Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Flower Fields

When I was in California late last month one of the highlights of my trip was visiting the Flower Fields in Carlsbad with my daughter and her children. The ranunculus stretched for 50 acres and the riot of color was breathtaking. This is one time when a picture truly is worth a thousand words, so I will spare you my excess verbiage and just let Dear Reader's eyes feast.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Snuzz

I am sure, Dear Reader, that you understand the importance of a good blankie. I had one, my children all had one, my grandchildren each have one and you must have (had) one too. A good blankie is a friend in trying times, a comfort in the dark when things go bump and is there for you whenever you need it. A good blankie makes life better.

Alex has a very good blankie. She and Blankie have been thick as thieves for almost as long as Alex has been on earth. Alex would take Blankie everywhere but Mommy has rules and Blankie doesn't go in the car or to the table to eat or into the bathtub (that would be silly!). But you can usually find Blankie in the same room as Alex. They are BBF.

I did not know that Blankie, besides having all these amazing and stellar qualities, also sports a snuzz.

Actually Blankie has four snuzzes. Or is that snuzzi? Snuzzzz? Whatever. Four snuzz does Blankie harbor and all are wonderful. You, Dear Reader, and I, until the day before yesterday when I was clued in, would have called the snuzz(es) the corners of a blanket. But, no. A snuzz is the very best part of a blankie. A snuzz is where all the goodness and greatness and comfort of a blankie are concentrated. You hold the snuzz (or snuzz multiples) firmly in your fist with just a tiny little bit peeping up (or more if you need a really big snuzz). Then you can rub the snuzz under your nose, back and forth. You can rub the snuzz over your teeth. You can actually chew on the snuzz, if you wish. But while you suck your thumb, you hold the snuzz close to your face. I think that a well held snuzz, in concert with thumb sucking, can vanquish the fieriest foe. (Or at least those that do not require vanquishing by mommy....)

Who knew?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nonie's Opening at ZuKafe

Nonie will be showing her work at ZuKafe all month and she had her opening tonight during the Third Thursday Art Walk. Go Nonie! She didn't have much time to hang it all as the artist who showed at Zu last month didn't get her stuff down until this morning. Not fair to Nonie, or Mark (the owner) but what are you going to do? So, time crunch not withstanding, Nonie got it done and it looks good. The very first woman through the door this afternoon after Nonie got it all hung up looked around and said, "Oh, nice! Very organic!" A good start. I hope she sell them all!
News Flash! Nonie reports that she sold a canvas this evening! Yippee!!
Congratulations, Nonie.
It was a good art walk. I managed to get to a few galleries, with Susan P, and saw some amazing art. Marita Dingus was the featured artist at the Frances Anderson Center tonight, sponsored by the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation. Ms. Dingus uses found objects, from old Christmas tree lights to plastic circles her orthodontist brother sends her to make unique, happy art that has a lot to say. I loved her work in the FAC gallery and now that I've spent a little time looking at some other things she has done online I have become a BIG fan. She's funny, engaging, direct and fun. Check her out!

I have signed up for the ZNE Convenzione in Pleasanton, California in late August. It just sort of looked like fun but the best part is that there will be a screening of the 1000 Journals documentary that I have been dying to see ever since I met the director Andrea Kreuzhage and had that unfortunate filming episode, wherein I learned just how much I don't want to be interviewed and/or filmed and just how challenging it can be to operate a motor vehicle whilst being filmed. I am so lucky I didn't kill someone! But, I, I'll head to Pleasanton for a long weekend and I'll take a couple of classes and have a little mini vacation. It should be fun. Maybe I'll even get to see Jen! Oh, I hope, I hope.

I have been working a little on my "All About Me" journal that I started in LK Ludwig's class at ArtFest. I can't say I've done much but I have repaired the poor little old book I am using as my journal base. I found the volume in Port Townsend during my pre-AF shopping spree and fell in love with it. It was an old blank book---maybe originally designed to be some sort of journal!---and someone had carefully cut out the pages of the book Chinese Porcelain Before the Present Dynasty by S. W. Bushell, M.D. and carefully pasted them into the journal, but only on the right hand page. This leaves me with all the left hand pages to fill up with whatever I want, pertaining to me, of course. I have done a page of journaling and have a few more ideas of how I want to lay out the book and what images I plan to include. It's sort of a self assigned project. I really don't want to deal with self portraiture so I suspect it would be a good thing for me to explore---just because I am so resistant. Maybe I'll be able to finish the self portrait I started so long ago if I work on the journal. That's my hope, anyway.
I am off to stay with Annie, Alex and Ian for a week while Chris attends a conference n France. I think, actually, he's going to, how that man suffers....Annie and Co will be treating Gramma to a week of diapers, laughing, play doh, coloring, good chats, lots of laughing and, I hope, hugs and kisses for Gramma. I can't wait! I probably won't be able to post for the week but I will be sure to have lots of photos when I get back home. If you are nice, I might even share one or two with you.

I will leave you with a few photos of springtime in Edmonds. The current weather forecast is calling for snow, one to two feet, in the passes tonight and perhaps lowland snow as well. I think it is time to head for San Diego!

Monday, April 14, 2008

ArtFest & My DDNDS

L to R: Miss Bee, Nonie, DDNDS Susan

ArtFest was bliss. It started the Sunday before with the arrival of Miss Bee from Back East. We met online three years ago when I was involved in my first ATC book for my first ArtFest and she was the hostess. I ran into this lovely lady on the beach at Fort Worden early one morning that first year and we chatted for a long while, poking along the beach. Finally we introduced ourselves and it turns out that I had been happily speaking to my ATC friend, Miss Bee! Last year I offered up my guest room to her for pre- or post-AF, and she accepted. We had a great time and spent another happy day on the beach, this time in Edmonds. This year Miss Bee arrived three days before AF and we picked up our conversation as if it were only yesterday since we'd last spoken face-to-face, not months and months (October).

It transpired that Miss Bee, in the course of her duties as hostess of the AF ATC Fatbook had been emailing this nice woman, Susan, who had a few questions as this was her first ATC exchange and her first AF. In the course of their email conversations it became obvious that Susan had been a student of Miss Bee's some years back when she lived in Pennsylvania, before she moved to Maine....and they were reunited and made arrangements to meet in Port Townsend the Tuesday before AF began. Nonie and I were both going over to PT early as Nonie wanted to see about getting some of her art into a shop or gallery there and I just wanted to get into AF mode and do some shopping before the crowds arrived. We all made plans to meet for dinner at Silverwater Cafe. So Miss Bee introduced me to Susan.

Ah, Susan. How to explain? We just connected. She is amazing! Strong, compassionate, funny (really funny!), talented, complex, curious, out going, adventurous, brave, loving and beautiful....and my DDNDS. That, Dear Reader, stands for Dear Darling Newly Discovered Sister. And she is. I miss her a lot. I wish she didn't live all the way across the US from me. (I wish that about Miss Bee, too. Profoundly.) But at least Susan is discovered and she will be treasured. I hope we can enlarge and expand our new friendship over the course of the next year and then have a huge, happy "family" reunion at the 2009 ArtFest, with Miss Bee. (Power of three, don't you know, power of three.)

Nonie and I stayed at Commander's Beach House one night and had a charming room on the ground floor with stunning views of the beach. I really liked it there and will try and return for a weekend sometime this year. The bed & breakfast (gooooood breakfast!) is located in Port Hudson and there are lots of lovely boats just a very short walk away at the marina, offering a great photo op.

I was assigned to Dorm 225 again and I had a lovely little single room on the west side (no water view, alas) with the most rare of AF accouterments....a comfortable bed! I had a nice little closet and a desk and chair and even an outlet for my cell phone and camera battery chargers. I had an Ott light, a cheerful quilt and my pillow from home so I was cosy and well lit. I was very comfortable. Only a water view could have improved my accommodations and who knows, maybe next year! I spent so little time in my room this year that I didn't really get to know any of my neighbors other than to exchange a few words when we met in the bathroom. They were quiet, I'll give them that! I slept like the dead.

I took two classes from LK Ludwig this year and both were fantastic. I had taken one class from LK before, in Portland last October at Art & Soul. Unfortunately, it was my last day in Portland and I was tired and burned out and didn't get as much from the class as I should have. It wasn't that LK didn't give a great class, it's just that I was a crummy student! I thought I should try again as I am a great admirer of LK's work. (In case you've been vacationing on Mars, Dear Reader, and haven't seen it yet, LK has an amazing book out called Mixed Media Nature Journals. It is an inspiring read with many examples of the talented lady's work and is full of useful techniques and encouraging writing. Be sure to check it out.) I took both her Seasons Journal and All About Me (self portraiture explorations). I, of course, did not work on a journal of seasons but rather on a book that I have wanted to construct for some time to hold my ephemera, photos and even some feathers of birds that I have been amassing. I am quite happy with the results, although I have a very long way to go before the book will be full and complete. I had never constructed a book with signatures before and found the process easy and fun, although my stitches on the spine are not as even and tidy as I would like. Guess that practice will make me more perfect? Maybe....In the self portraiture class I learned to (finally) do a usable water transfer, something I have despaired of ever mastering. Please don't ask my why I have had so much trouble with that technique, but I have. At least I think I've figured it out. I found a wonderful old book in Port Townsend that was hand made by someone to conserve an old book on Chinese porcelains. They had very carefully pasted the pages of this old book into a blank book, only using the right hand page (I know there is a technical book term for the right hand page, but I don't remember what it is!); the left hand page is blank. Since I am an amateur ceramicist and I love things Chinese, it seemed like a perfect book to alter to house my self portraits (both painted and photographic). I will continue to add to it as I find images or poetry or my own writing that I want to add. I did not get as far with the self portrait book as I did with my Bird Journal, but I have a lot of ideas that LK sparked, and I found both classes very valuable. If you want a well presented, organized techniques class, LK is the teacher you are seeking.

For my last class, I opted for Mary Beth Shaw's acrylic abstract class. I loved the painting and found the day relaxing and fun. I am not much of an acrylic painter nor am I, in any way, an abstract painter, but it was fun to try and I found myself using a palette that surprised me, not one I would normally choose. I liked the results and found Mary Beth to be a great teacher---organized, prepared, taught in logical steps and gave us time to explore one or two techniques before moving on, and she has a great sense of humor. She's fun!

Vendor Night was great fun. Miss Bee let me help out in her booth and that meant that I got first dibs on her work. I came home with two shadow boxes that take my breath away. One has seal vertebrae and the other a basket with feathers. Both of the boxes were lovingly made by Miss Bee's DH from flooring from a 200-year-old farmhouse and glass that is over 100 years-old and wavy and full of bubbles. The boxes are works of art in and of themselves. Bee's work is spare but speaks volumes and I love her almost Zen-like approach to her art. She never feels the need to "goop things up," as I do on occasion. I think I would say her art is truly wabi sabi. I was able to buy one of two of LK Ludwig's delightful crow dolls. My whimsical crow is now presiding over my desk on a shelf where it makes me smile whenever I see it. Mr. Crow has personality and presence. I love him.

Artwork shown above is the work of Bee Shay and is copywrite protected.

Artwork shown above is by LK Ludwig and is copywrite protected.

It was bliss to be with people who get me. You read over and over in ArtFester blogs about the joy we all feel when we find ourselves surrounded by others who get us. I sometimes feel that some of my family and friends don't really get me. (In all fairness, to a person they let me be me and encourage me to explore the whole art thing that I came to so late in my life.) But to be surrounded by 600 other souls who don't even blink when you sit down to eat with what can only be called gel medium hideous skin disease (where the gel medium you used all day and that had adhered to your skin is coming off in large, icky flakey sheets). Any one of them understands that it's easy to get your liquid make up mixed up with your fluid acrylics (which I did last year). I kept hearing the word "Tribe" and I guess that's about the best way to describe the ArtFesters as a whole. We do form a tribe. It is incredibly inclusive at ArtFest. Everyone is there to make art, everyone is there to share their art with others, to learn from each other, to support each other and to just revel in the sheer bliss of all being together in that wonderful place for that magical few days. Teesha and Tracy Moore (and their unceasingly hardworking family) have given us such a rare gift by creating ArtFest. I am blessed to be able to attend and honored to be a part of the Tribe. How many days until next year?

I got to go to ArtFest, I met my DDNDS, I spent wonderful hours with Miss Bee, Nonie and I shared another trip and good times together, both before and after Artfest, I walked on the beach at dawn, made art, laughed until I cried and had the best time yet. It just keeps getting better and better!

Above photo by Kathy Peterson, copywrite protected, used with permssion.