Friday, November 27, 2009

Sign, Sign Everywhere a Sign

Do you believe in earthly life after death in any form? If you had asked me that question 10 years ago, I would have said no.

After my mom passed away in November 2000, I started getting strange signs. I'm not going to go into them here because -- well, for those who don't believe, I think you have to experience it yourself to understand it and believe it. I know I certainly did. I'm one of the most cynical people I know of, and if I read someone else talking about what I've experienced, I'd surely think they were daft. So I'm not about to go talking about it.

However, Michele Ward's GPP Street Team's topic for Crusade 35 is called "Signs." She asks us to "show and tell the story of a sign or symbol that represents or reminds you of a loved one." I cannot resist saying that one of the ways my mom communicated with me after passing was by having the song "Lying Eyes" by the Eagles playing everywhere I went for many months. At first I thought, "could it be?" Then I thought, "God it really IS." And after a while, I just started saying, "Hi mama." (By the way, that particular song was the catalyst not because I'm a liar --I hope-- but because in high school I was quite the Eagles fan and I clearly remember her in my room saying, "Treesa, when I hear this band I think of you."

She'd never said that about any band before or since, and so when I suddenly started hearing the Eagles performing Lyin' Eyes on P.A. systems in nearly every store and restaurant and on what felt like every radio station I turned on -- 25+ years or more after they'd recorded the song -- I knew it was her sign, her way of reaching out and telling me she was there and looking out for me. Here is my GPP Street Team Show and Tell digital collage. Hi mama.

Did you ever get a sign like that - one that you're willing to talk about?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Kindred Spirit

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.’”

Isn't it wonderful to find someone who shares the same interests as you? I remember an activity in high school - writing a want ad for the perfect friend. He or she would be this and this and that. At that time I thought it would be wonderful to find someone with all the same interests: Will love to read and to write poetry and prose, but must also love "partying" and being with friends. Music totally important and if you don't like Yes and Genesis you probably won't like me. (Yes, I was a child of the 70's.) In those days it seemed easy to find someone who was just like me because we were all conforming to the same ideals--even trying to be non-conformists was part of teenage pack behavior.

These days, I'm happy to have lots of acquaintances, and I'm always surprised when I come across someone and think, "You too? I thought I was the only one!" Today I discovered that Bea at Dog-in-the-Hole Studio likes an artist named Hundertwasser, someone whose work I also admire. I haven't yet met anyone else who likes his work, so that was a happy moment for me. (I'm creating a series of chipboard houses based on Hundertwasser's style.)

Of course, our deepest friendships -- the people with whom we share our most private thoughts, joys and sorrows -- are the constants in our lives that keep us whole and give us joy. But don't minimize the power of those surprising moments of serendipity, those instances where we see some connection to another and think, "You too? I thought I was the only one!" You might be looking at a kindred spirit.

What is it that lets you know someone may become more than just another acquaintance?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Artist's Journals and Sketchbooks

I'm working on chapter 1 of Lynne Perella's book, Artist's Journals and Sketchbooks. The first thing I did was to create a journal to put all my future work into, a project I was also doing for my Taking Flight group at On The Wing. (Multitasking is a wonderful thing!) These are the materials and the journal itself.

The next thing I did was "Working with Photocopies," part of Lynne's Chapter 1. Here are six different things you can do with a photocopy:

I'm having lots of fun with this book and learning many different techniques along the way. The nicest thing with this most recent lesson is that I used a picture of my maternal grandmother, my grandma Teresa, and combined her image in some ways that were especially meaningful to me. For example, in picture 3, the handwriting you can see (a little) in the background is that of my maternal grandmother (Flora), written in a letter in 1950. So in a way, I have both my grandmas with me in that one image. In picture 7, the "halo" on grandma Teresa's head is actually one of the new keys from the Tiffany collection. I'm happy to be able to give my Italian immigrant grandma a Tiffany key! Can you see the cement steps in the background of picture 2? My sister - 9 years older than I, has clear memories of playing on those steps - but I wasn't even born by the time they moved from that house. In working on these pictures I felt closer to knowing this grandma (whom I never met) than I'd ever felt before. It was definitely a win for me. :-)

Monday, October 12, 2009


October is Breast Cancer awareness and Domestic Violence awareness month

Raising awareness of breast cancer and domestic violence in the same month doesn't have to be mutually exclusive. Both issues primarily (but not exclusively) affect women and require ongoing funding. Let's get proactive about reaching out to every woman reading this forum today.

Every woman reading this today needs to examine her breasts monthly, and even now, with what we know about self examination, not every woman is doing that. Many of us don't want to know, or are too busy, or feel we can't tell the difference between a "normal" lump and an abnormal one. This is a treatable, curable disease IF we take care of ourselves and do that monthly check - following up with a doctor's visit. If you haven't done that self check this month, DO IT RIGHT NOW. If you need instructions, click here.

How to self examine

Domestic violence is happening right now to you or someone you know. Right now. Today. Women who are abused physically are often isolated. Their partners tend to control their lives to a great extent as well as verbally degrade them.

Hair pulling, biting, shaking, pushing, pinching, choking, kicking, confinement, slapping, hitting, punching, using weapons, forced intercourse, unwanted sexual touching in public or in private and depriving her of food or sleep.

Insulting her in public or in private
Putting down her friends and family
Making her feel bad about herself
Calling her names
Making her think she's crazy
Playing mind games
Humiliating her
Making her feel guilty
Using Male Privilege; acting like "Master of the Castle"
Treating her like a servant
Making all the big decisions
Being the one to define men's and women's roles.

Preventing her from getting or keeping a job
Making her ask for money
Giving her an allowance
Taking her money
Not letting her know about or have access to family income
Not allowing her a voice in important financial decisions
Demanding exclusive control over household finances.

Making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her
Threatening to leave her, or to commit suicide
Threatening to report her to welfare
Making her drop charges
Making her do illegal things.

Making her afraid by using looks, gestures, or actions
Throwing or smashing things, destroying property
Abusing pets
Dangerous driving
Displaying weapons.

Making her feel guilty about the children
Using the children to relay messages
Using visitation to harass her
Threatening to take the children away.

Controlling what she does, who she sees, what she reads, & where she goes
Limiting her outside involvement
Refusing to let her learn to drive, go to school, or get a job
Not allowing her to freely use the car or the telephone.

Minimizing, Denying, Blaming
Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously
Checking up on where she's been or who she's talked to
Accusing her of infidelity
Saying the abuse didn't happen
Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
Saying she caused it.

Why Get Help?

The danger is real.

If you are controlling or have a controlling partner, don't ignore these behaviors. They are not the result of stress, anger, drugs or alcohol. They are learned behaviors that one person uses to dominate, intimidate and manipulate. They are destructive and dangerous.

If the abuse continues without outside help, the abusing partner may risk being arrested, going to jail, or losing the relationship.

Domestic violence hurts all family members. When a person is abusive he or she eventually loses the trust and respect of his or her partner. Abused partners are afraid to communicate their feelings and needs.

Everyone has the right to feel safe in a relationship. With help, people who are abusive can learn to be non-violent.

Learn the Warning Signs

Disagreements develop from time to time in relationships. Domestic violence is not a disagreement. It is a whole pattern of behaviors used by one partner to establish and maintain power and control over the other. These behaviors can become more frequent and intense over time.

The abusive person is responsible for these behaviors. That person is the only one who can change them. Don't wait until you and the ones you love get hurt.
You Are Not Alone. Consider getting some help. Talk with friends about your situation.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Glad The Trifecta Ran It's Course

I'm not superstitious. Really, I'm not. But it feels true that unfortunate things sometimes happen in threes.

I'm completely of the mind that if it was part of The Plan for things to occur in a certain way despite my best efforts, then that's a strong message I must find a way to accept. doesn't feel good, especially when my dearest loved ones are disappointed.

Onward and upward.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bracelets and Brooches

I went to a fun jewelry class a few days ago taught by my friend Eileen and our Stampin’ Up team leader Heidi.

Heidi showed us how to make fabric brooches, and I’ve been wearing mine every day since. Eileen is my creative guru (as those of you who regularly read this blog may know). She’s always up on all the newest things, and this month she taught us how to make bracelets embellished with grungepaper roses, ala Wendy Vecchi’s tutorial. Eileen was really polite when I asked if I could put 3 roses on my bracelet instead of the one that was originally intended. She didn’t even tell me she thought I might have questionable taste.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Soul Journaling Dreaming Prompt

Sarah Whitmire challenged our Soul Journaling yahoo group to think about her prompt "I'm afraid that if I start dreaming I will" and Shel Silverstein's "If" poem to inspire an art journal entry. It was a perfect opportunity for me to work in an altered book I've started with a theme of doors.

Following our dreams is like opening a door to an unknown place. We don't know what will happen when we do it, so it can seem easier to stay on the safe side of the door -- the place where we know what to expect. Sometimes we wait until someone else goes through a door first to see how they do, and then we follow -- just to be on the "safe" side. But then we aren't following the door to our dreams; we're following someone else's.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Accident of Birth

In my art journaling group today we were discussing the phrase "accident of birth" and whether it is part of a bigger plan, fate, or just some random accident.

I've heard people say that we choose our journey before we arrive here on earth. I've seen no evidence of that, and I can't for the life of me imagine why one person would want to choose poverty and hardship while another would choose wealth and ease, particularly since one can learn life's virtues from either of those conditions. (Being morally bankrupt, for example, is not limited to the rich or the poor.) What I've noticed is that humans make decisions throughout their lives that are constantly affecting their own course of events. For better or worse, they are consistently writing their own script. (Assuming they are healthy enough to make decisions for themselves.) I believe we often blame fate for things that are more likely the result of previous choices. My conclusion has been that life absolutely is a roll of the dice; but also, that it doesn't so much matter why we were born into the circumstances we were, but much more important, that the choices we make once we get here are responsible for our fate of the moment. What do you think?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

30 Days Creating-9/17-Vines and Character

Today in one of my art groups, a fellow artist posted an interesting art journal page about an overgrown vine. The story behind it was so interesting - it is worth your time to read.

I made the mistake of planting an ornamental hops vine in my shade garden. By the second year it had completely taken over and started crowding out all the other plants. So I knew it had to go. Then I made another mistake and treated it like any other plant when I cut it up and removed it. (No gloves and was wearing sleeveless shirt due to the summer heat) Subsequent research told me the reason I had all the rash on my hands and arms was because the little hairlike things all over the vine that it uses to hang onto surfaces with are actually little hooked barbs that stick in your skin and that just touching the thing also brings rash to just about anyone, not just people who are allergic to weeds.

Here is the part that interested me most:

I have trouble with plants, a lot of them die on me. But I love plants, even that damed thing, so I took pity on it and didn't kill it. But I did hack it up to within 2 feet of the roots. Then I felt almost sorry for it and planted what was left out in the sun by an old rusty laundry line pole which is no longer used. I did water it a couple times to, also cuz I felt sorry for it; but at the same time I was still mad at it. So I put it somewhere where I figured if it could survive there, then it deserved to stay alive. After about a month and a half, it has now started to regrow itself and has climbed up the pole about 4 feet with a few branches - so I figure it still wants to live. I think it has a better home there then it did in my shade garden and maybe the birds that use the birdhouse on that pole won't mind it crawling all over their house next year when they come back to nest. We'll see.

Such a sweet soul. It seems to me that it takes a very special person to feel sorry for something that almost anyone else would consider a weed -- and especially one that caused them to break out in a horrid rash. I remember my daughter used to feel sorry for the different cups in our cabinet if she didn't use them all regularly -- why should the blue and pink become the favorites when the gray and green were just as good though not as attractive? So she'd try to use them all alternately.

I think it shows a certain admirable quality of the soul to consider others even when (or perhaps especially when) they won't ever know they are being considered.

George Eliot said that "Character is what we do when we think no one is looking."

I believe that wholeheartedly.

I had fun creating this digital collage with viney brushes. That's my creative for Sept. 17!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

30 Days Creative - Sept. 16 - Retro Collage

I thought I had posted this digital collage with an earlier post and just realize it never made it into the post. Fortuitous. Now I have today's 30-day creative. :-)

I've been having lots of fun with Photoshop lately

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I want to remember...Summer 2009

I got to many of the things on my list this summer...and a few that weren't on my list. Sweet, sweet memories...

Friday, September 11, 2009

30 Days of Creating September 11

I used a distressed paint-over technique with acrylics and gesso on canvas board to create this. I'm not sure if she's done or if there will be other collage layers (should I ask her?) but for now she's resting. The tutorial for this technique is the first one I posted at On The Wing.

What should I put under her hand? A stack of books? A bouncing ball? A shrunken head? hmmmmm.......

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Digital Collage for 30-Day Creative and About Me

My pal Brandie at Live, Laugh, Love tagged me on this and now I'm tagging you. Go with it if you like. Oh, and I'm including a digital collage I made tonight for our 30-day creative. Fun!

Available or married? Married

Best Friend? Oh how tres elementary school! My best friend in elementary school was Ellen Hess, and she is my dear friend still.

Cake or Pie? The chocolate cake with nuts my mama made. Absolutely.

Drink of choice? Skyy vodka with tonic and a big squeeze of lime. Caribou or Nantucket coffee from my Keurig-cup pot.

Essential item for every day use? My MacBook Air and cellphone. I’m addicted, and I blame Lou.

Favorite colors? Lavender, blue and green.

Do you Google? Absolutely. And I Google translate. Often.

Hometown? Oh I don’t know anymore. Somewhere between New Jersey and New York. I suppose that would be the Hudson River.

Indulgences? Clothing, art supplies and books, in that order.

January or February? February, without a doubt.

Kids and their names? The first absolute loves of my life, Ben and Allison.

Life is incomplete without...? family, friends, and laughter

Marriage date? June 28, 2004

Number of siblings? Four, and I’m the baby.

Oranges or apples? Clementine oranges.

Phobias and fears? heights. brrrr.

Quote for the day? Elie’s words: “If God had a refrigerator, I’d be giving Him my drawings to hang on the front of it all the time.”

Reason to smile? Pets and children do it every time.

Season? Fall. woodsmoke and crisp leaves, frost and apples pies.

Tag 3 people to complete this on their blogs? Anyone who wants to play.

Unknown fact about me? I don't know the story of Alice in Wonderland (are you absolutely shocked?)

Vegetable you hate? I can't think of any.

Worst habit? Would anyone honestly tell their worst habit publicly? Let's see...I'm too generous with my friends. LOL. There ya go.

X-Rays you've had? Neck, skull, teeth, jaw, foot, back (I was thrown from a horse)

Your fave food? pasta

Zodiac sign? Libra – I’m either terribly well-balanced or so neurotic I can’t make up my mind. Your choice

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

30 Days of Creating September 8-Jewelry

I went to a class the other night given by my friend Eileen (my creative guru friend) and Heidi (our Stampin Up team leader) and made these incredible pendants. Aren't they swell? Yes, I love to say swell, so be quiet. Some of them are made from findings from the Tim Holtz collection. I know Eileen is a fan of Tim's site. I'm not sure if they are all from there, though. Anyway, I had a lot of fun making them. I wanted a butterfly in the pendant top left for my On The Wing site, so Heidi was a dear and went on a search mission through her endless supply of scrapping paper and found a piece with all sorts and shapes of butterflies to choose from. I love the mystery of the lady top right only showing her right eye, and the woman on the lower left has a crackle finish on that piece -- made it interesting, I thought. The piece on the bottom right can be a pin or can have a ribbon or chain strung through to be a pendant. They were all SO fun and easy to make that I want to learn more.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

More thoughts on The Help (no spoilers)

In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou wrote, "The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance."

Has our world changed so completely, then, in the 40 years since Maya Angelou published those words in 1969?

Nearly forty years later, The Help has been written by a white southern woman, nurtured in childhood by a loving and beloved black maid, honoring the formidable African American women who raised the white children of the south as if they were their own. We do not view this with amazement, distaste or belligerence. We regard these women with respect and honor.

I've been thinking tonight about the women who came before me, women of all color, and I am especially grateful for their efforts. They may have acted out of an instinct for personal survival, but their bravery has given rise to great benefit for each of us.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

30 Days of Creating September 2009

Join in here as we participate with a network of people over the next month for 30 days of creativity. Thirty Days Of Creating is simply that. Create something, anything, every day for thirty days.
What's the theory and why would I want to take part? Habits are one of the most powerful training tools we have, ultimately helping us to be happier in our lives. When we do something each and every day for just a couple of weeks, we put in place the foundations for a habit that can last a lifetime, a habit we can then expand into virtually unlimited potential. We're going to give our creativity a little exercise each day by doing a workout together-a little something each day. How does this apply to creative people? As creative people, the longer we go without creating, the harder it becomes. So by creating each and every day we can gently stretch our creativity, warm it up and get it in shape, so that within thirty days (usually less) we're creating not just once a day but many times a day, without any effort whatsoever. We'll switch our creativity on, call it up, give it permission to gush forth and flood us with creativity!

How can I create a whole new creative project every day? The simple answer is: you don't need to! Thirty Days of Creating is about creating a little something each day. It can be a few lines of poetry, a journal entry, a sketch, a few melodies on a piano, a walk outside with your camera, making an interesting recipe, learning a new dance, or any of a thousand other way of being creative. What's most important is not what we create but simply THAT we create a little something -- every single day. This habit gives our creativity quotient (CQ!) permission to flow.

Couldn't I do this on my own though? Yes of course, all this would be very powerful on its own. But here we'll have a whole community of like minded creative people to share with and to support you and spur you on. That kind of encouragement is priceless, and the combined energy of the group means each of us create more frequently and fully than we can under our steam, and for some of us, maybe more than we've done in months, even years...

So my friend, are you with us? Just leave your reply below to let me know. The creating begins on September 1st. You can post here daily or post on your blog and link to me here at Quinceberry (and I'm linking back to the main CCS site). I'll be posting a list of all the participating blogs so we can visit each other. Feel free to use my "30 Days of Creating" artwork if you like. However you work it, I'm glad you're on board!

PS: if you want to forward this post, click on the little envelope icon below.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vision Journaling Workshop-Week 2

I've been remiss in posting the work I've been doing in my vision journaling workshop with Kathryn Antyr from True North Arts. I've been doing it - just haven't actually stopped to photograph and blog it! We're actually a couple of lessons beyond this one now, but I will post my work one lesson at a time, so these are actually from two weeks ago -- but you won't mind, will you?

Our task was to think about our values and to synthesize down the ten things that were most important to us in our lives. Then we made ATC's of them, using pics from magazines.

The ten I chose were Family -my own and the greater families to which I belong, Creativity-Encouraging it in myself and every person I meet in life, because too often it is discouraged, Passion -all the passions, especially the driving force that keeps us committed to our task, Humor -part of my culture and my nature to laugh together with friends, Loyalty-hugely important to me, giving and receiving, Education -I'm a teacher after all - learning and teaching, Nature -being in nature revives and inspires me, preserving nature is a commitment, Leadership -encouraging, modeling, learning, Flexibility -such an important skill-it can be taught and learned, Community -the place where all the rest of these takes place and without it my life would be nothing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The High Line

If you live in New York City, you may have already visited the High Line, or at least know about it. If not, let me take you on a short journey there.

The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated steel structure built in the 1930s to carry freight trains. It currently runs from Gansevoort Street, in the Meatpacking District, through the West Chelsea gallery neighborhood, ending at 34th Street, next to the Jacob Javits Convention Center. The last train ran on it in 1980.

As a monument to the industrial history of New York's West Side, a group of visionaries here saw it as an opportunity to create an innovative new public space, raised above the city streets, with views of the Hudson River and the city skyline. Its conversion has been a global model for the reuse of transportation infrastructure and greening opportunities. Friends of the High Line, founded in 1999, is a community-based organization which began as an advocacy group and is now transitioning to a conservancy.

If you are planning a trip to visit the High Line, keep in mind that there are many wonderful restaurants in the area for lunch or dinner. Or, you can grab a fabulous picnic lunch at the Chelsea Market and bring it up to eat at one of the benches along the High Line. It's a great destination to plan into your day.

My sketch is related to a class I'm moderating on the book The Decorated Page by Gwen Diehn. The application is information gathering.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

This week's art journal

The ending of it was cut short due to size restrictions and didn't really reflect the way I wanted to end it, so below is how it was meant to really end.

In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights act after three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, but that didn’t stop the violence that was going on in many American cities. Beatlemania was in full swing as girls with teased hair screamed along to songs like” All my Loving” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Muhammed Ali was still Cassius Clay as he won the world heavyweight championship of boxing from Sonny Liston, and in September of that year I turned 8 years old. It was, as someone much more literate than I has already said, the best of times and the worst of times.

My big sister was 9 years older than me, When you’re 8 and she’s 17 you might as well say you just about don’t have a sister for all the differences between those two ages. Our "relationship" then was more like annoying, scruffy little pest and mascara and eye-liner beauty queen. She climbed stairs to podiums to sing with choirs and I climbed trees to eat my lunch. She gave speeches in beauty contests and I went to speech class for my lisp. She wore beautiful satin gowns and I borrowed (and ruined) those gowns playing dress up. You can probably see where this is going.

We lived in one of those small cape cold style homes the Government built for returning G.I's after World War II. These homes were built for efficiency - and among other conveniences they included a "Wonder Room" - so dubbed because it converted to a dining room by day via a table that pulled down from the wall and a bedroom by night by virtue of a Murphy bed that pulled down from a closet by night. By the time I was born my parents' home had undergone the third of what would become an endless parade of renovations over the years. The Wonder Room existed, for me, only in folklore and photographs.

But despite the renovations the house was still small and there were really not many places to go for solitude except a damp cellar or a crowded attic. My imagination became crucial for me as I tried to negotiate the shifting sands of

culture and family in the world around me. Last year President Kennedy was shot. This year I got a pogo stick and

fell in love with Paul McCartney AND Mick Jagger. Vietnam images were appearing on t.v. And there would be no

Brady Bunch tv show for another 5 years. My imagination was my anchor and my lead - the place where I put all of

this together and came up with my life vision.

I'm grateful for that imagination today because it has taken me on all sorts of paths I would otherwise never have traveled. I could never have envisioned a world that looks the way our world looks today and certainly never have seen the places I've been so far. I've had some dreams fulfilled, some deferred, and always seem to have a list of new ones I'm working towards. Through it all my imagination has never failed me.

About my sister. As I said earlier, she's still 9 years older. But now she's also my good friend.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Five Degrees of Inspiration

What Inspires Me?

1. Reading. Without a doubt, reading is the single thing that informs my creativity and fires my ideas. Whether it is an art technique I read about and want to try or a concept I'm pondering and want to discuss with others, reading is the single most effective way I learn about my world. I would be lost without my ability to read.

2. Music. Music moves me in a way that almost nothing else can. If I'm lonely it cheers me up. If I'm tired it gets me moving. If I'm nervous it calms me down. When I want to write or create, there are specific instruments, especially piano and violin, that I listen to in the background to stimulate my mind. It never fails for me.

3. People. There are some people who just understand me and inspire me. They are tuned in to the same frequency that I transmit on - no fiddling with the knob needed. We can finish each others' sentences. You can almost see the energy flowing between us when we get together.

4. Nature. There is something about being in a forest that brings me back to my beginnings, my childhood, a time when every thought was a realistic possibility. For creativity to exist, that has to be a sacred trust.

5. Independence. I can work in a group or alone and be happily creative either way. In a group I need to be able to retain ownership of my ideas and fit them together with others as part of a master plan. I can't give my identity up to be part of a group or I lose my happy creative vision.

for more visit Inspiration Avenue