Saturday, March 30, 2013

Old Before Her Time

In vintage photos everybody always looks old, even when they're not.  Partly I think it was the photography itself.  But largely it was likely that life was harder in many ways back then and people didn't live nearly as long as we do now.  People were hardened, early on.

About myself, I have to report that life has been getting easier as I've aged -- certainly not physically, but in most other ways.  I am recovering, or rediscovering, my more childlike self.  I am a woman of substance (internal substance, which is the only kind that truly matters), growing younger in spirit as I age.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The X Factor

The new-to-me element that was not included in 99% of my previous collages or art journal pages is people.

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I used images of people in collages, going back over five years.

Initially my collages focused on the natural environment, and sometimes animals.  After going through every issue of National Geographic from the mid-1980s forward for collage fodder, the spotlight on nature exhausted itself.

From there I gravitated to homes and architectural images largely -- domestic and industrial spaces and cityscapes ~ manmade environments, in short.  I also began to add words here.  (I'm not finished with this series of collages; you'll see more in future.)

My art journal pages began by showcasing things I like as well as design elements.  Now I've begun adding people to some pages, selectively.

Overall I see this as an evolution from the general and impersonal to the specific and more personal aspects of life.  Moving from the outer to the inner, diving more deeply into myself, connecting newly to the social and cultural world.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Facing Future I'm sitting here at the computer writing this post, I'm wondering whether we all consider the future to be in the same direction or not.  For me, the future is to my right, probably because I'm right handed and because most of us read from left to right.  So what's ahead is to the right.  It might not be that way for everyone.  The girl in the collage is looking to her left -- stage left as it were -- but who knows whether she's looking forward or back.  Don't mind me.

Something is different about this collage/journal page, different from my previous work (with a few rare exceptions).  Anyone want to venture a guess?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

By Color

The only way it works for me to organize supplies is by color.  Since so much of my work tends to be monotone in nature, or mostly so, arranging stuff by color turns out to be the only way I'll see what I've got to work with.

These are my Neocolor II watercolor crayons -- until the other day they lived in that nice flat two-tiered tin they came in...but it took up too much room on my shelf.  In this tiny space of mine, real estate is always an issue.  Now they're housed in two bins, cool tones in one, warm in the other.

My pen collection below, now in four flat bins stacked two high where the watercolor crayon tin used to be.  Black-white-gray pens in one, yellow-orange-gold-copper together, red and purple in one, and green and blue in the last.  With lots of room to grow.  One can never have too many pens.  Some of these I've had for eons, like the Tsukineko Fabrico markers which I don't use much.

I have a new favorite place to buy pens ~ JetPens.  They have absolutely the best selection of pens in every color available, their prices are the best, and they also carry Japanese stationery products you can't buy anywhere unless you live in a big city that boasts a Japantown.  If you're into fountain pens, they also have a huge supply of those, including handblown glass ones.  Free shipping in orders over $25.  No, this isn't an ad for JetPens, I'm just smitten with them.  And yesterday brought a dozen new pens now in my collection below.

I recycled these old file folders to house my magazine images, by color.  Taped up the bottoms so stuff doesn't fall out.  Previously all the images were in a big drawer, but I couldn't really see what I had without them being organized into color groupings.

And another tip ~ the best sharpener to use with crayons of any sort is an old eyeshadow pencil sharpener, one with a larger-than-normal hole.  "Crayon sharpeners" do not work for their intended purpose.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Self Love

I'm focusing on art journaling these days, have been doing little else.  I've been enjoying it tremendously...the whole process, including frequently reorganizing papers, scraps and images torn from magazines.

I like the hunting and gathering exercise, pulling a lot of things together, deciding what to use or not, playing with arrangements of elements.  It's its own kind of Zen.

It feels like a metaphor for life ~ gathering disparate elements, sifting and sorting and rearranging to create something new from the pieces that are left to work with.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New in the Shop

I recently made a great collection of sachets that are now listed in my Online Shop.

Filled with French lavender and Pakistani rose flowers
All fabrics are handmade (shiboried, discharged, batiked,
ecodyed or hand printed) except the black and white accents
Fabric includes silk, linen, and vintage cotton and linen

These highly scented pillows make wonderful sachets for
lingerie or other delicate personal items, as well as lovely adornment
for desks, dressers or night tables.  Keep them close at hand to ward off
headaches, or tuck under your pillow for sweet dreams. 
Small-sized sachets also make excellent pincushions.

Each sachet is unique, and each is listed separately
so you can purchase exactly the ones you want.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Little Gems

A few pages from my latest art journal, called Little Gems.  The pages are different widths, as will become more obvious as I post additional images next week.  Among other things I've been using some of the tiny 3x3 inch collages I did in 2010 as focal points...recycling my own art.

These pages are different for me from my earlier art journaling.  I'm not sure I can say exactly what's different about them and they may not look any different to you, but they are.  I'm sure it's a creative development kind of thing.  I'm planning to take a couple of art journaling online classes in the near future, one at a time, from Kelly Kilmer and Dina Wakely.  I love both their work and am looking forward to learning journaling techniques from them.
I'm also planning to take a collage painting class sometime from Jane Davies, another artist whose work I adore.  And in October I'll be taking India Flint's Wayfarer's Wanderbook workshop at Eugene Textile Center in Eugene, OR.  Very much looking forward to meeting India in the flesh and working with her for a couple days.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Eel River Sunset

Today is reveal day for Fiberactions' latest color challenge ~ using the colors in nature that show up in your local environment.   My quilt is called Eel River Sunset...and the sky really does look like this several times a year just steps away from my front door.

With the exception of the black linen representing the hills, all the fabrics were hand dyed and further surface designed.  Embellished with sewn-on seed beads.  Finished size is 18-1/2 x 25 inches.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Growing Supper

Future meals are up and growing in my new planter.  What you see here are four kinds of lettuce including romaine, plus arugula, mizuna, mustard greens, beets, spinach, cilantro and parsley.  I'll add basil plants as starts become available and I begin to eat off some of that densely-spaced lettuce.

Gardening in 100% topsoil is such a treat.  The last time I grew anything to eat was in rocky clay-filled ground with no real topsoil at all.  Things grew still, but planting and managing the soil was backbreaking.

Years ago I was an apprentice in the Organic Farm & Garden program housed at UC Santa Cruz.  The garden, located at the top of the hilly campus at Merrill College, was begun in the 1960s by Brit Alan Chadwick, who was almost single-handedly responsible for introducing the French Intensive Method of gardening to the world.  By the time I was there, in 1990, the soil was so fine and workable that you could stick your arm in up to your elbow with no problem at all.

Chadwick had started with a sloping rocky field.  Years of apprentices cleared off all the rocks, double dug the beds twice each year, added organic amendments constantly, and grew vegetables, flowers and cover crops rotationally.  The yield of that garden was amazing, and it was a beautiful sight to behold as well.  Rather like Eden.

My new redwood planter has soil almost like that, right from the get go.  And very soon I'll be eating out of it.  No more store-bought plastic tubs of mixed baby greens (that always go bad well before their sell-by date) for me.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Lies Beneath...

I've been tinkering with backgrounds in a special journal for same.  This is what I've done thus far.  The most recent is this first image.  I see improvement already over the first ones.

I'm working to get the knack of what works for me.  The thing I like best for spreading the paint is an old credit card.  The small spot effect is made by spritzing water on a second wet layer of paint, waiting for about 15 seconds and then blotting off the top layer where the water is.

For paint, I prefer "real" acrylic paints over "craft" acrylic paints, although I did buy a few bottles of the cheap stuff recently to Gelli print with.  It's true what they say, all those folks who write about the use of paint in their work ~ the cheap stuff has a really low pigment load, meaning it's mostly binder and doesn't have much coverage.  The binder is also weak and the colors can't be mixed successfully because they're already so highly mixed to begin with.  Of course you can paint over dry layers of the same stuff, but they just don't work like real acrylic paint.

The best use of the craft paint for me IS to use it on my Gelli paint, to get a nice thin layer of paint.  With as little pigment on the plate as this paint leaves, the first print is more ghost-like and you're not offprinting the first layer just to get it off the plate.  I'll likely use up the cheap stuff this way ~ or possibly I'll just donate most of to the local SCRAP.  And go back to using real paint exclusively -- although that doesn't mean it will be Golden Artist Colors (read: expensive).

Besides the 9x12 vertical journal I'm using for backgrounds, I've also started in on a 6x9 horizontal watercolor sketch book, doing the same thing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Suddenly Spring

At NorBAG on Saturday, we bound our own copies of the newsletter project pages, called Compendium.  Each volume consists of 4 signatures of 17 x 11 inch pages.  A new volume is issued every few years.  Mine starts at the beginning and goes through January of this year.  Folks who have been in NorBAG for numerous years might have bound earlier volumes previously.

I used some lovely paper a dear friend sent me, to cover the boards -- the back is wheat as well, although it appears blue in the photo.  The inside covers have Gelli plate prints, I neglected to photograph those.  I used hemp thread for the Coptic stitch binding on the 16 signatures.

On Sunday, not only did we have an extra hour of daylight, but it felt like a fine spring day.  I had all the windows open in Rose Cottage.  My 2 x 6 foot garden bed was delivered...I seated it where I want it and it's ready and waiting for soil and plants.  That will happen this week.  I'm itching to get going.

Here's to a great week for us all.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Snapshots From Paradise

The cat in this photo is my beloved Pippin, who reigned in my household from 1983 until her passing in early 1996.  Monet, I'm sure, you'll recognize.

This kitty is Grayson, another beloved and my first male cat.  He manifested himself from over Pippin's grave about a month after she passed.  He totally fell in love with Aja, the ginger kitty behind him in the photo.  Aja and Pippin overlapped in my life although they were ten years apart in age.  Aja passed in 2005 and Grayson left this life in 2006.  Aja and Grayson both overlapped with BeeGee for a year.  He's The One in my life, now.

Note to photo above:  About half of the artwork in this image is NOT mine, I make no claim to it.  They are the magazine photos, a copy of a magazine page and a cut-out kitty card.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Still Life with Art Supplies

Apropos of nothing I took a few still life photos yesterday in my studio.  I don't have a kitchen table or a nice place to photograph lovely old tea or coffee implements, and besides, I prepare neither at home in the traditional manner.  My shelves and flat surfaces are filled with books and art supplies and little else.

I'm on a creative role, doing a variety of fun things these days ~ making board covers for the NorBAG Coptic stitch workshop this Saturday (we'll be binding our own copies of NorBAG's 4-volume Compendium of project pages from monthly newsletters)....working daily in my new art journal (having pre-prepared backgrounds does make it a lot easier to fill a page or spread)...received a copy of L.K. Ludwig's Creative Wildfire (purchased used at Amazon -- I have her earlier Mixed Media Nature Journals and it was the latter that got me interested in mixed media years ago; her work stands way above so much of the other work out there these days)...ordered a 2 x 6 foot redwood garden bed to install on my rock lawn, so I can begin growing my own veggies this year -- it will arrive on al.

And I've got a lengthening list of other cool projects I hope to get to soon.  Early spring is definitely in the air, although I'm still wondering whether we'll have a real winter here or not.  Whatever...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Numero Due

This is the second "numbers" challenge book ~ i numeri Italiani ~ again featuring Gelli printed pages.  All these prints were made on cardstock.  The front and back cover papers were glued to thin board.  This is my first book with a Japanese stab binding ~ very easy and lovely because it is typically used on single sheets of paper rather than signatures of folios.  Finished size is 4 x 9 inches.

I found a great source for free fonts online recently, here it is if you're interested.  A lot of folks don't want to use free fonts for various reasons, but they work for me and there are a ton of cool fonts at this site.  The text font on this book is called Ransom Note.  The number font is Showcard Gothic, which is one of the standard options in Microsoft Office Suite.