Saturday, May 31, 2008


things perked up slowly today. i got a few hours to myself for coffee, and cracked open a primer on japanese grammar. i found a trench coat for $5 at a yard sale as well as a new babysitter. when i got home a surprise popped up in my mailbox - a nifty embosser with the state of texas seal. it was from ricë freeman-zachery, the author of living the creative life and a thought-provoking daily blog on creativity. every so often she posts a list of crafty items she's gathered in her travels but no longer uses, and sends them off to the first one who responds. i was the lucky winner of the embosser. her blog posts are full of good fodder for creativity - an interesting thought, a controversial opinion, a new artist to meet, a creative technique, a good laugh - all of which bring me back again and again to the voodoo cafe.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

house of memories

here's the first of my memory installments. i started with minneapolis since that was where my modern life started. this one was done in gouache, watercolor, and ink on a 15x17 illustration board. this was fun! next up - dallas.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

life changing moments

this weekend, in thirty second intervals, i was thinking about moments - some little and some big, some within my control and some not, some expected and others out of the blue, some that i'd re-live in a minute and others i don't ever want to think about again - that changed my life and brought me to where i am now. i've always slipped into sappy bouts of reflection at the end of something - a school year, a project, a consulting gig, someone moving away (usually us) - and i think it's good. it makes me grateful for the experiences i've had. and it reminds me that these bits and pieces are not permanent.

this brought me back to an idea that's been lurking inside for a few years. i've been noodling on how to illustrate the phases of my life - to put those little details in concrete before they vaporize - without the final piece looking like it walked straight out of the local craft store in a *purchased memories* sort of way. but some things are too important to be forgotten, and fears need to be overcome, so i started. i'll post photos of the self-indulgent piece in evolution later this week.

Friday, May 23, 2008


while on a retro kick, i dug a few pages out of my journal archive.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

when in rome

today's thought goes to jill, who has had a frustrating (yet ultimately successful) past few days doing her research in rome.

imagine hiking all over the eternal city trying to dig up documents that might or might not exist, banging on doors that should be open but aren't, negotiating with ancient gatekeepers, deciphering 15th century texts, navigating the italian system in general, trying to squeeze the most productivity out of every day for the sake of good research and the good name of your university, all while in your third trimester of pregnancy. now that's a rockstar!

my standards are a little lower: i think if you've had a good gelato, you've had a good day in rome.

Monday, May 19, 2008

good martini night

sometimes it takes a good martini night to push the refresh button, and last thursday it did just that. thanks to maria, robin, estelle, amanda and frédérique for inspiring conversation and a wonderful evening. just the way to kick off the summer!

a charmed weekend

the weather was gorgeous this weekend and we took advantage of every bit of it. other than losing out on the last cinnamon roll to the person in front of me at great harvest, it was a charmed weekend and i wouldn't change anything else about it. on saturday we took our first trip of the season to the downtown farmers market. there's something so energizing about watching people peddling their life passions, whatever they are. they're so devoted to their wares that sometimes it makes me want to get out there myself and start hawking beeswax and emu oils.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

a wake-up call

deb - this one is for you - and anyone else who needs a little extra help to move their day along.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

i am calm

a few months ago sandra made an *i am calm* magnet for me. i look at it every day and it really does keep me focused. so i decided to do my own version.

Monday, May 12, 2008

greatly challenging

i've been lost lately in The Pillow Book, a diary that has survived, remarkably, for a thousand years. jo recommended it to me ten years ago and i've finally gotten around to reading it. it was written by Sei Shonagon, a gentlewoman in who served in a Japanese court during the Heian period, and the book is filled with a hodge-podge of her insights, anecdotes and observations, which are marvelous and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious. i love her 150+ lists throughout the book, which remind me that human nature really has not changed much in the last millennium. some of my favorites are:

occasions that induce half-heartedness
things that look ordinary but become extraordinary when written
occasions when something inconsequential has its day
things whose outcome you long to know
things that make the heart lurch with anxiety
things that can't be compared

so, in the spirit of the pillow book, i've come up with one of my own topics. i think (most) parents will relate and can probably think of a lot more than i've written here. i have plenty more. just ran out of room.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

proper caffeination

this one will be hand delivered to lattéland tomorrow...

mail-art weekend

on a mail-art-making binge this weekend; the usps is currently processing and distributing these little tidbits all over the place.

we got a double-dip dose of the arts yesterday - art in the park (south park) and jazz in the park (watson park). two booths at art in the park jumped out at me: the first was van go mobile arts. it's a local arts-based social service program that provides after-school job training to at-risk teens. the booth was full of their gorgeous artwork - with that very distinctive look found all over town on their murals and park benches.

laura nugent was in the other booth. her paintings are so vivid and focused that i find it hard to look away from them. i was very close to buying one, but had used up all of my goodwill with the girls in the van go booth and by that time i was chasing lost hats and shoes and trying to keep track of the girls who were handing out dead wildflowers to anyone who would take them.

my favorite sign was in a ceramics booth: "due to insanity, no special orders". my kind of gal.

Friday, May 2, 2008

the art of your life

today is my salute to art journals. there is something so moving about seeing artists' words along with their art; it reminds me that there is a person with thoughts and emotions and unique life experiences behind their work. when i look at a journal page, i feel like i'm getting a clandestine peek into a corner of an artist's life, and that one little piece always makes me want to know more: why did they write what they did? what were they feeling? what happened that day? what prompted them to start writing and drawing and painting at that very moment?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

the magic of happy accidents

while painting or inking backgrounds, i used to put scraps of papertowels and newspapers underneath so i wouldn't demolish the kitchen counters (they're used way more for art than cooking). originally i planned to throw these scraps away but then i discovered that i loved the effect of the layered colors and randomness of the ink splotches. so these colorful little by-products have become some of my favorite art materials. now i put pieces of vintage books and magazines under the edges of my watercolor paper to catch the fallout while i paint, and then i use the scraps and bits for other projects. what a thrill, being able to make two things at the same time.

word soup

when i'm in a creative rut - or feel brain-dead at the end of the day but still want to do something - sometimes i turn to others' words to get me going again. i cut out random words from magazines, shake them up and cobble together little thoughts that i never knew were on my mind. the larger the stash of words, and the more varied the sources (try mixing stuff from the economist and the enquirer), the more interesting it gets.