Sunday, March 23, 2014

and the winner is....

The winner of issue three of "Art Together" is ....


Gill, I just sent you an email to the address linked to your blogger profile- can you confirm that's your best email address so that I can pass it along to Amy?
She will email you the file for the zine.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Arrested development

This sweet boy just turned 13.

Over the past few weeks I've noticed him revisiting favorite things from his younger years.  On the brink of mysterious and unknown adolescence, there's comfort in the safe and familiar.

This is the conversation we had the night before his birthday...
Him:  When I wake up tomorrow I'll be a teenager
Me:  What will that feel like?
Him:  Weird
Me:  You know what's even weirder?  When I wake up tomorrow I'll be the mother of a teenager.  It's weird because I don't really feel that much older than 13.
Him:  You don't really seem that much older than 13.
Me:  ummmm.....thanks?????
Him:  don't worry, that's a good thing.

So there you have it.
It's evident, even to my son, that for better or for worse, I'm a 13 year old trapped in a 46 year old's body. 

 And true to form, Max is not the only one doing some revisiting this week....
 I needed to send a sympathy card to a dear friend, and I wanted it to be hand made but I had no new ideas. Days were slipping by and I couldn't come up with anything I liked, and so I went back to some of my old work and made these three blank note cards:




Prior to this I'd been struggling to do something - anything - on canvas.
Feverish layers of paint...
No vision.... 
No direction....
Just frustration and a stack of ugly canvases leaning against the wall. 
(There may even have been hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing and profanity.)

It felt so good to take a break and do something that came easily to me that I just kept going with these small index card collages.   And no, you haven't seen these before.  (you've just seen these, these, and these)








No new ground has been broken, but I will take a lesson from the other 13 year old in the house and rather than berate myself, find pleasure and solace in the familiar, knowing there is big growth ahead.

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Art Together" giveaway

 Amy Hood speaks my language.
She publishes a wonderful e-zine called "Art Together", which (in her own words)
"is designed to inspire confidence in adults to explore open-ended art-making alongside children. Each issue is full of activities, information, a featured artist and material, and friendly encouragement about how fun (and yes, easy!) it is for adults and kids to play with art materials together."

Issue three was just released last week and Amy has generously donated a copy for me to give away.  This issue is all about printmaking – a subject I adore!

 Amy's zines focus on exploring techniques and materials rather than working toward a completed project or specific end goal.

Her philosophy is near and dear to my heart.  As an early childhood educator, I've spent my entire professional career preaching the importance of the process of creating rather than the finished product or outcome.  Very young children do not sit down to paint a masterpiece, they simply immerse themselves in the experience - often using their whole bodies, all their senses, and any surface they can find.  They create for the sheer joy of creating.  It's something we forget how to do as adults, and I love Amy's writing because she reminds us of the benefits of this type of exploration at any age.  (Her three part series on "process vs. product" should not only be required reading for anyone who interacts with children, it should be required reading for everyone who likes to make stuff.)

 But back to the zine....
It's 35 beautifully written, gorgeously photographed, thoroughly researched pages.
She starts with basic background information on printmaking to ground us in the techniques, goes on to highlight the Japanese artist, Hokusai (and his famous woodblock prints), then shares five fun ways to explore printmaking at home (with or without kids!). The zine also includes an extensive (and annotated) list of books, websites and other resources to further your explorations into printmaking.
It's highly readable, thoroughly unintimidating, and full of ideas, tips and suggestions.
One of the techniques Amy highlights in this issue is Collagraphs.  (prints made from collages)

As a lover of both printmaking and collage, this is something I've always wanted to try.
Amy's zine was just the encouragement I needed.

In her spirit of play and experimentation I stopped worrying about my final image and just started grabbing any textured item I could find in my stash.   I didn't put a lot of thought into composition - I just quickly glued my items to a heavy piece of cardboard.  Here's the crazy collage I ended up with:

After letting it dry under a stack of books overnight, I loaded it up with green acrylic paint:

I pressed a piece of copy paper on top and rubbed.  Here's what my print looks like:

I decided to try a two-tone print, and so I added black paint to a few areas of the collage without adding any more green.

Here's the second print:

It's pretty cool.  I can see myself ripping these up and incorporating them into other collages.  For now, I saw the perfect opportunity to make an interesting envelope for an outgoing letter:

This was just a quick experiment, and it's got my head buzzing with ideas.  What other materials can I use in my base collage?  What if I use ink instead of paint?  Will it work with tissue paper?  What would happen if I layered a second print on top of the first print?
I'm excited by the possibilities.

As you can see, even if you don't have young kids, Amy's zines are wonderful spring boards for your own creativity.

Want to find out for yourself?
Leave a comment by Friday, March 21st to be entered to win a copy of Art Together - Issue Three.
The winner will be announced Saturday, March 22nd.

The giveaway has closed.
Congratulations to Gill for winning the zine.
Thanks to everyone who entered!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Have glue stick, will travel

Post cards made on the road using my in-flight travel magazine and a variety of other stuff picked up in San Francisco.

Doesn't take much to keep me entertained.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ex Postal Facto - part 1

Ex Postal Facto (and my entire San Francisco trip) was amazing.


Four action packed days of people and art and food and sunshine.
It was exhilarating and overwhelming and joyous.
There's no way I can cover all of this in a single post, so I'll start with the beginning.

I escaped from Boston on Thursday February 13th, just as a massive winter storm was blowing into the state.  We got the "no school" call as we were driving to the airport in the pre-dawn hours, even though there was not yet a flake in sight.
Mandy was already there at the airport waiting for me.  It started to snow as we were boarding, and there was the last minute de-icing of the plane before take off, but we made it!
Our friend Tina was not so lucky.  Her flight out of Minneapolis was cancelled, and she ended up missing the entire weekend.  
(We missed you Tina!)

While the snow piled up past the 12 inch mark at home, the sun was shining in San Francisco.  Gina picked us up at the airport (wearing a giant eyeball mask, and carrying postal treasures for us!) and whisked us to our rented apartment.  It took me no time at all to strip off my woolen layers and bask in the 60 degree sunshine on our little patio.  Bare feet in February?  Heaven!

In spite of a full day of travel on very little sleep, Mandy and I were only just starting our San Francisco adventure.
Gina picked us up around 4PM with a surprise for us in the car - the one and only Pamela (aka Cappuccino and Art Journal) hopped out to greet us.  Pamela was one of the first people I started corresponding with when I started this art adventure 3 years ago and it was so wonderful to finally meet her.

We headed off to Chronicle books for our first schmoozing opportunity of the weekend and for a lecture on stamp design, given by the delightful Niko Courtelis.  In spite of his engaging slide presentation, I found myself struggling to stay awake in the dark quiet room.  My east coast body was begging for sleep, but I didn't want to cut our evening short.  There was still amazing sushi to be eaten, and loads more talking before we finally collapsed into our beds.  It wasn't even 10PM San Francisco time, but I'd been up for 21 hours.  Time to call it a night.

Friday, February 14th
Thanks to my natural early-bird tendencies (and my east-coast body clock) I was up before the sun.  Gina had promised to take me for an early morning walk on the beach.  We were in the car by 7AM, headed to Fort Funston (Part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservatory).

It was foggy, but still breathtakingly beautiful.  See that little black speck on the brown path?  A person.  It's a long hike down to the beach (and an even longer hike up)

But oh, was it ever worth it.
It was all I could do to not jump in with all my clothes on.

A Valentine picture, texted to my far-away sweetie.

our new friend

We walked and talked and talked and walked and only turned around when it became clear the tide was coming in. What a delight to find Gina both walks and talks as fast as I do! (not many people do)
I think we may have been separated at birth.

I got back to the apartment and literally hosed all the sand and salt off my jeans and geared up for the next adventure.
The day had turned sunny and warm, so Mandy and I decided to take a leisurely walk through the city, poking into shops (and getting ice cream) before meeting back up with Gina and Pamela for some delicious Vietnamese food for lunch.

I'm not sure what Pamela is holding - perhaps it is a picture of her lunch?  (we are not generally this fuzzy)

and THEN...we went to Scrap.
Oh, there are not enough words in the English language to describe the wonder that is Scrap.  Scrap is actually an acronym for "Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts."  All of you delightful mixed-media kindred spirits who scavenge through recycling bins, frequent junk shops, and pick stuff off the ground to use in your art would LOVE Scrap.  Mandy and I got lost in there for several hours.  It's probably a good thing I had limited space in my suitcase or I would have hauled home much much more junk than my modest little bag's worth.
It felt like a pilgrimage.

As hard as it is to believe, all of the above activities were just a warm up for the BIG event - the kick-off of the whole Ex Postal Facto weekend - the opening of the "Mail/Art/Book" exhibit.

Way back in the fall, Jennie Hinchcliff, the coordinator extraordinaire of this entire weekend, put out a call for submissions for this show.
I created this piece:

(you can see more pictures of it and even a video of it here.)

And here it is, on display at the San Francisco Center for the Book:

My big surprise for the evening, after buying the beautifully designed catalog of all the art in the exhibit, was finding an entire page dedicated to my piece

AND, a second (prominently placed) photo at the end.
What a thrill!

The opening reception was packed.  It was wonderful to meet so many of my mail friends in person that night, and fun to walk through the exhibit and see so many familiar names. 

We picked up our specially designed passports that evening, and after getting our first official XPF stamp, we began trading the Artistamps we'd brought with us with others who'd also come prepared. 

Pamela took this wonderful picture of my stamp assortment spilling all over the table:

Pamela also wrote a great blog post about the passports and gives us a peek at all the gorgeous stamps inside hers. Check it out.

At the end of the night, Mary England (who is every bit as marvelous in person as you would expect her to be) gathered a bunch of us together for a group photo.

Thanks for coordinating this picture, Mary (and for sending it to me!)
Read Mary's great account of the weekend here.

So there you have it.
The first 24  hours.

Are you exhausted?

There are more stories to share, but I'll save them for another day.

(and if you live in the San Francisco area, I highly recommend stopping by the San Francisco Center for the Book to see the exhibit.  It will be there through April 6th.)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

chocolate is inspiring

You never know where you'll find inspiration.

I had a block of time this week and I knew I wanted to do some gelatin printing and use the prints to collage a quick series of postcards.
All I could picture were the black and blue postcards I made in January, which I loved, but I didn't want to repeat myself. I wanted to do something similar, but in a different color palette.
Yet it was like no other colors existed in the universe. 

I had the time and the desire, but no new ideas.
Not even my go-to colors of orange and turquoise were doing it for  me.

I looked down into my scrap basket, and there was a wrapper from a candy bar Gina sent me last month (which I shared with Mandy on the plane to San Francisco, and then proceeded to carry the wrapper around with me for the next 10 days because heaven forbid one throw away such beautiful collage fodder.)
Little did I know how useful it would be.

These are not colors I use.  
And I certainly never use them together.
But there they were beckoning to me through my barren wasteland of lost inspiration, so out came the purple/brown/yellow paints.

Here's the resulting series of cards:

(stupid wrinkle!  I've got a terrible glue shortage in my house right now and I resorted to mod podge. UGH!) (if you don't mind profanity and want to pee your pants laughing, go read Lynn's Late Night Rant About Glue.)

I kind of feel like some of them aren't done.
Some need a focal point.  Or the elements need to be better integrated with each other.  Or they need more irreverent text.
On the other hand this was intended to be a quick series, not a "sit around for weeks while I wring my hands" series.
So maybe they are done after all.

I think the answer will become clear after some more chocolate.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

maybe tomorrow...

...I will find the words to describe the amazing experience of my time at Ex Postal Facto in San Francisco.

tonight there is paint.

The outcome is irrelevant.  
The paint is all that matters.