Saturday, November 26, 2011

Radio On

Here's some things you should know about me:
If I know the words to a song, I am obligated to sing it.
I know the words to everything.

I love to sing. I love to drive. I sing anywhere and everywhere, but my favorite place to sing is the car.
I grew up in the cassette era.  I had a few dozen LPs, but mostly I had homemade cassettes of other people's LPs.    They would pile up on the front seat of my 1983 Plymouth Reliant - alternately baking in the hot sun or freezing in the cold New England winters.  This really took its toll on the sound quality of the tapes. It didn't bother me - who could hear the music over my singing?  Ric says "Karen was lo-fi before it was cool to be lo-fi"

I married Ric because
1. he has more records than anyone I've ever met
2. he never minds my singing
3.  no one, in the history of humankind, makes better comp tapes

There are far worse reasons to get married.
We've been hanging out for 24 years now.

This month, Michelle Ward challenged the Street Team to document our favorite sing-out-loud songs.  It was tempting to fill my list with oldies-but-goodies of the last 3 decades, but I wanted to capture some of my favorite songs RIGHT NOW.  They may not be my favorite songs next year, or even next month, but they are what make me turn up the volume and howl along this week.

Of course I couldn't resist adding a few perennial favorites, so turn it up loud and sing with me now:
"I'm in love with Massachusetts.  With the radio on"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Brewed Awakening

This week's theme at the Butterfly Effect is Coffee or Tea.

I used to hate coffee.  In fact, I didn't drink coffee for 37 years.
All of my caffeine came in a can.
and I had no qualms about cracking open an icy cold diet coke at 7:00 in the morning.

But in 2004 I bought a house 50 miles away from my job and started getting up at 4:30 in the morning and that seemed just a wee bit too early for diet coke, even for me.
I decided to learn to like coffee.

Now I like coffee so much that I sometimes go to bed early just so it will be closer to coffee time.

So in honor of this week's theme, I carved a little coffee mug stamp.  And I painted some water color paper with coffee.  And I enlarged a picture I took of coffee beans.  And I slapped it all together into this.
I feel like I should turn it into a trivet.  If only I used trivets.
I'm also posting this ridiculous little post card I sent to a friend after buying my new coffee machine last year and seeing it's called the "CoffeeTEAM GS" and spending way too much time, in a pre-caffeinated stupor, wondering what "team" has to do with coffee.
"When are the try-outs?"
"Are there Cheerleaders?"
"Can I be the coach?"
"Do they ever play TeaTEAM GS?"
And then, for good measure, I'll repost the index card I made in June.  Because you can never have too much coffee.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

four squared

Forty Four things I'd like to do while I'm Forty Four
1. Go see Anno
2. Ride my bike
3. Take a dance class
4. Get my brown boots re-heeled
5. Sing in the car
6. Get more paint on my clothes
7. Go away with my sweetie
8. Tell Phyllis to Phuck off
9. Submit more art
10. Laugh every day
11. Fix the doorbell
12. Forgive myself
13. Outsmart the squirrels
14. Make lists
15. Take an art class in the same room as other human beings
16. Take naps with the kitties
17. Use my art journals
18. Paint the living room
19. See all the Harry Potter movies
20. Drink wine
22. Be thankful
23. Cure cancer
24. Send birthday cards to my friends
25. Mail more art
26. Hug
27. Practice image transfers
28. Hear live music
29. Floss
30. Think less
31. Read novels
32. Get a screen door
33. Slow down
34. Throw pots on the wheel again
35. Do cartwheels on the beach
36. Make music
37. Plant more poppies
38. Walk in the sun
39. Embrace etceterism
40. Prioritize
41. Stop being afraid
42. Ride my Rip-stick
43. Go to an art retreat
44. Eat Pie

Monday, November 21, 2011

What makes you happy?

1. Moldable foam stamps tutorial
 Go watch this tutorial from Traci Bunkers right now.  It's really cool.  Here's some I made.  I keep making more.
2.  I won Amy's blue cat and it's hanging on my wall!

 3.  Thanks to a huge inter-library loan system, I'm finally reading all these really great art books that have been on my wish list forever. More are on the way.
4.  Got mail from Corrine and TJ.

5. Found fantastic kids' reference books from the early 60's at my local thrift store. Five volumes for four bucks. Full of pictures like this 
and this
Plus I found these never-used pencil and oil pastel sets for a pittance.

6. I carved this stamp.
I have a favorite stencil that looks like this:
 But sometimes I don't want to cover the background with paint or ink
Sometimes I wish I could just stamp those circles on a page.
So I rubbed a stamp pad all over the stencil and pressed a carving block on top to capture the image and then started carving.  Here's my finished stamp:
 Here's an image from it. I've been using it on everything.

7. Card Catalog love.
As a life-long library lover and former library employee, I nearly died when I saw this nifty little online app. I think every list I make for the rest of my life will be made this way.
Okay, you thought you were going to get through a post without me mentioning pie.  You were wrong.  Pie is still making me really happy.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pie Coma

9 pies.  8 adults.  4 kids.  5 hours.  Not as many leftovers as you'd think.

Face it

Voice of Phyllis:
1.  You suck at drawing faces.
2.  All of your faces look exactly like (insert name of teacher here)'s faces.
3.  You have no style of your own.
4. Don't show anyone your feeble attempts unless you enjoy looking like an idiot.
5.  I don't even know why you bother.  You should just give up.

Voice of Reason:
1. You just started learning about faces five seconds ago.  Cut yourself some slack.
2.  It's okay to draw in the style of (insert teacher's name here) while she is teaching you her techniques.
3. Learn as much as  you can from as many different instructors and trust that your personal style will evolve.
4.  By posting your efforts you might reassure or encourage other beginners.
5.  The only way to get good at faces is to draw more faces.  Stop whining and get back to work.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wicked good mail day

I've had a congestion headache for 3 straight days.  Yesterday it got so bad I left work early to go home and take a nap before heading out for an evening meeting.  And then, after barely sleeping last night, I decided to take a personal day today.   And, as if they knew I desperately needed a pick-me-up, THREE of my art-loving blogging friends sent me mail.  Good mail.  WICKED good mail (as we say here in Massachusetts).

First out of the mailbox came this supercool wooden postcard from Mad Madge.  (click through to see what the post card looked like before she altered it).  I was honored when she asked me to participate in a collaborative mail swap (since the post card is about aging and we are both turning 44 in the very near future).  Of course, now that I have her gorgeous card in my hand there is no way I can alter it - I will think of some other treat to send her.

(beer cap placed there for scale - it's rather wee.  not much bigger than an index card.  And it's made of wood. And was mailed just like that.  See the cancelled stamps?  How cool is that?)

NEXT up in the mailbox was THIS gorgeous envelope from Barbara:
Look at that rainbow stitching.  OMG.
Barbara and I formed a mutual admiration society when we were both doing the index-card-a-day project over the summer.  She's still doing them, and said this one was made with me in mind.  I'm delighted to own it!

 She also sent this great ATC

My third treat of the day came from Cameron - a fabulous "Paint Party Friday" regular.
She painted this kitty in one of Amy's free live classes and sent it to me because she knows I'm partial to black cats.  (and okay, I did pretty much beg for mail in my last post)
Here's the kitty - painted on fabric and stitched all over.  It's so fabulous I can hardly stand it.  Look at those fishies!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all three of you!
You brought so much sunshine to my rainy, achey day.

And so, after shamelessly begging for mail, I felt I'd better get busy on fulfilling some mail art promises.  Here's the stack of things that went out this afternoon.  

Who knows? Maybe one of them is on it's way to YOU!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scrap Book

So I made this little book for a swap:

The swap requirements were pretty specific:
  • the book must be made of paper lunch bags
  • Each page must be dedicated to one color of the rainbow
  • The pages must use collage techniques
  • The pages must be mostly monochromatic
  • the ends of the lunch bags form little pockets and I have to include at least one surprise inside a pocket.

This was the perfect opportunity to use all those little scraps of painted papers and leftover bits of other collages.  The deadline to mail it is Monday and I was kind of regretting signing up (it was one more plate spinning in the air), but once I started I totally got into it.

Here's the front and back cover:
Here are the pages:

I do a fair amount of trading on Swap-bot.  I don't much care about what I get in return - most of it isn't my taste.  I do it because it gives me structure and deadlines.  It pushes me to work with specific parameters (be it theme or technique or material or size).  If I'd seen a tutorial on how to make paper bag books I would have thought it was cool and book marked it and never ever completed it.

And even though I like the way it came out, I don't need to keep it. The joy was in the creating.  I don't really even care if my partner likes it.  I mean, I hope she does and all, but it's beside the point.  At this point, swaps are all about practice and discipline.  Plus it's always a thrill to find real honest-to-god MAIL in your mailbox.  Mail that someone lovingly created by hand.  Even if I think it's crap, it's pretty cool.

I haven't signed up for anything new lately, and have only one more commitment after this journal.  I'm on the fence about signing up for more.  I think I might need a break until after the Holidays.  The reason I hesitate to stop?  My mailbox will be so empty!  I have a few mail art friends, but I'm not very prolific in that arena. (maybe because I'm wasting so much time on swaps???)  But, as the lovely Pamela in San Francisco reminds us, in order to get good mail you need to SEND good mail. (and something is going out to dear Pamela on Monday!)

So, dear readers - want to get some mail from me?  Send me something.  A post card, a note, a sketch on the back of a napkin, the rumpled receipt from the bottom of your purse.  I don't care.  If you send it, I'll send you something back!

Karen Isaacson
PO Box 532
Shrewsbury, MA 01545

Friday, November 11, 2011

Free love

The awesome free live art classes continue over at Amy's blog.  Today's class was taught by the lovely and talented Manon, who did a wonderful job teaching us to draw little faces like hers.  I almost didn't go to class.  (Did you read my post earlier today about spinning plates and doing too much and feeling overwhelmed?  Skipping the class could have been a really smart move in the way of preserving my sanity.  I made the equally smart move of telling the family I was not available, shutting the studio door and learning something new in the company of fabulous funny people all over the world)

So the first face I drew was using Copic markers.  Until today, I only had 2 of these markers.  Orange and Blue.  I didn't really see why people love them so much.  I didn't plan to buy more.  But I've seen what Jane Davenport did with them in the Supplies Me class.  And when I saw the "25% off your total purchase" coupon good for today only at the local mega craft store, I invested in a few more in the flesh tone palette.  (and Now I get it.)

Anyway - I sketched along with Manon as she taught and as soon as I drew the outline of the head I thought it looked like a piece of toast.  I figured that as I went along it would look more human-like and less toast-like.  I was wrong.  When it was time to add the hair I just decided to embrace the burnt-bread nature of my drawing, so here it is:

The next face was done with pastels.  The cheap chalky ones I bought a million years ago and hardly ever touch.  It was super messy and dusty.  (Perhaps because I was drawing on card-stock which is so super smooth and glossy it doesn't absorb much color?)  In spite of this, I managed to blend and shade way better than I ever have before.  If you think the paper looks smudgy,  you should see my face and pants.

(I crack myself up)

I'm SOOOOO glad I took this class.
And don't feel bad if you missed it.  Amy recorded it and I'm sure she will put the link on the sidebar of her blog.  And please, please, please stop by Manon's blog and see her amazing little faces.