Monday, June 30, 2008

Mixed Media Monday: Dance

Here is my entry for the Mixed Media Monday Challenge this week - Dance! Funny i was just catching up on So You Think You Can Dance on Youtube, because my husband can't bear to watch it. So i am in a dancing mood!
This mixed media collage is all about the number Two. The vintage watch is stopped at 2 o'clock. There are 2 dancers - Degas (which is similar to "deux", two in French).

I threw of lot of chunky at this - an altered dominoe with copper tape and the word dream. And a micro slide with sheet music printed on a transparency.

A bit of lace for femininity and some gold scrap wings for some sparkle.

The opposite page continues with the "two" theme. Two angels, sheet music for Heart and Soul - usually played as a duet! and you can't see, but it is in a key with two sharps!
That's a picture of me - getting ready for my big debut at age 10. More wings and a pink ribbon and cameo finish it off.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CRaZy AmiGo ChaLLenGe

For this week's crazy amigo challenge the theme is HOUSES. Here's an altered book spread i did featuring a scary victorian mansion.
I googled haunted houses to find some images. I cut out the window and put a face underneath.
I glued it to the right page of the spread.
On the left page i used an ad for italian marble monuments from an ephemera CD, printed on regular paper. I antiqued it a bit with sepia toned ink. I cut out the angel statue from the ad and glued it to the opposite page in front of the house.
I wanted to use gesso to create a creepy ghost like appearance - so i streaked it all over the pages.
You know how you have "special" things you keep forever and never use? For me - this gate and fence sticker was one such thing. I wanted to save it for a special project. Don't know why - it wasn't that expensive or anything. It is Mrs. Grossmans.
Two final touches - three embossed birds stamped above the house and silver metallic element on the left top corner just cuz.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Paper and Ribbons, oh my

Do you buy cards you never plan to actually send or give to anyone? I have been doing that for years. So when i discovered altered books about 6 years ago, it finally all made sense to me. I just love collecting paper. I bought all kinds - wrapping paper, tissue, note paper and cards - just because i liked the colours and patterns. I used to make a big fuss of having a theme for Christmas wrappings. One year i bought flocked wallpaper and made my own gift bags. This was at the very birth of the gift bag phenomenon - like late 80's. Few people had ever seen a gift bag before - and i gave out presents in burgundy velvety bags with gold braided handles and tassles. One year i did the Martha "brown paper with gold paint stamped with halved pears". Oh yeah -it looks easy, but what do you do when you have 12 feet of painted paper and no table or floor space big enough to let it dry?
Back then i didn't know i wanted to be a collage artist. I just knew i liked collecting things. Sure i was crafty. I did flower arranging, wreathmaking, made quilts, sewed all my own clothes. But it was that revelation 6 years ago when all this paper collecting made sense. Now i have a room full of it. Everything from cheesy store bought scrapbooking paper to i do believe is the entire line of Cavallini papers, to 1800's era periodicals and vintage photos and postcards.
This weekend i was in Toronto, Canada for a wedding. I wanted to hit Queen St. West - known for its funky artsy shops and cafes. I went into three stores in one block, bought something in each one, and was happy to head back to the hotel.
First one of those edgy novelty shops that sells risque novelty items. I bought 4 cards i will never give to anyone. But will definitely use for inspiration in my collage. Oh and they all have birds. Still a little bit obsessed with birds. In fact the name of the card line is lovebird by narelle craven. Check her out on line here. I think they are just wholesale - but you will certainly by inspired by her designs.
The next shop just sold ribbon, Mokuba. But not in a new york city garment district kind of way. More in a sleek modern our ribbon is too good for you kind of way. It was all stunning and expensive - so how to choose? Well i spotted some spools of multi hued silk ribbons in assorted colorways -only $1 a yard! Each of these bundles is 5 yards - so many colours in one piece of ribbon!
Next shop was a b-flat art supply store - you know, like you have everywhere. But perhaps there was a fun find. I picked up a collage pack of handmade papers for $2.99.
So equipped with new cards, ribbon and paper - it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner. We jumped in a taxi and turned the corner and ran smack dab into china town. AARRGHGHH. OH how i would have loved to peruse the Asian import shops lining the streets for more paper treasures. Alas it was not to be.

So got back to the hotel and opened up all my packages - included the handmade papers. Everything in the pack was plain solid paper - not at all like the embroidered and flower petal strewn samples on the cover. oh well. I'll use it for something.

Shopping is Creative

I used to be a fashion buyer in my 20's. I loved choosing fabrics and designs and creating an assortment of merchandise that would be visually exciting in the stores and entice you to buy. Now i am in retail systems and operations, but i still have the urge to create assortments, pulling together colours and styles and objects that create a cohesive whole. So i shop. A lot. A few weeks ago it was all about my wardrobe for Cabo. 20 separate outfits and 7 pairs of shoes for 7 days.
This weekend i was in Toronto for a wedding. At the last minute i decided i did not like the dress i was planning to wear, so I hit all the plus size shops in my area looking for the ultimate wedding attire. I also ordered two new outfits on line, rush delivery, to arrive just before i left. So this meant i had to buy shoes and purses for two different dresses on the CHANCE that they fit and looked good and i intended to wear them for the wedding. You get it? Just IN CASE. I found an adorable green and turq flower shaped bag for the peridot green outfit. And at another store little green flats with rafia flowers on them. Here is the rayon crinkle skirt that went with it.
Here is the peridot green shawl front cardigan with matchin camisole i ordered to match the long skirt.

Here is a similar outfit in pink that was another choice i decided against. But it shows how luxurious the three pieces come together. All these pieces are from the Newport News catalog - available online as well.

I also bought silver flats with a cluster of petals to wear with the pale blue dress shown up above. (i already own a collection of vintage evening bags - so i didn't need one in silver).
Then just before the dresses arrived i found a perfect aubergine cocktail dress at Ross. Yeah - search high and low, pay hundreds of dollars and you find the perfect dress for $19.99.
Ok - so now i need shoes and a bag for this dress too. I still need all the others, because i haven't received them yet - and i might like one of them better. Are you seeing how fun and creative this whole process is? And freakishly extravagent and stupid? Did i mention i have a perfectly good, flattering dress at home already, worn it to two other wedings, but you know, it is a brown/orange paisley print. Not a nice spring wedding colour.
My friend at work catches wind of all this and runs home at lunch and returns with 15, i mean it 15 DIFFERENT pashmina shawls for me to choose from. And three evening bags. After work wednesday i find the perfect gold/silver braided leather shoes for the aubergine dress. They'll work great with the beaded evening bag from michelle. get home and great - the stuff i ordered on line has arrived. But it is stifling hot - can't bear to try anything on until after midnight. Can't even think about packing until the dress business is sorted out. Oh and we have to get up at like 4:00am to get to the airport.
In the end the aubergine cocktail dress, the beaded bag, the fuschia and purple pashmina and the metallic braided shoes went to the wedding.
Do you see how this was just like selecting elements for a collage? Finding the right background? the right focal point? the right accessories, i mean embellishments? Shopping feeds my creative soul. Maybe I should go back to being a fashion buyer before i bankrupt ourselves....

Monday, June 16, 2008

So much creativity, so little time...!

Well, i had one of those weekends where the creativity was just oozing out of me. Or shared with others or just "experienced". The weekend started with a dinner party on the terrace Friday night. Luckily jim did all the cooking so i could squeeze in a few minutes to finish up the kits for my altered book class on Sunday.
I chose three themes - a bird theme i have done before. An asian theme i have done before. And a NEW theme - Hawaiana! I used some vintage stickers i purchased as the focal point along with bright green and purple papers for backgrounds. I had to let go of the fact that i could not locate the hawaiian print papers i had been saving for just this purpose. But i spent three hours looking for them wednesday night, paralizing myself from getting anything done. hence being down to the wire.
Saturday we left early to attend a magnificent picnic and entertainments, up near the Russian River, with our neighbours. It was a full day of enjoying nature and some great music and comedy, alas we only got home after 8pm and i just had to take a nap. I got up at 10:00pm to start working on the altered book project that i had to swap on sunday. I told myself, "just pretend it is winter and it is 4:30 in the afternoon" as opposed to being almost summer and really too late to be STARTING an altered book spread.
But at least i had my themes picked out!
The book i was working in was titled San Francisco Days. I chose two iconic SF ideas to collage: the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill and the annual Bay to Breakers marathon. The parrots are an intriging story of how this flock of brightly hued birds live in the palm trees on a hill in the middle of a big city. There was a book and also a film about them.
The marathon is a typical SF event where people get all crazy and dress up in costumes and run from the San francisco Bay in the financial district, to the ocean on the other side of the city. There is a lot of nudity for some reason. I guess because, well, you know...let's just say a lot of colourful people participate.
For discretion i covered up the buns with clear sticky domes!
Then up at 7 to get ready for my altered book class and make sure i have the supplies i needed packed in the car. Lucky for me i am married to the sweetest guy in the world and he got up to help, AND drive me there, AND bring in all my boxes and totes, AND help me set up for class, AND get me a smoothie from Starbucks around the corner.
(he also came and picked up, AND packed the car, AND swept the floor -the thing i hate most about teaching classes at the nova studio. There is nothing worse than trying to corral little bits of paper that fly around the wooden floors and refuse to be swept up.)
Anyway - the class of 9 wonderful ladies was a great success - if i gauge by the work they did in the books! There was a group of 6 friends so they kept up a lively conversation that we all enjoyed. It seems cruising thru the panama canal is not to be missed!
Here are some scans of their pages all grouped together for show and tell at the end of class.
Sorry about the sideways pics. They don't look that way in my files - so i can't figure out how to un rotate them so i can rotate them so they upload correctly!

Once the ladies left it was time to get ready for my altered book swap group and workshop. One of our members moved back east - so it was just 4 of us - but that doesn't diminish the excitement of seeing the work we all did in each other's books. I got my "things i suck at" book back home. Here are some of the things people sucked at:
taking pictures
taking care of plants
using chopsticks (carol is chinese - so this is somewhat ironic)
After we ogled all the books, we got down to our workshop. I was sharing the technique i learned at Asilomar from Traci Bautista where you dye paper towels and use them to transfer ink to other papers. I purchased a whole BOX of the paints she used from Discount School Supplies. (check them out - awesome prices, free delivery, to me anyway, and some very cute ideas) We each dyed many paper towels, created very cool batik effects with white gesso and transferred the painted towels using brayers and stencils and texture mats.
It was so much fun - the girls did not want to stop. They insist we do it again -it was so rewarding to create little pieces of tie dye looking paper towels. You feel just like some kind of brilliant textiles designer. The benefit is that the towels themselves can be dried, split in two, and used as backgrounds in altered books and other mixed media collage.
But alas - we had to stop playing with paint when my husband arrived. But my incredibly creative weekend was not over! It was off to the San Rafael Italian street painting festival to see all the art created on the streets, including the piece by my friend Lucie Duclos. I was bummed to miss the event, especially since the Italian band my husband is in was playing the noon show. But at least arriving there around 6 meant that most pieces were completed and it wasn't so scorching hot. Here's Lucie and Dave, who proudly contributed TWO leaves on this fine work of art.
And here are some other inspiring chalk artworks:

You know about an hour after we left - they hosed the whole thing down, and the stunning artwork is gone forever.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

My dear dad passed away last year. My husband's father passed away in 2001. We don't have kids, so Jim isn't a father. So father's day won't be celebrated in any way in our house - except to think happy thoughts about Bob and Elwood.

But happy father's day to all of you out there! As i heard someone say today - if you got your tivo worked out you can watch the Celtics/Lakers, the Giants, the A's, the US open and nobody can stop you. Nobody will try to drag you to Sex and the City.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shopping Therapy....!

Ah yes - nothing like shopping to enliven the senses and crank up the creativity genes in the old noggin'. Started on Sunday. Jim and I attended the Novato Art Music and Wine festival, on Grant Ave. I just love looking at all the vendors have to offer and see what is new in the craft fair world. I only bought one thing - a beautiful dress made by a lovely woman from Ashland Oregan. She takes assorted floral print fabrics and patches them together. Then she creates the dresses, cut on the bias, so that they fit virtually anyone and are flattering to boot. Then she over dyes them to meld (is that a word?) the colours and make a cohesive whole. Just like we paper artists do with printed scrapbook paper and lumiere glazes!
The one i picked wasn't over dyed - she lets you pick the colour! She will ship it to me soon - can't wait! It will be the perfect hot weather summer frock. And yes ladies - it will be this season's must have MAXI length.

We enjoyed some great music and some great food. too early to enjoy the wine!
This week i received some very good news, after being here in California for 8 years, i finally got a green card! or "permanent residency" as it is legally called. 'Til now i have been working with a visa. So to celebrate i went to my "happy place" - Susan's Store Room in San Anselmo, CA. Next door used to be another fav, Buttons and Bows, but sadly they closed. In its place is a lovely shop with everything from ribbons, to journals, to vases to children's clothes. But what got me excited was the terrific selection of flocked papers! I bought an armful of greens and aquas.
Then next door to Susan's. It appears to be a toy store. But really it is so much more than that. Susan collects vintage dolls and bears and dollhouse furniture and combines them in a magical way. She also has a line of greeting cards and even a book featuring her bears. Her windows always have a magical assortment of items evoking at different times of the year, a picnic, a safari, or a schoolroom - all using her collections.
But what i love the best is the back room where a myriad of new and old items are displayed by country - like France, England, India and others. So there is so much eye candy to see it can be overwhelming - but there is always something you just have to buy.

This time i bought a packet of postage stamps with an assortment of illustrations - many birds and animals to use in collage. Some hawaiian themed sticker packs - never seen these before. 4 packs of napkins - with guess what - birds on them. I looked everywhere for bird napkins at christmas when i had my bird themed tree. I just need to make sure i save them somewhere where i can find them in 6 months!

I also bought a grab bag pack of vintage stuff. Susan explained she is clearing out her enormous stash of ephemera, ribbons etc. The pack i bought has some millinery flowers, lace, ribbons, postcards and a box with victorian scrap glued to the top she told me was a hankie box from the 1800's. I told her to try and sell some of her stuff on etsy - so maybe she will. But if you live anywhere in the San Francisco bay area - please come up to Marin County and visit her store in San Anselmo - she is having a big 50% off sale starting on Saturday!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Make it Mondays - BLUE

Here is my latest little backwards canvas as shadow box project - using last week's's Make-it-Monday's theme of BLUE. Check out the weekly challenge and links to other cool art here.
I used a beautiful beach babe with a blue towel from the collage sheet collection "By the Sea" at Ten Two Studios. Even the crab came from the sheet!
The canvas is 5" by 7". I covered the whole thing with a juicy teal dye ink pad. I now have juicy teal finger tips - it just won't wash off! The background is a printed piece of paper with the paint brushed on and wiped off so the pattern is very subtle. The whispy clouds are done in white felt pen. I used a blue felt pen to create the stripes around the edge of the canvas.
Another scrap of paper created the sand dune - sprinkled with gold micro beads, some texture paint and little shells. The beach babe was cut out of the collage sheet and attached with a cardboard tab to create the depth or "shadow". Both her and the crab are edged with dimensional glue to create some glossy texture. A few random stickers, shells and a bow finish it off.
Please check out my art and other challenge art at the flickr group.
Please leave a comment so i know you've been to visit!

Margaritas anyone....?

Here is a slideshow of our 20th Anniversary Cabo vacation album for my friends and family to see. For those of you who don't know me, well, it may not be of any interest - unless you want to see pictures of the resort we stayed, Dreams. Or the food we ate. The musicians we enjoyed. The scenery we experienced. And way too many pics of Jim and I just having a good time. Oh, and my wardrobe. Can't forget my fabulous wardrobe.

Note: slideshow removed. Here are some shots from the resort:

Monday, June 2, 2008

!Hola Amigas!

Sorry for the absence from my dear blog. My husband and I just got back from a week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - a special trip for our 20th Anniversary. We had a lovely restful time - with plenty of fun and frivolity thrown in.

Just in case i got bored (shuh) i grabbed a quick kit of miscellany to bring with me. I brought some little canvases, some precut card stock cards, some scraps of brightly coloured mulberry paper and tissue, some ephemera and and the requisite glue stick and scissors. Safely stowed in my packed luggage of course. I have given over too many of the perfect pair of nail scissors to the security demons in the past, to have not learned my lesson about what can and cannot be brought on the plane!

I only made 7 cute cards (4 pictured above) - i intend to give them to my co-workers along with a colourful present i bought from the vendors on the beach. They had the most amazing selection of embroidered and beaded pareos and sun dresses for easy money. I bought 6 different colours to give to the girls and a T-shirt for the one guy on my team. Here's a shot of the bundles with the postcards as tags.
What i didn't bring from home was torn or cut from the glossy touristy magazines in the hotel room - there was an article about bead work that has some lovely images to cut and paste.

Sadly there was not much to purchase for a paper arts mad person like myself. If you wanted silver jewelery or pottery, sure. But interesting paper? Nothing - at least not in the dozens of cruise ship shops that line the marina area. I did manage to buy a set of vintage mexican stamps at the gift shop in the hotel. And stole some images from the aforementioned magazines.