Saturday, May 30, 2009

Soul Journaling

I belong to a wonderful art journaling group led by Sarah Whitmire called Soul Journaling.  It's the group that started me on my journey in art journaling, and after giving us an initial series of 12 challenges over the summer of 2008, she also offered an Advanced Soul Journaling Techniques class  where we learned about working with altered photographs and making layered "peek through"windows, distress techniques with tags and gilded collage.  

Sarah has recently returned to offer more art challenges to her avid followers (of which I am one) and had a give-away of one of her treasured art pieces for one of the lucky people who posted their work on the Soul Journaling site.  While I wasn't lucky enough to receive that,  Sarah surprised us with a Random Act of Kindness by sending a gift to anyone who had commented on someone else's posted artwork.  I received my gift envelope today and I have to say that the envelope was decorated so sweetly that it could have been empty and still would have been a gift.  (See pictures above.)  Just looking at that envelope gave me a little glimpse into Sarah's world and how artful her life must be -- and I'll admit I was just a little bit envious!  If you look at the second picture you will see that even the packing tape she uses is decorated.  Now how can that be?  

Inside was a plastic envelope stuffed with all sorts of papers and ephemera.  I have NO idea where Sarah gets all these things from, but I took some pictures so you could get a glimpse of some of the things she sent.  My buddy Roan, who so often appears in my pictures, is at it again. Its' almost impossible to keep him out of the fun -- at one year old he still acts like a very big baby!

Thank you Sarah, for being so thoughtful and sweet.  Even the doormen and the concierge in my mid-Manhattan building were commenting on how much they loved your envelope -- and it takes a lot to impress people in New York!  xoxo

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Me - Happy

I'm back - exhausted, happy, grateful, and of course, jet lagged beyond belief.   We were very spontaneous on this trip -- we left the U.S. with hotel reservations only for the first few day in Rome.  We used to book hotels after that, with a tentative idea of where we wanted to go and a good guide book in hand.  We took trains from one city to another and taxis within cities themselves, and I highly recommend both.  (We didn't get involved with buses or subways as the more knowledgeable local people do.)   The train system is a very civilized experience in Europe.  You can choose an express train that bypasses the local stops,  and on there you can select first class or second class tickets.  (It's possible to buy tickets in advance online but not strictly necessary.)  There isn't a big difference between 1st and 2nd class in price or quality - either is fine and you get a reserved seat -- no scrambling once you get on the train to try to find a place to sit.  The bottom line is that you absolutely do not need to do one of those tours.  In fact, we signed up for a one-day tour the day we went to Pompeii and we didn't like the feeling of being herded around like cattle after all the freedom we had experienced up to that point.

Pictures.  If you've been to Italy, our pictures are interchangeable with yours - just change the faces.  I've posted a few of my favorites here,  and I'll put more on facebook.  I don't want to bore you with travel pictures, so there aren't many...

The picture below was taken in Venice, and you see a typical neighborhood well in the center of a section of town.  All the streets are set up like this -  a maze of streets that seem to center on a well - not a solar system but an aqua system.   It was such an extraordinary feeling to stand in those small, empty squares and realize that so many generations must have gathered there to fetch water, wash clothes, eat, drink, celebrate and mourn.  The open square that enclosed the well was clearly the heart of each neighborhood. 

When you climb to the top of the Spanish Steps and turn around, the view below is what you see.  It's expansive and impressive.

This is a kitchen in Pompeii.  The spool-shaped stone cylinders were used for grinding wheat or corn into meal to make bread, and they were turned by slaves who walked round and round them.  The brick oven in the center had openings on all sides and several chimneys to keep the loaves of bread coming and going.

And what happy little town would be complete without it's local house of ill repute?  Certainly not Pompeii.  These two images are from the Bordello.  The image on top is one of the friezes still left on the wall - something like early day porno I suppose - of a prostitute performing some act on a client.  The lower picture is of a client room with bed.  The rooms were small and those stone beds looked uncomfortable.  I'm guessing they must have used pillows on them.

And I leave you with an image from some of our happiest moments, at an outdoor cafe in Florence called Gilee (I think that was the spelling) at the center piazza near the carousel. We loved sitting there, sipping limoncello and watching the people and the pigeons walk by.  When we weren't discussing clothing or hairstyles on the passersby, we were talking about how lucky we were to have met in our 40's and how happy we were to be there together now.  Ciao!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I wish you peace

I'll be gone for a couple of weeks including Mother's Day, but I'd like to leave this short video that I recently happened upon and found so touching.  We often use the term, "acting like an animal" in a pejorative manner, but really animals are often so much more "humane" (another contradictory term) than many humans.  They love and forgive at a moment's notice, and they care for their own fiercely.  As most of you know, animals are very dear to my heart for so many reasons, not the least of which is that they are just exactly what they are with no pretense at being anything else.  Wouldn't this world be a better place if we could all say that?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Girl First Attempt

I can't decide whether to put my art here or in a separate blog, so sometimes I put it in both places.  Anyway, this is my first go at this girl, but may not be my last.  She is based on a few online courses I've taken with Suzi blu on drawing stylized faces and figures.  I wanted her to be somewhat Boticelli-like but with non-realistic, stylized kinds of proportions.  (Not that I could get Boticelli's proportions down even if I tried to.) 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mom's Sweet 16

This is a picture frame I made as part of my Taking Flight group with a picture of mom at age 16.  I loved every moment of making it, especially thinking about the hopes and dreams she must have had at that age.  The wings on the frame were so much fun to make and were especially appropriate for a young girl who is just about to enter adulthood.  Jennifer Valentine is the artist who collaborated with Kelly Rae Roberts on this project, and she suggested using tissue paper from dress patterns for the wings -- a perfect idea as my mom was an excellent seamstress.  I spritzed them with gold glimmer mist and sprinkled with white glitter before drying 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What Do You Do?

You're out at a social gathering, balancing a glass of chardonnay and a flaky bit of something that appears to be at once creamy and a bit nutty. The person blocking your view is drinking a dirty martini and digging through the gin for an olive,  and while doing so comes up with the tired question..."So what do you do?"   *insert sound of air escaping from tire*

There was a time when the 'good girl' in me would have answered this question, just because I thought I was supposed to answer people's questions. Someone asks, you answer. I'm less inclined to do that any more (a wonderful condition that started when I turned 40) and that particular question -- here in Manhattan at least and possibly elsewhere though I can only speak for here because here is where I am -- reflects badly on the asker. It's well known that people ask that question to classify the person they are speaking with (trader, actor, socialite) and it's just rude, really, in so many ways.

So these days, if the olive-retrieving plebe is crude enough to ask what I do, my response will be something along the lines of, "Oh, I try to do as little as possible, don't you?" *wink wink*

I love this. It completely frustrates the "What's Your Caste" game player, and instead of finding out whether they can adjust their head above or below mine, it frees them up to talk about more important things --  like what kind of music they enjoy or, I don't know, whether they read actual books or use a Kindle. 

And isn't that what we really want to talk about anyway?