Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Best wishes in 2013!

Dear Readers, I can't complain about 2012 too much.  I am alive and well.  Employed and enjoying friends and family.  As I reflect on the year, I realize that I have made some small steps towards building a creative life.  Though I am not where I would like to be, I am so grateful for what I have been able to accomplish and the feedback that I have gotten from so many of you over the year.  With positive intent, I plan to:

1. Simplify, simplify AND Simplify my life style even more.
2. Be creative everyday in all aspects of my life.
3. With the trouble in our world, be the hope and love I want to see in the world around me and beyond.

Three simple things to build my capacity to the best person I can be no matter what life curve balls are sent to me along the way.

If 2012 was a trial and error year, I look forward to 2013 to be the beginning of my creative journey in the direction I wish to travel.  In reflection, I am happiest when I am sewing, drawing or crafting.  I have fought this for years.  Somehow I got it into my head that being an artist means painting or sculpting or photography - that it means being like Monet, Georgia O'Keefe or Rembrandt.  Alas, I finally figured out I was wrong.  Through this community of creative people in blogsphere, discovering resources like Somerset Magazines, Mollie Makes and other magazines that promote creativity in all its forms I have finally owed my love of the stitch, the wash of watercolors, the stamp of ink and the hot glue sticking it all together.  Now, armed with that ownership I hope to:

1.  Build my capacity as an artist through textile and paper mediums.
2.  Be more bold about sharing my work and not be afraid of feedback.

Two very direct and simple things to do to keep my journey going forward.  So, I hope to post more frequently to share and get feedback from you all.  I hope that 2013 is a year of creative wows and thrills for you and yours.

Cheers!  And Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Well, 2012 is nearly at an end and I know I have not been attentive to my blog and my readers.  Many apologies but I hope that I will be able to be more productive in 2013 and beyond.  2012 has been a trying year.  So many changes, losses and trials but I am blessed to have a relatively healthy, stable life and cannot ask for more.

I hope all of you will continue to check in with me but most of all, enjoy life, give yourself to love, hope and joy a year 'round.  Best wishes and cheers!
Collage 2012 agg

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Making the time

As you know in my last post I enrolled in Leah's Art Everyday This Month Challenge and though her encouragement and words of wisdom where keeping my mind on getting something done everyday, I just didn't follow through for one reason or another which I won't bore you with here. However, with the holiday's coming up the spring in my mental step is getting lighter and more joyous.

I did manage to do three pieces in the last week or so.  Two of the pieces are did on the same day.  I found two sycamore leaves and I did one watercolour interpretation and then I got an idea to use the embossing powder to stamp the venation and then add the color in.  The first was I think successful, the second, I learned from and want to try again.  Here they are:

Watercolour with a bit of colored pencil

Embossing powder to capture the venation of the leave then applied watercolour.
 I think that the venation on this particular specimen was not definitive enough to make a clear print so it looks a bit mushy.  What do you think?  Suggestions for those who make prints with embossing powders?

The next piece I did last night.  It is of sea urchin skeletons. I used watercolour pencils to sketch in and create the regular and bumpy surface of these wonderful little gems.  I really need to work on my camera skills when taking photos of my work.  Just bought a book on this.  Gotta get reading and playing.  

Many Blessing to you all this Thanksgiving holiday.  I am thankful for the global community of creative people who are willing to share their expertise, encourage and support each other as we find our way on our life long journeys.  Thank you and best wishes to you and your families.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

REnewed Effort - the challenge begins

Leah Piken Kolidas has the annual November art challenge.  I decided to join the challenge this year to try and build my practice of creativity of any shape or form through whimsy and whim.  

Since late October I have been working on a 5 x 7" pieces of art per day.  I have a pile of "little art" but I have slacked off a bit this past week.  With that said, Anthropologie,  near my house, have offered a workshop to build items for their winter window display.  Stacy the creative director of that particular store is building a winter wonderland of paper.  It was totally fun.  In fact, it reminded me how much I love to just play and create pretty things.  Here are the results of my efforts:

The Cupcake!

Top view of the Cupcake.

Winter Cake!

The theme for Anthropologie window displays this year is winter animals and forests made entirely of paper.  You should see the polar bear - life size!  I couldn't take a picture of it.  In anycase, we were taught how to manipulate the paper to create cupcakes, cakes and macarons.  I would love to work for the Anthropologie Art directors. Whoa!  Can I dream?

Okay,  this week I hope to get back to my 5 x 7" art - a - day practice.  I am also playing with patterns to make coffee cup protective sleeves out of pretty fabrics and crochet.  Hope to show you results soon.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Autumnal Mood Board 2012

Autumn is a favorite season for me.  It inspires reflection, creativity and just being cozy and thankful for all that I have been blessed with in my life.  Autumn is filled with texture and colors that are velvety and rich.  Like a full bodied wine or a soft cashmere blanket its all about comfort and simple and gracious living.  Enjoy my mood board and may it inspire you to enrich your life with the colors, textures and patterns of fall.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy Autumn!

I have been absent too long once again.  The school year has gotten off to a good start and though I am exhausted already, I have not been idle.  Yes, my post are not happening and I do, once again, apologize.  My plan - pledge  to you but also to myself is to get As The Art Flies back up and running again.  My goal is to retool and build my art practice.  With that said, what can you expect in the coming weeks?  Well, I have set a challenge for myself to create something everyday.  I have not been totally 100% successful but I have been working.  Sorry no pics yet but I will get them up.  I am also working out in my brain a reflective process to figure out where I need to point my creative compass.  At this time the fog is clearing and I am sailing with favorable winds towards a more craft - mixed media approach that utilizes my skill set of drawing, assembling, constructing and sewing.  Simply put I am not a painter - I tried as I come from a long line of painters but where my heart truly lies is using my hands to craft.  So, to my readers who have come back and tried to find something new, I hope to be more active and engaged in my blogging on As the Art Flies.



Monday, July 9, 2012

Housekeeping: Bookcases redone

In an effort to make my home the creative and comfortable place I have dreamed it to be, I have begun the process of weeding out clutter and reorganizing my storage units around the home.  I also have been thinking of ways to redecorate the place in a style that was easy to keep up and provide the beautiful surroundings I desired.  Among many,  I have two old bookcases that I originally stained white and were now pretty tired looking.  Now, let's back up a bit as there is a history - albeit brief - on why I am even fixing a beady eye on the bookcases at all.   Here's what happened:

My condo sustained water damage from an up-stairs water heater.  Two weeks later living room corner walls had been torn out, dried out and reconstructed.  In preparing for that I had to pack up books, china and sewing/art supplies.  As I was planning to put it all back, I decided to use the paint the constructions guys left behind to refurbish the two small bookcases that I planned to keep.  In general, I find that painting furniture is a tedious business! I prayed that it could be done in two coats.  The bookcases are totally made of wood - no composite anywhere - and I was able to do the painting in two coats of interior semi-gloss paint.  However, the backing is just plan rough plywood which would take a lot more effort to get a smooth paint job done.  How could I do finish this project without going to any expense or more time?  Light bulb went off!    I had an 18th century print shelving paper that I had not completely used.  So, I pried off the backs, measured out the shelving paper, peeled off the backing on the paper and smoothed it down with a brayer.  I folded the edges over towards the back which would not be seen.  Then reattached the bookcase back to the cases.  They came out pretty good!  Here is one of them:

This is the shelving paper pattern I used.  It is a pale grey on an off-white background.  Very subtle.

The book cases redone.
As I am going for a Gustavian-French urban country look (yeah, that is a mouth full), having white bookcases is part of the picture.  I was very proud of my make-do and mend effort.  Besides I was in luck that the workers left the 3/4 gallon can of paint behind, so there was no cost to me at all.  Everything that was used was on hand.  Expenditures:  $0.00  :)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Arts and Crafts: Kick starting my practice

Summer grasses 6/2012
I have not posted in a while and to be honest I was considering dumping this blog as I was not really making use of the space as I had hoped.  However, I did not let this one go and I have managed to do some serious reflection about why I have this blog at all. Originally, I had hoped to share my artistic projects thinking that if I had a forum to talk about it I would actually produce artwork. Well, as many of us struggling artist know, when 'art' is not the bread winner of your daily existence it often gets put on the back burner or set aside waiting...waiting...waiting for a window of opportunity.

In the last few months I have been seriously considering, AM I an ARTIST?  Am I really?  What does it mean to me to be an artist?  What does it take to have a passion about it  so strong that you do it over everything else? Although I still can't answer all the questions fully, I decided to own this:  I am a creative person who is an artist, a crafter, and an enthusiast for creative living.  So, I have switched my focus of this blog to share my ongoing project of creating a beautiful life. A life that is surrounded by beautiful and useful things (thank you William Morris).  A life that is evolving my artistic talents not only to go public at art shows but also to embrace my God given talents - to own them whether someone sees them or not.

With all this said, above is a quick practice piece using acrylics in a mixed media sketch book.  I found it at Blicks in Berkeley. I chose a large format 11" x 14" as I usually have sketch books of 9 x 12 or less. I wanted to just play with brush strokes and building depth. I am a trained technical illustrator in the genre of botanical and biological images, so painting doesn't come easy for me as I want to be detailed like when I use pen and ink or colored pencils.  The acrylics I find makes me look at things with a broader eye - breaking things into blocks of color and lights and darks.

As an educator I get my summers off (I call it battle pay with out the paycheck).  However, my time is my own and I can refocus myself on what matters to me.  The trick of course is to make creativity a habit like eating, sleeping and brushing your teeth!

A sketch a day.  Do something for 10 mins or more a day.  (Note:  I have allowed myself to include any sketching I do for historical costuming - see my other blog:

Try a new way of looking and interpreting an image.  This will help me try different mediums other than pencil, pen and ink.

To post regularly my efforts at least once a week.

I hope you will continue to join me and see how my progress moves along.  Thank you for your patience and hanging in there with me.  Cheers!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Letters and Numbers

The Creative Everyday theme for May 2012 is  ONE.  I have been creatively blocked for a while.  Yes, I can blame the energy sucking job, my distractions like watching Downton Abbey for the umpteenth time or just everyday stuff that I allow to get in my creative way.  Yet, the blame won't get me anywhere and I am pledging to let go and just accept that I am where I am suppose to be and I am finally getting my artistic butt in gear.  

The above is one of 18 pieces I have done since last July.  I had flurries of moments where I created grid after grid.  Once school started - I am a teacher by trade - the energy slowed to a grid here and a grid there.  Christmas came along and all my creative energy went into holiday crafting.  Yet, this most recent one was in an effort to redirect myself back to my ultimate goal:  Create an life that is infused with art.

These grids are a great exercise for me.  They allow me to not think and play with colors, textures and patterns.  It is an experiment in composition as well.  Like my mood boards that I change by the season, I like these grids.  They are orderly, quiet and soothing for me when I have had a trying day, moment or week.

I started these exercises last summer (2011).  The images are from magazine pages, bits and pieces I have culled from my favorite magazines.  I work in a 6 " by 12 " spiral sketchbook with paper that is a heavyweight natural, white and is able to take the Mod Podge I use to glue the squares down without buckling.  For the squares I use a Marvy Uchida 1" punch.  The images come from magazines that use a heavier weight of paper because I find that the Marvy Uchida will eat the paper if it is the cheap or super thin brand of magazine paper.

To start, I draw a 4 x 7 grid rectangle lightly in pencil, then arrange the squares in a pleasing way.  Sometimes I let it sit for a day or two and move things around - I also pray the cat doesn't do a jump on to the table and scatter the pieces.  Sigh.   Once I like the arrangement I carefully move the squares to the table in the right order.  I use a sponge brush and lay on a nice juicy layer of Mod Podge and then adhere the squares one by one in a single row using my fingers to quickly push out any air bubbles.  I then use a brayer - a hard rubber one use for linoleum prints to make sure the squares are flat and glued.  I repeat the process with the next four rows.  I put one thin layer of Mod Podge over the whole thing.

If you are one of those people who collect magazine pages and really need to weed out and also want a quiet easy exercise just to get your mind off your troubles, free up that creative bird to soar a bit try this.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Catching up! Early Spring Mood Board

I have been busy - work is not letting up and I have a few more weeks of craziness there.  The energy sucking continues.  Sigh.  However, the creative itch continues - so I try to satisfy or rather sooth the itch with some creative exercises that just take the edge off the irritation that I can't put my full focus on my art.  In the Winter I took a bulletin board that hangs on a wall at one end of my galley kitchen and created  a Winter mood board.  Actually I did it for Autumn as well.  Let's see did I post about these? Oh, here is the autumnal post:  The Winter one is...let's see, its, right...well I tried to do a link but for some reason google is messing with me and won't let me call up that post.  Sigh.

Well, March 21st has come and gone.  Primavera is here.  In California we are experiencing a very wet and cold spring with moments of beautiful sunny, tepid weather.  Daffodils are up and brightening up the landscapes and gardens.  Flowering quince and cherry are just dropping petals like snow on the green grasses.  Its beautiful!  Inspired, my mood board is now reflecting the shift from a stark winter to a soft and pastel spring.

Many of the images I use are from many magazines especially my favorites - Somerset Life, Marie Claire Idees, and Country Living British Edition.  Others come from scrapes and pieces of purchased patterned papers.  This is a board to inspire me and not something I would sell or use for sale.  So, I don't think I have infringed on other artists territory by posting my mood board.  If I have please let me know and many apologies. 

Anyway, it is fun going through my stash of papers and images and deciding which one's work well together in terms of color, texture and patterns.  In a way, its a great way to practice my composition skills for future reference.  I highly recommend making mood boards to get past a creative block and to rejuvenate the creative juices.  Give it a try.  You don't need a big space. I took an old cork board 24 x 32 that covered in an oatmeal colored linen.  I use sewing pins and tack all the images down.  I can move things around easily since nothing is permanent. So easy to put up and to remove for the next season or if the mood strikes me to do something else.

This exercise as gotten me thinking about Leah Piken Kolidas' ( Creative Every Day)  April's theme around 'Language'.  As I have a crazier three weeks to come at work, I am going to challenge myself to use the theme and work on something that I can share but mainly to get me moving beyond the cross roads where action and stagnation meet.  So, I will keep posted on how I get along as best I can!  Cheers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

D.I.Y. Project Week - inspired by Mollie Makes Magazine

I am a teacher at a San Francisco high school.  Between the 2 semesters we have an interim course period of about a week where teachers can teach a class to 18 students.  The courses range from Iron Chef, Dorm room cooking, Physics of Sledding and Yoga.  This was my first year doing the program.  Inspired by Mollie Makes Magaine  I created a D.I.Y Project Runway class to teach students how to sew (basic sewing machine use) and make accessories.  We started with a coffee cup cuff, moved on to a wallet - inspired by one one of the articles in Molli Makes.  Then I let them loose to be creative and use a variety of magazines and books I have from Tida Finnager's books to, yes, Mollie Makes magazines, and Altered Couture.  I am so proud of my students.  90% of them have never sewn before in their lives!  I had 15 girls and 3 boys. 

Note:  Because I didn't get permission from their parents to use their images, I am only going to show their products.  Cheers!
Coffee cup cuff.

This student took a tank top and used it as a pattern and created this bag.

Clutch with applique.

Drawstring bag all done by hand.

Zippered bag.  Hey, I never showed them how to set a zipper...they figured it out themselves!
There were more things that they made Infinity scraves, messenger bags, belts and all but I wasn't able to get pictures of those.  I had 5 days to teach them to sew and though not everything was done with a 'professional' eye the students learn something and had fun with it.  In the U.S. or at least in California, many schools do not teach home economics anymore.  One funding is not there for it.  Secondly, no one is coming out of college to teach home economics anymore and you have to have credentials to teach it in the public schools.  So, I thought this would be a great way to get young people into something different - thrift it and make it.

This project was done on mostly donations.  I got a lot of the fabric and notions as donations from parents and the community.  Teachers and parents and students lent their sewing machines.  Of all the sewing machines we had one worked the best an old 1960's Singer.  Amazing, right?  All the others kept breaking down and were too sensitive for use. 

Now with that said, I plan to do this next year but get another teacher to help me and we may break it up to more crafting and will include sewing, knitting, embroidery, jewelry making it but the premise will be thrift it then make it.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

The Wednesday after Christmas I went for a walk with a good friend and her 2 month old daughter.  We often walk together to get exercise and keep up with each other in many ways.  As we walked we encounter two very uplifting things.  One a family had set up on a deciduous tree a small plastic bucket with mail tags and permanent markers.  The sign asked:  What are you thankful for?  Both my friend looked at all the fluttering  tags with expressions of thankfulness.  We added ours.  What a wonderful way to celebrate our lives and share our joy of life no matter what is going on in our lives.  This simple mode of expression was a beautiful gift that this family could share with their neighbors.

We advanced to an eatery and had a nosh.  While we sat in the sun - yes we were wrapped up against the chill but the sun warmed us - a monarch landed in the bush next to us.  He/she wondered below the canopy of the leaves and the then boldly emerged to stand for its photo op.  What a beautiful reminder of how precious life is and how strong even a simple creature like this butterfly is.  This butterfly is probably one of the early arrivals of flocks of migrating Monarchs braving through ancestoral memory the migration from southern climates to come north and start life again.  Many do not make it but those that do remind us how strong we can be in life's journey to survive and thrive.

Best wishes in 2012 to you all.  May your days be filled with creativity, love, hope and joy.  No matter what the world (media, politicians and other unhappy souls) say or do, don't let anyone steal your joy and share it that joy.  Happy New Year!