A Quest For Focus

______________________________________

** My Paradise

Called Home **

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Here's wishing you all a very healthy, happy, loved filled 2011! 
I am not big on resolutions, probably because I normally fall off the resolution wagon pretty early in the year, so what's the point?? BUT, I will work on posting more often again...things just got so crazy toward the end of the year. I sold about 30 books, both locally and on Etsy which I am super grateful for and hopefully I can keep the momentum going in that department.
  
My Christmas was just fabulous, we first drove 6 hours to Indiana, served Christmas dinner to families in need, hung out with the grandkids for a day and hit the 12 hour trail to Georgia *whew*. It's always a zoo at moms there are soooo many people, thankfully mom and I had a couple of peaceful days to just lounge about! To top off the festivities I got to hang out with my sweet friend, Susan:
This was a Christmas gift I made for her, my first real attempt at jewelry making:
I also got to meet up with an old friend I hadn't seen in 18+ years - so hard to catch up just over lunch, but we did our very best!
Oh the times we had, it's truly a wonder we survived. Wild, wild days and nights...

I've been doodling a piece that I'll post tomorrow.  

That's it for now - I hope everyone had an amazing holiday. Happy New Year, friends :) 
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, sin auld lang syne.......at the Shores

Greetings From The Whirlwind's Vortex

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I've felt like I've been in a whirlwind since October. Just when I feel like I've caught up with my journal orders I get more. I'm am certainly not complaining mind you, it's just put the kibosh on decorating the house for Christmas. Tom, my husband dug out a little lit miniature tree ....looks like that may be it this year, especially since I'll be on the road from the 18th until after Christmas. Sad, really, I normally have at least 2 full sized trees but that's the way it goes!

I have 5 books to finish ASAP, 4 of which have hand painted front covers, what's worse is they are all the same. Most people that know me knows I hate to do anything more than once...4  is torture (worse yet I did one of these for my husband so that makes 5!) They wanted many more but I just couldn't bear it so we ultimately agreed on 4.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I sure did! We drove down to Georgia to spend it with my family. I did however, get about 50 cards written on the drive so at least I got something Christmassy done!The bonus was I got to meet up with my friend Susan, how convenient it is that both our parents live in the same town! Love you Susan!!

I was sittting on the steps that go upstairs in the house talking to my sister on the phone when I saw a bird with an enormous wingspan land in the trees outside my dining room window. After staring at it for a few seconds I realized what it was, jumped up, yelled for Tom, rolled down the steps in a mad dash for the camera. Isn't he just BEAUTIFUL!? 

God bless our troops who are away from their families this season and always.
Eagles fly........................at the Shores

Gone Crazy....Back Later

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Well, I've been MIA again (at least here). I am happy to say the reason is that I've had so many custom orders for my journals and sketchbooks that I've been the mad binder the past few weeks, I've yet to get 4 more finished before I can TRY to get a few fat mini sketchbooks into my shop, they make up fairly fast and make fantastic stocking stuffers at $20. I've only got one in my shop at the moment.

Here are a few I've recently completed, I don't think I'll be doing many more with the buckled ties unless I can come up with a decent supplier of buckles and colored elastic, I sewed the ties from fabric but would rather they had some elasticity and lordy knows it was a true scavenger hunt for the buckles.




I have also been honored with a blog award that I should have put on here a bit ago but I don't want to rush my post because deep gratitude goes to Susan who gave it to me and I need to also properly pass it on to a few others.

No real relevance for his video, I just heard this on my iPod and it makes me wanna dance which I happen to do a lot of in my little art room
Me, my music and a tiny dance floor............at the Shores

Bad Photos No More! (I hope)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy day for meeee! See this picture------------------------>
Well, it's the LAST one that will be taken with my Blackberry or the ancient digital of my husbands (it's so ancient it has a slot to insert a FLOPPY DISC!) because this is the new camera I've saved up for with my book/journal sales. I wanted a Canon but I got such a good deal on this that it was a no brainer for me. It's a Nikon CoolPix a simple enough point n shoot. I hope my pictures will be a lot better for my shop...if not it was just the photographer all along! 

The kids costumes were finished this week just in the nick of Halloween:
Back to the books!
♫I got a Niiiikon camera.........at the Shores

Just Weave Me Be

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What a crazy time for me this past month has been. I've had more custom orders for books than I can keep up with at the moment which in part is because I have 4 halloween costumes I do every year for our grandkids. They never cease to befuddle me when it comes to their choices. I know it's been many years since I've had children in the house parked in front of a TV but seriously...Phineas and Ferb? Princess Peach and Bowser? Thank goodness for Google! Yesterday I delivered Phineas and Ferb and now I'm on to the other two...pictures will be posted this weekend when the kids are wearing them. 

I've also had to get out 2 ATC's (I thought I was going to quit doing them for awhile...I may need a 12 step program). The first is for a Weave Me Be swap, the ATC was to be woven with something...anything. I rigged up a loom and used raffia and then embellished it with glass beads. It took me a good part of the day and I know I won't be getting any awards for my weaving or beading talents but it was pretty fun to put together. Don't think my partner was very crazy about it but there is not much I can do about that I guess.

For the second swap you had to use a tape transfer. I used one of the stencils I cut for the man (it's actually my Puccini stencil) and used a vintage image of a woman for the transfer. The scan is terrible because I put a gel medium over the entire piece and unfortunately it got a glare from the scanner so the colors are a bit wonky. I titled it Letters Home. On the background I lightly stamped some text which is also hard to see in the scan and added a postage stamp from India. 

I have 6 more books that were ordered to bind plus a smallish painting I owe a friend from a bet I sadly lost - not that I mind making this painting for him but the bet was on the Cleveland Browns playing the KC Chiefs and my Browns lost! If you read this - It's coming soon, Stew! Promise!

This video is Carole King & James Taylor singing a song she had on her Tapestry album 
Going mad crazy..........................at the Shores

Book Binding and San Marino Daydreams

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sadly, San Marino is the last in our World Tour swap series, there just wasn't enough interest. I, however loved it, I learned a lot about some of the lesser known countries. It was fun while it lasted. I did a piece if what I think is a TITANO ceramic (left) which stands for Monte Titano, the mountain San Marino was built on. A little tidbit for you:  San Marino is the world's oldest and smallest republic.
As a kid growing up in Germany I remember a smallish souvenir type bottle containing wine either at my grandparents house or ours, my memory is a little unclear as to ownership and it looked much like the picture on the right. No idea as to why I remember that bottle so clearly - the texture of it was fantastic to me! Silly huh?

I've been crazy busy binding books. Here are a few custom pieces I've done recently:
For my husband the lineman


For Joann


Teacher's Journal

Pirate Art Journal
I've got one more to bind then hopefully I can get some made for my Etsy shop as it's getting even more bare and a lot of good that will do me during the holiday season.

The following video has no relevance to this post but it makes me smile to watch Sugar Chile Robinson play...genius! 

Already missing the warmth of summer.........at the Shores

I Read Banned Books

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I just did an ATC in honor of banned books week which was last week. My friend Susan has a button that says "I read banned books" which was my inspiration for it. The idea for this particular swap was 7 different people indicated what the ATC had to include: 
  1. 3 circles
  2. something torn, ripped or shredded
  3. something that moves, opens, spins or dangles
  4. something metal or metallic
  5. an element - earth, water, fire or air
  6. something tactile
  7. graffiti writing or marks
Here is what I came up with - it's not a great scan since the book lifted it from the scanner bed. The 3 circles are the metal eyelets up top, I used torn text for the background, the miniature book opens and closes, there is a piece of copper that tops the "firepit", I painted some fire, used "brick" fabric for the tactile part and "I read banned books" is my graffiti. 
I'm always amazed at the number of classics that have been challenged and or banned all together - I've read many and don't think I've turned out too bad! Pretty sad really, some of these works are pure genius. By the way - Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was banned for passages that were considered "sexually offensive," as well as for the tragic nature of the book, which some readers felt was a "real downer." Well, I for one will not bury my head in the sand and try to pretend such an awful time in this world's history never happened. As George Santayana once said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Stepping off my soapbox now....

I just purchased some new pencils, I got the Derwent Graphitints and the Inktense sets (24 in each set). I've been working on breaking away from my trusty acrylics and thought they'd help in my quest...plus I was in a swap where you had to just use colored pencils so of course I had to buy some, I mean after all, my huge set of Prismacolors just wouldn't do now would they?!? It's a simple design but kinda pretty, yes? It was done with the Graphitints, I love the subtle colors you get when you brush water over them.  

An Anne Frank video tribute, music by the Goo Goo Dolls
  
It's a shivering cold fall day...........at the Shores

Where Have I BEEN?!?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nowhere, really. I've just been a slacking blogger I suppose. A few things have been going on but nothing earth shattering. I got THE most wonderful shipment of fabrics for my handbound journals - aren't they just a gorgeous bunch of colorful lip smacking YUM?!? I'm just wild for batiks. 
Of course I had to make a journal right away for my shop from one of the pieces. It's buttonhole bound and has acid free kraft cardstock pages, a dream for one who does art journaling.
I got a little wild and did a funky "purse" writing journal and just got it listed.

Thanks to my super amazing friend, Susan who put my shop link on her FaceBook page I also got 4 custom orders....need to get moving on them! 

Update on my virtual trip across the US, I am about 12 miles from hitting my 300 mile mark but the weather has been so lousy with wind, rain and just plain cold! I'd best get at it soon because I think the weather will just be getting worse before it gets better.

 I don't write 'em but I do make 'em!

Color me happy..................at the Shores

Painting Completed My Life

Monday, September 06, 2010

This blog post title is a Frida Kahlo quote and it's pretty much how I feel, there is very little I'd rather be doing than paint, or at the very least creating - anything really. I've been working on some more books, my poor Etsy shop has been untouched for quite awhile. I feel guilty in a way but have always refused to "make" myself do something because I think I should (with the exception of going to the doctor or paying bills). So, I'm ready to get more books bound and for my first one I put an image of Frida Kahlo done with a handcut stencil I'd done and added the very quote I just spoke of. I was inspired by a piece of fabric someone sent to me, she knew I loved street art and Banksy in particular and thought it'd be perfect for me - she was right! It's Frida meets street art! I have a second sketchbook I am binding with the same stencil but on an VERY happy yellow floral. 

Yesterday I the weather was cool and I decided to hit the bike trail for a nice long ride. It was almost too long, I was a little concerned halfway through it if I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew. I rode 15 miles from home and the legs were beginning to ache and the lousy seat was starting to get verrrry uncomfortable. I'd though about calling home for Tom to come fetch me at one of the roads the bike path crosses but decided I went that far, I really needed to suck it up and get home on my own. Well, I did and I did. I woke up at 3am to some aching legs so with the help of some Tylenol PM I went back to sleep at about 4. I'm now 258.4 miles out on my virtual Trans American journey. Still not even halfway across the 737.7 miles across VA!

I hope you had a great holiday weekend, our warm days are numbered up here but I'll take as many as I can get. 

Now a sweet song I was reminded of when it came on my iPod while I was writing this. I had a secret crush on Joshua Kadison when his Painted Desert Serenade album came out in 1993! 
You got me talkin' to the moon you got me walkin' in the rain................at the Shores

Zenned Out

Friday, August 27, 2010

I've spent the last 4 days on discovering the zentangle (or whatever it is you may call it). I've always doodled as far as I can remember. Well, in the way I do things - go big or go home - I started with a doodle aka string on a sheet of 11x14 bristol board then cut it up into 12 pieces, I did number them first so it would be easy to put them back together, then shuffled them a bit and had at it, one at a time I filled each square.........for hours, days even, just me, my favorite music a Micron pen and a 2B pencil. I had help along the way from various zentangle artists out there on the internet, there is some incredible talent out there in this sort of art. So, here is my first attempt at a zentangle ensemble:
I added a Buddist mantra I had gotten on an ATC from my friend, Brenda, that I thought would be good on here somewhere by Thich Nhat Hanh. This was such a great thing to do - just to make pattern after pattern practically without much thought. What was even more fun was seeing what all 12 looked like once I put them back together! 

Also this week, I hit my 200 mile mark on my virtual trip across the USA. I've also lost 8 pounds so far. Not a ton but my clothes are looking so much better and I think I've gained a bit of muscle so I can deal with that! Here is my newest close up map and I've added my trail progress  looking at the whole state of Virginia:
Only 500+ miles to go before I leave the state! haha! I've set what is probably an unrealistic goal which is to be done w/ VA before the first snow falls because after it does I have to put the bike up and exclusively walk until the spring which will make for some S L O W progress. But we'll see - I'll try my best! 

This video/song is a little long, but hey, what Grateful Dead tune isn't? This song carried me through a piece of the above zentangle and I thought it suited my post just fine.
 

 
the heart has it's seasons, it's evenin's and songs of it's own...at the Shores

Beware the Wrath of a Patient Adversary

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The title of this post is a John C Calhoun quote and so very true I think! This month's winner takes all theme was the 7 deadly sins, greed, sloth, gluttony, pride, envy, lust, and wrath - you could do one or all or any amount in between on an ATC. I decided to do wrath, no real good reason except it was one that I really can't relate to, I suppose I get mad or irate at times but wrath just seems so much more angry than that....to me anyway. I thought about the trips I've taken to New Orleans and the voodoo dolls I saw for sale there in the shops and always thought "wow, you'd have to be waaaaaaaay pissed to buy one of those and use it", I mean, I'd be too afraid something would really happen to my "victim" (of course it wouldn't be my fault...........or would it?) Well, this girl ain't taking any chances! Anyway, here is my little angry ATC. My husband questioned why I decided against sticking my lil guy in the groin with a pin (he was teasing - I think) and I can't say I didn't think about it but decided I wasn't too sure with how the person getting it would take it! LOL

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, I had another children's bereavement camp, this time it was 3 days. I had the littlest ones again and am now convinced more than ever they really are not old enough to truly benefit from our therapies, their little attention spans are just simply too short. I wonder after the three days if they really got anything out of it? Have they learned a little more to cope with the death of their mother, father etc.? Not sure, but I do know I run after them buggers alllllllllll day! The sign above was hanging in one of the pavilions where we did some art therapy.
in Just-

spring when the world is mud-

luscious the little

lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come

running from marbles and

piracies and it's

spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer

old balloonman whistles

far and wee

and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's

spring

and

the

goat-footed

balloonMan whistles

far

and

wee

                                              - e.e. cummings
On another note, my son Frankie (not sure just when I'll let him graduate to just Frank - probably never since he's 24 and I still haven't felt the urge) was up for a few days. We had fun, Randi, my husbands daughter, Jeff her husband and their boys took him out for some romping on the lake, I even made a brief appearance to go tubing with the grandsons! My arms were killing me 2 days later from hanging on for dear life to the tube while being drug up and down the lake! We saw the movie "Inception" good albeit a little confusing. And the last day we made our usual trip to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame - a perfect day for 2 music nuts that we are! I was really glad they extended the Springsteen exhibit through the year so he could see it since he's a big fan.
Are YOU superstitious?? Get up and boogie whatever your answer!
Superstition ain't the way...........................at the Shores

A Repousse' Kinda Day

Monday, August 09, 2010

Well, I've finally gotten last months winner takes all ATC(s) done. The theme chosen was under the sea - not beachy, not cutsy...the sea. I've been pondering picking up the black matte metal and Prismacolor pencils to have another go of it (and perhaps walk away with more hair left on my head this time) so I went for it. The first one I did a fish w/seaweeds etc. but the only problem was the seaweed ended up looking like part of the fish I had camouflaged in the water, not too sure I liked the outcome so I tried again, this time a grumpy grouper type fish thing (can you tell I am not well versed in the fishes?) I like him better and will send them both.
Hope she likes at least one of them!
 



So, me being a glutton for punishment did yet another one, this time a skinny (3x5) for my friend Brenda who was gracious enough to order the black metal and sent some, much more than what was needed in fact, to everyone who participated in the swap, she wouldn't take payment so this will have to do.

That will be the last of my repousse' for awhile...it is not the easiest medium to work with, plus just the feel of the metal for some reason gives my the willies *shudder*, I try to wear surgical gloves as much as I can while working with it!
(PS the silver metallic Prismacolor pencil works fabulously on the metal)

And now for an old favorite of mine:
 
It's far beyond the star, It's near beyond the moon................at the Shores

Next Stop.....Belize!

Friday, August 06, 2010

This World Tour ATC series has been so educational for me, the research I do to find a subject to paint has been so enjoyable and informative! The latest was Belize so I picked Belizian art to do which also incorporates a little piece of life there with the women carrying baskets of goods on their heads and the beautiful blue waters of this country. I'm really happy with the end result, it was adapted from a local artists work, unfortunately I was unable to locate his or her name to credit it to since it wasn't listed.  Isn't it just some colorful fun!?!?  This was done with acrylics and I used some grass cloth paper scraps for the baskets.

The next country hasn't been announced yet but I'm anxiously waiting!

I've finally hit my 100+ (103.8 to be exact) mile milestone in my walk / ride, only about 600 miles to go to be out of Virginia! It would be quite a bit shorter if it were a straight shot across the state but the trail really zig zags all the way across! I'll bore you yet again with another map of my progress:  




I'll leave you with a little World Music. Bob Marley wasn't from Belize but I thought it still fit!

Gonna Stir it up............at the Shores

For Em

Monday, August 02, 2010

Well, I did my first 5k but was not able to run the whole way (neeeeeeed oxygen - and a body more fit!). It was to help pay for treatment for Emily, an 11 year old girl tackling leukemia for the second time in her short little life . There was one person who rode his bike 200 miles that day, he had some corporate sponsors and raised quite a bit of money for the cause. He started early that morning and finished up around 9pm...truly an amazing man! I came in 44th out of 90+ so I am pleased, I will add that I about DIED when a "older" lady in overalls passed me during the race - whaaaaaaaa :) The picture above is just before the start.

I am finishing up a couple swaps before I take my ATC "slow down". I've got to get more books bound for my shop and really want to do a couple larger paintings to get out of this burn-out I seem to be in with ATC's. Anyway, the swap was to be something about the year you were born, I chose what was up in the art world at the time - this was definitely not my favorite time for art really, Pop Art was really big, Warhol, Lichtenstein etc. This scan really shows the dots on her face more than the actual ATC does which stinks because it looks as though she has a wicked case of chicken pox! I drew it using a grid (which I do often)and it's my first done using no paint with the exception of the 2 metal repousse' pieces I've done.

As of Saturday the 31st I've gone 81.4 miles on my virtual trip across the USA, I am just outside Richmond, Virginia. My goal is to hit my first hundred mile mark by tomorrow (Tuesday Aug 3), WOOT! I am here to tell you, this keeps me amazingly motivated! I just cant WAIT to see where I am after each workout, whether it be by bike or on foot!!
                                      Trail photo!
And now for some music from 1965.....Beatles "In My Life" of course!

In my life I've loved them all..............at the Shores

Poland

Monday, July 26, 2010

I just finished another swap - "Poland" for Tarsh in New Zealand. I decided to do some Polish folk art, the background is dk yellow mulberry paper and the rest is predominantly acrylics with touches of different pens. 
The next swap in the series is Belize :) 

I took yesterday off from my trek across the US but felt it was ok since I biked for 22 miles on our rail trail Saturday. I thought I just might not make it back home after I got out there, it was so hot and humid. Funny things start running through your mind when you take solitary trips like that. For instance I started thinking "Well, here you are, the only fool goofy enough to be pedaling away in this heat. Just how long would it take for someone to find me if I had a stroke and was laying there? Would the critters get me first? How long will it take before my husband starts to miss me?" Then I started thinking about the area, what was the underground railroad is all around where I was biking. I started thinking of the slaves that traveled these roads in their search for freedom - kind of blew me away, really. Here is a snapshot of one of the panels along the trail:

                                               This is my updated map (as of 7/24/2010)
I weighed myself this morning after a week of my new exercise program...nary a pound lost :( but I won't let that deter me, I sure hope something happens by the end of this week though because 2 weeks of no weight loss will be harder to get over.
I got a new pedometer that I am going to try out in an hour or so - thankfully it isn't as hot and humid as it has been!
Now for some sunny walkin' music by Katrina and the Waves done by the Soweto Gospel Choir - ya may as well get up and shake it because it doesn't get much livelier than this!
I'm walkin' on sunshine...........................at the Shores

On My Way to Oregon

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

LOL - not exactly, but sorta! I've decided after hopping on the scale for the first time in more that several years (I'm the one who goes to the doctor, gets on the scale backwards and requests that they do NOT say my weight out loud because I don't wanna hear it!*$%) anyway, I got on and freaked then calculated my BMI and that nearly did me in so I decided action must be taken. I found a website that is a TransAmerican walk from Yorktown, VA to Florence, OR. Yesterday I walked 2 miles and rode my bike for 5 then today I had a brutally hilly 10 mile bike ride which my legs decided "that's it - we AIN'T walkin' too!". The website is pretty neat, it tracks your trip on the map and even gives you a trail photo of where you are:
Silly? Probably! But it sure makes this exercise thing tons of fun! I am now 4 miles outside of Jamestown ;o) Can't wait to see where I get to tomorrow. I just might be in Virginia awhile!
I really, really did I say really? Need a new seat for my bike, lets just say I have numb parts and others are sore.
By the way, the website is here if you care to join in my folly
Dealing with rubbery legs...................at the Shores

Get the Skinny

Friday, July 16, 2010

I've been working with a new medium, it's a very thin matte black metal and Prismacolor pencils and nearly tore all my hair out along with the tearing of the metal for pushing too hard with the pencils but think I may have the hang of it now! This is my first attempt, it's another skinny...I have more material to do a couple more.
It's supposed to be a lighthouse on a rocky cliff but almost looks like a church! Straight lines are next to impossible since the embossing and debossing puckers the metal so much. You can see how dimensional it comes out in the picture below. 










I'll give it another go once my hair grows back in.



Get out your hankies, this is a beautifully done video by a student as a senior project, music by Nickel Creek.
Psyching myself up for a visit with a dear sweet patient...................at the Shores

Bein' Trashy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I made my first "skinny" (3x5) for a That's Trash! swap. You were to make it from things found on the sidewalks, roads etc. This was super hard since I live in a very rural area and I have found it's pretty darn clean out here! Anyway, I did however manage to find a water bottle label, some sort of green wired tubing, a piece of newspaper from July 22, 2009, a parking ticket stub, a Dove chocolate wrapper, a small piece of black plastic and a piece of junk mail. The bottle cap and ribbon was from my stash - hopefully they were ok to use. My partner is into flowers and insects, I did a praying mantis. I cut up the tubing (opened part of it for the body and used the wire I pulled out of it for the legs) cut the plastic for the belly and collaged the rest. It was pretty funny really, I worked on this on the deck and it was the first time my husband actually watched me work from start to finish - he kept saying "let me see, let me hold it!" I handed it over once I was finished, he was pretty tickled....I think it turned out pretty good for what I had to work with!
This video stinks but the song suits my post!
Feelin' trashy..........at the Shores
 

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