Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy All Hallows Eve, Samhain, All Souls' Night...

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Whether you choose to call it All Hallows Eve, Samhain, or All Soul's Night, the celebration has the same origin and meaning.  According to Barbara Walker (The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets):

    " All Souls' or All Hallows Day (Nov. 1) was the Christian version of Samhain, the Celtic Feast of the Dead, named for the Aryan Lord of Death, Samana, "the Leveller", or the Grim Reaper, leader of ancestral ghosts.  According to the pagan lunar calendar, festivals were celebrated on the "eve" rather than the day.  Therefore Halloween or All Hallows' Eve was the original festival, later displaced to the following day.  the name of the pagan deity remains in the Bible as Samuel, from the Semitic Sammael, the same underworld god."
Ancestral Ground

"...divinations were the oracular utterances by the ancestral dead, who came up from their tombs on halloween, sometimes bringing gifts to the children of their living descendants.  The pagan idea used to be that crucial joints between the seasons opened cracks in the fabric of space-time, allowing contact between the ghostworld and the mortal one."

Callanish Stones on All Souls' Night

 Sehkmet and the Sphinx

So, with that in mind, I dug up (no pun intended) some of my older work that seemed most "Halloweenish", along with a very beautiful song by Loreena McKennitt, called "All Souls' Night".

This is a special day for another reason as well; my beautiful daughter, Caitlin, was born on All Souls' Day.  I believe that she is, indeed, an old soul.  Since she was tiny, she has been advising me what to do, as if she had been my mother in a past life!  She is definitely the best Halloween treat I ever received.  Happy birthday, Cait!

Me and my baby 

Have a booo-tiful day! (bad pun intended)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Transformation 40, and a Cup of Tea

Oh boy, this is exciting!  
Not only did I complete my 40th Transformation piece, but I also discovered (DUH!) that there is apparently a new editing system on blogger, where you can actually change the colors and fonts and all sorts of stuff!  It's like getting a new toy! 

I don't know why I never noticed this; I guess it was because I never had a reason to go into the settings before.  Wow, I hope you all won't get sick of me changing everything all the time.
 Obviously, it doesn't take much to amuse me, does it?

Now that I've calmed down a bit, and you've finished laughing at me, I can get back to the subject, which was... oh yeah, Transformation 40.  I'm not sure why it's more important than 39 or 41, but for some reason we  take special note of the numbers ending in 0.  It seems like a milestone though, to me.  I'll have to investigate why that is; I'll put on my "to do" list right under number 3,402.

Now I must, as my friend Whitney says, go and have a cup of tea to recover!

Friday, October 23, 2009


The trees have been especially colorful this year, putting on a spectacular farewell show. Yesterday, it rained- hard. What this means, for those of you who live in other climates, is that many of the beautiful leaves will be knocked to the ground; end of show. And this is what happened, sort of.

It rained and rained and rained, the skies gray, the colors blah. Suddenly, there was a break between storms. I grabbed my camera and ran outside, and here's the sight that greeted me. (These photos were not enhanced- these are the true colors that dazzled my eyes.)

Everything sparkled and shimmered.

The grass was covered with a yellow carpet. The trees glowed as if imbued with their own inner light.

The sunlight had turned the whole world...


Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Irony

I know you've all been up nights, anxiously anticipating my first image transfer- ha! Seriously, though, I did learn a few things from this experience, which I will now share with you.

1. Things are never as simple as they seem.

I wanted to put a castle up on the hill. The original is a pen and ink drawing I had done when I was a teenager. (Yes, they did too have pens and ink back then!) I didn't want to use the original, of course; also, it was the wrong size. So I scanned the drawing and reduced it to the proper size, and changed the ink color from black to brown, because I wanted that etching-y kind of look.

At first I thought I would just print it onto acid free paper and glue it on. But NOOOOOO, I couldn't do that! Too easy. I started thinking that the ink can run or smear when I get glue on it, so maybe an image transfer would be better.
I didn't have a lot of time to mess around with learning how to do image transfers, so I thought I'd take a shortcut, so to speak, and use Lazertran transfer paper. I happened to notice this product as I was browsing through the Dick Blick catalog. It's supposed to make easy waterslide decals, which can then be stuck onto anything. It looked cool, and I love to have art supplies fed-exed to my house, so I ordered it.

2. You never know what you're gonna get.

I read the directions, and it seemed pretty simple. I printed the image onto the Lazertran paper.

Though it looked fine on the monitor, it was way too dark once printed. So I tried again. Too light this time. I finally got one that I thought was just right.

3. You can waste a lot of time trying to save time.

Now, to put it on the actual artwork- YAY! I waited for the ink to dry, soaked it in water for a minute, and it did, indeed, slide right off. There were two surprises, however. It was not at all sticky on the back as advertised. No big deal- I am the queen of glue. The other surprise was that the decal was practically transparent. The package, I thought, said it had a white backing. I guess they meant the actual paper that you take it off of...yikes! So now I have to glue it onto a piece of white paper anyway...

This would actually be pretty dang hilarious, if it wasn't for the fact that it was almost impossible to glue it onto the paper. The decal is so thin and delicate, it rips if you so much as look at it funny! Every time I put the slightest pressure on it to get the glue out from underneath- another rip!! By this time, the expression on my face looks something like this:

4. Live and Learn.

I've finished the gluing, attempting to carefully repair all the rips as best I can. I cut it out and tape it up on the piece to see how it looks, and now I think it may be too light! Can you believe it?!

So I'll probably end up just printing it on acid free paper after all....AAARRRGH!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In Progress

I thought I'd share with you the making of an artwork from start to finish... sort of. This is the third of my "The Traveler's Tale" series so far. This series is more narrative than my usual work, and is loosely based on the theme of the journey of life, both inner/mental/spiritual, and physical/temporal- not that these are by any means two separate things. I've always loved maps, and thought they were really beautiful; I've used them before in a few pieces, with interesting results. Here are a couple of examples:

Pathways of Remembrance

Dharma Mandala

For "The Traveler's Tale", I'm using maps as the dominant collage material. You can see the first one, "As the crow Flies", here. The second is finished, but has not yet been photographed; I'm just slow, lazy, too busy, or all of the above. Hopefully I'll get to that soon, if the weather cooperates.

After I have the general composition worked out in my head (I haven't done rough sketches for these because the exact composition depends too much on materials), the first thing I have to do is find the right background materials. This is really the most difficult part of the process, because the image in my head does not always coincide with available materials, so constant revisions are made as I try to come to the best compromise.

For instance, what's the overall size? If I have map pieces that fit, they may be the wrong color, or have the wrong "mood" for the piece. For example, a Cincinnati street map is not going to look right if the piece has a medieval theme. But how much can I splice parts of maps together without making it look too sloppy or visually confusing? For this one, I wanted the hill to be one map, if possible, so this greatly limited my choices, as I had only a few that were large enough. Color, of course, is another important factor.

I chose the map of British Columbia because it was the only light-colored one that was big enough. For the sky, I wanted to use part of an old monotype. It wasn't really big enough, though, so I knew I'd have to supplement it with something else- hopefully the blue ocean part of the map. So I fiddled and jiggled and moved things around approximately 2 or 3 hundred times, taping things in place with artist's tape (not supposed to tear the paper), and then moving them again. Too many variables!! Eventually I get tired of this and just decide to go with what I've got at this point.

So, I glued the map piece on. As you can imagine, gluing something so huge (the overall size is about 20 x 27) can be quite problematic. For pieces this large, I use Grafix double- tack mounting film, but great care must be taken because if you put it down in the wrong spot, that's where it stays! It's great, though, because there's no wrinkling. I also attached a couple of extra map pieces, such as the one I added at the top of the hill, to make it a little taller.

The monotype I used had a tree on it which overlapped the sky too much to make it feasibly removable, so I decided I'd have to keep it. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, right? I cut around the part of the tree that extended below the sky, then glued the sky on using the same mounting film.

Next I brewed up a mixture of acrylic inks to stain the map an appropriate color. I rubbed this on with a rag that was formerly an old cotton t-shirt, and VOILA!

Here is the new piece, so far.

Tune in next time, when we venture into the exciting and dangerous realm of (dhunt-dhunt-DHUN) IMAGE TRANSFER!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shabo Mekaw

My series of Lewis County wildflowers has brought up some questions; the most common of which is: where is this place? No one has ever heard of it, even in Kentucky. There is really nothing there, except for a few farms, lots of trees, and LOTS of rocks. It's at the edge of the Appalachian plateau, among an area of hills called the Knobs. The 60 acres that I'm fortunate enough to call mine is a place called SHABO MEKAW, which is Shawnee for "end of the trail". I suppose this name comes from the fact that it lies in the bend of the Kinneyconnick Creek, and so is bounded by water on three sides. Kinneyconnick is also a Shawnee word, but I have no idea of the translation. A man named Ken Lobitz, now deceased, built the redwood cabin and planted the acres of white pines up by the field and pond; apparently it was to be a tree farm, but I'm happy that no one ever harvested them. Someone commented that it was like Oz, and I have to agree, because it is in fact quite a magical place. Here's a brief tour.

Looking down at Kinneyconnick Creek from what I guess you could call the side yard; some might call it more of a cliff.

Looking up the creek from the "Swirl Hole", a very wide and deep pool right below the cabin. You can see a bit of our little "beach" on the right side.

This is a view of the pond from the ex-blueberry field. Unfortunately, the blueberry idea didn't pan out- they died.

A telephoto view of the field from the hill on the other side of the creek. The pines are directly behind the field.

Another view, from along the the creek in the other direction from the cabin. This one shows the bank of the island, which is also part of the property. The creek splits and goes around it, then comes back together further downstream.

Again, from the top of the hill across the creek, here is part of where the creek goes around the property. I couldn't get a view of the entire curve, because my wings are in the shop.

The log house in it's present state of progress. The floor joists are almost all in, just a couple more to go. After that, the doors and windows can be put in, and it will start to look more like an actual house. Eventually, the logs will be sandblasted and coated with waterproofing.

Back view of the log house.

Here are both cabins; the one on the right is the original redwood cabin built by Ken Lobitz fifty-some years ago. It has undergone a great amount of restoration, including a new roof and complete overhaul of the stone fireplace and chimney. The long range plan is to one day connect them with a middle room.

Arlo says, "Wait, wait, where ya goin'?" I will post future progress as it's made. Come back any time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Transformation 39

Number 39 and counting! I hope a picture really is worth a thousand words, because I don't know what else to say. I've been busy getting ready for the Capacity Inc. decorator showcase; I will be taking 10 framed pieces of work to Lexington on Friday. My wonderful daughter came over yesterday to help me frame them, and I don't know how I would have done it without her help. Have I mentioned how much I hate framing? I think I have, and now poor Caitlin is starting to understand why! I hope you enjoy this one!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Capacity Inc. and Lorillard Lofts- Please Stop By to Help a Good Cause!

Some of you may be aware that my work will be featured in the Lorillard Decorator Showcase in Lexington, Kentucky beginning on October 23rd. Nine of my Transformations pieces (some of which appear on this post) will be hung in the 'Urban Sanctuary' loft; all of these will be for sale, and another one will be sold in the silent auction. This is a wonderful project which benefits Capacity Inc., a non-profit organization working toward improving the lives of women with regard to employment. The following article by Sherry Piersol explains:

Upon visiting Lexington, Kentucky’s first eco-friendly decorators showcase one will have an opportunity to reconnect with self, home and the community. “Naturally Chic” will focus on creating comfortable, stylish, elegant and creative loft living, naturally! This is a great opportunity to obtain eco-friendly, affordable, new trend insight for anyone’s home. Most importantly the $10.00 ticket per person goes to a great cause!
“Naturally Chic” is a result of a new international non profit dedicated to the advancement of women, Capacity Inc,
We began with two goals, first to introduce the community to examples of environmentally friendly, urban development and décor. Lorillard Lofts was selected because living spaces were created from the renovation of an old tobacco warehouse, see

Second, Capacity Inc. is a cutting edge organization which advocates transforming women of today into women of tomorrow. Our current fundraiser is dedicated to Career Advancement for Women. According to Sherry Piersol, founding board member, “This will include; mentoring, skill sets assessments, education and employment for unemployed women. The Lorillard Lofts Decorator Showcase will also serve as a model for other cities worldwide.”

The mission of Capacity Inc. is to provide capacity building opportunities for children, girls and women worldwide. Our goal is to create a deep culture change that will solve specific problems facing the female gender. Jessica Piersol is the board secretary and an Anthropology student. “I have learned about the disparity of the world and am shocked to discover that the single most abused, poverty-stricken, neglected and inhumanely treated group of people remains to be women. The gender crosses ethnicities, state boundaries and continents as a suppressed commodity. As a woman I can no longer stand by and do nothing to impact this world in a positive way. I know that I am not alone in the emergence of an insatiable desire to make a difference. My friends, ages 18 to 28 have expressed reciprocal feelings. We do not want to be ‘Generation Y,’ the generation of video games and apathy. We want change; we want a better world for our future and our children.”

Audra Cryder, Capacity Inc. board treasurer is an International Student recruiter at the University of Kentucky. Through her travels she has gained first hand knowledge regarding the inequities facing the female gender worldwide. “Education and training programs can equip women with skills they need to improve their capacities to start and grow businesses and to fulfill their potential as economic development agents. This, in turn, can generate social and economic benefits for women, their families and society as a whole.”
Our mission can best be described as “social franchising”. We all know how quickly successful business franchises grow and expand to offer their services throughout communities globally. What if successful social practices were replicated worldwide as quickly as fast food franchises? Our goal is to take the need to help others and fuse it with networks of people who can put real change into people’s lives. The change of empowering women and their children will make our Lexington community thrive and spread throughout Kentucky, then all across America and eventually the world.

At the very top of our agenda is addressing the need to reform the work culture in the United States. We continue to identify the need to be healthier, to be environmentally conscious, continue our education, focus on the family and volunteer to help others. However, quite often we fail to go straight to the source to address why we are not able to accomplish the above. Capacity Inc. found that woman more than anyone, want everyone to have “the time” to; shop and cook economically, to exercise (be more active) become healthier, more educated and focus on self, family, community and the environment. As a community developer, Sherry Piersol believes the solution lies within each employer’s efforts to become creative, flexible, sensitive and socially responsible to their employees. “Our organization has identified the best work/life balanced programs in the world and are making ourselves available to employers to assist them in investing in all their stakeholders; employees, customers and the community. Employers will improve their bottom line by reinventing their human capital and creating “balanced beings”. Meeting the needs of employees/individuals through holistic and progressive work/life initiatives creates productive, happy and healthy human beings.

“Naturally Chic” Decorator Showcase Lorillard Lofts are located at 201 Price Rd. Lexington KY. Plenty of Free Parking on site. October 20th - 25th, 2009
Purchase tickets online at and go to Events

General Admission: October 24th and 25th 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM Sat and Sun
$10.00 per person Specialty gift shop & food vendors on location this weekend.
Group Tours October 20 - October 22nd 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM Discounts available.
Premier Party Special Event – October 23rd, Friday 6:00 – 10:00 PM
Special guest appearance TBA, bids on décor/furniture, food, drink, music and dancing.
$50.00 per person
VENDOR BOOTHS STILL AVAILABLE – specialty stores, home décor, businesses & artists, $100.00 for two days weekend of Oct. 24 and 25th. REGISTER ON LINE.

CONTACT: Sherry (859) 583 – 8007 or