Saturday, December 29, 2012

Continued pre-new year purge

Since I redid my downstairs studio, I wanted to make room for my desktop computer down there so that I can have reference photos handier, scan in art and work in photoshop without running up and down stairs all day. I know it's the only exercise that I get but it's not efficient.

So that meant that I had to move my computer from my little sunroom office and while doing that, completely clean and reorganize the office. Here are some before and after pics.

I'm loving this purge! Tomorrow I tackle the front closet.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Year End Clean out

Every year right after Christmas, we get in the mood to have a blast of a clean out.  Maybe it's the extra stuff coming into the house, albeit we mostly exchange books and promises for nights out and small items.  Maybe it's something about a new year and sweeping clean - who knows.

We had a lovely Christmas day with our wonderful nephews and family - and I worked on Monday and Wednesday, so it was by necessity an early night.  Tuesday night we started discussing my studio and how to rearrange and streamline that and came up with a few good ideas. Of course, I popped right onto the idea, which also involves moving my desktop computer to the downstairs so that I can do computer art work right in the same space.  And..I didn't want to spend any money rearranging and streamlining.

The first step is a difficult one - and that's to decide who you are as an artist. (as a person also I guess).  I've tried just about every type of medium, and know what works for me and what doesn't.  So, I started purging.  Tons of stuff to goodwill, things that I worked with when I started this art journey - was it only 5 years ago? I'm not a mixed media artist - I'm just not. I admire people who can do layers, and add embellishments but my stuff always looks amateurish, so I'm giving it all up.  Off to a Goodwill store that loves crafty stuff.  Most all of my stamps to be given away, and inks, and pictures. I'm focusing on comics and watercolors for now. I didn't give away pastels, or acrylics cause those might come in handy. Two giant bags to goodwill, and more to give to a friend who might want them.   Tons of rearranging my studio and no money spent.  It also took me 2 days to do it all, and there were a few  moments of despair when everything was out of the cupboards and chaos reigned.  But it all got sorted out.

I love doing this type of cleaning, it's more of a cleansing really.  A new year ahead, new challenges, new ideas.  I have some new goals, and am looking forward to new classes in art.

I wish everyone a wonderful new year, with hope and peace for the world.  I am still praying for those poor families in Newtown - I can't imagine what Christmas was like for them this year.

Happy New Year to you all!!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Animal Wednesday - Fish Cards and Fun with Photoshop

I found this old card yesterday - and remembered how much I like/love drawing fanciful fish.  Plus I can always use more cards, so I got out the pencil and watercolors and had at it. 

The first two are old ones - kinda faded and ratty by this time, but I like them. 

This one I did last night and wanted to add blue water in the background. I really didn't like the way it turned out so I turned to my kindergarden skills on photoshop and ......

....cut out the fish and added a different background. I don't love the background colors but the point was to do it all in photoshop...and I did.

These last two didn't get photoshopped, but even loving the "real" watercolor look, this photoshop stuff can be addictive!

It's sunday night but this will have to do for Animal Wednesday - what with Christmas and all.  I still have packages to be mailed out - can you believe it???

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Playing with Color

I have sketchbook Pro on my ipad and find it very useful for color experimentation, as well as shape, and composition sketches.

Here are two I've been playing with -

I didn't like the roof color on number 2 so I switched it without any hassle.

When I get proficient at using this tool - look out color wheel!!

(I hope you are all having a good weekend.  I was shopping with friends yesterday but after that awful shooting in Conn, some of the joy went out of the day.  My heart goes out to those families.   I can't even imagine their pain. )

Saturday, December 8, 2012


My wonderful Comic instructor (are you reading this Andy?) asked the group of us in the class, and others, to contribute to review-of-the-year comics for Worcester Magazine.  I happily agreed and got the topic "EEE and West Nile Virus, People Scared of Killer Mosquitoes" - and I loved that topic, right up my alley.

The point is to mimic a Sunday type comic strip style and illustrate the story. In my story, a lot of towns were doing aerial spraying to kill the killer mosquitoes.

Here's what I did.  It was fun, but challenging - I have GOT to learn photoshop.  Do you know how many ways you can mess up spelling "mosquito" or "mosquitoes"?  I now know.

Embiggen - if I make it too large it messes up my sidebar.

Loved doing this - despite the aggravation of mistakes, it was super fun.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Animal Wednesday - SCRUFFY!!! yes, it's ME!!!

We had quite a conversation by the pool one day - I think he wanted me to pick him up and scratch him under his chin...and I didn't want to.  He let me have it!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Cards - with an update

I'm determined to enjoy every tiny bit of this holiday month - despite snow and cold weather.  To start off I wanted to make a Christmas card - having already made and sent out my Chanukah cards.   I worked on the card last night and then took both of my Chanukah drawings and the Christmas one to post here.   Before I wax philosophical - here are the drawings.

The first one is small - only 8 x 10 and I love it and have used it for my Chanukah cards.

This second one is a variation on the theme, but is larger - maybe 18x24 - I have to photograph it - can't use my scanner so the picture isn't as good.  I like it, but I'm fonder of the first one.

Yesterday I did this one for a Christmas card - trying to get the 12 days of Christmas onto one 15 x 10 sheet of paper.  I like parts of it but it's too busy, and the layout is not what I'm comfortable with.

I'd be interested in opinions! I think you can embiggen them.  When I put them all side by side last night I immediately saw that my interpretation of Christmas is rather hectic and jumbled, and my interpretation of Chanukah is calmer and less hectic.  Do you agree?  It could also be that 12 days is a lot to get on one sheet of paper, perhaps if I'd used a larger sheet I could have had a smoother layout.

I do like the French hens on day 3, and am fond of the pipers boots.

Anyway - Happy Month of December!

Update:  I redid the Busy Christmas one today - it made me nervous - so here is the update - still a Work in Progress but I like it better - you?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Animal Wednesday - Birdie

When I was in Florida and mom was laying in bed moaning about being sick, and generally sleeping, I had time to do a watercolor.  Mom had tons of calenders around because she loves the animal or nature pictures.  I picked one and tried it. Mom loved it so much that I left it with her, propped up where she could see if from her bed.

I had to take a picture with my cell phone, her scanner is goofy and wouldn't work for me.

I had trouble with the background, and will ask my watercolor teacher about that and oh yeah, his tail feathers are a bit crooked but we figure he was moving or something when the pic was taken or else maybe it was me putting them in a bit odd.

Glad mom liked the painting, it was fun to do.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I leave home and leave this behind. 

And come home to this!!! 

Twinkie addicted fish - what is this world coming to.

Friday, November 23, 2012

No Good Deed goes unpunished.

Happy thanksgiving all!  My Thanksgiving was very different than I had planned.

My plan was to go to Florida and go to a party with mom, visit her friend on the east coast, drive back to Sarasota and hang out - just us two girls, no pesky men bothering us.  It started out great, I got to the party a bit late but saw people, visited with her friend, drove back home. We had a good day on Monday, got her ear things adjusted so she can hear better, did some Christmas shopping and went to the movies (Argo, I really liked it - brought back the memories of that time)

The next day we did some banking in the morning, and then stopped at home to use the bathroom - and mom suddenly got an awful stomach ache, and was so tired she had to go to bed.  I let her sleep, did a few things and came home to a sick mom, with a high fever and - to put it nicely -  digestive problems.  Poor thing was throwing up and on the pot - which was plugged up by this time - and totally miserable.  Got her cleaned up and got the pot unplugged, and did laundry and washed the sink and fed her cold water and aspirin.   Oh well, there went our day together, and the next day also. But I was a good daughter, I took good care of her, and she rallied very quickly.   She was sitting up by the next day (wednesday) and feeling much better.

Since she was better, I followed my original plan to go home early Thursday morning and have thanksgiving at home. I'd shopped before I left, DH picked me up at the airport and things looked good.  He went out for a walk when I got home and I suddenly got very cold, and decided to take a nap and yes....boom!  it hit me!  I was sick as a dog, high fever everything.  No thanksgiving turkey for this gal! DH ended up eating turkey meatballs that I had made. I ate nothing.

But I am counting my blessings.
1) I didn't get sick on the plane - how awful would that have been!
2) my almost 90 year old mom was able to shake off a stomach bug so quickly, she went out with family for Thanksgiving dinner
3) I'm thankful that I have a machine that cleans carpets cause I needed it here today
4) I'm thankful that I didn't have huge plans with friends for the holiday cause I would have had to cancel.
5) I'm thankful for my DH making me toast with jam when I got hungry.

All I can say is Happy Thanksgiving to you all - I hope everyone had a great celebration - despite this crazy week, I feel very blessed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Animal Wednesday on Saturday

I'm either late or early - take your pick.

I'm heading down to Mom's for a few days, so I'm sure I'll get some Scruffy pics - haven't seen the little guy in a long time!

So, this fish was started a few years ago, and I just found it the other day.  It was pretty awful looking barely looked like a fish, I wish I had a picture to show you how awful it was.  So I took it to Watercolor class and worked and worked and worked, and now I think it looks like a fish.  It needs it's spots, but I have to take time to do that - mucho time to mask off the area that I don't want spattered with spots.

So happy slimy fishy animal's that?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some Arty stuff

Not only have I been absent from blogging, I've been absent from doing much art and it is making me cranky.  So last week, in desperation to get SOMETHING created - I remembered an old mirror that I had hanging around waiting for decoration.

The mirror had a plain frame, sort of barn board looking and very unattractive - before picture.

I painted it with paint that we had around the house, decorated it with vintage Betty and Veronica comics, painted more with paint from around the house, and sealed it up.  The mirror has yet to be reinserted, but I love the frame and am going to hang it up somewhere and laugh every time I see it.

You probably can "enbiggen" to see more details, and while it shows up sort of blue here, the background is really a greener color.  

It felt good good good to create something.  I have to remember that.

I also am working on "The Adventures of Box Boy" for my comic class, a bit outside the norm for me, but actually cute and funny.  I'll show it here when inked in.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Back and Forth, Up and Down

I've spent the last three weeks at the upper level of stress, and while I knew it, I also knew that I couldn't evade any of the situations - so I just gritted my teeth and got thru it.

It all started out when hubby had a reaction to the flu shot and was sick from Tuesday night to Friday am, at which point I took him to the hospital where they determined that he had pneumonia.  Followed by 4 days in the hospital on strong antibiotics.   Got him home to find out a few days later that the antibiotics had caused a problem in his gut, and he needed a change in medication.  Did that and at the same time realized that this enormous hurricane was coming.    I was supposed to be leaving for Germany on Monday night, and the hurricane was expected to hit on Monday night.   So I changed my plans and left a day early, basically ruining my Sunday.

The surprise day was Monday, when I got to Germany, checked into my hotel and had a lovely nap. Then I spent the day in my Jammie's and sweater (it was COLD there) working on my presentations.  Met some people for a lovely dinner, complete with locally made German beer - I have to admit, it was an amazingly relaxing day.

I worked at our German office on Tuesday, and Wednesday our meetings began.  Two full days with presentations, discussions in one of the three languages that were native to the attendees.   I was running the meeting, making presentations, keeping everyone on track and basically responsible for the whole thing coming off well.  There were a few moments when I put my head in my hands, but in general, we did OK and got thru it all.  

Friday was a long 7 hour trip home, complete with uncomfortable airline seats and crying babies.

I think you can find interesting experiences even in the most stressful conditions - and I found something that is an interesting topic of conversation regarding identity awareness.  

I will preface this by saying that I have only been to Germany once before - and that I found the people there totally friendly and engaging, and a heck of a lot of fun.   But because I have blond hair and blue eyes, I was identified as German - even by the hotel staff, and airline staff and basically everyone that I didn't speak English to.

In the hotel everyone spoke to me in German - expecting that I would understand.  At first I thought they did that with everyone but nope - some of my colleagues are Asian looking, some have Lebanese extraction and the hotel people spoke to them directly in English. I have never experience this sort of physical acceptance before, having usually traveled in Italy or France. In Italy and France I am too blond and not continental enough - but I seemed to fit in in Germany.   DH and I had a long talk about this when I got home, is it sort of a reverse discrimination, or simply an acceptance of someone who resembles you.

I'd be interested in any one's feedback on this phenomenon - I think it's a topic worth a good think.  Do we unconsciously accept those who look like us?  or do we discriminate, or pull back from, people who  don't look like us.

It was a great trip but I am SO glad to be home.  11 hours sleep in my own bed and I'm a happy woman.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Animal Wednesday on Sunday

I saw these railing decorations in Stamford, CT when I was there for Art is You.   The building might have been  a bank at one time, it had that look.  I believe it's a Hotel now. 

 I love the images - the squirrel hiding his nuts for the winter, the wise owl and the strength of a bulldog - at least that's how I read this.

And then the Cornucopia - with money pouring out of it.  I guess the message is clear - do you agree? 

I have been absent from the blogs as my poor DH had pneumonia last week and I've been taking care of him after his 4 days in the hospital.  He's getting better, and is getting stronger every day.  And I'm heading to Germany for the week, where I'm leading a large meeting.  I've spent months setting it up, have all the presentations, all the arrangements.  And of course I wish I wasn't going at all!   Plus we have a large storm coming.  In order to make it out before the storm, I'm leaving today instead of Monday night.  A few of my colleagues are doing the same, some are taking their chances and waiting to see what happens.   

I hate business travel at the best of times, and this is not the best of times. I am a nervous wreck!  I finally decided today that I'm going to push the meeting to be over a day early, and come home a day early if possible.  That is, if the airports are open.  Oy.  Send good flying wishes my way OK? 

So Happy Animal Sun-Wednesday to you all.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Facing Fears

We all have to face our fears - don't we? Sometimes it's harder than others, sometimes its a minor deal.  I have found myself facing fears lately - little ones thank goodness, but things like attending a conference by myself and showing my artwork for the Water Lily Girls to a group of people who don't know me!

Today I went to a day long class given by Suzy Becker, who lives in the town next to mine.  Suzy wrote and illustrated books such as "Everything I know I learned from my Cat" and "I had Brain Surgery, what's your Excuse?"  I liked her, very easy going and direct and an illustrator like that she has no formal training, her stuff is odd in a way - but she's a writer also which I am not.   She was helpful in giving exercises for ways to come up with stories, gave me great advice on what to do with the WLG's and gave personal conference sessions to everyone in the class.   We talked about how to find a writer for my little story - or did I really need one?

I laid out all the illustrations on the table (I was the only one with a fully formed idea) and everyone looked at them, gave their opinions and were impressed.

All in all, it was a great day.   When I got home I joined an organization called Society for Writers and Illustrators of Childrens Books - as a place to start to find writers and agents etc.

Suzy suggested that I redo all my pics on a different paper which is easier to reproduce (darn...that's alot of work) and also suggested that the same techniques that I use in comic class can be used to lay out a book and work out the kinks.   But OK, I've basically got stage 1 completed, and I can move onto the more "production" phase.  

Whew.  Never thought I'd get this far with this story, but I have, and we'll see where it goes from here.  I've faced this fear and it feels great.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Animal Wednesday - caged dangerous rhino

There was a vintage stuff sale at the Art Retreat last weekend and I found this little rusty cage - it's about 5 inches wide and 7 long.  I have no idea what it would be used for as any small animal that I know of would squeeze out of it in two seconds.

But it's a safe place for my little plastic Rhino - and keeps all the other plastic animals safe from harm.
(hee hee)

Happy Animal Wednesday! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend Art Retreat - Art is.....

 I had such a nice weekend.  Here's the story with - of course - commentary and history.

I had signed up for a painting class in California in June, and planned to stay at my brothers house while doing the workshop.  It turned out that the class was at the same time as my nieces graduation, mom was coming out, tons of friends  - it just got too complicated! I cancelled attending the workshop.  So, to sooth my wounded feelings - I signed up for "Art is You" in Stamford Connecticut.

The few days before the meeting I had a few minutes - or more - of regret that I had signed up and paid for the workshops.  Too busy, don't have time to do what I need to do anyways, too tired etc etc. But, it wasn't cheap and was past the time for refunds so off I went on Thursday night.

I didn't know a soul there, and was quite shy for the first night - but jumped into my first session on Friday where I took a Shrine Making class with Michael deMeng - it was amazing!  He is a wonderful teacher, funny, easy to work with and very creative.  The working area that we had was tight, and I had two tons of stuff to play with - but basically he taught alot of his painting techniques and composition.   Great session, great fun - and by now, I'm chatting up a storm with people. (are you surprised?)  The piece I worked on is shown below, not finished at all, but it'll get done.  


That night I took an iPAD "Sketchbook Pro" session - which was wonderful! I learned how to sketch on my ipad (all the funny art here is from that program).  I traced over a picture of my parents and it actually does look like them.  I drew and played with layers, and played some more.  I have a new tool now - and can sketch and draw and COLOR all in the space of a few minutes. Of course, no paper unless printed, but right now I'm all for less paper drowning me.

The next day I took a class called "Soldered Muse" with Kecia Delaney - because I've always wanted to learn how to solder.  I LOVED it - it was so much fun.  I can now make ornaments, and attach things to other things, and make a mess.  I don't know that I'll use it often but it was a goal of mine to learn...and learn I did.  I even sketched out a plan for a little piece - and used my ipad for the sketch!  woo hoo!!  Watch out digital world, here I come.


After the class I was relaxing in my room and got a text from someone saying "we're waiting for you in the bar!" - OK!! now we're on.   Delicious Cosmo for starters, good food and then there was a "vendor night" where people were selling stuff.  I got stuff... lots of stuff! Mostly stuff I didn't need but the Cosmo was making me very relaxed and happy and I happily parted with money.  I really didn't do too badly - and scored an industrial sized paper cutter for $15.00 and a funny little rusty cage for $5.00.   I put a stray plastic rhino in the cage and I'm happy.  Lots of good fun necklaces too.

Other happenings:

I met a woman with an art gallery in western mass who'd love to show my stuff (gulp).

I met a woman who is a graphic designer and gave me tips on comic production.

People loved my comics - another test run for our Miss Em.

There were 300 women there, and perhaps 5 men.  There was tutu days (I think that was the plan, that part confused me) and "breakfast in your PJ's" morning.  Women talking and exchanging ideas, and learning - that part was even more wonderful.

I met the famous Mrs Pom (famous to me anyways) and she was delightful, welcoming and tiny-er than I thought! Lovely to meet her and take a morning class - thank you Loretta!  (oh dear, as I was linking to her blog, I see that her mom has passed on - so sad).

I came home on Sunday morning, and spend the rest of the day unpacking, and organizing.  It was delightful.

This is the first time away from home where I haven't had family with me, or work to do. Where I could do my own schedule without having to meet people for lunch of dinner.  No one to watch over or take care of or worry about. I kept my own schedule, my own dates, my own time.  Two full days of it - and it was good for me.  I could use a week of it!  Actually, it made me think how good it was to be with other like minded arty people, off on a retreat, and how inspiring it can be.   I came home with tons of ideas and thoughts.    Happy to be home, but happy that I went.