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,, 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 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.