Friday, October 10, 2008

Moving in Cyberspace

I've decided to move my blog to be part of my Stone Angel Arts website. This was something that I had always planned to do but it took my brother's help to make it actually happen. All the previous entries have been transferred to the new site, so please stop by and say "hi". The new blog can be found at

Sunday, August 31, 2008

GPP Street Team - Crusade #22

I've posted entries in the past for Michelle Ward's Green Pepper Press Street Team Crusades. Well, she has challenged people again to stretch their wings open their hearts with a "Pay it Forward Challenge". She challenged people to make a gratitute gesture (think of something you can do for someone that 'pays forward' a kindness done to you). Seeing Michelle's challenge prompted me to finish something I had decided to do almost a year ago.

Last fall I bought the book "Living the Creative Life" by Rice Freeman-Zachery and was immediately enamored with the insight that all the artists provided (not to mention all the great eye-candy to inspire one's own creativity). I hadn't even finished the first chapter when I found myself constantly thinking of two childhood friends who encouraged my creative dreams. Although I still am in touch with them, for the past several years we have succumbed to only an annual christmas card for communication. Even though I had no idea if either of these women have continued on their own creative journey, I felt it necessary to buy each of them a copy of the book. My initial intention was to mail the book as soon as I got it (I think it was in October of 2007) but life got in the way. Then I was going to try to get it out to them for Christmas but again life got in the way. I don't know how many times I looked at those books (and the padded envelopes that at some point I put with them) but they just never found their way into the mail system. When I read Michelle's challenge earlier this month, I knew the time had come. Within a week, I had notes written to my dear friends Mary and Cathy and had entrusted them to the US postal service. I only hope that they find the book as inspiring as I have.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm baaaaaack....

I know it has been over four months since I last posted anything but I am still here (you can see me as I photographed Lake Michigan at the end of June). Everyone's life has their share of chaos and here are just a few of the chaotic happenings in my life since I last posted:

  • My hard drive crashed (I just had it replace after Thanksgiving last year and at the time I didn't remember that I had purchased the extended warranty) and it took 5 weeks before I received my computer back from the service center (because they had to send it in 3 times to get it operational...but hey, I now have a new motherboard and hard drive).
  • Our basement flooded, dried out, had the carpet cleaned, flooded again, dried out, had the carpet cleaned AGAIN, FLOODED AGAIN, carpet and padding was ripped out where the water was seeping up in the center of the basement. The water table kept getting too high and even though the sump pump kept up with the perimeter, water seeped up through a couple of cracks in the foundation.
  • The school year ended and my oldest son "graduated" from elementary school. He starts 6th grade at the middle school on Tuesday.
  • baseball, Baseball, and more BASEBALL! Number one son played in the majors and number two son played coach pitch and I was team parent for both teams. Then our season was extended by five weeks with tournaments since number one son made the 11-year old all-star team.
  • We celebrated my parents 60th wedding anniversary with a family weekend in Sheboygan (which is when I took the above picture).
  • A very long house project that included new siding and paint removal from the brickwork in the front (and subsequent tuckpointing because a lot of mortar came out during the powerwashing).

Wow, I'm exhausted just reading about all that again. I am looking forward to school starting on Tuesday so that I can get back in my studio and find some time for my art (something that I have been in dire need of). So hopefully I will have some new artwork to post about soon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Mailman Delivers

Last week I received a note from the fabulous mixed media artist, Pam Carriker, that I had won a giveaway she was offering on her blog. It was a wonderful surprise on a day that had been grueling (as I was working on a house project that has been plaguing me for quite some time). The goodies she sent me arrived in my mailbox on Saturday and I couldn't believe the treasure trove of artsy goodness that the envelope contained. I love Pam's work and getting so many handmade items from her made my day. Each of the items are gorgeous but I think my favorite is the cat ATC. It fits my sense of humor and it was so incredibly timely because I have been talking with my son about idioms (he is just starting a project in his class on the subject) and here was a fun example to share with him. Pam, in case you are reading this, your artwork will be shared with his 5th grade class in the very near future (although first I need his teacher to assure me of its safety). Don't you just love a GOOD MAIL DAY?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

GPP Crusade 18

I know I haven't been doing the Crusades for that long, but I have to say that this has been my FAVORITE! Stamp carving is ADDICTING. I carved three new stamps for
Crusade No. 18. Two of them resemble an ironwork fence and the last one was kind of a spur of the moment carving of a pair of eyes. I have a lot of stamps that have eyes but for some reason, I felt the need for a pair that was bigger.

The designs for the ironwork style stamps were from a book on architectural clip art. I carved them so they could be lined up for a continues design of any length. The larger of the two is about 6 inches wide. The basic design for the eyes was traced from a piece of artwork I have by Christina Lazar-Schuler. The eyes of the woman in the piece I have have such a haunting quality that I thought they would be perfect for a stamp. I traced them on tissue paper and then transfered the pencil to the stamp surface. To get a lighter feel to the shadow and iris of the eyes, I used one of my Stampbord tools that is used to create cross-hatching on Stampbord. It worked well to make that section of the stamp less solid.
These two art journal pages show the stamps I created. The one page includes a bunch of stamped images (birds and flowers) using See Ds Stamps by Sugarloaf. My carved stamp is the fence in the foreground. The other art journal page features both the eyes stamp and the other ironwork stamp (which was stampe in silver Brilliance ink and then embossed using Broken China Distressed Embossing Powder by Ranger Ink. Just a reminder...if you click on the image of the journal page, it will open in a lightbox and you can see it better (and scroll to the other image). I thought I would mention that again since the little symbol that indicates multiple images is difficult to see on the pictures.

Next month's challenge is going to be making stencils. I am getting geared up for that. I actually made a stencil a couple of months ago and still have yet to use it so I know this will give me the kick in the butt I need to finish that project.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

GPP Street Team Crusade #17

Again, I'm sneaking my blog entry in under the wire for Michelle's challenge. The sad thing is, I actually had my art journal box done for almost two weeks. Although I haven't posted my picture until now, I think I can finally say that I am an art journaler. I have tried starting art journals off and on over the past two years but never did more than a couple of pages. Well, I'm proud to say that this morning I did my sixth consective daily art page since I put together this box. But even more exciting for me has been that each page is a result of my thoughts while I have been riding my exercise bike (that means I've spent 30 minutes biking everyday for the past six days -- YEAH! pardon me while I pat myself on the back). I took the box out for its first "travel experience" yesterday. My friend Kay and I took a road trip to Green Bay to check out a business, The Assemblage Studio, I discovered web surfing last year. The photo of my art journal box was actually taken "on location" at The Assemblage Studio. Since I didn't have time to finish my page after biking, I took the box so I could finish it there. I need to do a little raving now about The Assemblage Studio. What I loved about this business was the concept of having an amazing variety of items to purchase for altered art projects plus the ability to work there (so we could pick out the perfect pieces as we worked). Teresa Ann Gifford, the owner and altered artist extraordinaire, was so incredibly nice. Since the road trip was only planned less than a day before we went, we didn't think to call ahead to see about the work space or anything. But Teresa welcomed us with open arms and shared not only her wonderful space but a wealth of information.

If you ever find yourself in the Green Bay area (technically the business is in DePere), definitely plan a stop at her business or sign up for some of the amazing classes she offers. You will not be disappointed.

I'll sign off with pictures of a couple of my favorite art journal pages.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Frozen Beauty

This winter has been particularly crazy in Madison. We have had record amounts of snow (over 80 inches so far) and several cold spells that have included wind chill warnings. We live close to my sons' school so they have always walked to school except in bad weather. I have used a zero degree guideline during the winter so that when the temperature with the wind chill is below zero, I drive them to school. At times, I think I am driving them more than they have been walking this year. Yesterday, after I dropped them off at school, I realized that I had the camera in the car and decided to capture some of the beauty that was in and around the neighborhood. Over the past weekend, we had some of the worst weather this season -- freezing rain and then snow. It made things a big mess for driving but the coating of ice on the trees made things sparkle when the sun was out. I couldn't resist its beauty so I drove around to get a few shots. These are a few of my favorites.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Day That Truly Sings

I have to share some of the highlights of my past few days. I will admit that I was in a bit of a slump for the past week but today I felt like the planets were aligned. Okay, maybe not the whole day. My day was supposed to start with my one month post-LASIK checkup for my eyes. Unfortunately for my doctor, it was not his day. He was in an accident on the way to work and never made it. According to the staff, his car was totaled but fortunately, he was not seriously injured. Anyway, I had planned to have lunch with my friend Penny on State Street and treat myself to a few "artist fieldtrips" along the way. Since I got downtown almost an hour before I was to meet Penny, I was going to check out an exhibit at the Overture Center but ended up detouring to a little shop that I had always wanted to check out. The name of the store is ShangriLa Collections and they carry all sorts of imported items from the Himalayan Region.
I have been fascinated by Tibetan Singing Bowls since I first heard about them a few years ago. I had looked for them online and at various shops but never found any. In this wonderful little shop, my search ended today. They had several different ones and this is the one that chose to come home with me. It has a wonderful sound and I can't wait to learn more about the tradition and beliefs associated with the bowls. The rest of my day included a few more fun purchases and then an evening spent with Kurt and the boys. All in all, it was a lovely day.

I also want to share one last thing for today. Yesterday I finished my last ZNE Book Club assignment. It was the first time I did something like this on a stretched canvas. I am really please with how it turned out although I need to get a better photo. Hopefully, I will fix that soon. So now I'm off to do some reading before bed. My book group meets on Sunday and I have a lot of the book left to read. This month we are reading Thunderstruck by Erik Larson.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

GPP Street Team Crusade #16

Yippee! After many months of stalking Michelle Ward's Green Pepper Press Street Team blog and thinking "I'm gonna do that", I FINALLY DID A CRUSADE!!!

Crusade #16 was to "Journal your Blog" -- Pick a post and add it to a page in your visual journal. I did have an art journal that I had started late last year but it has been slow going. But earlier this week, I decided what I wanted to do for the GPP Street Team Crusades was to work larger (especially since I tend to work small). So I bought a heavyweight drawing pad that is 11" x 14" and I'm using that for my crusade entries. I will admit there is another reason for the use of the large journal but that will wait for another day. Because of my hard drive crash and the fact that I lost all but two (the ones I posted on the blog) of my photos from our vacation to Arizona, I decided to journal the September 8th blog post entitled "Time to get caught up". I only journaled the first part of that entry (just in case you check up on me) since it captured the extremes of the story. I also decided to handwrite the blog entry. It just seemed like the thing to do.

Playing with Glazes

I had joined ZNE Book Club last June when they were working through the Claudine Hellmuth book "Collage Discovery Workshop" but wasn't able to keep up with all the assignments, so when I saw one of the Art Techniques ATCs Yahoo Group was doing an ATC swap based on the book I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do some more work with the book. The first swap was to use a glazing technique with acrylic paints. I had bought some red rosin paper before Christmas and had used it to make a glazed background that I've used for a few other projects. Since I had the background made so long ago, I don't know why I procrastinated on making the ATCs. But in the end I finished them up and mailed them today. Now I will have my fingers crossed for them to get to California by Friday. Here are the four ATCs I made for the swap.

I'm also working on my first entry for a Green Pepper Press (GPP) Street Team Crusade. Hopefully I will finish it up tonight so be on the lookout for another post soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stampbord Artist Trading Cards

First of all, can you believe that I'm actually posting a second entry in one day??? WOW! You can tell I must have had a very productive and creative day. Anyway, I finished up the last of my Stampbord artist trading cards for a swap I'm participating in through the Art Techniques ATCs group on Yahoo. This was one of those swaps were I did three totally different pieces. I am so glad that I am not the swap host. I would have such a hard time assigning pieces to each participant. Hopefully, no matter which ATC each of my fellow swappers receive, they will be happy. I have to say that I love all three and couldn't pick a favorite.

In case you haven't noticed from my last post, I'm using a new way of posting my photos on my blog. My brother just started alpha testing his company's new photo sharing service. I love how I just load my pictures one place and I can arrange them in portfolios to create slideshows. If you are interested in learning more about it, check it out at When you see the multiple picture icon at the bottom of the photo, it lets you know there are several photos (so click on the photo and use your arrow keys to see the rest).

Doing my homework

I've had a very busy week but I did make sure to do my homework for the ZNE book club. The assignment for the week was a bit out of my comfort zone since it involved actually drawing my own picture. Not something I do much lately. It also involved me digging out some art supplies that are among the oldest I own (actually, I'm surprised that I have kept them all these years). The color on the piece is primarily oil pastels and just to let you know how old they are...they have a price of $1.75 on them. EEEEK! Can I be that old? Anyway, here is the finished piece.

This piece uses a 12 inch ceiling tile as the substrate, which was then covered with a page from an italian newspaper. After a coat of gel medium and gesso, I then drew the scene with the Vespa. Oh, how I really want a Vespa...but that is a whole other story. The original newspaper included an article with an image of a wasp type insect and while researching the history of the Vespa I found out that "vespa" is the italian word for wasp. So synchronicity was working when I decided to draw that image (which I did before learning that fact). Anyway, I had to include the quote that gave the scooter its name (located above the handlebars - next to the original wasp image). Since this assignment was outside my comfort zone, I would love to hear what you think of the piece (be gentle, although I am fine with constructive criticism).

Addendum: The quote I refer to above is the following "Sembra una vespa" ("It reminds me of a wasp!") which was said by Enrico Piaggio, the owner of the factory that designed the scooter, when he heard the buzzing sound of the engine on the second prototype. The name stuck and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

ZNE Book Club

Today is the last day to finish up my first assignment for the ZNE Book Club that is working through the Karen Michel book "The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery". As usual, life got in the way of my plans and I didn't get a chance to work on any of the techniques until today. My first couple of altered photos were great learning experiences but didn't turn out anything I would want to keep. I did find a few very dark photos from the early 80s that I decided to alter using a bleaching technique.

A couple of things I learned from this process are:
  • when using sandpaper or some type of scratching tool on photos, it is important to moisten the photo so that you remove only the emulsion. Otherwise it is very easy to damage the paper of the photo itself.

  • Staz-on ink is not permanent on a photo that has been bleached prior to stamping, even though the bleach solution was neutralized by rinsing in plain water.

  • bleaching a photo will create colors ranging from a dark orange-red to yellow since the cyan ink color is the first to be removed by the bleach.

  • Vision Notes: My eyes have been doing well. Other than an occasional lubricating drop, I haven't been doing anything. Yesterday I did try to take my glasses off (which I obviously don't wear anymore) for the second time since having my LASIK surgery. It occurred to me after I did it last night, that what I was really trying to do, was shut my brain down and relax. That motion of reaching to take my glasses off had become synonymous with sleep. Without seeing the world through blurry eyes, it has become harder for me to relax and rejuvenate.

    Tuesday, January 8, 2008

    An Inspiring and Generous Soul

    Yesterday I received a treasure trove of inspiration and art supplies from the wonderful Sarah Fishburn. She was posting vintage images for her fellow artists before the holidays and I was thrilled to have found them. The day before Thanksgiving, my hard drive crashed and took all my images with it. So I began visiting her blog quite frequently to check out her posts. On December 20th, she posted on her blog that she was going to be giving away some jewelry made by Tiffini Elektra X that features her artwork. The cost of an entry was a book recommendation and a quote. Since these are two of my other obsessions, I couldn't help but respond to her post. Late last week I found out that she had picked my name as a runner-up for a grab bag of arty supplies. As cool as the jewelry was, I was extremely excited about winning some cool supplies from her since I love her work. I have to share a glimpse of what wonderful things she sent me.
    Arty Supplies from Sarah

    Inspiring Postcards of Sarah's Work

    Sarah's Multi-piece Collection
    Unfortunately, my pictures don't do it justice since I got a glare with my flash. Hopefully, I will get a chance to take some better pictures tomorrow. Thank you so much, Sarah!

    Sunday, January 6, 2008

    Seeing the world with 20/20 vision

    It has now been three and a half days since I had my custom bladeless LASIK surgery and I still find myself looking around just to read things that are in the distance. I have always been a big wimp when it comes to things involving my eyes. Even when I wore contacts, I could never actually touch my eye to remove the lens. I used to use my eyelids to catch the edges of my contact lens and fold it to get it out of my eye. So the whole idea of having LASIK surgery did not sell itself to me very easily. Maybe I was swayed a bit by the Tiger Woods' advertisements for TLC, or maybe I was just realized I needed a new pair of glasses and figured out that I could have surgery for less money than it will cost me to continue buying glasses (assuming that I live an average life expectancy), after all I am still an accountant. Well, at some point last fall I decided to at least look into it and the next thing I knew, I had scheduled an appointment for the surgery. I had my surgery on January 3rd and I'm really glad that I scheduled it during the holiday/new year craziness because it took my mind off what I was about to do. Of course, life always has to throw in a curve ball as well and on New Year's Eve I started coming down with a cold. I'm not sure if I was hoping for the surgery to get cancelled or not but the doctor gave the green light so Thursday at noon I went in for my appointment. I was so nervous that I'm still amazed that I didn't chicken out but an hour later I was walking out of the surgical room relieved that it was done.

    I was so impressed with all the staff at the TLC center in Madison. One of the best things for me was how Dr. Probst and the surgical staff continued to count down how much time was left for each part of the procedure. Since the surgery on each eye consists of two parts - creating the corneal flap and the laser contouring to correct the vision - it helped knowing how much time was left for each part. Creating the corneal flap takes about 30 seconds and is probably the most uncomfortable part of the procedure. There is no pain involved but it is a weird sensation of pressure on your eye. The laser contouring takes only about one minute. During my procedure, they were counting down the time in 5 to 10 second increments. Prior to the surgery, they give you a pill that is to help you relax. Even after the surgery, I couldn't help but wonder if the pill had actually worked because I still felt very tense but since I made it through, I didn't care.

    Immediately after the surgery, I really wasn't aware of how my eyes felt. I think that there was just a part of me that was happy to be able to see (because they did have you look at the clock as soon as the surgery was done). I guess my first real awareness of any discomfort was just as I was leaving the office building. I did keep my eyes mostly closed but noticed that they felt very gravel-y (notice I didn't say sandy because it definitely felt more like gravel). They give you a complete regimen of three different types of eye drops and as soon as I got home, I put in the anti-inflamatory drops, Pred Forte, and the antibiotic drops, Zymar and some of the lubricating drops and took a nap. Two hours later I woke up to find that my eyes felt almost completely back to normal. I was purely amazed and ecstatic! My left eye felt totally normal and my right eye felt like I had an eyelash in it. Since then, my eyes have felt mostly normal, with the exception of when I know I've probably pushed it a bit much with being on the computer. My first follow up appointment was less than 24 hours after the surgery and I had 20/20 vision. After 30 years of wearing glasses or contact lenses, in a sense, I feel like I'm seeing the world for the first time. I am so proud of myself for actually going through with the surgery and would encourage anyone to at least see if they are a candidate. This has definitely become another "defining moment" in my life.