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 FocalPower.com 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.