Tag Archives: Art

Happy Birthday to AIRL

Happy Birthday to AIRL

December 13, 2013 ,  Art in Real Life’s 2nd Birthday!!!  Woo!  Send in the clowns….NOT!


Art in Real Life so far has been a pretty in-depth study in discipline and perseverance.  Doing the work. Keeping my head in the game.  Following my heart.  Learning what makes me happy.


It has been a way to share a journey to find what happened to my artistic self over the last 25+ years.  What started out all enthusiastic ambition in my younger days got jaded and lost somewhere between art school and here. I lost the connection with that side of myself, and eventually handed over the trust I had in my own creative nature and declared,” I am not really an artist” out of fear of failure or judgement.  Fast forward to 2011 when I rediscovered that passion and started making up for lost time and Art in Real Life was born.


Making a mark, small or large, on canvas, paper, fabric, the internet or at a job, or at home takes a certain amount of bravery. It requires effort and intention and a lot of trust.  What everyone who has taken a risk and put themselves out there knows is that inspiration is in the doing. Which cultivates more creativity which gives one the courage to try something even more. Posting here in this arena about my personal journey back to creativity in real life has been a lesson in discipline, perseverance and bravery for me and hopefully offers a tiny bit of inspiration for anyone who may have given up on that voice.


Art in Real Life 2013 the year of ….

Handmade Weddings:  Wedding planner is not my profession but this was definitely the year of the wedding, no doubt. Our dreams were big but our time frames and budgets tight so we were forced  to look deep and roll up our sleeves.  Creative thinking, faith and a lot of glue took us from a couple of bland banquet halls to romantic colorful spaces filled with personality and meaningful moments.


Project 365: One of my favorite developments from this blog. Many versions of this project exist on the internet.  There is a website 365Project.org that does a good job of explaining why, in this world of instant everything, does it matter to take one photo every single day for a year of your life.  My Project 365 is not a product of any of those just a suggestion by an extremely talented photographer friend . Her level of photography puts me in my place but she inspired me to really take notice of the everyday happenings, no matter how mundane or messy, and pay attention.  I like that.   Sometimes it is just capturing one simple moment brings me back to that day and the back story.  Looking to keep up with that habit and go for Project 365 2014.  Discipline and  perseverance…

Day 307

Design for Real Life: Although 2013 was all about weddings (and cats if you look at my 365 Project!), I am looking forward to being more active in this particular aspect of my creative life in 2014.  Our company, Closet Factory, has the newest cutting edge drawing technology that presents some learning curves (for me!) but  through discipline and perseverance we have been able to offer this incredibly comprehensive tool our company to our clients.  Helping people beautify and organize their homes is another passion that takes a lot of discipline and perseverance on my part.


A.R.T.:  or Acts of Random Talent page is a place that I am using to curate inspiring artists’ work as I find them around the internet.  Hoping to create a collection of unexpected art that has its roots in real life.  People who, even though they may have come to their calling in a non-traditional way, have made the connection to that inner voice and have stepped into being the artists that they were meant to be.  Really, we are all artists.

alexa meade

Gallery: It hasn’t been all weddings and cats but there has been some actual “visual art” happening around here, too. There have been paintings and classes just not so much on the gallery page.Studio renovations as well as house, food, fabric and yard projects have been a big part of the year, too!


Thank you so much for being a reader, (even if you are related to me in some way and just feel obligated!)  I am ever so grateful for your time. I am aware there is a lot of ways to spend your screen time. Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you will leave me a birthday comment if you have a moment.  I would consider it to be a wonderful gift. You could even subscribe and get an update in your inbox when there is something new here if you want…extra special thank you to my “inner circle” of subscribers!  Love you guys!


Here’s to the next 365 days of Art in Real Life!  Do something powerful and creative – be yourself!

RVA in a day…

RVA in a day…

Saturday it was “Amber Day in RVA”.

close Amber Day

My “niece” just moved back to Richmond after living mostly in Baltimore for the last 8 years so we took her on one of  those whirlwind tours you do when you have out of town guests that need to see it all in a day.  Impossible, of course, but we sure had fun trying…


After checking out Manchester, Shockoe Bottom, and Churchill we caught this view of downtown RVA straight down Main Street  from Libby Hill Park,

jefferson ceiling

Beautifully ornate stained glass ceiling in the Palm Court of the historical landmark Jefferson Hotel.

Jefferson tree

Two lovelies reflecting on the HUGE Christmas tree at the foot of the Grand Staircase.

Jefferson big tree

Did I mention it was HUGE?

Amber World of Mirth

After lunch in Carytown and a stop at World of Mirth

Chihuly boat1

…it was on to the Virgninia Museum of Fine Art to see the Dale Chihuly exhibit. The very first gallery was jaw-dropping stunning. Inspired by Japanese glass fishing bouys and Chihuly’s own water installations being gathered up in rowboats after their use, the combination of space-alien-twists, weathered wood fishing boats, reflections, blazing candy-shop color, textures, other-worldly orbs – just captivating!chihuly overhead

This installation in a hallway gallery was like being in a fabulous modern aquarium filled with swimming glass creatures overhead…So much energy and shared enthusiasm as everyone was like a little kid pointing up and trying not to squeal  “Look at that!” too loudly! Chihuly ceiling

Now this is my kind of gallery!


Chihuly’s collection of 100 Pendleton blankets that inspired him with their unique color and patterns.  Who wouldn’t be?  They are gorgeous!chihuly forest

This was called the “Forest” …

Chihuly shadow

…and the shadows were as dazzling as the glowing pieces themselves.

chihuly seascape

What?!?!  This was crazy! Hypnotizing!  None of the pictures, of course, can do it justice, but I could not stop taking them.  I couldn’t look away or leave the room. His largest platform installation to date, it was like a barge full of these dynamic sea creature inspired glass figures from which I could not turn away.

chihuly seascape close

His beautifully formed blown glass is mesmerizing but please! Just look at that  giant chunk of turquoise glass!!!!  Mama mia!

chihuly white balloons

Good grief!

chihuly neon

Neon!  Duh! Color. Glass. This piece was the size of a small room, by the way!

chihuly blue reeds

Blue reeds on logs….who knew?

chihuly red reeds

Red reeds outside in the pond….enchanting.  The exhibit is sheer brilliance in more than one definition of the word.  I  am grateful I was able to visit in person.  We were charmed beyond our expectations.

Tap room yoga

Our day was not all about eye-candy.  Girls have to eat you know!  There was French food for lunch, Indian for dinner with some Starbucks in between but the food highlight of the day had to be the new Olive Oil Taproom in Short Pump!  What a delightful, not to mention delicious, experience!

olive oil vats

We tasted from most of the forty-seven vats including Pumpkin Spice,  Blackberry, Strawberry, Pomegranate and Espresso Balsamic vinegars as well as Garlic, Herbs d’Provence and Chipotle Olive Oils, just to name a few. HEAVEN! on Earth!

la olive room

Not all were total winners – coconut balsamic vinegar and the butter flavored olive oil didn’t quite pass the test – but we happily had our share and were practically bathing in the stuff toward the end. We left with several bottles to enjoy later and an education in all things olive oil.  Definitely will be back there soon!  (I have to give credit to another niece who gave me a few bottles from here for Christmas for the idea! Thanks so much!)

Love love to explore my “hometown” through the eyes of a visitor. So much we didn’t  get to do. Oh well, we have already started planning our next “Amber Day in RVA”. On the list …St. John’s church, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, the rest of the VMFA, the shops on Grove, the Pony Pasture and “Hot Donuts Now!” at Krispy Kreme  – Did you know there’s an app for that? What else?!

Let me know what your favorite “must see” is in RVA!


PS – Check out my newest page – 365 Project – where I am posting a photo a day for the year thanks to my photog pal Kelly Nentwich.  Her inspiring work can be found on her blog Kelly Nentwich Photography.




Altered Page Today

Altered Page Today


altered page

If you are visiting here for the first time by way of Seth’s blog, WELCOME!  Thank you for coming. Make yourself comfortable and take a look around.  Art in Real Life is in its infancy but is growing all the time  We have been learning to walk this year and hope to cover more ground in 2013.  To my regular readers….

Today, my 5 x 5 piece is one of 10 featured on Seth Apter’s blog,  The Altered Page. There are some amazing artists sharing that space this morning.  If you are the least bit smitten with mixed media art,  this blog is a wealth of images, artists and links to wonderful people and places all over the internet.

Seth does crazy good mixed media pieces himself, using metal, paper, wax, wire, string and more. He is based in NYC as an author, an artist, a psychologist (really!) and a friend to all artists.  I am forever grateful for his unselfish hand up on this journey. Seth has been a supporter, mentor and a “virtual” friend. We met on the internet and one day I hope to meet in the real world. Who says social media isn’t social?!  I am a big fan.

DSCN0213 (2)

I copied this from the original post when I found out I was one of 18 selected to be published in the magazine:

“Where have you been?” seemed like what my art would say to me if it could talk.  Good question! Where HAVE I been and what have I been doing as far as being an artist goes?  Although I have spent a great deal of my life being creative in many ways, it hasn’t been until the last couple of years that I have been open to rediscovering my “artsy” self.  I have stored, packed, moved and lived with art supplies that I have not used much since art school over the years.  I must have known that my time was coming…

Please leave a comment and a link to your site, if you have one. I am having such a great time on this journey and would to “virtually” meet you. Who knows where it may lead…

Happy Holidays….


Walking Art part 2….

Walking Art part 2….

medium display

Tah-dah!  There you go…sticks and stones….that funky twig-covered plaster and brick-filled Goodwill box doing its thing supporting the fused plastic bag that I entered in the CBAG (he-he) All Member Recycled Art show…  Think about what the bag would have looked like without that display!   No question the bag benefited by its elevated status. My sleep benefited knowing that the bag wasn’t sagging over or wondering if the handle was posing in an awkward position or if the whole thing may have just flopped right off the pedestal somehow.

amber view

There were some interesting pieces in this show and I was curious to know more about the artist and the pieces – what they were made of, why did they choose those items, is there a story behind it?  Some were kind of obvious but others begged for more information. Instead, gallery protocol called for a piece of paper with a list of the following information –

  • a number (which corresponded to a sticker on the piece)
  • the artist’s name
  • name of piece
  • price.

fish art

Now, I must admit, I have never been much of a gallery girl. This is really the “why” of  Art in Real Life.  Don’t get me wrong. I love looking at art and definitely appreciate fine art but I have found the whole gallery experience, sometimes, to be a little dry.  Sterile. OK,  boring.  Maybe even pretentious. Nothing wrong with solitude and quiet contemplation especially in the presence of awe-worthy masterpieces of historical significance or sensitive subject matter.

However, for the everyday person who enjoys the expressive nature and creative talents of real people, not unlike themselves, who have managed to find a way to channel that nature, the gallery environment can tend to come across as detached and disconnected.  There can be, in my experience, a separation of the viewer from the art in that environment. Of course, I am not suggesting that every art show should be a keg party and I totally get that not everyone feels the same way or that every gallery is the same, obviously. I am talking about the customary gallery experience.

I am just letting you know, Art in Real Life is all about good art, for sure, but it’s more about fun art not necessarily fine art. Breaking down the stiffness of the gallery experience by taking art off of the “pedestal” so to speak (ha! – that’s ironic!) and inspiring a spark in those who may be thinking “I could never do that!’  For me,  It’s just art – it should be fun!  There.  I said it.

closeup tag

I fudged the non-info rule a little by incorporating a tag on the piece to share something about the materials and my website.  The show is up for the month of December so I am curious how anyone who wanders in would know anything at all about these pieces.

closeup bag

Therefore, allow me to share some of the Art in Real Life experience about my bag here (see Part 1 about the stand here) – turquoise, yellow, red and black.  Those colors just jumped out at me from my hoarded stash of plastic bags. Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper sleeves as well as my favorite turquoise bags from a surf shop in Virginia Beach and red Target Christmas bags make up the exterior body.  The black is recycled curtain material from my fabric stash I’ve had since I was sewed curtains for a living back in the day.  It was turned inside-out so that the printed pattern doesn’t show.  The fabric has a nice heavy hand and gave the bag the weight it needed to elevate the feel of the plastic. The feathers are all hand embroidered with thread that I have kept  for well over 20 years when I was doing embroidered samplers and cross stitch. Mounted at a slight diagonal, one feather has a buttonhole and acts as a closure along with a recycled button from one of my mom’s classic trench coats.art handle

This is the only photo of the bird on the strap, so I am including it, because the feathers on the bag relate back to my brown foil coffee bag bird and his turquoise wing. Unfortunately,there are a few pictures shot in a “soft focus” effect because I got a new camera (yea!) but I am still clumsily learning how to not change the settings accidentally(boo!!) or film unintentional videos!!    We’ll move on now…handle inThe text that is on the handle was created using a technique printing on muslin fused to freezer paper.. Inside, where you can’t see here, is a pocket with a sepia version of the photo on my “About” page peeking out.handle real lifePersonally, there is something about the mix of the fabric, thread and plastic that just makes me happy. Mixed media, baby!.  Just like the black painted wood, the natural look of the twigs and the shiny black glass rocks.  Love the combinations.  Come to think of it, a good casserole gets me going as well!

wide bag displaySee that cool framed piece on the far wall? That is the fabulous work of my sister artist Tresa from Art Junkie @ Rockstockonline.com. Check out her custom stamped stone trivets and coasters there, as well.  They suck! (moisture, that is, from your glass….like a coaster is supposed to!)


How cool is this!?  Her whole piece was a collection of samples of the many wonderful leather cuffs she makes from recycled leather belts.  She can customize the color, the width, the metal, the words, any of it for you.  She’s got great stories about how she uses her talent to help raise money for charities. Pretty awesome! The frames are from Goodwill and the hangers are more belts, obviously, connecting the two frames together.close tbpiece

She was able to sneak a little information in her piece, too.  We never were good at following the crowd.

quilt descriptionThis art quilt did have an explanation of her piece pinned to it.  It was awesome to read why she chose the images she did and how they all came to be put together in this piece. (Rule breaker!)

glass fiber fisheriesThe bag on the table was by the same artist.  I think she may want to talk to someone about her display.  Just saying….

lee sunset


fisheries jewelryThere were paintings with driftwood, shells and nylon line embedded in them, jewelry made from pieces parts of collected items cleverly displayed hanging on a painting…

magazine boat

…yachts made from rolled magazine pages incorporated into paintings….  Lots of creativity and I am sure some very interesting stories.alan galleryWalking on with the art…. the next gallery  was a bit more lively probably because there was wine!  The gallery was showcasing the work of students from  the workshops that had been taught there over the past year.  Nice idea.portrait sittingThis lady was drawing pastel portraits in exchange for a $5. donation to the Colonial Beach High School Art program.  She had a presence and stories.  She told us great little tid bits about her husband and her drawing circle that meets on Thursdays at this gallery to figure draw with a model….clothed, of course!  She wanted us to know…(note the return of the “soft focus” effect. Dang it!)portrait finishedNext we hung out at a pottery studio down the street. There are all different kinds of artists and crafters who rent spaces there – jewelers, stained glass artists, painters, potters.dulcimer trioThe live music set a Christmasy mood and there were lots of things for sale -jewelry, stained glass, wood, pottery and…duct tape bags…duct tape purses.  My niece’s favorite! They were really cute – the purses and my niece!  riverviewentranceAs we headed out to the next venue, an Art Deco style motel, probably from the 60’s, we heard music in the air.  We had heard it earlier and couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from.  Not the spots in town where bands usually play but somewhere totally new.  It sounded like some place we might want to be.riverview windowThe motel front office was a tiny space and it was cram packed with art and people.  The manager happened to be the artist.  She was a lively fun person you could tell. Her art was encaustics and paintings.  That’s her in the hat.motel room galleryThen there was art hanging in a room of the motel behind the office that you accessed by walking through a store room of sorts.  OK, interesting if not awkward…definitely not pretentious and stiff. riverview roomGood way to show the rooms in the motel, I suppose…santas workshopBack outside, that music was still playing and the wine decorations were making us feel a little more festive as we art walked on.visions exteriorThere were a couple of more stops on the tour including this shop and a gallery next door.visions interiorTons of food and candy with a lot of people packed in this tiny space. Almost too crowded to enjoy but it was nice. The owner is an artist of some local acclaim and a member of the Guild. One cool feature of Colonial Beach is that it is a golf cart community, so we climbed back on our ride and headed out. That music was still playing and really calling us by now so we headed in that direction to see what it was.populuxe exteriorAnd look what we found!  A full out blues band – Big Money – playing in the parking lot of a new venue that was not on the CBAG (he-he) list!  Populuxe! Who knew?  It was a kitschy, lively, crazy stylish, FUN venue that was holding court on this side of town.sock monkey

Cool curated vignettes everywhere…populuxe interiorOkay, I really have to apologize. These photos are pretty bad because they were taken with my phone. Of course, my camera battery died and I was freaking out at how cool this place was.  I needed pictures! Great mood lighting, but not for cell-phone-tography!  One advantage of bright overhead fluorescent lighting in a government meeting room, right?dominic populuxeThat’s Dominic, a DC attorney, tending bar and Charlene, his wife, who opened in this location recently. They were both very welcoming and they obviously had their own unique style and point of view.   An artist friend of theirs was taking pictures and she had work hanging in their shop. (That’s a piece on the wall beside Dominic) She and her partner stage the photograph with models, clothing, hair, etc. and then create these unique wooden pieces.  I could not photograph it at all with my phone but they were cool.  Again, it was nice to hear the story about how they conceived the idea and what went into them.

Our hosts were pretty busy and there was so much going on that we only had a few moments to talk but they used to be down on “gallery row”, I’ll call it,  where we just were – but found they felt more at home in this location.  There is a story there, I feel sure.  They also have founded a blues society in Colonial Beach and are planning events for that!

Another artist, unrelated to Populuxe, as far as I know, has a studio in the same building, but his gallery was not open this night. There is definitely some art mojo happening on this side of town.  A different vibe…intriguing..

Little Colonial Beach, VA with a rocking Art Walk!  Who knew?   I have been a visitor there for the last decade but this was my first Walking Art experience. The scope of venues and art was wide-reaching.  The people all interesting and unique.

2013 holds lots of promise!

Thanks for coming along…






Walking Art Part 1…

Walking Art Part 1…

Colonial Beach, VA is a lovely small town on the Potomac River on the Northern Neck of Virginia. Back in October, I joined over 85 artists as a member of the Colonial Beach Artist Guild – fondly known as CBAG (maybe should have thought that name through just a little more, ya’ think?)  The second Friday of every month, they host the Colonial Beach Art Walk.

For December this year, as part of the Art Walk, CBAG (he-he!) hosted an all-member show featuring recycled art at the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in town. A large empty meeting room with lots of wall space graciously serves as a gallery. Being that I am all about creating art and basically making something from close to nothing, I committed to putting a piece in the show.  There’s a first time for everything!

artwalk cbag img

Making a bag out of recycled fused plastic bags was the perfect choice for this show so I got busy designing and creating something to represent Art in Real Life in a public way. (More about that process can be found here.) Information about exactly how was it going to be displayed, however, was scarce.  Sitting on a table?  On a pedestal? Should I hang it on the wall? Because I wanted some control over the way it ended up being viewed – I decided to build a custom table-top display from which it could hang. Seemed simple enough…

After searching all over Pinterest and Google, I found virtually nothing except for one craft show blogger who had made a multi-purse display using a clay pot as the base with PVC pipes, configured like tree branches, coming up out of it. I knew I didn’t want that look although the basic structure seemed like a good place to start. My idea was more of a wooden box with some sort of a metal or wooden arm coming up out of it to hang the bag on. I headed to Goodwill, my go-to place for anything quirky, and started looking for some kind of an open wooden box . Within 10 minutes,  there it was, almost exactly what I was imagining.  It was weird.  Like someone knew what I was going to need and put it on the shelf. I wanted an open wooden box and I got an open wooden box. It was not quite as big as I originally was thinking but I decided that I could compensate for that in the design by beefing it up with an applied treatment of some kind.

box elements

After a little trial and error with some different materials, I determined to make the display “nature inspired” to contrast with the “plastic nature” of the bag itself. Cut branches had the potential to be too country rustic looking but I was hoping that by painting them all black and using some linear cues in the design, it would come across more modern rustic. The woods behind my house provided a perfect supply of enough small diameter branches to cover the box and one pretty sturdy “arm” with a perfectly shaped “crotch” to hold the bag.  I ended up cutting all 83 branches by hand with a miter saw in equal lengths about 5 1/2 inches long.  The more I looked at the inconsistency of the bark on the branches and thinking about painting them black, I decided I needed to go that extra step to peel off the bark and sand each one. Criminy!

sandpaper stix

So much fun! Sanding each and every twig both by hand and with a power sander was a precious 3-4 hours of my life I will never get back.  Worth it, for sure, had to be done, but as always, much more work than you can possibly anticipate.

cutting legs

Using some scrap wood that was hanging out in the shed from an old project, Mr. Man cut a few square blocks for the legs.  He’s helpful that way. He holds his tongue just right!

attaching feet

Wanting to expand the visual space that the base took up, I needed to mount the legs so that a part of them extended beyond the box bottom and lined up with the twigs surrounding the sides.  The only way to accomplish that was to add   some cardboard filler underneath in the recess of the box’s bottom to support the legs.  E6000 is my friend. If it is possible to love an adhesive…I do.

weighted box

Once that was done, I used more E6000 to glue the blocks on to the box bottom, added masking tape to hold them in place, flipped the box over, added a brick and a 4 lb. box of plaster to weigh the box down onto the legs while the glue dried overnight.

prepainted box

Next day, we double secured the legs to the box by drilling holes from the inside and screwing them on. After a good sanding it was on to painting.

gluing sticks

I spray painted the exterior black before attaching the twigs so that any gaps between them would be less likely to stand out.

Here’s a little gluing tip I learned somewhere – E-6000 is a super strong adhesive but it takes awhile to set up. I used a bead of hot glue, which hardens pretty quickly but doesn’t really have the best long term binding abilities, along side the bead of E-6000, which will virtually last forever, to hold the twig in place while it dried. Two glues, serving two different purposes, working together.  Kum-ba-ya….

post glued stix

I lined all of the twigs up at the base in a straight line even with the top of the legs then allowed the top edge to be more naturally free form. The blunt sanded flat tops are organic but with a modern edge. I like it.

painted stix

Using the brick to hold it up, the arm got spray painted black but I just couldn’t bring myself to paint the smaller twigs on the box! I loved the look of the wood and the black together.  I decided to reserve my option to paint them if I didn’t like the way the whole thing looked once it was together.

brick box2

Final use of the brick, and its permanent home, was inside the plastic lined box.  I lined the center hole of the brick with a cardboard paper towel tube cut down the side and taped so that it would fit around the arm to give it some support.  I also wanted to make sure that the stick/arm could be switched out to another size or shape to accommodate a different hanging piece. The plastic lining is in there so that #1) the plaster didn’t unexpectedly start leaking out of the sides/bottom of the box and #2) I actually have a secret hope that the whole inner block will be able to be lifted out and the box used for something totally different in the future, if needed.  Way too much sweat and love for a one time display!

pouring plaster

Next, my girl and I had a science lesson all about plaster.  Who knew?  It is a fascinating material that I am sure I am going to use more and more.  Especially in encaustics,  when I get a chance, as well as painting.  We learned all about air bubbles, heat, setting time, gypsum, different types of plaster for different uses, molds, etc.  Ours was just a box from the local craft store.  Have no idea what kind it was or special properties it might have and there are many cool types that serve different needs, but it worked!  We naively thought at first that we would only have to use one of the four 1 lb. bags to fill the inside since there was that big brick in there.  Ha!  We used all four bags and were thinking we would have to run out and get more!  Actually, in the end, it turned out to be the perfect amount to leave room for the  final embellishment. – black floral marbles.  Again, funny how it all works out like that!

black marbles

All along, I was thinking shiny black aquarium gravel or fire pit glass or smooth black rocks to cover the surface of the plaster base to the top edge of the wood box. Of course, I would have had to make another trip out to buy that. Then I started searching around the house and found the perfect solution.  I had two bags of these black floral marbles, still in the bags, from some past project that never happened, in a basket in my laundry room!  Honestly, it’s like they were made for this piece!  After looking at the contrast with the natural wood and the shiny black glass, I was convinced not to paint the sticks.  What do you think?

finished box

Here is the almost final result….still needing touch-up paint on the all of the black and the cardboard tube.There’s also a little sneak peek of the bag. Total cost of materials to make the display: $3.25 for the box, about $6 for the plaster, $3.00 for the tube of E-6000, brick, sticks and marbles $0.  For around $12, and a solid 9 – 10 hours of work, exactly what I needed came to be. (Total cost of the bag? Almost $0 in materials but easily 12 hours of work – check that out in Part 2)

I am convinced I could never have found something ready-made that I like as well or is as perfectly suited to my project for any amount of love or money.  If I had hired someone to make it, I could never have afforded to pay them what their time would have been worth. I had to put a price on it for the show. That was a hard one.  I picked $210. but that’s not nearly what the time I put in is worth. It was very much a labor of love just to get what I wanted not to mention  incredibly satisfying and magical to see an idea come to life as you find creative solutions all around you along the way.  Truly Art in Real Life…the pieces were all there, they just needed to come together with some creative help.

Coming up –  Walking Art Part 2 -the finished piece all together with the bag on display….let’s go on the CBAG Art Walk and see what the Beach art scene has to offer. It was a whole lot of fun!

Until then, got ideas? Start somewhere and see what happens -Peace and love –


How good does it get?!

How good does it get?!

Pretty darned good, actually!

This past week, we took a much needed family vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a place I have been going to since I was a little girl. However, it has been a while since our family has been there for a week long stay.

We started on Saturday with a wonderful afternoon courtesy of  Virginia Beach Horseback and our trip just got better and better…..

I can’t say enough about Chase, the owner, the guides and the beautiful, well-trained, patient animals (many of them rescues, I might add)  that made our oceanfront ride so good

Quite the posse! Helmets really need to be redesigned to be a little bit cooler, don’t you think?  After a rockfish dinner on Rudee Inlet, we drove all the way down to Hatteras Village for the first night. There is a clear sense that you have left it all behind when you cross the Herbert C. Bonner bridge.

(If you know this bridge, you know that this is actually on the way back but it was dark on the way there!)

This was our view from our hotel room the next morning...really good stuff!

Among our stops as we headed back north to Duck, where we were staying for the week, the old Hatteras weather station….

and, of course, the Hatteras Light…

and the outlets…

What is with all the BIG chairs on the OBX?  So many…I stopped taking pictures….

and don’t even get me started on the GIANT flip flops! Really kind of disturbing…

Spent some time playing with watercolors on the beach a la Alisa Burke style ….just good FUN!

Every sunset at our condo was unique and breathtaking.  Really good.

Gorgeous art in real life.  Can’t beat Mother Nature! But sunset also meant a visit from the resident foxes…even better!  Such faces!

Speaking of foxes….here’s where it gets really good, better and the best.…on one special (happened to be what would have been my parents’ 72nd anniversary – miss them!) random afternoon excursion waiting for the cloudy weather to pass,  I stumbled onto what appeared to be a painting class in progress while window shopping in Corolla.  Dying of curiosity, I walked all around what turned out to be a restaurant closed for the season with a sign on the door that said “private event”.  Now – I HAD to know what I was missing, so I went back around to the front to get a better look and as I peered in the plate glass I found myself face to face with someone at an easel who looked an awful lot like Melody Ross from the Brave Girls Club!  But how could that be?  She lives in Idaho!  After some pantomined gestures between  my husband and this woman – who thought he wanted to know if she was married as she pointed at her wedding ring! – she graciously came out to say hello and sure enough, it WAS Melody!   I must admit, I was a bit star struck mainly because I just couldn’t believe it!  It happened to be her birthday and she was at Squam by the Sea right there in the OBX.  Not only that, the painting class was being taught by none other than Flora Bowley!!!  If you recall the post from here..  I just took her first online class!  It was really a strange and complex moment for me.  I would have loved to explain to Melody just how significantly her classes have impacted how I view myself as an artist. How her approach to making art something non-threatening, easy going, FUN and personally rewarding is the motivation for me to teach classes and help reach out to those of us who have forgotten that we are all uniquely creative. The truth is, if it weren’t for her, you probably would not be reading this blog right now. Because of her and the connections I made through her classes, Art in Real Life exists. It was just so surreal. But I didn’t want to take her away from her class any longer than I already had and I was so unprepared for that moment.  So, I wished her a happy birthday, got our photo taken (do I look like deer in the headlights or what!?)and she went back to her class. Once inside, she said something to Flora and they both smiled and waved as we left.  Really really GOOD!  Right?  But wait…there’s more….it gets even better….

When we got back to our condo later that night, there was an email from Seth Apter, a well respected mixed media artist (and psychologist) in NYC whose blog, The Altered Page, has been another hugely significant influence for me.  Earlier this year, I sent him a 5×5 inch encaustic work as part of an “open call” he held to tie-in with the release of his book called “The Pulse of Mixed Media”.  The content was gleaned from questions he had asked artists from all over the internet about different aspects of producing art and being an artist.  His offer was to be an extention of the collaboration as part of the book tour by answering one of three questions from the book in a 5×5 piece of art.  Exactly how this collaboration would end up manifesting itself was not clear (even to him!) but somehow he would feature the pieces on his blog in one manner or another. So, I thought, what the heck, why not?  I felt, at the time, a little intimidated but in the end that it was like releasing a message to the universe that I am here, I am working and I am ready to be a part of something bigger.  So grateful that the internet does make that possible.  So grateful that guys like Seth make that possible!

In the email I got that night, Seth said that all of the pieces he reeived are going to be featured every Sunday in November and December on his blog!  Yea! But the most surprising and awesome part, the icing on the cake, is that out of all of the 110 pieces of 5×5 art he received, 18 were going to be featured in the Nov/Dec issue of Sommerset Studio Magazine.  And guess who was included in that 18?  That’s right!  Little ole me! What?!  Not in a million years was I expecting that – didn’t even know it was a possibility – but what an honor!  So many talented creative artists sent in their work but for whatever reason my little 5×5 caught someone’s eye for this project. I am thrilled to be included in the same magazine as Seth much less in an article featuring his incredibly generous way of giving artists a hand up in so many ways.  He is truly a GOOD guy!

Believe me, I ordered a copy that night and a post will be coming when I have a chance to absorb it all.  It hits news stands November 1st….

How does it get any better than that?  What a great vacation…great family time…great beach time...great art in real life…and messages that I am definitely paying attention to.

Life is GOOD!

Love love….




Faux Stained Glass Fun….

Faux Stained Glass Fun….
Our latest teen class was an experiment in faux stained glass.   The process was tedious at times but with a little patience paired with some good old fashioned trial and error we came out happy- SUCCESS!  Our goal always being to try something new, learn something new and have a great time.
We offer our experience for your viewing pleasure…
Starting with some thrift shop finds – frames with glass or plexiglass – read on to see the advantages and disadvantages we found with each – we pitched the “art” and cleaned the glass.   The only other supplies aside from a paintbrush and wooden skewer were white glue, clear school glue and acrylic paint.
After printing out an image (Harry Potter fans here!)or drawing one of our own designs, a few teaspoons of  black acrylic paint were added right into the squeeze bottle of white glue.  Using the wooden skewer we mixed the two together, adding more black paint as needed.  Placing the design under the glass, we squeezed the black glue out using the tip of the bottle to draw the “lead lines”.  This is where it got a little challenging.  
The glue spread out more than we expected but we used the tip of a wooded skewer to detail the designs, wiping it off on a paper towel as we worked.  Could be difficult with a very detailed design.
As you can see, I didn’t actually follow the lines.  Fortunately, the glue is pretty forgiving  with a long workable time.  That’s a good thing as you will see by the end, I had to change the design.  I did not like the ART in the middle and moved it to the top.  (I wonder if hot glue would work and then painted?)
We spent a few hours working on this phase of the project and then left it to dry for a few days.
PLEXIGLASS vs. GLASS – one advantage of the plexiglass over the real glass, is that it will not break.  One of my students gets big time credit!  Her glass broke, not once, but twice!  She started over THREE times over the course of the week.  Fortunately, she wasn’t completely done either time it broke.  Hard to say why they broke, too.  She was very careful handling it and others with glass didn’t have any problem at all.  Small nicks or cracks on the edges of the glass and pressure – I guess!  One was the thrift shop glass and one was a new piece from the dollar store.  Still, there could be stress cracks that you just don’t know about.  
The next week we added the colored “glass” to the designs.  We mixed acrylic paint of our color choice (a teaspoon or so) with clear school glue (perhaps 1/4 cup).  We used Costco apple packaging for a pallet.  Those things are tough and HUGE.  I hate just throwing them away without finding another use for them. They work great at protecting the apples but they also are a handy pallet! 
Adding the color was fairly straight forward  – fill in the blanks like a coloring book.  If paint got on the black, it was easy to wipe off with a dampened q-tip or paper towel on the end of a skewer.  (The cardboard you see is under the glass just for padding while painting.)
Painting in between the lettering was difficult.  This is not out of focus so much as the lines are blurred by the background paint that ends up on the letters no matter how hard you try not to get it on them.  Finally, we just didn’t fight it any more.  Easily cured by using a Sharpie when it was all good and dry.
PLEXIGLASS vs. GLASS: Here is where the plexiglass has a disadvantage.  Sometimes, in the big areas of color, the plexi seemed to resist the paint/glue mixture.  It sort of separated and left blank spots.  This was overcome by allowing the paint to dry and recoating.  Some misting with water and dipping of the brush in water helped to blend the stickier spots.
In the end, we were all happy with the overall affect.  Using a more traditional stained glass design, bringing the “lead lines” to the sides of the glass and having them all interconnect  would probably give a more realistic stained glass look.
FUN, interesting, and satisfying!   What else could you ask from an art project?  
Until next time….

Capri Sun Art!

Capri Sun Art!

Holy Smokes! Do you have any idea how many Capri Suns hot sweaty kids on a soccer field can drink in a season? TONS!   My trunk was full of all of the empty cases, flattened out, headed for the recycle bin.  Or not… They kept calling to me as perfect painting surfaces to something on….so, I kept them….all…yes, along with all of those plastic bags, I know, I know, I am a borderline hoarder!  That’s been established!

Knowing I wanted to paint them, I started by sanding the shine off the boxes. For the “cover”, I used one whole box  and then dissected the rest into “pages” for the book.

Primed with gesso…

…painted with acrylic paint and

taped the edges of the cover with masking tape.

… prepped “pages” and some stenciling on the inside cover…

Then, using the awl, punched some holes, and started adding grommets…34 in all…

Not exactly my favorite part of the project…

After that all dried, it was on to the mixed media mayhem -my favorite part!  Playing with paint, india inks, oil pastels, rub-ons, stamping, sewing, washi tapes, modeling paste, stencils, watercolor, masking tape, wire – you name it!  SO. MUCH. FUN!

adding inclusions, sewing, and typed text from my turquoise Smith Corona….

 and embossing powder…

…glitter and collage…

…more modeling paste, paint and more inclusions…

…stamping with handmade stamps made from flip-flops, paint, stencils, distress ink, tags…

…beads, felt, paint, fabric, and a fork cut-out from a Trader Joe’s bag…

…inspired by the Brave Intuitive You class I took with Flora Bowley…

…collage, stamps and dimensional butterflies cut from a stencil…

…fabric run through the printer, ruffles, masking tape, tissue, thread, wire, dictionary pages, doodles and text…


…it all adds up to a fat, pouffy, book of goodness!  Is it fine art that you will find in a gallery? Not so much.  Is it technically challenging and hard to do? Not at all!  It was FUN art!  I loved working on it and now just holding it and looking through it makes me extremely happy!  Capri Suns will never look the same!

In fact, the truth is, they don’t! The new Capri Sun cases are not built the same as these!  I couldn’t believe it when I saw them in the store!  Must be the first time in a decade they have changed the design!  Could not do this the same way with the new case design but I am sure there are alternatives.

So, look through your recycling bin or just around your house for something that might be the perfect base for a FUN fantastic project!  What so you think you will make?

See you next time…(hopefully, sooner than later!)