Thursday, September 1, 2011

My morning walk

I have not been walking as much as I intended to when I moved here, I have been doing it off and on, until this last week, when I managed to make it out the door 5 days out of 7.  It usually takes a couple of weeks to form a good new habit, and I am on my way.

The only way I get this done is to lay out my clothes in the bathroom the night before, and put them on as soon as I get up.  If I just take those first few steps out the door, I am so happy.  I love the fresh air and moving after being in bed all night!  I return feeling more awake and alive, ready for my day!

I carry my camera with me, because I love my neighborhood.  I decorated a nifty little bag to carry it, I will show you in another post, but here are some of my recent photos taken on my walk.

A fantastic wall planted with dozens of different plants

Lots of sedums

The early morning sun hitting these great flowers
I love these smaller sunflowers


Sunday, August 28, 2011

What!? I have a blog??

My good intentions of posting at least once a week seem to have gotten lost this summer.  I even frightened one of my friends who lives in another state, into calling me to see if I was alright!  And yes, dear reader, I am in fact doing fine, dare I say, "GREAT"!

I have had a wonderful and eventful summer, even though summer was largely missing from the Pacific Northwest. I would even venture to say this has been the best summer I have had in years.  I plan to post at least once a week, perhaps twice, for a few weeks, and catch you up on my art and my life.

I took a trip to Kansas with my father over Memorial Day weekend.  The Gates family of St. John, Kansas has a reunion that weekend.  Gates was my father's mother's maiden name. Her father, my great-grandfather, moved to Kansas with his brothers and parents in the late 1800's.  They homesteaded near St. John, Kansas, a small town in the center of the state.

I made a journal for my trip, something I love to do, I have made one for every trip I have taken since 2008.  This journal is based on an article in ClothPaperScissors  Jan/Feb 2011 issue.  It is made from a folded and decorated file folder.  It was fun to make and (almost) the
perfect size for our trip.

I made cardstock pages to go in the pockets of the journal, they are covered with scrapbook paper, and I wrote on both sides and added photos from my pogo printer, just the right size for the pages.  I say it was "almost" perfect only because I found the trip so fascinating that I had more images and things to write about than I had room for.  I did use the pockets (see middle photo above) to add additional photos and ephemera.

my father in center, with his cousins on either side

at the reunion with his cousins, Allen and Joyce, with a photo of all  the
Gates cousins taken in the 1940's
I was so happy to go to this reunion with my father.  His cousins are like his siblings, they all grew up living within a few miles of each other and their grandparents.  I was very touched by their deep and abiding love for each other.

I also found Kansas to be a very interesting place, I plan to go to the reunion next year with my father and my sister, and spend more time exploring the area.  I think I would like to write about the family and the state.  My great-great grandmother and my great-grandfather were in local politics, the whole pioneer aspect is very intriguing to me.  My great-great grandparents had to plant trees as part of their homestead agreement, and the timber claims, as they are called, are still there.  My father's cousins are still farming land that was part of that original homestead.  It is a type of continuity that is not common on the west coast of our country, or maybe that is just because I have always lived in cities...

More adventures coming soon to a blog near you!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Newest Photoart Journal--Intention Words

This is my intention word for 2011, I have written about starting a new life before, and when my photoart journal yahoo group decided to do a book based on our intention words for 2011, this is how I chose to illustrate my word.  The inverted photo was glued to the other photo to make a single page for the book.

I have been in this yahoo group since 2006.  I met the moderator, Catherine Anderson, at my first ArtFest. She was one of my roommates that year, and encouraged me to join, even though I had just gotten my first digital camera!

The group has a theme, and instructions from Catherine for each book.  There have been dozens of books in the last 5 years, and I have participated in almost all of the books.  They are all in storage now, and I miss them!  I am looking forward to getting the Intention Word book, sometime this week!

Catherine is amazingly creative and has bound our books with such care and inventiveness.  It is always a super treat to get my book and see what wonderful thing she has done with covers or binding, or both!  She also manages to arrange the photos in each book so that there is a good transition based on color or theme of each photo.  Of course, this would be much harder for Catherine to do if our group was not filled with amazing photographers!  Each book is not just beautifully constructed, but filled with really fabulous photos!  Our group has been featured in Somerset Studio's Life Images magazine and in LK Ludwig's book Collaborative Art Journals.

Being in this group has pushed me to be a better photographer.  I look for interesting photographs everywhere.  You can go to Catherine's blog and see a photo of the cover she did for the Intention Words book.  Her blog is fabulous, check it out, in the sidebar you can see the cover for her first coming out later this year called The Creative Photographer.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My morning walk

 I am taking a walk every day, and I can't resist bringing my camera along, because I love, love, love my neighborhood!  I grew up in Portland, Oregon and went to college in Eugene, where I lived in regular neighborhoods, then moved to Seattle after graduation.  I love the diversity of architecture in cities!  Not every house in a neighborhood is the same style, or color!  In the 'burbs, where I lived for 29 years, that was not the case!

Seattle has alleys!  I live on one, and walk down it to get to the street.  This garage is on "my" alley.  I love it for the red doors.  Red gives a touch of class to anything, even a garage door!
These are two other alley views I spied as I walked this morning.  There is something mysterious about an alley to me.  I think it goes back to my childhood, my grandparent's house in a little town in Colorado had an alley, and we were told not to play there because sometimes hobos camped out in or near people's alley sheds.
Also, walking down an alley, you get a view of the back of people's houses, and it seems almost voyeuristic to look at what is behind their house.  An alley seems like a secret street to me, sort of like finding Narnia through a cupboard.  It may be weird, but I love them.
I also found this bird carcass on the street today.  It was mostly just bones, but the brilliant feathers were left to give dignity to its death.

My walks are meant to be for exercise, so I try to walk at a good pace, but I can't resist taking photos, I am still so thrilled to be living in the city!  I try to walk a little faster for a while after I stop to take a photo.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Of Spring and Renewal

I love these tulips!  They were a gift from one of my sisters-in-law, given to me a week ago.  The color is so vibrant and cheerful!  It seems that spring has come to Seattle, it has been beautiful the last two days.  I went to a wedding yesterday with my daughter, the couple was very brave to schedule an outside wedding on April 30, but the sun came out bright and beautiful for the ceremony!

I had a bit of sadness during the ceremony, reminded of my own wedding.  It was the first wedding I have attended post-divorce.  I had to do a bit of an attitude check to get over it, my wedding day was very happy and these two young people were obviously head-over-heels, and I was able to let go of the feelings of regret that came up and be happy for the newlyweds.  Quite a lot was happy in our marriage, I am able to see that now.  As time goes on, it is easier to let go of the feelings of regret, sadness and anger I have over the end of the marriage.

I spent time with two of my former husband's sisters this past week, and it was very healing to re-connect with members of his family, of which I was a part for 31 years.  It will be necessarily different, but those connections will go on.  It was a spring renewal of a different sort!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

ArtFest, Day 2 and 3

This is Mary Beth Shaw, my delightful teacher for the second day of ArtFest.  She is really as cute and perky as she looks and a great teacher.  This class was another challenge for me, more learning curves as I dealt with composition, texture and color!  Mary Beth uses this great product called Wood Icing to add texture to paintings, smoothing the wood icing on to the substrate through stencils.  She has a separate blog to demo and sell both the stencils and wood icing here.
This is one of the two projects I worked on in class.  I chose to work with her "happy" palette, magenta, lemon yellow and pthalo blue.  The other palette was "earth" and was burnt sienna, yellow ochre and prussian blue.  I intend to experiment with the "earth" palette, but felt that I could easily make "mud" with those colors, and didn't want to tax my brain any further!

I had such a time with this piece, I had all of my texture elements in a vertical plane, I didn't realize until the next day that I had nothing in a horizontal plane, and that was why it seemed so unbalanced.  Adding the circular elements helped, but clearly I have more experimenting to do with composition!  I am happy that I learned the techniques and about the two palettes.

I was so frustrated with my project at one point that I asked Mary Beth to just tell me how to fix it!  She is a very good teacher, though, and talked me through what I didn't like about it, and asked what symbols I do like, and didn't TELL me what to do.  I really appreciated that, and learned more as a result.

Mary Beth has a book out, Flavor for Mixed Media:  A Feast of Techniques for Texture, Color and Layers.  I was lucky enough to win a copy in a giveaway on Seth Apter's blog about a week before ArtFest so I took it with me to have MB sign!  It is a wonderful book and she includes many of the things we learned in class.  One of the very fun things about the book is that she includes recipes, and the featured artists gave recipes, too!

My final class was with LK Ludwig, pictured below.  Above is a photograph I altered with dry brushed gesso and colored pencils.  It was a fun class, a lot of coloring on photos, a transfer technique, and a chance to look at some of LK's journal pages.  A perfect class for the last day of ArtFest, when my little brain needed a rest.  LK has several online classes that teach many of the techniques I learned that day.
Finally, what I consider an iconic shot of the castle building at Fort Worden.  It sits on a bluff looking out at the beach.  I stayed in Dorm 225 this year, and the castle was just up the hill from me.

This was my fourth ArtFest.  The first year I went, my husband and I had just sold our home and moved into an apartment.  Our children moved when we did, and I felt like a huge part of my life had ended and I was starting over.  I felt almost a physical longing to go to ArtFest, I didn't know why, just that I felt I HAD to do it.

I found my tribe that year, I was accepted as an artist, even though I wasn't brave enough to call myself that yet.  I began to take myself seriously as a person who NEEDS to make art, though.

This year I was gifted with the chance to come to ArtFest, and I am again at a time of starting over.  My husband and I have divorced, and I have moved again.  I haven't been making art much since we split, and since this was a gift, I felt I really had to grab it with both hands.  I chose the two painting classes because I have always longed to paint, but chicken out and don't take classes.  I moved into that desire, and feel like I went over the threshold of fear--leaving the safety of art I already knew I was "good" at to cross into art I really, really wanted to do, but was afraid I would have no skill.  I trust the teachers at ArtFest, I trust the environment, and I faced the fear and experienced great joy.

At show and tell night Teesha told me: you should always do the things you are scared to do.  Wise, wise words from a wise woman.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


taken on the ferry on the way over. Teesha has magic powers
and always manages to conjure up wonderful weather
for the 4 days of ArtFest!
 Last week I attended my fourth ArtFest, the wonderful, magical art event held every year for the last 12 years in Port Townsend, WA.  ArtFest is the labor of love of Teesha and Tracy Moore. They have created a safe and joyful place for hundreds, literally, of women and a few men to come each year and get their art on for 3 full (and I mean FULL) days. There are full day classes with some of the most talented artists in the country.  And, it is the most fun you could possibly imagine!
Day one, I had a class with Jesse Reno, a tremendously talented painter from Portland, OR.  I have wanted to paint for years, and have dabbled, but really needed some instruction to get the concept of color mixing and composition.  I love the free form style of Jesse's paintings and though I was scared I wouldn't be able to let loose, I took his class.  I loved the idea of painting with my hands, and it was fun, for sure, but I had a lot of the same value in my first attempts.  With help, I began to add contrast, and was brave enough to cover up what I had done previously.  Below is one of the pieces I did in class.
 Like anything new, I wasn't sure if I really liked it, but I felt like I at least was able to get the concept of adding different values.  I always try to allow myself to not like what I am doing, and just keep working it when I am taking a new class, and as I added marks with pastel, I came to like what I had created.

My second painting is below.  This one is very unfinished, but I am happy with the start.  I will work on this some more, and show you when I am finished.  Jesse's class was great, I enjoyed hearing his stories, especially how he persevered, trying many things to get his paintings noticed.  I really appreciate hearing stories about how focussed and persistent artists have to be to get anywhere, reminds me of the importance of those values for many things in life!

Next up, days two and three of ArtFest!
another painting I started in class