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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here are 4 5 X 7's that I completed yesterday. I went downstairs to clean up the basement, as I have some friends coming over today to do some art, and I rediscovered my gazillions of papers that I made in Laura's class last fall. They were calling to me, so I got to work. Everything was all ready; all I had to do was tear, rip, collage, and iron. This one is my favorite.
This one uses a photo I took of some recycled letters I made for my daughter's bulletin board; she teaches 8th grade science. I think they work nicely here--you have to look at the piece for awhile before you discover the word, which is intended.
This piece is more purply, which is a color I don't often use in my art. The pieces that have the white textured circles are from a photo I took at the Chicago Garden show several years back. It adds a lot to this abstract piece, which has a mystical quality to it, I think.
And this one reminds me of a couple of days ago, when my granddaughter Addison, age 3, and I blew bubbles on the back porch. It was a sunny day, and the sound of her giggles plus the sun (which has been missing for weeks) just made for a memorable moment. These "bubbles" are a photo of a planter, which is one the porch, and is filled with small glass ornaments to resemble bubbles. I varnished all these pieces with high-gloss, which added to the depth quite a bit.
Feels so good to get back into the creativity mode.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Here's what I created today! I've had this collection of wine corks for years, always thinking I'd do something with them, and never knowing what. I wanted to make ART, not a corkboard or trivet or whatever. I had bought this printer's drawer last Spring when we were in Door County, and today when I went into my studio, it called to me. I decided to try an assemblage of some sort, and when I went searching through my stash I ran across a few random corks and thought they might work as part of the assemblage.
Then after rummaging through my corks, I fell in love with them all over again. Each one has its own unique pattern and markings and holes. Each one came from a bottle that was used in a celebratory way--even if it was just a TGIF. So each cork has its own story. I decided to use only corks at that point.
And of course, I couldn't just leave them naked; I played with a few fibers first, and then ran across some beads on a thin wire, and decided to use a few charms also. They attached easily with a straight pin, curled on the end so the charm remains in place. My husband says it's an extravaganza of texture.
I can't decide if I like it better horizontally or vertically. Either way seems to work. I'm very pleased with my day's work. And it felt great to be back in the creativity groove.
Why do I always feel I need a visual with my blog? Guess that's the artist side of me. But today I need to just write, so am not taking the time to use a photo. The big Duff Christmas party is now over, and I feel the need to create. Seems that my studio has taken a back seat to holiday preparations, and it really wants to be in the driver's seat today. So I am headed there for sure. Don't even know what I'm going to do, but I trust that once I enter, I will know.

I also sense that I need to return to my morning pages. They keep my day in balance, and I know they are essential to me. Why do I avoid them? hmmmm--a subject for my morning pages, for sure!

And now, on to a day of creativity--with a few breaks for cleaning up after yesterday's party. See--I WAS planning the opposite (breaks for creativity). NOW I see it needs to be reversed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter's Early Arrival

Someone forgot to inform Winter that she wasn't due for another couple of weeks! Here's a photo I took yesterday of our back porch door. The chickadee stickers are all over the windows; they help keep the birdies from flying into them.

I'm finally getting over my cold and feeling more energy. Just in time for holiday preparations. How I long to just spend a day in my studio--even cleaning and organizing would be fine, as long as I can be in there! But I'm afraid that will have to wait until next year. I just have to remember that I'm still being creative--planning, decorating, cooking requires creativity also.

Perhaps between Christmas and New Year's, I'll give myself the gift of studio time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

completed Claybord pieces

I finally was able to complete my claybord pieces from MaryBeth Shaw's class this fall. I added the collage elements and varnished them. It's an abstract landscape of the Valley Ridge farm. These two are 8 X 10's.
This detail photo went sideways on me, but you get the idea. The colorscheme is more monochromatic, and therefore quite different for me, who likes lots of vivid colors. This was a challenge to use texture more than color.
Another sideways detail. We carved into the claybord, and then I added more texture on top of that to the "ground" area. I learned so much in this class! MaryBeth is teaching again there next year, one class of color theory and another with painting on various hard surfaces. Looking forward to taking both these classes.
And these are the original 4 claybord pieces I did, 4 X 6's. I love the look and feel of these. They are hanging on my wall. I plan to do more "claybording" after the holidays.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cocoa Beach Sunrise

Have been away from here for awhile! First Hawaii, then Cocoa Beach, then has all been quite wonderful, but I am longing to return to my art this next week. Here is a photo of a fabulous sunrise I witnessed while in Florida. It is one of about 40!!

What stays with me from Cocoa Beach: the tastes of great seafood, finding lots of seashells, witnessing the Atlantis Shuttle launch, the sound of the ocean, the feel of sand beneath my feet, the hilarious sandpipers who run back and forth with the water, and lots of laughter.

My studio is a big mess, and I'm debating whether to ignore it and just dive in, or take the time to organize and tidy up. I'm thinkin my art hunger will compel me to do the first!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reflections on Kauai #3

Here's a photo of a fisherman casting his net. I saw this from the balcony of our room; he was right below us. I was so surprised to see that the fishermen use the "old ways" of fishing. I thought about how this little island has such a rich heritage and how hard they try to maintain that heritage.

Even the hula dancers surprised me. I suppose I was under the stereotyped impression of what their dancing would be like, and I was fortunately wrong. The hula is so graceful! It reminded me of ballet in its movements. And although I didn't know what each movement meant, I did know that there WAS meaning behind each one. I learned from one dancer that it takes many many years to become a master, or teacher. She had been dancing since age 7, and at about age 30, she still was not qualified to be a teacher. Again, that rich heritage.

And the music! I just fell in love with the unique rhythms of Hawaiian music. I bought 2 CD's while there. On the label of one, which is a compilation of the best throughout history, it talks about how Hawaiians need to celebrate their music because of its uniqueness. There is no music that is uniquely Connecticut's or uniquely Tennessee's. But Hawaii does have its own music. And that fact should be a source of pride.

So what does all this pride in heritage teach me? I guess it's that I need to be more aware of the rest of the world. Technology has brought us here, on the mainland, many advantages. And we are so quick to grasp for more, forgetting where we've come from. And forgetting that not everyone in the world lives as we do. Or has the same values that we do. It sounds trite, but now that I've experienced it, it has more meaning for me. It's opened my eyes so to speak. Sure, we see on TV and in movies about how others live around the world. But to be immersed in another culture and another environment is an awakening.

It awakes our spirits in recognizing that we are all connected, even though different. We truly are one, whether we recognize it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we embrace it or not.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reflections on Kauai #2

(Written 10/21/09): Wednesday Sunrise

I am sitting on the balcony of our oceanfront room. The bird songs called me from my bed....a hint of mango color in the morning sky and a blurry mist out on the water....the ocean provokes feelings of POWER and MAJESTY....of vastness and humility.....the sounds churn up my being as though my body is responding to the energy that crashes on shore. My soul recognizes something here. Something central and basic to us all.

(Written today): What is that central and basic thing? A connection to the water? If so, it is a connection that is physical. The waves, mimicking my breath--in and out. The rushing sound, as though it has something important to impart. I could sit and stare and listen for long periods of time, just soaking it in. It is peace. It is contentment. It is a feeling that, no matter what, I can connect with God and experience this peace. It requires solitude. It requires need. But the promise is ever present.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reflections on Kauai #1

Just returned last week from our 8 days in Hawaii, on the Garden Isle of Kauai. We were there to attend a wedding, but had plenty of time to explore the island. My head is still swimming with images of this beautiful isle, and the beautiful Hawaiian music that I fell in love with. Here's one such image that intrigues me. It was taken in Princeville, which is on the northern coast of the island. We ate at a restaurant there, where I saw this palm tree with an orchid growing out of it! I don't know if this is common, but the concept stays with me.

It seems like a bit of delicate beauty, surviving on the rough tree trunk. Such a complete contrast of color, texture, and weight. And yet it also seems to be a parasitic relationship. Does the tree benefit from this plant? It doesn't seem likely, unless it simply enjoys the companionship. And then you have the mountains in the distance, acting as a frame for the entire composition. Again, a huge contrast in size and color. I saw so many beautiful colors in the tropical flowers there. Immersed in colors, textures, and sounds, was I.

There is definitely something about this experience that is going to show itself in my art. I'm not sure how, but I do know that here--in this blog--is the place to explore it. So I will continue to reflect on these images, and see where it takes me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Study in Black and White

Here's a scan of my latest challenge: to make a collage of black and white. It seemed easy at first; the contrast of values is built right into the contrast of colors. But then I realized that form and composition also become a major factor. There's not much else to keep the eye interested. I'm very happy with how this turned out; a challenge that I gave myself after taking Laura's class.

The birds photos are done in B & W, with one negative image. The tree roots also done in B & W--a photo from the river. The bluish circular photors are ones I took with my toilet paper tube experiment. And the cupcake photo is a B & W copy of a collage I did just for fun.

I think I want to title it Life Cycle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Creative Spirits Retreat September 2009

I was finally able to download photos from my camera! Here is Sandy's gorgeous creation from our awesome retreat day.
And here is Gai's "sideways" book, rich with color and texture.

Here is part of April's book and canvas. This is her granddaughter's portrait of her grandmother. I think it fits her perfectly! The colors are so autumn-like.

LOVE those BLUES!! Could this one be MaryAnn's?
Gai, working diligently on her masterpiece.
Here's Nancy working on her Altered Board Book on Canvas. We all followed directions of Shona Cole, who had this project in a Somerset Studio Workshop that we received from Nadine.
MaryAnn, painting her board book. Everyone's project turned out beautiful and oh so unique.
Sandy and Harriet, scheming together. The project called for LOTS of gesso.
Carolyn and April seem to be enjoying themselves. It was a gorgeous day, and we even were fortunate to see a couple of weddings at the nearby chapel.
Mary is quite focused. Loved her blue paint there. Thanks for letting me borrow it Mary!

Most were able to finish or nearly finish their projects, which was a big relief to me! I realized after I made the sample, that it was a little more involved than the directions might lead you to believe. But, we all took our own artistic license, and they all turned out great.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

art from my current class

Here are 5 of my 6 collages that I completed today. I've been taking a class from Laura Lein Svencner. She uses the Jonathon Talbot method of collaging, which I had been introduced to before, but had not used since. I don't think I was really ready for it before, artistically. This one went together rather easily.This is the first one I started in class yesterday. The focal point are tree roots, from a photo I took years ago while boating on the Illinois River. It's ok, but my word (these) didn't come out as well as I had hoped, even with darkening it after the transfer. This one is my favorite. I did it totally differently from the rest. I used the text as the basic background, then layered tissue papers on top, so you can still see some of the text. After transferring the bird, I went back in with yellow acrylic and filled in the white areas. Simple, yet effective. I like the tissue papers for their transparency. I already had a stash of stained tissue papers that I did after viewing Carrie Ann Brown's video, so I got those out and coated some of them with polymer to have more tissue paper that I can use with this method.
This one is a bit whimsical. I didn't even realize it until after I scanned these that the candles appear to be coming out of his head! Just part of his imagination, I guess. By now, you can tell which papers are my favorites, cuz I've used them over and over.
And this one has no border; Laura calls it organic. Again, the word is a bit hidden, but once you discover it, it's interesting.

Once you get going with this method, it's hard to stop! But it's a beautiful sunny day, and I am going to take Shasta for a walk and then try to stay away from the papers and the tack iron!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Claybord Art Pieces

Here are my smaller claybord pieces from my workshop at Valley Ridge. Just finished with the 3rd coat of glossy varnish on them. I think they have a feel of "outer space" to them. The workshop was certainly out of this world!
It's difficult to tell from these photos, but each board was carved into, texturized, and sanded before receiving generous amounts of color: pastels, acrylics, & inks.
The squiggly lines have no message; they are simply pseudo-writing. Love that effect.
These first four were done together, which is why they are similar. They are all small; 5 X 7.
This last one stands by itself. It was an experiment late Saturday night, just playing around. I really had fun with all the techniques we used and do plan on doing more of these. I also have a pair of larger ones, which are an abstract landscape. I need to do some more work on them before they are finished.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Artful Recycled Letters

Oh boy, this is hilarious. I just knew it would turn out this way--why does Blogger insist on posting your photos in the opposite order that you downloaded them?! Oh well, so this is backwards. Just figure it out....Here's the story:
My oldest daughter, Jennifer, is an 8th grade science teacher, and getting her classroom ready for the new school year. She wanted to use recycled materials for the letters, and asked for my help in figuring them out and cutting them out. So here are the completed letters for her bulletin board.
Some of these materials were hers and some were mine. I even dug into the garbage to retrieve the popcorn bag! Come on, you would have done it too--look at the cool effect for the letter E! So it says, Imagine the Possibilities... The 3 dots at the end are the centers of old CD's. That's my favorite. Hope she likes it.