Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Christmas altarpiece, designed by Matthew Whitney, being installed

Had a wonderful Christmas Eve. Started the day at a birthday brunch for Matthew Whitney's wife Heather in the morning, started baking some cookies in the afternoon, went to another friends' house for some appetizers and desserts in the early evening, then off to Christmas Eve caroling and festival service at church. The service at church was wonderful, and Father John's sermon was inspired. Felt all warm and fuzzy about being blessed with such wonderful friends and such a loving church family.

Now I'm off to start our Christmas morning festivities. Wishing you all a very
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Illustration Friday: Horizon

"Horizon", acrylic/collage on illustration board, 4"x 6" (mounted on 8"x 10"), framed in a simple black frame, available in my Etsy store

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is "horizon", very appropriate for this time of year, when we all seem to look toward the horizon of the new year. It also happens to be the shortest day of the year today, so we look to the horizon for more hours of sunlight as the earth swings back toward the longest day.

I've been thinking about 2008 a lot lately, about what I want to accomplish in it and what sort of year I want to create. There's the usual litany of "lose weight, exercise more, watch less TV, blah, blah, blah…", and I will attempt to do these things. But I'm more concerned with how I see my art life developing in the coming year. And, as I mentioned in my previous post, I'm interested in changing how I approach buying food.

I'm so interested in changing how I approach buying food that I've started a new blog today in which I plan to document and discuss my adventures in creating a more local and seasonal diet. I hope you'll check it out and join the adventure. :)

My thoughts about my art life basically fall into two categories: creating and marketing.

I want to be more creative. By this I mean that I want to allow myself to create more often, and to explore and experiment with new (to me) techniques and media, like printmaking and maybe even encaustics; and with ones that I used to do but have let fall by the wayside, like bookmaking and photography. I would also like to explore writing, and maybe take up knitting/crocheting too. And I want to create more often, and more deeply - stop getting in my own way. It seems like there's too much to do and so little time. But somehow I manage to find time to get sucked into a couple of hours of HGTV and/or the Food Network every day (thus the "watch less TV" mentioned above).

As for marketing, I want to create a good marketing plan, and stick to it! I'm usually pretty good about creating the plan. It's carrying out the plan that needs a little work. It usually starts off okay, but then I get bogged down in fear and second guessing and it grinds to a halt.

In the past few days I've come across a couple of great blogs to help me with many of these issues, so I thought I'd share them here with you.

Steve Pavlina's Personal Development for Smart People - so many great little essays on so many topics, from "How to Give Up Coffee" to "30 Days to Success" to "How to be an Early Riser" to "Living Congruently", and the list goes on. So much to explore.

Wishful Thinking, a blog by poet and business coach Mark McGuinness in the UK. Just great stuff on living the creative life.

And I found them through Accidental Creative, another great site about being a working creative.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Favorite Books of 2007

Last year at about this time, I listed some of my favorite reads of 2006. So, here are some of my favorite reads for 2007.

A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - what a great ride!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - so sad to see it end
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer - first of three books in the Twilight Saga, a young adult vampire series

Mystery/Thriller series
•I've already written a post about how much I loved All Mortal Flesh, the latest installment in the Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne mysteries by Julia Spencer Fleming. The next book in the series isn't due out until June of 2008. It is so hard to wait!

I discovered a couple of British mystery writers this year that I am enjoying very much.
•Philip Dryden mysteries by Jim Kelly, starting with The Water Clock
•Merrily Watkins mysteries by Phil Rickman - these officially begin with The Wine of Angels, but I couldn't find anything earlier than The Cure of Souls, which is the third book I think, but Rickman fills in the necessary background details in subtle ways so it's worked out okay. Now I'm reading the Prayer of the Night Shepherd.

Art Inspiration - there are a lot of these books out there, and so many are just not good. For that reason, I've taken to trying to check them out of the library instead of buying them. These two I bought while I was reading the library copies because I know I will return to them again and again.
Creative Authenticity by Ian Roberts - so many YES! moments
Poemcrazy by Susan G. Wooldridge - sends me scrambling for a notebook and pen because her words make me just have to write something, even though I do not claim to be a writer

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver – eye-opening account of just how messed up our (U.S.) food system really is. Very educational, but also very enjoyable, as Kingsolver and her family write about their year of eating only local food. Full of anecdotes, science, politics and recipes. Makes me want to focus on supporting the local food movement, and almost makes me wish I had a garden of my own (though I wouldn't know a thing about what to do with it). This book is providing the headliner for my new year's resolutions - BUY LOCAL!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Early December activities

Me in the doorway of my studio during the open studio (I'm talking our choirmaster Sheila, but you can't see her).

L-R: Debi & me, hanging one of the textile pieces for "Silence"; new Advent altarpiece ("Into Silence", approx. 13' x 5') and decorations; view along one wall of the exhibit

view into the expanded space of the gallery

These are photos of some of the things I've been working on the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, no photos from the artists' reception (sorry! my husband is usually the photographer, but his camera's batteries died), but I am looking into whether anybody else got photos of the event. If you did, and you're reading this, let me know!

It's been a lot of work, and a lot of socializing, and has resulted in me shutting down and getting reset to my factory setting of Introvert in a big way. So, I've not really been posting about all this great stuff, or really having much contact with anyone but my husband and my cats the past few days. I've gotten to my studio to paint (after an absence of nearly 3 weeks) for a couple of hours yesterday and today, and that's helping too.

Let me leave you with this great photo of Marlowe in his little shelter in the snow (taken the evening of Dec. 1st after we got home from the open studio). Our cats are indoor kitties, but Marlowe likes to go out on our balcony sometimes, and just BEGS to go out there when it snows.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Little Things

"Little Bird", monotype, 9" x 6", ©2007 Sold
- fastest sale on Etsy (for me) ever! -

This week's prompt for Illustration Friday is "little things". This little bird is a monotype I made using a gelatin plate, a fun method that I really want to explore more. But I haven't done anything with it since this little guy which I made a few months ago.

In addition to a visual response, this prompt also reflects the state of my mind, and the never-ending to-do list that's currently residing there, which is full of little (and not-so-little) things such as:
• clean the house
• make a grocery list
• Christmas shopping
• Christmas cards
• research new car
• get back to painting (I spoke too soon, Tracy)
• make a marketing plan for 2008
• make pay-it-forward pieces
• update various sites and blogs with various recent activities
• where the heck did I put those photo mailers? (see first item!)
• e-mail many people
• etc. etc. etc.

After the open studio on Saturday (which got almost completely snowed out), and the artists' reception last night, and all that went into making them happen, what I really feel like I need today is a day off. At least part of one. So, after I sign off here, I think I'm going to grab a book and head over to a coffee house so I'm not tempted by the to-do list and read for a couple of hours.

Psst! - More little things, like the bird above and these tiny paintings, can be found in my Etsy shop too. Just in time for Christmas!