Monday, November 30, 2015

Reader Appreciation Week Giveaways Begin

EDIT: Entires are now closed!

This time of year, I do a lot of thinking about this space: whether to continue, how to make it better, what new direction I might take. Lost Coast Post will turn ten in 2016 and this blog exists because I like rambling on about my art adventures and because I hope that some of my thoughts on life & art-making with chronic health issues are helpful to readers who may have their own challenges. You, dear readers, are what bring this space alive: your comments, questions, and encouragement - whether vocal or silent - keep pushing me forward, keep driving me to share and wonder and explore.

So I've decided to institute a "Reader Appreciation Week," featuring four days of small giveaways to say thank you to all of you for showing up here over the years. Entering the giveaways is easy-peasy: just click on the "comments" button and leave your name, where you're from, and a working email. International entries are welcome...if you promise to let me know if a prize arrives. I've had a few difficulties mailing overseas in the last couple of years (lost packages break my heart) but I want every reader - near and far - to have a chance to win.

I'm kicking off this week of giveaways with a set of 6 professionally printed cards featuring my art. There'll be 2 winners today - one domestic and one international. (Don't forget to add where you're from in your comment!)

Entries for all giveaways this week will close at 5pm PST, Saturday December 5th, 2015. Winners will be chosen randomly and announced Monday, December 7th. Mailings will go out as soon as I have received mailing info from the winners.

If, in leaving your comment, you can answer one of the following questions...well, that would be wonderful for me but not required for you. Feedback helps me tremendously - as it does every blogger - and I would be thrilled to read your answers.

  • How long have you been a Lost Coast "Postie?" (In other words, how long have you been a reader?)
  • I post about many different things. What most interests you about my blog or the art I share?
  • Is there anything that I haven't wrote about or done here at LCP that you'd like to see? 
Thank you to all of you for taking a moment from your busy lives to spend some time with me. Thank you for enduring my often wordy posts and sometimes unpredictable posting schedule. Thank you for all the warm thoughts about my art and my health. Thank you for keeping me company in this teeny-tiny corner of the vast internet that I call home!

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Wee Bit of Holiday Remains

For those in the States celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope everyone had a safe and warm holiday. (Those are my hopes every day for everyone wherever you call home.) My son and I had a fabulous time with family: food, board games, laughter, relaxation, catching up, hugs (lots of hugs.) A couple more days of vacation (which will actually be spent lesson planning and prepping) and I'll be recharged enough to tackle the three weeks of teaching before a two-week winter break. This is the most positive I've felt about the holiday season in a while so the "Buy! Buy! Buy!" onslaught of commercials will remain on "MUTE" (everything seems louder and more "flashy-flashy" this time of year) and I'll keep busy in the studio with silly little crafts to while away my free time. There'll be some journaling going on as well...just quietly puttering in paint here and there to blunt the frenzy that the season has become.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dance of the Calaveras

The biggest decision on my docket this morning is what color scarf a little sculpted rabbit requires to stay warm this wet and blustery day. *sigh* (I could get used to this.) Anyway, I'm finding it hard to surface to get real world stuff done like laundry, dishes, and lesson plans. Since tailoring for small creatures is so taxing, I'll keep this post short on words and long on pictures. 
I thought I'd show you a sampling of my students' work from our last project in Art One (upper middle/high school level.) In September, we created cardboard relief sugar skulls inspired by Day of the Dead imagery. In October, we discussed Mexican printmaker José Posada, who originated the calavera image. Posada used calaveras (skeletons dressed up in fancy finery) in political cartoons to comment on the excesses of the rich and the government in the face of the overwhelming poverty that marked Mexico during the era of dictator Porfirio Díaz. Today, calaveras are a popular everyday image in the Americas but they are particularly prevalent during Day of the Dead celebrations.
Students designed a calavera character, transferred that design to a 4x6-inch block of Speedball pink carving material, carved, and printed. They were required to submit at least two prints, one white ink on black paper and the other, black ink on white paper. The process took several weeks but the results are delightful as I'm sure you'll agree. I am so lucky to have such wonderfully creative and dedicated students. I love how each piece really reflects the taste, style, and personality of the individual student.

Friday, November 20, 2015

On Thanksgiving Break

You have no idea how happy I am that I'm currently on a break from teaching. Frankly, all the teachers get a weary look in their eyes this time of year; the kids are extra distracted by the general chaos of the season and the nasty weather that traps them inside. A little break is welcome by all. As usual, I have big plans for my time off; I don't always get around to actually doing everything I aim for but whatever I do, it will still be a quiet, relaxing time that will recharge my batteries. At the very least, it will be nice to have longer than 15 to 30 minutes in a day to make art. It will also be fabulous to gather with family for Thanksgiving. I hope everyone reading gets to have some quality art and family time this coming week.

Note: Even though readership drops off dramatically in November and December, I'll be posting right up until Christmas when I traditionally take a blogging break until after the first of the year. Hope you'll continue to bless this space with your time and interest.

Monday, November 16, 2015

I Am, Therefore I Can

Just four days of teaching stand between me and Thanksgiving break...can I get a "WhooHoo!?" I need some uninterrupted time to tackle a few persistent ideas that are demanding attention. I'm also looking forward to visiting family for the first time since last Christmas. I'd like to get some crafting and gift-making done for the holidays and of course, I need some time to just sit and do nothing except watch Netflix/Hulu and sip coffee while the rain pours down outside. (Please, please powers-that-be...can it rain my entire vacation?! My state needs it but I think my soul needs it more.) I adore teaching but it dominates my days, leaving little time or energy for anything else.  

I jumped back into my "Exultation" journal this past weekend. In case you missed its introduction, this is my "coloring book" journal where I scribble images in ballpoint pen with my left hand and then paint, doodle, and embellish. The first photo shows you the page prior to coloring; This picture is how the page ended up. Originally, the bird's head was painted just like the rest of the body but as I was shuffling paper scraps around on my table, that purple and green circle literally fell onto my open journal. I've learned to go where serendipity leads so my birdie acquired a brand new noggin! Such a handy thing...wish I could do that myself sometimes...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Flip-Through of Scraps Journal

So I uploaded my first video to YouTube, a flip-through of my Scraps journal which I completed in 2014. I posted all of the pictures here individually but I thought you might like to see how the journal evolves as a whole. Be gentle; I'm still learning and the camera is zoomed in a bit too close. In addition, I'm working with an extremely basic camera so the quality is not the best. One step at a time.

Note: For those who couldn't see the little practice video in my last post, know that it was uploaded directly to Blogger as a Flash video and if that program isn't up-to-date or enabled on your computer, you won't be able to view it. This one, however, is on YouTube and although my channel is currently unlisted, the above video should work for everyone *crosses fingers*

Friday, November 13, 2015

Look Mom! The Picture Moves!

This is silly times a hundred but I'm doing a wild "I Conquered Technology!" dance around the studio as I somehow managed to make my first ever video in iMovie!!!! 32 seconds of miracle here people! I'm posting it here with zero idea if it will play OK for everyone (and even less idea how to fix it if you can't.) You'll just have to bear with me as I experiment. For me, the only way to learn something (especially new technology) is to just play and fail and play some more. It is an uphill climb for this entrenched PC user but if I can figure out Mac, the door to Lost Coast Post is going to swing W-I-D-E open! (Cheering section and tips are deeply appreciated!)

PS...Thanks go out to Özge in Turkey for the soft nudge in the comments of my last post! Sometimes a small challenge is just what I need to get started...

EDIT - November 14, 2015: Apparently I uploaded this to Blogger as a Flash video, NOT to YouTube so if Flash is not up-to-date on your computer, you will simply see a patch of white where my little video should be. Never fear...I've figured out how to load my videos to YouTube so future videos should be available to all. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tinkering in Journals

I'm continuing to work on art things here and there so I'm having trouble finding completed stuff to photo and show here. This is an odd time of year and not always my favorite: I'm very sensitive to environmental noise and general busyness and wintertime simply seethes with chaos. I'm trying to work on government paperwork, cleaning the house from top to bottom for an inspection, preparing for the next two months of teaching (plans, step-outs, samples, research, lectures) and thinking about the coming holidays. This is also a time when I do some serious contemplating about the new year looming. Overall, 2015 has been pretty good to me but I do want to aim for some major changes and goals in 2016. For now though, just trying to stay present and peaceful. Journaling helps with that and so I tinker in all sorts of books whenever a few spare moments arise.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Lost Coast Post Tale

(A post sans photos so that the reader can imagine his or her own pictures...that and I didn't think to grab the camera...)

3:30 a.m...I stretch in bed, contemplating a new day while still half entangled in the dream world. I am reluctant to exit the warmth of my covers but I finally pull out my earplugs, deciding that a return to sleep is unlikely. What's this?! Rain, steadily drumming on the roof, sweet in sound and its mere presence. A long statewide drought has made rain sorely missed so I settle back in, letting the peaceful rhythm relax my muscles and mind. I begin to drift back to slumber.

Suddenly a long, low, urgent howling begins. I sit up instantly. I know it is Marley Bear, my giant marmalade cat, but in the dark, I can't see him. I call out his name and the howl gets more insistent, frequent. A crash of dishes and I half stumble, half run into the kitchen. Marley has a fondness for forts: blanket, box, cabinet. He often explores without an exit strategy and I have had to rescue him from whatever hidey-hole he mistakenly thought could accommodate 22 pounds of furry orange love.

I throw open cabinet doors, calling his name, and rattling glassware, thinking Bear's thankful face would poke out as it has done so many times before. Nothing. The frustrated and fearful howling is now joined by frantic scratching. Confounded, I stand in the kitchen, yelling "Bear! Bear! Where are you?" I am still draped in the vestiges of sleep and unable to think clearly. Where could he be?

I happen to look back towards my bed and see Tuscany, my calico, calmly staring in the direction of the sliding glass door at the far end of the room. She looks amused. I run toward the object of her attention and finally spy Bear, standing on his hind legs, head poking through the blinds, tail puffed out like a gigantic bottle brush. He is raking the glass with his claws and howling for all he's worth.

At first, I try to pull him away from the door. However, Bear is utterly focused and he leans his considerable weight against my hand, continuing to howl in long, deep tones. He sounds exactly like a beagle or bloodhound, alerting his mistress to an exciting discovery.

Finally, my brain seems to catch up to reality and I remember the light to the upstairs balcony. I flip the switch and push aside the blinds. Bear's howling strikes a new level of anxiety. I look out, see a flower pot overturned, its succulent crushed. "I'll have to repot that," I think. Bear is standing again, trying to dig his way through the glass but I can't see the source of his distress. "Bear! Calm down! What is wrong?" I'm starting to get annoyed; it wouldn't be the first time Marley has dragged me from bed before I'm ready. And then, in one last visual sweep of the balcony, I see what has Bear so worried.

There, clinging to the opposite side of the railing like a monkey, face etched with an unmistakable "Oh shit!" look, is a young raccoon. Blinking in the light, it looks at me and the wild cat at the window. The raccoon doesn't move and I begin to wonder if it is trapped on the balcony by the netting I installed to keep out nesting birds. The howling seems deafening and I am now anticipating a knock on the door from an angry, sleepy neighbor. The coon and cat are frozen in their respective positions and attitudes. I run downstairs and drag my sleepy son from bed. (He is even less functional than I when half-awake so I'm not sure what I hoped to accomplish. Daniel is much stronger though and I guess I thought he could pull Bear back from his quarry.)

We rush back upstairs. Daniel, asleep on his feet, non-verbal, lumbering behind me like a lazy zombie but obviously trying to respond to his mother's urgency. I throw open the blinds and (of course) the raccoon is gone. Marley Bear is still pacing but now silent. I drag my poor son back downstairs to the patio door, searching in vain for the raccoon. Everything is quiet except for the dripping of rain on leaves. Daniel gives me a long, skeptical look, pats me on the shoulder, and turns back to his room. He mumbles something unintelligible and closes his bedroom door. At 4, on this wet Monday morning, I am left alone with a broken flowerpot and this story: "The Day Bear Treed his First Coon."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tinkering with Time

There just isn't enough time in the day, week, month, lifetime to do all the things I want to do. It is a familiar problem (for probably all of us) but I am reassessing my days to see if I can squeeze in a bit more studio work. Last week, in Ashland, Oregon, I had some rare time to wander about by myself, shop, eat lunch, sightsee, think. Out of financial necessity, I am currently living/working a schedule that is negatively impacting my health. However, I believe that if I work smarter and pay more attention to my personal needs, I can improve my ability to handle stress (which has a huge impact on Parkinson's Disease.) I have to have more time to make art; it keeps me sane and it can help to slow the loss of fine motor abilities I face. The old saying - Use it or lose it - is true. Anyway, I'm taking some time to ponder big issues and tinker with my schedule so I have more moments to consider the little things, like what color sweater a monster needs to stand out in a crowd. (Buster here says that orange stripes are in this season...just a heads up...)       

Monday, November 2, 2015

Returned from Travels

Last week, I traveled with 79 students and almost 20 adults as my school made its annual trip to Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Remembrances, musings, and photos (including those of the travel journal I kept) are forthcoming but it might be a couple of weeks. I returned home to the usual daily workload so I have to squeeze in finishing up the journal and processing photos in between teaching and an annual housing inspection/income verification. In addition, the holiday season is looming and that heralds days more chaotic than ever. I can say, however, that I had a wonderful time and that I survived in better shape than I anticipated. I cannot wait to return and I look ahead to traveling to Mexico next June with excitement. 
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