Day 80: Fascinated

I f-ing love James Bond movies. Seriously, I’m down to watch one any time. It doesn’t matter what kind of mood I’m in. I really enjoy action movies, and adding in a suave lead man like Daniel Craig doesn’t hurt. James Bond, as a fictional character, has pulled off some seemingly impossible feats. But I’m able to suspend my disbelief and just enjoy the film when James does things like setting off a bomb and escaping in a stolen plane in the middle of the mountains, then jumping out of that plane without a parachute and landing in and commandeering some other vehicle all while punching/shooting/wrestling baddies. It’s good stuff.

In a bizarre parallel, I felt like today’s adventure in painting was similar to a Bond plot. I landed in a situation with essentially no plan and no leads. After awhile I was in the thick of it with no obvious way out. Things were looking pretty bad. But I persevered for a few hours and after some clever tricks (of the brush), I’d resolved the crisis and ended up with a piece that I’d personally give 3 and a half stars. 🙂

“Fascinated” is an acrylic painting on 8”x10” canvas with fabric, a bit of paper text and a film negative added in.


Day 79: ‘Metropolis’, a mini art quilt

After looking at all the chemicals in Febreze and being freaked out, but not wanting my home to smell like ass, I decided to pick up some incense the other day. When I got home and went to unwrap it, I realized it was Ed Hardy incense. (If you’ve never heard of Ed Hardy, click here for the low-down.) I made “eww” face and immediately went into a “Really?! With Seth & Amy” moment in my head…

“Really, Ed Hardy? Strippers, L.A. brats and posers isn’t a big enough demographic for you? Now you need to go after the hippies too? Really?”

…but I’d discovered a cup of chai tea I’d left in the studio a couple of days ago that was becoming unpleasantly fragrant, and after removing it, decided to light my stupid Ed Hardy incense anyway, hoping to heck it wouldn’t smell like douchebag. (What does douchebag smell like, you ask? Way too much cheap cologne, hair product and Jager breath. One of the many gems in life gleaned from bartending. You’re welcome.)

Thankfully, it smelled fine (obviously Ed Hardy didn’t make it, they just repackaged someone else’s stuff anyway), and that plus some music put me into high-gear sewing mode and I got this thing wrapped up. Today’s piece, “Metropolis”, is a mini-quilt I made because I wanted to see if I could bring my beloved cityscape to the fabric medium successfully. I executed this by painting the background onto a piece of light blue cotton, adding fabric buildings in the foreground, sewing on light grey windows, writing on a few quotes about the city on it (because I love quotes, darn it) and stitching it up. One of those quotes is “all great art is born of the metropolis” by Ezra Pound, which inspired the title. It’s about 15 inches square. I’m starting to think I can take on the art quilt world and mix it up a little. You aren’t going to find any fairylands, holiday prints or odes to windmills in my stuff, that’s for sure. That’s it for today, folks. THANK YOU, GOOD NIGHT! <Obligatory microphone drop>

Day 78: Olives!


This afternoon, my awesome mom invited me to join her and my Aunt Shelli for lunch at Wente Vineyard in Livermore as an early birthday celebration for my aunt. It was a GORGEOUS day, and one of the items that made it to the table was this handsome dish of olives. While I’m not much of a still life painter, there are definitely images that catch my eye. This gleaming bowl of ovoid shapes and earthy colors was lovely on the palette and easy on the eyes. It’s certainly going to make it off of my other palette (the one with the paint) and on to a canvas at some point.

Until then, I think the photo itself is pretty nice too, and it’s been a long day (I arrived home to a puppy emergency. A nice neighbor found a little guy hiding in our bushes and we gave him food and water and moral support until the humane society arrived to save the day), so I hope you’ll enjoy this image as today’s piece. Then you’ll be able to compare which you like better when it becomes a painting one of these days!

Day 77: Amalfi

I know I mentioned a sense of bemused detachment yesterday while referencing old photos.. I seem to have that same association with certain places. For example, today we went to Whole Foods. To me, arriving at Whole Foods is akin to the moment in The Wizard of Oz where everything turns from black & white to color. Strangers smile and say hello to you and put their carts away in an organized manner. Employees remember your name and offer to help before you ask, and give you samples of amazing cheese so you can decide which new one to try, and hunt around in the back to find you a fresher piece of the almond cake that’s handmade by baby angels. It’s as if the sheer concentration of organic foods gives off some kind of happy chemical, which simultaneously numbs the part of the brain concerned about the total expenditure at the checkout.

I had a feeling very similar to Whole Foods Euphoria in Amalfi with my mother last summer. First you take a wonderful boat ride to this small town clinging to tree-scattered cliffs. Soft colors of sun-warmed plaster and winding cobblestone streets lead you to what are arguably the world’s most charming shops, where virtually every lemon product imaginable is available, as Amalfi boasts lemon orchards on the side of the very same cliffs. Limoncello or wine made from the grapes of Mt. Vesuvius? (The answer is obviously both). It’s an odd and special feeling, like you’ve stumbled on to the set of some European period piece during filming, and you know you probably shouldn’t be there, but it’s so damn cool so you don’t leave until someone makes you (the tour guide rounds you up for the boat). Today’s piece is a 6″x9″ watercolor and pen drawing of the Amalfi Coast.

Day 76: Bicycles at the Burger Joint

I was looking through old photos today, trying to get some inspiration for today’s piece. It’s amazing how things from just a year or two ago can feel a thousand worlds away. I’ve even seen myself in photos where I can hardly recall the event surrounding that image. 

Today’s piece is an acrylic painting on 12”x16” canvas. It’s  inspired by a blurry photo of this great burger place that was open late. I’d stop there for a gardenburger on the way home from meetings at City Art Gallery, having driven there straight from work and with a mean, growly tummy by that point. I took this photo in the mission district in San Francisco, near the 21st St. parking garage that inspired an earlier painting, “Haven” (see below).

The college kids would always leave their bikes outside, which surprised me, because it seems like anything is fair game for theft in San Francisco. You can barely see the bikeframes in the original photo, but with a bit of imagination and charcoal, I like how it feels like they’re pets waiting patiently for their doggie bags on the curb.

Thankfully digital pinches aren’t yet a reality, since this new piece (below) pretty much has no green in it and I’m not wearing any either. Hope you’re sucking back a pint of green beer or Guinness today! Happy St. Paddy’s, everyone!

Day 75: Eat At Joe’s


Hey everyone! Today’s piece is an acrylic painting on 18″x24″ heavy duty canvas called “Eat at Joe’s”. In-progress shots below. This took about 4 hours from start to finish, and the charcoal drawing took up 1.5 hours of that total alone.  

I had a radio interview with Chris Wakefield of KHND 1470 AM’s “Into the Night” this evening! Chris is an artist himself ( as well as the host of this show. I had a great time. We poked fun at the French and mused about how art-exhausted I will be at the end of this project.

 The interview will be available via podcast on the website sometime soon. Click on the “Into the Night” page located on the left hand side of the screen. In the middle of the screen, you will see a black square with some buttons on it. Click on the word “website” next to the blue circle icon in that box (the podbean player) to access the page with the interviews.

I have to say, I think today’s piece is kind of awesome. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but for four hours- not bad. 🙂

I took photos at 5 stages throughout the process and the final product. If you want to make your own “happy little cityscape” ala Bob Ross, just use these images as a handy step-by-step guide.

Day 74: ‘Grateful’ Mini Art Quilt

Ah, another 5 o’clock art quilt. I love painting, but sewing is a special experience all its own. Sometimes I wonder why it is that I have this need to make things. It’s not just enough to paint, I have to be able to make other things with my hands. I’ve dabbled in wood, I love metalwork, I make jewelry, I’ve stitched up some pretty great Renaissance Faire costumes (seriously, it’s no easy feat making a corset. Sorry about that sewing machine of yours I ruined as a teenager, Julie). Sometimes I just need to wrangle disparate items and force them to share a living space. Like today’s work, “Grateful”. 

This one includes a dictionary bit, anatomical diagram of the heart, a page from an old literature book with words like “believe”, “curious token”, “glistens” and “friends”, vintage buttons from my great-grandmother, a shoelace, beads, clippings from a thank you note and a pomegranate linocut mingled with various upcycled fabrics.

Rob and I have been working on being more positive lately, and sometimes one of the best ways to get into that mode is to be thankful for all the wonderful things we have in our lives. I thought of how I am grateful for my family, my health, the ability to see and hear and use my hands, and how beautiful turquoise and red are together amongst other things while I was making this. The next time you’re feeling down, try focusing on what you are thankful for. We all have many things to appreciate, and we should be appreciating them daily instead of only one day in November. 

P.S. Sorry for another late post. That damn daylight savings’ time stealing an hour from me is not a boon to art quilting. 😉

Day 73: ‘Sprout’ Mini Art Quilt

I wanted to do another mini art quilt today… but I didn’t get started until 4:45 pm. I know what you’re thinking- “did you read your own blog post, woman? Remember what you said just yesterday about these things taking a long time? Sheesh, the short term memory on this one…” And yes, I do recall that very warning that I typed myself. I’ve noticed, however, that sometimes when it comes to artmaking, there’s just something I really want to do. And I can’t always be deterred by simple things like logic, materials or space. So I just decided to imagine myself as one of the villagers in that magical sewing scene in the movie “Three Amigos”, warping the context of spacetime with my sheer will and determination. All in all, it took about 3.5 hours, so my plan worked. Thanks, fictional characters from a goofy comedy!

So as I started collecting up the things I wanted to put into today’s piece, I came across [yet another] old sketchbook and began thumbing through it. I found a great ink drawing of a Cirque du Soleil-esque figure I’d conjured from my brain (you can imagine a pose like that wouldn’t have been easy to execute for a nude model in figure drawing class, despite their great pay)…

…and an old watercolor that wasn’t great in whole, but was pretty interesting cropped up into certain parts. A small drawing from the 60’s of a girl layered on top of the watercolor bit somehow seemed appropriate.

Add in some analytical text from an old literature book…

…a shipping tag…

…a botanical print with dictionary snippet, plus some buttons, yarn tied in a bow with a bell, fabric circles, and a sweet vintage zipper in bright red, and you’ve got yourself a mini art quilt. Again, unfinished on the edges. But I will totally get around to that. In the meantime, this is also part of the “old & new” series I started awhile ago since I incorporated old art into a new item. Yay! Double whammy.

Day 72: ‘Spring’ Mini Art Quilt

I finally buckled and bought the art quilting magazine. And after thumbing through it and getting amped up on sewing techniques (wow, that is probably the most Amish-sounding sentence I have ever uttered), I decided to go for it and attempt my first art quilt.

Things you should know before making an art quilt:

  1. Quilts take a LONG TIME TO MAKE.
  2. It’s probably a good idea to have a plan of attack before beginning. Just a suggestion.

I started off trying to do image transfers like the fancy-pants art quilters of $15 magazines, but that didn’t go quite right. I think it’s the toner in my printer. Or the fabric. Actually, I don’t really know why following the instructions didn’t quite work out, but I’m going to keep trying. So after about an hour and a half of failure, I went to plan B. Plan B involved no real direction and cutting shapes out of fabric, which gave me a kink in my neck as I started to doze off from how boring my project was. So then I went on to Plan C, which included a red ink image of a linocut carving of lovebirds I did, some actual acrylic painting, dye splotches, buttons, the word “Spring” from the Spanish/English dictionary, a stamp from a beet slice, batting and lots of stitching. LOTS of stitching.

This is about 10” square and is not finished on the ends yet. Partially because I’m not really sure what the best way to do that is, partially because I finished all the other stuff at 9 pm, and partially because I may want to put it into a larger piece. HENCE, please enjoy (or not) as is for now. I’m pretty happy with it. 🙂