Friday, November 30, 2007

discovering paint

She caught me. I had planned on my little person napping for another hour. I had all of my paints out in plain view as I attempted to finish up a painting. I heard her feet coming. There was no time to hide the evidence. "Hi Mommy! Can I paint too?"

I have a confession. Somehow I've managed to let my youngest get to the age of two and a half without painting. That's not to say she hasn't used the water color disc paint, but I've avoided the gloppy, smooshy, messy, real paint up until yesterday. I decided it was about time I threw caution to the wind, outfitted her in a paint smock and let her go at it. Nora was beside herself with excitement. I dug out our big bottles of kid paint only to discover that every color except for the purple had dried up. I'm blushing. However, Nora didn't care a bit that her palette was limited. If purple was what we had, purple was fine with her. As she dipped her brush into the soft, slimy paint I could see her inner light glow brighter. At first she painted very slow and cautious. Then she couldn't get enough. She painted bolder and faster. She needed more paint and paper. Her confidence was growing as she discovered the satisfaction of brush strokes. She didn't stop until she had created a masterpiece for her siblings and Mommy and Daddy too. Never mind that the paint smock was hardly keeping the paint off her clothes, hands and face. There was paint on the table, her chair and even the floor. Breathe. It's washable paint. Painting is essential. Who am I to deny her?

We decided that we would ask Santa for new bottles of (washable) paint this Christmas and composed a letter right away, before I could wimp out.
Dear Santa,
I would very much appreciate if you could bring me some
bottles of washable paint this Christmas. I would like:
1) Blue
2) Red
3) Yellow
4) Green
5) Orange
6) Hot Pink
I already have plenty of purple. Thanks Santa.

p.s. Mommy would like a bottle of extra patience too.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Napkin Rings

With the holidays approaching, I'm sure you have some fancy holiday dinners coming up or maybe you need to whip up a quick hostess gift? I made my star-shaped napkin rings on the HGTV show "That's Clever" a while back. I've included directions here, but you can go to HGTV's site for step-by-step directions with pictures of me making for the camera. By the way, my fingernails don't always look that good! I believe those pictures mark the last time I had a professional manicure...over a year ago. I think I'm in need of a holiday spa day.

star-shaped cookie cutter or star stencil
scrap pine wood - pieces need to be at least 4" x 4" in size and 3/4" thick
gloss gold spray paint
scroll saw
1-1/8" circle drill bit
spray adhesive
mineral spirits
150-grit sandpaper
craft gemstones
glue gun and hot glue sticks

1. Create a star pattern by tracing a star cookie cutter or stencil on paper.
2. Photocopy the pattern or make as many napkin holder patterns as needed.
3. Roughly cut out the patterns with scissors.
4. Adhere the paper patterns to scrap pieces of pine wood using spray adhesive.
5. Wearing eye protection, use a scroll saw to cut out the star shapes.
6. Use a 1-1/8 inch circle drill bit to cut a circle in the center of each star.
7. Remove the paper from the wood star shapes.
8. Sand the edges with 150-grit sandpaper.
9. Remove any traces of spray adhesive and wood shavings by cleaning each piece with mineral spirits.
10. Spray the front, back and edges of the wood stars with metallic gold gloss spray paint. Let dry.
11. Arrange craft gemstones in a pattern on a work surface.
12. Adhere the gems to the side edges of the gold star napkin rings with a hot glue gun. Let dry.

You can make these in any shape that will allow for a 1-1/8 inch circle in the center. To the right is a flower shape with flower beads adhered to the edge.

Below is an idea for gift packaging. I bundled a set of four napkin rings with tulle and tied with a ribbon. Ready for a deserving hostess.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Paying It Forward

A few months ago, I came across the blog of Shannon and Adrienne of the Urban Quilt Company in Toronto, Canada. Shannon and Adrienne are the artists behind the quilt "Toro, Toro" from Red Bull's Art of Can Chicago exhibition. They had posted a "Pay It Forward" (PIF) challenge on their blog. Shannon and Adrienne offered to send a handmade gift to the first three replies who also agreed to offer a blog PIF challenge. I replied. I loved the idea and it actually provided me with incentive to start blogging. A few weeks ago they sent a package in the mail containing an original Urban Quilt Company Qoffee Cuff. A Qoffee Cuff (pictured above) is a reusable, environmentally friendly warmer for take out coffee, tea or any hot beverage. Pretty clever and stylish I'd say. Qoffee Cuffs can be found on the Urban Quilt Company website and would make a great holiday gift paired up with a gift certificate from a favorite coffee shop. Shannon from UQ certainly did not ask for any promo, but in the spirit of paying It forward I could hardly resist. Thanks Shannon!

Tis the season for giving and this idea is really what the holidays are all about. I'm ready to Pay It Forward with three handcrafted gifts of my own to send to the first three comments here or e-mails to I'd ask that you agree to either post your own PIF on your blog--if you have one--or agree to do something for or give something to three unsuspecting people. Paying it forward is even nicer than paying back. Cheers!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Counting circles

We spent Thanksgiving visiting family in Pennsylvania.The day after Thanksgiving we went out for our tree. Our tradition is not exact. In the past several years, we've either cut trees at different tree farms or in more hectic years purchased precut trees at the kid's school. Regardless of where the tree comes from, acquiring it is a family deal. This year has got to be my favorite tree acquisition. My Dad planted several trees many years ago on his property with the intent that one day they would be Christmas trees. We were able to bring a nine foot tall evergreen from Pennsylvania to Ohio this weekend. It's special to have a tree this year that shares my roots (pardon the tree pun).

The rings inside the tree are so intriguing. I'm not sure how accurate the tree year per tree ring is, but regardless those rings reveal an interesting message. Each year of our lives is a circle full of experiences built on the past year and so forth that forms who we are today. More rings makes for older, hopefully wiser and definitely more interesting.

My eight year old daughter counts the rings in an attempt to learn more about the seasons this tree has seen. We're thrilled that it will be celebrating this Christmas at home with us. Enjoy your circles.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm Thankful For... many things! With Thanksgiving only two days away I had the idea to make checklist coloring sheet place mats for my inspiring kids. It includes the big things like family and God and the little things too like "my cozy blankie." Maybe while dinner is cooking and they're coloring and checking away it will spark some conversation or at least make them think more about that huge question..."What are you thankful for?"

I'm including it here all big and printable as my Thanksgiving day gift to you. Click on the image and save to your desktop and print from there. Encourage the older kids to make checklists of their own. Then everybody will be ready at dinner time with their cheat sheets when family members start asking that inevitable question. Have fun and have a very happy Thanksgiving if I don't make it back here before then!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gallery Stroll

Bring your coffee. We're going to Redtree gallery. I posted a short post a week or so ago mentioning that I had some pieces "out there" which means out of my house and off of my studio table.

It's nice to see my pieces in a new space especially a space as charming as this one. I have had art in galleries and storefronts in the past, but went on a several year hiatus of sorts. I'm still deciding on ways to "package" my art. For now, I'm happy that pieces of me are hanging around.

The pieces to right are two of my Soul Folks. The top is titled "Inner Child". This Soul Folk's message is, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." -Pablo Picasso. The piece below it is titled "Artist at Heart". His message is, "He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist." -St. Francis of Assisi.

The art hanging over those cute, cute purses (the more I stare at them the more I want) is titled "The Wedding Cup." I incorporated a photo of my great grandparents on their wedding day along with a favorite quote by Ogden Nash. "To keep your marriage brimming, with love from the wedding cup, whenever you're wrong, admit it, whenever you're right, shut up." Funny and true and so, so, SO hard for me to do especially the "shutting up" part.

I talked about the 50s housewife "Enough About Me" a few posts ago. The piece below it is titled "Mixing It Up". That's me in the 1970s. I had a great time incorporating some of my mom's recipes as a layer and attaching an old estate sale spoon to the side. The thing about these collage pieces is that they are layer upon layer so they can best be appreciated in person. You can't see those details here.

Are you ready for a coffee refill? Today, I'm working on material for another show along with finishing up some design work and throwing in a few loads of laundry. My day is most productive when I "mix it up".
Happy Monday. It's a short week with that thanksgiving feast to look forward too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Little Press

So a little press never hurts right? I've been talking and talking about this chicken. His little ears must be ringing. I appreciate the talented writers who called to chat. Here are some links if you still haven't heard enough:

The Cincinnati Enquirer's art note can be read by clicking on the above photo. (11-15-07)

Cincinnati Magazine online posted a Q & A on their website. (11-13-07)

The Downtowner honored the chicken. (11-8-07)

The Daily Press which was my home town (of 18 years) newspaper ran an article. (11-12-07)

My apologies if you're here in January (or even next week) and these links expire. Hopefully, I'll have new things to chat about by then.

Monday, November 12, 2007

AOC Opening Night

I'm not sure I can accurately describe this night. To have your work in a show of this caliber is an amazing feeling. The opportunity to see all of the work in this unique atmosphere created especially to showcase each piece to it's fullest was also a pleasure I can't quite describe. The Internet doesn't do it justice. It's impossible to conceptualize the scale or the intricate labor and care that went into the making of so many of these eye-catching pieces. Each work truly had a soul that you could feel when you stood in it's presence. Art of Can is undeniably promotional, but having a show where everyone is working from the same recycled medium highlights the artist's personality and creativity. There were so many pieces that I admired I can't possibly include them all, but here's a few...
Congrats to T.J. Ishikawa for "Vitalized Dragon". T. J. won first place and a trip for 2 to Switzerland. Well-deserved!

"Attack of the Killer Tomato" by John Hergert

"Dive for Red Bull...(It Gives You Fins)" by Asta Razma

3rd place winner "A Casual Toss" by Kathryn Beale

"Toro, Toro!" by Shannon Aguila/Adrienne Gallagher

"Miracle Grow" by Andy Tran
And by the way, I've started saving cans for next year. : )

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Enough About Me

I was excited to find out yesterday that I'm going to have five pieces in a local art gallery. I'll be showing two soul folks and three new pieces including what you see at the top titled "Enough About Me". I just started into this mixed media work involving old photos and memories of the past. "Enough About Me" is my tribute to the housewife of the 1950s. I found the sentence about "emancipation" that forms the square border in a cookbook published in 1948. I mean really, "it is her province to please and placate men"? Now that is funny stuff. I'm also incorporating treasures found from estate sales. The very outer border includes vintage buttons and seam binding.

The show at Redtree art gallery features a variety of local artists. The opening is this Friday night from 6pm-9pm. If you're in the area check it out. Now I'm off to see the chicken in Chicago. Have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Election Day

Happy Election Day! Hope you all get out there and vote. And how can I resist some final chicken campaigning?! Cast your online vote for the Rooster at Click Gallery, then Chicago, and scroll right to find the chicken. Enter your vote on the bar graph to right of the piece. We appreciate your vote!

I'll be in Chicago tomorrow for Red Bull's AOC artist's gala. The show opens to the public on Friday, November 9th and runs until November 18th. If you're in the area try to catch the exhibit. I can't wait to see and promise pix when I return!