Jeggings and flannel and stirrups, oh my!

"Make one's fortune", a mixed media mini painting on 5x7" canvas.

Day 259: Make One’s Fortune

Ah, the mixed media minis. Sitting down to make one after being away from them for a few days is like putting on a nice warm sweater I’ve been waiting to wear all summer and now it’s finally cool enough (which is not yet the case out here in scorching hot Sacramento, btw). I sometimes miss my cool Bay Area weather. But I do not miss the retarded traffic out there.

In other news, I think I witnessed my first pair of “jeggings” in the wild today. It was nearly a driving hazard. They were almost shiny/slightly white, stretched tight and clinging for dear life to some lady’s leg flesh, so at first I thought “oh wow, she’s totally wearing nylons with no pants”, but then I saw the jeans “stitching” or whatever craziness it is that’s pretending to be stitching. Wrong. All wrong. As is the resurgence of flannel (we all did that back in our Nirvana days, thankyouverymuch) and stirrups. STIRRUPS! *Waits for fashion industry to stretch out its hand* <Slap!> And do you know where I saw these atrocities? Lane Bryant. Elastic-footed thin pants for large ladies are pretty much as bad as jeggings… which they were also selling there. I DO NOT APPROVE.

Today’s piece is a mixed media mini painting with (surprise!) vintage sewing patterns, a bit from an old Spanish/English dictionary with “make one’s fortune” on it, and an illustration of a boy and girl in smashing plaid jumpers. I used liquid watercolor, oil pastel, sewing notions and a bit of wire casing plus a little paint to play up the colors in the pattern and the idea of 3-D (red/green glasses) and storytelling. As I prepare to head south for the Bravo casting call, I find that part of me is still cranky and resentful about the way adults present adulthood to children. I think we all grow up expecting our own fairytales to unfold in some way or another and have to learn how to cope with our own bitterness when that doesn’t quite work out. Then again, I can’t imagine having the gumption to look at sweet little faces like these and tell it like it is. 


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 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

Mexican Polyester

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

Day 239: Immortelle

I’ve got more sculpture pieces in the works, but they aren’t one-day-and-done kind of projects. So today’s piece is a mixed media mini painting. Using a clipping from an old hymnal, a bit from a vintage dictionary, sewing patterns, ribbon, candle wax, blue watercolor and some 100% polyester made-in-Mexico lace, I put the words “death and nature” together with the definition for “immortelle”. Modern definitions refer only to flowers that don’t lose their color, whereas this vintage dictionary also includes reference to a funeral wreath.

Growing up in the heavily populated SF bay area, I remember seeing lots of immortelles on roadsides, eerie silk flower tragedy markers, flooding me with a mixture of sadness, empathy and fear. It seemed to be a common practice among the Hispanic population. Even though I have Mexican heritage, I am usually unsettled by Dia de los Muertos art. I’ve always tried to avoid thinking about death, yet I sense there’s something wise in facing it the way they do. I envy artists who are able to make things that are both sad & sweet or creepy & pretty, and I feel like this piece does that. Have a great weekend, everyone!

The L Word

"Lachrymose Lake", mini painting with dictionary page on 5x7" canvas.

Day 236: Lachrymose Lake

This dictionary page’s header reads “lachrymose lake”. Lachrymose means “tearful, sad”. It makes me think of all the “lady of the lake” mythology. And it’s an interesting selection considering the start of my exploration into artmaking using negative feelings.

Along those lines, the sculpture pieces I’ve been working on this week are coming along well. The first one’s almost done! It’s an illuminated figurative plaster/quilt piece, and I have to say I’m starting to get really excited about sculpture. Which is weird, because I always thought of myself as a painter. But some crazy awesome things could be on the horizon. At this point it’s looking like it’s time to build a workbench in the garage. 🙂

Lowercase L. Not an uppercase i. (Just zoom in and take a peek at all the fun L words if you forget)

The agony and the ecstasy

"Hey, you got any e, man?"

Day 235: Eternal Euphony

After yesterday’s unintentionally inflammatory post and the comments kerfuffle that ensued, I decided to play it safe today by mixing religion and street drug references. 😉

Actually, in case you haven’t guessed, I’m creating a series with the letters “r, s, t, l, n, e” as a nod to Wheel of Fortune (c, d, m & a may follow 😉 ). I’ve always enjoyed word games. Apart from art, spelling and poetry were two of my favorite things as a kid. As an adult, I grew up to collect dictionaries. As a visual artist engaged in using symbols to create evocative pieces, I find the different interpretations of words as symbols highly amusing and endlessly interesting.  

This is a great page because it includes some of my favorite words, like ether, etymology, and etiquette. “Euphony” means “an agreeable sound or pronunciation”. So “eternal euphony” would mean an endless agreeable sound. Kinda cool, huh?

My opening comment references the fact that “e” has been used as a term for “ecstasy”, an illicit drug. Yet, if you look up the definition of the word ecstasy, you’ll probably find references to “religious ecstasy”, which is an entirely different thing than chemicals tricking your brain into super happiness…. Or is it? Mwa-ha-haaaaa!

<Disclaimer: Not trying to piss anyone off here, dear readers. I hope you can take a “well, isn’t that interesting?” approach to this piece. But if you’d rather go with a “well, isn’t that special?” reaction, that’s cool too. :)>

"Eternal Euphony", a mini painting with dictionary page on 5x7" canvas.