Monday, August 18, 2014

Thinking of dad today...

11 years ago today my one and only left this earth...and I wanted to take some time today, as I do often, to look at pictures and remember all the neat things about him.

 
Although I've never met anyone alive today that is quite like my dad...I've found particular traits of his in others here and there, and certainly complimentary greatness in my husband!  We all possess good and not-so-good traits, and I like to try and keep the good and shuck the rest...when we bring the bad parts of people into the present and let it sit with us at every meal, that's our own fault.

Anyway, my handsome dad was a total hipster and very active and athletic for someone who had polio as a child!  And look at those white pants.  He was always riding motorcycles and bicycles...pulling weeds, mowing grass...swimming, playing tennis...not to mention his very physical jobs throughout life.  He was a dancer, Ice Capades skater, stagehand.  No computers for this man...he could certainly turn a wrench and one of the greatest things he taught me was to love work and to get things done every day.  Although I didn't love it at the time, I see it as a gift now!

Another thing that was awesome about my dad was he was *almost* always smiling, especially when he was up to something!  He would even smile when you would wake him up.  The only time he wasn't smiling was when he was concentrating or upset at someone.  Sometimes that was me and well, that was probably my fault! 

Always the life of the party!  A real extrovert and entertainer, he loved to make people laugh and was always making funny faces and strange noises...and boy could he "strike a pose"!  A showman his entire life.  When I was a kid, he would have his nightly "tea and ice cream"...he would jump around with excitement and do all sorts of ballet moves, namely a pirouette, which he would then end facing you in a perfect stance...and of course with a big proud smile which said, "See...this old man can still dance!"

Did I mention he made funny faces and was always up to something?  Oh yes, I did.  He was also a food lover and was always snacking on nuts, named Beer Nuts...remember those?!  Here he's downing a pizza with his brother...another really funny man, is humor genetic?   Speaking of genes, thank you dad, for your Cherokee olive skin which tans easily and doesn't burn...unless you fall asleep face down on a raft while floating on a nasty cattle pond, but hey...we're not really talking about me here today!  (yuk...I can't believe some of the things I used to do...)

Stepping out in the 70's with my mom...they were both stylin' to the max.  If it wasn't pre-cellular days here I would swear that mom is checking her phone for email, or playing Words with Friends!  And I'd pay big money to see her with that hairdo again...what do you think, mom?  Retro is in these days!

Handsome, and knew it!  And what a beard...he always had facial hair, not always a beard...but always a mustache.  The one time I saw him without one, I started crying because I didn't recognize him!

Hey dad...1974 called, they want their headband back!  What an animal lover, an animal "whisperer" if you will.  And wasps, what a master.  Have you ever seen anyone tie fabric around a hockey stick, douse it in kerosene and ignite a wasp nest with it?  I have....briefly, right before I would run screaming in the opposite direction!  When they would come off the nest (half barbequed) to get him he didn't run, he would start mumbling, scowling and swatting at them.  A true highlight of my childhood!

Champale, how vintage!  Another gift my parents gave me was, and this may sound funny, was the gift of having a drink now and then!  Alcohol was no big mystery, and I never felt like I needed to run off with friends and drink.  Especially when we had better stuff at home!

There are a million other things I could write about today...but this last pic reminds me that I have my own kids now, and they need me to spend time with them in the same way that my dad spent time with me.  I'm so fortunate to have had such a cool dad that took me everywhere he went, did fun things with me and kept me close to his life in all ways.   He gave me the gift of time well spent, and I plan to pass that on to my children.  I love you dad!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pen and Ink Trees...

When someone says to me..."Draw something...", the first thing that comes to mind is...trees.  (second place being tornadoes) So when the "pen and ink trees" theme came up as my monthly art group assignment, I already had in mind what I wanted to do and was able to execute it as planned!  How often does that happen?

I love trees...they're are a lot like people in many ways.  And I can, as I'm sure you can, find similarities between people in general, and specific loved ones.  In general, they're a living breathing entity that eventually dies.  The different types have their pro's and con's which I won't go into in great detail, but the sweet gum tree makes me think that even though it has all those spiky, annoying seed pods...it makes up for it with interesting leaves which are beautifully colored in the fall.

Sometimes everything lines up just right for a tree...location, nourishment, genetics (or epigenetics) and they live to be a ripe old age and people marvel at them!  Sometimes they get taken out as wee sprigs...whether through disease or catastrophe...or even as a casualty of our modern way of life.  There are a million similarities.  If I could compare myself to a tree or at least borrow some qualities, what kind of tree would I be?  Would I be strong and weather storms?  Could I shade and comfort those beneath me?   Do I bear sweet or bitter fruit?  Will someone..someday...decide to make a million toothpicks out of me?  I joke...it was getting too deep in here!

Anyway, these pages were a joy for me to do.  They started as simple watercolors which I allowed to dry and then flicked with water.  Ever set a glass of water on an inkjet print?  It makes an interesting painting, right?!  Same thing with watercolors.  To keep with my stitching theme, I sewed one edge closed with white thread, but I thought it would distract from the art to sew all the way around...this art was not about sewing, but pure, unadulterated...TREE!

I love painting trees in silhouette, but I wanted to do another with detailed tree bark and a clear shot of the silvery moon.  And why not give the moon a hug?  Trees get hugged all the time, but the moon...not so much!  The moon deserves a hug.

This tree was one that didn't make the cut.  It was my first "tree hugging the moon" sketch and it wasn't quite what I had in mind.  Plus, the watercolor paper was too "toothy" and didn't allow for good pen and ink action.  Alas, it will make a nice birthday card for someone. 

This month's theme is collage and envelopes...two more things I love!  My art group picked lovely themes this year and I'm pleased as punch that I've had the good fortune to be able to tackle (and enjoy) doing the projects with everything that I've got going on right now.  Some days I can barely keep pants on my toddler....ya know?!

Today while my sugar blossoms are snoozing, I'm hoping to take the quiet time to step outside and play with...fabric....vinegar....steel wool.  Pictures coming soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bunbun wants my tomatoes...

Italian heirlooms...1 pound each!  Atticus the bunny is stalking them...can you say, hasenpfeffer?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

1950's Altered Edges...

Well, it certainly has been a while!  Two months?  More has happened in this last two months than I could even go into...let's just say life is FULL.  But I've been making time for art.  I've learned (or rather I forget, and then remember...) that I need to do creative, artistic things every day, or I sorta get, well...mean?  Not fun to be around?  A little sad?  Moody?  I just don't feel like myself.

Art is more than just a selfish hobby for me.  There really is no time for selfish hobbies when you have 3 small children.  A day without art is like a day without oxygen...maybe not THAT dramatic, but close!  Lately, we have been spending days lavishly watercoloring (will post some of those later) since we were given a huge box of watercolors from an Aunt who teaches art.  It's funny how some of the boxes are hardly touched...like that child didn't like to paint or was timid with them.  Some are wiped out...like the child loved art or was a heavy handed painter.  Some are just missing one color, and usually it's BLUE! 

Since it's been months since I've updated, I've got to back track a bit.  This is the page that was due back in June for my art group.  The theme is "1950's altered edges", and this friend is a fellow sewing lover, so it worked well with my goal of doing some sort of sewing on all the pages this year.  The background has a 50's kitchen Formica table top theme, and the thin black lines are thread sewn across the lime green ovals.

I love vintage 50's housewives, so I went with a blue circle skirt and crazy plaid apron...because we all know she baked an enormous angel food cake today in her turquoise blue Hotpoint!
On the other side of the page, I did a reverse applique (love for Alabama Chanin!) with horn rimmed glasses...jewel adorned!

An added fun surprise on this page is...the beads are vintage...they're from a coveted stash of bugle beads I have from our Ice Capades days.  They're from the 70's...not quite the 1950's, but alas, still vintage!

Stay tuned for July's page...Pen and Ink Trees!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Weaving and Travel...and more sewing...

This month's art project was a page that combined travel with weaving.  It took me a little thinking to figure out how to mesh these two together.  Finally, inspired by my rusting and sewing, I came up with this.

 
The front page is a sweet little vintage camper propped up on a red rock.  It's parked on the bank of a lake, with red dirt on the shore...hmm, probably Lake Powell, AZ!  I would love to sell it all and buy a little Airstream to live in...and of course no camper is complete without party lights!

 

The base is watercolor paper with various fabrics (of course, some rusted) stitched and woven for the bank.  The sky is painted with fluffy clouds.


The back is woven out of rusted fabrics and hand stitched into place.  The map painted is mostly the Southwest, imagine that?!  Various towns are marked with yellow French knots and connected by a line of red hand stitching, and the road trip finally arrives at a destination, Zion Park, UT.   Zion Park has no real significance other than it is beautiful, I haven't been there in years and would like to go back.  The other locations are places I've been and loved including Flagstaff, Phoenix, Taos, Santa Fe...all the usual loves.

My next page is 1950's with altered edges...I've already finished it but am saving the debut until the recipient receives the page as to not ruin the surprise!  I've also been plugging away on some reverse applique.  This is the Alabama Chanin rose stencil that I printed and cut, then stenciled onto the shirt.


I backed it with an old favorite shirt and stitched around it with turquoise thread.   Then I cut out the center of each shape.  It took a while!  And I'll probably never do it on an actual t-shirt again as it was more working getting my hand in and out of the shirt to find the needle than it was to sew in general.


My next adventure is to start replacing all my commercial clothing with handmade things, mostly simple pieces with a few ornate pieces, made entirely out of organic cotton.  I found a good source for organic cotton jersey at $9 a yard that I've been happy with, Cotton Plus.  Of Course, Alabama Chanin jersey is primo, as it's grown, made, and dyed in the USA...but at $26 a yard, I'm not going to get very far into this new wardrobe adventure!  But I will splurge on it when I can for special things.  :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sewing and purging...and more sewing...

Something got into me yesterday which caused me to start tossing things into trash and giveaway bins.  Some might call it "nesting", or possibly "spring cleaning fever"...or it could just be the spider that crawled over my arm as I was falling asleep the night before!  

If the spiders are thriving, there are too many good places for them to hide.  And the reclusive brown kind adore piles, boxes and undisturbed corners.  Maybe that's why we get 1-2 bats in our house every year...all the FOOD!

Also, I've been chomping at the bit to start on my Alabama Chanin tied wrap embellished with "random ruffles", but my drafting board work table which is conveniently covered with Vyco (vinyl covering that is very similar to an Olfa rotary cutting mat) has been covered with things forever.  I use one little foot of space to work on projects, the rest is covered with supplies, books, tools...and other projects!  I cleared it off completely, put things in their proper places, wiped it down (twice) and in the past two days I've gotten so many projects going that now I want my whole house to be empty like that!  

I cut all the 1/2" strips I needed for my wrap, 48!  And much art was made by the kiddies today too...

I stenciled a shirt that I'll be doing reverse appliqué upon (and started sewing already) in addition to starting to cut rectangles for another shawl project.  

And, I cut and hand-sewed a bib as well.  It's recycled fabric from a crazy ugly 4th of July themed jacket I acquired last summer.  

It took a long time, as I'm still learning the technique, but I got ONE STRIP sewn onto my wrap, only 47 to go!  Maybe this fall I'll be finished with it?!

It's an easy choice to stay inside and sew all day when the sky looks ominous like this.  But hopefully the warm and sunny muggy parts of spring are coming soon...as I've got tomato plants to get into the ground!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Bird in distress...

The theme that I worked on for this months art group meeting was "distressed or vintage birds"...right up my alley.  There's one thing you learn well by painting opera...and that's to make things look old! You buy a new wooden bathroom towel ring, slather on some "goop", and paint until you achieve "Rusted 1800's Dungeon Ring"!  And so it goes...

Here are the two sides to the page I finished...

On the front, I distressed watercolor paper by using gel medium to attach some text, and then promptly pulled it off.  It left some texture on the top, and then naturally distressed the page of text which I collaged onto the bottom.  I found a robin illustration out of an old encyclopedia and added plant life which I stitched and painted.  Afterwards, I aged the edges and added some pieces of dress pattern paper to areas I thought needed it.

On the back, I went with something a little simpler by using some fabric that I'd rusted as a base for hand sewing on another piece of fabric that I had painted with a feather.  Overall, a very fun and satisfying piece to work on!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter...

And now I can let my cat out of the bag...it was my pleasure to paint the Easter candle for the 4th year in a row.

A view of the Easter candle on the altar of our church, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.



A close-up of the phoenix.  I got a fabulous tip from one of our religious brothers who is an artist...to carve the design into the wax with an x-acto knife.  It kept the paint within bounds and made the waxy, curved surface very cooperative to paint.  Blessings to him for making the work easy so I could do a more complicated design!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Painting, sewing, and scary dolls...





Now, why would anyone get rid of this doll...and why has no one adopted her?  The answer could likely be in the reaction on Miso's face when I picked her up and asked if she wanted to take her home!  It was a look of fear and repulsion.  Poor thing, it was still there the next week.  Maybe $1.99 is a bit steep.

Going to thrift stores is a great love...not only do you get to see amazing, interesting things that you don't normally get to see, but you also score things that make you feel like you "got ahead".  I bought what I thought was a cotton robe, and it had a tag inside from an Etsy seller.  It turned out to be a handmade organic cotton wrap dress that was originally $90.  It's massive on me, so I'm going to use the fabric for applique on another project.

 
Recently, I purchased 2 yards of organic cotton fabric from Alabama Chanin.  It's grown, knitted, and dyed in the USA which makes it pretty special, and fairly expensive.  I'm waiting until I have some undisturbed time to work on it as I can't think straight if there is too much noise.  Ha!  I might be old or dead by then.  Anyway, I bought it in fern green and peacock blue to make some infinity scarves that double as nursing cover ups, a tutorial I saw on a blog.  I'm going to make one, Chanin-style!  But I've got one itty bitty project to finish first...the Easter candle!

 It's all designed, cut and started.  That's the hardest part. 

This is the "major art" on the candle this year, the phoenix rising from the flames, and nesting on a crown of thorns.  I'm saving it for last as I warm up on simple letters and shapes.  I'm on task for having it done by this Sunday, then it's back to sewing!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rusted Pods...

For as long as I can remember, I've always drawn, doodled, painted and carved pods.  Even if I'm not trying to draw pods, somehow one ends up in my work.  Another common thing, "Squiggles"...always show up in my work too.  Tails, tendrils, vines.  I'm sure a psychotherapist would have a heyday with it, and I'm sure if I thought about it hard enough...I could figure it out myself and save a few thousand bucks.  Alas, onto the art. 

Every  month, I meet with a group of lady friends who I've done collaborative projects with for about 6 years.  One I've known for much longer as she was my art teacher in middle school.  She's an inspiration to me then, and now, and one of the only people currently in my life that's been around the longest!  Everyone else I "used to know", I no longer consort with for one reason or another.

One year, our art group did an ABC themed art journal, one year we did charms, sometimes we just do an art/craft lesson, eat and talk!  But this year's project is a small book based on a theme of our choice.  I chose "The desert", no surprise there...and my prompt, or secondary theme, is "vintage/distressed".  Each month we make a page for someone in the group based on their theme, and someone makes one for me.  At the end of the year, we'll have a complete book with art from everyone in our group...and these rusty pods were for a friend wanting a double nature book!  Nature/nature.  Give me nature, or leave me alone!  :)  I can relate.

Of course I had to do pods...and what I couldn't figure out was how to make it all natural.  Everything outside is DEAD, there are no leaves to speak of, nothing growing to use as a stencil or to sew onto the page...so I decided to use cotton fabric, and the idea of rust since it's a process of nature that I've always admired.  I also used hand-stitching and not my machine, since I'm natural, right?!  This was my first foray into French knots, and it's hard to see in the photo, but the top of the large poppy pod skeleton is completely comprised of little French knots close together.

The other side of the page is mixed-media with pen and ink, graphite, thread, paint and some little pieces of fabric cut from my first rusted muslin experiment.  I'm not sure what sort of pod this is...I made it up.  But it's based on milkweed, with pea pod influences!  After the pages were finished, I hand stitched them together around the sides to hide all my embroidery. 

The next page on my list which is due in April, is bird art with a vintage distressed look.  And this is NOT me, but I've already started!  As with the Paschal candle for church, which I just sketched out on paper last night as I was lying in bed...I usually ruminate until the deadline nears and then I crank out that idea that's been brewing in my mind.  But I'm trying to turn a new leaf (or whole tree as it seems) and be an "ahead of schedule" kind of girl.  Wish me luck!