Monday, May 25, 2009

A New Sketchbook

I know a lot of artists are intimidated when it is time to start a new sketchbook. All those empty white pages overwhelm them. But not me --- I actually look forward to it. One reason is that I don't buy sketchbooks with white pages; I usually buy the ones with beige recycled paper pages. Another reason is that I always jazz up the covers of my sketchbooks --- and once the cover is adorned with bold colors, I can't wait to open the sketchbook and start writing and drawing. The cover above is the one that I created this morning on a new sketchbook. I love the happy pop of color that the orange cloth in the background adds!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Aberration Exhibition

The Aberration exhibition opened at Walters-Boone County Museum, Columbia MO on May 12th. The exhibition runs until July 9th, and the reception is June 7th from 1-3pm. This exhibition is a group show from the Missouri Fiber Artists, and I had two pieces juried into it. I'm anxious to see the exhibition since I have heard great comments about it. If you're in the area, check it out!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Daily Collage


The photograph above is this morning's collage. I think I am still inspired by the browns from yesterday's mushrooms, and I love the "old" feeling that the fan and torn papers give to this collage.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Time Out for Watercolors

6.5" x 6.5"

When I want to learn a new technique/medium, I search out an artist whose work I admire and approach them about private lessons. This is how it happened that years ago I took private lessons from a local watercolor artist. Coming from an oil/acrylic painting background, I initially struggled with watercolors. It takes a very different way of thinking. But I persevered and grew to love watercolor painting. Then I got caught up in acrylic painting on cloth, and somehow my watercolors ended up on the back burner. Recently I have read two artists' blog posts about their return to watercolors, and it inspired me to dig mine out. I had forgotten how "zen" it is and how satisfying it is to finish painting and not have to think about how to finish the edges or hang it or embellish it --- it is done.

The watercolor above was inspired by a cluster of mushrooms that I photographed in a yard in Lawrence, KS during one of my trips there last year. I loved all the shades of brown and textures. I'm not sure if I did the mushrooms justice, but I am happy with the final result. Now I am contemplating a watercolor of Zeke.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Guest Post by Fiona Robyn

Fiona Robyn is a writer and blogger living in Hampshire, UK with her partner, cats and vegetable patch. Her website is at, and her blog is at Planting Words. I recently received a link to a post that Fiona wrote about slowing down, and it really hit home for me. With her permission, her writing is reprinted below. Enjoy!

How to slow down

I want to be a snail. Or snail-like, at least. I want to move through my days at a steady pace, taking time to enjoy the scenery. I want to taste every mouthful of leek and potato soup, which I cooked myself, slowly, after growing the leeks and potatoes myself, slowly. I want to do things properly, one at a time. I want my body to feel open and relaxed. I want to engage with every single second.

Some days I manage this, and some days I don't. Most of us have lives that move pretty fast. We have children to take to football practice, busy jobs, and a million things to do around the house. Technology encourages us to speed up, with emails and text messages interrupting us every three minutes. There is a pressure to 'succeed', to make even more money, to cram even more activities into our schedule.

Breathe. If you're yearning for a slower life, here are my tips to get you started. Changing your speed setting takes practice -- be patient with yourself. Take it slow.

Learn to recognise when you're speeding up
How do you know when you're starting to feel rushed? Do you feel tight in your chest? Do you start making endless lists? When do you speed up -- first thing in the morning? When you're spending time with a particular friend or colleague? What beliefs do you have that are driving you (shoving you) forwards? The first step towards change is always becoming more aware. Once we bring something into our awareness, it automatically starts to shift something. Keep an eye on yourself and see what you find out.

Simplify your life
It is possible to 'take it slow' when every second of your day is accounted for, but it's not easy. To give yourself a head-start at slow, take a hard look at your life and remove everything that isn't necessary. Do you still enjoy that French class? Will your boss really notice if you stay an extra two hours on Thursday? Take the same approach to your surroundings -- get rid of all that clutter. Be brutal. If you're a hoarder, ask a minimalist friend to help you out.

Practice 'concentrated slow'
Certain activities can help us experience slowing down in a 'purer' form, and their beneficial effects will leak into the rest of our days. Meditation is probably the 'purest' of these -- just sit for ten minutes every morning with your back straight and pay attention to your breath. This is NOT as easy as it sounds, but it doesn't matter -- just keep doing it. Other concentrated slow activities might be fishing, walking, reading, gardening, washing up... you can turn almost anything into concentrated slow if you approach it in the right frame of mind. Make time for these activities once a day or several times a week.

Enjoy slow
Cultivate your appreciation of slow. Living slowly can be an acquired taste -- we can get used to the adrenaline rush of living in the fast lane. Cook slow delicious food and eat it slowly. Gaze out of the car window at the clouds (unless you're driving). Listen to slow music on your iPod. Re-read a book you love slowly -- sentence by sentence. When you catch yourself trotting along the pavement, slow down and look up at the intricately carved buildings or down at the luminous irises outside the florists. Write down on shining detail a day -- the exact colour of the sky, the scent of your jasmine tea. Savour. Relish. Luxuriate.

Don't do it alone
If you've been rushing though your days for years, it will take a sustained effort to change the way you live. Big changes are always more attainable and more fun when we involve others. Could you pair up with a friend who wants to slow down? How about joining a watercolour class or meditation group? What about a long weekend at the seaside or a lunchtime walk with a colleague along the river? Could you ask your family to gently remind you when you're speeding up? How about joining a self development group or getting some therapy? Spend some money or time or energy on yourself. This is your life. This is important!

I hope you enjoy your adventures in slowing down. Here's to snails.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Big News!

I am a member of a new fiber art group, Fiber Art Alliance, and it promises to be a great group! The members are all fiber artists, but many are also mixed media artists, and their artwork represents a wide array of visions and techniques.

Our first exhibition is "Natural Lines" and features artwork that is inspired by the lines in nature. Each artist will create 3 pieces this year for this exhibition, and the first set of work is posted on our website now.

Coastal: Chesapeake Bay
21" x 15"

This piece is one of my newest works and is included in "Natural Lines". It is the first piece in a series of 3 pieces that are in remembrance of my Dad. Over the years, we took a lot of walks along the beach, picking up shells and stones, and we spent a lot of time sailing on the Chesapeake Bay in a wooden sailboat.

Coastal: Chesapeake Bay (detail)

This is a detail photo that shows the lettering at the top and the painted and stitched beach fence that runs through the middle of each piece. The lettering in each of the 3 pieces tells part of a story, about my time spent on the beach with my Dad. These are some of my most personal work, and I am thrilled with the final results.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Work & Play

This has been a fast-paced crazy week. Collage Mania 2009 opened on Tuesday morning at 10am, and it hasn't slowed down since. Our goal is to raise $20,000 in 3 days for the American Cancer Society. We raised over $10,000 on Tuesday, and at the end of the day on Wednesday, we were just over $17,000. We still have a lot of fabulous collages available for a minimum donation of $40. Click here to see all of the artwork!

Above is a photo of Zeke playing fetch in the backyard. This is by far his most favorite game, and he will play it for almost an hour at a time. Playing with Zeke in the yard is how I relax in the evenings, especially after the hectic days of Collage Mania.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

New Work

Treelines #1

It seems like I have been making a ton of new work, but it is for projects that are not public yet, so I can't display photos of the work on my blog. However, the piece above is one of my new pieces that I changed my mind about exhibiting. It is a textile collage of photographs of barren winter trees that have been screen printed and photo transferred onto cotton cloth. I like this piece, but I think it needs some refining. There are so many tree images, and they appear to overpower the piece. That is the nice thing about working in a series --- you get another chance to make it better!