Saturday, July 28, 2012

All in the line of duty...

I sustained my first postal injury today.

Perhaps I was distracted by the guy in his underwear, 

or maybe it was the thick stack of colorful envelopes and intriguing return addresses,

but as I was leaving the post office I managed to walk straight into the corner of the building, scraping off a sizeable chunk of skin from my right leg.  It was totally worth it, because I got 16 postcards for my monochromatic post-card swap, a letter from Emilie, and the motherlode of gum from Gina 

besides, it's nothing  a Snoopy band-aid can't fix.

If you want to see the amazing contents of those envelopes, go over to Mail Me Some Art.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

this and that

In these weeks of not feeling quite like myself, my attention span is scattered and my energy sporadic. But I haven't completely stopped making art.  I'm just a lot less organized about it.
So here's a bunch of random stuff I haven't posted yet:

 Six bookmarks for a swap with the FreakWerx group

Two postcards for the Parabolic Muse bookmark swap:
cutouts layered over my own marbled paper

Here's a bunch of index cards.  I came to a grinding halt after July 5th.  stressed over it for a while, then gave myself permission to be done if I wanted.
ICAD 6/28/12  - messing about with a cosmetic sponge and the cap to my lipbalm 

ICAD 6/29/12  - repeated the above motif and added more stamps and circles

ICAD 6/30/12  - this was the color scheme for summer of color that week. (another project I gave myself permission to let go of) washi tape and paint and magazine clipping

ICAD 7/2/12 -  excellent advice on a very tired night.  created with portfolio pastels and water and ink

ICAD 7/3/12  - continuing to play with image transfers after my RISD class, embellished with gel pens and something else

ICAD 7/4/12  - my take on fireworks.  metallic ink over black gesso

ICAD 7/5/12 - cards stamped with gesso, rubbed with pan pastels, torn and glued together and covered with patterned tape
That's where I stopped.  But if I count the big pile of aborted and never finished backgrounds, I've got a whopping 24 more cards for the collection.  Maybe I'll do something with them yet.  Or maybe I'll just stamp retroactive dates on them and call it done.

This next painting was another swap for FreakWerx.
The object was to find a thrift store painting and add a monster, inspired by this link
I found this poorly cut canvas smooshed into a cheap wooden frame at a church rummage sale for a quarter.  I added the three spidery looking things.

Next up:  some postcards for Gina's resident mail call
this is a really worthy ongoing project and I strongly encourage  you to participate

good heavens.  this is already much longer than I expected, and there's more I haven't shown.
I'll spare you and try to keep my mojo going for another post tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A whole bunch of outgoing postcards

These were all from a few weeks ago.  More messing around with distressed magazine pages, image transfers, text fragments and pressed flowers

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reporting back

I just realized I never posted about my weekend mixed-media class at RISD.  It was wonderful, as we all knew it would be.  (Thank you all for cheering me on and saying such supportive things during my pre-class freak-out).

Our instructor, Mara Metcalf,  was wonderfully welcoming and  approachable and down-to-earth.  My fellow students were fun and interesting.  It was a total treat to meet Amy for the first time and I am SO glad I went.

I learned some new techniques, and got a lot of practice with image transfers.  I incorporated fabric into my art for the first time.  I pushed through some anxiety, took some chances, and came home with these four pieces.

image transfers on watercolor paper

fabric and paper over canvas board with the gel transfer of the cicada glued on top. perhaps the first thing I've made that didn't use any paint whatsoever. how unusual.

fabric glued to heavy cardboard, fly transferred directly onto fabric, circles stamped with gesso and colored with magenta ink. (note to self: ink will not drip down the fabric surface.  it will be immediately absorbed)

This postcard is the only remaining bit of three different failed experiments that were cut, glued, and rearranged all weekend. 

The most rewarding and helpful part of the weekend was asking for feedback about my work.  I had no intention of doing this.  I fully planned to quietly slip my work in my bag Sunday afternoon and go home.  Day one, Mara walked around the room, answering questions and offering suggestions to those who wanted it.  I was feeling rather shy and awkward about trying to create in front of others – inwardly I was screaming, “don’t look at this , it’s just the start of something, I don’t really mean it to be art, I’m just playing, I know it kind of sucks.”  I managed to work through the defensiveness since no one was actually watching me or caring one bit about what I was doing, but I kept myself very closed off from Mara so that she wouldn’t come over and comment.  At the end of the day I had a bunch of disjointed odds and ends, but nothing tangible to show for my first day in class. 

After going home and playing for another few hours in my studio Saturday night, I went back on Sunday feeling looser.  I started putting pieces together and playing with less inhibition.  I started getting into the groove.  As I eavesdropped on the helpful and supportive advice Mara was giving others, I finally plucked up the courage to ask her opinion and advice about something.   Lo and behold, I didn’t die of embarrassment, or feel like an idiot.  In fact it was really helpful.  (Duh!)

In the final few hours of the class she announced that anyone seeking feedback on their work should tack it up on the walls and come forward and she would pair us with another student.  I stayed in my seat and kept working while others started to mill about. Then, at the last minute, I dove into the mix.  I was paired with a very young, heavily pierced art student.  I offered her no help whatsoever, but she quietly and confidently picked up one of my collage elements from a work in progress and said “how about this?” – relocating the focal image and totally transforming the piece.  It was revelatory.  I started picking her brain about all my pieces and even got a few other people in on the conversation. Suddenly I was a feedback junkie. Who would have guessed? This little bit of personal growth was well worth the cost of the workshop.  All the new art techniques were just icing on the cake.

Quick plug for my swap group

I'm feeling very proud of myself for finally designing a button for the "Mail Me Some Art" blog and then learning how to add the code to the blog so that other people can copy the button onto their blogs.

The MMSA site is starting to take off.  We've completed 3 swaps so far, and photos of everyone's art is posted regularly on the blog.

Our next swap is a post card swap with the theme "Favorite Song"
Postcards must be mailed to me by Saturday July 21.
Click here for the swap details.

And I'll be adding more swaps for August in the next few days.
Visit the blog any time and click on the tab that says "Active Swaps"

I really hope some of you will consider swapping.  This is not an exclusive club.  These swaps are open to EVERYONE, regardless of your style or experience or confidence.  Don't go thinking you're not good enough.  You are.  This is a group that likes to have fun making and sharing art.  It's a place to meet some wonderful people, exchange formally through the organized swaps, or just join into the "informal mail art exchange".

Stop by.  Grab a button.  Spread the word.
Your mailbox will thank you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

your laugh for the day

It was crazy hair day at camp today.  As soon as I arrived I plunked myself down at a table and told a group of 5 girls that they could do anything they wanted to my hair.
There was LOTS of giggling while they worked.
Here's the result:

Wore it all day.
I love camp.

Artist's Way Bookclub

I've been hearing people talk about "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron for a year now.  I finally checked it out of the library a few months ago, and was intrigued enough to buy myself a used copy.  I read the introduction and started the practice of "morning pages" but then let the book sit by my bedside unread.  Until the lovely Jess Brogan from In Search of Dessert, started the Artist's Way Bookclub.  Jess plans to cover one chapter per month, and since there are 12 chapters, we'll be working on this together all year.  In addition to reading the chapter and doing the exercises in the book, Jess is suggesting weekly prompts (both writing and art prompts) and has started a facebook group where people can privately discuss their experience.  It's only week two and you can still join us.  Jess will add new members through the end of the month and then close the group to keep it relatively small - allowing us to develop relationships over the year and build a safe network of support.  

Go here to read more and sign up for the newsletter.
Go here to request to join the facebook group.

Meanwhile, as part of week one, Jess encouraged us to find or create an image of your "personal creativity bouquet" in the state it is in right now.

Here's mine:
My creativity right now is an abundant and unruly patch of wildflowers on the side of the road.  Varied, unplanned, easily swayed, still in danger of being mowed down, but resilient.  Creeping out of every crack and crevice, even in lousy conditions.  Beautiful, lush, crazy, and growing all the time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mail Art Call

The completely awesome, funny, and talented mail artist, GinaVisione is putting out the call for mail art to be sent to hospital residents in San Francisco on a monthly basis.  If you love making postcards as much as I do, consider participating in Gina's project and bringing a whole lot of cheer to some folks in desperate need of it.
Here are the details, direct from Gina:
Monthly MailArt Call for Rehabilitation and Long Term Care Hospital Residents  (125+ requests and growing!)
I have the wonderful opportunity to send MailArt to adult, long term skilled nursing rehabilitation patients and long term care residents in a very large hospital in San Francisco.  Every day, all efforts are made to make their daily experience as enjoyable as possible, despite significant changes in their health and life. 

A trial of MailArt postcards was provided to the recipients via a “Kids to Work Day” kids group in the Spring of 2012, and the residents are reporting that they really liked getting something beautiful in the mail!!

Will you help to keep this wonderful MailArt momentum going?  Can you help by sending me as many postcards as you would love to share, and hopefully on an ongoing basis (give yourself extra pats on the back every time you do it!!! :D).  Museum, etc. cards are fine too!

OK, if you choose this fabulous mission, here are your instructions:
  • 5 x7 maximum size postcards only, please
  • Correct U.S. postage amount for the size/shape/thickness of the postcard – I will not be adding any postage on any postcards
  • large, blank address space  (minimum 2.5” x 3”)
  • sent to me in an envelope, for me to address and send
o   please write “Resident MailArt” or something similar on the envelope, so I know what it is for!  (Thanks!) 
  •  high contrast, bright colors and images are predominant theme
  •  Positive or neutral images and artwork (no negativity, nudes, politics, religion please) – final decision for appropriateness will be up to me….
  • Minimal words, unless it is part of book text, etc. used in backgrounds
o   Spanish, Russian, Chinese text or symbols welcome too!
o   World postage in the MailArt is wonderful too!

Please send as many as you would like/can spare!  This will likely be a constant, long-running project with hopes to send postcards to all recipients every month, or likely every other month (based on the total amount of cards I receive, which will be held until I have enough to send to all recipients at once).

You all rock.  Thank you for being such wonderful MailArt inspirations for the past year +.  I hope you can join me in this endeavor :D.  Here’s my address and email:

165 ½ Chattanooga St.
San Francisco, CA  94114-3438   (FYI, I check email 1-2x/week …)

quit yer bitchin'

Please, please, please
no more maladies
I'm so tired of cryin'
you'd think I was a siren.
(-Fiona Apple)

That's the song stuck in my head today because honest-to-god I am so sick of thinking and talking about my health and scrutinizing and analyzing every hiccup and twinge.
All of my major bodily organs are in excellent working order and so today I declare myself over it.
all done.
I shall resume my "fake it 'til you make it" strategy that has served me so well in the rest of my life.

Please, please, please
no more remedies
my method is uncertain
it's a mess, but it's workin'

I got up this morning and saw the large blank pad of paper that hangs on my make-shift easel.  With all thoughts of getting to work on time out of my head, I attacked the page for a good half hour, joyfully smearing paint and gluing on some random things.

don't know where it's going, but it sure was fun!

I spent the next half hour getting this giant blob of gesso out of my hair.

thank you all for your lovely comments and support when I was feeling sub-par.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

getting this off my chest

Last weekend’s mixed media intensive was great – I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot and will blog about it soon, I promise.

This post is completely unrelated to art.  There’s something funky going on in my body and while I try to figure out what it is, I’ve not been my usual art-making, blog  writing, comment-leaving self.

As you may recall, the last week of June was the thoroughly exhausting first week of my summer camp program.  It was a happy week, but a busy one.  I didn’t feel great, but chalked it up to being hot and tired.  Sunday afternoon, during the art workshop, I started feeling sort of congested and tight in my chest with a few heart palpitations.  I largely ignored it while I engaged in class, but during the hour long drive home (in a thunderstorm) I had plenty of time to wonder what was going on with me and to let my imagination go in terrible directions.

I’m not prone to hysteria, and am rather cautious and pragmatic.  Even though there were lots of logical reasons I could be feeling chest pressure, head ache, shoulder ache and tingly left arm, I also knew that these could be symptoms of something more serious, and rather than waiting a nervous night for my doctor’s office to open, I asked my husband to drive me to the ER.  All those CPR classes in which they tell you women’s heart problems look very different from men’s made me want to rule out the possibility of heart attack or stroke.  They watched me all night long, did a million EKGs, a chest x-ray, tons of blood work, and a stress test on the treadmill.  I checked out completely healthy and was sent home about 14 hours later.  Needless to say I was exhausted from barely sleeping in the ER all night and I napped a bunch Monday and worked a half day Tuesday and napped some more.  Wednesday was the 4th of July and we spent an easy day at home.  I still felt some chest congestion, but wasn’t worried.  Thursday I worked all day and felt more or less fine, but by  Thursday night I felt increasing chest heaviness.  Totally weird and abnormal and like nothing I’ve ever felt before this week.  Friday I felt good when I woke, but after an early morning trip to the grocery store I felt totally wiped out – heavy and weak legs, totally heavy feeling in my chest and neck. I was ready to go back to bed two hours after waking up.  I called my doctor (who I love and who looks like Kyra Sedgwick).  She’s out of town,  but  the nurse said “I want to get you in today” and scheduled me with someone else who I’d never met.

This guy struck me as arrogant and condescending.  He diagnosed with me with anxiety before he even examined me.  As someone who battles with depression and has dealt with some truly anxiety-provoking personal and professional situations in the past, I tried to tell him this was NOT anxiety or depression.  I know what those things look like in me and they don't look like this.  He went on to list all the ways anxiety can effect your body and brain chemistry.  I tried to tell him he was not taking me seriously, but I started to cry because I always cry when I’m mad.  This only added to his opinion that I was a stressed out anxious person.  I considered walking out, but figured that would only make me look more hysterical, so I decided to just yes him death and go home as quickly as possible.  He prescribed an anti-anxiety medicine and then (almost as an afterthought) did a cursory physical exam.  Based on that, he decided to test my thyroid function, saying that could bring on some of these symptoms. (seriously – you couldn’t have STARTED there?  you went straight to crazy without considering a physiological cause?)  But mostly he told me I was absolutely fine and healthy and I should take my drugs like a good little girl. He all but patted me on the head.

So I got my blood test, and filled my prescription and came home and ranted to anyone who would listen about Dr. Arrogant, and then my husband came home and made me laugh and completely doted on me and made me feel better. 

Here’s what I love about us.  No matter what’s going on in our lives, there’s always something to laugh about.  We were sitting in the ER last Sunday.  They had done an initial EKG in triage and they were waiting for some space to clear in the ER before they wheeled me back.  So I’m sitting in a wheel chair in the middle of the lobby and Ric is standing next to me.  I say “this is the first time I’ve ever been to the ER for myself” (I’ve been to this particular ER twice for Max and more than a few times for my Dad, but never with me as the patient).  Ric says dryly, “are you all excited?”  and I answer “my heart’s all a-quiver” and then the two of double over laughing until we cried.  I may be in the middle of a life-threatening emergency but I can’t resist a straight line.

Anyway – this is a long and rambly way of saying I may or may not be around much.  I feel more or less okay, but I’m kinda tired and loopy.  I still have some weird symptoms but I know I'm not in any danger, and while the anxiety meds don't make me feel better physically, they make me not care that I don't feel good.  I will spend the weekend pleasantly stoned on prescription drugs so that when I call Dr. Sedgwick next week, I can say that I was open minded enough to follow Dr. Arrogant’s recommendation.

Art posts will resume in the near future because I’ve got all kinds of fun things to talk about and show.