Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Consider Myself Pretty Lucky

Many years ago, a very good friend of mine gave me a book called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I was going through a rough time in my life and this was a book about returning the focus in your life back to yourself. In this book, one of the major, life changing things Sarah implores you do is to have a daily gratitude journal. Each day, you write (at least) 3 things you are grateful for. After awhile, throughout your day, you actually begin to look for things to be grateful for. So here is my gratitude list for today...

Today, I am grateful for:
  1. Seeing our resident bunny at work, lounging around underneath a bush. Too cute!
  2. A bright sunny day with no humidity.
  3. Thoughts of the Giant Flea Market in Ocean Grove this Saturday.
  4. Meeting new people at a networking function I attended with my mom.
  5. My husband who put away my Walgreens purchases while I went out networking.
  6. Having lots and lots of art supplies and an endless list of things I want to create.
  7. The season finale of LOST!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Long Day, Long Night

Very tired. Today was very busy at work. I'm creating a bunch of new package designs for Claudine Hellmuth's new product line with Ranger. And this evening was more work, work, work at home getting everything prepared for our upcoming vacation. I can't wait to escape!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Time To Get Out The Summer Wardrobe

It's time, it's time... to bring down the boxes, take out the short sleeve shirts, cute little dresses, skirts and sandals... Finally! Tonight was spent switching wardrobes, but only a little bit. You see, it's almost time for my husband and I to go on our annual vacation. And this year we're taking an Alaskan cruise!

So it was hard to try and put away all of those turtlenecks, comfy sweaters and thermals. And not enough room yet for all of the summer clothes. I'm kind of in clothing limbo right now. Piles here and there. I think the only solution is to get the suitcases down from the attic and just start packing now! I think that might just work.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Let's Give Peace a Chance

I hope everyone had a nice three day reprieve this Memorial Day weekend. Here in a shore town, we get the hustle and bustle of summer residents moving back into their homes and tourists visiting, most likely staying at one of the many Bed & Breakfasts in Ocean Grove. The weekend revolves around bar-b-ques, beaches, booze and fun with family and friends.

But let's not forget those past, present, (and future) military people who have sadly lost their lives in battle to protect our country. They are someone's husband, brother, son, father, sister, mother, daughter, etc. and every single one is sorely missed. So what do you say... let's give peace a chance.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Violin Winners to Be Chosen Friday!

Several months ago ten artists including myself, altered an unfinished violin for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra charity called Art Strings. The violins have been "on tour" at different venues throughout New Jersey. Raffle tickets were available for purchase at the venues as well as online. The proceeds go to help underprivileged kids get music lessons.

So, I wish the best of luck to all of you who purchased tickets for this worthy cause! And a special thanks to all of my friends who showed up to support me when the violins were at Main Avenue Galleria in Ocean Grove.
photo by Patti Behan

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sometimes I Have Trouble Finding Myself...

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately. What is my purpose? Why am I here? What are my lessons?

I love to bringing art to fruition my reason for being? I love to show others how they can be teaching my purpose? I love spending time being free to roam in the cards for me? I enjoy my time self discovery where it's at?

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what's deep down inside. All I know is that I'd better pick up my shovel and continue digging, because every day I find something new and interesting. One step closer to the answers...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Field Trip!

Today my friends and colleagues Debbie, Bonnie and I went to the Stationery Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. An amazing show filled with new and exciting greeting cards, gift items and a plethora of cool stuff to carry for retail establishments. Walking the entire show, here are some of the trends we noticed:

  • Birds are still in fashion, especially owls
  • Letterpress cards in a retro styles are totally hot
  • Vibrant colors and patterns were everywhere
  • Wearable goods that mimicked the greeting card art were popular
  • Indie styles are moving to the forefront of the style trends

What's your favorite new trend?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Canvas, canvas everywhere...

I've been busy painting 4" x 4" canvasses with the Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabbers. I'm actually going to create small, individual collages, similar to the ones in a 16" x 20" Funky Flowers canvas I made for Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine. These colorful canvas pieces will all go on to be little Funky Flowers.

I had purchased 24 of these mini-canvasses about 3 months ago, and never had the time to actually work on them. Now that Art & Soul is over, and my studio is cleaned up (after the town-wide yard sale, of course), I could no longer hold myself back. It's an inspiration to me just seeing all that color!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"M" is for Michelle...

Tough choice this weekend... Spend Saturday cleaning the studio or... go to a town-wide Yard Sale only two miles away? Hmmm... let me think that over for a sec... Aaahhh, I think Yard Sale. It was such a beautiful day, it was a great excuse to be outside anyway.

I already had my Belmar town map in hand, as my Mom had given it to me Thursday eve. Armed with power bars and Snapple, I went to approximately 40 or so houses on about 16 different streets, and got myself a pretty good haul. Lots of people had "free" tables too, so I managed to get a bunch of old Christmas lights, jewelry pieces and parts, old sewing bobbins, wooden hangers, baby blocks, a vintage brass tray, floral decorations, and more for under $10! I even found this handkerchief with a beautifully embroidered "M" on it...a steal for only one dollar. Too cute to pass up. I heart Yard Sales!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Love to Play at the Beach...

Here's one of the fun metal embossed pieces I made last night during my Creative play time. I wrote the words by hand, made a backwards photocopy of them, taped it to the back of the metal, and traced the letters with my embossing tools from TenSeconds Studio. Then I flipped it over and traced around each letter to make them stand out, and finally aged it with some Adirondack Acrylic Paints. I was happily surprised with how it turned out.

Speaking of the beach, my hubby and I walked down to the ocean this evening to see if there was any beach erosion after the storm on Monday. The boardwalks were covered with sand and the dunes were as high as the boards. And of course, we had to walk into town for a small hot fudge sundae with coffee ice cream and a soft vanilla cone with rainbow sprinkles. Yum, yum.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Creative Play Date with Patti

This evening, my friend Patti and I played around with our metal embossing tools from TenSeconds Studio. Using these tools, we stamped onto the back of 36 gauge metal with ink and then traced over the images to create a raised design on the front of the metal piece. Then we "aged" the metal with acrylic paints so they looked all nice and patina'd. We also used some of TenSeconds embossing molds, did a little of our own handwriting, and some free form designs too! I'll post some pictures tomorrow. Off to bed now...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Gorgeous Spring Day it was...

Today was the calm after the storm. We had an incredible Nor'easter sneak up on us yesterday. Fifty mile an hour winds, high tides, and driving rains. And then quietly it gave way to today: a 70 degree day that was so sunny, not very humid, with calm winds, filled with flowers that bloomed overnight. It was that kind of day you really understand the person who coined the phrase "spring fever".

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year because I remember I'm not in control. You realize that you can't mess with Mother Nature. And that's cool.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends!

It's inevitable. Once people find out that you re-purpose junk in your work, cool things seem to make their way to you. Imagine my surprise and utter joy to come home and find a box of bullet casings! Yee Haa!

A while back I asked a very good friend of my husband's (who also happens to be a police lieutenant) if he could possibly pick me up some spent bullet casings the next time he went to the shooting range. And wouldn't you know it... paydirt! Literally!

You see, I had mentioned to him (as he gave me a quizzical look, still wondering what the heck I was going to do with these things), that the older and more aged they were the better. He literally dug around in the Pennsylvania dirt to retrieve these fine specimens for me. Thanks a bunch, Craig! You're the best!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Whether you are a mom to a boy, girl, cat, dog or even a goldfish, I hope that you all had a wonderful day. Here's a picture of my mom and I taken on the day of my wedding... almost two years ago.

My mom happens to live right beside me, so that's pretty great. Not only is she my mother, but she's my best friend, my public relations manager, and one of my biggest fans. She practically raised me by herself and I think she did a pretty good job.

I hope all of you mom's out there had a magnificent day, and know that you are appreciated all year round.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Last class at Art & Soul: Circus, Circus, Big Book of Postcards

Saturday was my last class of Art & Soul, and what a long strange trip it was. What can only be described as extreme visual journalism, ended up being an emotional ride of a lifetime. Our Ringmaster, Juliana Coles was a force to be reckoned with. She kept us on task and from clowning around too much. But this was all so that we could concentrate on our assignments and not think too much! And that's me! When I'm not busy thinking, I'm busy OVERthinking!

Not for the faint of heart, the morning part of class was spent quickly creating collages with circus ephemera, paints, stamps and mail art bits. We assembled our postcard book and then the afternoon was comprised of listening to circus stories and delving deep into our inner selves as... a clown... a fearless trapeze artist... and similar characters... writing letters to the scared little girl inside of us, or the one who forgot that the show must go on, and the tightly wound one who needs to clown around a little more.

It was a whirlwind of a day, spent not thinking (too much) and just creating in a free-flowing journaling style. Thanks Juliana (insert whip sound here)!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Art & Soul Friday Evening Class: Tassels & Fringe

The second day of Art & Soul, I had an evening class called "Objects and Elements in Tassels and Fringe" taught by the amazingly talented Susan Lenart Kazmer. She is really a jewelry "architect," creating pieces with cold-connection joins that have layers and layers of interest and working, moving parts and components.

For this class, we created a brass ring using metal punches, wire, jump rings, head pins and scraps of fibers and ribbons. The finished piece can be worn as a funky ring, or hung on a necklace as a pendant. I always learn so much in her classes and will definitely use these skills in future jewelry work. And I think I see some new tools in my immediate future!

I had such a great time is Susan's class. She is such a gentle soul with a pure heart. It is an honor to know her. I can't wait until the next class...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Friday's Class: Who's Your Dada?

My second day's class at Art & Soul was "Who's Your Dada," hosted by two of my favorite teachers, a marvelous yin-yang of a couple... Linda & Opie O'Brien. We were furnished with a head and wooden body...the rest was up to us. Our instructions were to bring lots of found objects, flea market finds and random junk to decorate our icon. Keeping in mind items for hats, eyes, ears, arms, legs and... you get the rest...

It was so much fun to see everyone's project, given that we all started with the same head and body. I love looking in other people's junk boxes too. I really see a difference in the "trash" based on the different areas of the country. Everyone has different stuff and it's all amazing!

Thanks Linda and Opie, for an amazingly fun, relaxing, intriguing class. You ROCK!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Thursday's Class: Soldering for Virgins!

Whether you're a virgin, or you just "haven't been around the block enough", this amazing class taught by Sally Jean Alexander was cleverly named and just as fun. My first class of Art & Soul 2008 was centered around proper copper foil wrapping techniques for flat, dimensional and rounded objects. We also learned Sally's signature soldering techniques, then attempted them on our own. Many curse words were inadvertently blurted out, as (Sally Jean attested to herself) soldering is frustrating! But the results are so pretty, it's an art form you just cannot resist.

Sally appeased us all at the end of class by bringing out a bunch of her first soldering pieces. But...frustrations and all, I had a blast and I have embraced what I made, boo-boos and all. Thanks Sally!

I'll be posting a little about each class all week, so be sure and check back for more projects and babble about one of my favorite art retreats.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Having Fun Is Hard Work!

Wow, what can I say. Some drive time with my bud Bonnie, 4 classes smarter from Art & Soul, and one flea market poorer is the wallet on this amazing trip.

So many creative thoughts spinning around in my head. Always be sure to write them all down. I'll have pictures tomorrow, as we drove from VA to NJ straight through... must... watch... Survivor... now...