Tuesday, March 30, 2010

still here


where are the bad blogger awards when you need them? please do not give up on the ville! i am still here, head glued to the doodletable. making slow but good progress, helped along by my bear medicine and this impeccably timed arrival from my sister last week. (if you like this, get over to blue barnhouse for more). the pisser is i can't share much about the project at the moment but i should know whether it's a go or a belly-up shortly after i turn forty. in other words it's one of those things i need to finish, then forget about for a long time. in the meantime, if you're game for keeping me company, let's have a happy hour. what's your favorite drink? any kind - doesn't have to be spiked. i love shots in the dark (prescription-strength coffee with shots of espresso), pomegranate soda, moroccan mint green tea, ginger ale, nearly any kind of pale ale, and a glass of good red wine. back to posting my normal nonsense soon - please stick with me!

Monday, March 22, 2010



spring break was medicinal this year. i gave my alarm clock the middle finger, slept in, disconnected completely in some spots and reconnected with others, mainly my art, writing and family. spent two gorgeous days outdoors, then watched the struggling green stuff get smothered by half a foot of snow, which is now going away as fast as it came. watched my artsygirl spend hours penning her version of the flopsy bunnies, of which there are now three volumes. checked books out at the library again, now that i've fessed up that i can't find south pacific and have paid the eye-crossing bill. felted a sweater for the first time, got friendly with my new computer, geared up for the second half of a doodleproject that will take all of this week and next to finish. that kind of work is restorative in itself - doing something i fully enjoy, even when it takes an all-consuming effort. on saturday this little bundle of healing herbs arrived from pixie, and a card of her bear painting, in which she describes how bears "teach us how to move slowly and powerfully, to thrive and to mother ourselves...important medicine for those attempting to summon inordinate amounts of energy to go beyond self-imposed limits." possibly a splendid coincidence, but i like to think that it was meant to arrive right then for a reason. thank you pixie, and a happy monday to you all!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

haiku to you too

back to the world of meter and rhythm! i had a behemoth list of lists inspired by the pillow book (things i miss about cubicle life but not enough to go back, products that broke my heart when they were discontinued, things i don't understand about kansas, and so on) that i was going to post today, but then i went to see anairam and i've been chanting in haiku ever since. i love blogging dearly for that. no punishment for doing a complete reversal of intention. so for better or for worse, here is my summary of yesterday in functional haikus. haikus you can use.








please don't call the poetry police on me! i was a business major and i have no education in the matters of scansion and word placement. i just wanted to play. plus it gave me an excuse to use my little tags and these fun patterns from the book All Wrapped Up - a very cool compendium of 60s gift wrap. dump your own haikus here if you wish. i'd love the company!

Monday, March 15, 2010

the pillow book


Are you a list maker? I am, and I love the potential lists provide for art journaling. Such freedom! No need to worry about the cadence, flow or order of sentences - just the satisfaction of getting directly to the heart of a topic and churning out concrete, meaningful stuff. The book I keep coming back to for inspiration is an old favorite, and I mean old as in a thousand years old.

The Pillow Book (translated by Meredith McKinney) is the diary of Sei Shōnagon, an 11th century gentlewoman who served the Empress Teishi during the Heian period in Japan. It’s an entirely non-linear, willy-nilly collection of social observations, anecdotes, lists and stories of life unfolding around her while she serves at court. She’s opinionated, funny, sharp-eyed and captures those unspoken emotional nuances of human interaction with breathtaking precision. She changes tone on a dime - one moment she tells a story with such empathy and insight that it brings tears, in the next she whirls around and excoriates someone for his lousy handwriting, then she prattles on about the weather. And she is capable of a cattiness that would take any reality show cast to its knees.

But her lists, her lists! I always seek out the lists first when I read The Pillow Book. They seem almost custom-made as page prods for art journals - you could take any one of her topics and go in any direction with it. Here are a few of my favorites (and her responses, equally priceless) which I have to constantly remind myself were written a thousand years ago. Her observations are so timeless that it is easy to forget.

"Nostalgic things: things children use in doll play. Coming across a torn scrap of lavender or grape-colored fabric crumpled between the pages of a bound book. On a rainy day when time hangs heavy, searching out an old letter that touched you deeply at the time you received it."

"Infuriating things: a guest who arrives when you have something urgent to do, and stays talking for ages...someone who butts in when you're talking and smugly provides the ending herself...some newcomer steps in and starts interfering and lecturing the old hands as if she knows it all... fleas are also infuriating things...a chorus of dogs howling on and on is quite hair-raisingly horrible... I hate people who don't close a door that they've opened to go in and out."

“Things that give you pleasure: piecing back together a letter that someone has torn up and thrown away, and finding that you can read line after line of it...when you’ve had a puzzling dream which fills you with fear at what it might portend, and then you have it interpreted and it turns out to be quite harmless...someone you love is praised by others...finding something you need in a hurry...managing to get the better of someone who’s full of themselves and overconfident.”

"Moving things: dew glinting like multi-colored jewels on the grasses in the garden in late autumn...a mountain in snow... a young couple who love each other but who can't be together because someone is preventing them."

"Things that are smug and cocky: present-day three year olds."

On and on she goes, providing lists of things that no one notices, things that give you confidence, things that make the heart lurch with anxiety, endearingly lovely things, things later regretted, occasions when something inconsequential has its day, situations you have a feeling will turn out badly, people who look as though things are difficult for them, things whose outcome you long to know, things that can't be compared, startling and disconcerting things, dispiriting things, things that a house should have, things now useless that recall a glorious past, things that one must be wary of, elegantly annoying things, and her favorite birds, lakes, mountains, ponds, and trees without flowers (among many other splendid things). Things that are all relevant to anyone in any day or age, yet open to infinite interpretations.

So just imagine what fun prompts these would be for journaling pages - or maybe they’ll spark your own ideas for lists! Even if you are not a journal keeper, The Pillow Book is a spectacular diversion - it has been for me, anyway, ever since my good friend Jo recommended it to me long ago. It is full of intellect, wit, insight, culture, philosophy, intrigue - and proof that human nature has not changed one speck in the last thousand years.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

trivet time




while visiting my friend estelle this week i went crazy over a groovy little trivet she used for her coffee. it was made out of magazines, and it looked like the pages had been cut into strips, rolled into spirals and then bound together with thread. that seemed way too much work for my liking, but i loved the idea and wondered if i could dumb it down a bit by doing a simple, elementary school kind of weaving.

and so i tried. i ripped out pages of the anthropologie catalog (which i also use for note taking and word gathering and then cut and paste into my journals) as well as vanity fair, and folded 28-ish strips that wound up being more or less 3/4" wide. i used mr. tapey (i'm not allowed to call it a tape gun around my daughter; it makes her upset) to seal the strips, but a glue stick would work fine too. did the weaving, trimmed off the uneven ends and didn't like the unfinished look, so i used some painter's tape to seal the raw edges. problem solved. sealed it with a few coats of mod podge and was done. it was a little uneven, and i came out a row short, but not too bad for a first pass. the tricky part is wedging the strips so that they stay straight and close together, which is harder to do with paper than yarn or fiber. but the thickness of the folded paper made it just perfect for a trivet. after the mod podge was dried it felt almost like a thick piece of fabric. i wouldn't put anything super hot on it, but it would work well as a decorative piece for the table.

yes, that last photo was staged, and rather sloppily, too, seeing that i didn't bother to move that kiddie cart out of view. and no, there's no coffee in that cup, but there will be in the morning!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

it takes an artsyvillage


well, it's far past wednesday morning, but i'll slide in here before the day closes and hopefully that will do. if that wasn't some of the funniest and most supportive commentary ever! you came through huge, every one of you, to help get that feisty morning back on track. such restorative power there is in community! from now on, whenever i can't get my disheveled self together in the morning i'm coming back to this post for reinforcement.

so, without further fuss: the artsyville accountant, who i assure you is truly random, chose ecobatt, alex, cactus petunia, curls o fred, and lisa gallup. please send me your addresses at artsyville(at)gmail(dot)com and i'll send your bookmarks on their way. wish i had enough bookmarks for everyone.

and a big hug to renee's family and friends.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

start over



it's barely eight in the morning here, the day has gone totally awry, and i cannot find the redo button. so in the spirit of selfishness and excess, i am giving away some of my cut-and-paste bookmarks to help lift me out of the dumps. leave a comment telling me how you turn around your crap-ass mornings and and i will draw five winners at random tomorrow (wednesday) morning. coffee throwing not eligible, i've already tried that. wishing all of you a better one than i'm having!

Monday, March 8, 2010

pieces of me


collections of little objects make me happy, especially when they're tied to a something - a person, a place, an experience - and i love to arrange them into little shrines. nearly every piece here has a connection or story behind it, even this silly washcloth rack that went unused for six or seven years. i've rescued it enough times from the get-rid-of pile because i felt like it had a purpose, just didn't know what. and finally it has acquired enough history that i've decided it can stay here as a jewelry rack.

the oldest piece in this collection is the antique brassy flower necklace hanging on the back left. i bought it when i was 14 years old for one dollar and it has followed me loyally ever since. a piece of my soul. the green pendant i bought in san antonio on the riverwalk, the candlestick holder in portugal, the bowl and ceramic coaster from arcosanti in arizona, the postcards in argentina and brazil, much of the colorful ear candy from celisa, and the turquoise felted bead necklace from shannon. and many are gifts, including the hand-strung amber necklace that my friend jill just brought back from delhi, the world peace print from elizabeth, and the milky moon lantern earrings on the right from izzy. little things. i love them.

i've futzed with my sidebar and am distressed that the favorite links went POOF. once i'm in a patient frame of mind i'll fix a pot of coffee and spend a morning reinstalling them. i've finally put the links to my creative explosion recipes to the left and i've also plopped in a growing list of upcoming creative e-courses and groovy art retreats. and holy cow, i've noticed there have been a lot of new readers recently. where are you all coming from? never mind, i'm just glad you're here. happy monday and thanks for taking this nutty ride with me!

Friday, March 5, 2010

excavating the soul


it was bound to happen: cleaning out the studio and getting rid of the goods meant an inevitable comparison to finding oneself in the clutter. plus i've been aching to use the word gremlin. my apologies for dragging you down such a dirty path of metaphors on this one, but the whole notion of soul searching rather begs for it, don't you think?

> liv is giving away a make time for your art print later today on choosing beauty
> continued wishes and thoughts for renee
> beautiful, colorful, soulful drawings at art asana
> dawn's doodle diary: art journaling for girls is now available for preorder
> great tips from daisy yellow on extending your creativity

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

cut and paste












collage! i had almost forgotten how therapeutic it is to rip up stuff and put things together from different worlds. my collage supply is minimal now, just down to one drawer - patterned papers from jess gonacha swift and daisy janie, magazines i picked up in buenos aires years ago, my inked/painted papers, scraps of things from the library book sale, and other bits and pieces i couldn't part with. i only kept things i really loved. oddly enough, now that i've gotten rid of almost everything, it seems like i have more to work with than ever! anyway, i've been writing like a maniac this past week and needed a colorful and papery diversion for a few hours. i glued the pieces on cardstock, chopped each sheet into 8 bookmarks, slapped on a few coats of gel medium and called it a night. creative explosion over and done - gluey, kitschy, messy fun.

Monday, March 1, 2010

the book of NO











call in the child psychologists and the round up the parenting experts! my first grade artsygirl has discovered the power of writing and she has published her first exposé of life under my oppressive thumb. she has been cutting her writing teeth on safe topics in the short stories "fire ants are bad", "snowflakes are good", and "snuggle trouble", and she's told me of a work-in-progress at school about her distress when i set off the the fire alarm. but last weekend i moved front and center as the antagonist when i gave her one NO too many. she ran off with a sniff to her writing materials and reappeared at record speed with this blistering attack on my management style. we read through it together and i laughed harder than i have in months.

i laughed not only because i adore her, not only because i love how she expresses her thoughts and her humor in this way, but also because it is all true. i won't let her outside in her underwear. negative on ball playing in the house. i flip out over messy floors that are abandoned to make more messy floors, and if we had a fish named fishy i would not encourage her to jump up and down on a stepstool and swish her hand around in fishy's bowl. the only thing i cried foul on was "bad girl". in that kind of situation i usually say, "i want to know who did this and i want to know NOW". straight out of the old school parenting handbook. otherwise this is a spot-on portrayal of the chief bosshole i never thought i'd become, but have had to, to keep some form of smooth operating structure around here. and although this story certainly won't win me any bloggy parenting awards, it is a shining example of how a child's creativity can vanquish the iron fist.