Sunday, September 30, 2012

Big Day for Open Studios


Today was the reception for artists in Open Studios, at the Art League gallery.  I learned a couple of things:

1)  Next year, I want to volunteer more, so when I go I know more people.  It's kind of no fun to be there alone.

See all the people?  I didn't know any of them.

2)  Next year, I will submit a larger piece.  Here's what mine looks like:

 The red arrow indicates the sad little piece I submitted.

3)  Next time, I will not leave the house, ever, without a stack of postcards (that have my dates, address, etc.).  I looked and looked  and couldn't see my cards on any of the three big racks they had for artists to put their cards on -- either all of mine have been picked up (unlikely) or somehow my cards didn't make the transition from inside the building to the display tables outside (in which case I'm bummed).  I meant to go over there yesterday to see if restocking was in order but never made it.  Next time, I'll know.

It was a nice event, nevertheless.  The artworks are fabulous -- mine looked pretty puny in comparison.  I was really struck by a gorgeous photograph of a cobblestone street -- it kind of took my breath away.  (It's the first one on this page of his website.) When I got close enough to read the tag, it was Tom Jacobs' picture -- my photography teacher.  Of course.

They had tents with food and drink outside and a marimba band, which was nice.  Lots of people!

On the home front, my friend Jana and I got most of the canvases hung yesterday -- and they look much better in my "studio"! The preview show is kind of overwhelming.

Hope you have a great week!

Friday, September 28, 2012



I'm delighted to report that Viv in the UK has signed up as my 100th follower!  

~~Thanks, Viv!~~ 

Stop by her blog, Desktop Dreams, to say hello!

Five Fact Friday


Five Fact Friday comes around again -- I love to play.

1.  It is a fact that I have 99 followers.  99, people!  Won't someone step up and make it 100?

2.  I once was a vocalist in a supper club show, when I was young (and slim); I've always appreciated great vocalists.  I came across this video of Luther VanDross singing at the NAACP Image Awards some years back, and it is stunning.

3.  I love macro photography, but I'm not very good at it (yet).  One problem:  my hands shake a bit, and I'm not one to have my tripod at hand in those situations.  Bugs or butterflies confound me. You have to have a lot of light.  But sometimes I get something that's okay.  These are quite small berries on a tree:

4.  I wish my name were Melisande or Maeve or Melanie -- anything but Elise.

5.  Our daughter wants a gecko.  Actually, she wants anything, a mouse, a lizard, a frog, something.  We keep reminding her that we have cats, one of whom is a mighty hunter (Buttercup) who would not rest until the mouse/lizard/frog/gecko was hers, for lunch.  Here's a gecko who posed for a picture at a Canon macro workshop I went to once:

Cute, right?  The only lens I will ever in my life want any more (seriously, Ed), is the Canon 180mm macro I used to take this picture.

Happy Friday!  Hope you have a great weekend planned.  Me, I'm putting books back on shelves.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Look what I made today!


Today was an absolute artsy day for me.  In the morning I went to my watercolor class, abandoned the paintings I had been working on and started working out of the "realistic abstracts" book.  My work wasn't great, but it was a) transparent and layered, instead of being worked over until it looks horrible, and b) not detailed, which is a big thing to me.  I have a long way to go to be able to paint in that way, but I'll plug away at it.

Then, I left class early to go to my favorite place to play in San Jose, A Work of Heart.  I've done a lot of workshops there, but this one was a lot of fun.  It's a "mixed media shadowbox," or "Spooky Shadowbox," as I would like to call it.  Here it is:

 Linkup to AlphabeThursday

It's a small canvas turned backwards and painted black.  Then we made a boatload of polymer clay tiles, which we stamped and embossed and baked and painted black and then highlighted with white and silver.  We also did two kinds of image transfer, on the right, and in the middle something really cool -- you paint the area with elmer's-type glue, and then when it has a skin on it, you put white paint over it and it all cracks to a nice effect.  Finally, I chose a "scaredy cat," a little metal thing, and glued it into the shadowbox area so it protrudes from the hole.  I think it came out great!  We stamped cobwebs on the edges, too.  A very fun project.

My sister's coming to visit in October, and I've arranged for her, me and my daughter to all go down for a "Juicy Collage" workshop.  I'm hoping she'll like it, but shhhh . . . don't tell her.  (I don't think she reads my blog.)

Have a great day tomorrow!  It's Friday! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting back to normal --


Today was a day of peace and quiet for me -- home all alone, no banging, no sawing -- just enjoying the stillness.  One more picture of my floor and I'll stop, I promise.  This is in the daylight, and I tried to get the color right -- 

It really has a lot of redness to it, which I love.  I just can't get over how beautiful it is, and I'm so happy that it's done!

So now that you're totally sick of my floor, let's move on to something else.  For Open Studios, if we can, we are to demonstrate our work.  I thought about making a video of screen shots and a voiceover and showing it on the tv, but the screen capture program I got is not all that easy to figure out, so I decided to abandon that as a means of reducing my overall stress.  Now I'm doing something like a science fair display -- I'm putting together three pieces of mat board and telling the story through prints made of screen captures and captions to explain what's going on in each part of it.

The mat board is a lovely shade of dusky purple, but you can't see that.

I am hoping to get around very soon to see all of you -- I've been remiss in that this week.  Oh and Buttercup initiated the new rugs today -- she had a visit to the vet for her annual vaccinations, deworming stuff, her anti-flea pill, and got her nails clipped, so of course she came home and up-chucked on both new rugs.   I guess it had to happen at some point.

Hoping your week is going great!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012



It's late, so this will be quick.  Here's where I've been living for the past two days:

Only one small area of the room I've been closed up in.  Tripping over everything, climbing over stuff to where I sat with my laptop on the bed.  But outside that door . . . magic was happening!!

Here's a very bad view of the living room.  No books back on the shelves, yet, the furniture's not in the right place and my walls are definitely not that yellow!  They're much lighter and warm, not garish.  But look at the floor!

Buttercup and October are having a ball -- well, Buttercup is, anyway; October's zonked out on the rug.  But Buttercup has discovered that her toys, especially the little mousies she loves, work *so* much better on the floor!  They roll and skitter all over the place!  Here she is taking a little breather before she starts running back and forth again.

I'm just thrilled.  I lived with that yucky, awful carpeting for so long and I was desperate to get it out of there before Open Studios.  So now it's done, and I have a whole gallery wall where I can put my pictures!  Yay!!! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Over halfway laid --


Day 1 of the floor installation -- they got over half the floor down. Yay!  

It was a long day, from 9AM to after 6 PM.  I  was supervising from behind the bedroom door, me and Buttercup.  They were very efficient, very focused, very skilled at what they did.

So I took a few pictures:

They were really fast about pulling up the carpeting -- it was gone in no time, at least in the part that wasn't underneath furniture that had to be moved from here to there.

Early on, they had some of the floor laid, and I was so excited!

And by the end of the day, they had more than half of it laid:

Terrible cell phone picture, but the dining room (from which I'm taking the picture) is done, as is most of the living room -- yippee!

They said it will be a whole day tomorrow, but once they're finished cutting and placing the  floor boards, it will be more quiet!  The job will require a lot of finishing, so that will be the rest of it, but I'm sure that part will be less stressful on the ears! 

I think it's turning out beautifully, and I'll be so happy when it's done!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chaos at the Homestead, Part Deux


It's day two of Chaos at Wormuth Manor -- our friends came over today and helped, and having a younger woman and her energetic 24-year-old-or-so son made everything go very quickly.  Within an hour, they had dealt with all of the big stuff (books, a cabinet of glassware that had to be boxed up and then the cabinet moved, all electronics unhooked and moved into the bedroom, the dining room furniture moved, on and on).  We were left with various piles of detritus to chip away at the rest of the day.  Here's where we are now:

And have a look at the yucky horrible carpet we're getting rid of!  We wanted laminate put in when we got the house, but had to cut back on expenses, so out that idea went.  If you have kids and animals, you know that a rug will not hold up under that assault for long, and particularly a lighter color. But here's where some of the stuff went:

A corner of the kitchen.  And if you look hard, you can see how I recovered the dining room chairs, although I'm pretty sure I posted a picture of that when I did it.

So, they are coming at 8 or 9 AM -- it wasn't clear to me which, but I'll be up at 6, moving the rest of the stuff. My fellow residents are escaping to school and work, while I get to supervise the installation, I guess.  I'll take pics.

Hoping you have a great week to come! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crunch time at the old homestead --


Well, it's a busy weekend!  We have to clean everything out of the living room by 8 AM Monday morning.  I am blown away at just how much a living room can hold.  We are at the uproar stage at the moment, and I fear that it's going to go on all day tomorrow too.

My living room doesn't usually look like this.  Okay, maybe once in a while it looks kind of  like this, but not often.  You'll notice that my Loved One already has the shelves emptied of his books.  Obviously, I have not. On the other hand, I have filled two bags full of recycling and emptied out two huge sliding baskets that are in the very big coffee table -- what everything is piled on, right in front. 

A word to the wise: don't get a big coffee table that has storage built into it -- you won't believe what you can fit in there.

 This is the coffee table you don't want to get.  There's space in the middle, too, where we keep games and stuff.

Of course, the only person who's having a ball is Buttercup, who is busy "helping" by hopping into any box you're trying to fill, getting tangled up in your feet, etc.

This table is among the many things that have to be moved.  
It exhausts me just to look at it.  

On the other hand, my friend Jana (who is much younger and more energetic) is coming tomorrow morning at 11AM to help us.  She can get the stuff off the top of the bookcases, she's bringing more boxes, and everything will go much faster once she's here.  

On a happier note, I stopped by the art store where I'd put my postcards on the rack they have for Open Studios artists, and unless somebody stole them or threw them away, they've all been picked up by people.  I have to go tomorrow and put more in the rack.

So, my little break is over and I need to press on.  Hope you're having a better weekend than we are . . . 

Friday, September 21, 2012

5 Fact Friday


I'm going to pop into 5 Fact Friday today -- here are my five facts:

1.  I've been missing my mother a lot this week.  I don't know why; I just have.  She's been gone for 23 years and I still think about her every day, especially now that I'm doing art, as she did.  Here's a picture -- even though it's a crummy picture (not taken by me!), I love it.  This says "mom" to me:

 We laughed a lot at my house.

2.  After all this time, I finally learned how to copy a mask from one layer to another in Photoshop.  This is huge as far as I'm concerned, because before this I never would have taken on this picture:

Linkup to 5 Fact Friday

I spent way over an hour doing one layer mask of this complicated pic -- I never would have done it, if I'd had to do it over and over (which is what I've been doing).  Duh.

3)  I decided to give up the tiles I've been trying to make for Open Studios -- I just can't get them done to my satisfaction, and since I'm already waking up at 2AM, worrying, I decided to take that one bit of stress off me.  Maybe next year.

4)  I'm really excited to take on my next project, as soon as Open Studios is over -- I'm developing an e-course called "The 'G' Word," and I'm really looking forward to doing it.  More news to come!  I hope it will be offerable in January.  Okay, maybe February.

5)  A big surprise for me: I'm looking forward to teaching at the end of January.  When I left, I thought I'd never want to go back to work again, and I really have been trying to avoid being there, but I'm getting busy on my two classes for Spring, when Open Studios is over.  (Can you tell that my life is totally focused on that at this moment?  :P  )

So there you have it.  I enjoy this meme -- it means I have to stop and think for a second about what's up with me this week.  I like it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Agony of Watercolor


I'm frustrated.  I've been taking watercolor classes for a year and a half, and while I love the medium, I really feel that I'm not appreciably better than I was on Day 1.  I know it's not the teacher, because she's highly regarded and has a number of students who have been with her for years . . . it's me.

I think I have two basic problems.  First, watercolor is a devilishly difficult medium, and even after all this time, I don't feel I've "gotten it" yet.  I'm waiting for a miracle to happen, that magical moment when I can say, "Look Mom, I'm doing it!"  But so far, all I can say is "Mom, send a little of your talent down here, will ya?"  

Painted with a primary color triad

For the past couple of weeks, we've been doing "triad" paintings, where you do a painting with only three colors.  And then you vary the three colors and make one or more additional ones.  These are quite small.  The first one is a complementary triad using the primary colors.  I think the petals are stubby and misshapen; I need to smooth the background a bit and add more texture.

Here's the other one, using three contiguous colors (gold, burnt orange, and rose madder).  The background is most definitely not finished -- I need to blend the colors and then add some washes.

The other problem is what my teacher tells me almost every time:  Don't be so timid!  Be Bold!  I realize this is a problem because I get hung up on getting in every detail of whatever it is I'm painting, and I work it and rework it too much.  If I actually had any affinity for this, I think I would do botanical illustration; then I could indulge my desire to be very detailed.

Does anyone who is actually good at watercolor have any tips for me?  I'm trying this book in the hope that it will help me loosen up:

 You can find it on Amazon

In this book he shows you step by step how you create a "realistic abstract" -- a picture that you can see something in, but that is not finely detailed:

Painting by Kees van Aalst

I'd like to be able to do this kind of thing -- I think going through the process could be kind of freeing.  So I'll give it a go, though maybe not until after Open Studios.

What do you think?  (I'm not fishing for compliments -- to me, those pictures look as if they were done by a 2nd grader.)  Do you do watercolor?  Do you find it challenging?  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

17 days to go . . .


17 days until Open Studios!  Am I ready?  No!!!!

I had a blast this morning at the Santa Cruz Art League, receiving artwork for the preview show.  I met a group of first-timers, lots of other nice people, mostly artists, and best of all, got to check in their artwork for the show.  

 I was amazed at the variety of the art pieces (and amazed that I said so many times, "Oh, I need  that!).

   Linkup to Alphabe-Tuesdays
So now I have to start checking things off my list as I get them done.  I got one of those credit card readers you can use plugged in to your cell phone, but I don't know how to use it yet.  I have a stack of prints to mat.  I need to straighten out my website and get prices on there.  Oh yes and I have to have my house totally disrupted to get the flooring put in on Monday and then get everything put back into place and hang my pictures and . . . and . . . and . . .

So much to do, and only 17 days left to do it in!

Oh and I posted a bumper sticker on Facebook today that I thought amusing:

    What if the hokey-pokey really is  
what it's all about?   

Hope you're having a great day . . .     

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Devil in a Cute White Cat Suit


Well, the cat is in the doghouse.  We're having our laminate floors installed next Monday, and yesterday I spent a lot of time buying two rugs, one of which is below.

The guilty party
Linkup with Tuesdays Around the World

When I bought the first rug and brought it home, Buttercup immediately started crawling all over it and, of course, clawing it.  Grrrr.  

I decided to go back for the second rug, brought that one home, and the same thing.  She loves them.  I yelled at her, threw some flooring samples in her general direction (she chased them, then returned to the rug), to no avail.  She was possessed.  (Nota bene:  I know I'm not supposed to throw things at the cat, but my spray bottle has disappeared.)

Perhaps this rug has catnip woven into the fiber?  It's suspiciously green . . .
Last night, as I was trying to go to sleep, I heard her scratching the rug again, and leapt up, kicked her out of the room, and closed the door.  I figured that one night of not hearing Buttercup scratching the rug or clawing the push pins off the bulletin board or playing with electric cables under the table would do me good.  (Generally, the time to hear these things and have to get up is 3:30 AM or so.)

So this morning, as my Loved One was up and about, he left the door open.  Buttercup rushed in and . . . do I need to spell it out for you?  I leapt up again, tripped over something, wrenched my leg, banged my shoulder into the desk, and wound up bumping my head in the corner behind the door, which slammed, and the whole impact caused a picture to fall off the wall in the hallway!  

  My adorable kitty going about her adorable kitty business.

Nothing like starting your day with a bang!  As my daughter said, that's one way to close a door.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sweet Sunday


Since my Loved One's birthday and mine are six days apart, today we're at his sister's house, celebrating both.  I love my sister-in-law very much -- she's so kind and loving, I don't know how anyone would not be happy to be around her.  We had a lovely lunch; Ed made corn chowder and chicken salad and there were other great salads, including one made with shrimp that had curry in it -- I have to get the recipe for that one.

Still working with Sarah Gardner's set -- I'm finding them a little tricky, but again, when you get the right image to work with, they're fabulous.   I tend not to go with the dreamy, washed out look -- I do love the pictures others do, but it's not "me."  I like much bolder colors.

Like this one (dahlias again?  Gaaakh!).  I just love the waxy quality of the texture in the background -- and even though it's pretty much the same color, it looks good to me -- what do you think?

The second one I did is one of those puffy dahlias that I love.  The pink is just gorgeous, and I like the background on this one, too.  I'm finding I'm using different blending modes with these than I usually do, which is good -- keep experimenting!

Sarah also has some very nice free textures this week, though not the wax ones.  You need to register for her site to be able to download them, but if you're an enthusiastic texture user, you'll want to keep up with what she's doing.

So . . . hope everyone is having a nice Sunday, and I'll see you tomorrow!  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's always an exciting day . . .


. . . when I get a new texture pack!  This will be a quick post because I'm kind of under the weather (DD has been sick all week).  But I just got Sarah Gardner's Waxworks collection and I've been fooling around with it. 

The images are all of things she did with wax, and it's unusual -- different from most of the sets I have.  They come in a variety of colors that you can see here.  I don't think they'll work every kind of image, but when it's the right match, it's pretty spectacular.

So here's one I did last night:

 Linkup with Your Sunday Best

What do you think?  I didn't have much luck with the first couple of images I tried, but I think this one came out very nicely.

Soooo . . . I think I'll go back to bed for a while.  My stomach is kind of turning flips.

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hopping around the world --


The other day I mentioned Kat Sloma's "Liberate Your Art" postcard swap -- I want to bring them all together here and participate in the blog hop that's happening right now.

Kat asks everyone to produce five postcards and send them to her.  Then she exchanges them around (over 1000 cards!) and sends them out one batch at a time.  It's great fun, going to the mailbox and finding a beautiful piece of art from somewhere in the world.  Then Kat tops it off with a card of her own!  I got some beautiful ones.

The first card was most delightful to me:

This is from Deanna Swauger, who blogs at Snippets from Springdale.   I love sunflowers and was so happy to receive this beautiful card.  The detail is wonderful.

The second card was from Teena at GodTags.   In each card she sent there was a different word, and mine was "created," which is certainly meaningful to me.

The third one is from Maria Ontiveras, who blogs at Gallo Organico.  I love the kind of steampunk-children's book feeling of it.


 The third one came from Elissa at Gallery Dee.  What amazes me about this beautiful image is that it's the first watercolor Elissa ever did!  I'm amazed.

 The next one came from Darnita at At the Art of It.  This picture certainly doesn't do it justice, because it's dark and swirly and starry and beautiful.

Just two more.  Here's the card that Kat herself sent:

Isn't it lovely?  And this is the one I sent -- 

  It was great fun to do this, and I encourage everyone to get involved next year.  It's like a little gift in your mailbox when they come.

Kat has a video of all the cards on her post, if you'd like to see them all.  It's pretty amazing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012



I'm completely bushed, so this will be quick -- I was out half the day today, and so far my cards are at a gallery/framing store, a fitness club, a yogurt shop, and an art supply store.  The art store has a revolving rack for Open Studios artists, and the ones I put there before are gone!  

I went to a few more places and I sensed they weren't amenable to having my post cards, so I just gave them one and my business card, and left it at that.  I figure that if they want to talk to me, they have my number.

  A Big Sur rose for me (and you)

It wasn't as hard as I thought, but it still makes me so nervous.  But I just said to myself, let's go, and I went.  And I have ideas for a few more places, and tomorrow I'll go down to the Art League, where they're featuring all the Open Studios artists, and leave some cards there.

Someone asked what Open Studios is -- I assumed that there was something like it all over, but of course it's unfamiliar to some.  For three weeks in October, artists in the Santa Cruz area who have gone through a juried process open their studios or homes (in my case), and they publish a calendar that has all the maps and locations of the artists.  

It's from 11-5 on Saturday and Sunday, and I'm in weeks 1 and 3, so I'll have a little break.  You turn your living room into a gallery, and talk to people about your work, and you hope they will buy something.

So, I've been working very hard to get ready.  I have about 20 pictures printed on canvas, a couple framed; I have matted prints; I have maybe six different blank greeting cards; and I'm still intending to make the tiles I showed in an earlier post (hey, I have 3-1/2 weeks -- that's plenty of time, right?).  Other than that, we have a crew coming to replace our carpet with laminate within the next week or two, which has been making me very nervous about whether it will be done on time, the woman who gardens for me will spruce everything up, and I should be ready, right?

The best part is that my sister is coming from Minnesota for the second week to help out -- I'm figuring that after I've done one week, it should be a piece of cake, so I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun with her. 

I'll get there -- one step at a time!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The anxiety sets in . . .


I'm starting to feel a little bit frantic about Open Studios -- in reality, I think I'm in pretty good shape, but I feel that I have so much to do and I'm going from one thing to the next and not getting anything finished.

I'm going to include a couple of "water lily" pictures from Ventana in Big Sur, because they remind me to breathe.

I need to sit down and come up with a yet-to-do list, and attach dates to each item. If I feel more organized, I'll be more confident that I'll be ready.  And I'll have something to check off.

My new business cards came in mis-cut -- the picture on the side with the text goes all the way to the bottom of the card instead of having a white border around it -- those have to be redone.   And one of the canvases I got has flaws -- a couple of little white spots on the front and one on the border.  Fortunately, the replacement for that came today, but it's still frustrating.

Linkup to Your Sunday Best

I also have to write an artist's statement and start behaving like a professional -- I'm going out tomorrow on my first foray of self-promotion; I will go to various places to see if they will put a bunch of my cards on their counter.  This will not be easy for me, as I tend to be better at self-deprecation than self-promotion, but I'll give it my best shot.  Wish me luck!

Has anyone else had to do this kind of self-promotion?  Any advice?  I think I'll look at my water lilies for a while and breeeathe -- 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

And now I'm really ooooold . . .


Well, at least I can begin to get the senior discount at the movies.  I had a very nice birthday today, I got some nice perfume and a t-shirt (both very welcome), and Ed and I had a lovely lunch at a place called Le Cigare Volant (the flying cigar), named after an incident in France in the 1800's when the people in a local area saw a flying saucer that looked like a cigar :)

They have a "small plates" menu that is just fabulous.  We had:

green bean salad with a quail
egg on top and the tiniest tomatoes
you've ever seen

incredible corn pudding served
in a tiny cast-iron pan

a duck confit "cigar" with leek "ash"
it looked like a cigar.

pork shoulder sliders with Chinese 
buns and coconut dipping sauce


smoked fingerling potatoes in a
little flower pot with aioli on the bottom
(the chef gifted us with this because
Ed is in the restaurant business)

This restaurant is very special and I was so glad to enjoy my birthday lunch there!  

 Another Big Sur picture from our Friday trip

So now I'm off to paint -- I swore that I would spend some time painting today, but of course as soon as we came home, I needed to take a nap :)  

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, if you have any left!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Liberate your art!


This year I was very happy to participate in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art postcard exchange.  You create five postcards, send them to Kat, and on the anointed day, she organizes the swap and sends five postcards (one at a time) and an extra one from her, to everyone.

So it's late and I'm really tired, so I'm only going to post two.  But they're nice ones.

This first one is from Darnita at I hope my picture can convey the depth of the image, and how lovely and swirling it is. I love the colors, too.

This second one is from Elissa at I just love this style of painting, and I truly love poppies.

 So it's short and sweet today -- I'm just too pooped to dig them out of my computer.

Hope your weekend is going well!