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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Day #30 Art Every Day Month – The Beauty of a Late Autumn Garden

Wow! Last day of Art Every Day Month! I can hardly believe it. After 61 straight days of blogging, it is second nature to me, and I have a hard time believing I will stop. I hope you will stay with me, as I transition from blogging about art every day, to more general blogging about seeking creativity in my life. But it will ALWAYS be infused with art.

Today, as with many days in my life, didn’t go quite the way it was planned.

When I woke up this morning there was no thought that I would spend a portion of it out in the garden. It was the first of what is a common occurrence during the late fall and winter in the Sacramento Valley – low-lying tulle fog that blankets the area in the early hours and burns as the day progresses. We live at the very beginning of the foothills, and often are above it, but today we got it. It is actually quite beautiful if you don’t have to be out driving in it.

Over coffee and a visit to my blog and facebook, I laid out my plan for the day. My house was a wreck of boxes from Thanksgiving that needed to be put out in the garage, and even more Christmas boxes to come in. There were clothes that needed to be folded, dishes to be put away and a bathroom desperate for more than a promise of cleaner days ahead. There was an empty refrigerator no longer holding Thanksgiving leftovers that needed to filled, and a visit to Kinkos to get moving on my artistic endeavors. Onto the keyboards I screamed to my fly tribe “I NEED TO PAINT! I NEED TO PAINT! I NEED TO PAINT!”  hoping that by venting I would be in the frame of mind to tackle a day where there weren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all that needed to be accomplished before it would be time to pick the girls up from school.

On the way to refresh my coffee before digging in, I stopped to admire the eeriness of the view out my back sliding glass door when I noticed that a mockingbird who generally shows up in the fall to eat the pyracantha berries showed up to stake his claim. I grabbed the camera and slowly, quietly opened the door to get a shot of him, but he saw me, and took off. That sent me out camera in hand to see what else was happening out there.

In my last garden post I was showing the last flowers of summer, and they are even fewer and farther between now, but the mix of fall leaves and decaying greenery seemed so beautiful to me, I had to get it on “film,” so to speak.

And then there was this wonderful surprise…

I couldn’t believe he just sat there and let me snap pictures to my heart’s content.

It turned out to be a sweet, surprising, and beautiful hour in a day that held no such promise when it began. A lesson, I think, to be open to change, and aware of the simple beauty around us. The rest was still waiting for me when I’d taken in my fill of the specialness of an ordinary morning.

If you’ve enjoyed the last 30 days of my blogging for AEDM, please consider signing up to follow it, and you’ll get an e-mail every time I post. If you don’t, I’ll miss you!

Day #29 Art Every Day Month – A Necessary Prep Day

Today I took a break from decorating to put all my Thanksgiving decor away and take care of some art “prep” work.

I am taking a class from Christy Tomlinson, actually two of them…SheArt #1 and SheArt #2. Her style is a little more ragged or unstructured than mine, but I’m liking it. She advocates the use of a lot of stamps and rub-ons, which I don’t have many of, so I needed to pick up a few things. I have been watching the videos, but not following along with painting, primarily because it will be easy enough to add her techniques to what I am already doing. I have been unable, so far, to find some of the tools she has suggested, so I’ll probably head out again tomorrow, but at least I’ve got a start.

I also picked up some more yard to start another scarf. AND, someone suggested that it would be easier going if I was using shorter needles, so I picked up some of those as well.

Then I took an hour this evening and got going on the scarf. I find knitting to be sooooo relaxing. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something when I can sit down for an hour and come up with something to show for it.

So, here’s to a relaxing day, and even having accomplished some art!

Day #28 Art Every Day Month – My Perfect Tree, a Tutorial

Yeah, it is a bit ego-centric to call it “The” perfect tree, so I’ll just call it “My” perfect tree, because it’s as perfect for me as it’s going to get!

My philosophy is this…”if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing beautifully.”  I like a combination of old ornaments we’ve had on the tree from the beginning (40 years ago, now!) ones the kids made when they were little, ones people have given us as gifts, lots that I’ve made over the years, personalized ones that I buy every year and put our names and the date on, and ones I adore that I’ve bought myself. While the vast majority are country,  there are other styles, and there is a mix of traditional and whimsical Christmas icons and religious things, as well. It’s not an easy task to combine all of that into something that doesn’t look like a total mish mash, and I’ve developed my technique over many years.

The secret is to build it layer by layer, much like a mixed media art piece, and combining all the different ornaments with unifying pieces that are carried over throughout the tree. Not everything jumps out and says look at me! Much of it sits in the background, peeking out here and there, adding texture and interest that wouldn’t be there if you just slapped a bunch of ornaments on and called it a day. My goal is that each time you look at my tree, you see something you didn’t see before, just like in my garden, and in the way my paintings are developing.

I start with an artificial tree. It’s the only way to have sturdy branches everywhere you need them. Next come lights, lots of them.

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Next up are the foundation pieces. These are the things tucked in that everything else builds on…big balls of red berries, giant wooden candy canes, bits of holly, pine cone, and greens cut from a garland, fake cinnamon and cranberry garland, macrame candy canes, cut out gingerbread men, wooden hearts.

Then comes all of the ornaments…hundreds of them. In 40 Christmases, I’ve never thrown an ornament away unless it got smashed to smitherines.

There are many missing an arm or a leg, but if they have sentimental value, I keep them. My daughter’s 1st Christmas ornament got chewed by the (#*%@) dog, and it still hangs on the tree every year and we remember what a pill he was.

It is a scrapbook of sorts…even in my old age I remember the stories from most of them. I suppose some day I should sit down and itemize them and tell the stories so the kids will know which are the important ones when I’m gone.

This one Mr. Tattered bought me at a year ’round Christmas store in Alexandria, VA in 1978. We were living back there for a year when he was on loan from the State of CA to the feds…one of the best years of our life, and one of the few times in our marriage he has taken it upon himself to buy an ornament for me all on his own. I don’t think after all this time he knows just how much I treasure it.

And this is one of my favorites of all time…

Anyway, I digress. Once the ornaments are on, the final trim goes up…this amazing, sparkly garland…

…and then I finish up with sheer, sparkly bows and rafia bows, and it’s done. Maybe not the world’s most perfect tree, but most certainly, the perfect one for me.

Day #27 Art Every Day Month – Yep, Life Happened – a Comedy!

You remember yesterday when I said I’d have pictures of a completed tree today barring life happening? Well, it did.

My son and his family stopped by to say good bye before heading back up to the mountains, armed with cups of Starbuck’s Christmas blend coffee, bless their hearts. It turned into a little bit of a visit as Joshua entertained us with his hysterically funny 3 year old views of the world. We laughed and laughed, and it was well worth getting a late start on the tree!

I have a pre-lit artificial tree (the ONLY way to go if you expect perfection in a Christmas tree – which I do!) and it doesn’t have enough lights to please me, so I add about 5 strands of a different type of lights to give it the pizazz I NEED for it to have. I was busy going up and down the giant ladder (at great risk to body and life!) to add those lights, when I noticed that a big swath of the permanent lights around the bottom of the tree had gone out. They were on earlier, but now they weren’t.

You have to understand how completely anal I am about my Christmas tree to understand what a tragedy that is.

I stood there in near shock for a minute, before I sat down and started trouble-shooting the problem. I pretty quickly determined that it was a bad problem and was going to take many hours of work to remedy, and started mentally going over my options for gerry-rigging a simpler solution for this year. I was proud of myself for not having a meltdown. I just approached the situation methodically, and decided to go buy a couple of extra strands to put over the original lights, then I’ll pull out the bulbs that aren’t lighting up where they are visible. Then after the holidays I’ll take a day to re-light that section properly. No one will know my dirty little secret but me, and I can live with it for one year.

So, I figured that if I had to get pulled off task, and since I was so good about not freaking out, I would treat myself to a much needed mani-pedi while I was out.

If you have not yet discovered the sheer wonder of a manicure and pedicure, you have no idea what you are missing. If I could not afford one, it would be worth the humiliation of standing on a corner and singing for the money to get one, a humiliation only slightly less awful than standing nekked on said corner.

It’s not that the whole experience is wonderful. But the torture of having the bottoms of one’s feet scoured, for what seems like an eternity, gives way to the heavenliness of having those feet soaked in hot paraffin, then rubbed with lotion and oil and swathed in hot towels, while simultaneously having one’s arms and shoulders massaged as the spa chair kneads up and down your spine.

An hour and a half later, having been reduced to a pampered pile of wet noodle contentment, it was back to the real world, and dealing with the imperfectness of my perfect tree, but at least I was in a much better frame of mind! And, I had cute toes once again.

They are the ONLY part of my body I am happy with, but I still have a tendency to let them get pretty ragged-looking in the cold weather when they pretty much live in socks. Time management sometimes requires a compromise in one’s standards. Anyway, self care is a very important part of holiday preparations, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

So, back home, and back to the tree. To ad insult to injury, one of the strands of extra lights developed a short, so it was back to the store AGAIN. This is one of those times when I’m glad I live in civilization instead of the boonies! Another couple of hours and my decorating time has now been eaten up, and all I have been able to get accomplished is the lights and the addition of foundations greens – I’m telling you, this is going to be a work of art. Eventually. Fortunately, I have three more days to play if I need them.

Day #26 Art Every Day Month – Let the Holidays Begin!

I’m not much into Black Friday – never have been. Back in the day when I owned my store I was too busy working, and since retiring, just have never wanted to fight the crowds to save a few bucks.

So, for me, the day after Thanksgiving has been the first day of decorating for Christmas.

But, this year there was a craft show up in Grass Valley I wanted to check out, partly to see if there were any mixed media painters showing, partly to see if a carver I bought from at a different show last year was there, and partly to do a little Christmas shopping with independent artists/craftsmen.

Well, there were no, count them, ZERO, mixed media artists in attendance. I was quite surprised, as mixed media seems to be a cross-over art form to me, one that works in an arts/crafts show, as well as in a straight art show. I also did no Christmas shopping. BUT, I did find my carver and bought a little sumpin’, sumpin’ for myself!

Meet Mr. Claus…

I love him, and I think he’s going to like living in his new home.

As long as I am showing you the Santa, I thought you might like to meet his creator, too. Cerri Noto carves and paints her own pieces under the business name “Crow’s Feat.”

When I told her I wanted to mention her in my blog, she asked that I show a picture of one of her bathing beauties – one of her best sellers. I thought it was pretty rude that she was using me as her model without giving credit…

Her Christmas collection is one of my favorites!

I’m already wishing I had gotten a “Mrs.” to go along with my “Mr.”

Cerri doesn’t have a website, but can be reached by e-mail at crowsfeat@juno.com.

Once I got home, all the Christmas goodies came down from the shelves in the garage, the lights went up on the house (I HATE the LED lights, but they are my concession to the environment) and got the tree up, ready for decorating.

We switched over to an artificial tree years ago, and I love it. I still miss the smell of fresh pine, but I can use whatever ornaments I want, no matter how heavy, and it is ALWAYS beautiful.

Here she is nekked, and I’ll show you the finished tree tomorrow (barring life getting in the way!)

Have fun preparing for the holidays at your house!

Day #25 Art Every Day Month – 100 Thank Yous – My Take!

Today, I practiced the art of cooking…and practiced, and practiced and practiced! It was fun to cook with my daughter and daughter-in-law, but I didn’t think we’d EVER get done!

I really didn’t eat much of any one thing, but there was so much to chose from! I’m stuffed.

It was so fun to have all three of the cousins together. They are a cute bunch of monkeys, but here they are mesmerized by their movie, so they sat still long enough to take a picture.

Once the festivities wound down tonight, I jumped on the computer for a few minutes and came across a blog called “100 Thank Yous.” I liked the idea a lot, and even though I did a gratitude post last night, thought I’d see if I could come up with a quick 100 myself (I’m thinking it’s going to be a piece of cake!)  So here goes, in no particular order:

1.  Having a family I love and who love me

2.  Having a home that I love spending time in

3.  Living in Folsom

4.  Being an American

5.  Being politically aware and conversant in current affairs

6.  President Obama

7.  Having three of the greatest grand babies on the planet

8.  My Mac air

9.  My iphone

10.  Loving technology

11.  Having enough

12.  Not having to worry about where my next meal is coming from

13.  Being creative

14.  Having a whole room to do my creating in

15.  …and enough money to buy the supplies I want

16.  Kelly Rae Robert’s “Taking Flight” class

17.  My sisters in the “Fly Tribe”

18.  Being able to do ATCs

17.  My blog

18.  The people who take the time to read it!!!

19.  Facebook

20.  Loving to read and all the authors I like to follow

21.  Vacationing in Maui

22.  Longhi’s Belgian Endive Salad

23.  Visiting the U.K.

24.  Being Scottish (you don’t know how bad I wanted to be, and happy I was to find out I am!)

25.  Finding that I can paint – I was so scared I would be awful at it!

26.  Loving the Lord

27.  Knowing he’ll never leave me to fend for myself

28.  Hannah wanting to follow in my footsteps!

29.  Bea’s little parrot kisses

30.  Josh’s sweet little voice

31.  Having kids-in-law that I love and get along with

32.  The color red

33.  All my red shoes

34.  Matching towels

35.  My health (in spite of carrying some extra pounds)

36.  Dotfit

37.  Cal Fit

38.  Versa climber – my favorite exercise machine

39.  NYC

40.  Our DVR – gotta love it for time management!

41.  Whales

42.  Bears

43.  All the memories from our Alaska trip

44.  Pedicures

45.  Not having to live with gray hair

46.  Long walks on crisp days

47.  Hobby Lobby

48.  Anthropologie

49.  Katy Perry songs

50.  Betsey Johnson

51.  Pumpkin Pecan cheesecake

52.  Knowing I have people I can call at 3am and they’ll be there for me

53.  Having the ability to follow my bliss

54.  Retirement

55.  The experience of having owned my own shop for 20 years

56.  Caring for my granddaughters while their parents work

57.  Disneyland

58.  Rocking out to top 40 music

59.  All my red serving pieces

60.  Lots of fun napkin rings

61.  Being a basically happy person

62.  Having my priorities straight

63.  Spending time in my garden

64.  Having Elizabeth Warren as a role model

65.  Loving to write, and being reasonably good at it

66.  The ability to forgive and move on

67.  Snuggling up in my recliner with my computer or knitting or just watching tv

68.  Kale chips

69.  Going to Mt. Shasta to see our son and his family and old friends

70.  Scrapbooking

71.  Toscana perfume – Cleopatra

72.  My heart collection

73.  Friends who pray for me (do I ever need prayer!)

74.  Sleeping in a freezing cold room under a nice heavy quilt

75.  Memories of all our wonderful animal companions (especially Azzi) and looking forward to the day when we have more…

76.  How content I am most of the time

77.  My persitence

78.  That I am so open to new experiences, new ways of looking at things and learning

79.  My compassion

80.  My refusal to accept that the world has to be the way it is, and my optimism that it can be improved

81.  The road less taken

82.  Art and discovering how much I love looking at it and making it

83.  Being old enough to appreciate how precious time is

84.  Falling in love over and over for the last 40 years with the same man…it’s been a roller coaster, but well worth it!

85.  Roller coasters!!!

86.  Having my coffee made for me EVERY morning!

87.  Having amazing women in my life that have more faith in me than I have in myself!

88.  Having a daughter who is also my bestie!

89.  Having a husband who is a whiz with technology and financial planning!

90.  Not being blind!

91.  Chick flicks!

92.  Being a vegetarian (almost vegan!)

93.  Loving animals

94.  White wine

95.  Ice water

96.  Not taking the bounty in my life for granted

97.  The ability to love easily and deeply

98.  Wanting to understand things I don’t

99.  Loving life

100.  Acknowledging my gratitude often

What a great way to wrap up Thanksgiving! How about it? Are you up for giving it a whirl? I’d love to hear what you come up with!

Hope you had a great day!

Day #24 Art Every Day Month – With A Grateful Heart

I have learned to spend every day consciously aware of all the bounty in my life and to express gratitude for it in prayer, in journaling, and in words spoken to those who mean so much to me.

It has made me a happier person, and in some small degree I hope it has made the people I love a bit happier, as well, to know that I appreciate their presence in my life.

So on this Thanksgiving Eve, I want to put what would normally go into my journal, onto my blog. It is by no means a complete list, just the things that come to mind in this moment. There is oh so much more.

I am grateful:

  • for having a family I love and who love me
  • for a husband who has stuck with me for better or worse (and there has been some worse!) for 40years
  • for kids who have forgiven me for my shortcomings as a parent and love me anyway
  • for 3 of the most amazing grandchildren on the planet, and for the blessing of being able to be such a huge presence in their lives
  • for having a home, not just a house
  • for having Christ in my life
  • for having more than enough of all the essentials of life, and most of the fun-to-haves that I want
  • for living in a country that, although it is less than it can be,  allows me the hope it will continue to get better
  • for my health, and for that of my family
  • that we have had so little of the sadness that others face on a daily basis in our lives
  • for my “fly tribe” – my new art community that I have come to depend on so much, and the wonderful group of amazing women that it is comprised of. These are people I mostly know only through cyber space, but that I have come to love in such a short time.
  • for old friends who, though they are far away, continue to live in my heart
  • for living in a community that gives us the feeling of a small town, with the amenities of a big city. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of how much I love living here.
  • for having an appreciation for how fortunate I am, and the ability to not take it for granted

I wish for you a wonderful day with your families and/or friends, and that you will have “enough” of everything you need to be able to share it with others.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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