Monthly Archives: April 2005


Artwork for Staci Allen’s Sage & Violet Color Journal
“Almost Wine”

Wow, what a week. I’ve been really busy at work, and am just exhausted today. I got my massage with Otto this morning at 10:30, which was a much more mellow version of the previous one (though I’m still a bit sore). I’ve been working in Staci Allen’s color journal, whose theme is sage and purple. I received it the other day, and started working in it right away. I felt inspired to paint a couple of little watercolors along with the other pages I made. All this in between my naps today. I’d started the grapes painting last night, but finished it today.

Gabriel and I went to pick up my prescription at the pharmacy this afternoon, and stopped in at Rubio’s for a late lunch. I’d asked Steve to bring home some d’Elia’s meatball grinders from Riverside, as he had gone to Glen Helen to shoot some racing today, and was driving past there on his way back. We ate lunch so late that I ended up only eating a tiny bit of the sandwich… or it could have been all of those Twizzler’s I had… [sigh]

Artwork for Staci Allen’s Sage & Violet Color Journal
“Lavender Farm”

The lavender farm painting was completed this evening. I had such fun painting these. Both were rendered in watercolor, using cake watercolors. I have one more sheet to finish up and I’ve completed work on Staci’s book!


Sharing art & self? Cheap therapy? Exhibitionism? Dunno… you pick!

Several months ago I put out a call for a participant with whom I wanted to collaborate on a one-on-one visual journal. I dubbed the project “pieces of me.” Each one of us was to create a visual journal and then passing it over to the other person, so we’d be alternately working in our own journal and each other’s. Being incapable of choosing one person (or a sucker for punishment, not sure which), I ended up selecting three people with whom to work (so… three people = three journals).

I have already started with one of the three exchanges, my partner being quick to send me her journal (and I had planned on sending mine out earlier, but I am LATE!).

I’ll be sharing some of my more sordid history and pulling out the skeletons from my closets. So hang on to your hat for a trip through my Mrs. Toad’s Wild Ride. 🙂 While I’m okay “sharing” my own personal stuff, I will not post the other participants’ pages (unless they want me to) so my skeletons are the only ones you’ll be getting to see and read about. How cool is that? How excited are you?! Nevermind…

A rose is a rose is a rose = art is art is art?

Leslie Trippy-Oliver’s “Red Etc.” Color Journal cover

My hubby picked up some cool studio equipment gizmos for his camera this weekend, so when I asked him to shoot a photo of the cover of one of the color journal round robin participant’s journals, it took him more time to shoot ONE photo (but it is rather perfect, don’t you think?) than it normally does to shoot ALL of the photos for my journals. [harumph!]

In any case, he also shot some cool photos of my dolls, which are dolls that I’d created the “beginnings” of for round robins, and have passed along and received back completed (awesome!) dolls. The two dolls pictured here are from a Gypsy Doll round robin, which originated on the Belle Papier Yahoo Group board, and the very first round robin I took part in (and my very first art doll), the Elements Art Doll round robin from the Wild Art Dolls Yahoo Group board. Each was accompanied by a journal.

My Gypsy Round Robin Doll, “Ilona” and my “Fire” Elements Round Robin Doll

Well, I received an email this morning from someone (a fellow artist), commenting on the fickle nature of art, or rather art selection… or is it art preference… or again, how one distinguishes art at all. What constitutes art? Is all art good, regardless of whether it’s to your taste or not?

I also have a story about an art doll round robin that I was in last year. There were four of us in the group. Apart from myself, there was one inexperienced player, one experienced one, but who didn’t get the whole art journal thing, and one really fabulous player. There was a theme and the journal was supposed to reflect the theme of the doll, and each person’s take on it. I picked my theme and proceeded to create a whole bunch of spreads in the journal, both the intro pages as well as my personal pages. Then I passed it along to the next player, who didn’t get my doll, and refused to acknowledge the existence of the journal. She hand wrote a one page message (well… she didn’t get my doll, either) about being stymied about what to add to the doll, blah blah blah. The next gal was the inexperienced gal, so she made a very simple layout in the journal, using a magazine image for a collage, and adding “fluff” and a very nice journal entry. The last one to work on my doll was not only an extremely experienced artist, but also someone who has contributed often in round robins, and she did fabulous work. She said she felt so badly about the rest of the stuff that she felt she needed to make up for the others. That was really cool of her, but still, certainly not expected.

In any case, I really love my journals, even the ones that had less than “perfect” contributors. Sometimes beginners don’t know until they see others’ work what exactly the possibilities are. While it’s a bummer, to some degree, that they’re learning at your expense (if you look at it that way), the next time you see their work in a round robin, a light will have gone off, and their work will have evolved. On the other hand, some people just don’t EVER “get” it, and they never stretch and develop their own style, but are perfectly happy in that space.

Anyway… it’s interesting, this whole concept of sharing art. When ATCs first were conceptualized, it was to share artwork amongst artists, for free–an even swap out. Not to make scaled down “greeting cards”, or mini scrapbook pages, but to make personalized little mini artworks, perhaps in a medium you don’t normally work it, or doodles even, but personal and original art nonetheless. So, what happened? It’s been “Somerset-ized.”

While I think Somerset Studios publications are great, and enjoy seeing the work sent in by the contributors, and find the how-to articles (on things other than how to layer cardstock and mulberry paper (finally!) ) to be informative, I feel that it has homogenized the “look” of crafters’ art. Or maybe it’s the art direction. They’re so stuck on “themes” that they don’t stretch beyond what they get from their readership, and the folks doing the picking all have the same taste in what kind of “look” they like and choose from the pieces that they receive. So, even though the themes change from month-to-month, the look of the stuff doesn’t, really. Yaaaawn. That’s also what’s happened to paper arts in general, in our little artsy community. Or is it craft? Don’t get me wrong. I’m a subscriber to several of their magazines (quite frankly, I think it’s partly OCD that I can’t seem to let issues slip through my collection–did I ever tell you that I collected Martha Stewart Living and Victoria for 10 years, and finally parted with them when my husband and I separated? ), but I do love to look through and quite enjoy them.

Everyone is using the same “stuff”… the same ephemera… the same gizmos and doodads to add to their pages. While I think it’s awesome that there is SO much more selection to pick from in the way of papers and gizmos and other various and sundry supplies, I find that it has taken the challenge out of trying to find interesting elements to add to your work. Consider the good old washer for example. Years ago, people started incorporating washers into their stuff… they stamped on them, they UTEE’d them, they painted them, they wire-wrapped them. You don’t even need to go through all that trouble anymore, because now you can purchase them all gussied up (for a lot more $$ than the initial bag of washers) at your local craft store. And they look pretty cool, too. But certainly, they won’t be original, because anyone can drop several dollars and get the same package of goodies.

Part of the fun, for me, was to troll the hardware stores to see what kinds of potential art materials I could come up with to incorporate into my pieces. Another example is cigar boxes. They sell ‘cigar’ boxes at the craft store. Well… they’re not *real* cigar boxes, but who can tell, after they’ve been painted and decoupaged? The only difference is the cost (I could get cigar box ’empties’ from a cigar store source for $2-3 per box, whereas you’ll pay upwards of $7 for the wooden boxes–it would have had to be a REALLY cool cigar box for that price). And the smell… something about a ‘punch’ cigar box that just can’t be compared to plain old new wood.

When someone comes up with a cool, novel, idea, eventually EVERYone then claims it for their own (take for example the use of found objects–EVERYone is using found objects now, and it’s all the same stuff… and not “found” but purchased, because everyone can now buy them in the stores). And vintage photos (the stuff you can purchase, not pix of your own ancestry). Can you say “plagiarism”? I knew you could…

Scrapbooking, stamping and many other art/craft techniques have now been lumped together and called “paper arts.” But… is it really art? Or is it crafts? What constitutes the distinction? And is “art” better than “craft”? Are the skill levels different? Does it depend on the craft? Working metal is a CRAFT. Having the distinction of “craftsman” is an honor. Yet the same “craftsman” will look down upon someone who does tole painting or works in polymer clay, because the materials aren’t “fine” or the skill level not as exacting (and I *am* using a live example for this one–it’s someone I know quite well). This same person also scoffs at Precious Metal Clay… a blasphemy, in her opinion, to metalsmithing. But I digress…

Just because you *can* stick down a bunch of cut out magazine images onto a page, does it mean that it is art? But then, what IS art? Is it the expression of your soul? Does it matter if it’s GOOD art, if you’re expressing yourself? If you’re making it for someone else, should you strive to make a more diligent EFFORT and do *better* than you would normally… give it 125% instead of 75%? And, since art preference is so subjective, what I might think is absolutely divine and inspired might look like a pile of trash to someone else. I dunno… this and many other things have been keeping me stymied for a long time now… but I can still sleep at night.

Saturday butt-kickin’ … or was that a massage?

I awoke this morning all excited about getting a massage. Someone from my work had recommended her friend, Otto, and so I called a got an appointment for this morning. Otto makes house calls, so I was even more stoked that I didn’t have to drive home after the massage-induced haze.

Well, I know my back is a wreck, but he did some REALLY deep tissue work on me and I figured I’d be a little sore afterwards. As I’m getting ready to turn in for the night, I asked my husband to put some analgesic cream on me, because I’d been hobbling around all afternoon, barely able to move or to sit down (he worked on my glutes, too). Geez! I’m bruised all over! Massage is NOT supposed to hurt this much, during or after the treatment. Next time I’ll be sure to tell him to lighten up. [sigh] It hurt more than usual when he was working on me, but I thought that I shouldn’t be a wimp, suck it up and take the deeper work. My husband and I had a conversation this evening that went something like this:

“Man, he kicked your ass.”
“Well, I have a pretty high pain threshold…”
“No you don’t, your a puss.”
“Yes I do… how would *you* know?”
“Naaawwwww… man he really whipped your butt… oh boy, can you tell I’m excited about *my* appointment next week?”
(I booked him an appointment for next Saturday because… well… remember he dislocated his shoulder a couple of weeks ago? Hmmm… I’m sure he’ll be asking Otto to “lighten up” too.)

Well… on to more artsy stuff.

I went to the ArtBar in Santa Ana later in the afternoon, to meet with Vickie Enkoff and her daughter Melanie Sage. Melanie ended up purchasing one of the two kilns I have. Vickie has a huge line of art stamps which are simply fabulous, and Melanie did also, but I discovered that she sold hers her her mom, so Vickie now carries all of them. Melanie also has a really cool line of transparency images, which I found out she has also sold off, but I can’t remember to whom. Last year I picked up a bunch of her image CDs, which had many of the transparencies which were sold separately all in several neat volumes. I’m stoked that the kiln is sold and that it’s now going to be put to good use… win-win.

Leslie’s Red & Something Journal

This time change spring forward is killing me. I’ve been tired every day since. I’d forgotten to turn the clock ahead before falling asleep on Sunday night, so I awoke on Monday morning an hour late. My first day of work as an “official” employee at the company that I’ve been temping at for almost a year. Wow. It’s an awesome feeling.

Well, on to art. I finally took some photos of Leslie’s red journal; well, at least my contributions. I had dug through my photographs, which I finally brought out of the storage unit last month, and found the photos I’ve been wanting to use in my art work. Some of them are old photos, taken by my parents and some are photos I’d taken prior to leaving Montreal.

The photos I used in one of Leslie’s layouts were taken in Montreal. One is a close-up of a monument in the Mount Royal cemetary, and the other is the tower on Ste-Helene’s Island. I pulled them both into Photoshop and tweaked until I was happy. I printed it out onto transparency and then transferred the image over the top of an already paint-treated page. Then I isolated and printed out the central image once again, and used eyelets to attach it to the page.

The other layout is a photo that I got from, a source I use for a lot of source images. I pay per image and part of the benefit is to be able to use them in derivative works (such as collage, etc.). They’re also really reasonably priced, and you don’t have to buy whole collections… you can by single images, in various resolutions. Very cool.

Anyway, to get back to the layout, I was inspired by “The Scarlet Letter” and used it as a springboard, again pulling text into Photoshop along with the images (I also scanned in an “A” stencil) and started playing. I printed the finished work onto canvas (it’s watercolor Canvas by Fredrix); I love using it for inkjet printing, as well as acrylics, gel transfers and collage.

Pam Thomas’ Red-red-red

Color Erratica Round Robin
My red-red-red layouts

Ahhh… the week is over and I’ve completed work on one of the two color journals that I currently have to work on. The first layout was inspired by some cherry ribbon I found at the fabric store. I printed a cherry image onto canvas and then proceeded to bead some of the cherries.

The second layout was done in Photoshop and then printed onto a transparency. I’m so totally hooked on incorporating transparencies into my artwork.

Anyway, it’s been a hectic week, and I’m tired… so slumber beckons.