Monday, August 31, 2009

Stitched & Stenciled Part 1

After a wonderful experience in the Pure Experimentation stenciling class taught by Mary Ann Moss of Dispatch From L.A., I decided to enroll in part two, "Stitched & Stencilled" and it has proven to be a grand distraction from my hectic schedule. The assignment was to paint, stencil, and stitch a mini book from watercolor paper, fabric, notions, and ephemera and this post features scans of my book pages in progress (each individual page is approximately 6 inches square.) I chose an Asian theme for my book and loved the process so much that I've begun three other books. Back in college, I began my diversion from "classical" fine arts like scientific illustration by exploring printmaking and bookmaking. Once I slid into mixed media, I've never looked back. This project reminded me how much I really, really love making artist books. This book isn't anywhere near finished; I plan on continuing to embellish and then writing a haiku for each page.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Simple Materials, Complex Beauty

After a good thirty minutes of thunderous purring, Miss Tuscany has rumbled to a halt, sighed and settled into my lap for a early morning nap and I, however awkwardly, can get on with the business of writing a blog post.

This is a postcard I created for Nancy Baumiller's Crowabout collage group (email Nancy to sign up). All images are from Nancy's fabulous collage sheets provided for use by the group for weekly challenges. And can you guess what the background is made of? Paper towels! That's right; the upper part of the card's background consists of dyed and stamped paper towels while the lower third of the card (black and turquoise part) features hand painted brown paper bags. I absolutely adore making my own papers; in fact, of all the things I do in the studio, making serendipity papers and backgrounds is probably my number one favorite activity. It is spontaneous, meditative, and just plain messy fun. I could spend hours painting, dying, stamping, and stitching my way to piles of handmade papers (and often do!). The simpliest materials can be transformed into complex, beautiful backgrounds.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pattern Mixing for Courage

The last couple of days have been dominated by extreme fibro and migraine fatigue so unfortunately, I've been less than productive. However, even confined to the couch, a girl can still dream and draw so Miss Tallulah makes an appearance, encouraging me to live a little louder. Contrary to my typical palette, I tend to favor dark, unassuming, pattern-free clothes. But I am trying to bring the artist on the inside around to the outside. And I have to say that it begins with accessories: a cool purse, playful socks, a funky piece of handmade jewelry. I want to wear my profession proudly. That doesn't mean that I need to whack off an ear lobe or follow Tallulah's example and mix as many patterns as possible in a single ensemble. But I do need to be less frightened of standing out and right now, bright clothes tend to make me hyperventilate. And really, this has nothing to do with clothes. It has to do with fear...more to the point, it is all about not being ruled by fear. I am an artist. You are an artist. Say it, shout it, wear it, be it with all of your being.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


"Once I knew only darkness and life was without past or future...but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living."
Helen Keller

Whenever hands become the topic of conversation, I feel a small catch in my throat and my eyesight gets a bit fuzzy as I automatically flash to all I've been through with my own precious hands, including a full fusion of the right wrist in March of 2008. I won't go into the rather lengthy backstory again but if you're curious, click HERE. Suffice to say that my hands are really at the center of my daily art life and given my history, each moment that my hands can keep up with my imagination is pure rapture.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Introducing Flip and Friends

Ever since grade school, I've loved bringing my imagination to life, creating characters, naming them, deciding upon their look, and developing their personal storylines. Today, this love of character creation extends into most of my art including my journals, painting, art dolls, and jewelry. My Etsy shop, Hand & Soul Studios, has several new additions: polymer clay pins, each with a shimmering personality all their own. Seen here is Flip who likes to admire his golden blue scales and in his free time, cavort with dolphins. To see his girlfriend, Flop, and other characters from my Menagerie collection, click on over to my Etsy shop. Thanks in advance for taking a peek...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Petite Royalty, Recap, & Thank You

Princess Fidelia Fox returns to rock the house here at Lost Coast Post after a quick change of clothes and headgear. I love her small, shy (but slightly sly) look. This piece is what I call a "hard copy" journal page, executed on a 6 by 12-inch canvas board. Her Highness will be landing soon in my Etsy shop, looking for a new kingdom to call home. Over the next month, other characters from the "World Within" journal will also be appearing in hard copy form for sale through my shop, Hand & Soul Studios.

The weekend was quietly eventful. I dealt with some crushing fibromyalgia fatigue on Saturday but managed some excellent book-making bliss on Friday and Sunday. I've got one more week until my first show hangs, and two weeks until I start up teaching art again so I anticipate crazy busy days ahead.

I'd also like to throw out a warm thank you to everyone who takes the time to stop by the Post, take a peek at my work and even drop a comment or two. All of your kind thoughts are deeply appreciated and keep this blogger bloggin'! And a very special thank you goes out to Sharon and Terri, two lovely and talented ladies who go out of their way to make a comment each and every day I post! Wow! Thank you for your support!

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Long Day Ends with Color

I've had horrible, persistent insomnia for over a decade now, so when people look at my body of work and exclaim "When do you sleep?", I simply chuckle. I'm told that getting enough sleep is essential to health but for now, a little bit of insomnia allows me to meet the demands of my crazy schedule of parenting, art-making, teaching, and swap hostessing. I got up at four this morning (2am and 3am wake-ups are not uncommon) and cranked out nine, 5-inch square canvases and one, 14 by 18-inch canvas for my "Soul Terrain" show that hangs the first week in September. And after all that, I managed this uber-colorful entry in my Zetti journal. Now 8pm, I'm sensing my bedtime just around the corner (I do go to bed fairly early) as sleepiness starts to tug at my eyelids and a yawn or two escapes. Not too long after morning officially dawns but before the stars slip away, I'll be up and at it again!
Note: Because of the vibrant background, I had to use a little bit different technique when creating Princess Fidelia's dress. I sketched my outfit in pencil as usual but this time, I made a tracing paper pattern and cut her frock out of scrapbook paper so it would stand out. Highlights were added with a marker.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Don't Forget to Play

Even though I should be workin' like a dog in these last two weeks before school starts back up again and my first of four fall shows is hung, I couldn't help creating yet another page in this particular journal. After all, one can't give up playtime all together. That would just be craziness! Meet Mr. Douglas Dodo, a typically reserved sort of fellow who has decided, just this once, to let down his guard and have a little fun with life. And lo and behold! Once Doug loosened up, life got a bit brighter (as did Doug's wardrobe.) In fact, Mr. Dodo has become quite the advocate for periodic playtime no matter how hectic the work schedule. I think I'll take the hint and continue to play here and there in spite of the chaos swirling around me...good chaos, but chaos nonetheless. Never fear - Through it all, Lost Coast Post will continue publishing at least five days a week, bringing you all the art life news that's fit to print. So stay's about to get wild!

Note: A previous commenter asked if I use a graphics tablet or draw on paper and then scan/manipulate...what you see, is what you get. I draw directly on my watercolored background with a pencil and then start coloring. Once the body is finished, I color the head and glue it in place. Other than scanning to get a picture of the finished product, no computers were harmed in the making of these journal pages...this is all me...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Wings Are Strong

The challenge over at Three Muses today is to create a piece of artwork with wings and here is my entry, a new page in my Zetti-inspired journal. Aside from a hand-colored head from Dover and a collaged collar, the entire piece is hand-drawn. This little lady seems very confident in her wings (and her stylist). I will try and learn something from her.

Simply Stylin'

Here's another entry in my Zetti-inspired journal entitled "My World Within." The head is a image from a Dover book of 19th century engravings that I colored by hand. The rest is drawn by me using markers, colored pencils and gel pens.

I fret a lot about whether or not I have an identifiable "look" and I have come to the conclusion that, as far as my journals are concerned, this journal is the most representative of my style: Bright colors, whimsy, lettering, cartoony characters, doodling, and several pairs of black and white tights thrown in for good measure. Of the many journals that I keep, this one is the most fun. I can lose myself for hours, developing a character's outfit & body position, deciding upon the border illumination, executing the vision and, finally, adding the journaling. The page seems to slowly come alive. It is a very relaxing and meditative process. And on top of everything, I am using the simplest art materials: crayons, colored pencils, gel pens, watercolors, and kids' markers. By not using expensive supplies and actually going back to those things that helped me fall in love with art in the first place, I am invoking the child artist inside and all the uninhibited feelings that the child can bring to the art table. It is a remarkable experience...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dancin' Fool

There's a whole lot of new art coming at you this week as I am going through a "rediscovery" of the journal you see here. I have so many journals that I start and stop, working feverishly in one or two for a while, and then "abandoning" them in favor of others waiting patiently on the shelf. It helps keep me journaling on a regular basis; I complete at least one, usually two, and sometimes three or more entries in a day. Some journals are strictly mixed media; some, like this "World Within" journal, are entirely hand drawn (with the exception of the heads and the occasional ransom note application.) Some are for "Dear Diary" ramblings and others are more like personal storybooks with the characters I create representing and communicating some aspect of my personality. There are people out there who are "kitchen sink" journalers, in which they work in and complete one journal before moving on to the next. Whether you like to keep a couple of journals going at once or you subscribe to the "one at a time" method, it is extremely important to journal in whatever manner feels the most authentic and comfortable for you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Trying to Drift

I managed to spend the last few days relaxing a bit and letting up on the relentless pursuit of To-Do list completition. In reality, not everything needs to be in the "done" column by September and it does me no good to stare, overwhelmed and underinspired, at a massive roster of things to accomplish when, realistically, I can only tackle three or four things in the short 24 hours we are given each day. So I am now making teeny tiny lists each morning, picking one or two things off the monster master list. This approach seems to be working better. It doesn't reduce the amount of things I have to do but it does serve to lessen the stress I'd been feeling. On top of everything, several health issues have reared their ugly heads again, necessitating more tests and appointments. Sigh! I swear, if I hear the "S" word (as in surgery), I just might pull up stakes and follow my dream of living in Spain again, doctors be damned. (I lived about ten minutes outside of Madrid for a couple years in the early nineties while in the Air Force.) But that's getting ahead of myself and I promised I wouldn't do that. For now, it is just me, my journals, and the list that, while not getting any shorter fast, isn't getting any longer. And that's something.

Note: Stay tuned next week as lots of new art will be coming your way...relaxing seems to agree with me!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Now here's something you'll rarely see at Lost Coast Post: a peek into one of my sketchbooks. Oddly enough, I don't really worry all that much about posting my journal pages but my sketchbooks are another matter entirely. I have a least a dozen for a variety of topics from business babbling, show work, on-the-spot sketching, designing, and, as you can see, cartooning. I've taught cartooning in the past and plan to use it again this fall to teach the elements and principles of design, a normally rather dry topic of conversation. Anyhoo, I love to draw little cartoons, especially of owls, robots and lately, skeletons. I have entire character lines developed but it is stuff I keep under wraps as I consider my sketchbooks to be deeply personal. They are a place for me to play uninhibited. I love sitting down with my son (an extremely accomplished cartoonist in his own right) and just doodling away an evening. The real world drops away and the cartoon world emerges, a world full of whimsy and laughter. It is a world I thought maybe you all might like to peek into; just know it is only as far away as your own pencil and a piece of paper.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Ultimate Pointy Hat

"Cosmic millinery
Lady Lunabee
was very good
at losing herself
in the universe."

Starting today, this week's theme at the Three Muses blog is one of my very favorite: hats! As a Zetti lover through and through, hats, crowns and all manner of pointy millinery often make an appearance in my work. This ATC triptych, entitled "Lady Lunabee's Wayward Ways," features a very tall, very spacey (yet still stylish) piece of headgear.

Triptychs are a great way to expand your artist trading card canvas and provide yourself with an additional challenge. When I start to feel a bit cramped by the size parameters of the standard ATC, I expand my theme vertically or horizontally. Consider making your background as one piece and then slicing it up into three pieces which you can then further embellish. Triptychs can remain unattached but displayed together or you can connect the cards with jump rings or eyelets and wire. The possibilities are endless times three!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Her Majesty the Queen

The creative juices have been running on empty the past few days so I thought I'd try my hand at another online art challenge. Helga at My ARTistic Life challenged her readers to create a piece of art, any size or shape, that had a kitty in it. Inspired by the real life queen of my castle, Miss Tuscany Jane, I opted to create a postcard-sized portrait of feline royalty. She's dressed to the nines, perhaps in anticipation of some fancy state dinner of salmon and mackerel, served with a side of delicately aromatic tunafish. One, of course, should always wear one's best crown to dinner.

Busy Days Are Coming

Maybe it is my mile-long "To Do" list that I write completed tasks on just so I can scratch something off...perhaps it is the looming shows and teaching schedule or maybe it is the sticky, soul-sucking heat that lingers into the evening...whatever it is, my August so far has been one full of restless, unfocused energy. I feel the world winding up, the lazy days of summer winding down and I'm not sure how to feel. On one hand, I thrive a little on chaos and on the other, it eats me alive. So as the busy, busy days of fall creep forward, I try to revel in the peaceful time I have left and simultaneously, prepare to meet the chaos as prepared as possible. There is research to be done, notes to be taken, visual aides to make, paintings to paint, artist statements and price lists to develop. And all I want to do is curl up with coffee and a good movie or book, purses to be quilted in my lap. I want to journal away my nervous anticipation a page at a time. Maybe I should give in to my restlessness and take a little vacation from the "go, go, go" mindset. Those days will be here soon enough. Then, when the time arrives, I can flutter softly towards my big premiere, calm, cool, collected, confident, content.

Friday, August 7, 2009

ATCs Then & Now

"Start small...
Grow a little every day...
Welcome both sun & rain."

Like many others, I jumped onto the ATC (artist trading card)train as it picked up steam and raced like wildfire through the online art community. I stayed on the train for about three to four years until I had created and traded to my heart's content. I now have a binder overflowing with incredible, imaginative inspiration. But the question inevitably arises as I peruse that collection: what do I do with all these little pieces of art? Recently, I've dusted off that binder and started looking at ways to display my favorites and to leverage the art I created over the years.

I like to assemble several of my ATCs on a sheet of paper and have them color copied onto cardstock in several sizes to use in my journals. I've also copied those ATCs onto fabric through my ink jet printer so I can utilize my ATC art in my sewing projects. ATC art could also be miniaturized (through copying) to fit in soldered jewelry projects. Keep in mind that, unless you have permission, others' work is copyrighted by the individual creators, and it is bad form to copy the ATCs you've received in trades. To avoid that sticky situation, make an extra card for yourself every time you participate in a swap and use your own art when you want to leverage it for other projects.

As far as display is concerned, I've started creating wall hangings by punching holes in the corners of the cards, attaching eyelets, and wiring the cards together. Alternately, you could also use small jump rings as I've done with this triptych of ATCs entitled "Wisdom of the Flora."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Small Space, Big Thoughts

Many times it is much easier to crank out a jounal entry if one is not faced with so much white space. I love working in small journals and I have several in progress. There's the Moleskine that is for on-the-spot sketching (no collage allowed); I have a series of seven spiral-bound journals (4.5 x 5.5 inches) called "Tiny Thoughts." (I'm currently near the end of volume two.) I have a coffeehouse journal that I take out into the world along with a traveling journal kit and money for a tall, tasty cup of joe. Today's page is from a new 5-inch square journal called "Love Letters to Myself." For more pages from my small journals, check out my Flickr Photosteam and the set entitled "Miscellaneous Small Journals."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Busy Bee Days

I dropped off the blogging map the last couple of days due to a quick jaunt out of town and a region-wide Internet outage. I've been busy, busy, busy though, journaling in a variety of journals and putting in some time at the sewing machine. Now I am not, by any means, an expert seamstress. However, with diligent application of brain power, I've discovered that I can figure out a pattern if the instructions and illustrations are clear and well-written. I received a purse pattern for my birthday and after two days of slowly working my way through all the diagrams and verbage, I managed to make something that actually looked like the sample...what a sense of accomplishment! I am genuinely proud that I managed to figure everything out for myself including the lining and binding. Excited with the finished product, I promptly ventured out to the local fabric store and bought enough yardage to make four more. Aside from providing myself a bunch of purses to coordinate with varying wardrobe choices, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all my handiwork. I guess I just find the work meditative and refreshing.
In addition to my sewing binge, I've been working in a number of journals every day, from my "daily diary" to my miniature journal. I'm completing an average of three pages a day. Sometimes, I run out of things to say (perish the thought!) so on this little page, I recycled some inchies I did several years ago as part of a failed resolution to create five inchies a day for a year. I only made it to mid-February but the inchies I did complete are wonderful photocopied and leveraged into new work.
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