Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yes, in honor of Halloween.....

This was from two Halloweens ago- but, I thought, worth reading again. One wonders, is the mean girl still lurking just outside the dressing room?

The mean 20 year old at the dressing rooms told me there was no flash photography allowed. So I promised not to use my flash. She said "no pictures at all!" I said "Seriously?" You have go to be kidding!" Really, does she think I was going to run home and copy the super girl outfit on my sewing machine? Couldn't she tell by merely looking at me- that I am almost 40, that life has been very hard recently as I rush around trying to get two little girls off to different classrooms with different schedules and different events going on every freakin' day with different homework every freakin' night and that not only am I getting grey hairs and wrinkles but also still enjoying the fun of acne due to my raging hormones? And that the only thing on my ever rotating roster of things to do that has brought me any joy is the thought of how cute Kayla would be in a super girl costume but that I would have to take a picture to see it because there is no way they would choose not to be a princess or a fairy so if I want any memories at all I will have to lug in my big phalyx symbol of a camera into the store and snap a shot of the little tykes in the moment. But, no, in the land of twenty year olds, apparently my situation wasn't that obvious.

And she wasn't kidding, as I found out. I also found out that even if you hide in the dressing room and take a picture of the girls outside the dressing room- that cameras are loud when the flash goes off. And the light doesn't necessarily stay in the room. So imagine my chagrin as the 20 year old mean girl came to once again inform me that there was no flash photography and points at the sigh on the wall that you can clearly see in the picture. Then to justify herself and make me feel small, I imagine, she told me that she could get fired. WELL, I would hate to cut short her career at Halloween, USA even though it was October 15th that very day.

So there in is the story of how we came to purchase our Asian Princess Halloween costumes from Halloween USA. Because, even though every bone in my body wanted to take my little girls and my little wallet and walk out, I knew there was no explaining the universal code of wrong and right to a 5 1/2 and 7 year old and I also knew the only one who would be punished for leaving empty handed would be me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Had to share this with you!

This is what big little lady will be holding. What is it? Why a bird of course!

The bling? Well, had to do something with the back of the cavity! A ballerina stolen from (yes, Kayla might get it from me...) Brooke's jewelry box will circle around inside her new little world. She's attached to the music box which will be part of the bird. If all goes well a person should be able to turn the key and hear a pretty little song while the ballerina twirls a pretty little dance. Cool, right? Wish me luck.

Oh, yeah- the bling- After shopping blissfully childless and alone at Michael's I purchased 56.00 worth of stuff. I was on a quest to provide a suitable back drop for the tiny dancer.

I bought spray paint to re-silver mirrors- $12.00, and $17.00 worth of glass beads from Martha Stewart. Crushed glass in white, mauve and silver. Foil in case I changed my mind about the paint- $7.00 And then walking out the door I changed my mind on how I wanted to make all this happen. I decided I would buy some Christmas ornaments, crush them up and sprinkle them and the silver glitter glass in a bed of glue. It would be like a mirror but fractionalized. So the paint and the foil never even made it into the house 'cuz I'm returning them!

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wabi Sabi

So I just picked up this little book in the Kendall Library.

Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers.

I was struck by the introduction and had to immediately share it with you.

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of things unconventional.

So...on the quest of discovering my 'style' I continue to learn and define myself- loosely, that is, remember...I don't like rules. I understand the concept of rules- just no how they apply to me.

I am imperfect, aesthetically and ethically. I am impermanent- I will not be here, in this state of being, forever. I am incomplete and happy about it.

I enjoy the beauty of things that are what they are. A loaf of bread fresh out of the oven with that beautiful brown crust. A stack of lumber, precise and machined, yet organic of origin.

Things unconventional? Hello? Are they watching me on a hidden camera?

So, more about Wabi- Sabi as I read.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Things and stuff!

First- I should have mentioned this at the beginning of the month but why be timely? Willowing and Friends is featuring artists from the group every month. I'm one of the first five to be featured. Am I just that good? At begging probably! Scroll down and to the side to see my badge and go visit them- they are right, they are a fun and friendly group!

Two- washer= broken. Sounds like there might be a few pet shop pieces, some rocks and loose change wandering around in there. Hate, hate, loathe (which is worse than hate according to Webster's) laundromats. So thought I'd take a stab at washing clothes in my bathtub in my house with my own familiar dirt. Yep, betting that washers do a much better job than me or Brooke, who I tried to con into swishing the clothes around.
Chinamommy made a correlation about me 'agitating' the clothes a bit better but I'm not sure I did it right. I made a few comments like "ya know, if you jeans were all your cracked up to be you'd just wash yourself" "Sweaters- don't worry, I still want you even if you are looking worn around the edges- I think" "undies- you used to be smaller-I'm just sayin' and bra's- well, you've been letting me down lately!" I don't know- my garments may have lower self esteem but they didn't seem to be too agitated!

Three- Brooke proposed that I pay her a dollar to clean her room all "spic and spaniel". I told her I'd have to see the results but if she could make it happen- go for it!

That's it, three things.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Paper Clay Recipe

As promised- the paper clay recipe from the website passed along to me-

This was the most fun I've had at 'cooking' in awhile. My family thought I was insane! The first batch I did strictly by the recipe.

If you can't read this - I don't know how to link to websites and all that fancy stuff- Chinamommy is supposed to come and help me with that and help me set up an Etsy store but she's as hard to pin down as a wisp of smoke- or maybe that's me and yes, I am the queen of the run on sentence- then go to the website which has tons of other great info.

I thought it was a bit lumpy and I have a problem with thinking I know everything so I added a bit more of this and a bit more of that. This is usually where my cooking goes wrong. I wanted the paper fibers to be shorter or finer? I guess I was looking for it to be exactly like creative paper clay and it wasn't.

So next I tried dissolving the toilet paper in a big pan of water over the stove, gently warming it and then I let it sit thinking it would take up more water and dissolve better. It did get 'fluffier?" Then I put it in a dish strainer and pressed as much water out of it as I could. It was kind of a trade off for cutting it up into 1" bits. I think it was still more wet than the original way so I added more flour and more drywall mud than the recipe called for. I did not increase the oil by very much- you can tell if it is sticking to your hands you need a little more. Finally I decided I surely must have ruined it and by now I had enough to fill a cake pan. I put it in the fridge and left it a day to set up.

When I did use it on my sculpture I was pleasantly surprised by it. It acts differently than the brand name product but I adapted. It dried hard and while it doesn't sand up quite as smoothly as the brand name clay I think it has its own nice texture to it.

I believe that I will use this for the bulk of my project and do a final skim coat of the brand name clay over top of that. I'm working on a big piece and am looking for ways to save money and the hassle of buying tiny little bricks. Its worth a try anyways- the materials were about 15$ and those first two batches made about 4 or more bricks worth. I still have enough materials to make bunches more. Whew! Betcha didn't think you'd have to read a novel!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New found wisdom at work!

After pouring over and bookmarking all the pages from those Art Nouveau books that appealed to me I made copies of all. Then I poured over the copies. I thought and I thought- how do I make this work for my current project? How do I create some sense of order? Do I make a pattern? I wanted her to have some mixed up melodious story woven in and out.....I wanted complex- like we women are- yet with some sense of a simple overall statement- "I'm just a girl" is what she seems to say to me over and over.

So I cut up all the pieces that I thought incorporated my intentions and laid them out on my living room floor. I moved them around until a picture came to mind and then out came my sketch book.

I soon realized that I would never be able to execute this complex pattern on my girls wavy gown. So I adapted.

I intend to use wire to outline these shapes and fill in with 'frit' which I just learned about. Its crushed up glass. How cool is that? Texture and reflection and depth- yummy eye-candy!

But I am way far away from being done. I want to add in some images of women- between the leaves and fronds.

And then there is the whole front side of her to 'decorate'. Stay tuned folks!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Did you ever wonder what your "style" was?

Many times I have said I wish I had a "style" I don't know how to do that- have a signature 'style.'

Am I contemporary? Maybe. But not stark contemporary or crazy contemporary- no I definetely have paremeters. Certainly I am not traditional- all the traditional people assure me of this and then politely ask me to move along. I might be alittle bit folksy which should really fight with the contemporary- oh hell, I like it all- but...what defines me and this elusive 'style' I covet?

I like contemporary because it explores relationships of color and texture and shape. Beauty occurs in moments, I believe. Sunlight coming through the back of a leaf creating a color somewhere between pink and orange- a color I would have thought impossible to create and more impossible to define with a name. When the wind blows across the tall grass in the field behind my house I'm reminded that texture is three dimensional shapes fighting for space to exist within. I think we all know that one of my favorite shapes is the sweet full curve of my daughter cheek. I wish everyone could see the world the I do, the way that artists do. Its no wonder we can't concentrate long enough to write the checks that pay the bills that keep my daughter's cheek from turning blue.

So I had a break through recently. Amidst a few breakdowns- as you all have been witness to. A moment I fought for, carved out of the chaos of everyday schedules, obligations and unruly interruptions.

Big little lady has just been hanging around, gathering dust, shouting at me when I dare glance at her. She wants some way to express her purpose. She's not just a pretty face- she has a message, she has a soul. But as I did not give her lungs or a voice box she's in need of a different form of expression and folks- its all about her attire. I mean- come on' if your going to be 57" tall and not be naked well then we have to do something with the outfit. But what? Just make it pretty? She is 'just a girl' after all? But are any of us 'just a girl?' Oh, no, there's a lot that goes into our recipe. Rosemary and sage and a pinch of cayenne, courage and empathy and hope and a pinch of wisdom- they are all simmering below our surface, behind our eyes.

I have the good fortune of having a large source of art resources. I teach as an adjunct at Kendall College of Art and Design. I can visit their library and find new and old books about any subject. In the last few weeks a tiny voice has been telling me to find the books about pattern- particularly folk art pattern, maybe of Swedish influence, maybe Art Nouveau? I didn't know what but I thought I'd find some tiny seed of inspiration in those rows of books!

I found more than a seed, I found the bean stalk. I went through the folk art patterns really quickly- not 'elegant' enough- the image of what I wanted to do with Big Little Lady still foggy. I found the Art Nouveau books, the same ones I had referenced years ago when I was force to write a paper about a period in art history. Actually, I was intimidated by the fussiness of the style and went to Art Deco instead- not as difficult to describe for someone who is really not interested in history- at all. But, back to Art Nouveau- as I flipped through the books this time I felt an immediate kinship. I was home now.

Art Nouveau is not about straight lines. If there is a 'line' at all it is bent and curved and exaggerated. Something I have a tendency to do with anything that I can bend. I was a florist, once, and used to love the way the stems reached for the sun- some straight and strong- others delicately curved but determined none the less, for their place in the sun. When I paint, I curve lines, when I sculpt I am always concerned with creating a line- reaching out into the negative space and capturing shape. I judge cars only by their shape, its really all I can see about them. To me a curved line indicates a certain strength, a right of being, survival really, those that don't bend snap. Think of a line of trees by the edge of a field and how the constant wind pushing at them has shaped them all similarly- a battle between forces, the need to grow despite adversity. The curved line is very symbolic to me yet beautiful and elegant in its existence.

You know how sometimes you are not ready to hear a message? Well in my twenties I was not sure of who I was. I couldn't see past all that fussiness (check out that architecture- Antonio Guaudi- you'll know what I mean) and was intimidated. Who did I think I was? What right did I have to immerse myself in all that- I couldn't breathe. But I'm older now. I get it. I know who I am. Now when I looked at these books I didn't see stifling fussiness but rather a joyous celebration of what is. I get what they see, I see it too. Beauty is in everything. And beauty should be exposed and glorified. We only have one life, one planet to enjoy- lets not waste it wandering around in a state of self inflicted unawareness.

Am I only about the curved line and the exaggerated shape? Not even a little bit. There's still color, glorious color. I still love- well just about everything I did before. But now I have a defined platform to work from- I'm Art Nouveau- ish! I can blend that Art Nouveau tendency with my other loves and finally create an expression of my style. I might be on to something here, folks! I can finally answer that question- just who is this unusual girl named Christine? Well- for one thing- her style leans towards the Art Nouveau.....ish.

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Emmaline and Pernella

Do you remember the story of Emmaline? She's a great, great, grand daughter of Thumbelina. Thumbelina was made from magic and all of her female decendants have some magic within them.

When Emmaline is tall she's a very sweet girl. But when she is small she so much more.

She loves the outdoors and quickly makes friends of all kinds. Her very best friend is Pernella who is magical and clever and utterly wise.

Oh the fun adventures these two have. Wherever they go they are sure to leave goodness behind. Sometimes they leave behind a little magic as well.

Have a fabulous day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

And the results of the event were......

Wow. That was hard, folks. A lot harder than I ever imagined. I was just a few minutes early for the meeting and as the principal ushered me through a hallway to his office my stomach leapt into my throat and I think its still there. It took a few minutes to gather everyone together. Our DARE officer tried to make a run for it but we called his dispatch and they made him come back to the school. Kayla's teacher had to get someone settled in her classroom while she participated in the court marshal and Kayla had to be called in off the playground. She was hard to find at first- she was obscured by the crowd of onlookers as she operated a shell game with a few pebbles and used yogurt cups back in a dark corner behind the monkey bars.

When she was ushered in to the office she looked every inch of the young, skinny nine year old third grader that she was. She was pale and hesitant and when she saw me there she knew it wasn't good. My heart died just a little around the edges- she didn't speak to me but sat down in the chair between me and principal.
The Principal spoke gently and quietly and explained to her that she wasn't in trouble but we were all here to help her with a serious matter. He told her that everyone had something that they needed to work on at some time or another. Her eyes teared up and she tried to put her hands in front of her face but he told her he needed her to look at him. He asked her if she had been stealing and she could barely get out the word yes. I think it was the only time she spoke. I wanted to hold her hand so badly but I didn't. I don't think there was anyway possible that he could have handled the situation any better. I was in awe.

He introduced the officer as someone who worked at the school to help the children make better decisions. When the officer spoke I was blown away. He somehow managed to speak softly, directly, firmly and gently. His expression was kind but serious. He explained to her that many people had problems like speeding etc. that they had to work on. That there are kids that go to jail, not her age, but not very much older, for stealing and that some of them probably started when they were her age. He went on but I can't begin to remember it all.

Her teacher did not have much to say but I could tell how hard this was for her. Honestly you could read every one's face and know this would be the hardest thing they had to do in long time. I spoke when asked. I told her that it had to be her choice to to stop stealing- I couldn't do it for her. I told her to look around the table at her principal, the police officer, her teacher and myself. About how we had careers and good lives and how we all had to make the choice to follow the law in order to have these good lives. That we all had to learn to follow the rules and that they helped us become the people we are. That I wanted to her to have a good life when she was all grown up. Then the principal told her she could go back to her class.

The grown ups chatted a bit. The teacher told us that while things were missing in class on a regular basis she couldn't say if they were just lost or had been taken or by whom. We made some small talk and a couple of jokes. The officer went on his way and I was able to talk some more with the teacher. We agreed on how we would handle any objects that showed up at home that didn't belong to us and a few other things.

I went back to work but was worthless for the rest of the day. My co-worker had been at a funeral. I think we were in similar shape. At 4:15 she went out and came back with 4- pack of wine and we closed up shop. I had to speak with our liaison at our Amish cabinet company which is always a bit surreal in itself- let alone as I am nurturing a miniature bottle of wine.

My day was not near over even in my exhausted condition. Had to meet the in laws for a bite of pizza. They took my kids to a football game while I went over to Navigator to give one of the worst presentations on encaustic painting thankfully to a small group of ladies who were more interested in hearing about why my third grader was needing to meet with the principal, her teacher, myself and a police officer.

"Kristi- get the wine out" I commanded as I walked in the door. We didn't have a cork screw. She cleverly found some other kind of screw and between that and a pair of pliers we forced that cork out. Pictures to follow.

Today I look and feel like 100 years old. I went for coffee with Barb just to escape but other than that I think we will settle into our sofa soon. Tomorrow I will have Kayla tell her dad about the meeting so that I can get a clue as to her out look on what happened. Not today though, tomorrow is soon enough.