Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Random Thoughts Tuesday - Thoughts of China

I have not been able to really write about my time in China.  The picture above is a collage of some of the pictures I took during the 12 days that I was traveling.  I have an app on my iPad, called PicCollage and it is great for making collages.  But back to my topic.  I have not been able to figure out why I cannot find the words to describe all that I saw and experienced.

I have been asked by a lot of people what it was like traveling to China and the only word I can use to describe it is Paradox.  We visited Beijing, Xian, Chongqing, Yichang and Shanghai.  Each please had it own unique features.  For example, Beijing and Xian are steeped in History; Chongqing has numerous resettlement areas where the governments reclaims land and resettles residents to other areas. Shanghai is a relatively new city and as such it's history is pretty much modern era.  There are 25 million people in Beijing; 33 million in Chongqing and 28 million in Shanghai.  That is a lot of people.  Modern high rises are pretty much all you see in the city proper.  Street signs are in english and  chinese; people obtain cars either by lottery or auction.  Numerous American businesses are in Shanghai and the architecture is very modern.  HOWEVER....you cannot drink the water, you have to bring your own toilet paper, I will never forget the taste of warm Sprite (cannot use the ice).

How can a country that makes most of the products we use; is on the cutting edge of technology; and where tourism accounts for one third of its economy, not have clean and safe drinking water?  My mind is just boggled.  I need to go through my pictures and divide them into interesting categories that I can write about.....but for today it is just random thoughts and collage of some of my favorite memories.

Thanks for stopping by.  It is always great to welcome you to my blog.

Until next week......

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Random Thoughts Tuesday-Review of Stencil Girl by Mary Beth Shaw

image by momoo50
image, a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

Today my post is a book review.  I pre-ordered a book months ago that was written by Mary Beth Shaw and it arrived last Thursday.  I did  happy dance knowing that I would be delighted with the contents of my friend's latest endeavor.  However, I need to step back a few years to explain how I met Mary Beth.

Late March 2010 I attended ArtFest as a 60th birthday present to myself.  I actually turned 60 in November of 2009, and sent in my registration for this wonderful Art Retreat as my present.  One of the classes I registered for was taught by LK Ludwig and involved painting backgrounds on paper.  I was very interested in the class because I love paper and wanted to find ways to paint paper that I would use for my greeting cards.  In the class LK let us use stencils she brought.  There was a set of stencils that the entire class literally lost their minds over.  I knew I had to have at least two, one that looked like a cluster of pebbles and one that looked like rows of intricate squares.  LK told us she was using Stencil Girl Stencils and giving them a test run in her class.  We could purchase them at Vendor night.  Oh my, I was sooooo geeked.  So, on vendor night, money in hand I made a bee-line to the Stencil Girl table (so did about 50 other attendees).  The scene was not pretty.  I started out at the front of the table and mid-choice I was pushed way to the back and in a blink, all of the stencils were gone.  To say I was devastated is putting it mildly (did I mention I absolutely abhor shopping in crowds?).  I guess the look on my face must have been pretty pitiful because Mary Beth actually talked to me, asked me which stencils I wanted and let me order them.  From that moment on she had an undying fan.

Fast Forward to today.  Last Thursday evening I sat down with a cup of hot chocolate and opened my copy of Stencil Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for Making and Using Stencils. My initial goal was to read the book in one setting. I quickly realized that power reading would be an insult to this book.  The title says it all  Mixed Media Techniques.  It is divided into three sections.  After the Intro and supply list you will find:  Stencil Art, Stencil D├ęcor and Stencil Fun. 

"Whether you are a beginning stencil artist or an old pro, this book will offer you some fresh ideas to expand usage of your stencil library.  Use this book as a starting point......It is my intent to provide you with inspiration that will spark even more ideas and propel you off into new directions."  This quote from Mary Beth is found in the Stencil This article at the front of the book.  It perfectly explains her purpose.  It is not to dazzle you with pretty pictures, it is to provide you with ideas by generously showing us her process. I am definitely going to try Spray it Again, Sam found on pages 66 and 67.

In addition to Mary Beth's step by step instructions, you will find pictures of stencil projects completed by artists such as Tracie Lyn Huskamp, Jane LaFazio and Joanne Sharpe.

I am not a professional book reviewer.  I have written reviews here on by blog of friends who have written books because I firmly believe that as artists (yes I finally called myself an artist), we must support each other anyway that we can. 

I am new to the art world and yet I have made so many friends who have encouraged me, taught me and inspired me to at least try.

You can visit Mary Beth's website, www.mbshaw.com, to see more of her marvelous work.

Well that is it for this week dear reader.  Have a thoughtful week and thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Random Thoughtts Tuesday: Work In Progress

Journal Page in Progress
I was wracking my brain trying to think of some random thoughts for this week.  It has been a busy morning as I begin to restart my purging project.  I cleaned out and consolidated a couple of large plastic tubs and was wondering what to do with the empty tub.  I decided it was time to start my Christmas box (light bulb moment) and I thought why not use the empty tub to house the items.  What is a Christmas box you may ask?  It is a box where I place Christmas presents as I either purchase them or make them.  This year I am doing a combination of hand made and purchased.  Then I look at the item, think about the family and friends I want to give a gift to and find the perfect item.  It is really a lot of fun and I have not done it in years.

Why start the process again?  It has taken me a year to accept that my life has changed drastically.  I am now living on a fixed income in a very unstable economy.  I really like to travel so I have to do more saving and be wise with my spending.  Plus, I have developed talents that I need to share.

I am a real work in progress, though.  Knowing that I need to be more cautious and actually acting upon it is quite a different thing.  It really takes pushing the ego aside and embracing life in a very different way. Understanding that "things" are not the way to a happy life. 

The journal page above is also a work in progress.  The paint on the page is from cleaning my brayer between uses on my gelli plate,  I was making backgrounds on Deli Paper for inspiration cards that I was making,  I have not finished the page which is a shame really because it has been calling to me for sometime,

Radical Wellness another work in progress, I started this process in May and it is really good.  It's purpose is to be mindful of my self care and really look at how I treat myself and my health.  I have been off track since Mid-September and need to give myself a boost so I can continue on the journey.

Art Doodle Love journal.  I was faithfully working in my journal and now it just sits....I think I see a tear running down its page from neglect.  Another work in progress, one more thing to give some attention,

Oh, I say that I do not have time, which is not true.  I am retired for goodness sake.  I do not have enough, I have too much, Excuses, excuses, excuses.....  So, what is a girl to do?  Take each day and enjoy it, plan something special like Knitting Monday, Crochet Thursday, Jammie Saturday.  Enjoy the process and finish at least one work in progress.

Thanks for stopping by dear reader.  What are your WIP's (works in progress)?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Random Thoughts Tuesday - Weekend Among Friends

Maryann our adventurous photographer
On October 1st I returned from China.  I was tired, jet lagged and road weary.  I also knew I had another trip planned for the 10th of October.  This trip had been planned for months, actually since January.  It was to be a reunion of the participants in the Adventures in Italy Art Retreat taught in September 2012 by Tracie Lynn Huskamp.  Tracie had invited the attendees to come to her home in Wichita, KS for a reunion of sorts.  We looked for the perfect time and all settled on October 10th through the 13th.

We had such a wonderful time in Italy that we were more than excited to connect again.  Three of us were able to attend, Debbie Smith, Maryann Villavert and Glenda Hoagland.  Tracie was such a gracious hostess.  She simply spoiled us with gifts, food and good company.  Her husband, Earl, was a very gracious host.  Earl was with us in Italy and was more than willing to accompany us on shopping excursions.  Ever patient and smiling as he held bags, listened as we swooned over the most delicious paper and had high tea on special afternoons.

How did we spend our weekend?  First we had crockpot lasagna on Thursday evening (it was tremendous), we opened gifts and just talked and laughed.  Oh, before I forget.  We were also introduced to the children of the family:  Annabelle, the cutest daschund; Beatrix and Millie two rambunctous pugs.  These doggies were so wonderful and full of fun.
Crockpot Lasagna, our first Dinner in Wichita - Yummy

Friday Tracie made us picnic lunches and we headed to the Flint Hills of Kansas.  On our way we stopped at the cow pends to take pictures of the prairie, it was fantastic.  Then we headed to the Flint Hills where we foraged for dried fall foliage.

 CATTLE PENS on the road to the Flint Hills
 The beauty of the Flint Hills

The Essence of the Prairie

Dinner on Friday was at Picasso's a pizzeria that specializes in large slices.  Each slice was indeed a work of art and I forgot to take a picture.

Saturday was art day.  Earl made pancakes and sausage for breakfast then we went to Michael's to purchase our shadow boxes.  We also went to the most exquisite Antique Mall to look for ephemera to go into the shadowboxes.  I could have spend days in the Mall, so many good things to see and discover.

We spent the afternoon creating our masterpieces and then went to Strouds for homestyle fried chicken.

Saturday night we all sat in Tracie's studio and talked, planned for 2014 trip to Orvieto and enjoyed a special time of fellowship.

In 2012 we were strangers coming together in Italy to take a class from a talented artist.  On that trip we realized that we were kindred spirits.  October 2013, the friendships were cemented into lifelong artistic buddies, sharing a love for art, history, antiques and beauty.  I know that we will find ways to get together often.  Thank you Tracie for being the catalyst for lifelong friendships and a love of art.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Ramdom Thoughts Tuesday on Wednesday - Making the Most of Life

Today is Wednesday, I forgot to post yesterday.  OOPS!!!!  Anyhoo.  In the past two days two very important things have happened.

On Tuesday I went to a funeral.  My friend Sheryl lost her beloved father in a tragic motorcycle accident.  William Spellman was a very special man and much loved.  I learned that he was born in Michigan which makes him very special to me.  He was a lover of Notre Dame (ok, I will allow him that indulgence), a lover of his daughters and his grandchildren.  He has one grandson, Jacob, who looks so much like him it is uncanny.  

I spent the rest of yesterday thinking about how precious life is and that we have to do everything that we can to make it as pleasant and useful as possible.  I know that William did just this. He enjoyed life to the fullest and his love of humanity is very evident in his close knit and loving family.  I met his aunt and uncle at the reception after the meeting, we had a long and enjoyable conversation.  Thinking of them now smile they lived in Michigan, New Jersey, Florida and currently Las Vegas, they live a great life and were so pleasant.

I came home humbled and resolved to continue my goal to live my life to the fullest.

Today, Wednesday, I had my annual checkup with my breast surgery oncologist.  Leading up to the visit is always a little nerve wracking as you do not know what the results of the mammogram will reveal.  Thankfully the mammogram was clear.  No change in the past year.  Thank You Lord.  I have been on this journey for 2 years.  My last Radiation treatment was October 11, 2011 so I am coming up on my 2 year anniversary.  Again my thoughts moved to making the most of the time I have left on this earth.  I sincerely believe that having a positive attitude and doing the things that you love have a very healing affect on ones life.  At least in my case it is working.  I find that my desires and needs are changing.  I am in need of slowing down so that I can truly enjoy those things that mean the most to me, what I find is becoming my passion.

Dear reader, tomorrow is not guaranteed.  What you do today may be that last thing that you do, what do you want it to be.  you may not get a chance to say I love you tomorrow----say it today.  You may not be able to forgive tomorrow---forgive today.  You may not be able to say THANK YOU tomorrow--say it today.

Dear Reader, Love, forgive and say thank you....do not put it off any longer.

So...I love you, forgive myself and say thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Random thought Tuesday blessings

image by momoo50
image, a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

I arrived home today from a 12 day trip to China. The image posted today is of a portion of the wall that surrounds the city center of Xian, China. The wall was built thousands of years ago to protect the city,

The thought of today is that last week I was in China and today I am home. How blessed I am. It is going to take a while for me to process all that I experienced. There is so much to tell. So many pictures to review and edit. Thus photo was taken with my iPhone.

There will be mane more posts over the course of the next few weeks. I think this trip has changed me. I have so much appreciation for my life and all of my experiences.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

China trip 2013 travel journal

China travel journalTravel journal made by See Jane RunInside of travel journal

China trip 2013, a set on Flickr.

Wanted to post copy of the journal I will be using on my trip. Let me tell you this is the first thought I had for a journal. I purchased it in February at An Artful Journey vendor night from Jane of See Janr Run.

I agonized over what to use for weeks. Last night it came to me, use the book you see, it is light weight, colorful, has the paper I like, envelopes to collect data and 4 sections that will capture each segment of this adventure. I am so excited.

Random Thoughts Tuesday: On the Road Again

The Willie Nelson song is floating around in my head.  I am getting ready to leave Sept. 18th for the trip of a lifetime.  It seems so weird to me, but it is so true and I am so blessed.

I am going to CHINA.  Just typing those words gives me chills.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would be able to do and accomplish many of the things I have done in my life.  If you ever want to see evidence of the Lord working in someone's life, I am the poster child for it.

In the past 19 years I have been to France, Italy, Hawaii, Switzerland, Monaco and many of the Caribbean Islands.  I have seen many of the states in our own country, I have taken train rides through he Rocky Mountains, through the Alps, through New Mexico and the Appalachians of West Virginia.  I have been to Art Retreats in Port Townsend, Washington, Los Gatos California and Orvieto Italy.

I have saved and scraped to be able to have these adventures and it has been so worth it.  I smile as I write these words because I know just how special this time of my life is.  I have no complaints only many thank you's.  Life is short, so it might as well be interesting.

Yes I am on the road again, looking at the wonders of the world.  Hey, wouldn't it be cool to make pilgrimages to see the 7 wonders of the world?  I mean really.......

Not sure if I will be able to post while I am way, but I will try.  If not, I will definitely post when I return.

So for now, Life Book 2013 and 29 faces of September are on hold until I get back.  I will be capturing the beauty with pictures and in the deep recesses of my mind,  I may even try to sketch a bit (not sure how that will turn out).  But one thing I do know, I will soak up as much as I can.  Wrap it up in my spirit and return home with a new zest for life and love for all of God's creations.

Well time to hit the road....later, Pilgrim

Friday, September 13, 2013

Day 13 of 29 faces challenge - Photo Friday

Day 13 of 29 faces challenge by momoo50
Day 13 of 29 faces challenge, a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

I have been participating in a project called 29 faces challenge in September.  I have been posting faces daily.  Some have been recently drawn and some were drawn earlier this year.  I have learned a lot and been working on art daily.  I think I am improving, but there is still along way to go.  Having fun with the process.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Inkblot butterfly week 37 life book

Inkblot butterfly by momoo50
Inkblot butterfly, a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

This mixed media painting represents harmony, my word for the year.

Random Thoughts Tuesday - No thought at all

Sometimes there just are not any profound thoughts or words coming forth.  There has been so much going on in the last few days, friends diagnosed with Cancer, the world on the verge of war, Civil Wars in the middle east so much pain, so much confusion, 

I just need a space with some quiet, some space with a little peace.  Sometimes I wish everyone would just go somewhere, sit down, shut up and PRAY!!!

That is as random as I can get today.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Photo Friday - this week in art.

Day 6 of 29 days of faces challenge

This painting is based on  lessons from Mindy Lacefield.  The face is very simple.  It is drawn on an index card (I was participating in the index card project sponsored by Daisy Yellow).  In trying to find my voice, my artistic voice, I find that I like simplicity and a bit of whimsy.  Yep, that is just me.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Day 5 of 29 faces challenge.

Day 5 of 29 faces challenge. by momoo50
Day 5 of 29 faces challenge., a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

The drawing today was done with Paper 53 a drawing app on my iPad.  I am trying to learn to do digital drawing.  It is just fun.  I find that I am wanting to experiment more with my art.  I am becoming more comfortable in my artistic skin.  This week I have spent two whole days painting, this is a first, but the days were so relaxing.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Day 3 of 29 Faces

Day 3 of 29 Faces by momoo50
Day 3 of 29 Faces, a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

Today I am going to be a little boastful.  I love this painting.  I started drawing and painting faces in April of this year and with lots of practice I have come a long way, trust me.  I still have to talk myself into showing the finished product, or even trying, but once I start, it is really relaxing and I do enjoy it.

I still have a lot of practicing and work to do and that is just as it should.  My goal is to fill a sketchbook with practice drawings and note the changes over time.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  

Random Thoughts Tuesday: 2014 plans for Online Classes

2013 has been a very busy year from an online art class perspective.  I have been meaning to write down a list of all of them so I can keep up. Some how I have not done that yet, but I know for sure it is a lot.  Hence the decision to limit the number of online classes for 2014.

While it is a lot of fun to participate in these classes, it is not always wise.  At least this is true for me.  I find that I get so busy that I forget to just try and paint or draw something on my own just to see if I can do it.  In fact I am kind of hesitant to try, but I feel this call to branch out on my own no matter the result.

The picture above was a lesson from Life book 2013.  I drew and colored it while I was on the train, as a result, I had to vary from the lesson just a bit and it was great.  I felt empowered.  I also participated in ICAD from Daisy Yellow,  it was a free project where you drew or painted on index cards using a prompt or a suggestion of a theme.  This was a hoot to do because I was left to my own imagination as to what I would create and I must admit that some of the cards were really cool.

So, this is my plan for 2014.  I am going to sign up for two (maybe 3 if one just calls to me) on-line classes; participate in the inspiration card swaps sponsored by Jessica Brogan (I love this); Hope ICAD is held so I can participate; designate at least 2 days a week for my own thing.

It will be so interesting to see if I follow through on my plan.  Only time will tell.  In the mean time I will enjoy the rest of this year learning and growing. 

Monday, September 02, 2013

Day 2 of 29 faces

Day 2 of 29 faces by momoo50
Day 2 of 29 faces, a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

I like participating in Challenges such as this.  It requires me to be present and work on my craft.  I love the eyes on this portrait.  I have been working to make the eyes more expressive and less like a deer looking at headlights.  They are coming together and I am pleased.  I still have to talk myself into drawing faces, however I notice that I have come a long way since April when I took an expressions online class taught by Regina Lord.  I should practice more and I will.

I have to work on the nose more; that is my next challenge.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

day 1 29 faces challenges

Male portrait by momoo50
Male portrait, a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

This portrait will help me get started with this challenge. I was drawn a while ago as i learned to draw and paint faces.

I realized today that I have to find ways to open up and work freely without restraint.

Day 2 portrait is in progress

Friday, August 30, 2013

Photo Friday - Night Shot of the Duomo in Orvieto and Gelato

This picture was taken on a nightly stroll through Orvieto.  Our normal habit was dinner and then a stroll before stopping for our nightly Gelato. 

I did not get a picture of the Gelato in Orvieto, but here is a picture from Rome.  Oh, Oh, Oh, was this good, every night I got a small cup of Bascia (Hazelnut and I hope I am spelling that right) and dark cholocata.  Yummo!!!!!

Photo's are so special, they can transport you back in time in an instant.

blog-a-long day 30/30 - Just the Begininning

Aren't these plates beautiful?  I bought them as a splurge while in Orvieto Italy last year.   They are not large dinner plates.  Rather they are a beautifully painted salad plate.  Salad plates are what I use for dinner since I am trying to eat in a more healthy manner and watch my portions.  Do you see the little bowl in the head of the picture, it holds 1 1/2 cups, just enough for soup or other treats without over eating, plus they are just so cute.

Why did I choose this picture today?  The plates are hand made and have a great artistic value to me. Someday with lots of practice I will be able to draw and paint flowers like this. 

Today is the last day of the 30 day Blog-a-long with Effy Wild.  I have had so much fun blogging everyday.  Some posts have been serious, some have allowed me to stand on my bully pulpit and others have been whimsical, but they all reflect various elements of my personality.  I have really been trying to blog more this year, to use the talents God has given me.  Because of that I do not see this as the last day of a blog-a-long; rather it is just the beginning of new adventures in writing and posting.

For instance I need to learn how to increase the followers on my blog.  I am always excited and appreciative when someone follows me.  It is like getting a Christmas present.

I want to figure out my intention for this blog and for myself actually.  Where do I want to go?  What direction to I want my life to take?  What lessons are there for me to learn?  I still have so much life to live.  It would be so cool to live to be 88 like my great grandmother Fannie Jane Cole, so very exciting.

But for today, dear reader, I am so glad for this opportunity and the friendships I have cultivated from this blog-a-long.  Please stop by when you can, love to you all, especially Effy.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Blog-a-long day 29/30 Serenity

I drew and painted this portrait as part of the Life Book 2013 project.  I was on vacation and did not have al of the normal paper and paints I normally use.  So I chose pages from a book I had that I won during a give away from Jessica Sporn and a very limited palette.  I really like the serenity of her face, it reflects her soul.

There are days like today when I just feel at peace with the world.  There is no need for a lot of words, just a profound sense of gratitude.

Blog-a-long day 28/30 - Deep in Thought

August 28, 1963....I was 13 years old and preparing for my first year of High School.  This was the day the March on Washington was held.  I listened to the speech by Martin Luther King Jr. with great anticipation.  You see he had been in Detroit Michigan on June 22, 1963 to participate in the Freedom March that was held.  Over 100,000 people marched down Woodward Avenue to bring attention to the plight of workers in Michigan, especially Detroit.  The speech he delivered was a preview of the speech he would give in Washington DC on Aug, 28th.  The speech in Detroit ended with the I have a Dream statements.  It was powerful and I was so proud that my Dad, Edward K. Barber Sr. marched in Detroit representing the African American group of The Veterans of Foreign Wars group.

I spent today thinking about how far we have come and how far we have to go.  It is truly a challenge and we cannot be faint of heart.  Life is like that, there is always something to do, always something to learn, always something to heal.

The photo above was taken at the Train station in Kansas City, Missouri.  I love sepia tones for photos. I used my histogram app for this presentation.  I was traveling from Nevada to Detroit for my annual family visit.  I rode in a small roomette (private car).  50 years ago in some parts of the south I could not have had a private room; 50 years ago I still would have had to use a restroom for African Americans.  50 years is not really such a long time ago.....We have really come a long way, but we still have so far to go.  There are lessons every person has to learn no matter ethnicity.  Wouldn't be nice if we could drop our guard and learn them together?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blog-a-long day 27/30 Random Thoughts Tuesday

Postcard made for Arthouse Coop Post card swap

Wow day 27, where has the time gone.  It is time for random thoughts tuesday, a day to just talk about whatever comes to my mind.   There are a few things I thought about this morning as I cleaned the kitchen.

1.  Stop flying by the seat of my pants.....I need to plan my day.  I get up eat and then move around randomly touching this and that.  I have a lot to do and it usually gets done, but I find that I waste a lot of time also.  Really, I do and then complain to myself (since I live alone) that there is never enough time.  Of course there is enough time, I just have to use it wisely.  Taking a few minutes just to jot some notes to myself will not hurt and will probably help a lot.

2.  This is a thought I have often...you know what to do just do it.  Why did this become so important today?  I received an invitation (ok advertisement) to sign up for a 27 day journaling challenge on line. It will show me how to get my thoughts on paper, how to journal better and talk about what I want from life.......<making face and thinking>.  I considered signing up when the thought came to me "how many classes do you need to take?  You know what to do just do it."  Makes logical sense

3.  This thought was from this morning but it is just as profound (if I do say so).  I participate in Life Book 2013 and each week we get a new assignment.  They are wonderful and I am behind.  Truthfully I was up to date until I went on vacation.  I only did two of the assignments while I was gone and now I have to get the motivation to catch up.  Back to the thought....Some of the participants have the picture done within an hour or two after viewing the weekly video.  The work is beautiful and I say to myself "how in the Hell did they get it done so fast?"  They probably just sit down and do it.  Should I take the hint?  Maybe, but I am not a fast creator.  I have to think about it, let the paint dry, get easily distracted and knit a few rows on a scarf.....I think, dear reader, you may be getting the picture.  Hence the need for thought number 1.  Quit flying by the seat of my pants.

I like my random thoughts for this week......I just have to honor them

Monday, August 26, 2013

Blog-a-long day 26/30 - Life's Journey


Life's Highway can be tricky
full of pot holes and curves.
I trudge along this highway
dodging detours
turning around at dead ends

I periodically look over my shoulder
just a quick glance,
to make sure that you're  still there

traveling life's highway would be
lonely without you.
-glenda hoagland

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blog-a-long day 25/30: Art takes many forms

The picture above was altered by using an app ArtistaOil which takes a photo and turns it in to a rendition of an oil painting.  It was so much fun to work with this app and discover what can be done with photo's.

Art does take many forms.  I sometimes struggle trying to define what type of artist I am.  There are so many things I like.  For example, I have been really struggling trying to decide what type of book I am going to take with me to China to capture my trip.  I toyed with making a book, using one of the watercolor books I have sitting empty on the shelf, taking a smash book to capture all the ephemera and memorabilia I collect.  Why I have make this so hard is beyond me.  

Last Christmas I took a picture of my Christmas Tree and transformed it into an oil painting and then printed on card stock for my Christmas card.  I loved it and it was so special.  But I am torn between fine art, mixed media and folk art.  Where do I fit?  I think a better question is where do I want to fit in? I have to believe in myself and understand that art takes many forms and give myself permission to embrace myself right where I am.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blog-a-long day 24/30: A Time to Speak Up

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
I was thinking about what I was going to write today.  24 days in to this blog-a-long I was wondering if I really had something to say.  Then I had an experience on Facebook that gave me my topic.  You see, everyone has a right to their opinion, and they can share it anyway they want; however, when that is done, the sharer also must be able to accept the responses they may elicit.
Since not many read or respond to my blog posts, I thought this was a good place to get out my frustration.  I really try not to post political thoughts on Facebook, but.......this is my blog and I can post my feelings.....how cool is that??????
In 2003 I retired "early" from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, I did not qualify for continued health care coverage, as a result, I went two years with no health care coverage and prayed that I did not get sick.  I could not afford the $800 a month for health care coverage under COBRA. I then purchased individual coverage and paid $500 a month for coverage for one person.  In 2008 I started working again and  got health care coverage. In 2011 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in both breasts,  I was not worried about the cost of treatment because I had health care coverage.  June 2012 I retired because at age 62 and having survived four surgeries to treat the breast cancer, I did not know how much time I had left on this earth and that I needed to appreciate everyday, reduce stress and live.  The company I retired from does not provide the option for health care for its retirees.  As a result I had to get COBRA coverage which I pay for and will end on Dec. 31, 2013.  I will not be eligible for Medicare until Nov. 2014.
In today's environment there is a pre-existing benefit clause that prevents payment for medical services received for a condition, such as breast cancer, for a specific period of time ranging from 18 months to 10 years.  Effective 1-1-1014 the affordable care act (in the United States) will remove this pre-existing benefit clause. will be eliminated. November of 2014 when I turn 65 and qualify for Medicare.  I have been living in fear of the removal of the affordable care act simply because of the cost to continue to take a small pill designed to keep my cancer from coming back that costs $485 a month or the cost of the yearly mammogram and follow up medical visits every 6 months.
I am so blessed and thankful to be alive.  I am so thankful that I will hopefully be able to purchase health care coverage without any penalties.  I understand that many people in this country do not like the Affordable Care Act, and that is their right and I pray that they never have to walk one block in my shoes.  However, I am so thankful for the assistance that it will give to people like me.
Ok, I am stepping off my soap box.  Thanks for listening.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blog-a-long day 23/30 - Photo Friday

Today is Photo Friday.  The photo this week is of a rainbow after a major storm in the desert last year.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blog-a-long day 22/30 - Nothing Much to say

Some days there just is not a lot to say.  The picture above was done in March 2012 as part of a class with Orly Avineri.  It is a piece from a cereal box painted with layers of paint and then a sponge replica of my hand was covered with molding paste so that when removed there sat an impression.  It was painted, and then I made up the poem that is inside:

This little piggy was the prompt we were given resulting in:

This little piggy went to surgery
this little piggy
had radiation.....

This little piggy
has spent time healing
This little piggy has HOPE!

The poem was to relate to something we had experienced and I chose my year long journey through breast cancer in 2011.  No, this will not be a long post today, but I still have HOPE as I get ready to get the latest monthly installment of medicine that I must take for 3 and a half more years.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blog-a-long day 21/30 - Creative fun

Inspiration Cards

Sample of Butterfly's that will be used on Inspiration Cards

Before I get to the main subject of this blog, I just need a moment....WOOHOO 21 days of posting. Wow, major accomplishment!!!!  Ok, I am better now.

The pictures above represent a project I am working on that needs to be finished by the end of the month.  I am well on my way to making that goal.  Inspiration cards are a lot of fun to make and very soothing for me.  This is my second time participating in the Inspiration Card Swap.  The premise is that you take a deck of cards and decorate them.  Include and inspirational quote, send your completed deck to the curator who divides them among the participants and mails you a completed deck.

The first deck I completed was completely collaged with painted deli paper.  This time I decided to paint the cards.  So after coating each card in the deck with gesso, I chose 4 main color palettes for painting.  I allowed 1 hour for the acrylic paint to dry and then painted the edge with archival ink from ink pads using sponges.  The top butterfly's are from a stash of stickers I had, but since I am on a use what you have journey, the second picture reflects butterflies that I die cut using my big shot die cutting machine.  I cannot tell you how much fun I am having making these cards.  The theme is song lyrics and my lyrics related to Butterflies are from Mariah Carey and -Jamiroqual.

I forgot to use this one so I am going to print it here.

Come my Lady
Come Come my Lady
You’re my butterfly
Sugar Baby
-Crazy Town
The above lyrics are from the opening song from one of my favorite movies "Something's Gotta Give."
Creative fun takes many forms, paintings, art journaling, designing and creating greetings cards or participating in a card swap.  Your mind races, your hands fly and you embrace the finished project.
When the project has been completed and mailed, I will post a picture of  the cards.
As you work on your assignments today, whether it is clean the house, wash dishes or make an exquisite piece of art, remember to have creative fun.

Blog-a-long day 20/30: Random Thoughts Tuesday-Beauty in Simplicity

In Orvieto, Italy there is an art college from Boston (I forgot the name) that has students studying abroad.  As we toured the campus we came across these masks that were hanging on a rustic wall out side of the school.  The entire city of Orvieto, with it's ancient Etruscan Tombs, narrow cobble stone streets, twice weekly farmer's markets in one of the many public squares and the massive Duomo, is an excellent backdrop for artistic endeavors.

I was struck by the simplicity of the arrangement of the masks and the substrate on which they were hung.

There is great beauty in simplicity.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blog-a-long 19/30 - Lee Daniel's The Butler

Forrest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines - The Butler

On Saturday I went to see the movie The Butler.  It was the first time I have ever gone to see a movie on opening weekend.  So when the numbers were listed this morning that it had topped the Box office with $25 million dollars I was proud to be a part of it winning the number one spot for the weekend.

Let me start by saying I love Forrest Whitaker.  He is an excellent actor with the most expressive face which was a great asset for this movie.

The Butler covers a period spanning from 1926 to 2008.  Cecil Gaines was a young boy working in the cotton fields of Macon, Georgia (my family is from this area). The son of the owner of the cotton farm raped Cecil's mother on a regular basis.  When his father tried to speak up for his wife, the owner's son killed him, and his mother had a nervous breakdown.  The owner's wife took Cecil to the main house and taught him to serve.  Her main lesson was to tell him that he must learn to be invisible, the guests must never know he was in the room.  He called upon this lesson often when he became a butler in the White House.

This movie was very emotional for me.  In addition to chronicling the life of Mr. Gaines, it also showed very eloquently the struggle between the African-American generation of the 20's and 30's who were taught to be seen and not heard and the young African Americans of the late 50's and 60's who wanted to be seen and heard during the Civil Rights Movement.  I remember my father not allowing me to wear an Afro hair style in 1969.  As long as I lived in his house I had to follow his rules. I also remember being told that in order to get promotions and be taken seriously on my job I had to stop wearing my big Afro.

This movie was a reality gut check for me.  It brought tears to my eyes and left me feeling very somber.  As an African American I can never forget where I come from and that I am very proud to be who I am.

 After serving eight  Presidents Cecil Gaines retired.  He campaigned for President Obama as best he could given his advanced age and went to the Inauguration.  He echoed what many felt, never in my lifetime could I have dreamed we would have an African American President. 

Cecil Gaines was  man of dignity and strength.  In his own humble way he was a Civil Rights Pioneer.  The movie the Butler made me very proud.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blog-a-long day 18/30 - Family comes in all sizes

Photo of Painting in Vatican Museum
I was sitting in Church today for the first time in six weeks.  I have been going to my Church, St. Thomas More Catholic Community for six years.  During that time I have made many friends.  When I moved to the Las Vegas area I knew two people.  My best friend since 5th grade and her husband.  Everyone else important to me lived over 2100 miles away.
Over time when I started attending the same Mass, 8 am on Sundays.  Sitting in the same area with the same group of people.  They become your church family.  You give them a hug every Sunday, ask about them when they are missing and give them a big hug when they return.
That is what happened to me today.  I had not seen my buddy's since June 23rd and so when I sat in my normal seat today I got hugs, "welcome back", and we missed you from everyone.  It was so heart warming to see just how much I was missed, but even more important it was so heartwarming to be connected again with my "family."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blog-a-long day 17/30 - Overcoming Fears

I have posted this painting before, but looking at it makes me understand the thoughts and yearnings I have been having.  I have been taking a lot of on-line classes this year learning to paint and draw.  In these classes we use the inspiration of the teacher to create a work of art and it has been great; however, I have this sincere desire to just pick up the paint and paint brush and just paint something coming from me.  This strikes great fear because I do not know if I have it in me, 

The picture above was painted in a painting class I took and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas  three years ago.  The teacher showed us a similar picture and said in three hours we would have a painting done.  The first thing that came to my mind was "No way Jose"  I would not be able to do it.  Needless to say I did complete the painting.  It is done on 18x24 watercolor paper using acrylic paint.

I want to uae a photo that I have taken and do an interpretation with paint, so I am giving myself an assignment.  My birthday is Nov. 14th and I am painting a birthday present to myself.  I am giving myself permission to try and I promise to post the painting no matter the result.

Overcoming my fears has been a lifelong struggle but I refuse to give up.  If I can conquer cancer, I can do anything.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great day

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blog-a-long day 16/30: Photo Friday - Train Ride Home

Fishing on the Colorado
Country Side from the Train

Photo's shown today were taken from the train as I made my way home to Michigan in July.  I was on the California Zephyr which sojourns through the Colorado Rockies.  I love the terrain and moving slowly by the Colorado River for miles upon miles.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blog-a-long day 15/30 - Tummy Wins

The picture above is a close up of a portion of the wall of the Duomo in Orvieto, Italy.  I was attracted to it by the pattern.  It is both intricate and simple at the same time.  In my life I have noticed certain patterns that are also intricate and simple at the same time.

For example for the past 6 weeks I was on vacation.  5 weeks at my daughters house and 6 days in Chicago.  I ate very sensibly during that time period and lost 8 pounds.  I am on a quest to lose weight in a sensible manner.  Been home since Monday the 12th and I started slowly creeping back into old patters of behavior.  Eating what I know is not good for me.  WELL, let me tell you my tummy rebelled this morning.  It told me NO MORE.  "I will not accept items too high in sodium, I WILL NOT accept processed meats.  No, No, No, it you don't have the sense to understand this, then I will SHOW you."  And I spent an hour losing everything but my kidneys (at least it seemed like it).  I got the message, time to change my pattern of eating for good. No more processed meats, drink much more water, eat my fruit and veggies. 

I have to make my goal for good-self care more than just "empty words".  I have to change the pattern that says I am not worthy, that self care is something others do.  It is for me too.  Starting with little steps and moving on to bigger ones.  I have to make the patterns of my life beautiful and much less complicated.  No matter how many times I have to start over to get it right, I just have to take a deep breath and carry on.

As I sit here sipping ginger ale to settle my stomach, I understand just how important it is to make friends with my Tummy.  Sorry Tummy, please forgive me, I promise to treat you better.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blog-a-long 14/30 Never Waste Paint

I watch a lot of videos by artists and most of them do the same thing.  They do not waste paint.  Artists like Jessica Sporn, Diane Reaveley, and Christine Urias all mention that they keep a journal handy to place the paint not used.  They use brayers, put stencils on blank pages to blot off excess paint, rub their palettes on the blank page to make backgrounds.  I watched but did not really pay attention until Monday night.  I was working on a journal page and had excess paint on two or three small palettes.  The light bulb finally went off and I pulled out my journal by Diane Reaveley.  I took the Palettes and rubbed them on the page above.  It made for an amazing (if I say so myself) background page.  From now on I am going to keep this book on the table beside me to catch all of excess paint.  Then I will be able to journal in my book with the pages in various stages of preparation.

I love learning lessons and this one is the best.  Not only does it save money, it also makes me use the journals I have on my shelf begging for attention. Hmmm, what other lessons will I learn as I make this journey through discovering my creativity?  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blog-a-long 13/30: Random Thoughts Tuesday Giving Myself Permission

First weaving project by momoo50
First weaving project, a photo by momoo50 on Flickr.

I have the tendency to want to do everything perfectly and many times perfection is no realistic.  One of the classes I took at Stitches Midwest was making the Log Cabin Scarf on the rigid heddle loom.  My goal for taking weaving classes was to learn how to warp a loom.  I bought a rigid heddle loom about 5 years ago and the teacher a the neighborhood yarn shop moved to Utah soon afterward so the loom has been in storage, and I wanted to learn how to use it.  I love the feel of the fabric made from weaving.  Anyhoo back to the Log Cabin Scarf.

I entered the classroom with a negative attitude convinced that I would not be able to do the work.  In fact I had decided that I would leave the class if it go to be too much.  Well, suffice it to say my self fulfilling prophecy was coming true at the beginning.  I liked the warping process but my warp stand fell on the floor with my yarns still on it.  The turquoise was tied off so it did not suffer from the fall.  The coppery orange was not finished so it became raveled and I had to start over.  No problem because I had gotten comfortable with wrapping the warp.  I followed the other steps to get the loom set for weaving, I was slow and that made me feel inadequate.  My inner critic kept telling me to just give up.  I finally caught up by spending part of lunch working.  So when class began again I was ready to weave.

The Log Cabin design required the use of two shuttles and you have to remember which one goes on top and the bottom so that you can wrap the yarn. After many starts and stops I think I got the first 6 pairs done (I could not figure out how to count).  We had a wonderful teacher Debbie Jarchow.  She was very patient and encouraging.   Well she was showing us finished products and mentioned that many times she varied the pattern on her scarves and that we did not have to stick to the log cabin pattern.  Lights and bells went off in my head.  I immediately changed directions.  I used one shuttle back and forth, back and forth.  I switched colors so that turquoise was dominant and then the coppery orange.  It was wonderful and freeing.  I sat at my loom humming and smiling.  I had given myself permission to let go and just enjoy the process.  I had given myself permission to embrace my own design and just have fun.  The picture above is the outcome.  Because I waited so long to change I did not get a chance to make a 72 inch scarf, but it is long enough to wear especially with the fringe.

I learned to quiet my inner critic, not give up and give myself permission to just plain old have fun.  I thank Debbie for her kindness and understanding.