Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thrift Store Thursday

Hello, I'm back with another installment of thrift store goodies. There are a couple of thrift stores near my workplace, so occasionally over lunch I'll take a quick run through one of them. Recently I found this:

Now why, you may ask, did I buy this? Is it because I collect this pattern and had been longing to find the last, elusive piece to complete the set? Sweet thought, but no. Perhaps I know someone else who broke her sugar bowl? That would be noble, but again no. Of course! I collect sugar bowls, and thought this would be a nice addition? Nice, but wrong again.

The reason I bought this sugar bowl is because a while back, I thought it would be fun to gather, bit by bit, a mismatched set of china. Pick up nearly any copy of Country Living magazine and you'll see what I mean. Tastefully arranged tables for tea parties or summer luncheons all with mismatched china, glassware and silverware. Now it becomes clear to you. You imagine me sending out carefully handcrafted invitations and thoughtfully choosing my menu. The morning of the party, I go into my English country garden and select the freshest flowers to fill my mismatched vases. The table is laid with vintage linens, and my reclaimed china. My guests arrive, and we enjoy a leisurely afternoon, sipping freshly squeezed lemonade and eating buttermilk cake adorned with lightly sweetened berries and topped with a dollop of hand-whipped cream. Lovely, isn't it?

[Insert crash back to reality]

Actually, I'll probably just have fun with them here at home, using them whenever the mood strikes. So far, I only have a few plates and a sugar bowl. Not exactly impressive, but every collection starts somewhere!

Monday, June 20, 2011


I used to think that doodling was hard. I'd look at that piece of paper, and nothing would happen. I would manage silly looking boxes or arrows, but it never looked interesting at all. I don't know what got me started on this idea, but recently I looked up "doodles" on the Internet. After looking at a few, I thought I'd give it a try. So I got out a sketchbook and a pencil and away I went. I found that the more I doodled, the easier it seemed. I spent most of that evening having such fun, just messing around. 

Black & White Doodle
The next day we were leaving on a trip to attend our grandson's birthday party. I took my sketchbook along with some colored pencils, and amused myself doodling some more. The coloring was enjoyable, but it's rather hard on my shoulder and wrist. (Maybe several hours doing something so repetitive wasn't the smartest idea!) 

Crazy Flower (can you see the doodle birds on the next page showing through?)

Rather than adding color after drawing, on the next doodle I decided to add color to the page beforehand. I sprayed it with some spray inks and let it dry thoroughly before doing any drawing. This one isn't complete yet. I decided to live dangerously  and draw this one with a Sharpie marker rather than pencil. I guess the worst that can happen is that I don't like it and rip out the offending page. I think that for me, the secret to doodling is to start with a large shape or two and go from there. Just getting something on that blank page is a good jump start. I'm thankful that something so simple can be so enjoyable!

Work in Progress

Monday, June 13, 2011

Without Ceasing

Here is another of the pieces I made while the energy was burning high. I've had a lot of phrase snippets floating around in my head that I'd like to get into concrete form, so I expect that this may turn into a series. These bright colors seem exactly right to me just now. So much of what I've done in the past has had an old world feel. I still like that look a lot, but maybe the warmer weather is influencing me in color choice. I could spend hours layering paint and ink! There is really no way to mess this up - you can always cover everything with a fresh layer of paint. I like the depth that comes from peeks of previous layers showing through.

"Without Ceasing" and "Stand  Firm" were both done on canvas, utilizing miscellaneous papers glued down as the first layer. I've also done this technique before on the covers of discarded books. I love the idea of breathing new life into something that otherwise seems of little value. Yet another way to recycle! It occurred to me the other day that I could do the same thing while leaving the book intact. I'm excited to give that a try to see how it turns out.

I've toyed with the idea of setting up an Etsy shop to see if anyone would be interested in purchasing any of my work. I also would like to donate some pieces to the annual camp auction for Flaming Pine Youth Camp. I have given previous pieces as gifts, but I always worry that the recipient may feel obligated to "make nice" while cringing inside!

For me, this represents a beautiful string of pearls. Everything about this art exploration makes a happy song in my heart!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Staking a Claim

A few evenings ago, I got together with some of my co-workers for a "Welcome Summer" evening. We've had a long, cold, damp spring here in Minnesota. Everyone is ready for some warmth and sunshine. We had fun eating, laughing and talking. Our hostess likes to pose an interesting question for her guests. We began to discuss what we would be doing if we could choose any career. It was very interesting to gain insight into the dreams of others. Some of those dreams have been realized, but some have been left behind with little thought of trying to reclaim them.

As soon as the question was presented, almost without thought I said I would be an artist. One of the women present began talking about finding joy in play. She had been in a toy store and ended up having a great time with one of the employees as they played with some of the toys there. She talked about how energized and joyful she felt afterwards. Apparently that sparked something within me, because I continued thinking about the subject after the party was over.

I realized that it was silly and fruitless as well as self-pitying to think that maybe "someday" I could be an artist. The only reasons to stay locked into a helpless state of waiting for something undefined to happen are fear and laziness. I'm an artist right now! I've never made any money from what I do. I've never had my work featured in an exhibit or publication. That doesn't make me any less an artist.

Thinking these things, I felt motivated to get into my paints and make art happen. I've had the idea for a while to create some pieces based on phrases that have meaning to me. Here is one of the happy results of that inspiration. I've taken this piece to work so that I can enjoy it and be reminded of what it means.

I'm staking a claim to the title of artist!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Long Road to Creative Freedom

I've got two art areas in my home. One is in a spare bedroom upstairs. It includes scrapbooking and stamping supplies, along with files of ephemera. My laptop and a sewing machine live in here as well. In order for it to function occasionally as a sleeping space, there is also a futon (sigh). Most of the time the futon is covered with piles of stuff - empty flat space is very dangerous for me! My other art space is down in the laundry room. This is where I do messy work like painting and embossing.

Both spaces have gotten totally out of hand. I've got way too much stuff, and it's reached the point that I have no creative energy because of the mess.  AND, (true confession time), this state exists after multiple attempts to purge. I tend to be a bit of a hoarder, so it's very hard for me to get rid of anything I MIGHT NEED someday. I also tend to buy things on impulse, so I've got supplies I've never used. But something's got to give. I've decided to try having the mindset that I'm moving across the country. I need to evaluate my stash by asking myself if I really want to pack, haul, and unpack it. The weight of it all is like a ball and chain, and I want some freedom to feel light and unfettered! 

So, my Memorial Weekend project has been to make a start at tackling the area in the laundry room. I forgot to take a before picture of this, but I had about a foot square area to work in because of all the things piled up on my work surface. I started with the cabinets above my work table (the table my husband thought would make a good surface for folding laundry - HA!). I had serving pieces up there that I haven't used in years. I'd lugged them all the way from MN to TX in a move several years ago, and then back to MN again. Sheesh. Ahem. In the interests of honesty, I must add that many of my art supplies have made that same journey. You see my dilemma!

The weekend is about over, and although I'm not done, I've made some good progress. I've set aside things that can be donated, and made myself some room to work. I also did a little labeling of supply drawers, which always makes me happy. My "messy studio" is now much more conducive to work. I now feel more energized to tackle the other area, AND I feel more ready to open up to creativity again!