Friday, September 29, 2006

Christmas Blessings (part 2)

Well... it looks like my "Christmas Blessings" have come early this year! The Folk Tree Collection wants four of the fabric collages I posted about yesterday! My work is to be a part of their upcoming holiday exhibition entitled "Ornaments & Adornments XIV". (This means I just have four left.) I'm so excited and thrilled and bursting with joy!! The opening night reception is November 18. I've already got it in my calendar.

I got to paint pretty much all day long yesterday. The weather was perfect for drying outside. (If you don't count the smoke.) I'm pretty lucky to live in the desert if for no other reason than to have the world's largest heat gun. It was a nice day.

I also worked on my Bio and Artist's Statement for the holiday show. And I did a bit of work on an article I'm writing for the winter issue of Artitude. See, Suz... I'm making progress!

I wish you all a wonderful weekend filled with all the fun things you love to do...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Christmas Blessings

Here's a photo of the most recent series of fabric collages I've been working on.

And here are a couple of detail shots...

I realize that you may be cringing at the thought of seeing "Christmas Blessings" already. I mean, we're still a month away from Halloween, for Pete's sake! All I can say is that I was on a roll and I'm attempting to be prepared. There are eight collages in all. They say things like "hope" and "peace" and "love" and "believe". There is to be a little wooden dowel at the top. It will be stained and have cording or ribbon added by which the collages will hang. Once I get that part together, I'll re-photograph and place these for sale on Etsy. The price will be $45.

I went to the post office yesterday. As I suspected, they cannot issue a prepaid label for use a month or more in advance. I've even had them refuse mail with a label dated just one week in advance! This is contrary to the information the "customer service" guy gave me on the phone. Ugh. I came home and wrote the nicest email that I could to the gallery explaining my attempts at solving this situation. They responded this morning giving me permission to write a blank check to the US Postmaster. I'll take it! Thank God.

I have a full day ahead of me with no errands that I foresee. I've spent the last two days doing mostly computer work and business stuff. Today it's just me and my paints. I have the four canvases I showed you earlier in the week, plus I'm itching to start two new canvases for possible entry in a show. The Collage Artists of America is having an exhibit coming up in November with the theme "Ripped and Torn". How apropos! I'm excited to have something to submit as I just joined this group in July.

As always, I'll keep you updated...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Art of Shipping

I spent most of the day yesterday at the UPS Store and on the phone with the US Post Office, UPS, and FedEX. I got disconnected by all three at least once. This meant I had to re-enter their computer-phone network of endless "Press one if..." to get back to where I was before. It also meant I had to start my story again with a new, clueless individual who then had to transfer me to eight other people. And to make matters worse, I got completely conflicting information depending on who I was speaking with in the same company! Argh!

The problem is this: I am to enclose a prepaid return shipping label with my artwork to be sent to the show in Nevada. Stamps and/or a check are not accepted. The prepaid shipping label may or may not be used depending on whether my art sells at the show. As a result, I'd like to only pay for the return if it actually is used. MaryBeth wisely suggested that I open an account with FedEX or UPS. This sounded like a terrific idea. The only issue is that both companies have heavy and intricate restrictions on their "pay-by-account" waybills. In essence, I'll be paying $20 or $30 to ship a 4 lb. package home! (Ground is not an option with this service.)

Perhaps this is more than you ever wanted to know about the movement of packages, but I feel compelled to share in case any of you are going through this or will go through this. Heck, if you're an artist reading this, I hope you ALL go through this at some point since it would mean you're needing to ship your art to a show! I'm going to go into FedEX and the Post Office this morning. I'll let you know how it pans out. The UPS store, by the way, is not really UPS (according to their workers) so they will only direct you to the UPS website if you have any questions beyond just "I need to mail this."

And of course, if any of you out there in BloggerLand have any more insight into this than I, please don't hesitate to share! I'm all ears...

As a result of all of this, no art was completed yesterday. Well... that's not totally true. I did manage to get some ink on my current fabric collages in order to antique some of the paper. So I did about 10 minutes of art. Some is better than none. I really have just resigned myself to the fact that some days as a working artist are all about the business end of things... It's part of the package. As I said in my post yesterday, most of the time I'm pretty darned lucky...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Painting Again!

Here's a photo I snapped yesterday of my painting table. I took it because I am just thrilled to be getting back into the painting groove. It occurred to me yesterday that I haven't worked on my canvases since before our trip to Sequoia for my birthday... which was in July! I guess I've just been up to my eyeballs in fabric and other projects. Not that those weren't a worthy direction for my attention, mind you, but I'm just happy to be back to what I consider my first love. The paint might not look like much now, but it's a start. And I've been glowing all day and all night. How did I get so lucky to be able to do this thing I call "art" every single day? I get choked up just thinking about it...

You may or may not know that this set-up is basically in my kitchen. Our family room and kitchen are sortof all one big room. This table sits pretty much in the middle. Steve is unbelievably supportive and NEVER complains about the mess. He even admits to admiring the paint I've managed to get all over the phone. There really was no other solution in our current digs, however. The downstairs is tile and the sink is close. The back door is only steps away, which is fabulous as no heat gun could beat the drying power of the Southern California sun.

In case you're wondering, I do have a very beautiful studio upstairs as well. But that's the problem... it's very beautiful. I use that for my more restrained art efforts. And lately I've taken over the other front bedroom as my sewing room. Steve points out that I now really have three studios. And he's right. But that's okay. It is, after all, just us and the pets... Someday I will have that gorgeous, loft-like 20' x 20' space. But until then, I'm making it work. You need to do what you can with what you have, right? I think the most important thing in being an artist is that you actually produce art. Everything else is secondary.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Totally Tricked-Out Tissue Box

Here are a couple of photos from the new tissue box I finished over the weekend. This one will open my new Etsy shop... hopefully later today. Tomorrow at the latest. (Since this will be my first listing, I'm trying to give myself a buffer to allow for any major complications!) The link to my Etsy shop is active in the sidebar. Although there's nothing in the store as of this posting, you can at least see the storefront. Yea! One more thing off the list!

I feel like I worked my butt off all weekend, but didn't really make much progress. Do you know how that feels? Partly I think it was because Steve and I were completely derailed on Saturday afternoon. We had ANOTHER fire in Placerita Canyon, which is the Canyon behind our subdivision. It was like a sickening deja vu... a sky filled with black smoke, water-dropping planes and helicopters, utter dread. Luckily, they pounced on it, and it was out by Sunday morning.

The part that makes me furious is that this is the FOURTH fire in Placerita Canyon in three weeks. Apparently, there are eyewitness accounts of someone in a truck throwing some sort of lit flare out of the window and into the brush! What kind of sick person does this sort of thing?!?!?! Does he have some sort of vendetta against us? I hope they catch him. I won't tell you what I hope they do after that...

I've got a long list of computer stuff and paper work to get to today. (Not my favorite tasks, in case you didn't know!) But I also plan to work on my holiday fabric collages and get the first strokes of paint on a new batch of canvases. If you do take the time to take a peek at my Etsy shop, I just want to say "Thank You!" I so appreciate the visit!

Friday, September 22, 2006

My First Juried Show!

Oh my God... Oh my God... OH MY GOD!!!!!
I still feel nauseous and ecstatic and humbled and certain someone must have made a mistake. But let me backup and explain...

A month or two ago, I came across a call for entries for an upcoming show in Mesquite, Nevada, with the theme of "Lucky 13". Perhaps it was my love of Vegas that prompted me to enter. Or perhaps it was my naivete... Honestly, I didn't even know where Mesquite was... just that it must be somewhere near my favorite city of sin so long as it was in the same state.

Anyway, I created and entered these two pieces for their consideration. It is, as I mentioned, a jury-decided show. Well, last night I found out that BOTH pieces were accepted! I can't even begin to tell you how incredible this feeling is! But perhaps you can sense a bit of my excitement in this blog post.

I am to send both pieces to the Virgin Valley Artists Association during the week of October 1 to October 8. The first piece is entitled "Thirteen Opportunities" and the second is called simply "13". Both pieces will be for sale. With any luck, they will find new homes. Maybe "13" is my lucky number after all...??? I'm staying in room #13 at Artfest. Perhaps this is the start of a trend...

I'm not sure if they will have an opening reception or not. I'd so like to attend if they do. But I'm just not sure if it's feasible as the show opens on 11/4 and Steve and I are just getting back from San Francisco on 11/1. In case you're wondering, I checked - Mesquite is only one hour and 12 minutes away from Vegas. Should I put it all on "13"?!?!

On the topic of the fires, the "Day Fire," as they call it (how original), is still going strong. It has burned 167 square MILES so far and is only 35% contained. Can you picture that much of our earth utterly destroyed? My heart just aches for all of the animals that used to live there. The winds changed yesterday and now all the smoke and ash is blowing directly over Santa Clarita. The Santa Anas are supposed to pick up tonight and continue through the weekend with gusts up to 65 mph. This happened last weekend and the poor firefighters couldn't keep up. The fire doubled in size during last weekend's winds and the containment went back down to 15%. Please, say a prayer that they can get a handle on this thing...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

An Artful Life

I started a new tissue box yesterday... if for no other reason than I am a glutton for punishment! I hope to have it finished by the end of the week with photos to show you. Okay... Monday at the latest.

I've also been working right along on my latest, *more simplified* fabric collages. I should have photos of those soon, too. I just realized that the end of the week is tomorrow. So perhaps Monday is looking more realistic.

I've been researching new shows for early 2007... mentally gearing up for the application process. I read somewhere recently that applying and putting yourself out there gets you used to the rejection. In some weird, demented way, that is correct. Rejection isn't so bad so long as you don't let it define you. It is just one person's opinion. End of story. Of course, it's okay to wallow and be depressed and hurt. But then you just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get right back on the horse. (And margaritas don't hurt either!)

I had dinner last night with my dear friend Marilyn Werst. I met her at Fiberfest in June. She and her husband are visiting from Kentucky, and she found time to fit a dinner with me and Steve into her busy schedule. It was wonderful to have the hubbies meet, but even more wonderful to just sit together and laugh and share life stories. It was like we never left Issaquah. Too soon the evening was over and I'm back in the land of contact via cyberspace. Marilyn, you are THE BEST!! Thank you for putting a precious sparkle in my week!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Artfest and Other Odds and Ends

My Artfest packet arrived in the mail last night! Yea! If it's even possible, I am more excited now than I was before. The packet is just the cutest thing ever. Way to think outside the box, Teesha! And I got all of my first choices in classes. I'll be taking Susan Lenart Kazmer's classes the first two days and then Stephanie Lee's class the last day. Now to begin the long wait until March... the end of March no less...

I also completed my class proposals for Art Unraveled 2007 and got those sent off to Linda yesterday. That was a lot of work, so it feels good to be able to check that off my list.

True to my word, I did a little painting and a little sewing as well. I'm trying to finish up a lot of miscellaneous odds and ends before we go away at the end of October. If I can accomplish what I'd like to, this will give me a little break during the holidays. Not a total vacation, mind you, but the ability to just focus on painting and nothing else. That's the dream anyway. Wouldn't that be nice? I've never not worked through all of the Christmas holidays.

I guess that's about all that's new and exciting. As they say, no news is good news.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Start of Another Week

I taught my "Totally Tricked-Out Tissue Box" class at Paper Post this weekend. It went well, and I think everyone had a lot of fun. My friends Judy and Lori were there, which meant a lot to me. Thanks, girls!

And a big thank you to everyone who took a moment to gush about my fabric collages. Boy, does that make it all worth it! I would say, "No... stop!". But I'm not gonna'!

The weekend seems to have just flown by. I was busy teaching most of the day Saturday. I made two trips to the San Gabriel Bead Company, which is over an hour away - but well worth the drive! And we did miscellaneous odd jobs/chores around the house. I feel like I'm fighting off a cold - you know that precarious place where it could still go either way? So I'm trying to get as much sleep as possible. Last night I was in bed by 8 pm. This morning I'm going to make a nice hot cup of Tracie's tea! (Thank you, again, Tracie!!)

Because of all this... I didn't get my collages photographed as planned. Maybe this week if I feel up to it. Maybe I'll just wait for the weekend and Steve's help... tripod wiz that he is. The Santa Anas have been blowing something fierce, so I need to wait for that to die down anyway. The winds, incidentally, are not helping the fire-fighting efforts. The fire that we see at night is still burning... since Labor Day now. As of yesterday, it is only 15 percent contained.

Friday, September 15, 2006

They're Finished!!

Here they are! All 7 fabric collages are finally complete and hanging on the wall. (With three furry, four-legged trouble-makers running about, it's the safest place, believe me!) I still find it uncanny that the blue on the wall matches the blue in my artwork exactly.

It's difficult to capture all of the detail in a photograph of the entire piece... especially when I want to include the molding at the top and the ribbons that some of these have dangling from the bottom. I'm certainly glad I took all of the "in progress" close-ups that I did.

This weekend I plan to take better photographs outside on my black background that I can use for my website. This series of fabric collages will be in the "for sale" pages there... at least for the time being. I may try one on Etsy, but I haven't decided that as of yet. I'm still working on setting up my Etsy shop. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

It just feels good to be able to claim that all seven are finally complete. It's a relief that brings with it tremendous satisfaction. I'm really proud of the work I did here. It's unlike anything I've ever done.

In other news, I've been working on my charms for a swap that I'm in. I had a rather messy battle with resin last night. It's the first time I've ever worked with that product. I worked on my class proposal for Art Unraveled, and I began a new series of fabric collages. Yes... you read that correctly. But rest assured, these are MUCH simpler in nature. They have a Christmas theme. Their price point will be low and I hope to open my Etsy shop with these sometime in October, if not sooner. I'll keep you posted.

And one more promise... I'm declaring it here and now, for all the world to hear (or at least the part of the world that reads my blog)... I swear, on Monday morning, come hell or high water, I WILL get that paint brush in my hand AND use it! You have my word. Have a terrific weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Folk Tree Collection

Don't you just love the name of this gallery... "The Folk Tree Collection"? I do. Especially because it's the name of my NEW gallery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I met with the owner, Gail Mishkin, yesterday. Gail just couldn't have been any more delightful or easy to talk with. She totally put my frazzled nerves at ease. She was complimentary and easy-going and just a wonderful person to begin to get to know. I showed her some of my canvases and some of my fabric collages - both for consideration for their upcoming annual show with the theme of "Hearts and Flowers". She liked both styles of work but noted that they are very different, which I agree. She thought it would make a stronger showing for me if we were to pick one or the other. She selected one of my large canvases, "Fleeting" (pictured here) and three or four of my smaller canvases for the show. She also asked for five of my journals, in the style shown below. Gail will take three of my existing journals, and I've promised to create two more.

I am just thrilled beyond words! I wish my fabric collages could be shown as well, but Gail has told me she will keep those in mind for a possible future event. They are definitely more "spring" in feel, so I do completely understand and trust her judgement. In the meantime, I will have them for sale... probably on my website. As I promised, I will post pictures of the finished collages by the end of this week.

And as if I didn't have enough on my plate, Gail mentioned that a smaller, simpler fabric collage might do well in their Christmas show. I tried to take a nap after our meeting yesterday, but I was so excited I just laid there scheming. I finally got up and made a sketch of a new idea for this purpose. And if it doesn't work at the Folk Tree, then I think this collage would be a perfect way to open up my new Etsy shop. We'll see...

Last but certainly not least, I need to thank my friend Ruth Rae. I had visited the Folk Tree several times in the past, and I've always just adored everything about it. It's one of those stores that feels like it was made in the exact mold of your personality and everything in it is something you'd like to own. Anyway, it wasn't until Ruth suggested that I contact the owner for the "Hearts and Flowers" show that I even considered approaching a gallery. You are the best, Ruth... and any success I have on this front is attributed partly to you. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

An Interview

So... I actually have had a real live, bonafide interview conducted and published! If you visit my friend Antonella's blog, you'll find her article about me in three parts, beginning on Saturday, September 9. She has flattered me to no end. Please check out her incredible quilling work by clicking through to her web page. That's a talent that requires some patience, for sure!

The house smells of smoke this morning and it's making my throat hurt. We've had a fire burning in the mountains since Labor Day. At night I can see the flames on the distant hill tops. During the day, our valley is covered with a grayish blanket of air. The fire has been burning in terrain so rough that they are only able to battle the flames from the air. It has been moving (thank God) away from us and all the homes closer to civilization. Last night it changed direction and is now doubling back on itself... how, I'm not sure. But the winds must have changed too because the acrid smell of smoke is everywhere this morning. It's still quite far from posing any danger to our home, but the omnipresent threat of your state being perpetually on fire is getting a little old to live with.

Monday, September 11, 2006


September 11. I wanted to begin my post today with a brief statement about the victims of that horrible day five years ago. I, like the rest of America, remember you... not just today, but every day. I feel so very inept in my ability to express all of the emotions still swirling within me when I think of that clear, crisp morning. Your memory lives on in my heart and you will never be forgotten...

Steve and I did schlepp Bentley all the way to Santa Barbara this weekend in search of driftwood. Apparently, there was some massive, driftwood-clearing effort held right before our arrival. (I'm kidding here, but I can think of no other reason for the TOTAL lack of driftwood. It was weird.) Bentley had an awesome time, however.

Not to be deterred, Steve and I drove to this woodsy hiking area last night. We got a bit of exercise among the trees and found an ample supply of sticks and twigs which will do nicely as driftwood stand-ins. In fact, I think it will be nice to have the variety. It's pretty sad that we needed to drive 30 minutes to get to some space with trees, though. Such is life in the desert and in Los Angeles.

I have three of the seven collages finished and on the wall. I've decided to store them on my wall as I can think of no safer place. It's interesting to note that the paint color on the wall is an exact match to the greyish blue/green in my collages. They say you're always drawn to the same colors...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Fabric Collages... Even Closer!

Here is the last "little bit" I will show you on these fabric collages. Why is it the last, you ask? Because I've shown you everything else! These are spiral paper clips sewn onto coffee-stained watercolor paper with a snippet of fabric in between. The bead is a freshwater pearl. These pieces are all sewn over the top of the Xpandaprint design I showed you earlier.

All of this posting has actually worked out to be pretty neat, I realized. When I do show you the entire piece, you will be able to go back through all of my earlier posts to see a detail photo of any part of the collage.

I did run into a bit of a small snag, however. The driftwood I had planned to use as the final component of these collages looks a bit like logs. A few pieces are demure enough to work perfectly, but the rest are way too big. I've informed Steve that we need to go find some driftwood this weekend... which is no small task when you live in the desert. (The original driftwood came from Fort Worden in Washington, so that's out.) Steve keeps insisting I just go to the driftwood store. Yeah, okay... I think we may take Bentley to the beach in Santa Barbara tomorrow to see what offerings are there. The selection is nowhere near what it is in Fort Worden, though! Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fabric Collages... getting close!

I worked on the computer most of the day yesterday... getting together my Art Unraveled 2007 class proposals. I still have a few more days of computer work ahead of me. (Not my favorite place to direct my attention, but necessary nonetheless.)

I did get these finished however (see photo). This is a piece of molding from the hardware store. There are 7 of them and they each measure 14 inches long. The molding pieces are to be the strip from which the fabric collages hang. Steve (good husband that he is) cut, primed, and painted two coats of a base coat on all the pieces. Then I got to come in and do the fun part: antiquing! I sealed them and last night Steve inserted eye hooks for me. I will attach the collages using chain. I should have a finished piece to show you sometime next week!

In other news, I am relieved to have my Artfest registration in the mail. I actually worried before I left that the post office would blow up and I wouldn't be able to get my "September 5" postmark. How's that for dedicated? Or do we say obsessed? It's a fine line, I'm telling you...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fabric Collage Continued

I'm ecstatic to report that this weekend I began sewing the front of the collages to the backs! Yea for me! (For any non-fabric peeps, this means I am approaching the end!) I am so pleased with the way these are turning out.

I decided to use a product that I was introduced to at Fiberfest this year. It's made by Pellon and it's called Fusible Fleece. I really felt like the collages needed more stability than just one simple layer of Warm & Natural batting... especially since they are so heavily embellished. I ironed the fusible fleece to the backing fabric. And now I'm sewing the entire "sandwich" together. The fusible fleece has given the collage tremendous stability.

I have one more embellishment to add - a piece of driftwood. And I was worried about the weight of the driftwood pulling on the front of the fabric and causing it to sag. Now with the fusible fleece in place, I will go through all the layers for this last addition, and I expect everything will work wonderfully. And I'm excited because I would never have known about this product by Pellon if I hadn't gone to Fiberfest this year. The things we learn and absorb in classes might not always become apparent until later, but surface they do!

I'm off this morning to mail my registration for Artfest, my Day of the Dead swap, and a few other items. I'm happy to be parting with my Artfest application as I'd like to stop waffling about possible class combinations and get on with my life! (I'm sure many of you feel the same.) Now it's just in the hands of the art gods and there's nothing more I can do. The surrender of control already makes me feel lighter...

Hope you all had wonderful weekends!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fabric Collage Continued...

Here is the latest embellishment I've created and added to the 'ole fabric collage series. I have to say it: "Isn't it just too cute?!?!" This particular heart is the largest, measuring just 2 1/2 inches. It is stuffed, so it is raised slightly from the surface. It's attached to the background with wire and a bit of glue. The center holds bits of paper and seed beads.

In other important news, the electric bill came yesterday. Now, if you've been following my saga, then you'll know how desperately I've been trying this past month to bring that @*$&^#) thing down from $609. I shouldn't say "trying". I should say "sweating" - through the days and nights. But anyway, that fateful day came, and the bill arrived. Do you know what it was?....... Drum roll please.... $113! Oh My GOD!!! How much does that make it all worth it?!?! Steve was just as ecstatic as me (in his own reserved, non-emotional way). But I know he was happy because he said I could order these cute new shoes that Stacie wrote about in her blog (thanks, Stacie!).

And last but not least, this is Audrey. When I forget to close the closet door, her favorite place to nap the day away is amongst my completed paintings. That does not make me happy. (We're just one barf away from disaster.) When I remember to close the door, she takes refuge under the cabinet in my studio. She's a bit of a screwball, as you may be able to tell from her expression. Honestly, I'm not sure if she's really altogether there at times. But she's a sweetheart and I love her. Thanks for being my studio buddy, Audrey... even if you are just sleeping.

And Bentley and Montgomery, don't you worry... you're day in "blog lights" will come too. (Why am I writing like they are actually reading my blog?) Anyway, to everyone else who does read and has opposable thumbs: Have a terrific holiday weekend!