Sunday, October 30, 2011


Thankful to find all of these gorgeous trees still standing this morning after our freak October snowstorm here in Massachusetts.
Thankful the forecast was wrong and we only got 8 inches of snow instead of 12-16.  
Thankful the day dawned sunny and warm and much has already melted.

Thankful that the many broken tree limbs did not fall on our house or car.  
Thankful I did not need a chainsaw to get out of the driveway. 
Thankful our snug little house stayed warm in spite of the power outages.
Thankful the power came back on in time to cook the overnight french toast.

Thankful schools are closed tomorrow due to downed power lines and blocked roadways, giving me a windfall of time to spend in the studio.  
Thankful to have witnessed so much beauty.
I hope all my fellow Northeast friends are safe and warm tonight.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

mutant face painting

So I sat in on Amy's totally awesome FREE live video workshop today.  I was supposed to be attending a family anniversary party in another state, but a freakishly early snowstorm hit the region and cancelled our plans.  DARN - have to stay home and do art all day!

So Amy's workshop was about painted collage faces and I painted along in real time while she made hers.  It was totally fun and I made this freaky face.  please keep in mind that the bizarre quality of my painting is  in no way a reflection on Amy's talent or teaching ability :)

I seriously wanted to rework this 10 times before posting, but I'm afraid this storm is going to knock out our power or cable and I'm SO close to finishing blogtoberfest and don't want to miss a day.
If I don't post tomorrow it's because I'm in traction from shoveling 16 inches of wet heavy snow and hauling away all the broken tree limbs.

The recording of Amy's class is up on her website for those who missed it.  
go check it out.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Change in perspective

The two best things I learned this week:
Use a viewfinder
Take off your glasses

I've been feeling stuck when it comes to painting.  I see work that inspires me, but I don't know how to turn that inspiration into original ideas.  I'm a very literal person.  Using someone else's painting for inspiration always turns into copying their work.  Rather than stealing someone else's work, I've been turning to my own work for inspiration and I still end up copying.  The end result feels stiff and forced and it's easy for me to get discourage.

It's a short drive from inspiration to despair.
I've been stuck in the parking lot for the past few weeks, but two things have helped me get back on the road.

First, I was reading an article by Jane Davies in the Sketchbook Challenge eZine in which she mentions that she uses a "viewfinder" made of old mat board and then searches for interesting composition in magazines.  She turns these little bits of inspiration into sketches, which later turn into paintings.

This is genius and I couldn't wait to try it.  I didn't need to look at art to be inspired by color and shape and form - I could look at life. I cut a rough rectangle out of a piece of black card-stock and grabbed an old issue of Architectural Digest and started flipping pages.
At first, I was still looking at bits of arm chair or appliance inside a rectangle and I couldn't see past it.  Then I remembered something Amy said in one of the tutorials she posted this week.  When she's working on shading faces, she takes off her glasses so she can focus more on the areas of lights and darks.  This, too, is genius.  Off came my glasses and I was left with lovely, blurry blocks of inspiration.

(Squint and look at these)

I turned these images into rough sketches with notes and scribbles of color

The sketch became the starting point for my painting.  Having a loose plan and color scheme took the panic out of the blank canvas, but wasn't so precise that it limited me.  I played with layer after layer of paint, changed my mind a few times along the way, and just kept playing.  Here's where I stopped.  

The whole process was interesting, fun and energizing. I can't wait to try it again. Don't be surprised if you pass me on the street half-blind and peering through a window in my card-stock.  I promise not to do it while I'm driving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I got this really great postcard from Lee this week.  She used my background!  She already blogged about one card she made with this background here and then she sent me this one as a surprise.  I think I have to finally accept the message on the card since it's snowing here in Massachusetts tonight.

I've been fantastically grouchy this week.  Disliking my job, tired at night, overwhelmed.
Here are all the things I'd like to be doing right now or feel like I should be doing:
1.  painting more poppies for the Poppy Spree!  (seriously, go see Margot - this is fun)

2.  catching up on Jane Davenport's "Supplies Me" class by practicing more faces

3.  finishing the exercises in Carla Sonheim's "The Art of Silly" class even though it ended last week

4.  Watching the video of Amy's free class that she taught on Wednesday while I was at work.  She's teaching another Saturday and I probably won't be home for that one either.  But if you like art, and you like classes and you like FREE, you should totally go check out Amy's site because she's really cool and talented.  I watched about 5 minutes of the video so far and already got a great tip that I used to get started on a new painting.  I really want to check out the rest of what she's so generously offering.  go to her website and check out the links on the side bar.
5.  Answering Pamela's mail art call (document what's in your traveling mail art kit)
6.  Working on my day of the dead ATC's for swap-bot.  Due Monday, haven't started, have to send 6.
7.  drawing in my new sketchbook for my commie-traveling-sketchbook group
8.  working on a surreal painting for the butterfly effect. 
9.  Working on Crusade 56 for Michelle Ward's Street Team 
10.  Filling in the last week and a half on my calendar
and really those are just the things I told myself I'd do.  The list doesn't even cover the the classes I want to take, techniques I want to try, ideas I haven't pinned down. Okay, so maybe I take on too much.  I realized I'm starting to feel panicky.   I need to remind myself that no one's life hangs in the balance if I don't squeeze this all in before morning.   Art is supposed to be my outlet, not my obligation.  (Can you see that I'm not very good at RELAXING????)

I'm really truly going to try and chill out.  In the meantime, I'm finishing up something for tomorrow's paint party, and I drew this silly sketch:
Don't leave home without: gum, hair-clip, lipstick, sharpie pen and your rubber monkey wearing a fez.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sister Dear

It's my sister's birthday, and in the grand tradition of my adult life, I haven't mailed her birthday present yet.  It seems a little public celebration is in order.

She's the big sister.   I'm the one in the background looking pathetic.

Sometimes it seems like we're REAALLLY different.  But then I once asked my nephew "who's bossier, me or your mom?" and he wisely chose not to answer because we're really not so different after all.

this might be my all time favorite picture of my sister:

She claims she is laughing in this picture.  She's kidding herself.  She is totally yelling at the neighbor's dog.  I look at this picture every single day and it never fails to crack me up.  I mean really. Look at those faces.  That dog isn't budging and my sister is SO PISSED.  That's about 40 years of hilarious right right there.

This might be my other favorite picture of my sister:
Jee-zus!  How do you even get out of bed and go to high school when your sister is that cool?  She drove me crazy.  I don't know if she knew it.  Once, in 9th grade, I screamed "I hate you" at the top of my lungs.  I think I'd been bottling it up for 14 years.  I never felt the need to say it again.  I bet she doesn't remember.

I'm hoping that since we have 43 years and 11 months of shared history, she does remember the toy pictured below and can shed some light on it.  

It used to have ears.  Now it looks like it has male pattern baldness.  It's made of wood.  It's been around as long as I can remember.  It might have belonged to our mother, or I might just be making that part up.  It sits in my studio now.  Is it a dog? Is it a deer?  I've never known.  Does my sister know?  Maybe this will taunt her into figuring out how to leave a comment.  (maybe it will even make my mom comment instead of just sending me fan mail).

Here's some stuff about my sister:
  • She had more records than anyone I knew (until I met my husband)
  • She let me read all the dirty parts in Judy Blume's "Forever" when I was in the fourth grade
  • She once drew a picture of Peter Frampton based on the record cover of "I'm in You."  In my memory, this is the single greatest piece of art I've ever seen.  This may be the event that kept me from even trying to draw for the next 30 years.  I used to sneak into her room and open her sketchbook just to gaze upon his loveliness.   I wish I had it now.
  • The maddest I ever saw my father was when my sister got a D in gym.  I don't think I've ever properly thanked her for lowering the bar.  When I got a D in Spanish the next year, I got off pretty easy. 
  • When she went off to college I mailed her a care package of silly stuff.  One thing I sent was ten dimes, wrapped in green tissue paper, with a note tied to it that said "10 reasons to call home".  (remember when phone calls on pay phones cost a dime?  remember pay phones?) Anyway, she saved it.  It still sits in an old printer's drawer on the wall of her house.  And she's moved like a 100 times.  It always goes back up.  When she started following my blog she used a picture of that as her profile. I got a little verklempt.
  • She may have watched more TV than any other child in America during the 1970's, which means you can always count on her to settle a bar bet.
  • Once, I asked her "What would your Karaoke song be?" (which is my favorite question for anyone who would never in a million years do Karaoke).  She didn't have an answer.  About 3 months later I get a phone call.  She doesn't even say hello.  She says "Mrs. Robinson".  
  • She publicly "outed" me as an artist on facebook yesterday by posting a link to my blog.  If she had more than 2 facebook friends I might be pissed.  This post might be my revenge.
  • She asked for a digital copy of the painting I used as my blog background.  She uploaded it to and made it into a laptop cover.  seriously.  how cool is that?
  • she gave birth to two of the most amazing people I've ever met
  • Finally, NOBODY on earth, except my sister, can make me laugh until I cry.  and I'm not talking damp at the corners of the eyes.  I'm talking tears streaming down the face, doubled over, can't breathe, stomach hurts kind of laughing.  
So leave a happy birthday comment for Nancy.  
(you can stop crying  now, mom)

Monday, October 24, 2011

wardrobe malfunction

This morning, when I woke up, I declared today "international dress like a grown-up day". However, when I realized my best Career Pants made me look like a sausage, I put on the same pair of jeans I wear every other day and stomped off to work.  Good thing I kept these on my feet.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Finally. That person who flings the paint has gone away for the weekend and carelessly left her Blogger account open.  We’ve been waiting for this moment for months.  All of these other artists are forever posting pictures of their cats, and featuring them prominently on their blogs, but have we had our moment of glory?  NO!  Little miss snooty-pants clearly thinks she’s too good to stoop to this level of pandering and has totally failed to acknowledge our guiding force in the studio.  Seriously, if we weren’t around that woman would get NOTHING done.

Allow me to introduce us.   I’m Jake, and this is my studio.  

My sister, Lucy, likes to sleep here in the studio, but she is far less influential in the creative process.  That guy who lives in the house?  He says she’s the “good cat”. 

Whatever.  She’s nice and everything, but she pretty much just curls up in out-of-the-way spots and purrs.  How is that helpful?
(See? she doesn't even understand the importance of being a paperweight.)
I, on the other hand, never run out of ways to assist. 

Making sure nothing bad comes in the window
she doesn't even thank me for my watchfulness.  Instead she sprays me with water.
She doesn't understand how menacing this rug is.  I teach it a lesson on a daily basis.
She didn't even realize she wanted the book I knocked down on her head 
This futon is a serious flight risk
these papers would have blown away without me
Can you see that it is only my eternal vigilance that keeps this studio from collapsing into total chaos?
What thanks do I get?  This pathetic "blind contour" drawing:

So she'll be back tomorrow night, and we should just keep this post as our little secret, but next time you're like "this blog is so awesome, and her paintings are so great" you'll know who REALLY deserves  the credit.  Just sayin'.