Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The worst time of the year

Without a doubt, the worst time of the year for me is undecorating time.  There is no other time of the year that makes me feel like time is passing by too fast than the days I spend removing all the holiday joy from my house.  Birthdays, Anniversaries and any other time-marking-events don't even come close.

The only joy I get is knowing that in 11 more months, I get to once again unwrap little treasures like this house I bought at Brimfield a couple years ago.  

The good part about this time of year is gearing up for CHA the Craft and Hobby Association Convention that occurs at the end of January/Beginning of February every year.  I just love heading out to Southern California to see my old friends and make new ones.  This year I'll be three times as busy as normal with make and takes, book signings, and demos for 4 different booths and one workshop of 100 students!  

I promise to post all the specifics later this week.  Stay tuned.

Do you have any creative ways for dealing with post holiday joyness?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A piece of cake

This is the gift I made especially for Abby this Christmas.  It is a crocheted cupcake pin cushion.  The theme for Abby's gifts this year was FASHION DESIGNER!  Yes, I got my little 7 year old a sewing machine and a 21" manequin and fabric and this sweet little pin cushion.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of it in a bell jar (one of my obsessive collections) that I bought at Sur La Table.

After much searching on the internet, I ended up making up my own pattern.  I used a ribbing technique (single crochet in the back loop only) for the cupcake paper part and then concentric circles with variations for the frosting.  The bottom has dried beans to weigh it down and then is stuffed with fiberfill.  Large headed pins look like fancy pearlized sprinkle.  SO sweet.

Did you give any creatively themed gifts this year?

Monday, December 29, 2008

I dreamt of a white Christmas!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!  How can one talk about being creative while talking about shoveling snow??  Easy, live in a pedestrian neighborhood or city and talk about where you're going to put 16" of snow!  We have a front driveway, and a tandemly shared side driveway.  Plows came as often as 4 times an hour (not complaining because they kept the street clear), plowing us in.  What to do?  Lots of advil and a FORT!  Yes that mound of snow in front of the barn doors is where we put all the snow.  It got bigger than this too.  This is only about 1/2 way through the storm.  
Sadly, just a few days later and the snow is almost fully melted thanks to some warm weather and rain.

What weather makes you feel creative?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Perfectly Made

Today I get to have breakfast with some of my dearest local friends. It is our cookie, holiday exchange, gossip, venting, relaxing, get together. I have been looking forward to this all year. I have been on the search for the perfect Christmas present since January.
I wanted to make them each something special and felt it needed to be something that was luxurious. I also wanted to give them something that said, "I pay attention to you." or "I noticed you didn't have this and I've been dying to get it for you, make it for you, or share it with you". If at all possible I wanted the gift to be something handmade or something that let them hand make something. I just have to add the bows and I'll be already to deliver the goodies.
I wonder if it's even possible for them to enjoy the gifts as much as it was for me to prepare them.
What are your creative qualifications for the perfect gift?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy accidents

This piece is one of the Bingo Card collages I made for Shop Local that took place last weekend. I am always searching for relevant collage material. If I'm designing a piece on babys, the sheet music will be a lullaby, about immigrants, the papers will be about other countries, and so on.
The main section of this piece is from a geography book from the 1800's. I pulled it out a while before because I liked the horse drawn sleigh picture and it wasn't until I was putting this piece together that I discovered that it was a page on Norway--a country near and dear to my friend Karin's heart. It said that Norweigans were a generous and frugal people. I found that entirely too funny. It made me go back into the book to read what they wrote about other countries. Let's just say it was not very PC.
Karin ended up getting this piece which touched me because she really took the time to look at everything and spotted the Norway reference herself. She asked if I had made the piece especially for her. I told her, while I didn't set out to make it for her, as I happened upon my happy accident of choosing this page on Norway, I did restructure my focus to make something worthy of her.
What creative accidents have you had?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The To Do List

I can't believe I found time to blog today. I have so much to do. My fingers keep getting cold while I'm working so I need to go looking for fingerless gloves to try to keep them warm.
We're having a kids party next week and I have to pick up some supplies for that. There are checks that need to be cashed. I am 2 months behind on a hair cut and I also need to sit at the car glass repair shop for two hours.
The two hours of quietly sitting might scare some people, especially during this busy holiday season but not me. I enjoy a forced respite every once in a while. I can't do the dishes, fold laundry or cook dinner because I have to remain in one place far away from it all.
For me, it means enjoying a break to crochet a special little gift for Abby and listening to a podcast of NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. This is Joy to me.
How do you creatively spend your time waiting?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Love and Lunch

Gifts that keep on giving--that's today's theme. This picture is a book I received from my mum (Hi Mum!) for my birthday. It's called Lunch Box Letters: Writing Notes of Love and Encouragement to Your Children by Carol Sperandeo and Bill Zimmerman (Firefly Books 2000). The book is filled with little notes, some with prompts, to write and insert into lunchboxes, back packs and pockets.

Next to the book is a fabulous new bookmark/pen that was gifted to me by Karin as a hostess gift for her BBQ Birthday. A truly creative gift because I keep it clipped to this book so I never have the excuse that leaving a note is too much hassle.

I'm inspired by this book to make my own little love notes for my girls, husband, family and friends. How do you leave secret love notes?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Festivus Preparation...

I wish you a merry-whatever-you-celebrate, I wish you a merry-whatever-you-celebrate and a Happy New Year.

Oh, don't mind me, I'm deep up to my neck in holiday spirit these days.  I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the intake of gingerbread, chocolate and mini marshmellows.  

I spent the weekend quietly being creative with my brood.  We baked cookies.  Dozens and dozens of cookies.  Here they are all wrapped up for a bunch of our close family and friends (oops, just spoiled the surprise).  I have a few more dozen to go of our favorite Belgian cookies for a cookie swap.  I don't bake a lot.  REALLY!  It's only one or two days a year that I wish I had a double oven.

Abby, in her most givingness, wants to make sure she can give cookies to the new girl in her class who just started on Friday.  How sweet you think, right?  Yes, beyond sweet.  She was very excited to have this new little girl not only in her class, but sitting at her cluster!  Oh JOY!  and Abby thinks she MUST feel welcomed!  

Abby got to meet the new girl who comes here to Brookline from China!  Poor thing doesn't speak any (or very little) English yet.  But, alas, this has not dampened Abby's holiday spirit.  She has already fashioned a paper "friends forever" necklace (with the help of her sister) so that this lovely child knows that Abby is ready, willing and able to be her friend.  (oh, and for those of you who are worried, the new girl also sits with two other lovely students who are fluent in Chinese and English).

So Abby chose to be creative because her heart lead her there.  Where will your heart lead you this holiday season?

Hmm, is anyone else craving Dim Sum and Gingerbread now?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Week at Creative Imaginations

Well, you've been wondering when and where you could get your parts and parcels album and while you wait for them to appear at your local store, you can check out the Creative Imaginations Blog where I am guest blogging this week!  Make sure you stop by and make a comment or two, they will be picking a winner from the comments at the end of the week!  
Do you feel like a winner?

If you've ever had your work table look like this you might not feel like a winner!  I can't believe I'm showing you this shot but hopefully it will make all of you feel a little better about yourselves.  See what I do for you?  Creative Mess therapy!

Can you work like this or are you a neat freak? email me a picture and we can compare notes!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Think a small way.

An on going discussion a couple of my local mixed media and collage artist friends and I keep having is about the ability (or not) to work BIG.  When you look in books, you can only go so big without changing your whole process.  BUT, you can play with scale--by going SMALLER!  These little collages are about 2" square but I'm still able to work in a lot of detail in each piece.  These are mini versions of my Story Sketches which you've seen me work on in other posts.

So, while I'm busy looking for someone who is throwing away old posters and billboards, I'll continue to stretch in small ways.

How about you, how do you creatively play with scale?  

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm alive! Again!

These pictures are to tide you over until I get my camera uploaded later today.  They are a couple of quick shots of the assembled jewels (collage necklaces) that I put together for Shop Local.  

We had a great turn out and I pretty much didn't look at the time until we hit a lull at 5:15 and realized it was over.  So much fun, great art and fabulous munchies too.

Thanks to all who stopped by, with or without a purchase, for those who brought canned goods (we have three overflowing bags) and for those who put in their order from Mexico!

I took yesterday off and single handedly tried to pull America out of recession.  If the stock market goes up significantly today, you can send your thanks to me!  
Today is wrapping and regrouping (oh and a trip to see MILK with a couple of good friends).

My good friend Mary from Quayside drove down and it seems she was on a tour of Brookline Carriage houses!  Read more!

Also, there was a shout out on the Craftside Blog (suspiciously similar pics) about Shop Local.  It might be worth a minute of your time as Stefanie (the blogger) is giving away BOOKS for comments! GO NOW! (and if you bought something from my Shop can mention that!)

So to end for today I'll tell you about my creative bagging I did for the Shop Local event.  Instead of ordering paper bags to send purchases home in, I bought inexpensive non-woven reuseable shopping bags!  They are so cute and GREEN! (although I bought the blue!)  I hope people will use them over and over again or even use them as gift bags. Check out PaperMart for great (read affordable) buys for your gift wrapping.   

How are you going to creatively give your gifts this holiday?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Three more days until Shop Local!

I'm almost ready.  Almost.  But first I have to get through tonight.  Both the book signing at Brookline Booksmith and the Brookline Arists Open Studios First light Event.

It doesn't help that Matt is in Vegas and I have no one to bounce things off of.  I honestly didn't realize how much I depend on his feedback!  So, here! I'm going to show you instead! (or maybe Matt if he signs on and reads some blogs).
These are just little fun holiday hangings I've made with book pages, photos and sheet music I've been saving.  Oh, and my Tinsel Trading finds as well.  Oh to be creative without a deadline--now that would be a lovely gift!

What would you do if someone gave you 5 more hours today?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Inspired by color?!?

  I try, really I do!  I try to use different colors when I work.  Sometimes I start with brown or black or even red but I alway end up adding more and more color--All bright cheerful, whimsical colors.  We spent a day in NYC over the Turkey day holiday.  The first photo is from M&M world--a see of chocolate candies.  The last picture is the street behind the Natural History Museum which connects the two streets where the parade balloons were being inflated.  And there, in the middle is a sea of my new story sketches (no two alike), that I'm preparing for the Shop Local event at my house this Sunday Dec 7 from 1-5 pm.  These are so fun and gorgeous (if I do say so myself) in a grouping that it's hard to picture them all separated.  But, because each one tells its own story, they definitely can be stand alone pieces too.  

How does color define what you're doing today?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh where oh where is the camera?

I just arrived home from a fabulous trip to NYC and CT for Turkey day.  I FINALLY had a chance to visit Tinsel Trading and "The Store Across the Street".  WOW.  The ice skating rink at Rockefeller was up and frozen and they were taking the scaffolding down from erecting the Christmas tree when we arrived.  I'd show you pictures or possibly even videos if only I knew where my camera was packed away.

I've also been diligently decorating the house for the holidays.  The first floor is mostly done.  It looks smashing.  I can't remember how I decorated last year so I'm sort of winging it.  I also have to make room for the Shop Local open house this Sunday  (7 day count down!) so some things will be moving here and there still.  

I wonder where that camera is...and where I put my Christmas cds?...looking, looking, looking

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Planning ahead--not my strength

I am not by any means a procrastinator. I like to get things done. I don't like it when they loom, large and scary over me. But, I am busy. I honestly don't know how not to be.
Thankfully, many people I know are forward thinkers, keeping me on track. This project is a quickie for the Eco Lounge Make and take I'll be doing at CHA. I already have my Publisher signings/demos booked, a class for 100 on Parts and Parcels, this eco lounge make and take and a possible 3M make and take. All for CHA (the craft and hobby association convention). I still have a few more items to book but I don't think I've ever been this busy in Anaheim before. And this is not until JANUARY! As soon as I get my schedule finalized I'll post it here and on my website. I hope you'll stop by and say hi.
Now, if only I could get organized to make my hair appointment that is 3 weeks over due!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Green Adornment

No one said you can't be "crunchy" and fashionable did they?  This is a piece I whipped up fo the the CHA Eco lounge Designer Showcase.  (phew that's a mouth full!)

This pendant was inspired by a little scrap of Christine Adolph and Marah Johnson's new fashion paper, an old key and a bag of old stamps.  I also used some beads from an old necklace that my friend Karin gifted to me.  

I'm hoping to make a few more of these lovelies for the december 7th Shop Local sale.  Each one will be unique and I can't wait to see the response to them.

What have you reused lately in a creative way?  Tell me your story.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A cowgirl luncheon OR you can take the girl out of TX but you can't take TX out of the girl

Are you tired yet of my harping on creative living.  I sure hope not!  I hope you wait patiently for every blog just to see if there might be something there you can use--something that will make someone's day a little brighter.  So, to serve you, my blog friend, I share another day in the life of a Creative Liver. I hope that title is not lost on you?  No?  Ah, good, let's carry on. (for my book group friends that last sentence is my Ode to a Reluctant Fundamentalist)

These pictures--Let me explain, No! there is too much. Let me sum up. (Any Princess Bride fans out there?)  My dear friend Karin who is both worldly and other worldly, who's blog I reference often, has a standing offer for a small group of us.  She will make us our favorite meal for our birthday lunch.  Martha gets burgers, Eileen lobster and grilled cheese (but not just any grilled cheese--tartufo cheese!) and I asked for indian (Karin spent some time living there!)  Each of our birthday luncheons were so spectacular that it made us blush.  For myself, no one had EVER spent that much time singularly pleasing me and my friends.  It was a true gift that even now eaten and long gone, stays with me for a very long time if not indefinitely. 
So, this year it was time to repay Karin and I took on the challenge for Martha and Eileen and I.  Karin's favorite?  Pulled Pork Sandwiches.  They were delicious and were served with a mustardy coleslaw and "candied Sweets" potato chips.  But the fun is truly in the details.  A stack of bandanas served as napkins and chair covers, plastic baskets held the authentic Texas looking pulled pork sandwiches, Dixie Chicks played in the background and Dr. Pepper a Texas invention was served in excess.
Most importantly, four busy women took a moment to recharge their batteries, pay homage to their friendship and caught up on life.  An afternoon well spent.  Sure it was some work putting it all together.  The date itself was changed 3 times to accomodate sick children, work schedules and a bad back.  The payback however was 10 fold.  

How can you thank someone today for making your day, week, month, life, better?    Need an idea, drop me a line.  I'd love to help.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"I might even be a rockstar!"

-Hannah Montanna (or Miley Cirus I forget which)

What to do when you have to go to "Gala" but want to still look like an artist?  Go Aerosmith!  Ha, you can't see it very well but around my neck is this Half scarf, Half necklace thing (Scarlace?  Neckarf?) that looks very Aerosmith to me.  Pair it with a little black dress, black tights and Short-hair-that-needed-to-be-cut-4-weeks-ago-but-was-straightened-with-an-iron-to-look-cool.

This was the 21st century gala that I mentioned in earlier posts.  I had a lovely time and I rocked the dance floor with a number of other adults who had varying degrees of rhythm.  The cover band was easy to listen to, and even easier to look at with a gorgeous "Seal"-like lead singer (I mean the artist not the ocean mammal).  I also got to meet Jonathon Riley finally!  What a sweetheart!  He said all the right things about the art too--I was touched.  Thanks Jon!

I promise you less pictures of my every changing hairstyles and more art very soon.  Just wait until you see the pictures from my good friend Karin's Birthday lunch.  Coming soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A missed opportunity

I was initially invited to joing the Design Hive but just didn't have the time to pull it off. But, that doesn't mean that you all should suffer. Check it out here at their blog. Its a Saturday only event running from now to Dec. 20th. There are around 50 indie designers and some really great, unique finds. This is a definite stop for me this weekend.

Another good stop is the Brickbottom Open Studios. I'll be making a visit to Charles Baldwin's studio for sure! He has some great pen, pencil and ink drawing that I can't wait to see.

Remember, being creative doesn't mean just making things that others will appreciate, it means being able to appreciate things that others make too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SHOP LOCAL Part 3- the 411

Here you go, this is the flyer for our out of this world holiday open house! Of course you noticed that we will be collecting food for the Brookline Food Pantry, right? We will also be donating a portion of the day's proceeds to three local charities: The Brookline Food Pantry, The Building Resource Center, and Safety Net-a Brookline Community Foundation designation fund.

Now, go raid your pantry for non-perishable food and mark the calendar for Dec. 7th! I'll see you there!


Oh, I love to have fun in the la la la la

Here is a shot of my first story sketches that you saw me working on in a previous post. For this shot I hung them from old bed springs. Where does one get old bed springs you ask???

Well, when one walks her kids to school and passes by an old box spring put out in the trash on pick up day, one hurries home to find her wire cutters and a bag. Then one walks briskly back up toward school until one happens upon an old box spring.

"Oh my, an old box spring!" (look around to see if anyone sees you looking at a pile of trash)
" I wonder how long it will take for this to decompose in a landfill" (taking the green approach always seems to lessen the gross factor of looking at someone else's trash)
"I bet I could make a couple quick snips and free a few of those old springs from their life of sitting in a rotting heap of garbage." (look around again to see if anyone sees you TALKING to the garbage)
"There, free. Now, what am I going to do with these springs?!?" (then store the springs in your closet for 5 months without any idea of how to use them.)

The rest of the plans are going smoothly for the open house. I spent monday working on the flyer (coming in another post) and then yesterday I ordered all sorts of ribbon and wrapping paper for giftwrapping. Today more painting and then on to the jewerly fun.

I only wish for more time--the ideas in my head are just spinning and I want to share it all with the people of Brookline.

Have you thought of your Holiday shopping list and how you can either Shop Local or make something by hand? Now is as good a time as any to consider it!

Friday, November 14, 2008


What did you do yesterday? Was it fun? Do you wish you spent more time doing laundry? Did you remember to defrost the chicken?

I made art. Boy that feels good to say. So many days I don't even get to open a paint bottle or hold a sketch pad. Those are not good days for me.

Now, I know I'm not a typical person but I truly believe we need to be doing what we love--as often as possible. For me it's making art--for art's sake. Not for deadline or for product packaging or for classes or demo's or make and takes (my paper industry life), but instead for the pure joy of having a silly little story in my head come to life.
I suppose that's actually a lie. There was a purpose. I am holding a SHOP LOCAL holiday artisan show at my house on Dec. 7th from 1-5 and I wanted to make these little sketches to sell.

These pictures are a look into my process, because if you come on the 7th--and I hope you do, my studio will be all cleaned up and you won't get to see this. I'm calling these pieces Story Sketches and they cover all sorts of stories. They are 4" x 4" and I hope to have 20 or so of them done by then along with many other things!
And, if I haven't whetted your appetite yet, I also have two jewelry artists, and two fiber artists (one bags one clothing), another collage artist and possibly one or two others who will be there as well.
Oh there's just so much to tell you, I'll have to save it for the next post.
Take a minute for yourself today--go on, I'll wait.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is a shot by David L. Ryan for the Boston Globe article on Tara Donovan's show at the ICA. Wow, wow and wow. We took advantage of Vetran's Day yesterday and took the girls to this exhibit. I'm sure you can't tell from the picture but this is a hanging sculpture of styrofoam cups. (I know, not ecologically friendly but as long as you keep it hanging you don't need it to biodegrade right? )There were 16 different pieces all created for the space. We were told that it took 2 weeks to assemble everything. and much of it needed to be assembled on site. In one room, Tara created a wall of straws. You didn't realize it until you got up close! AMAZING. and a whole bunch of Why didn't I think of that?

but this is what I did think of...

Doesn't mean much to you I assume but if I could work on each of these ideas, I could be busy for a year! (ok, maybe 6 months) all thanks to a day of mind blowing inspiration. And breakfast at Zaftigs. Nice place but why is an egg mcMuffinstein $11???? But what I do to sit amongst Danny O's art. small price I say.

What is going to inspire YOU today!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Reflections, Elections and Halloween candy

I just realized you can scroll through these blog posts to see how often I change my hair. I wonder if I really want to document this!? This is me 'dolled' up at the Reflections Reception on October 30th. There was an incredible response to all of the frames and was touched by the responses people made to my piece pictured behind me. I just hope these same people will bid early and often to help raise money for the 21st Century Gala fund. I just love what they are doing for out high school here in Brookline--even though I have 6 more years before the girls start there. A good cause is a good cause.

Next up was Halloween. In my "living creatively" streak I should tell you that we gave out 24 packs of crayons! My husband thought we'd get stoned or egged for not handing out candy but that was NOT the case. While I also had plastic mechanical pencils for the older kids, many, when given the choice, still picked the crayons.

tween trick o treater: Trick or Treat
me: Happy Halloween! You want crayons or a pencil?
tween trick o treater: Duuudddde, crayons!
me: okedoke
tween trick o treater: Thannnnkkkksss! (to his friends, "dude I got crayons!")
me: you're welcome!

(see how polite my trick o treaters are?)

I'm also living creatively by avoiding eating all the Halloween candy that the girls brought home. How? you ask. I creatively tell myself other things I could nibble on instead.
me: I want a peanut butter cup!
me: no you don't
me: yes I DO!
me: nahhh, how about a juicy red cherry tomato?
me: oh, such a pretty red color...must eat pretty....
me: good girl.

so far so good, haven't even put one mini m & m into my mouth. Yeah me!

Lastly the election. I endeavor to keep religion and politics off this blog. There are plenty of other blogs to read if you want to go there. BUT, I will just sum up my response in a short statement. "Yeah US!"

I did participate in the voting party mood by crocheting a red white and blue sweater for Bindi my Puerto Rican immigrant pup. When I can get her to sit still with it on I'll snap a photo. It's nothing special and I made it without a pattern so it has lots of room for improvement. What I really wish I had taken pictures of was the sandwich board signs the girls made for election day. They had written VOTE for OBAMA on two sheets of paper and taped them to Bindi's back so that she could be a walking advertisement. I have to say, it was probably much more efficient than robo-calling, especially since 6 of the 8 robo-calls we got were for a guy running for office in TX (I haven't been registered there for 3 years) and one robo-call I received on Wednesday AFTER the election! So glad I didn't contribute to those campaigns--although one could argue that they were "creatively" campaigning.

So, regardless of the weather (rainy here in Brookline) I hope you find your creative spirit clamouring to get out today!

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!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One of those days...

Every night at dinner we have a tradition of saying our best and worst of the day. Yesterday was a bad day for me. Just so many balls in the air at one time and not enjoying one minute of it. Interestingly enough, my "best" was that nothing had to do with my girls. Oh, that sounds bad.
What I mean is, that they were the only things--along with Matt, who didn't cause me some amount of stress. The three of them were my breath of fresh air. And, probably due to no homework assignments, they were relative happy even after a long day at school.
So, in their honor, here is phase one of a portrait I'm working on for them (and me). I don't do portraits (well occasionally one of a beloved canine every couple of years). And this one is far from being completed. I will now need to go back in and collage and obscure--make it more me. I think I needed to have it look like them first instead of going right to obscurity.
Abby asked--as only Abby could--Could she have the painting when I die. In a screwed up kind of way, I was touched. Honestly I was worried about their reaction when I started painting them blue and orange, pink and green, that they would hate it and not wait until the final stages. Becky said she liked it but encouraged me to "go funky" with it. What a doll.
Oh, and let me mention scale. This is 36" x 36" so at least two times life size. GIANT!
Can't wait to work on it some more.
Going back to my lousy day yesterday...
My thought in the middle of it all...
"It's days like to day that help me to realize that I'm not as great as I think I am."
enough said.
Today is better.