Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Population style!

Living in Northeast Washington provides many opportunities to observe abundant species of wildlife in their natural habitat. I never tire of driving through the countryside, especially in early Summer when it's what I like to call "Baby Season". There is no greater thrill than coming across a mother and her offspring... a freshly born fawn, all wobbly legged, trying to stand for the first time... a Gambel Quail attempting to cross the road with a trail of little chicks scurrying close behind or big families of Wild Turkeys rustling through the brush with babies of all sizes, making it impossible to figure out which "poults" belong to which mother... a lone Coyote standing guard in the tall grass while her pups roll around playing in the afternoon sun. Through the years, I've been blessed with sightings of several different species of mothers with their children... bear, skunks, raccoons, elk, moose, chipmunks (so tiny & cute!) and no matter what, they never cease to amaze me! I don't discriminate, I also love to go to the local farms... watching the calves with their big brown eyes romping around playing tag with their new friends or seeing a new foal running through the fields on their spindly legs trying to keep up with it's mother... sooo much to enjoy, how can anyone help but smile?!

Several weeks ago I noticed my cat, Blossom, becoming increasingly excited as she looked out of her favorite window. Upon further investigation I noticed her gaze was fixed on an area of the tall grass in the back field. Suddenly, I saw it (just barely)... a newborn fawn was laying very still in the grass! It's mother had left it there, it instinctively knew to stay put! It's not unusual after giving birth for the mother to leave to find water and recuperate a bit, all the while watching out (from a safe distance) that nothing harms her baby. A few hours later they were gone. They return every evening to munch about on the grass... I like to think that they come to let Blossom & I know that they are well and to just see how much the fawn has grown... and believe me, she has!!

Below is a picture of Our Baby at about 3 weeks old... (No pictures from that first day, coming into this "big bad world" was scarey enough!) 

Blossom's new friend "Baby"

Monday, August 25, 2014

Think of the possibilities... in 3-D

If you have visited my Blog before, one thing has become quite apparent... Yes, I am guilty... I love ART... Art in all mediums, styles, shapes and sizes... I won't deny it or apologize for it!! 

At the top of my very long list is "3-Dimensional Art". It seemed like an obvious transition for me to take my continuing desire to doodle a step farther... off of a flat surface and onto something with substance and form!! I had been introduced to a fellow artist that was creating artwork on gourds and I immediately saw the possibilities for using them myself. Our styles and choice of mediums were very different, so she gave her blessing to my exploration into using gourds as a "canvas" for my work!! Gourds come in all shapes and sizes, each one lends itself  to creating unique works of art! My illustrations were created using only black archival ink and the natural color of the gourd.  I started out doodling my usual abstract designs but soon transitioned into custom themes at customers requests. Birds, Wildlife, Floral, Woman, Ocean Life... you name it, I did it! I have never been very comfortable doing custom work (although, very lucrative). I much prefer doing "my own thing", the fun factor of my artwork just wasn't there any longer. After about 6 years, I made the decision to go on hiatus from doing gourds on a full time basis. Now, on occasion, I do become inspired to create on a gourd, but not for any other reason than... just plain fun!!

Below are just a few samples of my Illustrated Gourds. 
(Please forgive the photos, I have never mastered 
photographing surfaces that are so glossy!)

  Abstract Design - view 1
  Abstract Design - view 2

Underwater Crab
Sun & Moon

Friday, August 22, 2014

Don't just think it... Journal It !

In a recent post, I openly confessed to being a life long Doodler! Very few supplies are needed to pursue this art form... something to draw with and something to draw on... (you can't get much more basic than that!) Yes, I am guilty of "Janoodling" on just about anything I can put my hands on, but I do enjoy having a special designated pad or book to create on. (It's amazing how many people get upset when you decorate their magazine covers or that growing stack of junk mail on the counter!)  To that end, I was inspired to go a step farther and make my own Art Journals. My plan provided the extra challenge of coming up with cover designs as well as ways to bind the pages and construct a sturdy useful book. Through the years I've created a variety of books in many styles and sizes, some more successful than others but they all provided plenty of fun!! Whether you're looking for an Art Journal, Travel Journal or a personal Diary, jump in and make your own... it's not rocket science, it's's ART!! Happy Creating!

In creating my most recent journals, I combined a few different mediums and techniques that I enjoy... collage, handmade paper and fiber. Each individually sewn cover design and pages made of 100% cotton, were bond together using the Yotsume Toji binding method. 

Below: examples of Art Journals made in this style...where's my pen? 



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's Fair Time in Northeast Washington...

One of the most anticipated events of summer in rural America is our local fairs... the County Fair is more than just a place to see farm animals, it's become a venue of competition for children and adults of all ages. No matter what your talents may be, there is a category for you to compete in. Whether you excel in Baking, Canning, Cake Decorating, Growing of Vegetables or Flowers, Arts & Crafts, Quilt making, Photography, Fine Arts, Floral Arranging, Wool Spinning & Weaving (the list goes on and on!) you have the opportunity to take home the coveted "Best of Show" prize!!

For the past several years I have been judging   "Children's Fine Arts".  I take this duty very seriously! Whatever I  have to say about these kid's art work as well as what ribbon I award each piece has the potential to encourage or discourage fragile budding talents. There are two age categories, all work from an 8 year old or younger is given a "Rainbow" colored ribbon, but I do give each one a personal comment of encouragement. It's a little more complex for the older kids... I take into consideration their age and the work they have created before awarding them a Blue, Red or White ribbon. I have learned to always write something positive about their work before I attempt any technical criticism. As an artist, I am well aware that art is subjective... I do my best to keep this in mind and I strive to make this as positive an experience as possible for these young people.

Below are samples of some works of art that were entered this year. 

This was awarded the special "Judge's Choice"  Ribbon

Friday, August 15, 2014

Taking pen in hand...

Just another quickie Show & Tell for today... I personally believe that I have been a doodler since birth; however, my parents would only go as far as testifying that I was about 4 years old when I started! I'll be the first to admit that nothing is safe around me. I will doodle on anything laying around... not to mention, I will also write my name repeatedly! (I'm sure that therapy would reveal something about that!)  Close friends have threatened me with "rehab" for my doodle addiction! But alas, it would never work... Once a doodler, always a doodler!!

Through the years my doodling has evolved into my own unique and personal art form that I have aptly named  Janoodles... (don't you agree, it's much more clever than Doodles by Jan?)  

Below are some Janoodles that I created today... 
(wonderful way to spend a rainy summer day!!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Jury of your peers"...

I have just been freed from our local judicial system. I guess I'd better make it clear that I am not a criminal. Officially, I was Juror #3

I really found the whole experience of Jury Duty quite interesting. Never having been selected to appear before meant that I had no preconceived ideas of what to expect. I was one of 26 individuals that were summoned to report to the District Court as a member of the "jury pool". As we were gathered together, waiting for the selection process to start, I entertained myself by listening to the conversations that surrounded me. I quickly realized that the main focus of my fellow "pool" members was, how to keep from being selected!? Apparently, the more elaborate the excuse the better and believe me, some were quite imaginative!! At the end of the questioning period by the Judge as well as the Attorneys from both sides of the aisle, it was obvious that they had heard them all before! I tried to keep a straight face, I wanted to appear as though I was taking all of this as seriously as the proceedings warranted... unfortunately, a chuckle or two did find their way out! I quickly pulled myself together as I heard my name being called and managed to articulate my willingness to serve. Soon after, I officially became Juror #3 of 7 and everyone else was released from serving further. There was a mass exodus from the courtroom, smiling faces all around, they were successfully rejected! I can't help but think that there's something wrong with this picture. Being selected should be the prize, wasn't this what we've been taught throughout our lives! Those of us that became the Jury were taken into the jury room while the court was being prepared to start the trail. At this time we were permitted to use our cell phones and almost everyone had someone to notify that they wouldn't be home or at work for the day. I couldn't help but overhear conversations of disappointment and irritation at being selected to be part of this trial. I wondered how many of them really felt that way or simply made those comments to their family & employers to cover up that they secretly were glad. Could I possibly be the only person that really wanted to be there, the only person that wanted to do what was needed so that those with legitimate reasons could be excused? As the trial proceeded, the other jurors did what was required of them and in the end, Justice was served. As I left the building and walked outside to find my car, I soon reminded myself of my own intentions and my own desire to serve. I was proud to have been Juror #3... lucky me, I was picked!! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Look closely... Live Inspired!

Looking back at all the times I've said "I need to find inspiration to create", I realize now that more often than not inspiration has actually found me. Our everyday lives are filled with so many wondrous things.  If we aren't careful, we will just take it all for granted and look past the beauty that surrounds us.

In an effort to try taking "better care of myself", I joined a water aerobics class at our local indoor swimming pool. I chose this over other activities because I do actually love the water, so it seemed to be the lesser of all the evils called "exercise!" (I promise to not go into a tirade about the E-word!!!) I always go a bit early to loosen up and float around in the quiet of the morning before the rest of the group arrives (and the chatter takes over!). A few days ago the water seemed to be somewhat chilly. I started floating around chasing down the Sun as it shined through the large windows and reflected on the surface of the water. Before I knew it, inspiration came my way! The motion of the water rippling through the sunshine created patterns of colored light beyond anything that I could have imagined on my own. I was mesmerized, all the while causing the water to continue moving at different speeds so that I could experience more of this light show dancing on the swimming pool floor! Eventually I became aware that the chatter had started and the class was ready to begin. I moved into place and the counting began...1, 2, 3, etc.

I was determined to put my "water vision" down on paper... of course it would be my interpretation of what I experienced and in my own unique style!! I would love to see what other artists would create after a morning swim with the Sun!!

Below are a couple of different interpretations in my new series 
that I've titled... Water n' Light

Shining through the Ripples

Prism Threads

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

One man's trash is an Artist's treasure!!

Being an artist most of my life has afforded me the opportunity of meeting and forging friendships with many like-minded creative individuals. I've learned through these years and these relationships that even though we all have our own unique styles and talents, there is one thing we definitely have in common... we are hoarders!! Keep in mind, not just any run of the mill kind of hoarder, we are art supply hoarders!! We have come to justify this addiction to ourselves with logical arguments... "someday that will come in handy, I just know it would work perfectly in that project that I'm planning to do!" Of course, we have forgotten that we have several dozen potential "works" in progress!! When you are a "jack of all mediums", as I proudly confess to be, you need supplies for all inevitable possibilities. You need to be prepared when your muse shows it's pretty little head and inspiration calls your name!! The worst thing ever would be to start and not have what's needed to fulfill your creative vision!! An artist's motto is to Be Prepared (it's OK, some of us were actually Scouts!) so it goes, a hoarder is born!  As I once again write out a check for the storage unit that houses all of my "overflow" supplies, I quickly remind myself..."I'm an artist with a plan!"

Every little effort helps... If you have a stack of fabric scraps that only seems to keep getting taller, it's time to have some fun!! I'm definitely not a seamstress, it is not something I could ever begin to master, but I love the fabric! Such an array of patterns and vivid colors, how can one not be drawn to the possibilities!! I came up with a couple simple projects and as a result, I have one less pile!!  Oops, I just remembered... now where am I going to store these?  

In this first picture below:  Bookmarks... I used the sewing machine that I inherited from my Mother (she would be livid if she knew I was sewing paper!) to collage fabric and paper on the one side shown, I added an inspirational thought on the other.


 In this second picture below:  Cuff Bracelets... These are created by Locker Hooking, a technique similar to hooking a rug but on a much smaller scale.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The ancient art of Mosaic finds a place in today's art world!

Mosaic... is the art of creating images with the assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone or other materials. For centuries artists have been depicting people, events and telling stories through this intricate art form. The art of Mosaic has survived and evolved into our contemporary art world of today.

I mentioned recently that I had previously traveled to Italy. On that trip, I had the opportunity to see many extraordinary mosaics, all of which were a true inspiration to my creative side! I had dabbled in making mosaics in the past but nothing to compare with the remarkable works of art that are so much a part of Italy's rich history! Everywhere I looked, I was continually awe struck by the talents of the amazing artist's that put their hearts and souls into each scene! Upon my return home, I remained focused on mosaics and became determined to create a mosaic of my own.  I searched around and found all of the supplies needed on the internet. I briefly researched the technique of creating a non grouted mosaic using glass pieces called "Smalti". After understanding the basics I jumped in with both feet and started. It turned out to be the most challenging and time consuming project that I ever attempted. If I had known what I was doing from the start, I'm sure that it wouldn't have taken me quite so long to complete. I purchased the Smalti for my project from the Orsoni glass factory in Venice. They have been producing mosaic glass for over 400 years. This original family-owned glass factory also has a mosaic school. Students from all over the world have attended workshops there to learn from the Master artist, Lucio Orsoni. It soon became my dream to return to Venice and become a student.

Who says dreams don't come true?! After a few short years (or maybe 8), I am finally returning to Venice in October and I will be attending a workshop at Orsoni Mosaic School. The courses are now taught by renown mosaic artist Antonella Gallenda.  Yes, I do believe that I am truly Blessed!!

 Check out the link to their website located under My Favorites Sites.

You can be certain that I will be posting updates on my upcoming adventure... Ciao!

The top image below is my one and only Smalti Mosaic.
The next is a detailed look at the same mosaic showcasing the no grout method.

Le sorelle del fiore

Detail Close-up

The first image below is a mixed media mosaic using contemporary designs.
The next is a detailed look at the same mosaic showcasing the grouted method.

Gina's Garden

Detail Close-up

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mother's Pride for an only child!!

Just a quickie today... I can't begin to tell you how many times I've looked at a friend's photos of her children and now it seems to be grandchildren. I've decided it's time for me to take a turn and introduce you to my little girl "Blossom". She is a very sweet and precocious 9 year old with an independent nature who often thinks that the world should revolve around just her!! She is definitely a product of her childhood and I really must take the blame. 

"Whatever Blossy wants, Blossy gets!" is the motto around here!!  
What's a single mother to do? 

Aaahhhhh...isn't she cute?
She does fit in her bed, she just prefers hanging out!!

If there's a hole to hide in, she'll find it!