Saturday, March 1, 2014

Altered Book Pages

I have been working on several ongoing collaborative projects, including two different altered book groups. The topic for the first pages is "Alchemy," the idea of changes in substance or matter. I decided to go with a medieval view of the alchemist and created a mini tunnel book as a tip in.  I used lots of layers of stencils, paints, cray pas, printed images, ink and pencil on this spread. I love the way the light shines through when you open out the pages.

This spread, below, is about myths and secrets, and I chose to do the Loch Ness Monster. I gelli printed book pages and then acrylic painted a stylized, painterly sea creature. Beneath the waves lurks  some theories about Nessie.  I was so caught up in looking for myths and legends for this challenge that I had a hard time choosing which one to do.  JFK, Bermuda Triangle, Alien Abductions, Jimmy Hoffa -- I mean, I could have just had a stack of garbage with a body hidden under it for that one!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Five on Friday

Here's the Goodreads list of  100 Books to Read in a Lifetime     Do you agree? Disagree? What would you add or delete?  I've never seen a top 10 or top 100 list that I completely agreed with, and this one is no exception. I've read most of the books on here, but some books that I consider classics didn't make the cut.  What do you think?

Besides reading them, I love to alter books. Some devoted book lovers can't bring themselves to tear a book apart and remake it -- but I consider it a tribute to the form rather than the function.  I belong to two different altered book groups with art friends who mostly live in Hawaii.

This first set of pages is for someone whose theme was Mind Games, and my work is done with pan pastels in response to a class with Jane Davenport.

The second set of pages is for a theme called "The Meaning of Art, and I included a quote about art along with watercolor sketches of some supplies. I used the lettering techniques I learned with Lori Vliegen of Elvie Studio  -- I was fortunate to be able to take an in-person class with Lori as well as her wonderful online class.

And more artwork - I did some illustrations for my daughter, who will be getting a tattoo on her leg. She gave me specifics on the sugar skull she wanted, based on a design I did last year, and the illustrated "S" will hug her calf.  To be clear, I'm not a fan of tattoos, but I guess I'd rather she have my artwork on her leg than someone else's.

Still trying to get in all the Oscar candidates I can view before the awards. This weekend we saw Frozen and Philomena.  Both award worthy, for sure. Want to fill out a ballot for yourself so you can keep track of your picks while watching the show?  Here's the NY Times ballot form: NY Times Oscars Ballot

Are you watching the Olympics? I mostly like the skating, and felt so sad for Evgeni Plushenko. He had an incredible performance on his first night, but hurt his back and had to step out of the second night of competition. And I will admit that last Sunday night I skipped the Olympics for the Beatles tribute show on CBS ... and loved every minute.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Five on Friday

What ever happened to the great shows we used to find on HGTV and DIY networks?  In a time when housing is at its lowest level in 40 years, how is it that so many of the shows are about buying homes? Is there a realtor lobby at work in the programming departments? I miss those great design shows that gave us so many ideas for decorating and home improvement.

Today is the twins' half birthday. The little four-pounders are now little bruisers -- and as you can see here, they're already asserting themselves.

What a couple of characters.

My Blissfully Art Journaling group is doing a domino book swap and I had fun making one. I've seen altered dominoes but never did one myself before this. The theme was Valentine's Day, and since I love the romance of Jane Austen I went with images from Sense and Sensibility to decorate this little book.  I liked it so much that I'm making a few more for myself. Here are a couple of views.


And finally, if you haven't had enough cuteness
with the babies, above, we have adopted a new
kitty. We've been miserable with the loss of our
two cats, Roan and Kris, within three months of
each other, and though no one can ever replace
them, we had a huge hole in our hearts. Dewey
is thrilled to have a fur baby to keep him company. Meet Cody.

Enjoy the Olympics this week. I'm sure we're all holding our breath and hoping all goes well.
Thanks for visiting! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Is it February already? Wait. Is it June yet?

It's snowing again in New York City.  In the ten years I've lived here, I've never seen so much snow, and honestly, I'm ready for a change.  And we still have all of February and March. I'm looking forward to my yearly art retreat in Key Largo even more this year than ever.

Do you ever get to that time between books where you just can't warm up to anything? I get the preview/sample on Amazon for my iPad and start reading, but can't warm up to it. Then I try another. And another. I feel like those people who go to dating services and can't settle on one person because there are so many to choose from.  Any suggestions for a book you read and really enjoyed?

I've been doing a reflective journaling class on the Oprah Network with Brene Brown, called The Gifts of Imperfection. It's a pairing with Brene's book on this topic. The subtitle is: Let go of who you  think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are.  My pages from the first three weeks are below.

The first part was just giving ourselves permission to be imperfect.

And this one is permission slips on that same theme. Inside that heart is a paper with the names of people I can trust with my thoughts and feelings. I'm blessed with many. Some people in the class had none, and for that, I feel true sympathy.

Reflecting on my younger self and what I like about her.

Looking back in time with words of advice to my younger self.  "Whispers" The photo at left was taken just at the time of my divorce. The photo at right was just after I got married the first time, age 23.

This class is less about the "art" than about the reflections and the journaling. It's kind of freeing, really. And fun that I'm doing it together with a friend, because we're having some great talks about each week's topic.

If you looked back at yourself from an important moment in your past, what advice would you give?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

After the Ball Drops-Week 1, 2014

Have you been as busy as I have?

The mad dash of the holidays here in New York City always feels like the Polar Express turned loose and went awry, racing faster and more frenzied with each day from Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve in Times Square - the ultimate chaos - finally puts some punctuation  to the story. I love New York most days, but the truth is I'm happy to see the tourists depart and resume Manhattan's customary full pace, without the frenzy of twelve shoppers grabbing and five kiddies crying.

Overlapping some of that, I had my grandsons (the twins) here for the past week and loved every minute.  I devoted myself to nothing but them for six days, and they devoted themselves to me, too. There is something unique and sublime about being a grandparent and enjoying the babies without all the pressure of being a parent. I enjoyed every minute with my own children, too, but I wasn't nearly as relaxed as I am now. Could it be the Lexapro? ;-)

I've joined a couple of art project groups on Facebook for 2014:  A Documented Life and Journal 52. The first one involves little daily notations in a planner and a sketch/photograph each week based on a prompt. This week the prompt was my front door.  Journal 52 is more about writing, but a similar idea. And my usual round-robin art activities always inspire me to bring creativity to the table.

First book of the year is an easy read called The Shoemaker's Wife, about Italian immigrant experience in the early 20th century. It gives me a reason to think about what my grandparents experienced on their way to America. I wish one of them had kept a journal! My goal is to read 2 books/month this year - modest for some, but given that I only read 12 books last year, that would be doubling my output. I'm going to try hard to read while on the treadmill at the gym.

That's about the extent of my goals for this year. Got any goals/resolutions/words?

My book format for Documented Life project

Neapolitan Street Life - sketch from a postcard

Monday, December 9, 2013

Five on...

If you will be in New York City during the holiday season, and you're at all inclined to visit museums, you must go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Angel Tree with the Neapolitan 18th century manger scenes nestled beneath the branches. I don't know of anything like it anywhere.  The late Loretta Hines Howard started collecting the creche figures in 1925 and donated them to the museum in 1964.

I have fond memories of my grandma, herself from Naples, setting out her manger scene at the beginning of each December, with sheep and cows nestled into cottony snow, and an angel hung on the apex of the manger, trumpeting the baby's birth.

Seems like abundant snowfall is blanketing many parts of our nation this week.  We didn't get more than a dusting yesterday, but much of NJ and PA got up to 10" of fluffy goodness.  My grandson had his first snow day!

And although we didn't have a snow day here in New York, I stayed inside and kept my sewing machine whirring with projects.  

I had two pages to finish for a Leonardo DaVinci themed, fabric book round robin.  I'm fascinated by DaVinci's study of wings, so I created a collage in Photoshop of his various sketchbook pages on the topic, printed them on fabric, and then reproduced one of the wing designs to insert into the page.  I used thick fusing material to adhere cotton fabric to the wing shape, and then embroidered the design (freeform, sewing machine) and couched some threads for the thicker design shapes. The fabric backing for the wing and the reverse side of the page is vintage cotton fabric stenciled with acrylic paint.

And while the sewing machine was out...a few weeks ago I ordered some fabric from the Tim Holtz line through JoAnn's online, wanting to make a pillow cover for my living room chair. I love the NYC-themed print. Before making the pillow case itself,  I used some of the fabric and string to create piping, then inset a zipper in the bottom, and finished up the sides, sandwiching the piping into the seams. The back of the pillow is also Tim Holtz fabric in ticking stripe. I love the way it turned out.

See the piping?

And finally, did you watch The Sound of Music?  I love the idea of live theater available to the masses, and especially for those who might never see a Broadway play otherwise. I wish theyd do one every year. (I can still remember the tv version of Cinderella from the 60's.)  While I think Carrie Underwood might not have been the best choice for Maria (I would have voted for someone like Kristen Chenoweth), Audra McDonald was absolutely astonishing. Her rendition of Climb Every Mountain left me speechless.  And the kids were delightful. Encore!

What are you doing to get ready for the holidays?  (Or if you already celebrated Hanukkah, how did it go?)

Friday, November 22, 2013

December Journal Prompts

Every December I make a holiday art journal to record my thoughts and activities.  This year, I made a calendar of journal prompts for my art journaling friends who need a little inspiration.  15 activities, one to do every other day in December.  Enjoy!