Did you just say “elfin dingleberry”?!

Day 255: Squash, an illuminated sculpture

I have this inner brat who constantly finds things to be irritated about. Like when my husband picks the same three songs to listen to every day for a week but flips out when I do the same thing. Brat starts off with a mental tirade… “SERIOUSLY HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU LISTEN TO BAKER STREET?!?!”…but then ends up enjoying the song about 30 seconds in anyway despite herself.

(FYI- Rob’s other picks lately are “Don’t fear the reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, “Wolf like me” by TV on the Radio and “Gamma Ray” by Beck. I’ve been partial to “Tamacun” by Rodrigo y Gabriela, “Party with Children” by Ratatat and “Life in a Glass House” by Radiohead recently. In case you were wondering. Which I’m sure you were. /tangent)

"Squash" sculpture, unlit on its side

Also, today is my friend Jennan’s birthday. She is now living in Hawaii, so my new birthday joke to her and her whole family from now on is going to be “hey, I know! Why don’t you go on a trip to Hawaii for your birthday? Oh wait…” 😉 Happy 30th Jen!

On to the art! I had this idea for an installation made up of illuminated quilt sculpture orb/cocoon things last week, so today I decided to try out the technique for constructing them that I had jotted down in one of my (many) notebooks. This involved creating a basic form from copper wire, covering that with mesh (partially plastic embroidery mesh and partially aluminum screen), quilting panels from scrap white fabric & batting, covering the form with the fabric and lighting it.

As I had originally envisioned these in hanging groups, and seeing just the one feels like seeing a single grape on a stem, I’m not super jazzed about it yet. But as a “proof of concept” kind of exercise, I’m pleased. I plan to try some different shapes; hanging there, it kind of looks like a punching-bag-shaped-pillow. Or an elfin dingleberry. Lying on the ground on its side, it feels more like a magical gourd. Welcome to my mind, folks. 😉

"Squash", illuminated quilt form sculpture, about 12"x6"x6".

Oh, you sell matte medium by the gallon? Excellent.

Day 254: Carelessness

Mixed media mini madness marches on. Using vintage sewing patterns, bits from a thesaurus & dictionary, an illustration from a 50’s children’s storybook, a page from the Iliad, drafting film, thread, oil pastel and paint, (pausing for breath) I created a philosophical dialogue on this 5×7” canvas.

If you’re starting to wonder if I’ve become slightly obsessed with this style of artmaking, wonder no more. 🙂 The mini format is so delicious, and the mixed media so endless and interesting to me… I’m enamored. What can I say?

"Carelessness", mixed media on 5x7" canvas.

Sugar and spice…

Day 253: Sweetness

It occurs to me that I occasionally enjoy creating “creepy pretty” artwork. So today I set out to do just that. “Creepy, huh”.. I said to myself.. “where’s that one pattern?” (dig dig dig) “A-ha!”

I literally purchased this pattern because it had the most disturbing illustrations on it. I think it’s a set of patterns for little girl dresses but the poses and facial expressions are so.. saturated with seductress overtones. It’s just freaky.

So I painted over her a little so you’d have to take a close look to realize someone had drawn the poor girl like she’d been working corners for all 7 years of her life and I kept the colors warm and added some lace and part of a Mother Goose rhyme as well as the text “tell you what isn’t true, my dear young lady?”. It makes me think of the old “sugar and spice and everything nice” adage while at the same time remembering creepy dudes catcalling at women on the street with the word “sweetness”.

The older I get, the more I see multiple sides to every subject. I suppose I could be sad that I can’t think of innocence without also thinking of perversion, but we certainly can’t be little girls forever. So I’ve decided to embrace it as a perspective that will hopefully make my art stronger as I go.

"Sweetness", a mixed media painting on 5x7" canvas

I love you, man

Day 252: Gratitude

No matter what happens with casting this year, I’m grateful for the opportunity to make art, to share it with my faithful blog readers, and to have my wonderful support system. Just seeing that people actually check in here regularly makes me feel great, and comments are icing on the cake.

When I started with today’s piece, things just weren’t going right. I had the sewing pattern base down on the canvas and some vintage paper clippings ready to go, but somehow the colors weren’t working. Usually the minis happen pretty spontaneously, but every now and then I hit a hurdle. Instead of getting frustrated, I took the advice in front of me- “select your gratitude”- and starting feeling good about having my little studio space and supplies to work with.

I forced myself to stop worrying about what might or might not happen and just focus on making my art piece more interesting.  I added a drafting film scrap stamped with gesso that made me think of lace, yellow bias tape, some thread, and touches of light yellow paint. My inner happiness had found its way on to the mini canvas. Yay!

I’m grateful for you guys! What are you grateful for?

"Gratitude", mixed media painting on 5x7" canvas

Digital Panhandling

Day 251: Navigation

I’m gearing up for the City Art Gallery show in SF this October, where I’ll be filling my wall space with minis. 5×7” canvases and wood block paintings, to be exact, so I restocked on the former and am enjoying getting back to some “painting” (i.e. mixed media on canvas). I’m still working on the companion piece to the sculpture from Day 237 and a couple of custom dog costumes. And to top that off, I just received the casting call email notice for Season 2 of “Work of Art” on Bravo! It entails a long questionnaire, printing photos of nearly all my work from January on (did I mention it’s Day 251?), compiling those into a binder and also putting them on to a disk… by September 19th.

The rub is that I don’t know how I’m going to make it down to LA and back without the money for gas, hotel and food. So, devoted art fan and blog reader, here’s where you come in. If this blog has brought you giggles/eye candy/a convenient target for mockery over the last 9 months, and you think I might bring you more of that if chosen to be on an art competition reality show, I would sincerely appreciate a donation. (See that yellow “donate” button on the side of the blog there? No? You get this in your email? Then go to artproject2010.info and check it out there.) Or better yet, head on over to my etsy shop and buy some art! I’m a major proponent of affordable art, so lots of pieces are currently available for $25 or less.

Today’s piece is a mixed media painting on mini canvas titled “navigation”. It features a clipping from a vintage thesaurus, vintage sewing patterns, and a rad little illustration from a 1958 children’s book. And if you can’t make a donation right now, do me a favor and please don’t feel bad about it. I see donation requests often that I wish I could participate in but just can’t, so I understand. 🙂 A big thank you to the couple of people who have made donations already! See you tomorrow!

"Navigation", a mixed media piece on 5x7" canvas

Garden of children

Day 248: Imagination

When I was younger, I didn’t give art as gifts very often. I made big pieces for one, and otherwise, it just felt weird giving someone my own art as a present. This scenario would always play out in my head when I’d consider it…

“Oh, hey….art. Did you make this?”

“Yep. Hope you like it.”

“I’m kind of obligated to, aren’t I? I mean, what am I going to say right now? This is totally not what I asked for, but I’ll be sure to put it up on the wall before you come over?”

“Yeah…so you’re welcome?”


But then after some time and lots more artmaking, my friends and family started dropping not-so-subtle hints and straight out berating me for holding out on them. So I started giving art as gifts more often.

Now I have no money, so people get art whether they like it or not. Case in point, tomorrow is my sister’s baby shower. It’s her first, and normally I would get her something off of her registry like a normal person. But since there aren’t any free items on that list, art it is! Hope she likes it. And if she doesn’t, maybe her baby will. It does share my DNA after all, so odds are good. 🙂

This painting is on an 8×10” canvas and includes vintage sewing patterns, ribbon, the “imagination” page from an old thesaurus, and a piece from an illustrated French children’s dictionary I won from Miss Sophie’s blog awhile back. “Jardin d’enfants” is a term I hadn’t seen before. It literally translates to “garden of children” but it looks like it means “preschool”. Awwww.  

"Imagination" a mixed media painting on 8x10" canvas


Day 247: Foolish

It seems that even when I don’t have a clear idea of what I want to make, I can always find guidance in my materials. The mini canvas is approachable. The watercolors are easygoing. The books and bits of thread lying around my studio in the scattered aftermath of my last creative effort begin to stand out and glow with potential. The words pop out and guide my scissors to other interesting words. My trusty steed, matte medium, keeps the pace on the journey and I always seem to get there in the end.

Today’s piece, “Foolish”, is a mixed media piece on 5×7” canvas with vintage sewing patterns, thread, yarn, a knitting illustration, a bit of blank negative (you know, from back when people used film cameras) and some paint. The tied up negative hangs freely on the thread, but settles near the part of the pattern that reads “Cut 2”. The pattern is from a children’s outfit and below that it says “for play”.

That inspired me to build this piece around the spirit of playing with my materials, but I put the “foolish” bit in there too to color the notion of play with the adult sense of propriety. We grown-ups often feel foolish when we engage in playful activities, which is foolish in and of itself. I hope you’re finding some time to play on this holiday weekend! Thanks to my considerate husband, I’m about to pop open a bottle of Lindeman’s Lambic Framboise! And thanks to the brainwashing powers of the Cooking Channel, I’ll also be trying some deep chocolate LaLoo’s Goat’s Milk Ice Cream! Saturday night partying, married-people-style. Oh yeah. 🙂

"Foolish", mixed media piece on 5x7" canvas

Wind beneath my wings

Day 246: Crying up to joy

Today’s piece is a little woolen cloud with bird (on thread) composed of two pieces of paper. One side says “cry up (to)”, which is from a Spanish/English dictionary from the “sayings” section, and the other is a bit from a hymn book that has “ing joy!” in it. As the bird hangs on a thread, it can twirl in the breeze. Thinking of it spinning around, I combined the words and decided to call it “crying up to joy”. I think it’s interesting how we use the term “cry” to refer to sadness or happiness. 

If I ever learn how to do encaustic stuff, I’d like to do something similar with a little wax bird along the lines of the Icarus myth. For some reason, lots of my art thoughts are steering themselves towards folklore and mythology lately. Happy weekend, everyone!

The other side of the bird

Haven’t you heard?

Day 245: Catch

“Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!” 🙂 If you watch too much Family Guy like me, you’ll now be reliving the “Surfin’ Bird” episode in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome. But I couldn’t help it. I’m using birds and words.  (For those of you who don’t watch Family Guy, I’m referring to liberal use of the abovementioned song by The Trashmen in a particular episode. And if you don’t know that song- do yourself a favor and don’t google it.)

Today’s piece is composed of a frame donated to me by a fellow artist (who, coincidentally uses black and white in her artwork) and some more bird cut-outs from a vintage Spanish/English dictionary. Though “disquietude”, “bridle” and “catch” are all visible amongst other smaller type, “Catch” seemed to stand out the most to me. Instead of layering birds like yesterday, I decided to suspend just a few from thread. This allows them to move with the air of the room and cast shadows. I know it’s simple, but I like that about it.

"Catch", paper thread and frame

And everything nice

Day 243: Identity

On my recent 50-cent item spree at the thrift store (a bag full of art supplies for $2.50 ain’t half bad), I picked up a lovely pocket thesaurus. While not as thick as my coveted dictionaries, I still find the aged yellow pages intriguing and today I chose “identity” to go along with the “dust and spirit” hymnal snippet.

In the spirit of “immortelle” from day 239, I wanted to use some sewing notions and other bits for this companion piece, so I tied a knitting illustration and bit of lace to the canvas with blue yarn. I also added a bit of drafting film with gesso imprint, and colored over the sewing pattern ground with blue watercolor and some white acrylic paint.

Identity with Immortelle

For me, there’s something contemplative and interesting about the combination of the symbols- patterns, knitting, the many names for identity, “dust and spirit” together, the feminine bits tied up with the blue… It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I like it. Just can’t particularly explain why. 🙂

"Identity", mixed media painting on 5x7" canvas