Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stamp It...try it, you'll like it!!

Just thought I'd have a little creative show and tell today... as I've mentioned previously, I frequently trade art cards with fellow artists. Working in such a small format can be a bit challenging but totally doable. ATC's are a perfect size for experimenting with different mediums and techniques. Recently, I made some hand carved stamps to see what I could come up with. I carved them out of inexpensive "erasers" using an Exacto knife. You can get some very interesting shapes that can be used individually or in conjunction with others. I personally like to use repeated images in different colors and finish the compositions off with ink drawings. If you like printmaking or abstract art, this is a very easy and satisfying way to start creating. The tools and supplies needed are minimal; all you need to start are some erasers (they can even be found at the local dollar store), a knife of some kind (small enough to carve shapes), an ink pad or acrylic paint (try a few different colors) and finally, some type of paper (a heavyweight paper works best, I like to use Bristol). 

Next step is easy...have fun!! Happy Creating!!

Below are some examples, I hope they inspire you to give it a try.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reboot? Thanks, I needed that!!

There are those days in all of our lives when we feel like turning over and just pulling the covers over our heads instead of going out into the big bad world! Of course, we quickly come to the conclusion that we should muster up the needed energy to make the most of this day that we have been given. No matter what the rigors of our daily routines or how strong we perceive ourselves to be, at some point we find ourselves seeking out the one thing that always seems to be our refuge. It could be listening to a favorite piece of music or possibly reading from a volume of poetry by one of the literary immortals. You could choose the excitement of a challenging video game or simply turning on the TV to watch a program that doesn't require you to think past the moment. We all have that certain something, our own special recipe for providing a comfort that we don't need to or want to share!! No, it's not selfish, it's survival... it's just like maintaining a computer, we need to reboot occasionally and in the end, we will actually be better for it!!

I must admit that I do indeed have those times when I'm in need of a reboot!! Whether I'm feeling a little under the weather or possibly a bit melancholy for whatever the reason; maybe it's a stormy winter day that keeps me from going out of doors or simply a lazy, hot summer afternoon (107 today!)... I want to escape!! For the past several years, my "go to" remedy has been my all-time favorite movie... Enchanted April. It's really not important for me to tell you what it's about. I'm sure, if you are a movie buff, that you have your own chosen favorite. No matter how many times I've watched it ( I'm sure I'm into triple digits), it never lets me down. My friends love to kid me about knowing all of the dialogue by heart and it is most definitely true! That fact holds a real sense of comfort for me, I can always rely on it to be the same. I repeatedly lose myself in the time period and location of the story as well as enjoy a familiar tie and appreciation for all of the characters. It's like coming home... the ultimate gauge of comfort... just click your heels and say  "there's no place like home"... oops, wrong movie! Now don't run off thinking I'm a little goofy... it's not like I think I'm one of the characters... movies are made for you to escape into a "story" unlike your own, even for a brief moment in time!!

We all know that when the reboot is complete, the computer will once again run at peek efficiency... So, enjoy whatever your personal operating system might be and make the most of your day!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kids can't have all the fun!?

As a kid I used to love going to county fairs or amusement parks. It always seemed to be a hot summer day when we went, not to mention the hottest part of the day!! After a short time exploring the attractions, I would start my pursuit of something refreshing to cool me off! Actually, I had my own secret agenda for going along, (in hind sight, I'm sure my parents always knew)... what could possibly cool you off better than a Snow Cone?! After finally finding the Snow Cone booth, I would run to get my place in line. Patiently waiting my turn, I would take that time to make my final decision of what flavor to choose!! So many choices and all those wonderful colors, I always came to the same conclusion..."A rainbow cone, please!!"  They never disappointed me... that wonderful icy treat in the pointed paper cone always put a "multi-colored" smile on my face!!

This afternoon,  I was invited over to a friends house. It turned out to be another hot day, one of several in a row! My friend had recently purchased an Hawaiian Shaved Ice machine and he wanted to share the fun of making snow cones! Within minutes, there I was back in time, trying to make up my mind on the flavor I wanted! "A rainbow cone, please!"  Who says that you can't go back... today I was just as happy as I was so many years ago, enjoying this simple & magical treat! As I looked around the patio and saw everyone's "multi-colored" smiles shining in the summer sun,  I was thankful to be alive!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cast out your fishing line ... there's no limit!!

As an artist, I believe first and foremost in having fun with ART... Not everything we do has to be a serious work of art that seeks out appreciation through the ages or something worthy of receiving a high price to validate it's worth! So, with this in mind, I have found a wonderful outlet that allows me to experiment with my more whimsical and free spirited side! I am part of an art exchange group titled "PIF Funky Fish", translated "Pay it Forward"... the main premise is to create a fish using a template that's provided for it's shape, you can use any medium and style of art that you wish for creating his personality. 

The exchange begins with the first person offering a fish for someone to claim, if you are the one who claims the fish, then you PIF by offering a fish to someone else...this continues indefinitely, fish are claimed & fish are offered... the fun is in the collecting as well as the creating. I enjoy claiming as many different artist's work as possible. I must admit, I do have a few favorites that I try to get to before anyone's a dog eat dog world or maybe it's more like the early bird catches the worm!!

Here is a selection of some Funky Fish that I have claimed for my collection, all created by my fellow artists. As you can see, there is a variety of styles and mediums, with each one being an original and unique work of  art!

Below are a few examples of the fish that I offered for the Swap!

The "PIF Funky Fish" Swap can be found on the ATC's for All website that I've mentioned in a previous post. There is a link to their site under My Favorites... take some time to check out all the wonderful and fun things this site has to offer!! On the site, Go to the Forum...Under the category "Mail Art Trades" you will find more FUN than you can handle!!  I feel I have to remind you... this can be addicting!!    Happy Creating... 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summertime and the living is easy...

Summertime splendor... that's what today seemed like to me. After a long stretch of hot, sizzling days we finally managed to get a break in the weather. The day started out to be cool and cloudy, eventually a thunderstorm moved it's way in to add drama to the afternoon. What a wonderful change, days like today are what I enjoy most about summers in the Inland Northwest!

Lucky for me I also received the added blessing of having plans that took me out of town and into the countryside for the day. A friend and I had been invited to another friends home for lunch and a visit , of course that is code for a good old fashion "gab fest"! Upon our arrival, I was reminded just how tranquil of a setting it truly is...nestled deep into the forest, surrounded by all the natural beauty that our area has to offer. When you enter our friends home, you can't help but realize that an artist lives there. Everywhere you turn, something catches your eye. Whether it's her personal works of art that she has created through the years or the works of other artists, a warm and inviting feeling shines through and makes you feel right at home.  

Our Hostess had prepared a wonderful frittata and a feast of salads as well as a fresh baked strawberry/rhubarb pie. Of course as a considerate guest I proceeded to eat everything put before could I possibly say no to a scoop of ice cream on my pie?! 

Needless to say, some exercise was just the thing needed to counteract that feeling of being "stuffed". No visit would be complete without going out to the garden, a magical wonderland of wildflowers and vegetables.  A feast for all one's senses! Vibrant, bold colors of every imaginable hue shimmering in the afternoon sun, each one vying for your attention with every turn of your head. Fragrances intermingling in the air, competing to be sweeter than the next, all waiting to be singled out by your discriminating nose. Foliage of all shapes, sizes and textures are just screaming to be touched in an adoring way. The buzzing sounds of the bees as they have their fill of golden nectar, the rustling sounds in the bushes that make you seek out a glimpse of the birds you know are hiding within, all seem to keep you on alert. Ripe raspberries and tomatoes plucked off their vines, tempting you to enjoy the explosion of sweetness in your mouth as you sneak a taste that was meant to be saved for later. A gentle rain followed by thunder and lightning managed to brake the spell of this wonderful place and drive us back to the house. 

The time soon came for us to bid our goodbyes as well as to thank our gracious hostess for sharing this time and her very special place with us. Ahhhh, days like this are what summertime is made of...fabulous friends, food and beauty!
Yes, I am Truly Blessed and most important, I know it!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Take a second look at that "Bucket List"!

We've all heard the saying "Time flies when you're having fun"; however, I've come to the conclusion at this stage of my life fun has very little to do with it!! It seems like I'm always wondering just where the days have gone, often making statements like "I can't believe it's already the end of July?!" Time just keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking into the future...(and yes, I do know it's supposed to be slippin') dang, that darn song is going to stick in my head all night!! Just where am I going with this? My point is, life is too short to keep putting things off for another day!! 

Eight years ago I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel to Italy. I had thought about such a trip for most of my life. My maternal Grandmother was my inspiration, she was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States with her family as a child. During my childhood, I proudly claimed this ancestry as my own and if asked I would declare boldly "I'm Italian!" My Grandmother passed away far too early in my life but she has continued to influence me in more ways than I could ever explain! But I digress...needless to say the trip was even more incredible than I ever imagined. One might say it was the trip of a lifetime. That is if they didn't expect to ever return, I on the other hand knew that I would go again!! That first year seemed to go by swiftly, leaving me with thoughts that next year will work out for sure. Next year came & went, then another and another and get the picture! I eventually turned around and it was 2014... eight years had passed, how could that be?  Well, I've also heard the saying "There's no time like the present!" Sooo... Venezia, Italia sto arrivando!  (Venice, Italy here I come!) With my reservations confirmed and my plane ticket in hand...time has come to return! 

Of course, I do like instant gratification but Fall will be here before I know it! I will undoubtedly be sharing more as time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking into the future... I'm so excited, I just can't hide it!   
Arrivederci, for now!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What's in a name... mine says it all?!

"What's Up?" Porcelain Hedouni Sculpture
Yes, there is a reason I'm called Claywoman... No, it is not my super heroine alter ego... if you haven't guessed it yet, it's all about creating with clay! I love to touch it, squeeze it, pound it, roll it, twist it, mold it, sculpt it... I just love the feel of it between my fingers!! There are many types and colors of clay but my all time favorite is pure white Porcelain. It has a wonderful elastic quality that is perfect for working very thin, creating a translucent effect as well as smooth detailed finishes. I'm getting itchy fingers just talking about it!! Due to circumstances beyond my control I had been unable to acquire studio space to do my work, until now! I am back in action...the kiln is plugged in, the shelves are loaded with supplies, the worktables are set up and 50 lbs of fresh porcelain is waiting to become works of art... life is back in balance!  

I guess I have jumped the gun a bit...I should have said "as soon as I find time"... at least now I have a glimmer of hope and a studio, ready to go for me & my muse!!  Check back...before you know it, there will be more to see!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

South of the Border...the Craftsmen of BAJA and beyond!

Living in Eastern Washington one realizes that the winter months are just plain cold...bbbbrrrrrr! I'm sure this seems like a very unlikely topic in light of our current heatwave, two weeks of 90-100 degree days and more on the horizon! Actually this is more a post about ART not the weather, so bear with me and I'll eventually get to the point! For the past few winters I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks South of the Border just below San Diego in the region of Mexico called Baja. Not only is it wonderful to say good-bye to my ever growing winter doldrums but I get to spend time with my dear friends who now call Baja "home"!!  
Yes, I know, I know, I promised you ART... during my first trip to Baja I made a point of exploring all of the local artisan workshops that I could squeeze into my days. The region is filled with many talented craftsmen creating in a variety of mediums. 3-Dimensional art is everywhere!  I felt as if I had died and gone to Heaven. The Mexican culture is full of bright, vibrant colors and textures. Beautifully decorated ceramics, handcrafted wooden & leather furniture, boldly designed ironwork & metal sculptures are all available to tempt you into seeking out ways that you can get them home! I opted for more easily packable treasures. I couldn't pass up the beauty of their colorful intricately embroidered clothing, the style is timeless and you can't help but smile when you wear it!!
This brings me to my ultimate share of the day... I fell in love with what are called "Alebrijes", they are small wooden carvings of fantasy-like animals & creatures. They are crafted in the Oaxacan region of Mexico by using the same techniques passed down for generations by the Zapoteca people of the area. The soft wood used for carving comes from the Copal tree that is native to the region. After carving, they are painted with bright colors and very intricate designs that make each one truly unique. When I first saw them I knew that I would have to start a collection and that is exactly what I've done. I now have 8 carvings and I'm planning shelf space for more to come! They come in all sizes, big & small, all equally detailed and finely crafted. You really need to see them to understand just how wonderfully talented these craftsmen are. 

There are great websites that showcase these works of art... Enter Oaxacan Wood Carvings in your search engine box and experience them for yourself!

See below: Here are a few pictures of my Alebrijes, just to tease you!
(The details in person are wonderful!)




Praying Mantis

Frog - Front

Frog - Back

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Just how golden are these "Golden Years"?!

It seems that from the first day we become a part of the "Working Force of America" the word Retirement becomes a constant subject of concern. We are required to sign forms for Social Security deductions from our paychecks and eventually after about a year of loyal service we are given the opportunity to participate in the company's 401K program with the intent to ensure added funds for our Golden Years. For the next few decades of employment we hold on through thick and thin,  planning and dreaming about all the wonders that Our Retirement will afford us! Then not so suddenly, the big day arrives...coworkers wish you well, the boss shakes your hand, you cut the cake, gather your belongings and head out on the journey you've been waiting for, Retirement!! No matter what our financial situation ended up to be, money is not the only factor of what this season of our lives require. Good health, family and friends, worthwhile pursuits of our interests are all part of the big plan and all well deserved... I pray that it is a reality for everyone!! 
A positive and healthy frame of mind is a major key to living a happy and productive life no matter what our age. In this fast paced age of all things electronic, I find this to be quite the challenge! Everywhere I turn, on the internet, on television or in magazines, it seems the focus is on this Baby Boomer market mentality. Advertising agencies have sold their clients on targeting retirees and all the needs that they will eventually need!! You can't watch an old TV show or movie without every commercial directing you to your eventual fate... Help, I've fallen & I can't get up! How can we possibly consider not having Life Alert? Aren't we fortunate that we can have discreet packages of Adult Diapers and medical supplies sent to our homes directly, all covered by Medicare!? Mobility Scooters, Life Style Facelifts, Funeral Insurance, Medicare Supplement Plans, AARP and of course, every medication imaginable, no matter what the side effects... the list goes on and on!!
Did someone say "positive frame of mind"? Well in spite of it all, I choose to ignore it all and I will Count My Blessings...oh yeah, most important...TURN OFF that TV and enjoy yourself... you earned these Golden Years!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Looking for a creative shot in the arm...this is where I get my daily fix!?

Last year I had heard about some artists that were trading small works of art just like we used to do when we were kids trading baseball cards with our friends. This idea intrigued me enough to  set out on the internet searching to find out more about this movement. My investigation led me to a wonderful site called  ATC's for All . I immediately signed up and soon became hooked on creating & trading ATC's (Artist Trading Cards) with artists from all over the world. An ATC measures 2 1/2" X 3 1/2", working on this small scale has proven quite challenging as well as addicting! This website is a wonderful forum for all artists no matter what your style or expertise...first and foremost,  the idea is to create art and share what you do with other artists! In this past year I have traded with many marvelous artists of varied talents and mediums, all of which I appreciate and often find inspiration to try something new. Everyone has been very welcoming and I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity to forge new friendships as well as a mutual appreciation for what we love to do, create ART!! Please check out this site, you won't be brief explanation doesn't do it justice, see for yourself... but beware, you too can become addicted!!   

Check out my Gallery on ATC's for AFA user name is 'janina'.

 See below: examples of varied works of art that I have created to trade.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Welcome to my blog!

I've tried to figure out just what it is that I think everyone would be interested in reading about... after all, why do I think that I have anything worth saying!? I finally decided to just jump in and let the rambling begin...hopefully someone , somewhere will find a tidbit or two to make the time spent here not a complete waste of time!! 
One thing I know for sure is that ART in all shapes & forms, will be ever present as a topic... I love creating it, talking about it, seeing it, touching it and sharing it!! Throw in a bit of "travel talk" with an occasional opinion on "life in general" and that's pretty much what this blog is all about!
So... if that is something that interests you at all, I hope that you will stop by regularly to see what's going on...Blessings!!