a little birdy (birdie?) told me

I have had such a block in the studio in the last month. Then on Friday, I had just given myself a lecture along the 'just do it' vein...you know:  "just get in the studio, see what happens- you never know unless you try, I'm sure you're not a complete wash-out..." etc. etc. Just as I was getting up from the computer, who should I get an email from but the lovely and so very talented Cathy Nichols. Just a quick hello- with a little unsolicited compliment on my work that was just the thing I needed to get myself going on that particular day. This little (5x5") piece came rolling out- the kind of happy accident that makes me think "Maybe these aren't accidents...maybe I know what I'm doing and should trust myself to be able to keep doing it!"

The truth is, I still struggle greatly with what kind of work I'm doing, and whether it's good enough, or serious enough...whether it's 'real' art. I wonder if I should be working larger, or more abstractly (or more tradtitionally), or with deeper, more intellectual subject matter. I wonder if I need to prove to everyone that I really can draw/paint in hyper-realism -- that I studied all of that and know my masters and techniques. But then I find a piece that just reels out and makes me feel great and I just know is good and real. I'm thankful for these pieces...and I'm thankful for blogging about them- because I know that when I'm stuck or spiraling again, I can come pack to this post and get my perspective back in order.


at long last

I am officially announcing the opening of my second little shop on etsy...sincerely handmade!

Truthfully, I began putting items up there about a month ago, but I've got a little more variety in the shop now- and will be posting a few more things in the coming days, so I felt it was now finally time to formally invite you to stop by:

I also thank you for stopping by here...I know I've been quiet lately and I appreciate you still checking in.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about how much room I want to give online techonogy in my life - both my creative life and my personal relationships. I'm working out the balance, because it was feeling a little skewed for a while. I know that I do like posting my work here and being a part of the little conversations that can happen online...So I will be getting back to posting more, just as soon as I've got some new work to share. (Mind you, the holidays are sneaking up on us and may infringe upon my time to make anything worthy of posting...but I'll do my best!)


New print in the shop

Hey there!

Just stopping in to say there's a new print in the shop- Harvest has reproduced beautifully- I'm so happy with both the scanning and the printing of one of my favorite recent pieces:

I've been having fun lately- but haven't been in the studio much. There are so many ways to be creative- sometimes I need to shoot off in another direction. In the past month I've been in a serious nesting mood- touching up those living room walls, creating some unexpected wall-art with several huge wire wreath-forms I found at a flea market and recovering a chair with a seriously fun stripey fabric that brought a bit of circus to the guest room.

Next, I really want to tackle an upholstered headboard for our bedroom and a re-covering and skirting of two small benches in the living room. Eventually it would be nice to strip the wallpaper in the boys' bedroom and get to work in there. (They want it painted black...so I'm stalling, hoping they'll change their minds.)

But- in an effort to motivate myself to get back onto a bit of a regular schedule in the studio, I've got a few ideas floating around in the back of my head that I'm anxious to start working on. So...I'll post some new stuff soon!


new painting


Here's a new piece I finished up last week. I started this over the summer, but then was stalled for a while...I had originally laid down some oranges and greens that were great colors, but the piece just wasn't saying anything to me. I think a lot about all of the different 'selfs' (selves?) we each have- how many mes make up an I. I see all of my selfs as sort of aspirations I have- for my ultimate I. Somtimes each self is very clear, concrete and in command. Sometimes they're a little harder to find.

I let the green and orange start of this painting hang out on the wall for a while while I tended to other work. I knew it wasn't a lost cause- just needed to wait for the right day to re-work it. I found the day and changed everything over to a white/cream pallette- which gave it the sort of dream-like quality I was looking for. I'm happy with how the stitched lines create both visual texture and a sort of veil falling before the smaller houses floating, and love the way the gold leaf areas break then entire thing down into a sort of patch-work field.


shop's open!

I've finally opened up one of two planned shops on etsy! Click above to head over to the shop I set up for the sale of my artwork. So far it's just prints...I'll post some originals soon: I'm not sure if I'll post every original I have, or just ones that are not destined for shows etc.

I'm still working on re-building my stock for the sincerely handmade shop, so that's fallen a little behind my original schedule, but it'll get there. If you're visiting here because you're out of notecards or giftcards and are desperate for more- just shoot me an email (my address is on my profile page). I don't want to leave ya' hanging!

To be honest, I think I'm sort of balking at having too many deadlines and obligations on the art front...I'm trying to figure out how to balance a desire to really get sincerely handmade off the ground, with an equally strong need to slow down and let new non-deadline related paintings develop ( I have a new one done- I'll post on Monday). Add to that prints that need to get down to a shop in Illinois and a potential for teaching a class and an application to fill out for an art fair in January- I'm pulling a bit of the ol' procrastination and denial approach that was so helpful in school when I'd taken on too many classes.

In addition to my 'artist-me' my family-me' is going full-bore as we head toward my eldest's 8th birthday, Halloween and a visit from my grandmother. I also, quite frankly, am in a bit of a home-improvement mood so much of the last week was dedicated to re-covering a chair. Then today I began re-painting the living room, only to find that I'd grabbed the wrong shade of white...so while I'm embracing the project-mode, I'm clearly a little scattered because of how much I'm trying to do at once!

So: it's a beautiful fall Friday, I have plenty of time to re-re-paint that living room and I trust that you'll make it through the weekend without access to a sincerely handmade shop. I'm heading out now to take a few pictures of my latest painting, and to drop a bunch of invites to an upcoming bowling birthday party in the mail. Then I'll take some deep breaths of this clear autumn air, and come back in to find the right bucket of white paint.


lovely weekend show

The show I was in this weekend was a little different than expected- much more low key than the super-busy, very crowded art shows with row after row of artist booths...but in a lot of ways, that meant it was a perfect first taste of the whole art show world for me. People trickled into our space steadily all day as they toured artist studios througout the town. Because there was never a huge crush of people, I actually managed to have several really lovely chats with those that stopped at my booth. It was wonderful to have so many positive reactions to my work and the mix of familiar friends with new visitors was perfect.

My booth space was so fun- my amazing husband constructed these four wall panels to hinge together and fold like a folding screen- they made a really nice little space for my hanging work:

The other edge of my space was defined by a table set up with sincerely handmade products:

This marked the official launch of the line, and it was a huge, huge success. I was so thrilled that people responded to the things I'd put together- it's such fun when I see someone crack a smile over a quirky little notecard that I wasn't sure would appeal to others as much as it appealed to me!

I'll be opening an actual etsy shop for sincerely handmade in the coming week or so...I've got a little 'administrative' work to take care of before it's ready- but I promise, you'll be the first to know when it's up and running.

Thanks so much to everyone that came out this weekend- it was so nice to visit with you, and your support of my work means the world to me. 


found art thursday?

I look forward all month to posting something new in reaction to the theme Cathy Nichols picks out for her Found Art Friday challenge. It's just a great no-pressure goal to create and post something over on her site on the last Friday of the month. I find that it's a helpful motivator to have that little deadline, and it's a great chance to connect with people that stop by her blog regularly, but maybe haven't 'met' me yet.

So, this month, I was feeling pretty proud that I felt I had a piece that responded nicely to her September theme of "Change", and was just holding off on posting it here until it was time for FAF.

Well, hello...tomorrow's Friday- but it's also October! So I totally missed the last Friday of September! Check out the response Cathy had to FAF- for sure. In the meantime- I'm posting my own piece today under the sheepish heading of Found Art Thursday:

harvest days


remember these?

I am so excited...the above are images you may recognize- they're are all pieces I did over the past year.  And though (lucky, lucky, lucky me) they all sold in my summer show, I'm able to post them again because I've ventured into the confusing world of having high-end prints made! So yep- the above are prints- which I'll be selling framed and unframed versions of at that Cedarburg Arts Weekend I keep going on and on about. They really turned out so nicely- check out the detail: (I think my camera's a little out of focus- but really, the scan and the print picked up so much detail- all of the layers and textures look so real!)

And now for something new, sort of:  Here's the final version of one of the images I posted in progress a few weeks ago...I love it, it feels friendly and sweet and easy to be around:

full circle

I'll be back with another one on Friday - my submission to Cathy Nichols' Found Art Friday. Imagine that- I'll have put up 5 posts in September then- whew!


shameless self promotion

Just taking a moment to do a little admin work:

I'll be taking part in my first ever weekend art fair in a few weeks. I'm participating in the Cedarburg Arts Weekend, by exhibiting at a booth at the Cedarburg Cultural Center. I'll have a wide range of original pieces, new archival quality prints and a selection of Sincerely Handmade products. Many area artists will be opening up shop for studio tours that run all weekend, so it's definitely worth a trip. Maps to participating studios are available at the Cultural Center, so if you're in the area- come on up, say hi, and then grab a map and go tour!


my not-favorite

Most nights, at dinner, we all take turns sharing our "Favorites" of the day. I love how this gets conversation going and lets us in on what's important to 5 and 7-year old boys these days. (It also gives such boys a subtle lesson in the fact that the grown-ups have exciting things going on during the day beyond searching for legos, packing school lunches and cleaning blue toothpaste off the sink, counter and sometimes bathroom door.) Sometimes, the Favorties discussion segues into the Not-Favorites discussion. Not-Favorites are also very important to be able to express and sympathize over.

Sewing is my Not-Favorite. It just is. I don't like the specific-ness of it, and it makes me crabby. I also snipped my index finger with the scissors while trimming all the annoying, dangling ends of thread this morning. So many people sew so well, and take such joy from it- I think I'll just leave it to them from here on out.

Because of this, I believe the above celebration buntings are what is now a very limited-edition of six from sincerely handmade. They will be test-marketed at Tuesday's Child in Wauwatosa on Saturday the 25th, and any that do not sell will be with me at the Cedarburg Arts Weekend, October 8-10. After that- the etsy shop I'm planning to launch on October 11th. They are about 10 feet long, and are very nicely (one might be tempted to say tediously- but I'm not sure that's good marketing) made. They are multi-colored on one side for any and all occasions worth celebrating, all reds and pinks on the reverse for a ready-made Valentine decoration.

And now, I'm going to get back to my Favorites- which are pretty much everything except sewing.


nothing final

Hi there! Just a quick post to show you a few in-progress pieces. I'm working hard to make the days productive now that both boys are in school 'all day'. That said, it's time to go pick 'em up and change roles back to being mommy! I hope you're enjoying the change of seasons...I find my pallette shifting to warmer hues- darker, earthier colors. Interesting.


it's over already?

How can it be that summer is nearly over? I hardly felt like I knew it had started...and here we are: the end of August.

Oh well, I have to say- despite some sadness, we had a really lovely summer. I'm a strong believer in slow, unstructured days in the summer. I like to let everyone sleep in, stay in pj's all day, and wander through palydates and fort-building, book-reading and backyard exploring at will. I allow the kids to experience boredom- I think that it's when we're not quite sure what we want to do that we take the time to come up with a creative solution to our boredom. Creative solutions to anything are a winner in my book. We did sprinkle in a few tennis and soccer lessons. Some swim lessons too- though more was learned, in my opinion, during the lazy days at the beaches of the little lakes around here- and at the two day cousin-swim-extravaganza down at my sister-in-law's pool. Mostly, though, we floated through each day as it came.

lazy days

In that vein,  here's my piece for Cathy Nichols' Found Art Friday. The theme was Back to the Beach. Personally, I wasn't too drawn to the theme at first: I sunburn terribly, don't love to be hot or sweaty and am not super comfortable in the ocean: big aquatic creatures scare me, so I'm not the type to just drift along in the ocean for an afternoon. I also found myself remembering jellyfish infestations ruining days meant to be spent in the surf when we would visit the beaches of southern New Jersey where I grew up. But I didn't want to do a piece about scary fish or ouchy-peeling sunburns, so I took a little time to let this theme percolate.

Gradually the memory of a summer month spent at a house on Long Beach Island came to me. It was truly a month of nothing but walking down to the beach with a book and a towel, lazing around in the sun and the sand, then heading back to our temporary beach home for a nap, a big, hungry meal and time hanging out with whichever combination of friends or family were camping out with us at the house that week. If I remember correctly, the only sure thing on our 'schedule' each day was a walk to the ice-cream shop. That was a perfect, lazy summer- even when the jellyfish were floating by.


Sincerely getting some work done

A great shop in a neighboring town has offered to help test market the line of notecards, gift tags etc. that I'm slowly beginning to develop under the name Sincerely Handmade. I whipped up a bunch of petite gift tags, larger wine bottle hang-tags and notecard sets using all sorts of vintage epehmera, and I'm super happy with the results.

So, if you're in the Wauwatosa area, check them out at Tuesday's Child on Harwood. I'll be making more for my booth at Cedarburg's Arts Weekend in October, but in the meantime if you're dying to hang a great tag on a wine bottle you're giving as a  hostess gift, or to write someone an actual old-fashioned letter that you mail with a stamp- shoot me an email and I'll hook you up.

I haven't been painting much this summer, but I did run one children's collage workshop- also at Tuesday's Child - which was a lot of fun- kids are soooo creative.

Other than that, I've been busy in terms of summer stuff: hanging out at little lake-beaches with the boys, working in the garden, painting rooms, wrapping up some unfinished projects (hemming curtains) and planning new projects (an upholstered headboard). We've had a good deal of family time too...much of it generated by the loss of my grandmother- but despite the sadness that brought us together- we were together, and that was wonderful.

Now we're into August, and I'm really going to try to fit in more time in the studio. I'm excited to get some work done. Also, with a September deadline to talk to a shop in the Chicago suburbs about carrying my work, and an October deadline for my first booth at a weekend art fair, I'm motivated to replenish my 'stock'. So with any luck, I'll be back with a few more posts this month.



So, I have this chair that the previous owners of our last house left behind. I dragged it along to this house- and I keep meaning to maybe sand it and paint it- but part of me loves the rust and the grit.

My mom has stories of visiting her grandparents on their house on a lake- and in the winter, when the lake froze, she and her sister and cousins would scoot eachother around on the ice in this kind of chair- the metal legs apparently made great skis. So that story doesn't include me (before my time), and it doesn't include this exact chair (though it may easily have been from the same time). But it's a family story- so I, being supremely sentimental, have always liked these chairs in general - and imagine myself getting pushed around an icy lake so clearly it's almost as if the story really does include me.

Another person the story doesn't specifically include is my mom's mom. But I've always just lumped everyone in the family into the scenes I build in my imagination while hearing about my mom's memories of her grandparents. So these chairs make me think of my grandmother too.

Today I'm facing the reality of losing my grandmother- she's coming to the end of her life, and though I'm glad her suffering is nearly at an end and I feel very at peace with my realtionship with her- I'll miss her very much. She was a quintessential grandmother: She thought I could do no wrong, she was a champion of my art and she taught me to make swedish meatballs. When I was little she always had stacks of drawing paper and a million markers and pens to draw with. She kept a copy of a story I wrote in first grade taped her fridge until I graduated from college. She loved my husband and my boys- quite possibly more that she loved me.

I'm very comfortable with my own personal beliefs in terms of the cycle of life. I'm sure she'll be a part of me forever, and I am so thankful to have had her in my life for these 36 years of mine. Nevertheless, I've been wandering around feeling swirls of natural emotions and felt a really strong urge to do something with them- and there stood that chair, out in the afternoon sun. So I let some paints swirl around for a while and came up with this:

It's no masterpiece- but it felt good to do, and I know my gramma would like that I spent a little time thinking of her and painting a simple chair.


a super sunday opening

Hello hello! I was having some blogging difficulties yesterday, but here I am now to post about the wonderful opening I had on Sunday. Woah- people were so amazingly nice and the response to my work was overwhelming. I just loved seeing people smile, and seek me out to talk about my process. People had some lovely things to say, but more than that, they had insightful responses and heartfelt reactions. You just couldn't ask for more. See: happy me:

It was a super-serindipitous weekend overall...On Saturday after dropping off my work I met a fabulous local artist while I was out for a walk- she was building an enormous bird's nest which she planned to install in a tree in her yard. Upon talking she strongly encouragd me to apply for acceptance to an area professional artists organization she's a member of, which was flattering. I later stumbled upon a weekend show of an artist whose work I have long loved: Pat Hidson. More exciting than getting to see loads of her work all in one space was meeting the woman herself and finding her to be one of the warmest, most encouraging people I've ever met. I then wound my way home with one more stop at a group show featuring the work of an artist whose name I recognized from a guild I recently joined. That show turned out to be a huge wow, and I was amazed by how warm and welcoming the artists were- and how they accepted on my word alone, that I was an artist too.

Then the opening on Sunday, which I've already gushed about...and after that, I went right back to Pat's show and snapped up a piece of hers I'd been thinking about all night. I felt so lucky to have had such a huge early response (5 pieces sold) at my show- I decided to just turn a portion of that right back around. It's been a while since we've been able to buy a piece of original art, and I'm sure we could have used the money to fix our washing machine...but it just felt right, so we did it.

So, it was a great weekend...I'm curious to know whether any more pieces will sell over the run of the show. If they do, I'll put the money right in the bank to pay for that washer.


all in a row

I'm framing up the last of my pieces for the show I've got lined up for the summer. It's a show that was booked last spring, so I've been looking forward to it for a year! They jury once a year, and when they accepted me, they assigned me their summer time-slot, which feels like a good time of year for my work, given the somewhat bright, cheerful colors etc.

If you're in Milwaukee, stop in and check it out- it runs until September 10th. The show opens this Sunday at the Leenhouts Gallery, which is within the First Unitarian Church of Milwaukee, 1342 N. Astor Street (Astor and Ogden). The gallery is obviously open on Sundays, but also during regular building hours through the week - which I believe are 10-4. It may seem like a bit of an unconventional space, but they've been operating for years and have put together some really great shows- I was honored to be accepted. It was a great challenge to have the year to build up a body of work- it's a solo show in a big space, so I think I'm bringing about 20 pieces down!



*editing on 5/25 to share the title: Random Influences

I don't have a title for this yet, but I had to post it. I'm really, really excited about this piece...I've been struggling for the past few months in terms of trying to break through to another level of narrative with my work. I've been wanting it to say more, but I'm not an illustrator, nor do I feel comfortable with really heavy symbolism, etc. I always end up feeling like my work looks contrived when I go in those directions.

In this piece, I'm using vintage materials like time cards and ledger pages and a practice target, which speak to me of accuracy, record keeping and validation- but also bingo cards and game pieces, which to me represent a kind of randomness. I've been thinking lately about how all of kinds of ordinary things can make you feel a little pushed around and windblown. So many obligations demand our attention, but in the big picture, you really have to wonder how much of your energy they all deserve. I think if you have a strong foundation that makes you feel at least a little anchored, you can weather the storm. I like how the house is feeling the strain of that big blue cloud- but it's pretty solid, and you get the feeling it'll still be there, and it'll be just fine once it all blows over.

There are two more detail shots I wanted to share - they were difficult to capture, given the reflectiveness of the glass, but they're critical parts of the whole piece:

It's in a shadowbox frame that my husband and I built. Someone once suggested that if my work was going into shadowboxes, I should consider pushing that third dimension a little more. I've had that in the back of my mind for a while- and love the way I went for it in this piece - I included a handful of vintage bingo chips and numbers in the space. They're not fixed down- that's intentional. I like the idea that they'll move around a bit in transport- and if someone were to take this home and hang it, the way the pieces end up will be totally random and largely out of their control. But that's not something to be concerned about- they'll be just right- however they end up. 

I'd love to hear what you think about this piece...if you're not sure about how to comment here on blogger- just know you can submit comments and choose 'annonymous' as your identity. Or, if you click the link up top for my full profile, you'll my email on my profile page.

OK- now, enough chit-chat, I've got to go get some stuff ready for showing next week!


barn sale bonanza

For the longest time, I've envied my friend, Kim, of the wonderful chez-sucre-chez, for her access to great Amish thrift and vintage finds. I've done pretty well for myself in the antiques multiplexes of Milwaukee, but loved the idea of finding treasures in a more intimate, personal setting. Now that we've moved out of the city up to the edge of rural farmland, I've no more reason to envy- because it's Barn Sale Season!

Check. It. Out:

All this great stuff for the studio- sewing and needlework patterns, school books and a vintage Bingo game, a box of random papers- lots of tiny calendars and ledger pages- as well as, I believe, some targets for shooting practice (?). Last- but so, so, so not least-  a cigar box stuffed to overflowing with rick-rack, piping and other sewing notions. If I weren't so excited for the potential those actual textiles hold for my wine tags & notecards, I'd have still bought the lot for the fantastic labels on the cards.

And wait, wait! That's not all! I also got 5 big tomato cages for the garden (I can justify these jaunts easily when I also find useful household items), and this fantastic old honey container and some wonderful berry cartons:

I'm off to the studio now...Today was supposed to be all about getting work ready for hanging for my upcoming show, but now I'm itching to dive into my new stuff and get some new work going. (Oh yeah- almost forgot: all of the above (including the tomato cages) was $15...made my day!)


responsibilities and productivity -v- comfy denial

I thought I'd stop in and just say sorry for not really posting much about new work lately...it's just been hard to take the responsibilities of having a blog too seriously, as we've had lots of great spring weather to muck about in. Over the last week or so, we built a big box and wheelbarrowed 4 yards of a dirt/compost mix and now the garden is in! (everything's sprouting!) The patio's cleaned off and a new picnic table has been assembled, and many moments have been enjoyed with a good book and something to drink while the kids perfected monkey-bar-swinging and the dog relished interesting smelling spring smells in the yard. Sorry I don't have pictures of all that, but I've always had a hard time breaking off from enjoyment to take a picture of whatever it is I'm enjoying.

Today, however, I thought I'd share this: Laziness and snuggliness on a Friday morning.

Let me tell you, letting the dog and the little brother climb in to snuggle with the big brother is a sure recipe for big brother being late for school. But look at those faces- It was totally worth it. You won't see many pictures of my kids on this blog- but this one just felt like it needed to be shared.

Enjoy your weekend!



Yay! I've something to post! Just some little things- some wine bottle hang-tags I whipped up. You just slip the ribbon loop over the neck of the bottle, and voila! instant hostess or birthday, or whatever present. I made the two up top from vintage alphabet flashcards- W for white, and R for red. I added some old origami paper and a bit from some old notebook paper for writing your greeting on. And a classic gold star for merit. Is it inappropriate to be decking a wine-tag with vintage elementary school ephemera?

The other ones are some of a bunch I made and presented with a lovely Chardonnay for my mom as part of her Mother's Day gift. They're made with bits of old tag-board, some maps and painted bits from my studio. The crazy orange and yellow paper is vintage shelf-lining paper!

I've been making these, and similarly constructed notecards, as gifts- but have a goal to work up a stockpile of such handmade items as a little side-line business I plan to start up in late summer. It's hard to find quality studio time in the summer, what with the kiddos home from school- but I'd like to steal away a half hour here and there to make up cards and notes and tags and such- maybe even a few more celebration buntings. The plan is to open up an online shop in late summer, and also to have some of these items available for an October art show I'm participating in. Both kids are in school all day next year...I'm already planning ahead for the extra time I'll gain each day!


Calendar collages: September

Here's one more finished piece for the series representing the months of the year, called Thirty Days. You won't believe where it started. Below is a shot of how it started out, which I posted a bit ago in this post. I basically scrapped it, painted over it, completely turned it around. It ended up as a brighter, sunnier take on the final days of summer you get in September.  You never know what's going t ohappen, do you? I like that original color palette though- I may revisit that somewhere down the line.


winter in april

This is the newest collage for my monthly series. It's called Royal Perch and will be for December. I had colors coming together that were feeling wintery- the brighter, lighter, early winter colors of December rather than the dark, sometimes bleak and cruel tones of later January and February. (Wow- now that I say that, I realize my challenge for those months will be to combat some pretty strong negatives!)

At any rate, I was brainstorming about December and remembered taking a little drive along a wooded road with my son, and finding an amazing owl perched on a post- just blending into the beautiful snowy landscape not more than 5 yards from our car. We stopped and watched it for a good 15 minutes. It was so still and quiet, staring right back at us looking completely regal. So here's this quiet owl in his wintery environs.

Happily, since he ended up in a golden halo of sorts (it's hard to see in the photo, but I used gold leaf around him), I realized I finished him just in time for Cathy Nichols' Golden themed Found Art Friday for April. I wasn't sure I'd have anything for this month, so am doubly pleased. Hop over to her site to see what else people submitted.

And this brings us to the end of April...can you believe it? Thanks for stopping...come back next week:  I'll post another piece that I just finished.  I'm also taking a book-making class, so I'll show you what I've been learning. But after that I'll be elbow deep in fresh dirt, worm castings and heirloom seeds for a while. My very first ever big, family garden!


creative question marks

I am not at all sure where this one is heading...I'm sorting through ideas of multi-pieced compositions- and a sense of a game board, or pieces that fit together but aren't assembled yet. I've got celebratory bunting and circus-themes on my mind, bright colors and springtime fun- but am not clear on how to bring them all together.  I'm trying to work in a lighter style- maybe not as much buildup of paint- but I'm still a girl who loves to layer, so I've got washes of paint with lots of overlaying colored pencil and oil pastel for texture. Part of me wonders if this could be framed up in a shadow-box and called finished, or if it's basically a study for something that will keep developing. Well, actually- if it were done, I'd know it was done. So I guess it's not.

I guess I'm just letting myself experiment....I feel a new body of work coming on, and am curious to see what it will be. I've decided that I basically have enough pieces ready for my show in June- so the pressure's off there. Summer vacation is right around the corner, and since my June show hangs until September, I'm going to give myself a kind of break in the studio. I'll see if I can just let creativity flow, without a goal or a deadline to shoot for. My next commitment is a small booth in a weekend show in October. For that I think I'm going to focus on figuring out how to get prints made of some of the collage pieces I've already finished, and get some product ready for a second project that I'll tell you more about later.

So I'm predicting more posts about sketches and explorations, instead of finished pieces. Comments from you always make my day, but feedback on any of these creative question marks will be especially appreciated!


this post never got a title

Hello! Sorry for the long break between posts...I feel like I've been really struggling in the studio lately- so I haven't been sure what to put here. I think everyone goes through this- but I seem to be 'stuck' right now. I have some goals and deadlines I'm working toward, and I've become so fixated on the need for an end result, that just can't make things loosen up enough to flow.

So I decided to not think about all of that for a bit, and I ended up making the above piece before I even realized what was happening. I think it's called Home...though I wish I were more clever with titles. I was thinking about that comfortable, gauzy feeling you get when you realize you're really home, and you're truly safe and well. I'm lucky enough to have that feeling quite often, and this is how it looks to me.

The work I'm stuck on is the next piece of my set of twelve little pieces representing each month of the year. In the meantime, here's the beginning of what I was working on for September, which I was also hoping might end up being appropriate for Cathy Nichols' April Found Art Friday challenge (a doubling up of expectations! No wonder I'm stuck!). If anyone has any idea what belongs in that blue field, I'd love to hear it- because that's the exact piece of the puzzle that's been evading me...

Well, it'll all work out. I'm happy to note that the longer I keep my work a regular part of my life, the more I see a pattern of finding myself somehow over these seemingly insurmountable hurdles and on to a new body of work. It's comforting to know that, while my current struggle is frustrating, I know I'll come out of it with something new to show. And when I do, I'll get it up here right away!


spring sparkle

Happy belated Easter. I love this holiday for the way it helps us focus on new life, spring beauty and the next turn on the wheel of life. And for the decorating of cookies and eating of jellybeans. I hope you had a lovely weekend, and that signs of spring are taking hold in your neck of the wood like they are around here. It's spring break, and I have high hopes of laid back hikes and poking around in the garden. Maybe a little studio time, but if not I'll be re-charged and ready to work when the kids get back to school next week.


april and august (again)

I finished April, called Gaining Ground, which I am loving for its earthy, loamy colors- and for the fact that it evolved quickly and surely, thus rescuing me from a very strong, neurotic fear that all of my good ideas were used up and nothing good was ever going to come from my studio again:

I also made a few changes to August, which I posted in my last post, but didn't feel was completely resolved yet. I worked it a little more and am much happier. I was thinking of those really hot, lazy, windy days that come at the end of summer around here, so it's called Flying Kites.

So, not much time to post here lately...Lots of other bits of life are vying for my attention. My mind and heart have been divided many ways in the past weeks: Some of me is in Chicago with my grandmother, who is recovering from a major surgery; some of me is right here with a sick (again) kid on the couch, who just can't seem to steer clear of all the little viruses being passed around his classroom. Some of me is looking toward the end of the week, when the first of two weekends-worth of family are making the trip to visit from far away (that part of me is trying to figure out when to clean the sheets and stock the fridge and plan fun stuff!), while some of me is looking further down the line to the show I'm trying to be ready for in June. And some of me is still mired in house-projects and paint colors for the walls, spring cleaning and garden-digging, etc. etc. A small, small bit of me is trying to get some exercise and be healthy. Also, a persistant, but largely ignored, part of me just wants a nap. Ah well- that's life!

Happy Spring! I'm predicting easter cookies for my next post...then I'll get back in the studio.


a new series

Hooray! New work to show you! I've actually had this piece done for several days, but today was the first chance I had to photograph it. I'm thinking of doing a series of twelve pieces, each representing a different month. The piece I did for Found Art Friday sort of kick started the idea...that'd have been June. The above is entitled Road Trip, and it'll be for July. Then comes Flying Kites, for August. (I'm still working on this one a bit...it wasn't feeling quite right, so I brought it to a critique and got some great insight- so I"m hoping to make it a little better- I'll re-post when I do!)

They're each about 8 inches square, and as is my habit lately, involve acrylic paint and various drawing media (mediums?) over lots of bits from vintage gradeschool primers, sewing patterns, report cards, maps, etc. The finished piece is stitched onto a nice piece of heavy printmaking paper, and they'll probably end up in a shadowbox frame. I'm loving the colors, and they're making a nice little collection on the studio wall. It'll be interesting to see how they evolve month by month.


old and old...but new now

I've had this pack of vintage flashcards for a while now...I've used a few in paintings, cut up a few for greeting cards. But my grand plan has been to make a larger piece out of just the cards to hang on a wall somewhere. So I built  a structure and covered it with the cards- wrapped them around the sides and everything, and put it up in our kitchen: voila...revenge against the math drills of my childhood. (My 7-year-old, by the way loves math drills. Crazy kid- he gets that from dad, that's for sure!)

The shelf we found to put it on then had plenty of room for me to display this cross-stitch my mom made when I was 2. (Does that mean it's vintage too? shudder) It's the alphabet, with a food that correlates with each letter, and often a catchy little phrase to describe said food. I will forever chant to myself "vichyssoise, pronounce it if you can" whenever I come across any recipe for that particular soup. Nevermind pronouncing it- try spelling it! Better yet- stitching it, along with 25 other mini-compositions! Want to know what I was doing when my kids were 2? Just trying to stay sane...definitely not making giant, complicated projects! But I'm really glad she did, because it's as awesome in my kitchen now as it was in hers when I was 2.



So, I've been working on a few new pieces this week. Hopefully one or two will be ready to post next week- in the meantime, wanna see what else I've been up to?

I found that being in the middle of several little pieces at once puts me in the middle of a big mess in the studio- I eventually ran out of places to put half-dry, half-resolved things- especially when most of my work surfaces tend to get pretty littered with little bits of paper, and big old books etc. that I'm not ready to put away. Not to mention pallettes, paints, brushes, coffee-cups...you get the picture. I knew that hanging stuff on the walls would be a great solution- out of my way, and up where I could see from a distance what was missing- so they could go from being half-done to all-done.


We moved into this house about 8 months ago- and one of my favorite parts of the place has been that there was a bedroom I was allowed to claim for my studio. It's upstairs- with windows, and a door- not down in the basement tucked in between storage shelves and laundry piles. It's soooooo wonderful- except the walls were painted with a porrly executed 'ragging' technique in a terrible, gross mauve color scheme. I didn't think that swirly gross mauve would be a good neutral background for artwork I'm trying to figure out.

So, despite being midway through stripping wallpaper in our bedroom, not quite finished painting the kitchen, and needing to caulk and paint the trim in the living and dining rooms (this house was great- but ugly- lots of surfaces to deal with before it suits us), I decided to do this:

I'm so excited to have room on one whole wall to hang finished, framed pieces- and on the opposite wall to clip up work in progress. The room feels so bright now- I can't wait to get back to work! Hopefully I'll carve out some time this weekend. No excuses- unless the wallpaper in the bedroom starts calling to me...yuck.



Just finished this little piece, called, Hopeful*. I like how the little bird on the fence is looking up at the tail feathers of the bird in the corner- like he's waiting for his turn to take flight...it feels hopeful. I'm sending this over to Cathy Nichols for Found Art Friday. The theme this month was "Everything's Blooming". Even though that's far from the truth in Wisconsin at the moment, I know that spring is right around the corner, so it was nice to have something bright and sunny to think about as I worked. I always think of spring as nature's dress-up party- with all of the colors of the first buds and blooms bringing us out of the grey dreariness of late winter. That's what made me put the little collar on this bird- just needed to dress him up a little. (I don't know why, but I feel like it's a him- even with a little orange ruffle)

Anyway- I really appreciate Cathy hosting Found Art Friday...sometimes it's so busy around here I need an extra motivator, and a fun deadline was just what worked this month. I also can't wait to see what everyone else posts tomorrow!

(* I edited this to change the name of the piece from "Spring is in the Air" to "Hopeful". You'll find that titles are always tough for me to settle on. In this case, I ended up feeling that "Hopeful" just said it all about that little bird.)