Sunday, February 28, 2010

from a handwritten perspective


i am a fan of words in just about any form, but as you probably can guess, i'm especially biased toward the hand drawn ones. whether it's a hand lettered poster on the street or a grocery list on the ground, it grabs my attention right away. it's just more interesting to me. it tells stories, invites questions and poses mysteries that a block of printed text simply can't. and selfishly, as a letterer whose career began long ago with a consistent C in handwriting, report card after report card, i find comfort and freedom in the flaws that hand lettering affords. i love to screw around with a word, scrunch it up, stretch it out and punch it down until those written explosions fit just the way i want them to. and how i adore the delirium of disappearing into a page with a pen for hours on end, working out the puzzle that is on my terms and no one else's, stopping only for ibuprofen breaks and the crashes coming from the other end of the house that tell me i'd better go tend to my children.

p.s. don't miss alexandra's new art as business interview series!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the coo-coo-ka-choo house















every time i think i've seen it all in lawrence, i run into something that puts stars in my eyes and makes the world around me look like a kaleidoscope. and it was precisely the morning i needed the lift. i had been GRRRRRRRRing all morning over things that were summing up quickly against me: finding a sticker collage on the newly cleaned kitchen floor. running out of ink before the last print of the order. taking off from einstein's with a large orange juice on the top of my car. getting coffee that was brewed in prehistoric dirt. it was then that i decided to show this day who was boss. i threw that coffee as far as i could down the alley and took off in search of a new brew and pink ink and good fortunes, taking a street i hadn't explored before. and there my reward was delivered.

the coo-coo-ka-choo house.

like the hodgepodge house, it has a fully furnished yard and wraps completely around the side and the back. rows of kitchen-aids and sewing machines, cash registers, CDs being toasted in toasters. a chandelier made from newspaper bags. a beaded sweater warming up a sculpture of twigs, swim noodles and metal ducts. a throne of fabric. any musical instrument you could possibly want. it's all here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

amulet of hope


the studio declutter/re-org is complete, and it goes without saying i'm thrilled to be at the finish line and to have 200 extra square feet. i'll write more about it at some point but at the moment i'm consumed with thoughts of renee, who has been documenting her struggle with cancer over the past few years on her blog circling my head. sadly she is not doing well. her daughter angelique has been posting updates on her behalf. i find myself there often, combing her words for strength, reading between the lines for sparks of hope, absorbing the comments people have left with love for renee and her family.

there are many who have followed renee's journey for much longer than i have, people who have become a fierce squad of support to her, people who are almost like kin to her. ces, bella and manon have painted and drawn beautiful pieces in honor of her. i've written this piece as a small gesture of comfort to renee's friends, to her family, to renee herself, to anyone beset by injustice or physical suffering or difficult circumstances. an amulet of strength, hope and love to you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010



did i say that i enjoy the cycle of unearthing and purging? big fat lie. friends, this process is more painful than excavating my true soul. all i've done is make a bigger mess and i'm buried under piles and stacks and puddles of art crap. tonight i lay whimpering in the fallout and heard a little voice in the distance call out: "mama?" and then i heard my husband lead the child away, explaining, "mama is indisposed right now." oh, will someone PLEASE come and do this for me. take it all away! seeing that i'm so useless at the moment i'll dispatch you to worlds that will undoubtedly bring you more fun and color than this sorry excuse of a post:

> liz on getting it right
> miranda on a retreat to motherhood
> rachel's pretty ditty of love with no resounding gong
> carmen's quest for oxytocin and a six-second hug
> lucia's invisible threads of connection
> thereza's colorful papercut houses
> stories of bravery, kindness and a woman of valor at choosing beauty
> doodly love at d'blogala
> cindy's weekend of love and adventure in new york
> jeannine on abiding winterlude with creative fervor
> reckless pixie going batshit in her pantry
> shannon giving me hope that clutter freedom is close at hand

and finally, don't miss the wisdom from elders via spain daily. mine of course is the vodka dear, a piece of wisdom inspired by my grandmother's evening nightcap. that's sounding divine right now. a beer at the very least. i need a lifeline here!

with love, your hapless clutterbug

Monday, February 15, 2010

get out of here


a few weeks ago i wagged a finger at anairam when she chucked her entire supply of toiletpaper tubes, and now i'm doing the same thing. only worse, much worse! the attic looks like a satellite warehouse of office max and the paper mill company and i have reached my clutter limit. i really only use a few basic art materials, which fit easily in a few boxes. every time i look at that room of excessive inventory i feel a big dose of yuck, a stab of burden, anti-inspiration. not what art materials are supposed to do to a person. so i have begun the ruthless and unsympathetic purge. it is going to schools, friends, anyone local who wants it. i'm already feeling lighter and more imaginative. of course the minute it's all gone i'll think of a thousand uses for the things i so blithely cast off, and the acquisition process will begin afresh. it's a cycle i've come to enjoy, just like the change of the seasons.

Friday, February 12, 2010

the book pillow


so much for doodlenights this week! i've been spirited away by this monstrously silly floor pillow and a stack of books. what are you reading these days? a lovely weekend to you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

elastic thoughts







do you find rubber bands irresistible? i do. i've made those dumb balls out of them, wrapped them around stacks of envelopes to feel and look efficient, wound them around rolls of paper to hear that satisfying snap, and i may have even zinged one or two across a classroom in high school. but i had never thought of using a rubber band to hold a journal together until i stumbled on the fabulous book journal spilling by diana trout. so that's where i've been this past week - lost in a creative explosion, giving my stacks of forgotten papers and rubber bands a new purpose.

the recipe is quick and simple. cut a piece of thick watercolor paper for the cover and 6 pieces of paper for the inside (just slightly smaller than the cover, so they won't peek out the sides), fold them over, and snap a rubber band around the spine. that's it. 12 pages or 24 sides in total, just right for an on-the-go jotter. the beauty of the rubber band, in addition to being such a wonderfully plebeian binding, is that it enables me to change the pages in an instant. when i find myself rolling my eyes at something i've written or drawn, i can chuck the page - or if i manage to consume it all, i can easily replace the filling and re-use the cover.

i tested a bunch of watercolor papers for the covers (too many on hand for my own good) and the winner was a utilitarian 140 pound cold press paper by strathmore. it is thick and durable enough to take paint and a rubber band without collapsing, yet soft enough to fold easily along the grain without the need for scoring. i cut my cover sheets into 6"x5.5" pieces to make a 6"x2.25" journal when folded - a little smaller than the size of a checkbook - but you can make them in any size. for the inside pages i used standard writing paper.

the most fun, of course, is the process of groovying up the covers before folding and binding. i used water soluble pastels for the background washes, prismacolor pencils for resist and layering colors, liquid watercolors for dramatic splotches, pieces of my inked/painted papers for collage, and microns for doodling and lettering.

i don't buy mixed-media books often but i'm thrilled i made the investment in journal spilling. it is stuffed with suggestions on how to turn everyday objects into journaling tools, and it is a very accessible, technique-based guide that lends itself to nearly any artistic style. the clincher for me is how diana writes - she is encouraging, positive, gets down to business right away, and is supremely funny. she recently did a great podcast with ricë about the book and you can check it out here. so, mixed-media artists, looking for a kick in the pants? you'll get it with this book. if you get sidetracked for a year making projects from it, however, please do not snap at me!

Friday, February 5, 2010

conversation cards








my daughter and i are in the middle of a mixed-media frenzy. inspired by shannon's fabadabadoo inside out class (she's just opened registration for the next), i am giving my art supplies their do-or-go test: either prove yourselves capable of a project, you space-eating materials, or out the door you go. yesterday i found six caran d'ache water-soluble pastels in a drawer that were totally, completely untouched. i gave them a whirl on some totally, completely untouched watercolor paper and was totally, completely smitten. then i totally, completely violated my decluttering process by going to creative coldsnow for fifteen more, and got so excited that i lost track of space and the size of my ass and knocked over an entire rack of art sponges when i stood up to go to the checkout counter.

back home i chopped up watercolor paper and went to work with my loot (creative explosion still in progress, a future post). i saw a little hand reach for a scrap of watercolor paper. when i didn't yell - the house is still in recovery mode from a bad episode with glitter paint, now persona non grata around here - she reached for a pastel. she couldn't believe her luck, especially since it was bedtime, and very quietly moved off to her own world while i toiled away in mine. (these pastels are excellent for kids - lots of fun and minimal mess.) after an hour when i finally had to be boring and responsible and sent her off to bed, i looked at what she had done and nearly went to pieces.

the sweet little thing had made conversation cards. every so often i jot down a few random topics, stick them in a bag, and we take turns pulling one out and discussing what's on the card. this idea was born out of pure selfishness. making dinner distresses me so much that i am not in the mood to talk about anything when we sit down to eat. so we've gotten in the habit of starting every dinner by saying something nice about every person at the table and this nearly always turns me around. but we hadn't done the cards for a while, probably since thanksgiving, when we pulled cards out of a gobble gobble bag and named things that we were grateful for, said thank you in as many languages as we knew, and so on. i had no idea how much these cards meant to her. talk about inside out. my heart turned inside out reading her topics. now you know what we'll be discussing at dinner tonight!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the other universal language


if love reigns supreme around the world, then sweets cannot be far behind. and nothing steals my heart like an explosion of sugary delights from distant lands.
my two hard-earned degrees in marketing are truly worthless defenses against the tangles of color, the silly names and the mysteries of those exotic packages and wrappers. i have to buy them and i have to try them. a gummy candy or a starburst by itself gives me nothing more than a yawn and a quick sugar fix, but call it a pissing boy or sandwich juice and i'm lovesick.

so what shall we try first from this stash that mr. artsyville brought home from colombia last week? should we go for the obvious, choco break? meet the family of frunas? find out what on earth is inside that guayabita? or toss all caution to the wind and bust open that bag of bon bon bums?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

i love my school

my daughter and i walked into an amazing scene at the lawrence percolator on saturday: rooms full of children creating, scissors flying, crayons scribbling, paint splattering, glitter dumping, and walls dancing with colorful art. it was an all-day creative jam session in celebration of two of the oldest, most vibrant neighborhood schools in lawrence, kansas, which are now in danger of permanent closure due to district budget cuts. the art exhibit, which runs through this friday, is part of a major community-wide effort to encourage an alternate resolution of the fiscal dilemma and to prevent closure of the schools.














if you're familiar with the fiery history of lawrence, you'll know that the people here have no problem going to bat for their liberties. in keeping with tradition, that is exactly what these children and parents are doing - defending their right to an education in their own neighborhood. i was awestruck by the pride and positive energy that came out of that building on saturday. it was the feisty, creative spirit that makes me love living here.