Friday, November 27, 2009

. . . had a family

. . . Thanksgiving feast. Everyone from my extended family came except for my sister's family from Pennsylvania. So, sorry, Amanda and Elizabeth, you'll have to get in the next family picture. When my brothers and sisters and I were young, we had many pictures taken on the gorgeous old staircase in my parents' house. The tradition continued last night. I think Stef and Andy were trying to get a shot for their Christmas cards; I can almost assure you that this one won't make the cut.

And then the next generation took their places on the staircase at my house. They are all young adults now. My brother-in-law remarked that when he married my sister, there was only one grandchild, my daughter Stephanie. Now look at all of them.

Top row: Christopher and Katie; next row: Ali, Betsy, Hannah and Lauren; next row: Joey on Stephanie's lap, Nora on Andy's lap, and Sean; bottom: Matt and John. Quite a good looking crew, and with their parents, a wonderful family to have.

Monday, November 23, 2009

. . . made time for

. . . a bit of art between a couple of very busy weeks. Last Friday was my Betsy's fifth birthday. She invited me to come along with her and her mother to "Build a Bear" workshop, where she created and outfitted a pink unicorn that she named "Uni." Then we had lunch at Nordstom's cafe (grilled cheese sandwich, not mac & cheese.) On Saturday I had a house showing for which I did indeed clean the house, and I went to Betsy's house to play "Sorry" with her. Joey didn't understand the rules of the game and kept trying to steal everyone's tokens or "sorry" them across the room. Last night, when Uncle Matt could be present, we celebrated with a pink and marshmallow birthday cake and ice cream. Elvis the Elf, who is sort of a spy for Santa, has arrived in the house and is watching the kids to report any good deeds or misdeeds. Joey was extremely helpful and Betsy mainly stayed out of Elvis's sight.

Last week, as though by magic, two jobs appeared on my list that I am very interested in. One is at a bank as a Senior Trust Administrative Assistant. I figure I have the "senior" part down, for sure. The description of this job is exactly the type of thing I used to do in my previous life. The other is at a law firm as a paralegal with emphasis on estate and trust administration. Also exactly what I used to do. I quickly applied on line. . . sending in my resume and cover letter. I don't exactly like applying for jobs on line, but apparently that's the way things are done these days. Now I need to convince one of these places that they cannot survive without me. My sister told me she had read somewhere that people are showing up at work places bearing homemade cookies for the hiring staff, or having T-shirts printed up with the company's logo and something like "Hire Me." A bit extreme for me, especially the cookies. I am also going to apply at Kohl's today: I heard they were hiring for 7:00p.m. to 1:00 a.m. shift restocking shelves during the holidays. I figure I can do anything for a month or two. I hope they have jobs available for morning people, though. I can't imagine staying up much past 11:00 p.m., but going to work at 4:00 a.m. would not be a problem for me.

These pieces are 8 x 8" on wood, with no particular plan. . . just kind of playing around. The last one, although blurry, was very experimental. If you squint and look closely, you can see the outline of a dried hosta leaf. Also included are pieces of paper towels I used in the past for clean-up and even some wax paper and plastic bag bits, also used to clean up. I was surprised at how well the plastic bags and wax paper adhere. And the hosta leaf, too, for that matter. The top one is probably done; the bottom two may undergo further experiments.

Friday, November 20, 2009

. . .knew I was

in deep shit when the highlight of my entire week was purchasing a Thanksgiving turkey for forty cents per pound (at Price Chopper, limit one per customer, with $25 purchase.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

. . . unearthed a relic

Scrounging around in the basement, looking for stuff that I had stashed away (I just knew I would need it one day), I came across this funny piece that I created a long, long time ago. . .

I can't seem to call it anything but "Homage to a Survivor." Obviously it's a vintage wooden box, the back covered in corrugated cardboard. Attached to the back is a wooden block, heavily textured, with painted kebob sticks included. I can't remember where I got that little half-finial but I attached it to the block. At the bottom there's a rusty metal washer nailed into the back with a numbered storm window nail. The survivor is, of course, the vintage turquoise pin of a cockroach. Why anyone would have ever wanted a cockroach pin is beyond me. I know I bought it at an estate sale years ago. Maybe it's not a cockroach. . . maybe it's a big ladybug or some other kind of beetle. I used it as a cockroach. At the present time, it is not attached to anything, and it keeps falling off. So I just reposition it, sometimes going into the finial, sometimes creeping out of it.

I have a lot of stuff like this hanging around the studio. At one time I thought I might try my hand at assemblage (and I still might someday) so I have lots of boxes and stuff to put in the boxes. I used to paint on wood a lot, when I started doing this art stuff. Now I have a lot of really bad art on wood. I'm cutting it up into smaller pieces and using the backside of it to make new art for etsy. I'll probably just end up with piles of smaller art on wood. There's more than one way to clean out a basement/studio. Instead of pitching a lot of stuff, I'll just use it up. It doesn't look like I'll be moving anytime soon, so I'll just wait for the foreclosure notice, and then the Sheriff can haul all the junk in the basement to the front lawn. That will certainly be a payback for the modification committee of the homeowners association rejecting the dog fence idea for potential new owners. (Okay, that last part is sarcastic and mean-spirited, and I'm joking about foreclosure. . . kind of.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

. . . made chunky photos

More than a year ago, I had some of my photographs printed up professionally on good quality paper with archival inks. I tried to sell some of them at a show of sorts, but had absolutely no response. I matted and framed some of my favorites and they had been hanging in the house.

When I was making my chunky pieces to sell on etsy, I noticed that the width of these photos was the same as the width of my chunky piece of wood. An idea began to percolate. . .

and here is the result. I cut the long chunky board into 7.25" pieces, and sanded the edges of each piece. Then I covered the front and sides with black gesso.

Using Golden gel medium, I affixed some of my favorite photos to the chunky black wood pieces. I used a brayer to get out all the air bubbles and to make sure the photo was securely attached to the wood.

After everything was dry, I coated each piece with a product I had not tried before: Golden's semi-gloss topcoat for digital prints. The finish is great. I used up the whole sample jar, so I'll have to get more. Oh, dear, a trip to the art supply store.

I promise this blog will not turn into an advertisement for the stuff I have for sale on my etsy site. Although this little bit of inspiration is not as spectacular as, say, mapping the DNA of an extinct species of man-eating snails, I wanted to share this with you because I think the end result is successful (and with all the experimenting I do, that's something to celebrate.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

. . .vented, a bit

I know someday I will look back on the experience and find it funny; I am usually able to do that, even at my own expense. But right now, I'm just pissed.

I have been working a lot, getting another bunch of small paintings ready to post on my etsy site, as well as making some bigger pieces for Walter the Art Guy. I have not had a lot of time to clean the house, not that it's particularly dirty, maybe just needs dusting and vacuuming. My real estate agent wanted to schedule an open house for this weekend, but I told her Thursday morning that I didn't think I would have time to clean the house properly, so we decided to cancel it. Thursday evening, while I'm down in the studio, paint and junk splattered all over me and the space, and having just gotten my pants caught in the sander and torn a big chunk out of them, at 5:05 p.m., Central Booking calls and tells me that there is a real estate agent who wants to show my house at 5:15. A master of the obvious, I say, "But that's in ten minutes." The lady on the phone tells me that it's okay that my house isn't clean enough, they won't look at that, they only want to look at the structure. So I say okay, straighten up as well as I can in five minutes, and head out the front door to my neighbor's house, just as some jerk in a silver Lexus drives up the street and turns into my driveway.

It's over in 15 minutes. My neighbor takes off for ballet class with her daughter, and I take off back home, only to find myself locked out of my house. Usually when I have a showing, I go somewhere in my car, and I have the garage door opener to let me in, but this time I just forgot. I circled the house, all the doors are locked, all the window are locked (which is really a good thing, I guess, since I live alone) and I ended up sitting on the front steps wondering what to do. Fortunately, I had my purse and my cell phone, so I called my realtor, who lives next door, and she came and opened the door for me with the key in the lock box. There was no sign that anyone had been in the house, except all the lights were on. The jerk didn't leave a card or anything.

So Friday morning I read that I had received a comment back from this jerk realtor about my house. Basically he said that it was dirty; that I needed to hire a house cleaning crew. I cannot tell you how pissed off that makes me. This house is not dirty. I know. I have been in dirty houses, and this isn't it. It's not messy, either. No one ever goes into about half the rooms in the house, so how in the hell can they be dirty? Dusty, maybe, not dirty. Was there a big of blush in the sink? Yeah, a tiny bit. But there was no soap scum, no tiny hairs. Did I have my art pieces, envelopes, tape, bubblewrap, etc. on the counter? Yes, I did. Was it neatly piled up? Yes, it was. Was it dirty? No, it was not. In fact, I can't even think what made him write such a comment. The dust on the blinds in the kitchen? The paint flecks in the sink? What the hell, a cleaning crew for that?

I know I need to just let these comments go. . . water off a duck's back. I know this intellectually, but I'm insulted that someone thinks my house is dirty. Some stranger in a dirty silver Lexus has come into my house and found it lacking. . . ergo, found me lacking. Oh, yeah, he also says that the house in its current condition is overpriced by thousands of dollars. Because he thinks it's dirty? Maybe it is, but not for the reason he stated in his comment.

Okay, it's starting to be slightly humorous. I'm still not laughing, but I can see that I'm being ridiculous here. Maybe it will be belly-laughing hilarious after I sell the house.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

. . . scanned fall detritus

My friend Leslie Miller posted some photographs of her hosta leaf collection on her blog a few weeks ago. She inspired me to go out into the yard and find art inspiration.

I found these marvelous seed pods outside. Unfortunately I have no idea what plants provided them. . . whether they were weeds or actually garden plants. . . although there's not much difference right now.

I scanned them and these are the photos I came up with, and I love them. The grays and neutral tones in the last two are so appealing, and the contrast of the gold against the black in the first one is amazing. I don't know what I'm going to do with them, but I'll think of something artful eventually. There are marvelous videos on You Tube showing how to make multi-level stencils from photographs using PhotoShop. Or how about tracing these onto a foam/plastic meat tray and using it as a printing plate or a stamp? There's always some kind of photo transfer to try, but I have absolutely no luck with those techniques. What would you do with them?

Monday, November 9, 2009

. . . restocked the shop

I spent much of yesterday loading up my etsy site with the small paintings I had done in the past two weeks. I really did have a lot of fun making these paintings on wood: everything from using the power tools to cut the wood to size, to making marks, using all different kinds of paints and techniques, and finishing the sides and backs. If you don't already know, here's my etsy site: Please click on the link and see what's in the store.

(This really looks like Kansas, kind of accidentally)

Every painting on the site is only $20, with $3 shipping no matter how many pieces you buy. I am hoping people will believe that's a bargain, and not that they are getting shoddy cheap goods. I have painted these small pieces with every bit as much care as my larger canvases. And I hope you all enjoy looking at them, if not purchasing them.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

. . . were almost ready

to open my etsy store again. . . this time, organized and prepared before posting anything.

Everything is signed, hangers have been applied, little soft dots on each piece so they won't mess up your walls. . .

The sides are all painted black, ready to rock and roll. . .

My blog-friend Seth Apter has the distinction of purchasing the first piece. . . and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. He is an amazing artist and I'm flattered that he bought one of my pieces.

I have to make my weekly call to my mom in about five minutes, so this post will be short. Thanks to everyone who has commented here. What would I do without my blog friends?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

. . . read "Weird News"

In today's paper, I read the following bit in the "Weird News" section:

"New Zealand's Waikato National Contemporary Art Award in September (worth the equivalent of $11,000) went to Dane Mitchell, whose entry consisted merely of the discarded packaging materials from all the other exhibits vying for the prize.

"Mitchell called his pile "Collateral."

"(Announcement of the winner was poorly received by the other contestants.)" (From the Kansas City Star, November 5, 2009, Page 37.

Just to make sure that this wasn't an over-simplification or misinterpretation of actual fact, I did check out the Waikato National Contemporary Art Award site ( Take a look for yourself.

These five pieces, along with the two I posted a couple of days ago, are the 5 1/2" square chunky paintings I plan to post on my etsy site. Along with a bunch of other stuff, too. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

. . . recycled and reused

Here are two of seven small chunky paintings that I made recently to put into my etsy store. All seven of them are 5 1/2" square and 1 1/2" deep. I loved making these little pieces. . . I got to use my big electric saw to cut a piece of wood that had been in my basement studio forever, just waiting to be something other than a door stop. I'm still a bit scared of cutting off a finger or putting out my eye with this saw.

I covered each piece with extra heavy white gesso, textured the gesso, and just painted away. I had already painted in the circles when I found some upholstery tacks lurking in my supplies, so I took the whole circle idea to a new level . . . and got to use my drill too.

Here's what I would do with these pieces: Attach two eye-rings (I think that's what they're called) to the top and bottom of each piece, then tie fishing line to the eye-rings, so that these pieces hang vertically attached to each other. You could leave a couple inches between each painting. Cup hooks would probably work too. The pieces would be interchangeable and you could determine yourself the top and bottom of each piece. This would work in those very narrow spaces that we all have around the house, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in a hallway.

I'm not quite ready to post anything on etsy yet, but the price of these little chunks of art will be $20 each. If you see anything you like, let me know, because I will sell them off this blog. I have a Paypal account too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

. . .splashed paint around

I hope everyone had a peaceful and treat-filled Halloween. I ran out of candy and goodies very early; that probably had something to do with Betsy and Joe helping me hand out the treats. Fistfuls in every bag. Joey freaked out over a medium-sized skeleton appearing out of the darkness and was very worried after that when the doorbell rang. He swore he would not be scared next year and that he would throw hedgeballs at scary things. We watched as Andy and Stephanie carved a cool pumpkin and and Betsy and Joe poked wooden kebob skewers all over it, just for something different. Nora did what babies do: slept, pooped, jabbered and cried.

The painting above just happened. I wanted to use the last bit of canvas off a roll, so it's kind of long and skinny. I actually rather like the results of my messing around. It amazes me how a few black marks can really make a difference. This is the last of the latest round of paintings on canvas. I have spent the past week working on small pieces on panels of wood (in some cases, chunks of wood) for my etsy shop. I've been having fun. . .