A Wreath of Possibilities…

What turns out to be some years ago now, I created a winter wreath. I wanted it to last for more than just the holidays both for frugality and because I lived in a little one bedroom with my boyfriend and there was no room for storage. Even though I now live in a slightly larger two bedroom, I still store my Christmas decorations at my mom’s!

Ironically while dealing with my tendonitis, I have been wanting to create. Nothing like not being able to do something to get you to do it! I have been bad the past couple days not wearing my brace which keeps me honest about not using it so I thought I would continue the trend.

The bow was done on that winter wreath this year – the white paper ribbon was crushed and yellowing so I set about tearing it off. The base was still nice though and I’ve always liked the texture so I bought a new bow for it. It is not my favorite bow – I was sick, it was the last piece of decorating but I was determined and I figured this could go into the early part of the new year since it wasn’t red and green.

The not so exciting holiday bow.

A couple of weeks ago while Michael’s I saw all the Valentine’s Day crafting supplies and decorations out. (also all the new spring stuff which only made me want to make more wreaths!) I thought the red, sparkly decorations would be a good change – I could use the same base but spiff it up a little! I had been meaning to make it back and with the threat of a looming snowstorm that might keep me cooped up for a few days I went at lunch and as luck would have it everything was on 40% mark down! (to make room for the St. Patrick’s Day decorations which are green and sparkly…)

A little more exciting and rich!

I am not loving the lighting, it looks a little garish but I know in real life it’s very pretty! It was also the first time I’ve ever attempted to make a bow from ribbon. Ahem. It only took an hour… so glad a friend called and distracted me for a while so I wasn’t as frustrated when I got back to it. Success.

Exercising My Creative Chops

In an effort to keep myself in the creative habit, I bought the book Creating Art at the Speed of Life: 30 Days of Mixed-Media Exploration. It’s 30 exercises for 30 days to just create. Will I do them all in a row? I doubt it – I have noticed not only distinct lack of routine in my life but also a distinct lack of being able to create any! (Well, I do feed my cat wet food twice a day so I guess it’s a start.)

I also struggle with ‘playing’. Just sitting down and doing something for no other reason than to do it and see what comes of it. I find it interesting that someone who has created art in fits and starts her whole life has trouble playing. But then that might be why it’s in fits and starts. I think so much about how something will be before I even do anything which can really cause issues when something doesn’t go the way you want. Like the first exercise in the book…

Exercise 1: Color Wheel
Exercise 1: Color Wheel

First, just sitting down and getting started was (as usual) a process. I looked at the exercise, this is stupid. Why am I even going to do these? I probably won’t even like them.I looked at my journal. It wasn’t the right journal. Did I want to do basic exercises in this journal and ‘ruin’ it? (You know – ruin the book with this and this) Slide over to computer. Is Michael’s still open, to get a new sketch book? Ponder. Sigh. Really? We’re still doing this? I go get the coffee filter and sit down. Was going well… until violet. Ugh. Mud. I mean I made 4 or 5 attempts at this. Well, this is why we are practicing so I painted the violet slot the violet I got to and that was that.

The page background started out a nice soft yellow but I had all this paint from the violet violence and I started using it on a different page just to use it while the wheel dried but still had so much paint! So I slapped it on the page I was using for the wheel and was a little disappointed at my rash decision: now the PAGE was muddy! Ugh. I had some blue that hadn’t been used so I through some white in and slapped it on the page to try to help out the situation (did I just play?!). Better.

In the book, the author had just written ‘color wheel’ around the wheel but never really liking to do things exactly the way it says to do it or suggests doing it, I looked up quotes on color and found the one by Francis Bacon that I used.


Do I love it? No. I find it a little embarrassing actually that I couldn’t make purple. But is it done? Yes. 1 down, 29 to go.

Getting started and going for a swap!

The first project of the year will be a swap! The Sketchbook Project sets up these mini-projects to sign up for during the year outside of their self-titled, main project. The one I signed up for is called ‘The Ampersand Project‘:

Being that “&” means “and,” we feel like it’s the perfect character to symbolize an exchange that connects you and another person. Make a simple image that interprets this unique piece of our letter-set and we’ll send you the work of another participant in exchange.

They provide you with a board to use that is 5×7. Everyone in the project gets the same board to keep it consistent (and probably so someone doesn’t mail in a 7 foot sculpture although that would be cool). I started laying down some of the paper foundation tonight. I am going to use telephone book (remember those?!) paper as the foundation for the ampersand, building up the layers and then cutting out the shape of the ampersand so that you can see a scene behind it. I knew the paper from phone books was thin but it’s really thin – this may take quite a few layers to build up some thickness but I think it will be better as it will dry/harden more uniformly.

ampersand project card

My initial thoughts are to build up the layers, then cut the ampersand out (very carefully). I will paint a scene on the board and when you lay the cut out ampersand on the board, you will be able to see the scene behind it. Another possibility is to have the ampersand paper be cut in half and somehow hinge open to completely reveal the scene which has formed in my mind as a beach with a shipwreck in the distance.


After the base layers are built up the top layer would be of green foliage so it would look like you were looking through shrubbery onto the scene. Some issues I can think of immediately are the hinging aspect and the toggle to open close. Could be too fragile but I really like the idea.


Very quick sketch (those are palm trees with coconuts in the background!). This layer would probably be painted onto the board.

We will know how it all turns out by early February as I have to postmark it by Feb 15th!

What are you working on this month?

New for Fall!

There was nothing between winter and summer to spruce up our bland hallway door – our building is fairly new but the hallways look like hotels or dorm rooms with no carpets. Light green doors, door number, bell, bland hallways. I put a mat in front of the door but sometimes you just need a little bit more. It’s much nicer to come home to a little personalization. The other apartments are following suit! There is a door with sugar skull decorations for Halloween/Dia de los Muertos! (you see what I mean about the doors…)

sugar skull masks

I dug around on the internet for some inspiration. I found some brown yarn in my stash (from a very early attempt at knitting a sweater… that didn’t go so well… ahem), found some floral stuff on sale at Michael’s and voila! Not-so-bland door for fall!

fall wreath


Global Sketchbook Project Day

Today was the Sketchbook Project meet-up day at the Brooklyn Art Library. I almost didn’t go – it was such a perfect Sunday to do nothing. Just sunny enough, just breezy enough. Did I really want to go hang out with people I didn’t know, who might not even show? But I did go and I’m glad I went!

Initial Sketchings
For one thing, I got the first 3 layouts outlined for the 2013 Sketchbook Project. I wanted to do the sketchbook project last year but it didn’t happen. This gave me a good jump-start on the project. What will be interesting, of course, is to see how they actually end up from their little humble sketched beginnings.

Then I met a really great person who I intend to stay in touch with. She is here in New York for the summer for graphic design internship at Bon Appetit magazine (nice!). She was starting a new, personal sketchbook that would most likely document her time here and I made it into her book! I gave her my card to keep in touch and she gave me my own page as her first friend in New York. Sniffle. How could you not want to be in touch with someone who makes such a nice gesture?

On top of all that goodness, I bought a design book I had been wanting to read, There is Nothing Funny About Design, AND I came away with two small piece of collage that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Now THAT is a perfect Sunday!

Initial Sketchings
Initial Sketchings

Seeing Visions

all three vision boardsI am part of this really cool 8 week coaching intensive program, the Live Your Dream Challenge with Jenny Fenig, success coach to savvy women-on-a-mission, and our first assignment was to create vision boards – a way of seeing what your dream looks like to better help you achieve that dream. You can use magazine images, typography, anything you want really, that will convey what you’re wanting to happen. It’s fun making time to just sit and pull out pictures and words that you really like and focus on yourself!

I was reading Inc., a magazine for entrepreneurs, I found this quote:

“If you have any more than three priorities, you have no priorities.”
– Maggie Fox, CEO, Social Media Group

When I read it I thought that would be a great starting point for the vision board assignment. I’ll choose my three and then give each of the priorities its own board. It’s so easy to have all these goals lined up and be surrounded by to-do lists that are just over-whelming sometimes but what are the three most important things to me right now? What do I really need to focus on to get all those other lists done? It didn’t take long to choose my three areas – Business/Career, Self-Esteem, & Home.

business vision boardBusiness/Career
This one is high on my list right now because I am currently working on a re-launch/re-branding of my business as an independent designer & consultant. I thought this board would be harder but once I saw the title ‘The Business of the Studio’ in Where Women Create (Spring 2012), it all fell into place. The office space, the charts of details and always leaving room for the self and growth both as a person and as a business-woman. The little green ‘Au’ boxes say Autonomy underneath. Judging by how many I included those little boxes, I’d say that’s a pretty important part of having my own business for me!

self esteem vision boardSelf-Esteem
This one actually proved to be the hardest. I originally started with ‘Health’ but couldn’t get the images quite right – I was choosing a lot of exercise images which is definitely something that is important to me – so I let it sit overnight. I realized this morning that it wasn’t physical health that needed focus but mental health. I am very upbeat and positive about the goals and dreams of other people but don’t really save any for myself. My inner dialogue is really quite rude and that’s quite enough of that thank you! I chose two of the exercise images to keep because exercise is a big part of my self-esteem and feeling good about myself – I danced for years so any extended periods of inactivity really drag me down. The serene background and the quotes are about finding inner peace through listening to yourself and finding what makes you happy.

home vision boardHome
I want one! A home, a house, a space to decorate, to entertain friends – I used to do this all the time when I lived in a bigger apartment and I really miss it. Also, a house would mean more room to create art. My little apartment is so cramped (and it looks like a hotel room – all it needs is the check-out sign on the door!) it’s hard to store all the bits and pieces needed to create the kind of art I really like much less have the space to do the art and display it or store it. This one will take awhile but it’s on my radar! In the meantime, I’m trying to clear as much clutter out of my apartment as possible so that I can do more to make it feel more inviting.

A Certain Shade of Lipstick

I was so excited when I received the most recent Anthropologie catalog. The cover was perfect for a poem I had been saving from a magazine that I didn’t want to get rid of but didn’t know what to do with, either.

Ink Outlines
The poem starts out “I like a certain shade of lipstick…” and goes on with references to war, cabaret and far away places covered in snow. I felt that the lighting in this catalog cover image conveyed that feeling of another time and place. And of course she is putting on that certain shade of lipstick!

I started out with a sponged layer of gray paint and then mixed red and black to deepen the tone. I really like the pops of red because it pulls in that distant war that is going on the background. When I first glued the image of the woman down, she didn’t stand out against the strong paint so using a black outline technique I read about recently, I outlined her and the mirror and even added some lines to the image itself to give it some movement.

close up of lantern
For the text, the paper was so new looking and even with the edges torn, it still stood out too much. I took a Prismacolor Marker in 10% Cool Grey and colored over the paper and then, with a Pigment Pen wrote over the typed letters to soften the it and make it feel like the woman in the image had written it herself. I ran the marker over the text again once I was done writing. Once the glue was on the paper, it thinned it out even more allowing some of the bumps from the paint underneath to texture the paper and with a few more dabs of paint, the paper blended in really well. I then used some of the thick, leftover paint to really add some depth under the lanterns.

Poem is ‘Instant Past’ by Elaine Equi, featured in the 2008 issue of Pool poetry magazine.

Photo Gallery
Clicking on the photos will open a full-size version.

Summer Wreath

I was determined that, before I went on my three week trip to visit my mother, that I was going to finish my summer wreath. I think that green yarn covered circle had been sitting on my desk staring me down for around two months! Enough is enough!

The base of the wreath is the same as my Winter Wreath, two circles of cardboard glued together. I got the flower pattern from Purl Soho – a winter wreath, yes, but the flowers worked! The leaves are from a stock image that I downloaded, printed and pinned to felt. I cut two of each and sewed them together for thickness and depth. It’s very simple but I really like how it turned out especially the leaves because that was the first time I used my sewing machine for something fancier than a straight line!

summer wreath

Art Journal Week Four: All Because of Tea!

Did you know that January was National Hot Tea Month? I saw this in the window of the the grocery store so had to be true!

In racking my brain for an inspiration for this week’s art journal, I kept coming back to the tea. I do have a couple of other ideas that will show up in the next few weeks but this is the one that stuck for this week.

I had originally though of doing two facing scenes for two different types of tea drinkers – maybe old world vs. modern or Asian vs. English, something like that. And/Or to use actual tea bags – sans the tea – as the background but couldn’t quite get it to work.

In my quest for teapots and cups, I rediscovered a particular Anthropologie catalog. It had a kind of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme so one would assume there had to be something related to tea in there (hello mad hatter!) though not as much as I thought there would. They focused more on the fantastical elements of down the rabbit hole and the large and small element of  the story. All of the elements in the collage are from Anthropologie catalogs, though. I save them because they are always so arty and different from any other catalogs I get. The photographers and stylists have to love their jobs at least a little!

Photo Gallery
Clicking on the photos will open them in a full-size slideshow.

Art Journal: Week Three

So I bought the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Knits specifically for a tutorial about using zippers with knitting, making them basically another knitted element to flow into your piece. The video demonstration is on YouTube here but the article does have a few more details about the technique that make it clearer.

In this issue, there was an article about Aimee Lee, a multi-talented artist who, among her many projects, “knits books that tell intimate stories of loss, intimacy, and vulnerability” (Interweave, 2010).  She knits the pages and then sews paper with poems or thoughts to the pages. They are really very lovely. My journal this week borrows the sewing and paper concept in a very simple form.

The red frame was part of a bunch of blank card I have just hanging around waiting for their turn in a project. On the backside of the card frame I drew straight lines using a ruler, measured out the holes so they were evenly spaced and then poked them threw with a yarn needle. The flower is from a magazine – actually it’s from Real Simple’s ‘Get it Together in 2011’ issue which is really what I am trying to do this year. Once I had the flower and frame placed, I pushed the needle through again to mark similar holes in the paper so I wouldn’t have stabs everywhere.

I really like the flower – it’s so big and detailed, I didn’t want to hide the whole thing behind the frame. I cut around some of the petal shapes and gently folded it and overlapped the frame. I like how it turned out. I considered putting a quote or something else on the page but after letting it sit for a while, I decided I like the simplicity of it.

While I was working on it I thought – isn’t that really what framed photos are like? You frame them because the memory was great or the image is beautiful and they are confined to that little rectangle area but they are bigger than that.