Sunday, August 12, 2012

No Clear Path

It feels something like a confession to note that I haven't posted here in a month, and not all that frequently in the last three or four months. Life has been busy with my election to the Board of Directors for my community. And there was the big wedding just two months ago. I did put aside my focus on my art work to engage in the election and to participate as fully as I could in the run up to the wedding of my stepson, and make myself as much a part of that family as was needed or wanted, and I am content with how things went and the part I played.

But I have in all honesty been distracted, looking more inward than usual, feeling untethered. My ex-husband contacted me a few weeks back to let me know his father had passed away - I worked with his dad and knew him before meeting his son many many years ago. Now the ex has asked me to make a memory book of his father's life, and that felt like an appropriate way for me to say goodbye and make a gesture to my own past. 
Additionally, a couple of friends have died in the last month, including the lovely man known as Texas Jon who played guitar at our wedding just five years ago. He touched my heart when he sat with Tom and I one summer evening on the back steps of our local bookstore with his guitar and played songs for us to choose from for the ceremoney. It was a private concert that made an impact on me that I can't explain. And I am somewhat flailing about his passing. Greiving perhaps for many things.

I often feel like an observer in my own life more than a participant, and that feeling is stronger now. I spent hours the other day looking through my old photographs for pictures of my ex-father-in-law, and it was an odd trip back through my own life. It felt important, and like I was on the cusp of some greater perspective and deeper understanding of myself, my tendencies, my idiosyncracies, and my own sense of self. 
I think I want to explore that, but it is far too personal to share here, even though I have developed very few followers and little attention for my blog. I wanted to share some of these thoughts and give a warning that I may or may not be returning. I will continue my art, and have plans for a show in October, but I don't know much more than that. That is probably clear as mud, but right now, I guess what I mostly see is muddy. Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciated the comments left for me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hey Neighbor

Sitting peacefully at the side of the street today, unruffled by my car passing by on my way to pick up some delicious peaches from a friend.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Book for Looking

During the onslaught of the wedding, a new book that includes a couple of my art works became available, and I nearly missed it! Over a year ago I read about a book being put together by Sandra Salamony in conjunction with Peter and Donna Thomas of Santa Cruz, whom I took classes from years ago and know just a bit. It is called "1000 Artists' Books: Exploring the Book as Art". 
I got quite excited and gathered up some of my work and had it photographed professionally, and made my submittal. Over the next couple of months, I managed to stay in the running for inclusion. It took months before I finally heard that two of my books would be included. And then I just had to wait.
I am so glad it is out, and I am very impressed and pleased with the quality of the book and the art contained in it. Here is the page with my book called "Ordinary Heroes" (bottom right corner) which was a series of single pages folded into book forms and stored in a small box. I did the drawings, (which are not easily seen in this shot, so you may have to get the book to see them better) and then cut them into outlines so that when folded they were dimensional. It is a wonderful format.
The second book of mine that was included was a book form I learned from Julie Chen of Flying Fish Press, but came originally from the deeply respected Hedi Kyle. I made my version with redwood blocks for covers and the subject was language, a favorite of mine, if you haven't yet noticed. The authors included three shots of my book, which was especially pleasing to me. And they included one of Julie Chen's books using the same format. How cool is that?
This book is stuffed with amazing pieces by a wide array of the most talented and well known book artists. I am so honored to be included. It is broken into four sections: Codex Books, which are books with pages joined to make a spine; Accordian & Foldable Books, which feature multiple-fold pages; Single Sheet Books, which is obvious; and my favorite section Sculptural Books, which are made from objects and are objects made into books. Here is the page featuring Susan Collard, whom I took a class from last June in learning how to make wooden books. Fascinating stuff.
With 1,000 books, there is lots to see, so I suggest you check it out. I know Amazon carries it, but if you can support a local independent bookseller to get it, all the better. It was published by Quarry Books. Other artists included are Daniel Essig, Timothy Ely, Brian Dettmer, Emily Martin, Dolph Smith, Alisa Golden and dozens of other skilled and creative folk too numerous to mention. My copy is by my bedside so I can look at these pieces before I sleep and wake up excited to get to my art table.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Wedding

This past Saturday was the big day for my stepson and his lovely girlfriend to tie the knot. Cowboy chic was the order of the day, and it all came off beautifully. Leland uses this old barn to store hay for his flock of sheep, and this time of year with grass growing abundantly, it was empty. But not clean or ready to receive vistors.
That took a considerable effort by friends and family for days and days before the wedding. But I think it worked. A few chairs were provided for family, and everyone else sat on hay bales covered with burlap stitched on with green twine and tied in bows so the wind wouldn't blow it off. A full bar (made from our old wine barrels and slabs of redwood), and later an oyster bar made the barn enticing and almost comfortable.
Our local flower purveyor, Natasha, did an amazing job, including providing these branches hung with mason jars that featured tiny electric candles as a backdrop for the bridal party. Succulents, many highlighted with pink blooms, were spectacular around the barn and on all the dinner tables.
A huge tent was adjacent to the barn and provided a warm and windless environment for a delicious dinner and a multitude of toasts to the happy couple (not to mention dancing into the wee hours). The best part was that the long side, measuring 90 feet, was clear plastic, so we all had a magnificent view of the bluff top and ocean. 
Our bride was a bit tearful, especially here during the vows, but aren't those bridesmaids cute with their short dresses and cowboy boots? And pink petals all over the ground. And the scene stealer...
...was my granddaughter, the cutest flower girl ever. You can't quite see her pink and brown cowboy boots that had lights in the heels that lit up when she took a step. The communal "Ahhhhh" heard through the barn when she entered about brought the house down. 
It was windy, and a huge amount of work to put together and then take apart the day after, but it was magical and a true moment of blessing and celebration. I hope you can see my happiness in this picture of me with my friend Jane. I fear all the photos by the professional photographer will feature terribly windblown hair... but that is okay.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Navajo Chest?

Some months ago friends approached me about papering a piece of furniture for them. She is a friend through quilting, and her work style is spontaneous and unplanned, organic and whimsical, and she rarely designs anything in advance. He is the opposite, with a background in teaching at the graduate level in Psychology, with an interest in all things World War II and magic. We first looked at their small wooden trunk used as a coffee table, and in trying to develop an approach that would look appropriate with their collection of and penchant for Navajo rugs and Kachina dolls, I papered a shoebox with an idea. It didn't fly, and some weeks went by.
Recently they approached me again with a different piece of furniture in mind, seen above and with me reflected in the mirror. How did I do that? Ha! Anyway, we stayed with the Navajo theme and I proposed simple blocks of colors, larger scale designs, and some repetition. They approved the series of papers I had collected, and I began by painting the inside part of the desk a plain black. Black is one of my favorite colors, and it is one of theirs, too. 
Then I started the drawers, which went quickly and smoothly, and set the design for me. 
Next came the front of the desk flap, and we had agreed in advance that I would mimic a certain cross type design commonly found on their Kachina dolls. The top went fast, and then I started the sides.
I ran into a couple of challenges due to folding the desk flap down to use it, which entailed me repapering the edge where the painted end laid against the papered body of the chest. The paint didn't like the finish coat on the paper and kept sticking, so I found those black felt dots used for the back of art works or the bottom of lamps and such. Since I had used black paint, the dots blended in and worked beautifully.
Even though life has been a scramble, it felt so very good to be cutting and papering again. I could actually feel it calm my spirit and give me strength and focus. Sigh...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where Does the Time Go?

I warned you that things were going to be a bit hectic for a while and they have been. My art has not been the focus of my time of late, and I have missed it. But my election campaign is nearly over and the ballots have been mailed and mostly sent in, but won't be counted and results announced until late in the afternoon of Saturday, May 26th at the Annual Meeting of our Association. So I have been waiting, and that is distracting. 
I also have a wedding coming up in two weeks, which has a fair amount of distraction but that has been pretty fun. I got to go for a "girls" overnight trip to Sacramento to see the fitting of the wedding dress, which was a dream moment for me. My mother was sick in the hospital and couldn't come with me to try on wedding dresses when I was getting married many years ago, so I borrowed them from the store and took them to the hospital and tried them on there. And then she missed my wedding because her ribs got broken while being lifted in the hospital - the steroids had made her extremely fragile. So as I drove to Sacramento to be a participant in this dress ritual, I had an emotional time of it for a while with all my memories mixed in with these new adventures. 
Isn't she pretty? And very happy, I think... Fits pretty darn well for not being fitted yet! Wow. We shopped and talked and laughed and everyone stayed at my daughter-in-law's little place in Rancho Cordova, and slept all over the house - I was comfy on the couch. And so happy to be included. 
At the end of a long and exhausting day of shopping, our final stop was Boot Barn, because the entire wedding party, right down to 18 month old granddaughter Lexi (as flower girl) is wearing brown cowboy boots, including the bride, as you can see here. It is a different world, my friends. But a fun one...
She doesn't know quite what to make of them, but it took her only about 30 seconds to climb on that rocking horse behind her with them on. Priceless to me to see all this, especially since I am not a mother, but a stepmother, and feel blessed to be part of this magic time. 

The wedding is June 2nd, and it will be a long 17 days getting there but I am loving it!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A New Ap

Yesterday I was reading Paper Ponderings written by Fiona Dempster, a talented bookmaker, and she mentioned an application she has been having fun with called Paper Camera. It caught my attention, and within a few moments I had downloaded it for 99 cents onto my iPhone.
Is this cool, or what? It is my deck in the mode called "Comic Boom" and it may well be my favorite type of filter on this ap. What is so much fun is that the effects are applied before you take your shot, not afterwards, so you can just walk around with the camera on and see the world in a whole new way. Here are some samples that have kept me from finishing writing my Second Candidate's Statement for my election. :-)
My stack of books looks so vibrant!
Koko the Heeler goes Warhol.
And here she is sleeping, with hubby in the background at his desk. I love the slightly cartoonish look created in this mode, but still totally controlled perspective.
This one looks like I can draw very well in pencil...
And I think this one was called Pastel Perfect. I can't quite decide how to describe this one, but I like the soft but greyed colors, and the sense of aged photos.  There are six or eight more modes to play with, too. Maybe this last one of text is the one that got me really excited, as it is very similar to the one Fiona posted that got my interest piqued to begin with. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Memories are made of this

I finished the wooden book for friend Anita, for whom we are having a going away lunch on Monday. Each member of the group made a 4"x6" post card of fabric (reinforced with Temtex I think) and signed them on the back. They fit snugly into the wooden book. I kept it very simple, with natural poplar wood and some black and white papers and washi tape, so the colors would stand out. 
This first "page" has phrases I cut out from one of Anita's old Mandarin language text books she gave me that allowed me to create a sentiment congratulating her on her travels, wishing her happiness, and urging her to keep a needle and thread close by as she is an avid art quilter.
The second "page" holds photos of each of our group making their own quilts at a recent retreat that Anita organized, and the paper in the bottom of the box.
The last "page" features all our names, and below is the finished product with the post cards.
And the front features my paper post card partly because it is dimensional and wouldn't fit inside with all the other post cards.
I hope she likes it. I know I will cry when she sees it... I am pretty darn mushy about stuff like this.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Vision

Sometimes I just have to start and let it happen, and then it does. So today I started on the wooden book I want to make for my friend who is moving to Switzerland. My concept was based on the class I took with Susan Collard last June at the Focus on Book Arts Conference in Oregon that was so much fun and opened new doors for me. 
Here are the various pieces laid out in the order I want them. I have already made the mitered box section that is key to the design - the place where the fabric post cards all the others are making will be hidden. 
Inside the cover will be this flip section of photos of the folks who will be at the lunch and are making the postcards.
The new Washi tape I got is working quite well for this, and looks good too!
Self portrait... no face, just me folding a book. Perfect!
The Washi tape is very cool and could be a new addiction.
The mitered box section with some of the postcards in it.
The parts of the book laid out, but not assembled. That will take a few more days as I snare snippets of time away from my campaign.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Where has the time gone? I last posted six weeks ago and had not realized it had been so long. I feel a bit like I should apologize, though I think it matters not to whomever might read my musings. So much has been going on, and hardly any of it has to do with my art making, but I might check in to prove I still exist.

I have been active in my little seaside community for a long time, and decided recently to run for a position on our Board of Directors, which is our only form of government out here in the rurals of Sonoma County. I have filed my papers, written a Candidate's Statement to be mailed to all 2287 lot/home owners here, attended Briefings, had friends host "Coffees" on my behalf where I can speak and answer questions about my platform of beliefs and perspectives on the issues facing us here. I have been designing an endorsement mailer with over 100 people's names who support me, and a post card advertising more Coffees. This will go on for a couple of months until the votes are counted May 26th. Then I hope to be elected and serve a three year term. It will, and has already, affected my time and focus for art, but I hope once the election is over, we will settle into a routine and I can get back to my table and papers.

In the midst of all this, hubby scheduled foot surgery. Two weeks today since it happened, and he got stitches out yesterday and a shoe back on today. Oh happy day! He has been underfoot - literally - as I am used to being home alone all day and doing exactly as I please, rather than tending a one footed pine tree on crutches. It was successful, and we are both happy. The dogs were extremely happy to be able to go to work with him today and run loose for several hours and work off excess energy from being cooped up here.
I haven't been completely idle, as I have two projects about to start. A dear friend is moving to Switzerland and I volunteered to make a wooden book that will hold 14 fabric postcards, each made by her other friends, to be presented at her going away lunch in ten days. I have a few of the post cards, and the raw wood laid out ready for a few hours of uninterrupted time. And I have a new commission to upholster an old painted chest that is part desk with a variety of papers. I am looking forward to both these projects. 
I did sit down one afternoon and make some "thank you sticks" to give to those folks who are helping me with my election campaign. It was such a pleasant couple of hours, and I think each of the people I have given them to has enjoyed seeing the word "thank you" in four different languages.
Mahalo and grazie to all of you who are still out there wondering where I have disappeared to and what I might be doing. I'll be back...