Sunday, November 14, 2010


I'm an avid magazine collector. I don't have time to read all of them, so they tend to pile up. We'll be moving in a few months, so I've been trying to downsize a bit. I've started going through the magazines and cutting out pictures that I like. The plan is to use them in my own art, maybe do some image transfers and collage. Collage is very challenging for me. I don't quite "get it". I tend to focus on the foreground and forget about the background. I really need to create a lot of different backgrounds so I'll be ready to make the collages. This morning I was looking at some old watercolor paintings that I did on one of my art retreats in Ocean Grove.

The painting was good enough but I felt it was a little muddy in the middle, which took away from the vibrancy of the fall color palette. I thought about my art teacher telling us that when we create a painting and we don't like it, rather than discarding it, consider it "not finished". There are many options for recreating a painting from a mistake. So I decided to experiment with the one I had.

I looked through my collection of fall images that have been accumulating from the old magazines. I kept adding images to the painting, trimming them to fit the image in the painting.  This is the "almost finished" new painting. All that is left is finishing it off with some self-leveling acrylic gel medium.

Title: Harvest Wreath
Materials: Watercolor on watercolor paper, acrylic soft gel, recycled magazine pictures

Sunday, November 7, 2010


In times of stress it's time to turn to art.  It has been a challenging 6 months for me. My 88 year old mother went into the hospital just before Memorial Day Weekend  - to "get checked out" is what she told me. Just days later she was facing life-threatening surgery or the prospect of slowly becoming paralyzed with out it. Her dotors were putting more and more pressure on me to make a deision as Mom stayed in the hospital with nothing being done to address her condition. But how could I make such a decision in a hurry? Mom had multiple medical conditions which made her level of risk higher than usual She could die on the surgical table. I felt that it was her decision to make and I could not tell her what to do. So we gonized through the decision-making process together. Mom did decide to have the surgery.

Mom came through the surgery with flying colors! When she was ready for discharge to rehab I found her a good rehab facility in my town (she lies 3 hours away from me) and she came to stay in rehab for 2 1/2 months. Mom was discharged and went home in mid-August. I found a home attendant who would stay with her 6 1/2 days a week. They are still adjusting but generally seem to be getting along OK. Mom is not thrilled to have someone living in her home, but she realizes that she needs that level of help in orer to stay in her home, so she accepts it.  Not always gracefully, though.

During that entire time of dealing with my mother's situation I was totally stressed out. I had no time for art. I missed my favorite summer art retreat in Ocean Grove, NJ because I didn't have the time, energy, or financial means to go this year. For the same reasons, I just missed the Fall art retreat. I have been eating sugar like there is no tomorrow! I cut back on my gym workouts due to lack of energy. I tried to step up the pace and do more physcially by taking some classe at the gym - yoga, tai chi, and sumba, to try to make working out more interesting. I was so pleased with myself! But I have developed either tendonitis or a stress fracture in my foot, so now I am slowed down again. And the sugar calls seductiely!

Last Monday I went into work after taking off an afternoon on Friday to get a new haircut and style. I felt so good as I walked into the office with my hair swinging! I was a sexy woman that morning! And BAM!  The bosses were there having an emergency meeting and they told us that our clinic was closing down on December 1st! There would be layoffs of 4 out of 7 social workers, plus the 2 secretaries.  The 3 remaining social workers would be reassigned to a unit in the hospital. (That would be me!) So the week at work has been schizophrenic to say the least. People are crying and wondering what their next move is in this economy, they are being sent to other departments of the hospital to work, having to tell their clients that they re leaving and a new therapist will be assigned, and still having to do the day-to-day business in the clinic. Sugar has called and I have answered! Yes, my sweet, come to me and soothe me with your luscious addiction!

So, I decided that this weekend was going to be about self-care. I knew I needed rest! So I slept late yesterday and enjoyed this morning's extra hour of sleep. U spent the afternoon yesterday going through magazines for great pictures to use in making cards, collages, and art journal pages. Last night I prepared some pages as a support for collage pages in my art journal. I do feel better. Just the act of spreading the gesso on the pages and clamping them down to dry felt like "doing something creative". My mind is ready to go to the next step. I find myself thinking about what the background should look like.  Will it be blotches of color or wide sweeps of color or patterned paper? I haven't decided yet. But I am excited by the prospect of creating a page that lifts my spirits and represents the warmth of autumn. I have many pictures of apples, pumpkins and winter squash, fall foliage galore. I am eager to overlap the images, play with the edges, find the right words. This is the true healing power of art. It takes you out of yourself, away from the stress of life, and puts you in a place where you are in control of making something beautiful )or not, if you choose).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I was in Ocean Grove, NJ last weekend for an art retreat.  I just love going there!  It restores my soul!  I came back really charged up to do more creative activities.  I started thinking about making some cards to send to the women who were at the retreat with me.  I came across these images that I had saved.  I guess they were for this exact occasion and I just didn't know it at the time.

These cards came together really easily and quickly.  I browsed through a great book by Mary Jo McGraw called Vintage Greeting Cards and found a card design that I liked.  I used my images and decorated papers and these cards are the end result.

Monday, April 12, 2010

It Worked!

Here is the final stage.  I glazed the tag with gloss medium and added some trimming.  This is the best transfer I've achieved!  The gloss medium worked better than the soft gel medium.  I don't know why.  So now I am curious about using other types of acrylic medium, especially the self-leveling type.  That one is supposed to have fewer brush strokes when it dries.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another Approach to Tags

I had planned to do a batch of tags last night but I got distracted by pictures that called out to me to make a collage!  I didn't finish the collage and I was disappointed because it seemed as if the entire night had flown by and I had gotten nothing accomplished.  Then I got the idea to try to transfer an image onto a tag. I've been struggling to get transferring "right" and have often had images that were only partially successful.  The advantage of doing a tag is the small size of the surface.

So I rummaged through my file of pictures and found an ad that contained some floral trim along the edge.  I cut out the flowers to use them on the transfer.  I used Gloss Medium as the base for the transfer.  I smeared a bit of the medium all over the tag, then I placed the floral image faace down on the tag.  I used an old credit card to smooth the surface and set it aside to dry.  The first picture shows the transfer at this stage, Stage 1.

This morning, (instead of getting ready for work!) I moistened the tag with plain water.  Once the paper backing was wet, I was able to use my fingers to rub it off.  What remained was the image you see in Stage 2.  It's almost finished.  You can tell when all the paper backing has been removed because there is a smoother feel to the tag.  When it dries, there is more color to the image.  There is a very light cloudy film in a few places.  The final step will be to coat the tag with clear medium to make it shiny and eliminate the cloudy patches.  I could also color the glossy medium with a pale tint of red if I wanted to make the entire tag have more color.  But I think I will quit while I am ahead!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Sale!

I sold my first batch of 5 cards today!  Last weekend I made a style sheet showing samples of the various cards that I've made, a total of 15 different cards in full color and full size.  My husband was giving a class tonight and I met up with several of his students.  I decided that, then and there, I was going to give them the samples of my cards.  So one of them picked the 5 cards that she liked best.  She told me that she likes to have cards around the house for special occasions, so she is ready when someone has a birthday coming up.  She really liked the card above because she is a spiritual person and she likes fairies and angels and meditation.

I'm proud of myself for not being a Shrinking Violet and stepping up to promote my cards when the opportunity presented itself.  I need to do more of this!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wno Buys Greeting Cards??

I found 2 market research reports online about the demographics of greeting card buyers.  It looks like the people who spend the most on stationery and paper goods are the 25-34 year olds.  That surprises me because I really expected it to be Baby Boomers and older.  Younger people are so connected to the Internet and instant communication that I would not expect them to spend much money on buying cards.  But, when you think about that age's people who are starting out in life and are experiencing many life changes that require gifts - graduations, engagements and weddings, having a baby.  All of these occasions are moments to celebrate and give a gift.  So you could expect them to buy cards for their friends for all of those reasons.

Envelopes to Catch the Eye

I'm preparing mailers to send out to let my friends know about my cards.  making an envelope is pretty easy, just a matter of folding paper and then trimming the sides and top to make flaps that fold in.  I made a couple that were decorated with rubber stamps.  Then I made one that's just a piece of scrapbook paper, folded.  Scrapbook paper is too expensive to use for an envelope unless it's a special occasion, though.  But it looks really good as an envelope! 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Sunday

I took a break from cleaning the house for Easter Sunday.  We're having a small gathering, just hubby and me, my brother-in-law, and a single friend.  Hubby is doing the bulk of the cooking but I am doing what I love to do - bake a cake for dessert.  I'm making a pound cake that I made for Christmas.  It's delicious!  I found the recipe in a little book called The Pound Cake Cookbook by Bibb Jordan.  It may be out of print now.

Candied Ginger & Brandy Pound Cake
1 c. butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cream, at room temperature
1/3 cup brandy
1 cup small diced crystallized ginger
1 1/2 tsp. almond or orange extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9 1/2" bundt pan.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time to the batter, beating well after each addition.  In a bowl, whisk together the powdered ginger, cake flour, and salt.   Add 1/2 the flour to the batter.  Then add the cream.  Gently but thoroughly blend in the remaining flour.  Fold in the chopped ginger, brandy, and extract.  Fold thoroughly but do not overbeat.  Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Serves 16.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Colors On My Mind

I seem to gravitate toward blues and greens when I make cards.  I like to use decorated papers.  This card is very simple and delicate.  I like the frilly edge of the white trim and I like the contrast of the bright white against the pale blue and green.  It makes me think of a Martha Stewart bedroom!  I would love to sleep on sheets like this card!

Operation Write Home

I just sent off a batch of 10 cards to Operation Write Home.  Some were for Mother's Day and some were just "Thinking of You" cards.  So far, I've sent 28 cards to Operation Write Home.  Not a whole lot, but the number is growing.  I hope that the soldiers enjoy receiving my cards.  I like the idea that someone in a faraway place will benefit from them.

I wish that I got more cards!  Luckily, my birthday was on Monday so I got birthday cards in the mail.  But some of my friends and family didn't send cards and either called me or texted me.  While I enjoy getting phone calls and cards, the birthday text message just doesn't have the same long-lasting vibration attached to it.  It's a "quickie", which is better than nothing, but it's just a little blip.  A real card lasts and lasts.  For example, this morning as I rushed around getting ready to get out of the house to go to work, I noticed one of my birthday cards sitting on a table.  Immediately I was reminded of my cousin and I felt all warm and fuzzy.  I like to save the cards with really nice wording or pretty fronts.  I even have a stash of cards from 10 years ago.  The stash includeds cards from my grandmother and my aunt, who are both deceased now.  Yet, they remain in my memory when I see the card and look at their handwriting on it and read the special phrases that they wrote.  No text message can go that far for me.

So the soldiers who use my cards to write to their loved ones will really be sending mementos that their family can hold onto for years to come.  And I'm a part of that!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Memories of The Manchester Inn

Last weekend this beautiful bed and breakfast in Ocean Grove, NJ burned down to the ground in a freak fire.  I never expected to feel the loss of a "place" but this inn represents many hours of creating art, relaxing and enjoying the peaceful ambience of Ocean Grove in practically every season, and the loss of it marks the end of an era of my personal growth.

The Beginning

I discovered handmade greeting cards about a year ago when I saw a book about making cards at the library.  One book opened a door to a whole new outlet for my creativity!  Since then I have discovered a multitude of books full of beautiful greeting cards, I started using rubber stamps to make my cards, and I have finally begun to make cards that reflect my own artistic voice.  I've been able to use some of the training that I've acquired as an artist to make uniquely artistic cards.  I'm so happy that I can work with a card and get a good end result now.  In the beginning there was so much to learn...paper cutting, stamping and embossing, even where to go for supplies.  (Ebay is my best friend!!)  I was frustrated because I was looking at cards that I wanted to make and I didn't have all of the materials or the right stamps.  It took a while for me to begin to be able to really use what I had access to.  Now I have some favorite supplies and techniques.  I love embossing cards and I love working with tags.  Tags are great because you can make a pretty tag in minutes.  So now I can access my art muse in seconds and make a tag!