Monday, August 29, 2011

Caught Up in My Own Personal Hurricane but Still Making Art

My summer break officially came to an end this morning.  My son started back to college today and so begins the endless driving to and from campus.  While he will be riding the bus some this semester, I'm still responsible for 4 mornings a week and two afternoons which adds up to about 6 hours a week spent in the car.  I'm happy to support my son in his college journey but whew! I get tried of being on the road!  And just as that weekly commitment begins, I'm also juggling the following:
* Continuing prep for my show which hangs October 1st (18 canvases to go!)...
* Initial planning for another show that hangs in January...
* Lesson planning for art teaching that begins Sept 9th...
* Work on creating new inventory for my Etsy shop (aka Hand & Soul Studios) 
* Development of a companion blog space to Lost Coast Post, focused solely on tutorials (more on that when I'm ready)...
* Continuing physical therapy for my foot...
* Annual paperwork requirements for a variety of  agencies...
* A thorough "fall cleaning" of my apartment and workspaces to make some breathing room...
* A return to writing fiction (this has been quietly brewing for some time now)...

And all the while, I am making time to journal!  I'm so very close to completing this Full Tilt Boogie journal.  I'll post a picture of it once finished because I know you'll get a chuckle at how FAT this book has become!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Enter Rainbow Crane

It takes me a while sometimes but once I get into the groove of show preparation, everything else drops away (including blogging).  That has an upside (the chances that I'll get enough pieces done improve) and a downside (I neglect other things I need to do.)  However, I'm in it up to my neck now and it is best to try and ride the intensity in the studio for all it's worth while making a concerted effort to squeeze in all my other obligations.

I've assembled the completed canvases on a wall in the hallway and I have to say that they look pretty good together - just enough consistency in design elements and style to make them look like they belong together and enough differences to make each piece interesting in its own right.  Whew!  This latest canvas is 15 inches wide by 30 inches high

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Birdie Lands

The last couple of days I've been stuck in that peculiar sort of whirlwind in which I am spinning so fast that I'm actually standing still.  There is so very much to do in such a limited amount of time and the overwhelming-ness of it all has me frozen in place.  I'm doing a lot of backgrounds and some sporadic journaling but other than that, I'm not getting much done.  I wake up with a head full of intent but I've been derailed by a series of appointments as I try to get those out of the way before school starts up.  Ah will all settle down in a bit and I'll take a deep breath and wonder what all my fuss was about.

This is the second bird canvas that I finished this past weekend...only now getting around to posting it.  This particular bird is on a 12 by 12-inch canvas.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hello Mr. Peacock

I completed Mr. Peacock over the weekend along with a smaller piece so I'm actually still on track with the two-canvases-a-week goal of the August "Out of the Journal" challenge. As you can tell, I've decided to stick with birds for this show.  There's just something about birds that I love....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lost Coast Studio Saturday - It's About to Get Insanely Busy

The fade of summer 2011 into the soft recesses of my memory means that the time is near to get back into the chaos of a new school year.  There's quite a few fresh faces following my exploits here at Lost Coast Post so I'll give a quick and dirty lowdown:  I've regularly taught art classes to adults & kids since 2000 but in a sort of unplanned turn of events, I started teaching exclusively to kids from 2008 onward.  It isn't that I've lost interest in adult classes; in fact, I scheme about ways to get back to that all the time.  However, I developed a particular devotion to a small, local charter school and for the last six years, I've taught art there.  Unlike so many other schools who have been forced to cut art (and music and P.E.) classes, Laurel Tree has made a comittment to fund, entirely through fundraising & donations, one day a week completely devoted to the arts.  Every Friday, students get to take a wide variety of classes such as cooking, gardening, art, dance, PE, and music.  I have found that this yearly interaction with young souls infuses my artistic life with fresh passion and purpose.  

Middle school art journals 2010-2011
I primarily teach middle school students (5th through 9th) and every other year, I teach a class for high students needing the liberal arts units to satisfy graduation requirements.  This is a high school art year so in a couple of weeks, my life is going to get crazy busy.  I found out yesterday that I'll have 16 to 20 high school students - almost all of them boys - so that will be particularly challenging.  And about eight weeks after the start of the school year, I'll also have my usual contingent of middle school squirrels.  My lesson plans are still in development as I was waiting on these key pieces of information before moving forward.  I get free rein to teach whatever I can dream up while touching upon all the standards and over the years I've taught cartooning, art journaling, bookmaking, monster-making, and graphic design. 

So you'll be hearing lots about this adventure as the school year gets underway.  It always proves to be a wild ride!    

Friday, August 19, 2011

Moving Right Along

Mr. Peacock is shaping up quite nicely.  There are no less than 85 handcut pieces that make up this bird portrait and I actually cut that number twice because I make tracing paper patterns first.  This is now sealed and awaiting the next step.  This is on a 20 by 20-inch canvas so the picture is a little wonky since I'd tried to capture the entire piece in one shot.  I'll get a better picture when it's complete.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trying to Enjoy the Dwindling Freedom

I've just started the pattern cutting and paper piecing process on this peacock-esque bird and hopefully, I'll be able to finish him off in the next couple of days.  I'm a tad off schedule this week but I'm trying not to stress about it.  The summer is winding down and that means a perfect storm is gathering of all the fun things I want to do in the remaining free time versus all the meetings/appointments/errands/planning that needs to take place before I can launch into my fall schedule.  I have a big meeting tomorrow to figure out my art teaching schedule for the coming school year: how many kids, what age group, how long, what budget etc and from that I can finally start developing lesson plans and purchase requests.  I'm not a fan of limbo so it will be good to finally know what I'll be doing.

I've read on a couple of blogs that some people find cat photos obnoxious but I couldn't resist posting this one of my big ole Marley Bear, who apparently is also exhausted by all the recent invasions of noise and strange routines.  This photo makes his 17-pounds look rather rotund but in truth, he's really long so all that mass is evenly distributed.  I adore his devotion to really good sleep, no matter the position.  When he's like this, we can roll him onto his back and give his belly a nice big snuggle.

And in case you're just dying to zoom in for a close-up, here's what his sweet face looked like from my studio chair.  Just love the fangs!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Contentedly Journaling

I'm so close to being finished with this journal!  I have just about 2 and a half signatures left to fill and my first Full Tilt Boogie journal will be complete - wow!  I have more handmade journals waiting in the wings and I know I will definitely continue with this style as I feel so comfortable working on these pages!

The structure is highly adaptable to my needs: I can easily add page extensions if I need to accommodate a larger image or more writing.  I can also cut down and shape pages, although since I added in so many short-width pages during the binding process, I haven't really felt the urge to trim stuff down.

I also adore working with non-blank backgrounds.  The scrapbook and found papers I chose to use provide an instant starting point every time I sit down to journal - no more "staring at the blank page" sessions!

On future pages, I want to add more and more of my own doodlings and creative writing.  I love collage but I want it to always be subordinate to my own voice and vision.  Right now, I am madly in love with robots and want to draw them all the time!  It is quite possible, I will begin a separate journal just for all my robot/sci-fi stuff as I have collected a lot of papers and ephemera centered around this theme.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

After the Noise Dies Down, I Take a Deep Breath

The last few days have been very strange: lots of busyness without accomplishing much and maintenance on my apartment that frightened & confused the cats and overwhelmed my space with displaced stuff.  That's all over now and aside from just getting off the phone with 911 to report a assault-in-progress at an apartment across the parking lot, the evening is finally reaching an acceptable level of calm.  Overall, I love my apartment, positioned as it is up against a wildlife refuge, but the heat has been driving the neighbors a tad wacko in recent weeks.

Anyhow, I think I'm settling down and ready to move onward and upward.  I've somehow managed to keep up on my journaling while the hammering, sawing, and drilling was going around me and you'll see those pages later in the week.  I've also completed the backgrounds of several canvases for my show; they sit in the studio, each one waiting for its own collaged bird.  Sometimes I get really attached to the preliminary layers and I have to let them sit for awhile before I can cover them up with the next stage of the process.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Boogie Onward

Even while I am throwing myself into production mode for my October art show, I am continuing work in my Full Tilt Boogie journal.  I'm almost finished filling the first journal I made in this class and I am loving every minute of crazy quilt style of journaling.  The pages come together very quickly and the varying page sizes and backgrounds keep me interested.

Some days I write a little something and other days, I stay purely visual.  There's really no rhyme or reason to my approach and that is so refreshing!  I am sooo over pre-planning pages and it's about damn time! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Group of Quail is Called a Covey

This is a tough painting to get a photo over as it is a yard long by 12 inches high.  I hope this shot at least conveys the end result of this piece.  Today was a hard day (the fun can't last) but I'm on the mend.  Tomorrow will be better.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

There Be Birds Here!

The push forward on show work and the "Out of the Journal" challenge for August continues at a good clip here at my Lost Coast studio.  I finished Mr. Rooster (aka "Number 59X") by early yesterday afternoon and once I hit "Publish" on this post, I'm off to work on a trio of quail.  Right now I am focusing on bird imagery but that could change if I feel myself getting bored.  Since I'm on Day 3 of a no migraine streak, I'm on a roll and the paint is flying!  I hope today will be extra productive as I can hear the time ticking away.  October is just around the corner!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Rooster Comes To Life

I thought I'd post an in-progress shot of the canvas I'm currently working on for my show.  I'm moving forward with this concept in spite of some reservations and I have to say that I actually like how this one is shaping up.  I'm working on an 18 by 18-inch canvas here and I am realizing that theme questions aside, this technique requires an almost perfect mix of fine and large motor skills.  The backgrounds are bright, colorful, abstract, created with big, broad strokes of the brush while the central image brings me in close to the surface, developing pattern pieces, tracing, cutting, collaging, doodling.  If I'm having a day where my hands are being uncooperative, I can simply paint canvas and still make progress on the series as a whole.  On good hand and head days, I can work on the intricate aspects of the piece a little at a time without losing my place or momentum if I take frequent breaks.  In addition, moving back and forth between these two different ways of working keeps me engaged in the project. Happy times! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Moving Onward & Upward No Matter the Challenge

Detail from July 5th journal page
Today was literally a time of stepping back into the light after an entire day spent in darkness and wrapped in ice packs.  I have a lot of issues with my hands and feet but I daresay my chronic migraines constitute the singlemost debilitating condition that I have to face.  May and June were really good in terms of headaches but July was one of my worst months ever and so far, August has kind of sucked.  Oh well...I can only move forward and work with what I have.  Yesterday I did manage a blog entry, two canvas backgrounds and the initial layering on a journal page.  I think it can become habit to focus on what you can't do with chronic illness instead of celebrating what you can do.  I see that quite often actually on blogs curated by the chronically ill and it gets tiresome to read about so I can only imagine what it is like to live your life always falling back on the negative.

I've been asked privately many times how I get so much done while dealing with this or that health challenge and the simple answer is that I try to function with the mantras "Just Move Forward!" and "Every Little Bit Counts!"  Sometimes I work only in five-minute increments but that, repeated throughout the day, adds up.  When I feel better, I build on what I accomplished in those little blocks of time.  And over the years, I've gradually learned not to put my disabilities first.  Instead, I try to focus on what I can do, however small.  I'm not perfect and I get frustrated over and over again but as long as I constantly realign my thinking back towards the positive, I keep moving forward and getting stuff done.

And while I'm on this particular soapbox, I have also discovered (and research supports this) that sometimes pushing through what you think or was told you can't do and trying it anyway helps you make strides forward.  My long time physical therapist says he sees this phenomenon every day.  Patients who actively push the boundaries of their disabilities actually make more progress faster than those patients who come in with "I can't do x, y, or z" as their opening line.  People in the latter category arrive and leave defeated.  What a terrible way to live!

So if you're reading this and you have a chronic illness, that's my advice:  Understand that you will get frustrated and angry and depressed but don't allow yourself to settle for that.  Celebrate small victories, practice good self care, make room for bad days but make the most of good days.  Life is not a race or a competition.  Every step, however small, takes you farther on this journey.  Stop trying to assess how far you have or haven't gotten and just do what you can.

Well, enough said...I'm off my sweets to practice what I preach.  To all a good night!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rising to the Surface

The twin forces of ill health and technological meltdown have conspired against my blogging practice these last few days but I've got my sunglasses on so I can tolerate the computer's glare and it looks like my ISP got their act together (in time to email my bill of course!) so I'm hoping I can get back on track.  Thanks for your patience!

I've been quietly and steadily working in my journal and out of it as well.  Dina Wakely's "Out of the Journal" challenge for August coincides nicely with my show prep so I am participating in that this month.  Do yourself a favor and go gawk at Dina's incredible canvases; she does some stunning work!

For my part, I've latched on to a tiny idea, partly because I'm running out of time (the show's in October) and partly because this particular notion has been hanging around my brain for months now.  I think it is important to pay attention to the nagging sparks of inspiration so I am attempting to see it through.  I began with a bird and wasn't sure if I wanted to 1) concentrate on birds or 2) stray outward into the animal kingdom.  So I played around with an 8x10-inch canvas and this is what swam in this weekend.

I'm not sure that I really like this fish and in fact, a whole boatload of doubt surfaced with him.  I have to be careful assessing my work when I'm not feeling well but I'm now less sure about my idea than when I started.  Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately) I don't really have any time left to haggle about the show's content or technique; I just have to get the work done.  I've gesso'd up some more canvases and I'm going to experiment today with something a little larger to see if the technique holds up with magnification.  Wish me luck...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Recent Boogie Journaling

Drive-by post today as I am knee-deep in errands and projects so here's a peek at recent journal pages.  The Full Tilt Boogie love continues at a breakneck pace; I love that I am so in love with my journaling practice again.  (I also love that it seems easier these days to upload multiple photos in a single post.  That makes my blogging practice so much easier.) 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In the Dead of Night, A Funny Bird Appears and Is Welcomed

I've had an art show deadline hanging over my head for well over a year and until last night, I'd made no motions towards figuring out what I was going to do.  This will be the 8th show of my work out in the world since 2007 and one would think that I'd have developed some sort of process by now.  Sadly, no...There are soo many reasons:
  • Procrastination - This ever popular delay tactic is one of my worse enemies...
  • Panic - Even as I book the show in my calendar, my brain goes into full blown "Inner Critic" mode and I panic about everything but most especially, I question over and over again my ability to produce stuff worthy of being seen.
  • Age-Old Questions - Do I create work that I know will sell or do I create work that will satisfy my soul?  Coming up with a theme, technique & style that answers both questions with a resounding "Yes!" is the tricky part...
  • Time:  I am a chronic over-scheduler (many people with chronic health issues do this for some silly reason) and show stuff always gets shoved to the bottom of the to-do list...
However, the biggest reason I have for not getting my act together sooner is that since my wrist fusion surgery in 2008, I have found it really, really difficult to get out of my journal and onto canvas, both physically & mentally.  During my two-year physical therapy journey following my surgery, my journal became my ultimate art partner.  Fine motor manipulations are permanently awkward with no wrist movement and working in the intimate space of my journal is much easier than leaning over a canvas.  And most importantly, the journal makes no judgments about shaky lines or unintended blobs of paint.  That sort of stuff doesn't fly when you're adding a price tag.

So last week (on my birthday!) when I read about Dina Wakely's and Samantha Kira's August throwdown to join them for a month of getting "Out of the Journal" and onto at least two canvases a week, I decided that it was time to set the journaling aside just a little bit and allow myself space to tackle the task before me: at least 25 canvases before the end of September.  The space I'm showing in could easily hold fifty pieces if they are on the small side but that number makes me a bit queasy so I'm putting it out of my mind.

Last night I ended months of fretting and inactivity, and just simply started.  I still didn't really know what I was going to do but the act of hanging my hopes on a glimmer of an idea and seeing where it would take me was all it took.  I'm still hammering out a few of the details but I think I at least have a path opening up before me and that's a hell of a lot more than I had a few weeks ago.  I apologize for the terrible lighting in this picture; even Photoshop couldn't compensate for a middle-of-the-night photo shoot.  I finished up last night with the preparation of four more blank canvases and today I will push on this idea a little bit more in the light of day to see if it holds up.  I'll keep you posted... 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Giveaway Winners Announced & Marley Belly Admired

Whew! It seems everyone is recovering from my birthday week.  Sweet Marley (aka Marley Bear, Mar Bear, Mar Mar and simply, The Bear) showed off his cutest sleep position in his customary box on my studio table and I couldn't help but snap his picture.  He really is one of the sweetest cats I've ever known but also one of the biggest and he is constantly sprawling in one inconvienent spot or another.  He loves to have his belly rubbed until he drifts off to sleep and that means, of course, that he needs to stretch out to his full length for maximum belly exposure.  In the process, he always manages to take out one or more of the following: coffee cup, water cup, wet palette, scrap papers, the pen I'm using and/or foam brush covered in glue.  I love it when he naps in his box because it means his destructive awesomeness is more or less contained and out of the way.

Today, my last official month of freedom begins as September brings with it the start of a new, always chaotic school year.  However, August is going to be one crazy studio work day after another as I have an art show scheduled for October and precious little time to pull it together.  I also have tons of appointments and busy work to complete before school starts up again; once I go back to teaching and my son settles back into his college classes, my life is not my own.

And finally for today's post, here's the winners of my Wild Birthday Rumpus Giveaway:
Lettering Pamphlet:
House Canvases:
Handmade Cards:
Donna (aka Doni or Lady D)
Lettering Books:
and finally the girl & bird piece goes to:
Sharon (I have your address already)

Please contact me via email at with your snail mail address by August 3.  If you live abroad, please make sure to write your address out line by line so I know exactly how to send something to you.  If I have not heard from you by August 3, I will select a new winner.  Thank you to everyone who stopped in and delivered their sweet comments and birthday wishes!

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