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Author: Marilyn

Time Management

Time Management

This is a topic we would all rather not think about. When we have a young family and a job, managing to get everything done can be a huge headache, and we long for the time when we will have time to do the things we love and enjoy. Once we reach that place, it can be a wonderful time if we are healthy and have enough income to meet our needs.

But there comes a time when many things take longer to do than they once did, and require more creativity in how to do them safely. We try to simplify our chores or find someone else to do them. We get engrossed in a project and can’t believe the day is over so soon. Managing our time becomes important once again.

Work table with spools of gimp

At the moment I have three projects on my three work tables. Last week, I worked with the palm bark I have been picking up in my yard all winter, stitching pieces together to make a shape, or combining the bark with circles of hand made paper. I’m using gimp thread to sew them together. This is a shiny round cord, probably rayon with some kind of center string. I remember my mother crocheting handbags out of this stuff. This isn’t her leftovers, I found it in south Stockton some years ago, in tan, blue, green, black, brown, and yellow.

Two pieces palm bark sewn together

After I make a few more, I will add feathers and beads to the cords. My other two projects are barely started.

Palm bark with hand made yellow paper

Even though we are still having winter storms, spring is proceeding in my yard. The apricot tree has finished blooming. The plum is in full bloom and the peach and nectarines are starting to come out. Weeds are popping up everywhere. The trick is to do the weeding and cleanup whenever we have a dry day, which makes every day’s plans tentative. I managed to get the iris bed cleaned up last week. This week is focused on the strawberry bed, because one of the weeds that invaded last year is just days away from starting to bloom.

As I wrote at the end of January, I have begun working on my shell collection. The shells are arranged in drawers by family, but many of them have not been identified as to their species. I print out my electronic record for a family, and check off each shell number. I also have shells in the drawer, that are not on the list. I have to figure out where the shell’s data is and move it on the computer to it’s correct place in the list.

Scallop shells to be identified

There are shells that I collected fifty years ago that clearly do not belong to this family. Many of the older shells are not in plastic bags, but scattered about in several drawers if it’s a large family. This has become a fascinating endeavor in my evenings, recalling the beaches where they were found. I get caught up in the process, and needless to say, I’m not getting to bed when I should.

Where all of this is leading is that I must make choices in using my time. I have come to the point where I don’t have new art to write about every week, and if I want to make better work, I need to let things develop on their own schedule. Spring and early summer in the garden always means more to do than time and energy available. I also have two out of state trips between now and the end of June.

I have been writing blogs each week for almost two years, and the time has come to write less often. I don’t have any particular schedule in mind, but when I have something to show I’ll post it. If you already get my posts in your email, they will show up there. If they don’t come to your email, sign up in the form on the lower right side of this page.

Palm bark with hand made pink paper
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Walk-by Mixed Media

Walk-by Mixed Media

This began with a zipper style sandwich bag, containing a small slice of French bread, being left on top of a toaster oven. I needed some extra counter space one day and tossed it up there. Later that evening, someone else didn’t notice it and used the oven, resulting in a lamination of sorts. I was able to carefully peel the bag off the oven top, and immediately decided it would be included in an experiment of mixed media art.

Laminated plastic bag

Over the last week we have had a few days without rain and I have been busy finishing up winter chores outdoors. Since my studio is in an open room right off the kitchen, I saw the toasted bag every time I walked past my work table. Knowing I wouldn’t have time to begin another extensive art project, I thought about how I might use this bag. I went looking for a base that already had something I started but never used. I found an 11” x15” cardboard with a black surface on which I had made a textured shape of a starfish using white plaster.

I put this on the work table next to the bag. After numerous trips past it, I got up one morning and decided to paint the plastered part with some Golden Ultramarine Violet acrylic. After more walk-by’s, I added some Golden Interference Blue to highlight the purple shape. To the left side of the starfish, I added a narrow tag board rectangle that I had painted last summer with gesso and a bit of paint which covers an ad.

Painted starfish
In this condition, it sat on my table for a day or two as I went in and out of the house walking past it uncounted times. It needed something else before I added the bag, but what could I do quickly that would pull things together?

Going in and out of the yard, and looking out my kitchen window, I watch my silk prayer flags flying in the wind all day. They have been shredded by the many windy days this winter. I’ve been picking up the shreds and bringing them inside to use in something.

By laying some pieces over the board, I could guess how they might look. I was hoping the starfish would show through somewhat. Three scraps were glued on with acrylic medium, which goes right through the fabric, so I just dabbed it onto the fabric as it lay over the plaster and the rest of the board. I covered it with wax paper and weighted it to dry overnight. 

I was somewhat disappointed that I couldn’t see most of the starfish the next morning, because the paint on the fabric was dense enough to block the purple. I added a hint of the Interference where I knew the plaster was. Then I glued on the cooked plastic bag with soft gel, weighted it again, and let it dry.

I set the piece up so I could view it from a distance. I thought it still needed a little something. I considered a thin white strip on the right edge to kind of balance the white on the left side. That would draw too much attention, so I added some scribble with colored pencils.

Plastic Ocean

“Plastic Ocean” had no design plan other than to use the damaged bag. It evolved as I walked by it many times a day asking “What if …?”  This doesn’t make great art, but keeps the mind working.   Art therapy indeed.

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The Dark and the Light of Growing Older

The Dark and the Light of Growing Older

For the second project in the online class I was working on in January, the instructor told a story about her grandfather, using photos of him as a boy and later as a man. She said she heard he had some troubles as a young man, and to illustrate this she pasted copies of the two photos she had on separate light backgrounds and mounted them on a dark board, leaving a space between them to represent the time in his life when he had troubles.

As I tried to think of a similar story in my family, nothing came to mind, but I have been aware recently how my own life is changing in ways I don’t like. At the same time, I have many things that I am thankful I can enjoy. I decided to tell my story of how things are right now.

Front side of box to hold the cards.

I didn’t want to make a book with these cards, so I borrowed an idea from Seth Apter, where he uses kid’s flash cards, works on both sides, and makes a case for them.

For the cards I used stiff cardboard from the back of watercolor tablets, cutting blocks that are roughly 4.5” x 5.5”.  I used pages torn from old books with printing and diagrams, to cover them on both sides using matt medium, and folding the sheets over the edges as the instructor had demonstrated.

After they were dry, I laid the eight cards on newspaper and covered them with black gesso on one side, let it dry, and used white gesso on the other side. On the sides with the white gesso, some of the printing on the paper shows through.

I made a list of what I wanted to put on each card. For each less than happy development on the dark side, I chose a positive thing about my life at this time.

The hardest part of this project was finding images to illustrate my situation. Magazines are loaded with young women. Even ads for products that older people might need rarely have a person who appears old unless they are face down on the floor and can’t get up!

I glued the carefully trimmed images to the cards with matt medium. I didn’t coat them with matt medium, but I probably should have.

I feel like my arms have gotten shorter.

One of the cards was about not being able to reach things in cupboards and closets, and not feeling comfortable on a ladder in the yard sometimes. On the back side, I acknowledge that I’m feeling ready to let go of things I don’t use, but I keep because they belonged to someone in my family.

 

After the images were glued, I printed out words to go with them. These were trimmed close and glued with Yes paste. The gessoed background had a bit of a gritty texture, so I decided to finish the cards with a layer of encaustic wax. I like the feel of the waxy surface.

Cards get a layer of encaustic wax

However, some of my images became transparent when I waxed them. The print from the other side came through, as on this image of a robe. It seemed to happen with images taken from a monthly publication from a nearby shopping center that uses a newsprint type paper.

Image about getting to sleep late

On this card you can also see the printing on the paper that was the first layer on the left side behind the clock, and on the right side behind the robe is a piece of a map.

While I was waiting for things to dry, I created a case for my cards. I have a big old garage with lots of storage, where I have a closet of small and odd size boxes and containers. I painted the box with black gesso, added some images and words, and covered it with a coat of a gloss gel medium.

Back of the box holding cards

Making art with friends

 

 

This was not a project I intended to put on display somewhere. It was a way for me to get my irritable thoughts out of my head, and remind myself of all the aspects of my life that I can celebrate. I get to stay home in bad weather, wear what I want, sleep late if I need to, read all kinds of things, and make art with my friends.

 

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Crafting a Valentine

Crafting a Valentine

A Stand-up Valentine

In February, for most of the last 23 years, I have made a valentine for my friend Robert. He is an appreciator of art, and I can say exactly what I want to say when I make it myself.

Last year was an exception. I was at Walgreen’s looking for birthday cards for two of my granddaughters, when I happened to find a beautiful valentine card that said what I was thinking, in a much better way than I could have said it.

This year, I didn’t know what I wanted to say, but the valentine started to evolve anyway. In January, the leader of my local art group asked us to bring some 4” x 4” square pieces decorated with hearts of some kind, to be mounted into one large piece.

Two of squares with hearts cut from decorated paper

I made my four squares on watercolor paper by cutting heart shapes out of scraps of printed papers.  The tiny hearts are sequins. However, the morning of the meeting to assemble the large display, I was too exhausted from yard work the day before and went back to bed. I took them to the next meeting, but she didn’t need them.

Last Thursday, the group was using spray paint and stencils on some paper hearts. I brought the squares and spray painted the back sides, hoping to come up with an idea of how to make these into a valentine for this year.

Fortunately, we have had a lot of rain days, so I had time to come up with a way to connect the squares together. Since both sides were decorated, I couldn’t just apply hinges like I would have if I had actually planned the project from the beginning.

I laid out the four squares so that the cut hearts alternated with the spray painted sides. I have a roll of white Tutu fabric from an estate sale, from which I cut three strips about 1¼” inch wide.

Hinge connecting two squares before Tutu fabric is trimmed

I glued half of a strip to the left side of the spray painted square with matt medium. I glued the second strip onto the right side of that same square. The third strip was pasted on the left side of another spray painted square. I had to let this dry, and then turn it all over in the correct order, so I could work on the other side.

I pulled the unpasted sides of the fabric between the squares and glued them to the spray painted edges on this side. I let them dry, with some weight, over night. In the morning, I trimmed off the excess fabric. This makes an almost invisible hinge that can be bent either way.

Spray painted squares with words

Then, I had to come up with some words, which I typed and printed from the computer. After cutting around each phrase as close to the letters as possible, I used “Yes” paste to secure them to the spray painted squares.

To soften the white printer paper, I used a pale peach color watercolor pencil to lightly tone the paper, and blended it with a damp paint brush.

This has been one of the simpler valentines I have made for my man. It stands up easily as a table decoration. The hardest part was deciding what to say.

The back side

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day

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The Woe of the Prophet Isaiah

The Woe of the Prophet Isaiah

Unlike my sons and many other people, I never got in the habit of playing music all day. Instead, I have a habit of running the radio while I do routine household chores. Last Friday, radio news reports were playing clips about new state laws regarding abortion, when into my mind popped a memory of a tapestry I had woven in 1981, about this time of year.

I had begun weaving pictorial tapestries based on verses of scripture in the summer of 1980. This idea grew out of a number of years of reading through the Bible in a year. I actually enjoyed the Old Testament more than the New Testament. I underlined verses that I liked, but I didn’t mark up page after page.

Isaiah 5:20 is one of two verses I underlined in the first ten chapters of Isaiah.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil     

            Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

            Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

                                                  (New American Standard 1975)

 

Tapestry based on Isaiah 5:20

My weaving shows lemon juice being squeezed into a pot labeled ‘Honey’, a light bulb that is black giving off blue light, and a fetus in the womb being attacked with a dagger. The word ‘Woe’ appears twice in the tapestry. The prophet Isaiah begins his thoughts with ‘Woe’ six times in chapter five.

While Roe v. Wade had been the law since 1973, the debate in 1980s, as I remember it, centered around the question of when did the “tissue” become human. Now, forty some years later, our country is still making changes in the way we interpret and apply this law. Personally, I believe abortion is wrong, but I do not think it should be illegal.

I think Isaiah’s words could be applied to many things in our present day. And, like in his day, our leaders pay no attention to prophets or history.

I’m not reading the Bible through each year any more, but regardless of our political affiliation or none, as citizens, we need to call out our leaders when they allow evil to be called good, and when they prefer secrecy and darkness to openness and light.

 

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The Shell Game — What I Picked Up

The Shell Game — What I Picked Up

Whelk shells from Mother’s Honeymoon

When I was a young child, my mother would hold the shells, pictured above, up to my ear, so I could hear the ocean. She found them on her honeymoon in February 1941, somewhere in Florida. The picture below, made with shells and painted, was a wedding gift to my parents, and it hung on our living room wall all the years I was growing up.

Mother’s shell picture

When I was about nine, we started to spend my father’s vacation at a cottage on Lake Erie, where I would occasionally find shells in the shallow water or at the beach. I’d put them in my pocket and take them home.

I might have become a biologist of some sort, if my high school biology class had not been such a disappointment. John Marshall High had two or three biology teachers but only one biology classroom.  I went to Jr. High at the high school, and the art room was just down the hall from the biology room, so I walked past it several times a day. All tenth graders took biology, and I had been waiting for three years to be in that class with all the wonderful natural displays. Unfortunately, my biology class took place in the physics lecture room, which only had roll-up charts of the solar system.

I was twenty-one the first time I saw the ocean, when my family stayed a night or two at a motel in Virginia Beach, Virginia, after a few days in Washington, D.C. where we visited the White House, the Smithsonian, and the Pentagon.

I was eager to see the ocean again when my husband and I spent two weeks touring through Florida on Ray’s vacation. Living in Cincinnati, we drove down the Atlantic side stopping here and there. Coming back north on the Gulf of Mexico side, I remember floating on the salt water at St. Pete beach. The beach was loaded with hundreds of shells. Most of them were small or broken but that didn’t matter – I wanted to take them all home.

I have been hauling home shells every chance I get for over fifty years. I learned how to catalogue what I found with an item number, the date found, and the location. Most of the shells I could identify from shell books. Now, my collection has over 4600 item numbers, but many of those items have more than one shell of that species with that location and date, so I know I have well over 5000 shells.

When I was working, I went on several trips with a small group of collectors where we spent every day collecting and cleaning shells. I collected in Baja, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Panama, and The Bahamas. Also, from Santa Cruz to Seattle on the west coast.

Last year, I finally got everything I had collected, or otherwise acquired, entered into my log. This started as a hand written list, but is now also in a digital data base. The shells are housed in metal or plastic cabinets in my office room.

Some of the cabinets where I keep my shells

And then, given the size of the collection and my increasing age, I began to ask myself, what will I do with them?  While I haven’t found an answer to that question yet, I’m aware that some museums and universities will take donations of well documented collections, so that might be a possibility.

I can’t really answer that question until I know what I have, and what condition the shells are in. They are housed by families in the drawers. I have begun to print out sections of the digital record, one family at a time. I’m looking at each item. I’m finding a few shells that are not in the right family, as well as typos and formatting inconsistencies in the digital list, which I am correcting.

This is an exciting time to be identifying each shell with all the resources available on the internet. I can see wonderful images just by entering the scientific name of the shell.

When I attend the annual convention of the Conchologists of America, I’m often asked which shells I like best. I don’t have a favorite family, but I probably will discover one or two I like best while I’m doing this.

Big shells on top of a bookcase

This is my hobby that I enjoy after dinner. I’ve only just begun – this will be a long project with about 160 families.  I’m having so much fun seeing what I have, where they came from, and remembering the place, or the trip, where I found them.

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Telling a Story with Collage

Telling a Story with Collage

Grape vines and Strawberry patch

For the last three weeks, I’ve been working my way through an online course from the Jeanne Oliver network (Jeanneoliver.com), called “Art as Allegory” which offers instruction in several collage techniques which may help you tell a story. The instructor shares a story from her childhood which she is still telling people to explain why she feels she needs to work extra hard sometimes. She encourages course members to recall a similar story that they often relate to people, and perhaps find a way to let it go.

Since I told most of my childhood stories in my eBook “Looking for Connection,” I had to find a current story that I keep repeating. The most obvious is how the time required to care of my yard prevents me from making art in my studio.

Thankfully, we have had a good number of rain days this month, and I have completed one of the two projects suggested in this course. Of course, my work doesn’t look anything like what the instructor showed, but that’s the point of these courses; showing techniques and helping you generate ideas in your own individual way.

We started by making a set of 4” x 4” substrates out of foam-core or cardboard, to be made into a book, or mounted on a backing. The boards were covered in plaster gauze, (which I had never used), and when dry, given a coat of Plaster of Paris, allowed to dry, followed by a light coat of acrylic paint, most of which was wiped off. I used cardboard, didn’t smooth the plaster as well as the instructor did, and didn’t wipe off as much paint as she did.

In between rain showers, I walked through the yard taking photos of plants and sections that require significant amounts of work throughout the year. I picked up a few sticks, leaves, and seeds to add interest. I printed out color prints of my photos on regular paper. The printer I have now has ink that does not run when it gets wet, so I could adhere the prints to the squares with matt medium and cover the whole block with a coat of it.

The green paint on each square adds to the feeling that this is a garden. One block shows my grapefruit tree and berry bushes, another, the strawberry bed and grapevines in the photo at the top of this blog. These two are in the center of the finished piece because they are the reward for the labor.

Bird feeder upper left, fountain lower right

 

Around these are photos of the bird feeder and fountain, and invasive plants that need to be removed annually, lest they take over the garden. I show the sycamore leaves that accumulate everywhere, vines of ivy and honeysuckle that need to be trimmed back, and the palm fronds in my driveway from the neighbor’s trees.

 

The crack where the water gushes out from a leak.

 

 

Also, I have the sage that feeds my hummingbirds during the winter, the iris bed where these beauties are gearing up for spring, and the sprinkler system that has sprung a huge leak somewhere under the patio cement.

 

 

And, not to be forgotten, a photo of the pile of branches that were left after I picked up sticks from storms this month and couldn’t fit these into the green waste bin .

Photo of branches too large to go in green wast bin from last two storms.

I located a 16” x 20” board with an old painting that I acquired somewhere, and loosely covered it with a coat of dark brown paint. I mounted the twelve squares to this board with heavy gel medium, leaving half an inch space between them. I weighted it with bags of rice, while it dried for a day or two.

I picked up a frame at Michael’s using my 50% off coupon, and actually hung the finished piece up on Sunday. Finding a good place for this in my house took some doing, as all my walls are well filled.

The finished collage

I’m really delighted with the outcome. If I should have to leave this property when I get older, this collage will hold many fond memories and stories for me.

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If You Don’t Give Grandma Gift Ideas, She’ll Send You Something Silly!

If You Don’t Give Grandma Gift Ideas, She’ll Send You Something Silly!

Pipe cleaner butterfly

At the beginning of November 2018, I was cleaning up my studio area after completing on online class, and noticed five small substrates I made during the summer, lined up on a rack, waiting to be used. I quickly decided I didn’t want to see them there in 2019, so I laid them out on my work table, hoping for an idea to come my way.

I thought back to the art retreat I went to in 2017 in Santa Rosa, where I spent two days learning how Finnabair makes her fascinating creations. I hadn’t made anything like that since I came home. I looked at the experiments I had been doing with handmade paper, wire, and palm bark. What would happen if I added these materials to what I learned at the retreat?

I had to find my notes from the retreat to recall how we began the piece I made. I didn’t have the finished item from the retreat because I had given it to my granddaughter for her High School Graduation.

I cut up patterned paper into small squares, pasted them to each substrate with gel medium, and coated them with soft gel, through which I dragged a comb to create texture. When that layer was dry, I added torn strips of handmade paper and a small piece of palm bark to each substrate. I was making a series so they all had a small amount of each material.

At this point, I realized I needed a focal point in each piece. While looking for something else, I had recently come across a box of curious animals made of coiled pipe cleaners. They had been in that drawer for years, since I added my mother’s craft stash to mine. They looked like the things she made in Florida at the mobile home center. There was a caterpillar, a mouse, two bears, and one I couldn’t identify, which I decided would be a butterfly.

Pipe cleaner caterpillar

I added garage junk: nuts, screws, paper clips, washers, and odd metal and plastic pieces using  gel medium for the glue. I highlighted the metal with metallic paint. I was having such a fun time, but what was I going to do with them when they were finished?

I hadn’t done any Christmas shopping because I had no idea what to get my three granddaughters. Why not give each of them one of these creations?  The little animals were made by their great-grandmother. This was just the incentive I needed to get them finished soon even though I was cleaning up the yard every day, too. The next logical thought was that the mouse should go to my son.

Full view of butterfly collage

To the caterpillar and butterfly pieces I added some dark green paper leaves and flowers. I tried to highlight the leaves with some shiny paint, but it didn’t work out well, and I couldn’t remove the paint.

These were both on wood substrates.

 

 

Brown Bear on cork base with silver highlights

 

The brown bear is on a cork substrate which was glued to a piece of craft wood to give it stability. I liked working with the cork. It made a nice texture for adding paint, and the gel medium stuck to it well. The dark brown mass in each collage is the palm bark. The tan area is the handmade paper which was torn into odd shapes. This piece has silver highlights.

 

Pack Rat in his nest

The mouse is actually a pack rat as can be seen by all the junk in his nest. The next is made with the palm bark. On the bottom below the bark is a strip of black woven mesh, probably nylon, which I picked up in a garage at an estate sale. The metal pieces were highlighted with brass metallic paint. His corrugated cardboard substrate was glued to a craft board.

 

Panda

One of the substrates was made on a piece of cardboard with the lower right corner cut out. I resolved this by mounting it on a piece of light weight craft board that was slightly smaller than the cardboard, painted that corner with a pink metallic paint that I used for highlights on the piece, and glued a small shell to the craft board. The green diamond pattern on the bottom and right side were made by using thickened gesso with a stencil. After it was dry, I applied green paint and rubbed most of it off. This has a little panda bear sitting in the palm bark, surrounded by tiny fabric roses. He has now joined the menagerie in my bedroom

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An Auspicious Beginning for 2019

An Auspicious Beginning for 2019

On the first two days of the New Year, I raked up leaves from two good size areas in the yard that had not gotten any attention for cleanup, as well as the patio which always needs to be cleaned up. I hauled a total of eleven full garbage cans to the street for pickup by the county.

On the third day of 2019, the county came with their heavy equipment and picked up the pile of leaves at 8:45 a.m. I was still too exhausted, after eight hours of sleep, to attend my M&M art group, went back to bed and slept two more hours that morning.

In the afternoon, I went to the grocery store. When I returned, I saw that my yard man had come while I was gone and had deposited the leaves and grass clippings from my yard as well as from a yard across the street in the nice clean street. Grrrr!

On Friday, the forth day of the New Year, I made a quick trip to an estate sale nearby before I went out to the street to clean up the leaves, because the county was not coming back, and rain and wind were forecast. I filled my large green waste bin and began to fill leaf bags. Fortunately, a neighbor walked over to ask when the pick up was. He graciously offered his empty yard waste bin and proceeded to pick up the mess with his shovel and pitch fork. I am so thankful for his help.

On the fifth day, I did some household chores, and after supper I watched the first video of the online class, which I had planned to start on Friday.

On Sunday, day six, the rain started while I ate breakfast. Rain days should be art making days, right? But first, I reorganized a small book shelf so I can reach things without using a step stool, and dusted everything so I’d have a clean start. The wind was blowing, rain pouring down.

I made a pot of soup. Robert came in the house and cooked something. As we were eating, his van started sounding its alarm. He was able to shut it off quickly from inside the house. I was looking out my large front window as the man across the street had his headlights pointing directly at my yard and saw a surge of huge palm fronds blowing into my yard. Robert speculated that a frond hitting his van probably set off the alarm.

Dozen palm fronds wrapped around my birch trees

I noticed that the lights were out across the street. A little while later, Robert’s wheelchair became stuck in a flowerbed near the garage when a wheel slipped off the sidewalk. We called the guys across the street to rescue him. Then our power went out for about twenty minutes.

So this morning – I’m writing on Monday evening, January 7, 2019 – the mess from the storm was not a surprise. The rain had passed on overnight, and the day actually had a little sun between the clouds. My activity for the day was obvious. Clean it up!

Marilyn’s driveway Monday morning

I loaded at least 35 palm fronds into my truck, with small pieces going into the trash bin that was waiting for pickup in the street. These fronds are huge, hanging over the end of my Chevy S10 buy at least two feet, maybe more.

Here we are a week into 2019 and nothing to show for it art wise. Tomorrow, day 8, I will tarp the truck and drive half an hour to the dump. Yes, I was planning to go there some time this winter, but not this soon.

More rain is expected on Wednesday – maybe then I’ll get going with my class.

I hope your New Year has started well.

If not, perhaps we should fasten our seat belts and hold on tight!

 

 

 

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A Glance Back, a Peek Ahead

A Glance Back, a Peek Ahead

I started 2018 by choosing the word “Weed” as my word for the year and I did all kinds of weeding in the yard, in my eleven bookcases, and in my closet. I’m still finding cupboards and drawers that could use some cleaning out, but they will have to wait.

I went through approximately a nine foot stack of old magazines cutting out pictures and discarding the rest. I’ve done such a good job of staying on top of this, that Saturday evening when I needed some magazines to select random images that appealed to me for a quick exercise in a book I was reading, I could find only one magazine in the recycle bin.

I began the year completing one or more unfinished projects that had been hiding here and there, as well as finishing an online collage course I had started in fall of 2017. I went through the rest of the year feeling like I wasn’t putting in the studio time I wanted to.

A quick inventory on Sunday of the work I did counted fifteen collages using a variety of materials, and two baskets made from the Watsonia I harvested from the garden in September. I completed two additional online courses, attended the Basket and Gourd two-day conference in Visalia, and led one activity for my local mixed media group.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s has had two primary activities—get the big leather-like Sycamore leaves out of the back and side yard into the street for pick-up tomorrow, and in the evening when I was exhausted from the leaves, set some art goals for 2019.

My inspiration board for the last three years.

First, I have a room divider in the studio that is also a place where I can hang things that inspire me. Nothing has changed on it since 2015; past time for something new to look at.

I have been thinking about a yard art project for over a year which involves many small items I have collected that are no longer useful. In the last few months I have been planning how to actually do it, and acquiring parts for it.

Many years ago when I lived in Cincinnati, I did some plein air painting and really liked it. But then I had my first baby and it was too much trouble to leave the house to paint. On Saturday, while raking up leaves, I stubbed my foot twice on a tree root in a place I walk often. I covered it with one of those square milk carton carriers which will make a perfect place to sit and paint in my yard.

Safety solution – a seat for plein air painting

On my computer is a digital book on how to use cold wax. I finally got around to ordering some cold wax, so I can try using it as I watch the lesson. I have one more online collage course lined up, which I hope to begin on Friday of this week.

In 2018, I have acquired as gifts or at estate sales, eight wonderful books about various artists that I’m eager to read, perhaps at lunch time, or instead of Facebook.

Art books waiting to be read

These are enough ideas to get me going. I’m praying for a lot of rain in the next few months, so I don’t spend all winter working outside like last year. I think it is important to write out some specific ideas for the creative work, and to leave some space for new ideas and opportunities to emerge.

Wishing you a Creative New Year!

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