Friday, July 31, 2009

Ransom Note How-To

I absolutely love the "ransom note" look in my journals and even on my paintings. I adore working with mixed up, clipped letters and words. In fact, one could say I'm a little bit obsessed with this technique and I go to great lengths to make creating this look as streamlined as possible. Here at Lost Coast Post, I'm going to start posting more tips and techniques so consider this entry the first of your mini-lessons in mixed media.

I must preface this how-to by saying that I officially have a tinge of Obsessive Complusive Disorder (OCD) in my psychological profile. However, it is quite mild and generally, doesn't interfere with daily life and in fact, I have found that it can come in quite handy. I LOVE to organize; I've been color-coding, labeling, and compartmentalizing my life since grade school. Today, my studio is no exception. I can't function in chaos. So I have developed all sorts of filing and storage solutions that make my art life easier. Just know that you should always do what makes you comfortable in your personal space.

After I have read all my favorite art magazines, I tear out articles to file (that's another post), and then clip letters and words from the remaining magazine carcass. I also find magazines at thrift stores. I clip when I am feeling uninspired. I clip while watching T.V. I clip at the end of a long day of art and my hands are too tired to do anything else. The result is piles and piles of little words and letters. However, I found that when I went to create a ransom note, it took forever to find what I was looking for and I just don't have that much time & energy to spare. So I decided to unleash my formidable organizational skills upon that alphabet confetti and find a way to streamline the process.

My clipped letters are organized in envelopes by letter so when I need an "A," I simply go to that envelope in the file and viola! Give me an "A!" Teesha Moore organizes her clipped letters in a tray with lots of little compartments. Choose a method that works best for you. My clipped words have recently been organized by parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, contractions, helping verbs, commands, and so on. Even I'll admit this is going a bit overboard but it has come in handy when I'm creating a poem and I need a specific type of word to fill in a gap.

As far as found word poetry is concerned, I have organizational schemes for these as well. I dump out a bunch of words, create little phrases and poems and then when I have "written" what I wish, I gather up the words I'm using and put them in a clear plastic ATC or slide page. Each plastic pocket is labeled #1, #2 etc...Then, I write the number of the poem and the word order in a notebook. Yesterday, I "wrote" 20 tiny poems and filled up a slide sleeve. Now, when I'm working on my miniature journal, I can simply refer to my notebook, pick the phrase I'd like to illustrate, go to the corresponding pocket, and there are all the words I need. Well, those are your tips for this fabulous Friday!

I hear the men in white coats coming as I write this so I'd better close for now!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Tiny Pages

Oy! I am clenching my teeth as my fur baby, Tuscany Jane, enthusiastically kneads my lap with her needle- sharp toes. Ahhh...there now...she's finally content to curl up and settle down and so I can continue this post entry in a more relaxed fashion. It is amazing to see how far this formerly feral little thing has come in almost eight months. Tuscany still doesn't care much for company (she'll sniff their feet and then turn tail & hide) but she has proved a be a very snuggly companion for me. And as she purrs rather loudly in appreciation of my flannel robe, I'll try to continue typing while reaching over her head...
This post features a couple of more tiny journal pages (3 by 5 inches in case you missed a previous post about these). They really are quite fun if perhaps a bit tedious. However, I think I love to work small. It feels a bit like quilting...deciding on colors, snipping little pieces, determining placement, attaching, and finally, embellishing a bit to integrate the elements together. (The tiny house 'scapes I'm creating for an upcoming show also make me feel like I'm quilting with paper.) I also like these little journal pages because they are so portable. Adding real stitching to these is definitely a possibility as I can just slip the pages right under the sewing machine's foot and zoom, zoom! I'll have to give that a try! I'm just getting started in this journal format and I have yet to discover all that can be done in such a small space. It reminds me of when I was creating ATCs. At first, the size seems restrictive but as the possibilities open up, it starts to feel bigger and bigger. I'm sure my pages will evolve over the next few days. So much for not starting something new....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Big 4-0

Happy birthday to me! Today's my 40th year on the planet and I am taking things rather well as compared to my 30th wherein I cried for days before and days after. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this milestone in past weeks, trying to figure out where I've been and more importantly, where I'm going. The answer to the first question is long, detailed, and generally painful with a few bright spots sprinkled throughout the past decade. The future is wide open.

There are going to be some changes here at the Lost Coast Post as I move to make this forum more of a tool for my art life and business. Because, the answer to the big question, "What do I want to accomplish in the next ten years?" is quite obvious and simple: Build an artistic career that pays the bills and fills up my soul. Period. No more wallflowering. No more just surviving the days. No more self-doubt. No more putting myself and my dreams second just because I can't see the way clear. My 40th birthday is a blissful ending to a rough patch and the beginning of a whole new outlook. I am excited.

Notes on today's artwork: Illustration created for Vector Rehabilitation's annual Chocolate Gala fundraiser. Vector is the physical therapy office I have been attending since 2000; they have seen me through the aftermath of the last six surgeries. The man's head is a hand-colored image from Dover, the letters are clipped from magazines and the rest is hand drawn.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Littlest Journal

A couple posts back, I was pondering the idea of starting a new journal or art project to document my 40th year day by day and after much consideration, I've decided against it as I have so many journals already in progress and between them all, I already complete at least one journal page a day. Often, I do much more than that. I'd like to get the journals I do have filled rather than starting some huge project with self-imposed expectations when I'm already up to my nose in pending deadlines. That said, I couldn't resist trying out a new journal format. I've had the pages painted for this for awhile but somehow the stuff got tucked away and as it goes, "out of sight, out of mind."
Can you guess how big this journal page is?? Depending on your computer screen, it's probably showing actual size - 3 by 5 inches. For a journal page, that's teeny tiny. It was fun and challenging to work so small. The base material is painted watercolor paper cut to index card size and I will, of course, keep these pages in a decorative index card file box! My son suggested that I could also punch a hole in one corner, set and eyelet and display the pages on a ring. Oh, what big potential such a little space has...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wandering & Wondering

Here's another page in my circle journal...I've been wandering in and out of the studio, working on bits of this and bits of that, whittling away at my master "To Do" list. September is coming up fast like a train that looks like it is just lumbering along in the distance until it rushes past, blowing back your hair in its wake.

I'm also trying to figure out what to do with the Lost Coast Post. I'd like to move a little bit beyond just chattering about my art and daily doings. Now that I'm posting more, I'm finding that I am sometimes running out of things to say. Maybe a challenge day?? I love thinking up challenge topics, especially ones that aren't overused. Perhaps, some more step-by-step posts and more tips and techniques...what do you think, dear readers?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Buried Treasure

Seth over at The Altered Page is hosting a virtual collaboration called "Dig Deeper" in which bloggers look through past posts to find verbal and visual buried treasures. I decided to go back almost exactly three years and found a post that is just as relevant to me this morning as it was back then. Apparently, my rooftop is still Starling Central...

May 23, 2006 'Tis a Raven, Nothing More...
(with deepest apologies to Edgar Allen...)
I have a strange floor plan in my apartment where the living room & kitchen are upstairs and the bedrooms downstairs. My bedroom has been converted into a small classroom so I sleep upstairs on the couch, right alongside the studio space I have created for stretching my artistic wings. Wings of another sort have been visiting me though and it is a surreal experience born of Hitchcock and Poe.

European starlings are ubiquitious black & iridescent birds with sharp, yellow beaks and a wide variety of warbles, clicks, and whistles in their vocal repertoire. They are a non-native species and as such are held in low regard by local birders. However, I find them entertaining to listen to and almost comical to watch, especially as they come and go in large flocks.

Apparently, the local starlings' union has decided that the rooftop of my apartment is a fantastic morning meet-up point and so they gather there in large numbers to plot their adventures for the day. My upstairs has huge loft ceilings with very little between the redwood planking inside and the shingles outside. Consequently, I wake, just as dawn is breaking, to the rather loud pitter patter of many feet, as the starlings mill around and chatter about whatever starlings have to chat about.

However, as of late, a larger, more annoying visitor has become enamored with the apartment roof for a very different reason. A large raven has decided that the roof contains some very special, edible treat (termites??). This raven must have some sort of woodpecker envy going on because he attacks the roof with gusto, using his large, black beak to drill into the rooftop. The rap, tap, tapping of his efforts are plainly heard inside and it makes for an abrupt wake-up call. I have to admire his enthusiasm but as there seems to be no shortage of treats hidden in the roof, he has become something of a regular. Poe would be proud.

Note: The accompanying journal page reads "Embodied in air: Each time we speak, we give birth and take wing..." It was not created for this blog entry but seemed oddly appropriate.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fly Far, Fly Fast, Fly Free!

Oh, this Miss Tallulah! Her heart is filled with wanderlust...just can't rest for a moment...too much to see and do on this incredible journey we call life! Soaring in on a hard-working swallowtail butterfly, Tallulah puts in another brief appearance here at the Lost Coast in honor of Three Muses' challenge for this week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Neighborhood Under Construction

Some serious construction is underway at Hand & Soul Studios as I work towards an October art show entitled "Facades." I've completed 12 of these little houses mounted on 5 by 5-inch stretched canvases along with 2, 10 by 30-inch night 'scapes, one 15 by 30-inch red, black and white town scene, and one countryside scene. Whew! It isn't nearly enough but I'm pluggin' along, "building" up my inventory one house at a time. The show venue is huge and I may actually hang two completely different shows at this one...just depends on how much art I can crank out. I'm almost finished with the work for a September/October show entitled "Soul Terrain." I have another show to hang in November/December and I'm calling that one "A Post-Fusion Retrospective" as it is at my physical therapists' office...again another huge venue. Luckily, I'll be able to use any work from the first two shows that doesn't sell as well as any other art I've completed since my wrist fusion in March of 2008.

In between show stuff, I'm researching artists and creating samples for my classes starting in September when the new school year kicks off. Oh, and I'm hosting two major swaps AND trying to write/produce an online art journaling class that will go live in January! I think I'm going to need stock in a coffee company! How did I ever get this busy?! Thank you for all of your sweet comments and dedicated following of this thing I call my art life! Things are about to get crazy, ladies and gents!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Queen Ponders

Meet Her Majesty Harriet Hagfish, another alter ego from my "World Within" journal. Some may wonder at the title of this project so here's how it came about...the pages are contained in a three-ring binder I decorated in black, white, and silver with the tiniest window cut in the cover so just the smallest bit of the journal's contents are visible from the outside. Inside, are pages like this one, physical manifestations of my imagination, characters that represent various aspects of my personality, oft hidden from the world. I haven't worked in this journal much since the hand surgery...partly because the pages are so labor-intensive but also because I tend to burn white-hot in a journal for a while and then the embers fade and I move on to another idea. I've been revisiting this particular journal a lot lately though and I think I could be gearing up mentally for another round. I am also considering submitting this journal to Somerset Studio's Art Journaling publication. Two pages have already been published; you can find them in LK Ludwig's outstanding book True Vision. However, sending the journal away means it will be out of my hands for a considerable amount of time and letting go is tough. We'll just have to see where the current takes me...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Live Like That Crooked Tree

"I need to live like that crooked tree
that knelt down in the hardest winds
but could not be blasted away..."
- Edward Hirsch

Here's another page from my brand-new circle journal (inside front cover). I absolutely love this quote! As my 40th birthday shows itself on the horizon, I have been reflecting on the last decade of my life. It has been intense to say the least: six surgeries (and all the recovery time that has entailed), eight deaths in the family...sigh...the winds have definitely been in my face the last ten years and all along, despite everything negative that I could say, I've been leaning into the storm, and ever so slightly moving forward. Step by step, head down, coat clutched tight about my heart.

And as I ponder what the next ten years will bring, I look forward to trying to document the next year of my life in some special way. Erin at 365 Days of Being 30 decided that when she turned 30, she would create an art piece for each day of that year. I think it is a brilliant concept and I am trying to decide whether or not I'm up to creating a journal page a day (although I'm already damn close to that anyway.) A couple of Januaries back, I resolved to create five inchies (inch-by-inch art) a day for a year and sadly, I only made it to mid-February. Maybe one inchie a day would be more reasonable...or perhaps a twinchie (2 by 2 inches). I've seen other people on the Internet make an art doll or take a photograph a day. A contributor to the magazine Cloth Paper Scissors created a small handmade book every day for a year. Hmmm...any thoughts out there?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


in my soul
wide and strong,
searching for
into the world."

This is a page from my upcoming circle journal project with Kelly Snelling. I cannot wait for this exchange to get underway but in the meantime, I am creating a few pages to start my journal off on its journey. I am working on raw canvas, gessoing the pages before painting, and then creating whatever images come to mind. Paradoxically, I am purposely trying to work spontaneously, without my usual amount of pre-project planning and pondering. A large red flower flashed into my head and off I went!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Simplification of Stuff

Another page from my red and black journal that seemed appropriate for the challenge at Three Muses, "Word Salad." Love those clipped words! The quote at the bottom is actually referring to a scientific outpost in Anarctica but I found those words to be completely relevant to art journaling as well so snip, snip and onto a page it goes.

And this is the part where I impart a little wisdom to beginners, whether you're just starting out in journaling or mixed media in general - LESS IS MORE! Limit your palette, limit the tools, limit the stuff! There is sooo much cool stuff out there but in reality, it will just get in the way of actual art-making, especially at first. Someday, I'll post pictures of my studios (yes, I have more than one!) and you'll see that I am not immune to "too much stuff" disease. Nope, completely and thoroughly afflicted with that...but look what it took to make a successful journal page: some star stickers from the office supply store, magazine clippings and an image. Tools? Scissors and glue. All the "stuff" took a backseat to thought and presentation. Sure, a little serendipity was involved: how perfect that I happened to have the word "journey" in red so it could stand out and how grand that the image I've had for years only now felt right for what I wanted to say. However, if I hadn't collected some stuff together by color scheme, I wouldn't have seen the spot-on combination of word and image lurking in my studio. In the last year or two, as my stuff has ballooned to suffocating levels, I've taken to creating "theme boxes" to hold things related to those "looks" or theme I most often return & black, romantic, Zetti and so forth. When I'm working in the red and black journal, I only look to the red & black box for papers, ribbons, clippings, images, tissues, and embellishments. When I have a special project going on, I create a box for it. When I shop, I limit myself to shopping for "consumables" like paints and inks, information in the form of books and magazines, and then by theme box. It doesn't make any sense to purchase Marie Antoinette stuff when I have no projects ongoing that require that style or theme. This method of limitation and simplification has worked well to stop the stash from further encroachment on my creative process. And that, my friends, is what really should be center stage.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Red, Black & White All Over

"The process of soul-making begins with the realization that I am lost..."

Beginning tomorrow, the theme over at Three Muses is "Word Salad" and I must say that many of my journal entries fit this challenge as I am overly fond of the ransom note look and found word poetry. In fact, I am so enamored (or shall we say obsessed) with using this in my journals, I have organized all my clipped letters in individual envelopes by letter and my clipped words by parts of speech. Crazy, yes, but a tremendous time-saver. Just pop in to the "S" verbs and viola! Text for this page from my red and black journal!

Why, you may ask, a journal completely in red, black, greys, cream, and white? Well, everything I do is typically dripping in color so I thought perhaps it is important to have a place where I couldn't hide behind my palette, a destination where I can lay everything bare, literally and figuratively. It is actually refreshing to work in this fussy color families to consider...just pure story-telling with image and word. For more from this journal, see my Flickr site.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Beautiful Circle Begins

Sometimes a project comes along that is a "must-do", an opportunity that is sure to fill one's life with lessons, laughter, and in this case, lots of art! Awhile back, I proposed a circle journal exchange to my dear sweet friend, Kelly. Kelly has not only been a wise, kind shoulder to lean on through my health challenges but an amazing artistic muse. My painting will never be the same after having had the pleasure of seeing her work in person through a variety of swaps. If there was anyone that I wanted to do a circle journal with, Kelly was it. Can you tell I'm a huge fan?!Well, now is the time and we are moving forward with this project! I am so excited! I've been zigzagging canvas pages, stitchin' on stars, slinging paint and rockin' the house with 80s music while I prepare my journal. There's no set theme, just two gals working in a pair of raw canvas journals that will circle in and out of our lives and studios over the next few months. This photo shows the journal I'll be tossing into the ring and the cover as it stands at this very moment. I may play with it some more but I am stepping back for a while, letting it rest in my head before I throw too much at it and ruin what I've got. Look for scans of more pages from this journal throughout the week as I prepare for the first mailing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Balancing Act

Here's another page from my "World Within" journal featuring Traveling Tallulah who, this time, has free-wheeled her way onto an airbourne tightrope. This girl does love to travel! I dug this page out of the archives of August 2006 because, as all good things and thoughts do, the message on this page has come back around to the forefront of my brain in these past few weeks. With the upcoming school year and art shows, the job of singlehandedly raising my teenage son and my ongoing health issues, I have to find balance in each and every day. It is critical to my physical, emotional, and mental well-being but it is not always an easy thing to discover for oneself. Tallulah seems to do just fine...maybe it's the outfit. Hmmm...where does she shop?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pink Dream

This one is for pink lovers and girly girls everywhere! I do bounce around, don't I? LOL From surreal to sweet, that's me lately. After the wrist fusion in March of 2008, I was faced with relearning everything and retraining my hand to do the simplest tasks. In physical therapy, I started out by just working my hand into a fist that could hold something. Luckily, after much pre-surgery research, I had requested that my surgeon fuse my wrist at a slight fifteen degree angle so making a fist is easier. As things gradually progressed and got moving again, I tried a little bit of everything, every material and tool I could think of in order to retrain my hand how to hold and use what I needed to be an artist. Since I couldn't (and still can't) stay with one activity or motion too long without causing pain, I move from project to project so I can work longer (and with less backlash) than if I tried to pound out 20 of the same thing in a day. I have several "stations" set up throughout the house, upstairs and downstairs, so I can continually change what I ask of my hand. It results in quite a hodgepodge of completed projects (and a bevy of uncompleted ones) but it seems to work for me. Pretty good since that the surgeon originally told me my art career would be over after this surgery. Ha! Take that, stodgy medical establishment!

Anyway, after this piece receives a protective (and yummy-smelling) coat of beeswax, it will be available in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Escape the Cages

It's Wednesday and time for a new challenge over at Three Muses. The word of the week is surreal and that pretty much describes every page in this journal, including this new page. I have just about ten journals in varying stages of completion and just in the last few days, I have revisited this one, thumbing through its pages and catching up with an old friend. Some have asked why I have so many journals going at once and the answer is twofold: If one page needs to dry, I can work on something else and two, I love to compartmentalize. Daily diary stuff in one, red & black art in another, collage style in yet another. In an altered atlas, I've created a storybook journal where I use make-believe characters and their tales to tell things about my own thoughts, dreams, and experiences. One journal is entirely for illustrated quotes and there's one devoted to all my health issues. The journal page I've shown here is also full of characters that I use to represent various parts of my conscious and sub-conscious self. I do a lot of self-affirmations in my journals, reminding myself to dream, believe, hope, strive, and fly free. We all have those nasty little inner critics living in our brains, whispering mean commentary on our lives. My journals give the nurturing, positive side of me a voice and they give my creative side a soft place to land. I've been journaling fairly regularly for about six years and I can't imagine my life without them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just Taking My Bushbaby for a Walk

Tomorrow, the new challenge over at the Three Muses blog will be "surreal" and so I'm jumping the gun just a tad but this hot-off-the-presses journal page seems to fall under that particular category. I've started work in this journal again...if you're curious, the entire journal, called "My World Within" is available to view over at my Flickr site. I haven't worked in this journal since before my wrist surgery as it is highly detail (and thus fine-motor) oriented. However, I blew off the dust and managed this page featuring one of my journal alter egos, Traveling Tallulah, who has decided to take her best bud, Bushbaby Jane, out for a stroll to soak up some vitamin D and chase away the blues. Sounds like the perfect prescription to me!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Feeling restless in the studio...I'm all over the place, playing around in different journals, working on a painting here and there, trying to unearth my focus. I have a ton of stuff to do in the next two months and it feels like time is slipping through my fingers. Where has the year gone? On top of everything, my 40th birthday is looming. Talk about time slipping this what a mid-life crisis feels like? I am super-duper excited about all I have going on and coming up, no question about that. Maybe it is just the amount of stuff that I have on my plate. I am used to being this busy but sometimes I forget to breathe and to have faith that everything will fall into place. Faith...oooh...that's the toughest part. That's the part where I let go and let destiny take over after all my hard work. Oy! Letting go! That's pretty tough too. Ok, maybe it is just this life thing in general that is hard but all in all, I seem to do alright. "Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark." I'm the little bird, heart and soul bursting with song. And, metaphorically at least, it's dark here...not pitch black...but hazy, foggy, unclear. Time to let those songs loose and trust in the simple fact that the sun will rise.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Into the Gale

Over at Three Muses, the challenge for the week is "Up, Up, and Away." I haven't had time yet this week to generate a brand-spanking new entry for the challenge so I present a journal page I completed some time ago as a tip of the hat to a great topic. (I love themes that haven't been done a gazillion times.) This particular character is Traveling Tallulah and she appears many times over in this particular journal, always with a odd conveyance of some kind. She represents that part of me who longs to travel beyond my boundaries, both external and internal. I love thinking up new ways for her to get from point A to point B. Come to think of it...I haven't visited Tallulah or this journal in some time (there are so many). I must make an appointment with this particular muse and see what develops.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hope is the Thing & A Winner Too!

Here's another in my new "Little Ladies, Big Thoughts" series...this one has decided to live with me as it is one of my all-time favorite poems (and poets for that matter.) For me, everything about this piece came together in just the right way and that is a rare thing.

In other ramblings, I have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. You'll find my Twitter feed to right in my blog sidebar. I sort of think it is just one more thing to keep updated but maybe someone out there wants to keep tabs on the life of an artist, teacher, single mom, daughter, sister, overall crazy person. My lone follower at this moment in time is my brother who can call and talk to me any time so go figure! We'll see how long I ride the Tweet is oddly addicting!

And I just came back from where I inputed numbers 1 through 11 to represent the 11 comments I received on my 100th post...and the winner of the mixed media piece is...NUMBER 11! That's Lyn Green (aka Lacy's mom)! Congratulations and thank you so very, very much to everyone who stopped by to celebrate with me! Your sweet comments are deeply appreciated! There's more giveaways in the Post's future so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Beautiful Messes

In happy, happy news, I found out that in the fall I will be teaching art three days a week instead of one at my son's school! I've taught at this small charter school for three years now and I am so excited as this spells an expansion of my role as artist-in-residence and since my classes will run the course of the entire school year (instead of a semester at a time,) I will have much more time to help the kids make beautiful messes.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will have 15 to 20 high school students for a class exploring Hispanic and Spanish art (Latin American & Spanish art was my emphasis for my art history minor.) I've already worked on the syllabus for this class which will include a brief introduction to an artist and then an art project inspired by that artist's work. In this class, we'll study Mexican graphic artist Jose Posada and carve our own stamps. We'll create fantasy landscapes in water soluble oil pastels using Argentine artist Xul Solar as inspiration, create cubist self-portraits after studying Pablo Picasso, make mini mixed media quilts in honor of Frida Kahlo and finally, complete a paneled mural after studying about Diego Rivera and the Mexican Mural Movement.

On Fridays, I will have 33 middle school students! These guys are studying geography all year so although I have yet to write things in stone, I believe we will study an artist or artistic technique from each of the continents (excepting Antartica). There are so many fabulous artists to choose from and so little time! At the end of the school year, this school always takes a school trip that sums up what they've learned during the year and 2010 will be no exception. The students will be spending a week in San Francisco, practicing their geography and navigating skills throughout the city, eating foods from different cultures, and visiting art museums.

I am so honored to be able to contribute to a school that is refusing to cut their art program in these tough economic times but is, instead, expanding it! Hooray for going against the current!
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