Monday, March 31, 2008

Playing Favorites: word to the wise

Bridgette Guerzon Mills

"ps" I chose this piece for two reasons, the act of creating it and the meaning behind it. I created "p.s" in an encaustic workshop that I was attending and it was the first time I was trying out doing a transfer onto wax. When I started to rub away the pulp of the paper and saw that yes, indeed my image had transferred onto the wax I was so excited I actually yelped out loud. The second reason has to do with the words that I scratched into the wax and filled with paint. I love the combination of words and imagery. These words were first
written many years ago in a letter to my husband, then friend at the time of the letter. It was an actual p.s. to a letter I had written to him. So, there is a lot of personal signicance to this piece. It is our history captured in a 5x7 painting. Whenever I look at this painting I remember that moment when I wrote the letter and also the excitement in the creation of the painting.

Marie Otero

Nothing dearer to my heart than my sons and sometimes words are all I have to offer them. Please click image to enlarge.


Debbie Overton

These mixed media collages were inspired after receiving a stack of love letters from the 1915’s along with a wonderful collection of photos and a marriage certificate dated October 20, 1915. The letters were written by Dr. John Campbell of South Caroline. He was corresponding with Miss Eula Long of Georgia. In both pieces I wanted to create a story of what might have been.

In "My Beau" the letter was dated July 22, 1915 and tells how disappointed he was that the arrangements they had made to meet did not work out. Dr. Campbell went on to tell Miss Eula how much he cared for her and hoped they could arrange a meeting again soon as he could not stand the thought of not seeing her for any longer.

In "Dreaming of the Future" the letter is dated June 21, 1915 and talks about the plans he is making for them to spend their future together and the arrangements he is making for her to make her Great Escape.

In all the letters he addressed her as My Dear Dear Eula or Dearest One and most were signed Yours Forever, Campbell. Oh how I wish I also had the letters Dr. Campbell received from Miss Eula. He would share his day with her and tell her about a case he was working on. He told her how much he cared and wanted to spend all his time with her. He talked about her writings and the things she had said, but he never really mentioned what she had said. All of this makes it even more romantic……if you read between the lines…..the letters mention their meetings and plans were a secret and he refers to her Great Escape several times. I ask myself….. Why the Secret? Why an Escape? What was the Plan? There are more works of art coming soon revolved around these treasured letters.

Playing Favorites: trade show

Thia Lord

This was a project I signed up for in Linda Levine's group, qualitydecos. She simply named the project 'treasure book' and didn't give much direction after that other than to say it was to be a book of some kind with its theme being 'treasures.' We were free to interpret it any way we wished. I knew the intended recipient liked vintage style so I focused on that as well. Then, I decided I would go back to my love of making accordian, pocketed books and make one for this challenge. After making the book itself, I decided to take my time finding/making the art work to embellish the book, tags, trinkets, and create the textured layers to add to it. I let it sit in my art room for a couple of weeks and didn't rush it. Each day, when I'd look at it slowly and carefully, I'd see it in a new way, which resulted in my adding a little here, a little there or taking away a little here, a little there. This is not my usual way of making art, for sure! Not that I rush things, but I usually have a completed image in mind of what I intend to do before I start a piece, and then, I complete it. By the time the deadline arrived, I was finished with the book and, to my surprise, it was hard to let it go---I'd really become attached to it--- but off it went to my assigned partner. When she received it, she emailed me this message:

Hi Thia. Thank you so much for the awesome book!
WOW, it is so gorgeous and well made. This is the
nicest thing I have ever received in a swap. I just
can't gush enough over the work you did. I LOVE IT!!
The colors and images you chose are perfect for me.
You really did an outstanding job.

So, I felt the success of this work was because I had allowed myself to become immersed in the process. As a therapist, I learned that in therapy, 'the process is everything.'' So... I'm seeing it is the same for my art, as well!

Chris Miser

These are my first-ever ATCs, created in May of 2007. They were made for a swap called ’26 Things’. We would pick a ‘thing’ and characterize it. I can’t remember what the things were and I can’t find the original list. The only one I can remember from the list is ‘Inside Out.’

I suppose I’m even more new at collage and crafts than I am always telling people, because I believed I’d made these a year ago. But it’s clear from the date stamp on the photo that I made them mid-year. I was so na├»ve, when the swap host told us to make 5 artist trading cards, I thought I had to go buy trading cards from a sports goods store, and change them. I also wasn’t aware that the standard ATC is vertically oriented. It’s so funny to me now! These have a lot of sentimental value for me. I remember making them, I remember not knowing what the host meant when she told us to put on the back of each card the ‘standard information’. I remember feeling really dumb about not making two sets so I could keep one. They were hard to let go. But after these, I was able to release my work into the world more readily. I have rarely made extras to keep, but I still want to get into the habit of doing so.

These are a project I came up with one morning upon awakening. I was planning to make Valentine’s Day cards for certain people I wanted to RAK to. But I had done a few greeting cards before, and they weren’t my favorite process. I wanted something that would be more flexible, usable, and save-able. And I had recently seen some heart-shaped statuettes in a Somerset publication, and loved them. I loved that they were collaged, but three-dimensional, and could stand independently on a table or desktop. So, I’d remembered them for many months.

I decided to send out some small hearts that people could wear, stick on the fridge, keep in their wallet, or just throw around like confetti. These are cut from cardboard, covered with paper toweling or tissue paper, painted, glazed, some are embossed, some have embellishments on them, some have stickers. I love them so much I will be making more cardboard confetti shapes and sending them out. Or, making canvases with them. I am fond of them because they were an inspiration. I think someone was probably thinking of me and sent them to me while I was sleeping.


This fave is another pair of circles - this time in collaboration with my 12 year-old son Boone. These are photo journal pages - he made lemon tarts from a blog friend's on-line recipe - I photographed the tarts, printed them and he journaled about his day and his tarts -the first one included critters he was envisioning in the tart - the second was the result of talking about how the critters could radiate out from the center - planning and using the circle as a guiding design element - for this one Boone sketched and planned in advance. I love collaborating with my son - we are just returning from a trip where journaling was a big part of our shared activities. These lemon tart journal pages are special in regards to collaborating (the flowers are eb's) and also I love the way the the image is so totally altered by the journaling - becoming something more than the sum of its parts - the way the critters create an edginess to the sweet suggestion of the lemon tart base.

I love the various elements - the recipe, the cooking, the documenting, the eating, the printing of the photo, the journaling, the revised second version and now the sharing of the lemon tart journal pages. Not only were the tarts a special treat but we have the art tarts now as reminders of the shared sweetness now inhabited by wildly wonderful Boone critters.

Sarah Fishburn

This was done on the fly, made as one of 12 original pages for a documentation book of a cd swap. (It was #3.) The photograph is one of my signature old photographs; it always makes me smile. and I love how well it works in the spontaneous structure of the page.


Valerie Foster

This is one of my all-time favorite pieces. It was made for a postcard swap, the theme being a certain technic. As it turned out, I didn't follow the original technic I was supposed to. This is made from latex caulk, the kind you can buy at the hardware/home improvement store. I love using caulk for texture.

I also love that it's an "unconventional" art supply, not made for that purpose at all. There's a big part of me that loves to use unconventional art supplies, and if they are cheap and easily available, the better. (I suppose that's because I tend to be a very frugal person anyway, and let's face it, conventional art supplies can be expensive! To me, it's a challenge I'm happy to take on, to find less expensive ways to do art, with unexpected supplies.)

Not only do I love the texture of this piece, but I love the colors I used. I love bright and bold colors, and use them often, but I'd never tried this color combination before. But I was trying to break out of using the same old colors I normally used, so this was kind of a risk for me. One I'm glad I took.

The unfortunate thing is, I made this for a swap, so I had to give it away. And all I have left of it now is the photo. Sometimes, I must admit, it's difficult for me to part with my art, especially if it's a favorite piece. I wonder, do other artists feel that way? I suppose I could make another one for me, and I might do that at some point, but haven't yet.

Dawn Sellers

Fabric Book Round Robin

I was in love with this project when it was just a small idea swirling around in my mind. Gather a group of amazing fabric artists and share our work round robin style. I chose the theme of The Travelers for my book and created the beginning of the book in a crazy quilt style. I love the colors and rich textures of the velvets, embroidery, beads and tassels. I see these as rememberances of travels both physically and through time.

My book was sent on it’s way and I only saw photos via our round robin blog as the other members created their Travelers themed fabric pages to add and I created pages for their books. After a year, my book returned to me. It is truly one of my most cherished collaborative projects.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Playing Favorites: picture perfect

Barbara Kleinhans


This is a photograph titled "Outlet" from 2007 taken not long after my father's sudden death. With the prospects of having to sell the family farm in my mind, I had been documenting through photography every mundane detail of the different buildings and reminders of my Dad. Each visit to Wisconsin would see change as my brother cleaned out junk and sold equipment. This particular visit came after a massive cleaning of the second level of the barn and grainery. What had been filled to the rafters with mechanical and farm ephemra was now almost completely cleared out. When I found some time alone I explored the big empty space with my camera looking for any small treasure that may have been overlooked. To my surprise, as I studied this beam looking for old writing on the wood I saw the business card tucked behind the light switch with some measurement scribblings written by my dad. The lighting was all wrong with the only natural light coming from in front of me but somehow the photo turned out.

Marie Otero

My camera seems to be my 'eye' these days. A tool that I came to use prolifically, only fairly recently. I don't worry about f-stops, apertures or shutter speeds. I just point and shoot and do all the post processing work in Photoshop. I like to take pictures that chronicle my travels and adventures and have amassed quite an interesting collection over the last two years. This particular picture was taken in Pennsylvania at a disused train stop, behind a hardware store, of all places. I asked permission to go behind the store to take the photos and one of the owners was very happy to tell me about each and every sleeping train and it's local story! Way more than JUST a photo!

Peggi Meyer Graminski

"Garden Canyon Dainty Grasses"

Garden Canyon Dainty Grasses is probably my favorite photo I've ever taken. My Dad and I went on what was to be our last photo expedition before he passed away, and this is the last photo I took that day. I love the delicate appearance to the grasses, and how they look like they are dancing in the sunlight. I use various parts of this photo in many of my digital collages - sort of as an artistic "staple", I suppose.

Susanna Gordon

I’ve sent along one image, along with two rough images from that shoot, that is a favourite of mine. It’s titled, P., for my friend, Patty, who was the model for this image. The photograph is part of my Spirit series from several years ago. The series was inspired by the Mexican festival, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The festival’s views on death – that it could become a day of remembering and celebrating a loved one’s life after they have passed on - helped me gain a new perspective concerning my own father’s death. Visually, I was inspired by Wim Wender’s gorgeous film, Wings of Desire, and by a portrait of an oil worker by photographer Richard Avedon, and by miscellaneous images of dance performances and fashion I have collected and seen over the years.

It was late afternoon on a summer day when Patty and I went to a beach in Toronto, Canada, to photograph this image. The sun was slowly setting and everything was cast in unbelievably soft blues, purples and pinks. I had a vague idea of what I wanted in the photographs: I wanted Patty to be next to the water and/or to the concrete barrier separating the lake from the boardwalk. She was to wear a skull image painted in rough strokes on her face and also the torn, gauzy dress I had made specifically for this photograph. For the most part, however, and as it often happens, the collaboration between the two of us brought something new that I hadn’t foreseen or planned. When Patty started to move, like a dancer, in her own thoughts without worrying whether or not she was giving me what I was expecting, that’s when the "magic" happened.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Playing Favorites: body art

Gwen Buchanan

"Beginning of the World"
approx. 1 ¼" x 1¾"

This chunky little one of a kind Art pendant is an amalgamation of many small pieces of sterling silver & bits of copper that were accumulating on my work table. I don't like to waste, so I pulled them all together & piled them in a heap and kept rearranging till they felt right, then applied the heat of the torch. I love the vast array of texture it holds & that I ended up wasting nothing. Surfaces & Depths.... Known & Unknown.... It reminded me of the chance happenings that created life a long time ago & the happenstances that continue to come together to create the known as we see the it... To me it felt as if it must have been like that in the "Beginning of the World". Hence its name.

Deryn Mentock

“Old Enough to Fly”

This is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry as it was done with my two teenage sons in mind. It’s a bittersweet experience to watch your children grow into young adults and know that they will soon fly from the nest. Every element in this piece was created and added with this in mind, including the tiny vial with twigs from a real cardinal’s nest and the vintage religious medal featuring Jesus as an adolescent teaching in the Temple.

This is the quote which perfectly describes my home at the moment and perfectly describes this piece:

"When the young became old enough to fly, the gravest philosopher would have laughed to watch their maneuvers. Such chirping and twittering! Such diving down from the nest, and flying up again!" from Harper's Fourth Reader, 1863.


Jen Crossley

My man necklace made from a rifle site. This is my most favorite piece. I made it over 3 years ago and I just love it. Something so simple came up so well.

Another Necklace I have just made from a vintage lenses and an old hairclip.I use cold connections that I learnt from an amazing US teacher Robert Danick. Last year he changed the way I make my jewelry forever.


Ro Bruhn

I have two images of my favourite piece of jewellery I made. I came across Susan Lenart Kazmer's web site and I was hooked. This necklace was inspired by Susan's 'Ancient Poetry' piece. I created it using lots of my favourite pieces of broken jewellery, found objects, hand made beads and elements and even a photo of my three grandchildren. It's ever evolving as I can remove and add elements whenever I like.


Lisa Renner

SCRAP CLAY BRACELET: I enjoy playing around with different surface techniques and had some extra "scrap" clay laying around. So I decided to run it through the pasta machine and what came out was a very interesting mix of colors. So instead of covering it up with another clay, I decided to "feature" it on a bracelet. I just pieced-in some other colors of clay and came up with this design. I've been making them now for awhile, and each one is a new experience!

RETRO BRACELET: Following the same over-all design as the Scrap Clay bracelet, I used some canes as the focal point instead of scrap clay.

FAUX-SILVER BRACELET: I made several of these bracelets for gifts for some of my friends. I used polymer clay, paints, powders, texture tools, etc to come up with a surface I liked. Then I cut pieces of the clay in gently flowing shapes, arranging them on the bracelet form.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Playing Favorites: abstraction

Angela Rockett

I chose Red Journey because it was my very first purely abstract painting, and as such represents a big turning point in my art career. I had spent most of my life until then believing abstract art to not be real art. I had spent a lot of time studying and creating realistic art, even going so far as to get a masters degree in illustration. (Ironically, it was studying illustration that eventually lead to this breakthrough, but perhaps that is a story for another time.) But when I painted Red Journey - and I remember the entire process very clearly, from first inspiration to finished product, even though it was 7 years ago - it was almost as if I was a conduit for a larger creativity. I had never felt inspiration that strongly before, nor been so sure that the outcome was a true expression of my inner vision. And that has become my definition of real art - true expression, and I've been hooked on it ever since.

The longer and more regularly I practice my craft and the more I express the inspirations I receive (some more than others), the more favorite pieces I have. A more recent favorite, created just last month, Shadows of Morning II (and its predecessor Shadows of Morning I) was also created with a very strong and clear inspiration, and the outcome is also a true expression of my inner vision, much like the creation of Red Journey was.

Maralena Howard

When I was just a little girl in kindergarten, my mother bought me a new box of crayons. What made them so special was that I had graduated from the regular package of eight fat crayons to the older kid skinny crayons. These were the crayons for serious artists and had a lot more colors to choose from. I remember how excited I was to use them for the first time. On that particular day, my kindergarten teacher informed us that we were all going to color Poinsettias. I could hardly wait for her to get to me as she passed out the mimeographed copies of the beautiful Christmas flower. As soon as she set it down in front of me I opened up my new box of crayons and took out the prettiest blue I could find and began filling in the lined spaces with color. All of a sudden I heard the teacher yelling at me over my shoulder. “Who ever heard of a blue Poinsettia! Everyone knows that Poinsettia’s are red!” she said. She took my paper, crumpled it up in a ball, and threw it down in front of me. She told me to cross my arms and put my head down on the table and not show my face – and then took my new box of crayons and hit me on top of the head with them. All I remember was how sweaty my face was and that I was so afraid to even lift my face just a little to the side to breath. I remembered how my mother always told me to not ‘lay’ on my eyeglasses or I would bend them. (At 5 years old, I had crossed eyes and wore eyeglasses). I was so afraid I would break them. I worried about my new box of skinny crayons and thought that surely she broke them hitting me on the head as hard as she did. I was afraid my mother and father would be upset if they were broken and would also be mad at me for coloring the Poinsettia blue. But most of all – I felt sad that the teacher crumpled up my pretty blue flower.

I suppose that could have been the end of my fondness for the arts – but it was actually the beginning. Whenever I am asked, ‘Who was the one person who inspired you the most to become an artist?’ – I think about her. If it would not have been for her pointing out how wrong I was for coloring my Poinsettia blue – I probably would not be an artist today… and not just any artist… but one who embraces Abstract! I love the freedom to paint from within without thinking about the right or wrong in the worldly sense. I don’t like to feel restricted to the norm when it comes to color, shape or form. I am always in awe when I can do a piece and then step back and look at the end result in an entirely different way than I saw it while working on it. The piece will take on its own meaning and life when I allow myself to free flow.

The pieces I have selected are recent works. As you can see I use a lot of color (often unexpected combinations) and like to create small focal points within and surrounding each main piece. Each work has many stories for myself and also for the viewer. Most times our stories will be different – other times they remain just the same. We can make them up as we go and change them as often as we like. That is why I am so drawn to this type of work. The beauty is so deep, deeper than the eye can see.

These paintings were created using gesso, acrylic paints, and oil pastels with a matte finish. All are my original paintings 14x22.


David Castle

“Jewel People” 2005
watercolor on paper
22 x 30”

This painting has always “stuck” with me as one of my favorites (and, I’m glad that a personal friend of mine purchased it, so I actually get to visit it occasionally!). I painted this watercolor on a Fabriano paper that had a subtle linen texture to it which gave the finished painting a unique overall texture. This painting was from a series called “jewels” and I thought it looked like a group of people, hence the title. I’m usually a cool-color person and the colors I achieved in this painting instantly cool and calm me.

“Fossils in my Favorite Colors” 2006
watercolor on paper, mounted on stretched canvas
30 x 30”

This painting is truly painted in some of my favorite colors – metallic coppers, chromium green and indanthrone blue. The shapes were created with smooth beach stones from the Oregon coast, the largest shape being a 10 lb. stone (and the puddle of color in the stone’s impression on the paper took nearly 5 days to dry).

Playing Favorites: mixed media 1

Deryn Mentock

“Spirit Filled”

This piece represents a continuing theme for me…how we live. It’s the core of what I’m about. Many times we don’t recognize the things that are the worst for us. They’re wrapped in such pretty packages! There’s no telling what’s good from what’s bad. It’s hard to remain focused in an atmosphere swirling with every option and it’s up to us to walk carefully. Christ represents the epitome of the Spirit filled person. The three in the background represents the Trinity of Christianity. The words “morning stars” in the background represent hope and purple is the color of royalty.

“Word Lessons”

I was involved in a round robin project not long ago in which the artists were to alter pages from a desk calendar. This piece was done on a calendar page which featured a vintage photo of a street scene. I love the juxtaposition of the accordion player, isolated and obsolete, and the way the man in the background is staring at him. Could he learn a lesson on feeling isolated and obsolete or is he sympathetic? There are others who pass by without even a look at the accordion player. Or, maybe they peek without seeming to… they shut one eye. You can see the word “story” in the upper right background. There’s a story here if you look closely.


James Michael Starr

“The Day I Wanted Nothing Else” (2007)
12” x 9”
Lithographed book images on canvas

Last September I was invited to mount an exhibition at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, an alternate art space here in Dallas. The two galleries that show my work are a bit partial to my sculptures, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to do a show that was all collage. I created fourteen, 12” x 9” stretched canvases interpreting the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Virtues, and titled the show, "Fourteen Days." These were quite a change for me, and marked a transition away from working exclusively with very old materials. Where in the past my collages used almost nothing but nineteenth-century engravings, these were all built from halftone reproductions of photos and paintings, some of the images only 50 or 60 years old. Piecing together images using the stark black-and-white lines of old engravings had been fun, but adding the variables of hue and value present in halftones made it even more challenging. (For those unfamiliar with the term, halftone is the lithographic or offset printing term for the pattern of tiny dots used to translate the infinitely variable gradation of photographs into a form that can be printed with as little as one color of ink, the way they're most often seen in black-and-white newspaper or book images.)

Debbie Mihalick

For favorite artwork I chose two items that I have created in the last month: one is a traditional collage and the other one is digital (a new medium for me).

The traditional collage was part of an altered book swap and uses layers of paint, gel medium, tar gel and images taken from National Geographic magazines. The funny thing about this collage is that my computer was down at the time, and with a deadline to meet, I was forced to work with what I had. No adjusting sizes of images on the computer, or making back-up copies, just in case. This caused me to approach the work differently, and I think it helped with the end result.

The story behind the creation of the digital collage is somewhat similar, in that I began the project in a different frame of mind. I was at the computer to kill time before an appointment, and just started playing around with some favorite images. It seemed to all fall together, and virtually make itself.

Another thing that both collages share in common, is that I was concentrating more on the shapes and colours of each piece, rather than what the image was. This seemed to help with the "weirdness factor". Although the pictures are somewhat random images, somehow they all work together.

I would love to learn how to tap into this creative zone again, but I am unsure of how to go about it. Ban the use of the computer on specific days? Only
make art when there is a deadline breathing down my neck? It would be great to see how others get into their creative groove. Perhaps this could be featured
in another Pulse (hint, hint).

Tina Shoaga

I went through some of my recent pieces and came up with 2 postcards. Postcards seem to be my medium du jour(at least as far as 2007/2008 goes).

The first piece titled fragile is one of the pieces I worked and worked. That is why I have been unable to part with it. I used butterflies in both pieces because I think they are a work of art all by themselves. Fragile uses my beloved spray paint, alphabets, and my most recent fave for adding texture, the sewing machine. It has multiple layers and a complexity that I love. It also shows pink (a color that is really only one of my fads) in a delicate light.

The second piece which is named 23A shows my love of bold color. Color excites me. I find I tend to gravitate towards artists that are not afraid of color; artists that use it with daring; artists that just make me catch my breath with their color combinations. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate art uses softer colors and neutral colors to make a statement; However, I have found that the use of bold color usually gets my attention. So there you have it.

Marie Otero

This piece was created during a very happy time when I was down in Phoenix, staying with artgalpals and we were just messing around, layering spackle, drywall compound and inks onto paper. I later transferred a photograph that I had taken that week onto the finished background and love the layers, colour and depth of the resulting artwork.