Spice of Life

There are so many things I see that make me want to pick up a paintbrush, pencil, needle and thread, and make something.  So much creative influence and inspiration.  Can’t seem to stick to just one medium.  Below is a sketch from my recent drawing class with a little ink and watercolor added.


I finished my large mixed media using paper, fabric, acrylic, colored pencil, thread, and stamps I made from linoleum.


On my very first post, I had a photo of an applique I made from a Cezanne painting called “Basket of Apples.”  It was all hand sewn onto a piece of fabric in the shape of France.  It was part of my ongoing map series, but I just recently sewed it to a backing.


While perusing the internet I came across some beautiful envelope/postcard art.  I love the whimsy and colors on each of these examples.

The first is by artist Amy Rice.   The second is by Viv Sliwka whose blog is called Hens Teeth Art.

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This third one is a postcard Pablo Picasso sent to Jean Cocteau in 1919.


So wonderful.

Well, I didn’t have any vintage envelopes or postcards on hand, but I had a 1941 book of French literature, in French, that someone had written a lot of notes in, also in French.  I thought I’d practice with some quick sketches and then used oil pastel for color.



I’m definitely going to do more.  Maybe try watercolor.  I like the addition of the handwritten notes.

Perhaps trying a variety of things that bring challenge and fun IS the spice of life, even if it’s as simple as paint, pencil, needle and thread.




Man Made Quilts

I went to a contemporary quilt exhibit at the Folk Art Museum in LA yesterday.  But this quilt exhibit was unique in that all the artists were men.  This first artist, Joe Cunningham loves the tradition of a group of people hand stitching together on one quilt.  He often participates with some of the women of Gees Bend, although he also creates many quilts on his own like the one below.


A detail.


Another artist in the show was Jim McBride.  He took an image from the Hubble Space Telescope for this quilt called “The Crab Nebula.”


The work of artist Luke Haynes was made primarily from old clothes.   Each of the three examples here, were referencing specific paintings.  The first one is a take on Edward Hopper’s “Summer Evening.”


The next, references James Abbott McNeil Whistler’s “Portrait of the Artist’s Mother.”


And finally, an influence from John Singer Sargent’s “Madame X.”


He wanted to show that quilting as art is no different than painting.

Art quilts made by men.  Exquisite.




Happy Birthday Lucy

A few years ago a huge warehouse by the Port of Los Angeles was converted into a place for people to sell their handmade crafts.  Consequently, it was named Crafted.  Today there was a quilt show there, which I attended.  I especially enjoyed seeing some modern quilts that were shown by guest speaker, Alissa Haight Carlton.  Minimal color and simple geometric designs.  They were very different from the traditional designs that use repetitive squares.  I took pictures of a few of the quilts on exhibit.  As in all quilt shows, no two were alike.

A beautiful modern quilt.  The chairs in front had quilted seats.


More traditional and all hand stitched.


This one looked like a contemporary painting.  Very nice.




I always come away with ideas after seeing an exhibit of any kind.  And I am reminded of all the people out there with the desire to create.  It’s so wonderful when there are venues that allow a sharing of those creations.


It was puppy Lucy’s birthday this week.  She turned one year old.  It is amazing to remember the early morning she was born here in the house.  “Uncle” Charlie heard the squeaks first and jumped up out of a sound sleep, which woke me up.  Wow, I didn’t expect it two days after rescuing Maggie from the shelter.  The vet said a couple weeks.  And Maggie was so sick and emaciated from being a stray on the street.  But her maternal instinct kicked in immediately and she did what she needed to do.  I don’t have a birthday portrait of Lucy, but here is a recent picture of the three of them playing in my side yard.  (Actually, sniffing, which they do endlessly).  It’s impossible to get them to all stay and look at the camera at the same time.  They’re terriers.  And all under two and a half.



The quilt show also included textile artists.  For a look at color gone wild textile designs read “Glorious Interiors” by Kaffe Fassett.  It includes needlepoint, knitting, wall coverings, and rugs to name a few.  But they are included in pictures where entire rooms are decorated with a particular theme.

A small detailed sampling from the cover.



I have always liked paint and fabric equally.  I am starting a new series where I will combine the two.  I am hoping for a result I love.  I’m off now to get supplies at one of the few remaining “art” supply stores.  So many have switched to only selling online. But I love walking down the isles and looking at all the canvas, pencils, paper etc. That in itself is  inspiring and fun. I will need to make the drive to Santa Monica, but  being that it’s Sunday, the traffic should not be too bad.  Weekdays on L.A. freeways can get pretty congested.

I hope you are finding your creative inspiration.
















How Does Your Garden Grow?

Celia Thaxter was a poet and short story writer, but also created a garden on a tiny island off the New Hampshire coast that became the subject of her book, “An Island Garden.”  The book was written in 1894, and after Celia’s death the garden went through many changes, but in 1978 was restored using the detailed plan in her book.  “An Island Garden” is filled with delicate Impressionistic paintings of the garden’s old fashioned flowers by the artist Childe Hassam.  Many years ago I picked up the daybook that accompanies it.  There is space for diary type entries as well as quotes from Celia on flowers and some of Hassam’s paintings.  I have used it to write descriptions of particular days when the sky, clouds, air, and sun have come together to produce exceptionally gorgeous days.  It causes me to take special note of those moments by putting them into words


Flowers are a popular subject for artists.  I have used a variety of mediums in attempts to reproduce their colors and shapes.

Here I used acrylic paint with stamps I made on recycled cupboard doors.  I got the doors from Habitat for Humanity’s Restore.  It is a great place to find recycled anything for your house or yard, and you are contributing to Habitat.


Fabric applique of flowers in vases.


Acrylic on canvas.



I went to a local painting exhibit today.  The friends that I went with and I are in a book club/art club.  Once a month we go to an art exhibit and once a month we get together to discuss a book or short story we have selected.  We choose a lot of classical literature which introduces us to authors that we haven’t read before.  Since this post is about flowers, I took some pictures with flower themes at the exhibit, along with a few others I liked.

The painting below is titled Vence Roses by Pat Wooley.  Mixed media.


Voice of Spring by Dawn Quiones.  Mixed media with collage.


The Old Lace by Nino Neiman.  Watercolor.


Mountain Horse Returns Home by Julia Chu.  (I picked up some reflections in this, but the collage work was wonderful).


Under the El by Jan Godachy.  Watercolor.


Palisades by Eve Pericich.  Collage.


I had to include this one because I had three shelties who have passed away.  I think of them often.  Bailey by Veronica Sin.  Watercolor.


Even if you don’t paint, looking at people’s ideas expressed through their work is so inspiring. Painters use a wordless language that makes you feel something very personal, remembering an experience you’ve had or reminding you of an experience you would like to have.  Go and look when you get the chance.









Generational Artistry

I took a sewing class in ninth grade and made a few dresses for myself.  My mom bought me a sewing machine to continue the skills I had learned, but the thread was always jamming up and I lost patience.  In later years, sewing by hand was something I really enjoyed, along with going to thrift stores.  I got an idea to make a quilt by hand using recycled clothing.  I had been greatly inspired by an article I had read on the women of Gees Bend, Alabama.  For generations, the women of this small town had made quilts from old clothing simply to keep their families warm.  When William Arnett, a historian of African American Art came across the quilts, he was beyond impressed with the modern art designs.  He helped the women to organize a business collective and he set up an exhibit of the quilts at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.



I had never made a quilt before but I gathered enough fabric from recycled clothes to make six different color themed lap quilts.  I included some pictures on an earlier post titled Creating Opportunities to Create.  There is going to be a quilt show in the city of San Pedro near my home.  I’m considering entering one of my hand made quilts.  It is not up to traditional quilting standards, but I like it and it has a uniqueness about it that some people might find appealing.


I took a couple of beginning quilting classes recently from a teacher who is a true artist in quilt design.  I enjoyed the classes tremendously and even bought an inexpensive sewing machine. (Although I have to say I still get impatient).  Lots and lots of things to learn, but I’m having fun playing with ideas and fabric.  Here is a picture of my first Log Cabin square.


And an improvisational piece, although it doesn’t have a border yet.


And a pillow.



I always appreciate anything made by hand.  It’s amazing what people create and the amount of time involved from start to finish.  I bought this wall hanging at a local thrift store.  So much embroidered detail.


A detail from the picture above.


I have to include this chick I bought some time ago, not just because it’s cute, but because the maker was such an excellent crafts person.  I remember she had a difficult time parting with it like so many artists when it comes time to let go of something that you have put so much of yourself into.



It is a gorgeous day here today.  Blue blue sky, white clouds, sun shining and the tops of the trees swaying in the breeze.  Charlie, Maggie, Lucy and I are heading outside.


Creating Opportunities to Create

When I didn’t have quiet time to ruminate on ideas for a creative project, I used other resources that were part of my daily routine. I loved going in thrift stores to look for inexpensive treasures.  A new one had opened near my house so I checked it out.  The owners donated almost all of the money from sales to an orphanage in Africa.  I was very interested in the idea and began volunteering.  I got to organize donations that came in and then arrange displays in the store as well as in the windows.  I was in heaven.  I love to physically organize, and creating displays was endless fun.  I set up a couple in my house as examples for this blog.



Eventually I came up with the idea to buy inexpensive used clothes to make small recycled quilts rather than buy fabric.  I bought clothes for their texture, like corduroy.  I also used pieces that Included pockets.  I didn’t use a pattern.  I came up with color schemes, and started cutting.  I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time, so I did all the sewing by hand.  It was very relaxing.  I even used old sheets for the back because I wanted the whole thing to be made from recycled fabric.  Each quilt is about 45 inches square.






Teaching ESL was actually very creative because I needed to teach the same material for a week, and each day needed a different approach so it wouldn’t be boring.  There were times when I actually incorporated “art” into specific lessons.  One summer I taught the students vocabulary about local places they could visit with their family.  For each place we talked about we created something visual to decorate the classroom.  One topic was the California Missions that were built between 1769 and 1833.  I brought clay in and we made tiny pottery.


I taught adults, but they were allowed to bring their young children to class who were on summer vacation.  When we talked about the beach the children made a mural.  I cut sponges into star shapes and let them stamp them onto the mural as starfish.  When the class was over I didn’t want to toss the mural in the trash so I cut it up and sewed the pieces of paper together.



On Earth Day one year the students in my class made a mural of a city with parks and neighborhoods.  Then they attached plastic bags, plastic bottles, ketchup packets from fast food restaurants and other plastic that litters the streets.  The mural continued into the next classroom. That class made a mural of the ocean where all the plastic was going to end up.  Unfortunately I don’t have a photo.  It was amazing.

When my son was in first grade his class was doing a project based on the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh.  I volunteered to give the children a little presentation about him.  There is a wonderful book for children titled Looking for Vincent by Thea Dubelaar and Rudd Bruijn.  I also brought in a few slides I had taken of Arle where Vincent lived and painted for a while.



It was really fun to share something about such a remarkable artist with children of that age.

Opportunities for creative expression are everywhere.





Creative Beginning

It started when I was a child with coloring books and construction paper.  Playing with crayons, pencils, and paper.  That sense of creative play has stayed with me, but throughout my life it has become food for my soul.  When I could make time to create, or even go to a place and look at other people’s creations, it brought a sense of joy, especially during life’s challenges.   Being in a museum and looking at my favorite paintings is like entering a Medieval Cathedral.

Awe.  Peace.  Beauty.  Quiet.


This is St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  My husband and son and I were lucky the day we visited.  The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was actually rehearsing for a performance they were going to do that night.

Painting of St. Peters in Rome by Giovanni Pannini 1735.


All my life I have been influenced creatively by everything around me. One idea leads to another. In my blog I want to share my ideas and some of the people and places that have inspired me and continue to feed my soul. I hope in reading it, that you will be inspired to find what feeds your soul and pursue it. When I attended California State University Northridge I took some printmaking classes. In one of them we cut images into squares of linoleum. Ink was rolled over the linoleum, paper was laid over that and both were put through a printing press.


Years later I experimented again with linoleum. A friend had brought me an apron from Paris and it came with a small catalog of the company’s tablecloth designs.  An Idea. I would make some repetitive patterns of my own using canvas, acrylic paint and linoleum. I wanted to experiment with colors, and I wanted the areas in each painting to be separated by sharp lines like you would find on a tablecloth.  Each painting represents a section that would then be repeated, like squares on a quilt. One of the designs on the pink canvas is sewn using embroidery thread.  This is a technique I continued to use in later pieces.



One of my favorite painters is Paul Cezanne.  I like the wide brushstrokes in many of his paintings of nature.  They look like cubes of color.

“View of Chateau Noir” by Paul Cezanne.


The warm colors he often used inspired me to do a couple of art pieces but rather than paint I used fabric.


Here I appliqued a still life scene from his painting titled “Basket of Apples”.


The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (in Hollywood) is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles.  You drive up a hill planted with olive trees.  At the top you can see L.A. in all directions, but once you are outside the gallery, you’d never know the city was so close.  There are rows of pine trees and you are at once transported to a meditative environment.  It’s quiet.  You cannot hear the city below.  Across from the gallery is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House built in 1921.


The gallery exhibits the work of contemporary L.A. artists.  I went to an exhibit recently.  Here are a few of the pieces I saw.


“Early Girl” series by Jessica Roth 2013.  Monoprinted lithographs taken from ads in the Burpee seed catalog.


The following are beaded works by Cory Stein titled Gray Bear and Donut Nation.



My yard provides ongoing inspiration.  It is like a constant work in progress.  A canvas that is never finished.  This plant is a Mexican marigold.  When I am out watering and I spray it with the hose it has the most phenomenal smell.  It is very difficult to find a comparison. The closest thing would be lemon, but sweeter.


I made some planters using many different containers as molds.  For the square one I used a plastic box that Legos had come in.





Dogs.  I love them.  They are such a wonderful presence.  So peaceful (the older ones) and so boisterous (the young ones).  I had three incredible shelties who have passed away.  Now I have three lovable mixed terriers, in large part because I volunteer at an animal shelter.  The story is long, so I will  share it in another post.  But for now I will introduce you.  Lucy. Charlie. Maggie.