Thursday, February 26, 2009

Creative Space

This is what it looks like in the basement when someone is here working with me. My space is the one with the bookcase beside it. Usually that is full of all of my clay and clay tools, but they are easily moved to accommodate the paints and ink pads. Pam always brings two or more projects, with all of the paper, inkpads, stamps and tools so she needs plenty of room to unpack. We set up two tables for her and then clean off Ken's booth/bench behind her for overflow. I've only recently gotten the paper unpacked which makes everything much easier since I had shifted 8 heavy boxes up and down stairs several times. Plus since I print all of our business stuff, each time I shifted the boxes I had to find the right paper for those jobs. Much nicer now! I love the picture of Pam; she looks so surprised.
The day she left I pulled out ten board books that either I was working on or had gotten ready to work on to see how different I could make each set of pages. I used the same base color and much the same techniques on each of them, but switched out the colors on subsequent layers and whitewahed some of them with gesso.

Playing to The Max

Several weeks ago I had come across a website called Eyethinking, , while I was looking for ideas for fairytale like characters. There was a Hansel and Gretel scene there, I think. Anyway I got caught up in the name, Eyethinking, because it comes close to describing how I work on paper projects. So after Jean left and before Pam got here, I rubber stamped the set of ATCs from some backgrounds I had made from the blue collage I did. (Photoshop variations created the different colors.) The brighter ones were printed on matte photo paper and the others on glossy photo paper. I had fun with the word play.
The painted background, the circus book pages and the drawing exercise were what I played with while Pam was here. I'm starting to really like the depth that even cheap acrylic paints add to a background.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Unexpected Visitor

Jean and I have been trying to arrange a visit for a while. One was canceled two weeks ago because of the ice and snow, so I was surprised and elated to hear that she was coming on Monday to spend a few days. It's nearly impossible to characterize the friendship that Jean and I have except to say that it endures. We managed, while tending to our small children, to make baskets, to sew clothes and dolls and quilts, to host neighboorhood cookie-baking sessions and book clubs and potluck dinners, to converse on most matters large and small. Our similarities and our differences informed and strengthened our bond. At some point our lives diverged but our friendship endured.
We have so much to learn about this gardening/hobby farming venture we are getting ready to try and Jean and Doug have already gone through the "growing" pains, so much of the conversation over the few days she was here focused on those concerns. She had given me a bread recipe which I put together while she was on her way here, so she showed me the tricks to baking it. It came from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. She brought a newly butchered and dressed heritage turkey they had raised, and we cooked it in a vinegar and pepper marinade. Delicious! We talked housing chickens, fencing chickens, feeding chickens and watering chickens. We planned a visit with them to learn how to slaughter chickens. And she informed us that the first rule of planning to raise goats is to assume that the goats are smarter than you are.
And of course we talked politics: a new president, the treacheries of the media and the financial concerns we are all facing. We remembered our common stories; we caught up on some of the memorable events we had missed in each other's lives.
Although we both still consider art and crafting, "making stuff", a major part of our lives, our interests have changed. She is a master knitter and I have to read directions to cast on each and every time I do it. She designs and makes quilts with an ease I can only envy. Thus much of our converstion was sharing our current passions. She showed me a book on making silk fabrics and papers from silk cocoons. Eureka! She talked about wool felting, an idea I had decided I didn't have room, resources, or energy to pursue, but I will definitely try it when I go to visit her. We both still have a thing for dolls but come at it from wildly different directions. I shared my interests in bookmaking and bookforms and a common interest was a fabric based book. We have both done some journaling; mine is casual, while hers is on the verge of becoming a personal and public history of the Cherokee people who chose not to participate in the mass movement of the Cherokees known as the "Trail of Tears." She wanted to try rubber stamping to create a valentine for Doug and as we were pulling out stamps to consider, I thought of my Sherril Kahn sets. She took one look at them and had at least "a dozen" projects she wanted to use them for. I gave her a few pointers and went in search of my brayers. About an hour later, I had found the well hidden brayers and she had created the posted card.
A marlevous time was had by all.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Valentine Theme

I had wanted to work around a valentine/romance theme with the red background I had collaged last week and a close up picture of tango dancers from an '08 calendar. I ran into several problems: the dancers were too big for the page and didn't match the tones of the background, the background itself was too big for some of the other couple images I had on file, and the couple images I wanted to use were a strange assortment of sizes. So I fell back to scanning the images and doing the whole thing digitally. As much as I enjoy getting my hands dirty with paint and glue, I get really excited about being able to alter the size, transluncency, and color nuances of the images I'm working with. In other words, I'm a total Photoshop control freak.

I got a real bonus when I opened the "Stitch" set of brushes by boyingopaw that I had downloaded from here: and saw that the stitiches follow your cursor as if you were really embroidering. Now if I could only sew and cut out and wear paper clothes!

The other bonus was the amazing Virginia Woolf quote I found online: "I want the concentration & the romance, & the words all glued together, fused, glowing: have no time to waste any more on prose."

Sunday, February 1, 2009


The first three pictures were taken weeks ago and show how much snow was on the ground before the blast of 12 or more inches on January 28. I love moody shots and the first very grey one shows the auction barn from way back near the pond. The woodpile isn't one we created; it's just sitting in the woods. And there is a shot from near the back of the pond towards the house that I liked a lot.
The same hill is in both of the other pictures and it is all shoveled snow. After we had shoveled three times during the day Wednesday, I couldn't even throw the snow that high. I had cleared most of the upper driveway into the ridge across from the big hill and Ken had done the long drive out to the street. At 5:30 I quit, seriously asked him to leave the garage apron until the next day, and fumed while he finished the job, which took until 7:30 (after dark). If there is a pill for being ridiculous (aka stupid), they need to pass it out before snowstorms.