings when I lived in Boston. There are so many beautiful old headstones in the cemeteries and some of the engravings are spectacular, especially for rubbing. A few years ago I was really into taking crayon rubbings of textures - mostly stamps and stencils. If you use the side of the crayon, and a heavy hand, you can get really nice wax coverage to reveal the pattern, then overpaint with acrylic for a cool resist. You can even iron off the original wax for another effect. Why rub? It's just a way of making your own collage elements. The additional bonus is that once you start doing it you will start seeing interesting patterns and textures everywhere. Don't you love that? A simple case of heightened awareness and suddenly you see your surroundings differently. In these samples I show both current and archived rubbings, some with painted layers to demonstrate the resist. I also include some journal pages that show how you might incorporate a rubbing.
I'm behind! I've had intermittent internet the last few days but I think I'm back in good shape...will have a few posts today. First up, teaching. I'm not a good public speaker and get really nervous if I have to be in front of a group. I even dashed off the stage one time during a piano recital - so I probably would never had made it as a rock star (but wouldn't it have been fun??!!) I started teaching in 2002 in my home studio, at local stores, and then at New Jersey events, so I could build up some experience before proposing to teach at Artfest (which I finally got to in 2004). I've been teaching ever since and I love it. I remember being nervous before my first big gig - 32 students in a huge ballroom. I remember being nervous to teach my first workshop and a fellow artist reminded me that the students were willing participants and they wanted me to succeed as much as they wanted to succeed themselves. It was exactly what I needed to hear, realizing we all come to the table with both a desire for growth, but also a bit of performance anxiety. If we just recognize that, then we can all shake off the nerves, and have fun learning together.
There is something really special about being in a workshop with eager students. We all learn from each other because we are plugged in and doing it. Seeing how each artist interprets the material is so inspiring. The best feedback I've gotten from a post-class review is that the artist left with the enthusiasm to go home and make more stuff. That's music to my ears. As a teacher I consider myself an ambassador for creativity. I'm not particularly interested in that your take-away is technique A, B, or C, I want you to leave with the confidence that you can do anything, and the desire to do it as much as you can.
I'm really lucky to have been able to teach at some really cool events, and to have met so many new friends these last ten years. It's been such an honor to stand at the front, and enourage others in this way.
I'm thrilled to be collaborating with my friend Lynne Perrella for two workshops this May, and to be returning as an instructor at CREATE in New Jersey in July, and then teach for the first time at Art Is You in Connecticut in October. You can see my workshop links at left sidebar, or click HERE.
I'm not going to try to convince you to try doing transfers, nor am I going to teach you how to do them. I'm just going to say that I love them. Why? They are an easy way to get an image on your painted surface. I find it much more interesting than gluing down the perfect print-out or copy. You never know how it will turn out, and that's the beauty of it. In addition to images, I love to transfer text. I can set the type in my word program, selecting the scale and font, then flip it before printing. You need the print in reverse so it will transfer tp be legible. The cool thing about making toner transfers (in color or black and white) is not only the partial image result, but the original copies (now remnants) become imperfect and can be additional collage elements. If your page is still damp it's likely the remnant will pick up some of the paint and then you have an even cooler additional element. My preference for toner release is goof-off as it has xylene in it. There are less toxic agents that work just as well - google it. See some works with toner transfers below. I didn't include any injet transfers today but I like doing those too!