Saturday, June 30, 2012

The "Sketchbook Challenge" book give away!

I am a few days late in posting this but there is a HUGE give away going on!

Sue Bleiweiss's "The Sketchbook Challenge" book was released June 26.
There is quite the line-up of sponsors as well as bloggers/artists that are joining her to celebrate the release.

This is the list of sponsors participating -


ArtPlantae Today 

Gelli Arts 


Sue Pelland Designs 

ProChemical and Dye 

The Thread Studio 

Blue Twig Studio 

The Artist Cellar 

The daily give-away will continue through July 10 with two blogs to visit for an opportunity to win.

Here is the complete line up. I think that you can still post a comment to win for the earlier prizes.

Blog hop schedule:

Check the book out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or ArtPlantae.

I've got two projects in there that I am SO excited about!
I'll be giving you a peek at them on July 5, the day that you need to hop back over to my blog for another great give-away.

Now go and hop to those blogs!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Urban Sketching

As posted in the "Sketchbook Challenge" blog today -

I've been seriously pursuing "Urban Sketching" for about a year.
The first few times that I went, my pen marks were very light...kinda wobbly and probably not to good.
I was not feeling secure about sketching in public.

But the longer that I sit in public places and sketch, the less I worry about the end product - the actual sketch.
I'm loving the practice of urban sketching.
It makes me feel a little more secure in my abilities, a little less concerned about what other people think of my sketching and, above all, it lets me stop and really see the world around me.

That's one of the "side effects", if you will, of this urban sketching activity.
You begin to truly look at and see every little thing in your world.
Not just the things that you are drawing but the potential subjects.

Everything begins to look like a sketch waiting to happen.
It makes the world a more beautiful place.

It allows you to celebrate the beauty in the ugly things around you.

I've got page after page of urban sketches - some of them aren't too bad, some of them continue to hide in my sketchbook - embarrassed by the thought of being shown in public.

I'll share a few more with you today.

This is a partial sketch of the Greenville Art Museum. I added a tiny bit
of watercolor on site but wasn't able to complete this there.
I usually don't add any more details/paint at home.

A playground robot stands guard over the playground .

I plucked some lavender from the garden and drew it before I took it in the house.
I was drawing on a piece of cold press watercolor paper -
I love the way that the uneven paper grabs the graphite.

While sitting in my car, waiting on my sketching  buddies, I drew a local
McDonald's as a warm-up sketch. I had forgot my water brush so I used
watercolor pencils instead.

This is a metal sculpture in Greenville SC. I love the lines of it.
I had to draw it several times to get the lines right...
I can see from this sketch that I need more practice with it!

This is one of the beautiful old buildings in downtown Greenville SC.
Our city has spent many, many hours (and dollars) on revitalization of the area.
I am so proud to call this area home. I love to see people milling about downtown, enjoying
this beautiful and busy city.

I hope that I have tempted you to step outside your comfort zone and do some urban sketching.
It will reward you in ways that you would not expect if you just give it a chance.

My plan now is to step a little farther out of my own comfort zone and begin sketching more people.
Real live moving people...

What's your plan?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Art Camp

So, where did I leave the story at?

Oh, yes, the front door of Art Camp For Women.

Now, I figured the women that came up with the idea of Camp had to be pretty cool gals, right?
They must be creative, visionaries, fearless, talented and oh so much fun...

How right I was!

Lori and Lorri (yep, it was either "Hey Lori" or "No, the other Lorri" all week!) are dynamos that have this Camp "thing" down pat.
They both met me at the door with a hug and a helping hand.
I felt like I had known them for ages by the time that I got there though. We had talked on the phone several times as well as emailed back and forth.

The energy there in that large, open cabin was palpable.

I looked around at all of the art supplies, the books, the smiles, the projects in various stages of completeness and figured that I must have landed in Summer Art Camp Heaven.

The rest of the day was spent unpacking, meeting some wonderful women, sipping wine and getting my bearings again.
And putting on my "Art Camp For Women" apron (love the hand dyed aprons ladies!).

It's so difficult to put the emotion, the energy and the excitement into words.
Going to an art class is wonderful in and of itself. But being seeped in the creative process for several days (with no interruptions from the outside world) is just fantastic!
I had created a brand spanking new book making class for these ladies. I made sample book after sample book, timing myself to make sure that they would be able to complete the project in the amount of time that we had.
Even though I've been teaching several years now, I still get a little nervous. But it's always from the standpoint of "what if I forget something? (they had plenty of supplies if I did)" "what if the menopause brain fog takes over?" (it did but they all understood)...I've learned to deal with it.
I guess it's kinda like an entertainer that gets stage take a deep breathe and keep on going.

The view from the cabin was inspiring (to say the least).
Have a peek at this.

This is the view from the left side of the
cabin porch.

Beautiful snow-capped mountains

This may be my favorite shot. The sun
setting over the mountains make them appear to be pink.

We even watched a wedding from the front porch!

The bride walked down a dusty trail to her groom.

Someone said that it must be a "fad" type wedding-
all the guys had on overalls and sported facial hair...

But the girls held out for beautiful turquoise dresses!

One morning (at about 0700), we heard shouting out front.
We got new neighbors the day before in two (maybe three) of the cabins to our left.
Lots and lots of (supervised) ninjas!

The adults kept the kids very busy with exercises like the ones above.

The main book class was almost three days long. The last day was for catching up, getting help with anything that you didn't finish the day before and just being able to use all of the supplies at their disposal.
But these ladies did so great on their books (they completely finished the book construction in the first two days!) that we spent the last day embellishing the pages.
I pulled out a stack of my personal thermofax screens, demonstrated how to use them, showed a few more embellishing techniques and let them go.
They had a great time filling in page after page of glorious color with paint, inks, thermofax images, stamps, drawing, writing and all manner of mark making.

I can say, without a doubt, that Art Camp is one best teaching experiences that I have ever had!
These ladies thought of everything that anyone could need.

Did I mention that we had a chef (waving to Emily!) there preparing our meals? And then there was Liz, the beautiful assistant to the chef (kiss!kiss!).
These two young ladies are artists in their own right.
One day they gave us a fashion show of beautiful and fun aprons that they make.
Check them out at their Etsy shop (Sparrow Waits).
Funky & colorful fabrics and the designs are just wonderful. They will also take commissions if they can find the fabric that you want.

If you could go to an "adult art camp" where you have the best supplies, talented and experienced teachers, wonderful techniques and projects, no cooking!, nightly Happy Hour all in the most beautiful setting then this is your place ladies!
All you have to do is take your clothes (and you can wear your pj's all day if you want!).

Just remember to leave a little bit of space in your suitcase to take your project home!

Thank you Lori and Lorri for inviting me to teach at your Camp. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Here are a few photos of the completed books. I missed getting shots of three books...two of the ladies left before I could photograph theirs. And Lori - where was your book during all of this?

Patti's gratitude cube

Inside of Ann Lynn's book

Inside spread of Carole's book

Group shot Linda, Lorri, Jane, Patti, Ann Lynn

We added Mary Lou's on the left
and Tania's on the back right

Jane's book

Linda's book

Lorri's book on the back
and Jane's (her mom) on the front

Mary Lou and Linda

Mary Lou's book, art journal and gratitude box
Patti's book, art journal and gratitude box

Tania's book, art journal and gratitude box

What a great Colorado trip I had.
A great big "thank you" goes out to everyone that helped me along the way!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Colorado Part Three

I traveled to "Art Camp For Women" on Thursday June 7.
We rode over Berthoud Pass on I-70, which gave us unparalleled views of the Central Rockies in Colorado.
Eye candy to this mountain lover.

And what a prelude to what was coming up at Camp.

I have only traveled in a small part of Colorado (around Colorado Springs) so I have never really seen the Rockies up close until this trip.
The pure majesty and the ruggedness of them is just breath taking.
There was still a little bit of a snow cap on the very tops of them. 

I was taken back by the loss of pine trees though.
I knew that the pine beetle had taken a toll but just didn't realize the devastation that had occurred.
I was told that upwards of 75-85% of the pine trees (lodgepole pines?) had been killed by the voracious appetite of the pest.
While it has opened up vistas and views that haven't been seen in decades, it has effected the wildlife habitat, watersheds, and other natural resources there.
And effectively made matchsticks of the dead trees.

The rode up I-70 was just breath taking. I can't imagine how scary it would be to drive/ride when there was ice/snow on the road though...

Camp was held at the YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch.
This place is huge and I was so thankful that our shuttle driver took us right to the front door of our cabin.

(Warning!! an aside)

Oh, I forgot to mention that instead of being picked up at the airport (since I was already in Colorado), I was picked up at a Circle K gas station.
It made the whole pick-up feel like a seedy drug deal to me...but then again, I have a wonderfully active imagination with things like that.
I was thrilled to find that one of the shuttle riders was a Camper!
From Georgia!
The minute Ann Lynn said the first word, I know that I had found a kindred spirit (her flowing hippie like skirt gave that away) as well as the only other Southern gal at the place.

(Oops, got off track again, didn't I?)

Well, maybe I will just end here and pick up next time with the tale of an adult woman at summer Art Camp.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Colorado Part Two

Back to Deb Prewitt's home studio classroom.
Her shop is the "Blue Twig Studio" and man oh man, does she have some really cool things in there!

This week, Deb is the vendor at the Las Vegas "Art & Soul".
I'd love to be there with all of those crazy ladies (and guys) having fun and creating so many great projects.

The second class at Deb's was "Painted Papers" (which could actually be called "Background Painting", "Art Journal Pages" "Abstract Painting" "Decorated Pages" or any combo of those).
It's a fun, fast paced day of painting, screen printing, tips and tricks to add color, texture and movement to papers (or fabric) that you might want to use for something else.
The ladies had so much fun!
Ruth Chandler used a piece of "MultiPurpose Cloth" to paint on. You can do the very same things to this cloth that you can do on paper.

I stayed with my buddy Liz for a couple of days (I was slave labor kitchen help to her) (lol).
She did feed me (very well), let me sleep there for free (except the slave labor), drove me around, and let me launder my clothing...

Oh, and she took me to the Denver Art Museum.
Where we had arranged to met Jill Berry and spend the day with her.

The "Yves Saint Laurent The Retrospective" exhibit was there.
I thought it would be interesting, even though I am not a real fashion person (unless you count Birks, jeans and tee shirts as fashionable) (except I did wear a skirt and really cute sandals that day!).

Was I ever shocked when I got there.

The exhibit was awesome!

There was a lot of history included, tons of beautifully dressed manikins, luscious headdresses, yummy textiles, lots of audios to listen to as well as several videos to watch.
It was one of the best Art Museum exhibits that I've ever seen.
We could not photograph inside of the exhibit and I left my sketchbook at Liz's house (arrghhh!) but I do have a couple of things that I am doing in my Colorado Sketchbook I can show you later.

If you are close to Denver, you should take the time to visit the exhibit - it is well worth it.

Liz, Jill and I had a fantastic visit.
I wished at that moment that I lived there in Colorado...but then again, they could just move to SC, right?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Feet Firmly on the Ground

Home again, home again.

I spent days (um weeks, months) preparing for the three classes that I was teaching in Colorado.
Two of the classes I taught at Deb Prewitt's shop "Blue Twig Studio" were ones that I had taught before so that made it a little easier.

One of the best parts of my trip was getting to spend some real, honest to goodness quality time with my friend Liz Kettle.

She (and her husband) graciously invited me to stay at their home in Monument, where I stayed the last two years on my treks there. I think that I've been there enough now that they step right over me, put the broom (or dish cloth as the case may be) in my hand. Even the cats (and Duke) treat me like "one of the gang" while I'm there. Which is fine with me!

I love feeling at home, at ease with people.
I love becoming a part of their lives.

I arrived in Denver on Saturday, June 2.
Liz picked me up at the airport after the plane circled from DIA to Montana for an extra hour or so.
There was a huge storm right at the airport with wind gusts up to 60 mph.
It was just beautiful from my view point with the wispy clouds.
You Harry Potter fans will understand when I say it looked like a bunch of dementors flying in to the airport. Liz assured me it wasn't that at all - just rain that wasn't hitting the ground.
My story was much more interesting and scary though...imagine being stuck in the airplane with all those people...
dementors surrounding us...

Well. You get the idea.
My imagination gets away from me on occasion, doesn't it?

Back to the real story.
I loved that this plane had the tracking screen in front of my seat.
I could draw the landscape view from the plane and look on the screen to see which state we were flying over at that particular time.
And it was fun (though a little discerning) to watch the little plane (on the screen) go from DIA to Montana, not once but twice while waiting for the airport to open back up.

Sunday we went to Deb's shop "Blue Twig Studio" (and her home) in Colorado Springs.
What an awesome teaching space!
Surrounded by all kinds of art goodies (oh no!).

We did the "Whimsical Mark Making" class first, with a studio full of brave, brave women.
By the time the day was over, these ladies were drawing and painting all kinds of cool art journal images/pages.

They even drew each other.

I had met most of the women at "Textile Evolution", the mixed media fiber retreat that Liz created.
It was more like hanging out with good friends that I hadn't seen in a while.
Lots of laughing and teasing each other...a lot of smiling, support and edification (and don't we all need more of that?).
I like the Word Origin & History section of the dictionary that describes the word "edification" as "building up of the soul".
Isn't that what a group of supportive women do for each other?

Building up of your soul.

Really think about that for a minute.
Is that what you do for your family and friends?
Or do you tear them down, rip them to shreds with your words and/or your actions?

I wasn't planning on writing the last paragraph but it came out anyway so I'll leave it.
Writing tends to be that way, eh?
The words that want to be uttered find a way out.
As writers, we have to let them.

I'll pick up here on the next post.
And I'll leave you with a couple of photos of Deb's home studio.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Making with Kitty Cats

I  am packing up to head to Colorado for a couple of teaching gigs.
Trying to temper my excitement over teaching, over WHERE I am teaching and my anxiety over leaving my sexy man and my kitty for 9 days.

I decided, while packing, that I needed a handmade book for the trip.
You know, like i didn't have enough to do already- with packing some things for class, things to sell and my clothes and personal items, mailing Etsy items that I've sold, writing blog posts, laundry...

What's one more thing at this point?!

I decided that I wanted a special book to journal in, make some marks in and document my travels in.
And I can practice making one more book before Art Camp class.

I had some scraps of fabric handy from a previous project that I had not put away yet (the scraps not the previous project).

I have a confession to make.
I am not one of those people that clean their work tables off after each project.
I have so many ideas, chase so much inspiration, that I do well to push everything to one end of the table before I start something else.
Confession time over.

Back to the new book (see? another last minute project that just appeared on my studio table).
 I picked out a few items for the cover collage and set to work.
After a few hours, this is what I came up with.

This is a shot with my studio help in it.

He has to get in all the shots...

True to form, he is in the middle of everything that I am doing (and I am lovin' it).