Around here

20150520-190638.jpg

We’re trying to figure out how things work without this dear sweet boy. We lost him suddenly last week to a stroke.

There is so much I could say about Pistol, so many stories and memories. He was my steadfast friend, my constant through so many changes and challenges in my life.

20150520-191346.jpg

He was smart and funny and bossy. He was my guy and I was his girl.

20150520-192009.jpg

He taught these guys everything they know.

20150520-192509.jpg

We all miss him so much. I am so thankful that I got to have him in my life. The world is such a strange place without him.

20150520-193454.jpg

Posted in blessings, cats, family, friends, grief, life, loss | 1 Comment

The 100 Days Project

20150416-125000.jpg

So I joined the 100 Days Project. “It’s a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal.”

I’ve written before about how make-x-every-day challenges are not something I’m much good at. Back then I said, “I have a limited amount of creative time and energy each day and the commitment to make something extra every day just doesn’t work well for me.”

But I also said this, “once I get into the momentum of making, the ideas start to flow and it’s easier to keep making.”

In the almost 2 years since I wrote that post, I’ve tinkered a lot with the concepts of habits and practice. I learned this. I decided that I needed to add more energy to my days since more time is not in the cards right now so I’ve experimented with a lot of new habits to increase my energy level. I figured out how much I can accomplish if I work at something steadily in small increments.

20150416-130909.jpg

I learned that skipping your new habit for a day (or a week) is not a good excuse to give up. I also learned that recording your habit progress has to become a habit of its own. Some of those blank spots on my habit tracker are days when I didn’t make time to color in the dot and couldn’t remember later whether I did any drawing or not.

20150416-131329.jpg

So yeah, I made a commitment to paint and stitch a 3 inch collage square every day for 100 days and post a picture on Instagram. Because I’ve always wanted to make a patchwork-y piece with lots of different colorful little blocks. Because it’s a good way to strengthen my habit muscles. Because once I get into the momentum of making, the ideas start to flow and it’s easier to keep making. And more than anything, I want to keep making.

Posted in collage, color, creativity, drawing, embroidery, habits, painting, pattern, practice, stitched collage | 1 Comment

A Public Service Announcement from Sark

20150404-081744.jpg

Dear cat friends:

It turns out mom has a good reason for saying “No Cats on the Stove!” The stove bites. I’m ok now but I had a rough couple of days this week.

It’s true that moms say a lot of silly things, but when they say “No Cats on the Stove!” You should listen.

For real, don’t jump on the stove.

Your friend,

Sark

Posted in cats | Leave a comment

Tutorial: Freezer Paper Stencils and Masks

Way back in the day, before I got into painting and collage, I was really really in love with quilting. (Honestly, I will probably always be a quilter at heart.) I am well versed in quilting tools and tricks and I often turn to those tools when I’m making mixed media stuff.

One of my favorite quilting tools is freezer paper. Freezer paper is white butcher paper with a plastic coating on one side. It makes a great drop cloth for my messy work space since wet stuff like paint doesn’t easily soak through the plastic to the table below. But one of my favorite uses for freezer paper is stencils and masks.

20150309-165432.jpg

In quilting this would be a template for appliqué. You can draw any shape you want, exactly the way you want it on the freezer paper, cut it out, and then iron it on your fabric as a cutting guide.

20150309-165724.jpg

And it peels right off when you are done! No residue and the template can be used multiple times.

20150309-165835.jpg

So when I wanted to paint several dresses on collaged paper, freezer paper was exactly what I needed.

20150309-170147.jpg

Here I’ve cut out a cat shape and ironed it on my background paper. It just needs a few seconds with a hot iron to make the plastic side stick to the paper. If you’re worried about your background burning or melting, you can use a pressing cloth between the art and the iron. I like to use gauze as a pressing cloth so I can still see exactly where the freezer paper is going.

20150309-170542.jpg

The freezer paper acts as a mask, keeping paint off the background under the cat shape while I paint the rest of the piece.

20150309-170814.jpg

When I peel away the mask (after the paint dries) I have a cat in the original blue background color.

20150309-170936.jpg

Conversely, I can use the freezer paper I cut the shape out of as a stencil to paint cats wherever I want them.

20150309-171107.jpg

Just iron it down and paint over it.

20150309-171145.jpg

This time I have a green cat on the original blue background.

You can find freezer paper at the grocery store with the aluminum foil and wax paper. A few bucks will get you a big box, plenty of paper to make your own stencils and masks for any little mixed media project you dream up!

Posted in cats, collage, color, crafts, creativity, mixed media, painting, tutorial | 1 Comment

What’s going on around here?!?

20150304-062226.jpg

Hi there. Long time no blog. It seems the minute I chose the word FOCUS as my 2015 word for the year, I promptly lost every bit of focus I ever thought about having. Sheesh.

In this unusually warm Spokane winter, after 40ish years of intense dislike of the cold, it seems silly to say that I wasn’t prepared for the cold, but it turns out I wasn’t prepared for the cold. I wasn’t prepared for how much of my attention would be taken up with matters of staying warm. Or for how intense the desire to hibernate would be.

20150304-063104.jpg

20150304-063126.jpg

20150304-063148.jpg

But it hasn’t ALL been hibernating…there’s been a lot of doodling.

20150304-063434.jpg

Doodling almost every day.

20150304-063530.jpg

There have been sporting events.

20150304-063642.jpg

And fancy dress up events.

20150304-063709.jpg

Trips to Trader Joe’s for some color.

20150304-063940.jpg

And even a bit of art making.

And lots of putting on layers and cranking up the heat and trying to regain my focus…

Posted in cats, color, drawing, life, practice, simple pleasures | 1 Comment

Stitched collage: Folk Art Album

20150102-091357.jpg
Folk Art Album. 27″ x 24″

I was so happy to finish this project before 2014 ended. I got the idea and started this back in August. I’ve worked on other things in the meantime, but this project has been a touchstone for me, the driving force behind most of the art I’m working on right now.

20150102-092439.jpg.

I figured out this stitched collage technique several years ago and made a bunch of these little dresses. I love making stitched collages – they bring together my favorite paper mixed media techniques with the quilting and embroidery that I love. But I had trouble moving the technique beyond dresses.

And then last summer I saw this quilt on my Instagram feed and everything clicked. I’ve always loved folk art quilts but if I was going to make the time commitment to make one, I wanted to put my own twist on it. Finally figuring out that I could make a folk art quilt with stitched collage unlocked a door in my mind and I’ve been bubbling over with collage ideas ever since.

20150102-094109.jpg

I just love the way the folk art elements fit together with the vintage look of the collage and paint and surface design.

It’s also been really great to have a big ongoing project again. That’s one of the things I’ve really missed from my quilting days. Best of all, I already know what my next big project will be and I’m starting it this weekend!

Posted in collage, color, creativity, embroidery, mixed media, painting, pattern, stitched collage | 9 Comments

A Tale of 2 Scarves

20141125-125855.jpg

A month or so ago I started knitting this scarf. I really wasn’t feeling well. My defenses were down. I was seduced by this blog post. Honestly, if I’d been feeling better I would have resisted the urge to make a really big scarf with really tiny yarn. Really. But the scarf on the blog was sooooo pretty and I felt sooooo yucky and I went right out and bought this pretty lavender Patons lace weight yarn and some size 3 needles and I started knitting this scarf.

20141125-131305.jpg

Maybe a week later, I showed one of my dear people this ridiculous knitting project. She promptly reminded me that one of my other dear people is going through chemotherapy and could really use a nice soft scarf to help her stay warm. Clearly the ridiculous project would not work because it will take 5 years to finish. But I knew what would work so I went right out and bought some big chunky soft Lion Brand Homespun Thick and Quick yarn in Granite Stripe and some size 13 needles and started knitting this scarf.

20141126-064102.jpg.

These scarves are total opposites. One is really thick and chunky (I knit it with two strands) and came together very quickly. The chunkiness of the yarn hides all my mistakes. The other is fine and delicate and shows every mistake. I can knit for an hour and not make any visible progress. When I picked it up again after finishing the other one it felt so tiny in my hands. One is 15 stitches wide and the other is 100 stitches wide. And yet both scarves will be lovely and functional and made for the love of creating something beautiful with my own two hands.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment