Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Prelude to Summer

We have had almost a week of nice weather. In fact, it was over 80 yesterday! I've been spending a lot of time on the beach, picking up beach glass and the odd chiton or China hat, but really, just soaking up the sunshine and loving living five blocks away from such a lovely stretch of water and sand. I am sooooooooo lucky.

I am getting inspired to do a painting (or two) of the beach. I have been struck by the sheer joy and unabashed delight I see in the body language of children---playing in the sand, building sand castles, digging to China, throwing rocks or just hunkering down to look at some thing that caught their eye. The more I watch, the clearer the mental picture is becoming. I hope that pretty soon I'll feel compelled to take paintbrush in hand and try and get what I see in my head onto canvas. With that in mind I have been taking a lot of photos of children. I have had to be careful that I don't give any wary parent the idea that I am stalking their precious off spring and I have spoken to several parents about the fact that I'm getting images for a painting or two I have planned and have gotten permission to take the pictures. I try not to get any photos of children with their faces clearly shown or anything that would be recognizable, as it's the body language that I want, not their particular face. So far, no one has said no, but no would be a very acceptable answer. (I did show one mother the photos of her little one I'd taken to make sure that they met with her approval, and they did.) I have to be careful, though---I'm not trying to be a creepy stalker!

I finished the thank you note/box I made for Teesha Moore and got it packaged up and sent off to her today. I am very happy with how it turned out, especially the elephant thank you note itself. I used a cigar box as my base and then went with a circus theme. Bee told me how much Teesha loves anything circus, so I thought that I'd start there and see what developed. I found some old circus photos, including a great one of circus clowns on elephants. I reduced the photos and put them onto the cigar box lid, that I had previously covered with bright papers that made me think 'circus.' I used ribbon to decorate the box and also as a hinge and stoppers (to keep the lid from opening too far). Inside I placed two popcorn bags from Barnum and Bailey Circus that I bought on eBay. In the smaller one I put one of those silly Fortune Telling Fish, the ones we used to get a hundred million years ago when I was little and in the larger, an elephant decorated with "Circus ArtFest" on a blanket on one side and the actual thank you note to Teesha (and Tracy, too) on the other. Inside the lid I used some clown items I got in a bag of ephemera ages ago and a little pin I found that said, "One clown short of a circus, now, aren't we?" That seemed appropriate! I packed the box carefully in a larger cardboard box and then used real peanuts, in the shell, as my packing material. I thought that was inspired....but maybe it was just silly? Then I decorated the package with a circus tent for the addressee and a blue balloon for my return address. I found some more clown images that I used here and there on the box and all in all, it was quite festive. I hope Teesha likes it. I surely had fun making it for her.

I bought a little craft sewing machine that arrived today. The first project I have in mind for it is the 100 recipe cards I need to do for the recipe swap for the opening event at Art & Soul in Portland in October. I have decided to use the watercolor crayon drawing I did last summer of a fig cut in half as the front of the recipe card and then on the back I'll have my recipe for fig and pine nut salad with lemon vinaigrette. I plan to reproduce the fig drawing on watercolor paper and then print out the recipe on card stock. Then, I'll just sew the two pieces together to add some interest and I think it will be cheaper than using my Xyron machine for adhesive and faster, too. At least, that's the theory! I like the idea and think I can slam them together pretty quickly. Well, as quickly as these monster projects ever "slam" together, anyway.

Susan P is home from her cruise and things are moving along for the festival. Last night a bunch of the foundation and festival people attended the City Council meeting as a Proclamation of our 50th anniversary was read. Darlene McLellan accepted the "honors" on behalf of the foundation/festival and Ann McD, our eldest volunteer who is still actively volunteering during the festival, was honored. It was sweet and I was happy I took the time to go. (Rune and I cut out immediately after and went off to the movies, as it was date night. We saw Georgia Rule, and while it was a much darker film than I expected from the trailer and from the ususal sort of movie Gerry Marshall directs, it was good---not great, but good. I was especially impressed with Lindsey Lohan. I didn't realize what a good little actress she really is.) Tomorrow night is the opening reception for the 50 Year exhibit at the museum, besides being Third Thursday. I need to attend the museum reception, at least for a while, and then I'll go walk around town and check out the new exhibits at the galleries. I love doing that. We did very well drumming up new volunteers at the two Saturday markets we "worked" this year. Over 40 separate shifts came out of our push for new volunteers and I have some names of people who want to be contacted next year but were unable to attend this year for various reasons, travel being the biggest one. Next week is our second, and last, volunteer meeting at ArtWorks. I hope we can fill in a lot of our empty slots then. I think we are on track but this is nail biting time as I have no real idea how many more people we'll get to sign on and we need a lot more to fill most of our empty spaces.

Susan P is working on making the airline reservations and the ferry and hotel arrangements for the trip to Alaska. We're all on board. I spoke with both the Sand(y)(i)s last week and we decided to make the trip August 18 through the 29th. It should be great fun and I'm really looking forward to going to Sitka. I've always wanted to go there. It'll be great fun to see some of Alaska with the Three Ss'! More on the Alaska trip later.

Friday, May 11, 2007


I have sold a grand total of 12 charms to Barb at Bluefish Design! I think she really likes them. She likes them enough to pay me real money for them. It's been fun looking through my art and my photography and trying different things to see what makes a good charm and what doesn't. I have also been experimenting with different photography paper and have discovered that I like the HP heavy matte paper the best. I seem to get the best color saturation and the detail is good. The lacquer works well on the paper, too. I have been making more charms for my art bracelet, too, as it's nice to have most of the things I like the best on the bracelet. After all, had I not been wearing my bracelet when I wandered into Bluefish that day, I never would have known that there is a market for these charms. One of the sales clerks at my favorite local dress shop really likes them too, as does a clerk at C'est La Vie. Perhaps I should start brainstorming other places where I could sell the charms, perhaps on a simple silk cord. It might be fun to see. Maybe in the fall when things quiet down!

Barb told me that she had made a first piece, a necklace, with the banana leaf charm she bought. She was planning on wearing it herself on her trip to Hawaii next week, but a customer saw it on the counter and said, "I want that. How much?" So Barb sold her necklace. (I gave her a banana leaf charm as a thank you gift, so she can make another necklace for herself.) I loved that it sold so quickly. Perhaps they'll sell well and Barb will want more? Wishful thinking, I fear, but time will tell.

Barb plans to put several pieces featuring the charms in a front window display and had come up with "We've been charmed by local artist Michele....". She insisted I give her a very short artist's statement and I had more trouble writing that one sentence than I've had writing anything for years! My first attempt was about a hundred thousand words, all stilted and icky and the more I pared it down, the drier and duller it got. I asked Connie to help me and he came up with something that you would expect to find included in some sort of electric appliance package, to ward off possible legal problems. He'd have made a good lawyer! Then I got Nonie involved and while she was helping me I came up with, "Local artist, MU, uses her original art and photography as the basis for creating these charms and pendants." Finally came up with ONE SENTENCE that said what I wanted it to say. Sheesh! I could have written the Great American Novel with the energy it took to write that silly sentence. Why do I always seem to make things harder than they have to be?
I was in ArtWorks the other night, picking up my mail, and found this oddly bubble-wrapped package in my box. It had a note attached that said "It's IN!" and I was thinking, "In what? Huh? What IS this?" when it finally dawned on me that my miniature painting has been juried into the show at the festival next month! Talk about slow on the uptake! I somehow resisted the almost over-powering impulse to shriek and shout and dance about in an insane manner as there was an art class going on and I didn't want any witnesses. I had to calmly walk out of ArtWorks, not shouting nor shrieking and act like an adult. It was difficult. It amazes me that I've applied to the show twice and gotten in both times. What a joy that is---recognition by other artists that your work is good, at least to the jury members. They aren't family, they don't have a clue who you are, they are just picking things that they like by whatever criteria they use to select pieces for the show. Some stranger is saying you did well. That is a great feeling!
Tomorrow is the second of two volunteer drives at the Saturday Market. It was fun last week being at the first market of the season, even though we were woefully short of people to help out. There were just too many things going on last week. Tomorrow looks fully manned, if everyone shows up who signed up. I won't have to press Nonie into service this week. This is meant to be something that the board does to gather new people. Nonie shouldn't have to fill in---and tomorrow she won't have to!
I talked with Sandi from Wenatchee and Sandy from Alaska and we have decided that the our trip to Alaska for Susie's 65th birthday will be August 18 through the 29th. Susan ordered us to figure out the dates while she was away on her cruise and I fear she would have been most put out with us had we not done as she asked. It was fun to talk to them both. I'm not even sure where all we are going to go while in Alaska, but at least I know when I'll be there! It's going to be quite a busy summer with the art festival, leaving for South America and the Galapagos Island ten days after the festival, then coming home and, boom!, Annie, Chris and Alex will be coming for two weeks. I will head out to Alaska three days after they leave. I am going to be sleeping most of September, I think! And then Art & Soul in Portland starts on October 2nd. No wonder I never seem to get the ironing done!
I have begun the process to try and get into the clay group that meets at the Francis Anderson Center. I went to their sale and show today and spoke with Fran. It seems that there are only two openings in the day group (and none in the evening group) and there may well be three applicants. It might take a while before there is an opening for me and then it's a six month trial period, so the group can be sure that you are a good fit and that you slot well into their existing "family." I also met the other two board members, Tina and Jan, both lovely ladies. I think it would be a great group to belong to, and I would love to have access to a studio with a slab roller. They buy their clay by the ton, too, so there is a considerable savings there. If I get in, I'd have a key so I could work in the studio whenever I wanted, except when the night group is meeting. I will go a week from Thursday and meet the day group and let them get a look at me. I hope this works out. Having a full fledged clay studio with most of the "toys" two blocks from the house seems like a dream come true....
Must go photocopy the schedules so I'm ready for the morning. I'm meeting Rune for breakfast at 7:45---I need to go to bed!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lilac Time

I have been very slothful about writing. It's been over a month since I returned from ArtFest and not one entry. Tsk tsk! ArtFest was everything I had hoped for, and more. I went to Port Townsend a day early, on Tuesday, and spent the night at a nice B&B called The Lemon Tree. It was nice to have a day to myself to get into "art mode" and to leave mundane thoughts behind and begin to focus on making art. I went to a lot of my favorite shops and galleries in Port Townsend, did some shopping and a lot of looking and had a wonderful, quiet time. I splurged and took myself to dinner at Wild Coho, which is uptown, and had a truly delightful meal. Great food, fantastic service and a lovely wine list. I can't recommend the restaurant more.

On Wednesday, I spent a lot of time in the morning at the beach. I found some good shells but it was the lovely day that drew me to the water. The sky was blue and although it was a little breezy and cold, I had a great time. The only real problem was that I had managed to leave home without a coat! I didn't realize what I'd done until I was on the ferry. I did manage to find a nice car coat on sale in PT, but I felt like the fool I am. Who would leave home without a coat in March? That's just dumb!

I was in line for check-in at three and got my packet and did some shopping at the tables Teesha and Tracy had set up. I turned in my piece for the gallery, my koi 8 by 8, and then went down to my dorm, 225, and found my room. It was small, comfy and just enough. I had a single iron bedstead, a desk, a dresser and a clothes rack for my hang ables. I wasn't too far from the bathrooms and very near the exit door. I must say, I rather loved my little room. It made me wish I'd been able to have a single while I was in college, as the freedom to read or write or sleep whenever I wanted was a great luxury and one I didn't have in college, when I had to consider the needs of my roommates. Well, 35 years (or more!) later and my dream of a single had come true.

Dinner Wednesday night was the usual trading frenzy. I made a lot of trades and had a good time doing so. So many creative people and so very many fantastic charms, ATCs, goodie bags and bookmarks. I lost count of how many items I traded, but it was a lot. After dinner we had the opening talk in the conference center and after that I got my ATC fatbook and my first sight of Bee for the year. The ATC book was amazing and stuffed full of wonderful ATCs. I love it! Bee, with the help of &drew, did a great job of making the books with pockets so the ATC could have lots and lots of embellishments. Clever design and wonderful covers. Bee rules!

On Thursday I had a class with Carla Sonheim called "Voice Lessons" in which we were lead through a variety of different types of art in the morning and then encouraged to work with the medium we most enjoyed in the afternoon. I did watercolor portraits and while I over-worked most of them, as is my usual frustrating method, I did manage to stay loose and do one that was light and airy and fun. In fact, it rather looked like a young Aunt Margaret (or maybe it's Aunt Mary---hard to tell)! It was fun to do and I enjoyed my time with Carla a lot. She is a very nice lady and a good teacher---kind, insightful and full of good ideas.

Friday morning those of us who are members of the Photo Journal group met. It was fantastic to meet all these amazing women face to face. There are several of us from this area---Bothell, Mill Creek and Edmonds. Cathy Anderson turns out to be a tiny little redhead from South Africa, with a delightful smile, a wonderful accent and just brimming with enthusiasm and energy. She's amazing! We all agreed that we would make little mini photo albums for each other with photos from ArtFest. I have been working hard on mine and just got them mailed off to Cathy today. Since I am just about to be buried in EAF duties, it seems like I must get all these art projects I've committed myself to, done and mailed off. (I still have to do a page for the art journal group by June 7, I have pages due for the photo journal group by June 1st and I have just signed on to do a fatbook swap for Art and Soul in Portland---34 pages for that one. I must be demented.)

Friday was my class with Ann Bagby. What an experience that was! I love Ann's work and have been eagerly reading all her articles in the mixed media magazines for some time now. She does amazing things with acrylic paint, paper and stamps, making what she calls "complicated paper." We worked making backgrounds in the morning with some of her papers and anything of ours that we'd brought and then in the afternoon we learned about different methods of glazing and gesso-ing and altering the paper to use in our art. I did a torn paper couple of men that turned out to be rather Mongol-looking---fierce, funny and fun. I also did a goddess stencil that I used on the three panels of background paper I had created. I had so much fun in Ann's class that once I returned to my room, I could hardly wait to start working on my items again and really sort of rushed through Vendor's Night. Then I stayed up waaaaaaaaay too late, to well after one AM, working on what I had started in class, but I was on a roll and loving it. The two Mongol figures are my especial favorites, but the stencil goddess lady got turned into an Indian lady, complete with gold jewelry and a red and white sari. It was such fun! The only problem was that my room looked like an art bomb had gone off and while I can leave a studio in a huge, arty mess, I cannot sleep in a room with a huge arty mess. My OCD kicks in and it's just an impossibility to close my eyes until things are neat again. So, there I was, cleaning my room at 1:30 in the morning. When I got up on Saturday morning, I found the acrylic paint neatly stowed with my unguents and lotions...that could only happen at ArtFest!
Saturday morning was not so much fun as I was seriously under slept....I managed to get to my class on time, with Linda and Opie O'Brien. I shared a table with Deb Denton, of the Teesha and Tracy Moore thank you journal fame, someone I had been hoping to meet and hadn't connected with. Deb turns out to have a bent, wacky sense of humor, rather like mine, and the fact that the two of us were sharing a table was probably not the best idea.....but, my, did I enjoy her and I had a great time. I can't say I loved the earrings we made, but I learned how to patina metal and punch metal and make connections and I really got my money's worth. Not my favorite class, but the fact that I was so tired might have had something to do with it! Nice people, Linda and Opie, and they have obviously been married a long time as they have the old married couple bickering down about as well as Connie and I do!

It was hard to think that ArtFest was over on Sunday morning but I had arranged to meet Bee in PT, and we spent a long time shopping. We went to the gallery where I had put a madrone wood bowl on hold so I could pay for it. It's a thing of beauty, made my PT artist Hilda Winter (or maybe it's Winler, hard to read her writing on the bottom of the bowl). The bowl is very red with black spots and gold, red paint and it is mostly dyed, I understand. I love it. We went to the antique mall and Bee found all sorts of goodies and I found a wonderful photo of 1920s bathing beauties for my bathroom at Grant Creek. We shopped until almost 5, then headed for Edmonds. Bee and I had dinner at the Italian restaurant and then made an early night of it as we were both exhausted. The next morning we met Nonie for coffee then went to the beach. We spent all day on the beach and I think Bee had a very good time. I know I did! She had to pack up all her things for the trip back to Nantucket and that took quite some time. Glad I didn't have to negotiate an airport with the baggage she had. It was sad to say good bye but I am hopeful she'll come back next year, early, and stay after ArtFest, so we can really "do" the beach and maybe some gallery sleuthing in Edmonds. She is a darling and I miss her.

I had such a good time at ArtFest that I decided to take the plunge and I've signed up for Art & Soul in Portland in October. I will be down there from October 2 through the 8th. I'll have a room to myself at the Airport Sheraton and I got into both the classes that Ann Bagby is teaching. I also managed, somehow, to get into Sally Jean Alexander's "Soldering for Virgins" class. That one I REALLY need! My soldering is abysmal! The only downside to Art & Soul is that I won't be able to do south for Alex's 2nd birthday. It's too close to when I have to leave for Portland. Maybe I can get down there a little later in the autumn....I hope so!

Kellie brought Emma over about a week ago and we met Granty at Brackett's Landing. Emma had a good time but seems to be very frightened that a crab will come and bite her. I had to carry her most of the time we were on the beach, even after we ran into the Ranger who explained to Emma that if the crab is smaller than a an adults finger and thumb touching, it can't pinch you because it's pinchers won't open far enough.....she was dubious, to say the least. We did look hard for a baby crab but were unable to find one. We had lunch at Claire's and then sent Emma home with a dollhouse. Kellie and Don report that she loves the dollhouse so I have gone back to the toy store and bought furniture for her birthday gift. I'm ready for September 16th!

I was in the local little jewelry shop, BlueFish, were Barb and her minions make lovely bracelets, necklaces and earring from beads and baubles. I was wearing my bracelet I made to feature my artwork and Barb loved it and seems to be quite interested in buying some ready made charms of mine to use in her jewelry. She thought it would be fun to do a window display, with "original designs by BlueFish featuring artwork by local artist...." blah blah blah. I am really excited, if somewhat stunned. I have been working on making up some charms to take in to show Barb. I have made some featuring my photography as well as my artwork, because I think some of my images make nice pendants. I did one with two gulls sitting on a roof that I took down along the waterfront last summer, and had a lady admire it in a local shop today, asking where I had gotten the pendant! Maybe there will be a market for these??? That would be so much fun.

It's full on spring now. There are blooming lilacs, rhoddies, shrubs, trees, bushes, plants everywhere you look. It's a beautiful time of year, and I love to watch the hostas in the yard explode out of the ground (and before the slugs find them!). Everything is fresh and new. Ah, live is beautiful