Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Feeling Halloweeny and Gift giving-y

Today I'm feeling Halloweeny. I have a handmade pumpkin ring on, my Old Navy pumpkin shirt and a brand new knotted scarf. Yes, I meant knotted not knitted! This is a little something I picked up from the new Martha Stewart Holiday magazine. I can crochet (and do! see below) and I have knit but this looked just too fun. I will definitely be trying a couple more and have to make my own adustments to the pattern before I share the idea with others which I hope to do soon. I think this would be a fun project for a bunch of us to make one night with plenty of wine or hot toddies!

I don't love the length of this in general but its great to wear around the house. Abby helped me make this one at Irish dancing class (in the waiting room) last night and she's ready to run to the store to get her own yarn.
There is just something about turning your attention to warmer crafts as the outside thermometer plummets. I suppose its the same reason I start making soup on rainy Fall days.

I'm also looking ahead to the winter holiday season. My family celebrates Christmas but we are not opposed to being invited to any type of religiously affiliated or non-affiliated gathering of any sort.
In this time of economic uncertainty, I am leaning towards making as many handmade gifts as possible. It is unfortunate that will all my art skills, I am still not capable of building an ipod. I can, however, crochet a little cozy for one! Hopefully Santa will come through and has his portfolio more diversified than most. I truly enjoy making things for people. I am more and more inspired by my friends. Karin comes to mind first and foremost. She has taken the handmade pledge (which I have not sworn to but secretly follow). Her gifts are so thoughtful. And I don't mean just the "oh, you remembered my birthday" kind of thoughful. I mean the kind of thoughtful where you consider the color, the texture, the use, the needs, the desires and wants of the recipient. AND THEN she enjoys the process! (the most important part!
For a long time, I was only given store bought gifts, which I have loved and appreciated. No one ever made me anything. NO ONE. Of course, I realize it can be intimidating to give a handmade gift to an artist--it should not be. I treasure the time it takes to make a gift. My time is valuable. Life is too short. If you spent your valuable time making me something, thinking of me while you made it--well, there can be no greater gift. So this Christmas, I am giving my time. Perhaps you will be gifted with lovely handmade washcloths. This one pictured here is the softest blue chenielle and I can imagine it for wiping the sleep out of a baby's eye at bath time or as a luxurious face cloth for a dear friend. I enjoyed making it and have picked out more lovely yarns to make and different patterns to try. No two will be the same except for the amount of love that I pour in them. Take that China! This year my Christmas will be Made With Love.
Oh, and because it's almost halloween, check out this blog entry by my friend Karin...BOO!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reflections Part two

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've just completed a commisioned piece of art to honor Jonathon Riley, US middle distance runner and BHS class of 97. These photos are snippets of the final piece. I'm withholding a picture of the complete frame until the Gala committee has had it finished with the mirror. I will also put a link to their pre-bidding link once I have it.

Bottom Right Corner: The Olympian

Upper Left Corner:
Always Training

Bottom Left Corner:

Running Allowances
Upper Right: The Pursuit of Excellence

One of the interesting things that is not pictured here and will not be done until the night of the gala is the area that I've worked into the piece for Jonathon's signature. We were told that they would be signing the piece and I after talking with Jon who lives out on the west coast, I discovered he had studied art and design at Stanford. I decided that it would be fitting for his signature to be PART of the art and not sit on top of it. He is an artist after all, while currently his medium is running shoes and stop watches, he says the next phase will be sketchpads and erasers.
My hat's off to you Jon. And if you have any worries about succeeding in your next phase, I didn't get started until I was older than you (not that I'm much older now!). Just continue to be passionate about whatever you do. It will serve you well. To the Gala committee, thanks for the creative opportunity to be a part of a great cause.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reflections Part one

I am very excited to be one of the six locally chosen artists to help celebrate the 10th 21st Century Fund Gala. The fund has raised upwards of 10 million dollars for initiating new educational programs for Brookline High School. This year the fund is honoring 6 different BHS grads or BHS parents. Each artist was asked to create a piece of art for one of the honorees. The catch was that the art was actually the frame! Inside each of the frames will be a mirror, hence the name Reflections. I was matched with Honoree Jonathon Riley, US middle distance runner and 2004 Olympian class of 97.

While I usually don't like to spell out what I'm doing or what I've done, this frame will be presented to and signed by Jonathon and then auctioned of to the highest bidder. It's for a good cause so I'm willing to bend my standards and take you on my frame/art making journey. Here we go:
Step one is ALWAYS getting something on the canvas and collecting my found artifacts. I started with a beautiful frame supplied by Hsiu-Lan, proprietor of Fast Frame and Gala volunteer. Then I flipped through my many books looking for the story I wanted to tell. Even though I was working unconventionally on a frame, I still wanted to go through my standard process.

Step 2 was to add more paint. This is a fun new technique I discovered quite by accident. I use a disposable paper palette when I'm painting and I found that I could actually peel off the paint when it was dry. It's hard to replicate these paint patterns any other way. So I remove the sections I want from the pallet and adhere them with soft gel gloss. Ah, I love soft gel.
I have also started collecting more substantial artifacts at this point.
Step 3 is composition. Tell the story but don't be obvious. And me? I like to add a few fun secrets into each piece. I really wanted this frame to be a fine work of art at first glance. I didn't want this to be covered in running shoes. I like to engage the viewer. I want them to enjoy the piece as they walk by but be rewarded by the secrets within that can only be discovered by making time to look at everything.

Step 4 is putting it all together. Here we have the two bottom corners in progress. Numbers, numbers and more numbers. I also wanted to fit the 5 Olympic rings into the piece, they are hidden in a few different places. Can you spot them. Hint: don't think OBVIOUS.

Tomorrow I will post more of the finished frame. I hope you'll come back to see it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Parts and Parcels goes to School

This is the book that Becky made,

These are the things that Becky used to put in the book that Becky made.

This is the post that Jenn is typing about the book that Becky made.

Once again proving my point that anyone can live more creatively.

Project: Go to one of many Boston landmarks with your family and buy something, make something, or write something about your experience.
Outcome: The Mason family went for Dim Sum (where Abby, Jenn and Matt ate teeny tiny octopi) and then went on a photo journalistic tour of China Town. Becky took the large flip-flop parcel (available from creative imaginations and designed by yours truly) to create an interactive journal. She left the house today before I could shoot a picture of it so I'll have to add an update to this post later.

She created the whole thing on her own and because the book is so simple to construct, being creative not only led to a great project on this past Sunday afternoon, it also improved her self-esteem (as anything that comes out successful these days does).

Be creative--it will make your daughter smile.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Try, Try again

The piece I'm standing in front of was made specifically for a Call for Art for the Minot Rose Garden (I mentioned this in an earlier post.) I am waiting to hear whether or not my piece is accepted into the final juried show. Regardless, I had fun working on the piece and learned a couple things along the way. What those things are have already been forgotten but hopefully they'll come back to me when I'm painting next. The piece is heavily painted. More than normal. At least 4 layers went into this piece. Do you know what that takes?? Patience! This is something I'm in short supply of these days. I have started to see patience as a trait you can exercise and stretch. I can't become a different person over night but I can step beyond my comfort zone one step at a time and then hop back in for safety. Each time I step out, I can step out further. I enjoyed this challenge because it is something that I wouldn't normally address. A rose garden? Nope, too straightforward for me. What's the story? I need to have a story. But with a little persistence, and a lot of patience I was able to delve into my found objects and books and tell a story of this little secret rose garden.

Why two pictures? Well the first one is the one I took of myself, outside, holding the camera up with one hand and the painting up with the other. Are you impressed? Well it's not bad but I have a serious looking double chin from standing there trying to take my own picture that just wouldn't do. The second picture is one Matt took after I described what I wanted--I want to be in profile (sort of) and have a good amount of the collage off to my left. Hmmm. Off to my left?? Or perhaps I am centered. He did get a better shot but that would be boring to show you. Besides, I just got my copy of

Cate Prato's new book, Mixed-Media Self-portraits, which I contributed to, and I noticed some of the other artists have FAR cooler pictures in the bio section than I do. Why didn't I think of that. That is my new goal--a cooler photo. Don't think I'll be asking Matt though. (sorry!)
Now I'm working on a frame for our 21st century fund gala at Brookline High School. My frame will honor Jonathon Riley, US middle distance runner and former olympian (and BHS alumni). 5 others are also being honored by 5 other local artists. It is another interesting challege. The frame is the actual artwork and eventually each frame will hold a mirror. I'll show some photos as I work it out. I'll let you come along on the challenge. What are you doing creative today?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lighting a candle for St. Becky

Have you paid homage yet? Saint Becky is the patron saint of Knox Blox. Whenever your Jello won't set or your fish float to the top (Libby?) you can light a penny candle at the church of
What a brilliant job she did! These are all individually printed (and laminated) book marks that Bec made for the kids in her class. It solves the "no birthday" snacks rule and doesn't send another useless piece of plastic home. Although, I must state that I loved the Mini-recorder and the hand puppet eyes that she received in class this year from other 9 yr olds.
What really excites me is her ability to rock the knox blox. I worked side by side with her but more often than not, I borrowed HER brayer that was covered in yummy colors. It makes me very excited to teach at Art and Soul's Abigail's Retreat in February next year.
This also continues the conversation of living creatively. Yes, I am a Creative Liver and every once in a while, when I get stuck with a life problem like not having birthday treats, creative genius saves the day. Really? just gelatin, some leftover card stock and some paint. Becky was in heaven (you'd think the paint had "happy" fumes with the way she rocked the prints) and for no extra dinero we had a super surprise for 24 learned 3rd graders. How are you going to live creatively today?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Rose Garden Research

Yes, those are really roses. Well, rosebushes perhaps is a better label. My live-in photographer got a shot of me while I was sketching out the footprint of a local rose garden. There is a call for art for an exhibition of art work inspired by this garden (Minot Rose Garden).
This is not something I really have time for with two grants due, 3 product line proposals, and the start of the Open Studios season but it IS important to me.
It also gives me a chance to rant about something here on my blog. MAKE ART! I know, some of you are not "Artists"--in your own mind. You are, however, creative nonetheless. My dear friend Karin, who in other phases of life, lived in India, worked as an ER doc, and grew to adore living in New Orleans, now resides in Brookline, has a beautiful pup (Nola) who always smells delicious (quite a feat for a dog!) and knits the most lucious treasures. She called last weekend while I was out with the family and asked to stop by so she could use me as a hand model. You HAVE to check out this picture! and her blog for that matter. Here is a woman who chooses to live creatively in her own special way.
Ok, perhaps you don't knit, you don't "make" anything. How about Amy Atlas, a party planner in NY who blows my mind with edible beauty! My dear friend and fellow coauthor Jennifer Francis Bitto sent me the link to Amy's site just the other day. I will definitely be throwing a party soon--even though I'll have to do it myself.
So back to the rose garden. I don't normally do roses. I'm a daisy girl myself (my first pup was even named Daisy) but I love the idea of rising to a challenge. I'm intriqued by what my brain and my brushes will come up with for this challenge. I'll let you know what transpires!
Go live creatively!