Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World as We Know it?

Sorry, I just couldn't resist.  If the end of the world comes today, I'm going to be really mad, because I already bought Christmas presents...

Nonetheless, my friends, I wish you all a very happy and blessed solstice.  All hail the return of the sun!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Message From a Dream - finished

I have completed the last piece I was working on for the "In Your Dreams" exhibit which is coming up in February.

Message From a Dream
 ingredients: vintage book covers, vintage Japanese envelopes, stamps, vintage book pages, image transfers, graphite drawing, watercolor pencils, metallic oil crayon, mica, feather, stitching

I've also revised the two "language of earth" pieces I was working on, thanks to the valuable opinions and advice you all gave me when I was stuck. It really does help to have some fresh eyes on work that you've been staring at for so long that your perspective is all skewed and wonky, don't you think?  I decided to ditch my original idea of connecting these together as one piece, as it seems they will each work better on their own.  If you want to see what these looked like before, click here.

 The Earth Sings

 As someone had suggested, I tried to connect the sections of this piece a bit better so that it's more integrated, and flows better from one section to another. I added brads to the compass, and spread the hydrangea petals from the top left into other sections of the piece; the stitching has been extended into the bottom left part where the globe is.

The Earth Speaks

On this piece, I just added blue stitching to the metal object plus a little more connecting it and the map, as well as to the ash seeds at the top.  I'm actually pretty happy with the way this one turned out.

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season, and not getting too stressed out.  I will be trying to do the same. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fall Photos

Winter is almost here, and as I sit here thinking about Christmas shopping, it's hard to believe how quickly fall flew by. Before I even knew it, I was trying to pretend I wasn't watching the first gaggle (that's the right word for it, I swear!) of honking geese speeding their way south.  "Noooooo, come baaaaaack!" I called, looking pretty silly to anyone who might have witnessed my fruitless pleading. Luckily, I was in my car alone, feeling a bit sad that summer was ending, because close behind fall follows the cold, gray season we call winter.

The autumn season is notoriously beautiful here in Kentucky. Without summer's sticky humidity, the air seems to glow- a freshly-scrubbed crystal clear blue. Temperatures are perfect, and the still lush green grass contrasts with the bright golds, crimsons, and oranges of the changing leaves. The trees have actually been mostly bare and brown for two or three weeks now, which is quite a letdown after such a sumptuous feast for the eyes. Here are a few of my fall photos for your enjoyment- a little taste of my life in Kentucky.  Goodbye, fall...

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.   
~Rabindranath Tagore

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
~Albert Camus

  There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
~Henri Matisse

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.
~Henry David Thoreau

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.
~John Lubbock

 For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.
~Martin Luther

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.
~George Santayana

Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare, and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit.
~Anton Chekhov

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.
~Wallace Stevens

In the depth of winter I learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
~Albert Camus

Alright, winter, I think I'm ready for you, now...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Work in Progress

Message from a Dream
ingredients: vintage book cover, vintage Japanese envelopes, vintage stamps, vintage book pages, image transfers, graphite drawing, watercolor pencils, metallic oil crayon, mica, stitching

This is a piece I'm working on for the upcoming (February) Print Club show at Northern Kentucky University, the theme of which is "In Your Dreams".  This part is not quite finished, and will eventually be glued onto a larger book cover with more images. So far, I'm actually liking it, and when do I ever say that?

Stay tuned for further developments!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Language of the Earth

My intention was for this to be a multi-panel piece, but as you may know, artwork seems to take on a life and mind of its own, quite carelessly ignoring our plans. Since these pieces didn't turn out as I had envisioned, I'm not sure they say what I wanted them to, and so the purpose of attaching them to each other may now be moot. I'm wondering if they might work better as separate pieces. Has your artwork ever mutinied on you this way?

In this post, I introduced the first panel, which I'm posting here so that you can see what they look like together. (I apologize for the horrible photos- the colors are affected by less than optimal lighting conditions, and I haven't had time to get good shots.)

Here's the second panel.  I'm now going with the working title, "Language of the Earth", though I'm not certain that's right, either.

ingredients: vintage book cover, vintage map, found metal objects, fossil, ash seeds, ginko leaf, metallic ink, stitching (embroidery floss).

Some details:

So far, so confused. Let me know what you think, as I seem to be fresh out of thoughts right now.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloweenish Humor

vintage book cover, vintage book pages, image transfer, magazine cut outs, old window screen fragment, vintage watch part, brads, map fragments, graph paper, graphite drawing, water soluble crayon, mica, vintage watch part, brads

Well, you may think this piece is a bit weird and creepy, but I prefer to think of it as Halloweenish humor!

 Have a hilariously happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Playing Favorites

A big hunk (is that the right unit of measure? should it be pounds? or maybe liters? ) of gratitude goes out to Seth Apter, collaborator extraordinaire, for including my response in today's installment of

In this part of The Pulse, artists were asked to: share a picture of a favorite piece of art that you have created and explain its meaning to you...

So head on over to The Altered Page to find out which piece I chose, and treat yourself to artwork by talented people such as Miz Katie, Pam Carriker, and many more.  I've immensely enjoyed each and every installment of Playing Favorites so far; I have no doubt that you will, too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wabi + Sabi = Perfect Imperfection

As time goes by, I find myself coming to appreciate the beauty of imperfection- a concept the Japanese call "wabi sabi."  The aesthetic of wabi sabi encompasses so much more than this; I can't explain it in words, but I think that maybe I'm learning to see it.

Words exist because of meaning.  Once you've got the meaning, you can forget the words. ~Chuang Tse

 Wabi sabi acknowledges three things: "nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, and nothing is finished."  ~Richard R. Powell 

 Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace. ― Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers 

wabi ... simple and quiet, austere refinement

  Nothing to do with grandeur or symmetry.  ~ Wabi Sabi:The Japanese Art of Impermanence by Andrew Juniper

 The moon’s setting, a crow caws, the sky is filled with frost
Maples by the river, fishermen’s lights, the traveler faces a sad sleep
Outside the City of Suchow, from the Cold Mountain Temple
The sound of the midnight bell reaches the traveler’s boat               ~Cheung Chi

 Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all.  ~Noble

wabi is ...tranquil simplicity;
austere elegance;
unpolished, imperfect, or irregular beauty...

 things in their simplest, most austere, and natural state;
a serene, transcendental state of mind...             


sabi is... the beauty that treasures the passage of time, and with it the lonely sense of impermanence it evokes;
the patina that age bestows...
which is true to the natural cycle of birth and death...   

 ~from Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life by Diane Durston

"Wabi sabi" was a phrase conceptualized by the Japanese poet Basho, who was also known for writing haiku.
if I took it in hand,
it would melt in my hot tears—
heavy autumn frost

Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.    ~Lao Tse

Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.   ~ Hans Margolius

On a completely different topic, I was excited and honored to be asked by artist/blogger Nanci Hersh to do a guest post as part of her "The Artist as Collector" series. Please check it out and see which piece from my own collection I chose to feature.  Nanci's blog, On and Off the Walls, is well worth reading any time, as she is an accomplished writer and artist with lots of inspiring ideas.Thanks, Nanci!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Earth Remembers...?

That's the working title of the piece I'm now working on- or, maybe not.  The title is just not coming to me right now, but it's not really important at this stage of the game.

So this is the top part of the piece, loosely representative of the earth's outer layers. It's made from the cover of an old geography book, and will have additional panels attached below this one. It's more structured, organized, and formally composed than I wanted it to be.  I attribute this tendency to my original training in graphic design school, but I'm working to overcome it.  Baby steps, right?

Some things to think about:  What artistic "stuckness" are you working to overcome, one baby step at a time?  How do you go about titling your pieces?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Look! it's a book!

Well, it's been a while.  With school back in session, life has resumed a pace somewhat reminiscent of a meteor hurtling towards the earth.  Besides that, my daughter is about to get married, and I have been working on the guest book, which is the first book I've made completely "from scratch".  I was very nervous that I would mess it up- which I did, early on- so I still had time to start over. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, if I do say so myself.

Here are all the pieces, ready to be sewn together.  I got stuck at this stage for a while because I was looking at the directions for the stitching order, and found them confusing.  I couldn't figure out the best way to knot the thread at the end, and there were about six different ways of doing it- mainly due to the fact that Japanese stab binding wasn't originally used with hard covers, I guess. 

 Here it is, all sewn together...


 I'm not really happy with the appearance of the linen thread, and it's not terribly tight; I pulled it as tight as I could while sewing, so I think it must be the knot on the inside, which may not be as close to the spine as I had intended.

 I left the rest of the decoration until after the stitching, so as not ruin it.

I may sew over the stitches with a very thin black ribbon, which might look better than the linen thread, but all in all, not too bad.

In case you're wondering why it's called "Guest gallery", it's because Caitlin and Wes are getting married in an art gallery.  I stamped gold frames on the black pages for people to write in.

I want to again thank Mo of the fantastic blog, "It's Crow Time", who is always willing to patiently answer my unending book-binding questions.  You should really look at her beautiful drawings, especially if you like crows, which we all do, it seems.

In other news, Roxanne Evans Stout, an accomplished artist and teacher (and one of the sweetest people I know) of Rivergarden Studio has included my answer to the question, "What is the thread that runs through your work?" in her post, "Of Golden Threads, part 3".  This is her third post featuring the responses of various artists to this intriguing question, and the answers range from emotionally revealing to surprising to inspirational. If you haven't already, please check it out.

My dear friend Donna Iona Drozda recently did a guest post for the Series "Artist as Collector" on artist Nanci Hersh's wonderful blog, and to my surprise, she honored me by choosing to feature me as her 'collected' artist'.  The post is titled, "Empty and Full with a Fresh Eye" and I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it.  Also, you'll no doubt want to check out Donna's work; not only is she an enormously talented artist, but she shares her "Luna See" spiritual insight through her "Following the Moon" blog, she somehow finds time to work on public art projects such as "Life in Transit", teach workshops for children and adults, and so much more.

Thanks to Roxanne, Donna, Mo, and all my sweet blogger friends- I love you all!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


It took most of the summer, but I have finally finished my "Book of Dreams".  At several points in the process, things did not go smoothly or according to plan.  You can read about the whole adventure here, here, here, here, here, and here, if you wish.  (Wow- that's a lot of "here"s! This really was more of an ongoing series than I realized.)  One of my purposes in posting each stage of the book's creation was to share my thoughts and technical processes with others who might be able to learn from my techniques- and from my mistakes.  So, if any of these posts has helped you in any way, I feel I have accomplished that goal. (Or even if my cluelessness brought  you some laughter, I'm happy to entertain!)

Front Cover



1st spread



2nd page spread


3rd page spread





If you recall, I had a problem with the spine, and ended up slicing it apart down the middle because it wasn't quite wide enough for the pages.  I thought long and hard about how best to fix it.  My first idea was to sew something, such as the spine of another book, over the cut, using the same stitching I used on other the pages.  I quickly realized, however, that I couldn't do that because the pages were already glued in; there was no place to put the needle through. My second thought was yikes- I've totally ruined the whole thing.  I was afraid that if I just glued some kind of paper onto it, it might not be strong enough to take the repeated opening and closing that the book was likely to have to endure, and wouldn't look right, besides.  Luckily, while looking at book binding supplies for the guest book I'm making for my daughter's wedding, I happened to see this Lineco Satin Cloth Tape.  I thought it was worth a try, so I ordered it, and it worked- in fact, the width was perfect.  But the tape was so pretty and shiny and new-looking that it seemed out of place in contrast with the old, well-used appearance of the rest of the book.  I attempted to resolve this by gluing on a 'skin' of dried acrylic gel I had peeled off from the earlier front cover fiasco.  You can see this on the photo of the back cover, below.  I'm still not sure about it, but have decided to leave it be for now.

back cover

FINI!  (The End)