Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

Hello. I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas day. For us Bay Area Californians we are having a chilly, crips and clear Christmas day. Cheers to you all.
I have not been very 'artistic' these past months. Most of my attention was on the school play in which I costumed 20 actors with proper costumes for Mid Summer's Night Dream. It was a success but everything went to hell in a handbasket in my house and everywhere. So, I almost have everything put back in order just in time for Christmas.

I am keeping Christmas simple this year. Very few gifts - more about experiences is my approach now. So, I cooked Christmas eve dinner for my parents and one of my brothers who is up visiting. I use a combination of recipes from 18th century Virginia, Martha Stewart and other favorite modern chefs. It was fun to plan, and make it all and for the most part it all turned out well. Hurrah.

So, Merry Christmas - enjoy the family or extended family. And best wishes into the new year.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tiny art, big learning curve!

ATC's - Top left: Spider; Top right: Batty flight
Bottom left: Comfort me with apples; Bottom right": Black & White

ATC's are a wonderful way to play without the scary expanse of a large canvas or format.
The ATC's above were part of a group that I began a week or so ago where I played with different bits and pieces and techniques within a small space. I just wanted to 'do' something and I wasn't ready to dive into a huge long term project. So, I got cracking on these 2.5" x 3.5" canvases (actually chip board).

ATC's - Top left: Water Fall; Top Right: AutumnToile
Bottom: Lady of the house

These little pictures were fun to do since I didn't have an agenda or expected outcome. I could just explore, play and make it up as I go. I used paint, images and bits and bobs. During the process I tried to think about color, texture, and composition. How did I succeed in these areas?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nature has many surprises!

So when you look at this image (above) what do you see? A ghost? A swirl of spiritual mist appearing real and solid only to elude your grasp? Well, nature can surprise you. I was holding one half of a mussel shell - while zoning out in front of the tube (when I should have been doing something creative - sigh) and I turned it over to see revealed this image! I found this shell on my walks along the beach and harbor near my home. I have had this item for months and never noticed until my mind was quiet, not really listening to the video I have seen 100 times - and bang there it was a ghost's imprint - could it be the imprint of the soul of the mollusk left behind?
This is what the whole shell looks like.

So, how does this inspire me? Well, if nature gave me the gift of creativity and then this little ghost has a reminded me of this. So, though I don't have anything to show for my effort yet, I actually turned the boob tube off and pulled out the art supplies that I recently and neatly reorganized so I could find them and got cracking. I just played - no agenda - just played all afternoon. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon in California and I just played.

Nature keeps it real for me. Nature keeps me looking, smelling, tasting, feeling and listen. Food for art and thought is right there everyday - enjoy it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Art in Food? Food as Art?

Not exactly an artistic endeavor but a creative one? When I limit myself to just posting about art, in its 2 dimensional form, the results are inconsistent posting. As I continued my daily agonizing over not having done anything creative (art) and equally not posting, it came to me that I could be posting about any creative process I go through on a daily basis. When the art of collage or drawing or painting won't manifest itself on demand what else do I do that is fun, playful and creative in a different way?

Thinking, thinking, thinking...slap on forehead - PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD! I tried a recipe from a book - Andrew Schloss
I used a banana and chutney - A. Schloss asked for Grey's chutney but I picked up an Apple-cranberry chutney from Trader Joe's. This red jellied goodness supported my autumnal mood. Anyway, you mix melted butter with the chutney and spread it on split bananas and run it under the broiler till bubbly and browning. I served it with French Vanilla ice-cream putting an a la mode spin on it. My autumnal plates from Martha Stewart and!

So, what was creative about that? Well, taking a recipe and tweaking it with my own tastes might be considered minimally creative. Ah, but the photo! The photo was to record my endeavor before the ice melted and it all went pass my taste buds. The question is, how to make food look appetizing in a photo to get those salivary glands going and get someone to want to try the recipe out. I am not a photographer by training - completely an amateur but it was fun. I took about 10 pics with my latest toy - iPhone - and this was the best before, as I said, the ice cream melted. Playing with my food - Love it!

P.S. Oh, the book is fabulous - get it as it is worth it for cooking fresh food with little trouble.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The joy of learning!

Hello! I have been away much too long, but here I am writing about a class I took at Castle In The Air on 4th Street in Berkeley, California. The class was taught by Ulla Norup Milbrath This class was help us develop a portfolio of mix media back grounds. Now, I have probably every book out there that talks about mix media back grounds, etc. I have also played with many materials and created samples playing around and seeing what happens. Yet, there are those little nuiances that other artist know about the techniques, that one can't learn from the books. So, off to the class I went and had a blast! Here are some of the results:

This is an example of foaming shaving cream, a spritz and dribble of Alcohol inks.

This back ground is using a rubber stamp and ink and spritzing with water to get an echo effect.

Text cut and glued, then smudged with a sage green chalk, walnut ink spritzing and Japanese lace paper. This really has an antique look.

Okay, this was so easy! A very wet wash of color on watercolour paper then pat down a scrunched plastic wrap - let it dry and then peel the wrap off. A great background of an abstraction of leaves.

Rubber stamping an overall print!

The class was really fun as always at Castle In The Air. I recommend taking classes there to get your artist block - unblocked! I have signed up for Ulla's ABC's of Altered Books - I looking forward to learning more techniques.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Challenge - Recycled Junk

The finish recycled junk clutch.

Sample of melted plastic sheet with paint.

The challenge was from Mixed Media Monday and here is my entry. I used a technique I found in the January/February 2009 Issue 22 of Cloth Papaer Scissors. The article was called Paper & Plastic by Alisa Bruke ( You take plastic grocery bags and essentially melt them into one sheet, paint the sheet and embellish the new fabric and turning it into something else useful. I made a small clutch purse. I lined it in muslin, quilted it after using liquid acrylic paints. The paints did chip off a bit when sewing so definitely put a clear coat of varnish on after you sew it. The varnish will not be good for your sewing needle. It was fun and a good way to kick off my stay'cation (vacation at home). Enjoy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stalled but thinking...planning

My hands have not been idle but they are involved in other projects that are not art related. Can you say - blocked? I am just not there for some reason. I am not with the art vibe. I keep painting journal pages one spread after the next but nothing comes to me. I figure I would take many creative people's advice and cover the scary blank pages with paint and see what happens.
So, what has happened is I seem to be content to study various 'how to books' like the wonderful publication of Jane Davies'. Hoping for inspiration. The sparks are being nurtured.

In the meantime, I am working on a different creative endeavor all together. Yes, it is creative as my dearest friend Catherine has said many times. I am building an 18th century gown from scratch. Yep, for me not a doll. I belong to a group called La Société des Lumières. A group of women and men who love all things French and 18th century. We are having a picnic this coming weekend and I don't have a stitch to wear. Mmmmm...perhaps that is where the artistic juices are going? I have the sewing skills and costume design skills - so I guess I am indeed engaged in the art of designing clothing of another time. Will keep you posted.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Impossibilities challenge

So there was a challenge to do art work around the word: Impossibilities. The impossible headdresses and hairstyles of the French court in the later 18th century were the inspiration for this piece. Now, I attempted to submit my entry but couldn't remember which challenge group proposed this topic. Geeze! I believe it was Illustration Friday but they have moved on to another topic, so I will try to submit it there. When challenges go up on blog sites, people seem to submit images right away! I am just getting started so I need to be patient with myself and keep up as best I can. Anyway, enjoy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inspire Me Thursday Challenge - Green

Here is my entry for Inspire Me Thursday Challenge ( There is something very beautiful and sensual about a fern frond uncoiling. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wednesday Stamper Challenge

Spring has been a mix of rainy days, chilly air inspite of a bright sun and then down right HOT! And I am lovin' it! Anyway, got back to checking my favorite blogs and those blogs with challenges to spur on the creative juices. I took on the curent challenge of Mittwochstempler or
Wednesday Stamper

( The challenge was to take the back of a postcard sent and collage, stamp and whatever. I live near a harbor and coastal area and on my walks I am inspired by the beauty of the sea, the shoreline and the animals that inhabit the ecosystem. Dare I call this: Post card from the Titanic? Maybe not. :) Enjoy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I am back! Phew! I thought I would never get a minute to work on my blog. I haven't had internet service at home for a while and working on my blog at work just isn't an option. But, here I am. On a rainy day, spring break - and I decided to take the break off - and I am still in my jammies and love'in it!

Now, what is this little tea-cup clothed, articulated doll all about. Well. I took a class at Castle in the Air (
on April fools day and I had a blast. The class was called Art dolls and was given by Deborah DiSalvo ( ). There were only 4 of us in the up stairs studio and for 2 hours I was able to let go of any expectations and made this kitty doll and started another one that I plan to finish this week. It was just the simple act of cutting and putting together little articulated paper dolls that opened a flood gate of thoughts.

Recently, I have been working on an art journal that is based on the guidance of "The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real" ( by Lisa Sonora Beam) and it is really getting me to think about what exactly do I mean by, "I want to be an artist." Can't make art my business until I know what the heck I really love to do, right? With that said, the art doll class got me thinking about what it is I really like to do. I like to make things. I like the challenge of putting together a design or image and figuring out how to make it real. By training, I am a technical drawer - i.e. I can produce botanical and entomological portraits without a problem. Sigh, they just don't really sustain me. I costume, I like to sew. I like cutting out things and gluing them down. I think the urge to construct things came from my architect father. This art doll class - as simple and fun as it was - became a window into my own soul - a simple eye opener that perhaps my "art" is more craft oriented. I am feeling pretty jazzed about this discovery! In fact, I got a bit over excited and ran right out to get the Xylon machine to make stickers - a great way to back papers to card stock without all the mess of glue. JoAnne Fabrics stores have coupons for discounts all the time for those machines - Score! I also ran out to the Alameda Flea Market on Sunday April 5th and scored some German scrap and other vintage ephemera. So, here we go! On to a new adventure? Yep. The second doll will come.

In the meantime, I am learning to make time for "art and play". I finally got exercise into the routine - making it a natural - must do. Now, getting my art on the same track is going to be important. I am taking another class at Castle in the Air on the 22nd of April. This is a watercolor class centered around birds. I can't wait!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yikes where have I been?

Sorry folks - but life happened! I have been on the move since I last posted - Geeze! a month ago. Believe me it was hard to have to let many things go to the back burner. In anycase, I am alive and kicking! So what have I been up to? Work - the mundane habit of work - Monday through Friday. It is a good thing that my job is rewarding - education. I did get a bit of travel in. I got up to Yosemite, California for a few days! I belong to the Art Deco Society of California - a non-profit group that works to preserve and educate the public about
art, architecture, and social culture from the 1920's to the 1940's. The Ahawhanee Hotel was built in 1927 so our organization puts on a heritage program at the hotel. We have lectures, tea dances, speakeasie cabarets and a big gala ball and everyone is dressed 1920's to 1940's. It is very fun. Here is a pic of the winter wonderland, Yosemite fresh with snow!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lace - Inspire Me Thursday Challenge

Good morning all! The challenge at, was lace. So, after a few attempts, I came up with this 6 x 6. My past has adventures in historical re-enactments and events, so lace for me could mean lace for cuffs and ruffs or the lacings in a corset or a high top shoe! In this case I interpreted the word, lace, as a verb - to lace. Enjoy! I did.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Go Mom!

I want to congratulate my Mom! She entered the annual TALB show in Richmond and although she didn't win the award for the show she was in the front of the gallery instead of at the back, in the corner, in the dark. I am really proud of her. My Mom retired way back in 1987 and though it took a while she finally got back to her desire to be an artist. Here it is 2009 and she has produced a lot of work, sold many paintings and is so happy. My Mom has always been creative. As a kindergarten teacher you have to have a lot of creativity to build the capacity to learn in small children. She was also creative in our home with holiday projects and all. Like many of us, she put her much of her creative energy into her job, her family and home. This was great for us since we all inherited her joy of being creative. But, she never really fed her soul - her spirit. In any case, she is now enjoying her work and it is fun to talk to her about her art and the processes she goes through to get where she wants to go. I am really proud of her. Congratualtions Mom! :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sense and sensibility

How is it that you can begin the year with every intention to be faithful to your creative spirit and then you look up from the valley of responsibility to see your spirit clinging to the mountain waiting for you to rescue it off the edge of oblivion? I know I am not alone but it is still frustrating when there is some part of me that wants to unite body, soul, spirit and mind to balance my life and have creativity playing a major role in my life.

Firstly, I have tried to crave out time for exercise (with my 20's and 30's, okay, and my 40's long gone gravity is messing with the physical me). That has been a huge struggle since I am not really athletically inclined. I have, however, been very consistent with exercising at least 5 times a week for 30 to 40 mins. Secondly, spurred on by the latest issues of Art Journal, Artful Blogging, and Cloth, Paper and Scissors magazines I was able to light the fire for art but it turned out to be harder to keep burning. I am looking a little less gelatinous but my spirit sags. Why? Why can't I just DO IT? Do it in the morning, do it at night, do it while I exercise or sitting in a meeting or whenever? What is 'doing art'? Is it a process of lots of materials all the time or just a simple pencil sketch for 10 mins? Why is it so hard to just 'do art' if supposedly I love it so much? Why is it that my sense always wins out over my sensibilities?

In reflection I discovered a couple things. One, when I was successful in 'doing art' on a consistent and happy level I was established in a living space with enough space for me to be messy and spread out without feeling like I was living in a disaster area. I could close the door! I was also established in a job that I knew well and was okay with taking time to do art first and 'work' later. In other words, I had found a balance in my life of work and play. Currently I am in a transitional period where I have new digs and I started a new job. I haven't found my balance yet. I no longer have extra space to do art - its my living room/dining room area - learning how to work within that space isn't comfortable yet. The new job is nearly 3 years old and I am just now getting the hang of it. I taught for 18 years and for the last two and half years I have been an assistant principal, so the job has longer hours and though I don't have lesson plans to do or papers to grade, I am usually mentally limp when I get home. Ergo - no mental capacity to do art - the body is willing the brain is not. Thus I become a weekend artist when I don't have a ton of errands to do. I guess that is something, eh?

The second reflective acknowledgement was much more interesting to me. I have a lot of creative ideas but they never come to reality a lot of the time. Why is that I would often ask? Well, I discovered that when I get an idea, my brain starts figuring it out and before I know it the finished idea is in my mind's eye. Great! My body responds with 'let's make it!' My brain says, 'why? I did it already'. This was quite a revelation to me especially as I was talking to a fellow artist and he said the same thing - he often gets ideas and works them out so completely in his mind that it never reaches paper. How do you combat that? Even when I try to make what I envision it never comes out as I saw it in my mind and I don't often accept it as it is - it isn't right, it doesn't match the expectation. Am I allowing the critic in me to constructively discourage the creative child with in?

Hope is the latest buzz word these days but, for me it has not lost its value nor will it ever. I do have hope that at some point in time, I will break through the box I have put myself in and let my artistic spirit take the driver's seat on my journey through the other half of my life. That some how I will get comfortable with a messy house and be satisfied with a simple sketch of the cat sleeping when I get home from a long day. I have hope because I am learning that I am not alone in my struggles. The latest issue of Artful Blogging allowed me to meet - figuratively speaking - kindred spirits who struggle just like I do. We struggle to reconcile our practical and sensible selves with our creative child. Our creative spirits don't want to have to beg, borrow or steal time just to exist. Also, I have begun to meet other women and men who are also trying to balance sensible and practical living without sacrificing their artistic and creative sensibilities. Community! If a village can successfully raise a healthy child, then I know the Blogsphere and other like communities are a sanctuary for my creative spirit to have room to grow and flourish.

So, I have just gotten through a hard week a work, too many late meetings but I have a good feeling about the weeks to come. I know I can do this. I know I will find my balance again. I do have hope that my practical senses can work side by side with my flighty but energetic sensibilities. As Gandalf says to Frodo, "it is not the time we have but what we do with the time we have that matters..." Cheers!

Monday, January 26, 2009

January is nearly'd that happen?

Here it is January 26 and I haven't quite gotten into my groove yet? Is this a good thing? Perhaps having a groove too early becomes a ditch or trench you can't get out of? Anyway, I am slowly learning how to do this blog thing and I have had a couple of visits, thanks!

No matter how fast January as has gone, we can't say it was a quiet month. The euphoria that has surrounded the inauguration has not only been uplifting but I really and truly feel there is hope to recover ourselves together. Whether one voted or not for President Obama, we all have to give him and his team the chance to make a difference and we have to help in small and large ways. We can't sit on the sidelines and wait and see. It is going to take all of us to bring this country up from the bottom of the barrel and over the top flowing with prosperity and joy.

I got the latest from Somerset Studios, "Art Journaling". A friend wanted it for Xmas so I got it for her. Of course I had to have a copy, too.
What a fabulous resource for ideas! Yet, I set it down, thinking - well if I do art journaling I won't have time to do 'real art'. You see, in my head to be an artist you have produce an art piece that is sellable. In other words, the only validation for doing art was to create something that can be hung on someone elses wall. My practical and logical mind agrees with this notion - there must be a purpose and outcome to all endeavors. Yet, in the back of my mind there has been a spirited buzzing that was fighting this idea. That buzzing became a louder and louder and is now a battle cry - creativity is not measured by the quantity of what you sell. Creatively is the expression of one's soul and the spirit of engaging with one's environment. To sell what one creates is not a reason to create.

Journaling is not new to me. I have written in journals off and on since I was a teenager...uhm, long ago. As a teacher, have kept special summer journals where I would write and record the fun things I did over summer vacation. I would paste in pictures from trips and other ephemera from travels and social events. However, journals focused on artistic endeavors is new to me. The time it takes was daunting to me. Yet, I want to use my journals to play with techniques and learn from the experiences. So, my goal is to make my journals a source of creative play and a resource for future "art pieces". I worry that I will not be able to carve in the time to do the journaling. I do journal each day anyway, so you'd think that it would not be a problem. Mmmmm...can I do this? If I get this off the ground perhaps I can follow Pam Garrison ( ) lead and keep several journals for different outcomes? Or maybe what Kari McKnight-Holbrook does ( may be a fun way to go - where she journals based on themes that she explores. In any case, I am excited to find a way to just get the juices flowing - to jumpstart my creative spirit. How about you, what way are you allowing 2009 to be a creative year?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter in California

Cloud watching is one of my favorite things to do. The confirmation of the clouds, their translucency or density, how they move with the air currents and play with the sunlight. These images are along highway 5 heading through the San Joaquin Valley on Christmas Eve day. The rain had stopped and the weather was icy cold - okay for California anything below 50 is icy. In spite of the previous rainstorms of the night before, the air was very dry. So much as changed due to global warming. Sigh.Capturing all this on camera is was fun and challenging in a moving car. However, one of the 'hobbies' I have picked up is photography - not for the sake of the taking a picture for art sake but recording my surroundings - it is the naturalist in me after all I was a science teacher for 18 years. In any case, I am trying to learn how to use my digital point and shoot for more than just pointing and shooting. The next step is learning how to massage the images on the computer? Although, I do prefer to draw and paint to computer manipulation, so we shall see.

Weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society -- things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed.
E. B. White (1899 - 1985)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

I have been planning to start a blog every since I picked up a copy of Artful Blogging. Through this fabulous publication, I learned that there is a huge community of creative people doing wonderful things. There are people like me out there enjoying their creativity and sharing it! The question for me was - Geeze, what could I possibly offer compared to the fabulous musings and projects that are already being documented? Intimidated was lightly expressing my feelings. My plans for a blog remained just that, scattered ideas that could not come to fruition - fear drove me away. However, that idea would not evaporate - like a bee in a bonnet it buzzed constantly looking for a way out. I searched and read blogs and enjoyed them. I even began to email the authors and got wonderful responses back. So, why was I feeling intimidated? These folks are wonderful and open! What was I afraid of? Thus, I finally decided that I wouldn't know what I could offer or share until I do it. Just like figuring out what color to paint my walls. Do I really want to paint that hall wall chocolate? What if it is over whelming? What if it makes my small condo cave in on me? Well as a friend said, "Do it. If it doesn't work you can paint over it." Of course she is right, So, here I am creating a blog in hopes of creating a space to connect with people and share my musings and works. If it doesn't fly, well, the blog is gone in a click and I move on. Yet, I hope that as my connections grow through you, I will learn how to share in a meaningful way and through you improve my blog.

So, 2009 is finally here! Hope infuses the air! 2009 is going to be my year. It won't be a beginning but a continuation of a journey long started long ago but derailed from time to time. As my profile states, I am what I call a born again artist. I have been a creative person all my life. I am fortunately surrounded by artists and creative people in my family and extended family including friends. But, I drifted in and out of art during my early adult life which began to include needlearts (embroidery, historical costuming and other needlework). However, the more I drifted the more drawing and painting began to wane.

I became a teacher at 32 and a lot of my focus and energy went into my practice - to teach middle school kids and to get them excited by learning. Yikes! Never a dull moment but it would leave me spent with no energy to do creative things on my own time. I would reach the weekends and have just enough energy to catch up with housework, pay the bills and the start but not necessarily complete the occasional sewing project. I found I was not feeding my soul - providing it with a balanced meal to repair and grow on. Then, cancer knocked at the door and I got my wake up call. Since 1992 I have been a cancer survivor and thriver but it has taken me this long to finally rebuild my spiritual and artistic confidence.

In renewing my artistic energy the old struggle between drawing and needle arts began to flare up. Which do I do? I love them both? Lo and behold, the new-age genre of collage, assemblage, altered books, art quilts and the like began to bubble over the art world and I was devouring hundreds of dollars of books and magazines. I discovered that my talents as an artist and a seamstress could be combined on many levels and thus my renewal began - I was born again. I now hope that I can consistently feed my soul through creative endeavors that are fun and enrich my life and those around me.

With that said, I had an inspiration to make Christmas cards to send to family this year. These are just a sample of the art cards I created. I used watercolor postcards for some and little 2.5 by 3.5 canvases for others. I have a stash of art papers and old Christmas cards and ribbon and I went wild with it. I made 15 in all - phew! I had so much fun and it brought the spirit of the winter holidays back into perspective for me. I use to, many years ago, spend from September to December making cards and gifts...I had lost that somehow.

I have been given a soulful transfusion with this little project and I am itching to try something else. So, once again, welcome to my blog, I hope to update at least twice a week so be patient with me as I get the hang of this. Oh, by the way, can anyone tell me how people get their sidebars loaded with pictures or links? Blogspot is pretty user friendly, but I am still a bit intimidated on how to develop my page. Thank you for visiting! Angela

P.S. The following words will be weaned from my vocabulary over 2009: intimidated, fear, disorganization.