Friday, February 29, 2008

Frantic Friday

Matt walked into my studio and saw me like this and felt compelled to take photo. I see that I've forgotten to put mascara and earrings on today--geesh! I'm working on art for my CI proposal after spending most of the morning getting art supplies and checking out color trends. I'm really feeling inspired by bright colors for this new line--think Mr. Eddie Hopper if you will. Strong vibrant green, a magenta like red, aqua that remembers the beaches of Aruba (honeymoon days), orange of the humble clementine, and a playful blue thats somewhere between aqua and royal blue. It just warms me up thinking about them. Oh, maybe I'm warm because of the layers of paint on my hands keeping my fingers warm. Who knows?!

What I reallllllly love about coming up with new book and new product ideas is exactly what I'm doing right now--experimentation, organization and using every last crevice in me ole thinker. I LOVE ideas! I also love getting ideas out of my head and onto paper. Its hard to make the time to break out all the paints or to sit quietly in front of my sketch book AND feel inspired to create but boy oh boy, when it happens...the sparks fly!

I'm feeling inspired today to start trying the weekly challenge. This week is LEAP. I have to figure out how to link it and stuff but I'm hoping that writing this on my blog will make me feel compelled to follow through.

Ok, first layer of paint is dry--must keep creating. There only so many Leap Day hours in four years you know--time's a wastin'.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Critics and the cold

Its snowy and cold here in Brookline today and it took me about 25 minutes to drive what normally takes me 3. But now I'm home and the fireplace is going and I'm ready to sketch and work on my new product line proposal. My girlies saw some of my drawings last night and this morning and they were very enthusiastic about them--my best critics! Speaking of critics, this picture is from the collage "lecture" I gave yesterday to Mrs. Berube's Collage Enrichment class. What a great group of kiddos. They asked lots of questions and were polite and gave me an excellent critique of my work. (a lot of WOWs!)
Abby was excited to show off one of her assemblages and everyone thought it was something I had made. She was beaming!
If any of the parents ofthe students are reading this blog, please feel free to show them the gallery on my website and they can show you some of the pieces they saw.
The doorbell rang a few minutes ago and it was the previous owner of our carriage house! Mr. Camella brought over a historical write up on our house that he and his wife found. How kind is that?!?! It has some pretty interesting stuff on it and we will be sure to keep it in a safe place. Sometimes people's generosity overtakes me and I'm rendered speechless. In return for his kindness I shall endeavor to "pay it forward" today. Hmmmm.... I should look for that movie, I haven't watched it in a while. I wonder what it was rated and if it is appropriate for the girls to watch. I love the internet--I'll go look now!
Stay dry and warm (except for you Libby, stay dry and cool!)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Getting back to work!

I finally got my downstairs painted last night. I am almost sick of Ben Moore's Bennington Gray now! I ran out of paint as I was standing on a ledge waiting trying to paint the sloped walls over my stairwell. My girls came home from Irish dancing at this time and almost freaked out with mom hanging precariously over the precipice. Now I'll have to tredge up the Ace hardware and hope that the new gallon of paint matches the old one--but not now, Now I have to get back to the studio and paint with more color.

I'm also in the middle of the proposal for another NEW line with CI. Very exciting stuff and I hope it all goes through. I look forward to getting feedback from you all when I can finally announce it! Anywho, its gonna take some paper engineering, color theory and some good ole fun painting and collage before it is all said and done.

Today will also be fun because, I, as a collage artist, get to go in to a collage class and show my work and talk about my process. How is that "fun" you may ask??? Because its a collage class of elementary school kiddos! They signed up for an afterschool class to learn collage and I've been looking forward to sharing with them for months! I hope I can answer all their questions! I'll try to have pictures to share tomorrow.

Lastly I wanted to suggest a new book that I picked up at the book store the other day and read this morning. Its called Altered Curiosities by Jane Ann Wynn. I don't often buy art books because I try desperately not to be overly influenced by other artist's styles--I think it happens even subliminally. What I enjoyed about Jane's book was that it was wordy--in a good way. What I, as an artist who works alone in her studio, most desire is to know how other artists are working. Do they struggle? Do they too find inspiration in weird places? Etc. Is this the be all and end all of assemblage books. Nah...I can tell you as an author of 6 books, (I know you haven't seen books 5 and 6 yet but they're coming, they're written, they're on the slow boat to and from china), you don't get to write the book you want. Time, editors, sales, publishers, they all slightly influence the book that you write and turn it into something else. This is OK with me. Jane even talks about starting with a sketch and then finding out the finished project usually doesn't look anything like the sketch. How can we help but change or morph into something else. We're like artistic pin ball machines, when our little silver ball hits the bright blinking rail, we adjust.

Jane's book is beautifully shot and wonderfully designs--that credit goes to the art director, designers and photographers. When we get paired with good ones--its GREAT.
What I find most interesting when reading books like Jane's and Michael de Meng's Secrets of Rusty Things, is how differently we all work. Jane, it's obvious likes epoxy. She uses it everywhere, in every project. Places where I'd use gorilla glue, gem tac or more than likely gel medium, she mixes up a batch of epoxy and goes for it. Michael is a lover of liquid nails. I like to nail things on... (see my upcoming article for CPS this spring or summer on ways I attach items to my work), Jane likes to add nails everywhere. I like to paint my surface, Michael paints the finished project and Jane does something near the middle. I have no intentions of changing the way I work but now I have more ideas for those times I can't get what I know to work--I have more tools in my arsenal because I spent time with Michael and Jane.

Alright, enough introspection--enjoy the day!

WRITING IT DOWN (a new section I'm adding to the blog to write down my children's funny quips)
earlier in the day with Matt...
me: Matt, Abby filled a striped bag with a ceramic mug she painted, a baby doll blanket, Colorado (her stuffed horse), and her Gillies (Irish Dancing shoes). Why do you think she did that?
Matt: I don't know, the secret is to find the common element in each of those items. Did you ask her?
me: no.

me: Abby, what are all those things you put in the striped bag on the floor of your bedroom?

Abby: Oh that's incase we lose our house.

me: WHAT!?!?!

Abby: You know, incase we lose our house... In case the government comes to Brookline and says, "Hey everybody, there are too many people living here and we have to take some houses and make more room."

me: So how do the things in the bag help? Are they what you would want to bring with you?

Abby: No, the gillies are so I could dance in the streets and people could give me money. The mug is so they'd have somewhere to PUT the money when I dance. I thought I could wrap the blanket around me and people would think, "She must be GOOD!"

me: And your horse Colorado???

Abby: After all that dancing I was thinking I might want to cuddle.

me: Ya know Abby, we aren't going to lose our house, right?

Abby: Mom, it's unpredictable.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Jenn Rides!

I DID IT! Yes, that's me riding the slopes of Okemo this past weekend. I rocked the hills! Ok, maybe I didn't rock them but WOW, what a fun alternative to skiing. Did I mention that the boots don't hurt your feet. I had an absolute blast with Matt and the girls in our first ever private boarding class. Poor Bec hit her tail bone pretty early on and I didn't give her the attention that deserved. She and Matt headed back after the lesson and some hot chocolate and one last run while Abby and I carved some more snow with our boards. The second to last run I hit MY tail bone and was immediatley filled with guilt about thinking Becky wasn't sucking it up and trying to have fun. OWWWW. BUT, I found out that they make boarding shorts with padding.
I'm sort of bummed that we probably wont get up again this season because Abby's play practice is starting soon. I really am going to give this boarding thing a shot. I like having to learn something new--always have and I hope I always will.
For brief moment I even felt hip! Hard to do at 36. Abby wants a board for her birthday so I'll be looking for that soon. In the mean time I need to go take some more advil!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

California Dreaming

We ended our CHA trip with a filming episode for CI TV at Scrappin in the Hills scrapbook store. What a blast! Ray, a graphic designer and videographer for MTV made me feel totally comfortable in front of the camera.
The trick of it all was actually managing not to crack up when it got noisy in the store. Who knew that it would be so busy on a Wednesday morning! The owner said it was usually dead at that time of day!
I've attached a video (if this works) of me putting together a section of the Parts and Parcel Album. If you listen in the background you can hear the woman running the store talking on the phone about not eating all day and about her uncle who died, and her friends brother...and so on and so on. It was so random. (to be fair, she wasn't in mourning over her uncle--it sounded like it had happened a while before but helped her story). At one point, it got nice and quiet and then a baby started crying. A very new sounding baby. Then someone comes in and parks their stroller in the middle of the area we are taping in...OBLIVIOUS to the two large cameras pointed at me. Too funny. Really, really had fun doing it. Sonia, my art director extraodinare kept telling me to smile but I found it difficult to do, especially since whenever I looked up the camera wasn't even looking at my face.
I had to do it all off the cuff, no script and no directions. I felt flustered at the middle because I couldn't remember the directions I had written months before. I took a minute and walked through it in my mind and did ok from then on out. I'll see if I can get a link to the finished video when it comes back from editing to share with you.
until next time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

East Coast time!

Phew! I have finally recovered from my west coast trip to the fabulous CHA show. What a ride! Now I have to fill you in on all the wonderful people and product I saw and things I did---right?

Well, first, Parts and Parcels was a HUGE HIT! I met a lot of people who waited a long time in my make and take lines just to make one of the mini flip flop folios. For all of you who took a business card so you could find my blog, welcome! I heard, not to brag of course, that Parts and Parcels was the "best thing of the 2008 CHA show". And no, my mum wasn't there saying it! (but you would, right mum?) Anywho, I got squeezed into the side wall here with a lovely sign and room for the samples which really helped to sell the new product. The Flip Flop Folios Sold themselves (really at a retail price of $2 and $2.50, how can you go wrong!) The only disappointing thing is that they aren't shipping until May! How sad! Now worries though, we got some really great press visits and, I won't name names but I shook hands with a very wise and humble founding editor who enthusiatically shook my hand and told me I "hit a homerun" with my idea. So that means by the time the product hits the shelves there should be a great amount of publicity promoting them.

Here we are at the invitation only CI event. That's Sonia, my overworked but totally wonderful art director. She's sitting in Christine Adolph's chair demoing her very cool foils and Sticky2 (sticky squared) rub ons while Christine was doing her make and take. I'm showing off the Parts and Parcels line until I didn't have a voice anymore. Matt actually wowed the crowd by demoing the foils for Christine and Parts and Parcels for me so I could get some dinner (which was actually strawberry ice cream--all that was left!)

I had a great time at the Quarry booth as well. I love that they have an author breakfast and that some of the press comes by for a meet and greet. I also crammed a make and take there along with a book signing on Tuesday.

The only upsetting part of the trip was feeling under the weather on Saturday night and finding out my Becky was home from school for a couple days with a fever. Technology being what it was, we were able to console her via video conference. Matt was a real trooper and lugged my bag (Amy Butler's Dancing Mums--I was stopped in the aisles with this bag), fetched me nyquil, brought me water and even helped with my make and takes. I just wish I had captured him on film doing it all!

I managed to scoot out of the show without sharing my handful of book title ideas with Mary Ann my lovely Aquisitions Editor. I wasn't sure I'd have the will power! (Yes MA, I want to write lots more books but I need a couple months off to refocus!)

Monday Night we went to a pirate bowling party with the CI reps. Matt and I started the night with eye patches but quickly took them off when we realized we couldn't bowl straight with them on! I had the high score 106 for at least our two lanes of 12+ people and probably a bunch of the other people too. I know I should be proud of that score but I swear my average used to be 126 when I was 11 years old! I do feel proud of the fact that I "taught" a couple of candle pin bowlers how to play with the big balls.

Matt and I went to the Disney California Event on the last night and got the chance to meet 4 lovely scrapbook store owners and the team from When Creativity Knocks. Great laughter and fun time was had by all.

The next time I blog I'll share pictures of my last day in So. Cal and sum up the rest of the trip.
I'm glad to be back but I can't wait for my next visit in April--counting the days!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

News from the CHA Show!!!!

It's HERE! Finally! I'm so exctited to tell you about my new product line from Creative Imaginations--Jenn Mason's Parts and Parcels!
It's a wonderful (if I do say so myself!) new alternative to tradtional scrapbooking. There are full albums with either 12 or 6 mini books for organizing your memories into little interactive snip-its as well as individual books (Flip Flop Folios) which you may recognize from my first book, Pockets Pullouts and Hiding Places (Quarry Books) as well as in The Cardmaker's Workbook (Quarry Books). Check out their blog for more info.
And because I MUST accessorize there are also Clips n Clasps and Strings and Things accessory kits to help you make the most of your Parts and Parcel Products.
This product is great for oganizing albums like a holiday album or the school years, baby's first 12 months, retirement, summer vacations, family genealogy, etc. Parts and Parcels was designed to be used by the first time scrapbooker who doesn't own a load of supplies and is easily intimidated, as well as the over-the-top addicted scrapbooker who likes to own and use every embellishment on the market.
In writing the directions for Parts and Parcels, I realized one IMPORTANT thing. There is only ONE correct way to use Parts and Parcels...That's YOUR way!
To read more, check out the Creative Imaginations Blog and let me know what you think!
Now I'm off to the show floor!
(to Becky and Abby who said they wanted me to blog to them--mommy misses you! Hope you have fun skiing this weekend! xoxoxo)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Countdown to CHA!

Well this blog entry definitely takes the cake! Here is a shot of the cake my 8 year old decorated for a Patriots party--so sad about the Superbowl. But the Superbowl has come and gone, Super Tuesday has come and gone and now it's time for ....Drum Roll!!!!!!!!

Super Fun at CHA! Ok, maybe I'm nuts but I just LOVE going to CHA. I think its partly because I sit alone in my studio trying to be creative, trying to please my muse but I sometimes get in a artistic black hole. Never fear--CHA is here. For me, CHA is like a highschool reunion, or at least what I think a high school reunion should be (because I've never been to one). I get to see all my amazingly creative friends, new products, new people and it NEVER fails, something fantastic always happens at CHA and I never know what it will be. Some new opportunity pops up and I'm on a creative roll again.

Going there is totally re-energizing too. I love meeting new store owners, other designers and all the great manufacturers.

So this year I will be debuting my new product with Creative Imaginations at booth #1473 and doing make and takes too. More about this new product VERY, VERY SOON!

But first let me tell you about my guest appearance, make and take and book signing at the Quarry booth #4351. I'll be making a great gift card make and take to celebrate The Cardmaker's Workbook from 9-10 on Tuesday the 12th. Check out their nifty new blog to see pictures and learn more!
This is a shot of the project we'll be doing. The paper I've used is from Christine Adolph's Line from Creative Imaginations. It's double sided cardstock which is one of my favorite things in the world--I LOVE versatility!
Check back soon to hear more about my new product and make sure to come by the booth and say hi!