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I made the picture BIG, because Libby lives life out loud.

You need to meet Libby.  She is wise and funny and has maintained her sense of humor every time life has kicked her in the whatever.  She will lift you up.

I recently met Libby who is a great friend of my older daughter.  I know how much Erica depends on her friendship and I was absolutely charmed.  Erica reads her blog.  Erica does not read MY blog, but she reads Libby’s.  After I started reading it, I knew why.

Libby is so darn creative.  And original.  She decorated her entire adorable home with Oops! paint.  Oops! paint is the stuff that people buy and return to the paint store because it’s the wrong color.  Erica says the paint store sells it for about $5 a gallon and Libby makes it work wonders.  I love found art and old things repurposed into something your never even thought of, so obviously I find this a triumph.

 I am a closet writer and do it because I love it and as I get older, and older, and older I am trying to do more of what I love without worrying so much about doing it perfectly.”   Does this philosophy sound familiar?  And wouldn’t everyone be happier if they gave this a go?

I write like a I talk so don’t expect smooth, glossy sentences or precise words.”  She does.  I spent many years teaching young writers to find and use their own voices.  Her voice is what makes reading her blog so much fun.  It is lively, bouncy, a bit self-deprecating, funny, and wise beyond her years.  It is also hopeful and real.

She is every bit as amazing a woman as Erica has always said.  I am so glad to know she will also be my friend. Just to give you a taste, I am going to simply steal one of her early blogs and publish it here–without permission. But I want to explain why I chose this one.

Erica has a group of friends who met at work and who lunch or party together.  They have named themselves the Cool Kids.  Because they, mistakenly, believe they are not.  They are now considering special T-shirts.  They rally around each other whenever one has a need.  They are the reason I only worry a little bit as my little girl goes through some life changing issues.  I suspect Libby named them because of this blog which hit home with me.  Maybe you, too.

Knock off jellies and Lee jeans

We never really escape high school.  It only takes one word, being left out of one conversation or one sneer before BAM!! You are suddenly 15 again.  Fifteen and gawky.  Fifteen and aching to fit in.  Fifteen and acutely aware of your social status –or rather lack of social status—in a clearly defined hierarchy.  Fifteen and pudgy.  Fifteen with braces.  Fifteen and pudgy AND with braces.  Fifteen with a bad perm—a really bad home perm, an-at-home-bought-off-the-clearance-shelf kind of bad perm.  Fifteen, pudgy, braced, frizzed and wearing knock off jellies.  Fifteen, pudgy, braced, frizzed, wearing knock off jellies and NOT wearing Gloria Vanderbilt jeans because GV obviously had no tooshie AT ALL because her jeans were ramrod straight and in no way compensated for a single curve.  I digress.  Okay.  Fifteen and: awkward, braced, frizzed, pudgy, with knock off jellies and Lee Jeans (oh God save us from Lee Jeans).  Standing in the cafeteria, alone, realizing that no one of your social level shares this particular lunch schedule.  Life doesn’t get any rougher then this moment.  The world stops.  The air sucks out of the room.  You know you have to take a step forward but you are unable to make your knock off jellies encased feet move.  The step forward means stepping by the ‘cool table’ full of muscles, letterman jackets, real jellies and GV jeans and long hair with bangs teased up to the stratosphere.  Another few steps and you would have to step by the wanna be cool table with letterman jackets, smaller muscles, a few more pimples, real jellies, tighter GV jeans and bangs teased and sprayed until they resemble weapons.  Further on you would have to pass the table fool of the aloof kids wearing black with sharpie tattoos on their hands.  The bow in your badly permed hair would serve as a bulls-eye for a rapid attack from the super-rebellious crowd.  Being mocked by them would cause wanna be table turn and stare secretly happy that their social status was one notch higher then yours which saved them from the verbal torture.  The cool kids wouldn’t lower themselves to look but they would be the first to ask a wanna be what the commotion was all about as soon as the lunch period was over.


This little walk down horror lane could continue indefinitely.  It was painful enough the first time. Why re-live it on purpose?  Oh yeah.  My original statement that for each of us there are things that immediately send us back to that high school feeling.  How sad is that?  How sad that at 41 year old woman I can be reduced to that low point in my life with a single slight?  How sad that no matter how old you are there is always a place where you don’t fit in?  There will always be a table that you can’t join.  Always a group that doesn’t want you as a part of it.  Always.  As adult women we just learn to navaigate away from those tables/groups.  We move on.  But I don’t think we ever move away from that adolescent girl.  Not far away anyway.

More Libby here.

More art and stuff later–

What Happened to March?

Yesterday was the 5th Weds. in a row that I have missed knitting at Charlotte Yarn with my yarn buddies.   Today I received a sweet note from Debbie making certain I am alright.  Truth to tell, I stay up too late, and sleep in most mornings.  I mean, like til 10:30 or 11.  I need to find some discipline.

When I do get up, and have coffee with my dogs, I do many things.  Lately it has been art and gardening.  I am succulent-obsessive and not afraid of any paint or ink on the market.  Look out world.

I do miss being in touch with friends, so I will try to blog a bit more.  If would please me greatly if I could encourage all of you to join me in this play.  I’ve even stopped thinking about what I would do with a piece I created.  I just leave them in my art journal and revisit them occasionally.

Here is some stuff I’ve done.  Check out the flickr link if you are looking for ideas.

Our favorite houseguest--Evan's fish named Red.  Who knew fish had such personality? Watercolor, what else?

Our favorite houseguest–Evan’s fish named Red. Who knew fish had such personality?
Watercolor, what else?


Actually it should be Terraria.  Evan is addicted to this video game and I like to be with him, so while he played and explained it to me, I added things to a page in one of my journals.  It was great fun.  Yes, I know it is ugly and I don't care.

Actually it should be Terraria. Evan is addicted to this video game and I like to be with him, so while he played and explained it to me, I added things to a page in one of my journals. It was great fun. Yes, I know it is ugly and I don’t care.

I had to make something to go with this quote I found.  One of our friend's sons wrote an essay about me and called me sassy.  I like that.  I kinda like this outfit, too,  It is scrapbook paper, but I drew the pockets on with a white Uniball Signo U-153 gel pen.  It is frightening how much I know about pens.

I had to make something to go with this quote I found. One of our friend’s sons wrote an essay about me and called me sassy. I like that. I kinda like this outfit, too, It is scrapbook paper, but I drew the pockets on with a white Uniball Signo U-153 gel pen. It is frightening how much I know about pens.

When was the last time you played with paperdolls?  If you are on flickr, search for paperdolls and you will be amazed.

More later–

Collage, Take two

String Bean.jpg

Like I said before, there are many kinds of collage.  This is less abstract and lots more fun than the ones I showed you in my last post.  This one combines lots of things I have learned.

It does have some cut and paste.  The beans are from New York magazine (a subscription made with airline miles).  Every month they have a column about an in-season veggie.  The photos are big and beautiful, so I save them.  The green figs came from another magazine ad.  The purple flower came from a third.  The hand came from a Somerset Publishing mag.  This is the kind of collage I did in high school.  Cut the pictures and put them together to say something.  Some people do wonderful things with this technique, but I have not yet really been successful at it.  So I did a bunch of things.

First I divided the paper into different size squares and rectangles.  I just painted them different colors.  The top left is a page from Steve’s old calculus text that I painted with yellow watercolor.  Most of the piece is watercolors because I like them.  The bottom right corner, inside the black and white checks, is a bit from the magazine article that defines a string bean.  I painted yellow watercolor over it.  (Would you be surprised to know that I always run out of yellow long before I run out of any other color?  It is such a happy color.)

I used my reverse tissue paper writing for the bottom left corner.  Just glued it on and hit it with a hot pink.  Top right corner is the lettering and more paint.  The beans are glued on but not in the middle.  Not real fond of symmetry in art.  I even wrote “No straight lines in Nature.” between the beans.  I added the figs for the color.  Then I added a piece of cloth.  Just beside the yellow bean is a piece of batik fabric I had on hand which has been stenciled with a Jane LaFazio stencil that I won.  I drew the bean plant (I have no idea what a bean plant really looks like, so just trust me here.)

Finally I filled in with mostly Zentangles which are so soothing to draw.  If you haven’t Googled Zentangles yet, do it!!!!  This is a fad, trend, whatever for everyone.  It is meditation that can be done anywhere, even crowded subways–if your town has subways.  There are no rules and no mistakes.  What are you waiting for?  I know you did something like this in the margin of your high school notebooks during boring lectures.

The finished piece  is kind of bizarre and very colorful.  Steve liked it enough to hang it in his kitchen.  Just like my knitting, I am not very emotionally attached to the finished product; I just like the fun involved in the making.

Psst!  I have been knitting, but I can’t talk about it yet.

Some other fun stuff.

Garden collage base

Garden collage base

Add some flowers and stuff that I drew and painted

Add some flowers and stuff that I drew and painted

Some tape with messages, some tangling and and drawing to connect the images.

Some tape with messages, some tangling and and drawing to connect the images.

The base for a piece done in an online class with Cathy Bluteau

The base for a piece done in an online class with Cathy Bluteau

The final collage.  Mostly cut paper, and pics of Bella and Jake.

The final collage. Mostly cut paper, and pics of Bella and Jake.

Collage has something for everyone

I have never been good at cut and paste. Wait. I cut well, but paste is usually a disaster. When Kate asked me to attend a collage workshop with her last fall, I decided try learn more about gluing paper together. Lord knows I have plenty of paper!

I tried some 6 x6 pages. Some were okay, some were stinky, one was really nice. Then I flew to Massachusetts to learn from Alexandra Sheldon. I hit some bumps in the workshop. Mixing acrylics was new to me and I wanted to use a new colorway. Took me half the workshop to find it. Also I was really annoyed about space and work areas. This let me know how spoiled I am, but also what I need to enjoy doing this. Both good lessons. Most of the work we did there was very abstract. Didn’t have to be, but it was. Since returning home I have done a bit of that, mostly finishing things I started there.

These two pieces share a fun technique anyone can do. Look closely at the pod shaped areas. They are stamped onto a background that was somewhat randomly painted. Very randomly actually. I made the stamps. In less than five minutes. Here’s how.


Materials needed–a piece of sticky backed foam (Michael’s), a piece of cardboard, a pencil, scissors.
Draw or trace the shape you want onto the foam. Carefully cut it out. Stick it to the cardboard. That’s it. Use paint or ink and stamp away. Commercial stamps are expensive. This isn’t. Think you can’t draw. Grab some cookie cutters and trace. A great way to make holiday stamps.
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If you are careful, you can also mount the negative image that was left from the cutout. Voila! Two stamps, no waste.

Check out the writing on the sides of each piece. This was my favorite discovery. Yes, it is backwards. Maybe I want you to have to work at finding out what I said. More likely, what I said was nonsense and I just like the way it looks. Here is how you do it.


Materials–tissue paper, pens or markers, a glue that dries clear. (I use Golden’s Soft Gel, but try whatever you have.)
Sit in front of the Tv and mindlessly write in you own handwriting. No need to be fancy. Printing works, too. Let the ink, paint dry. Turn the tissue upside down and glue it that way onto something else, like a card for someone. Put a layer of the glue over the whole piece. Let dry well. Call it art!


Here are some of the adhesives I use. I don’t like the ModPodge because it dries to a sticky surface. Maybe I don’t use it right. Lots of people like it. I am still best with a glue stick. They don’t spill.

The wire is a leftover from a jewelry project. I just poked holes in the collage with a needle and sort of sewed it in place. It is there to give your eye a path to travel. Sound kind of arty, don’t I?

If abstract isn’t your style, then I have some other ideas for you. I like to let my weird sense of humor loose once in a while.

More later–<

Make Good Art


I just read Neil Gaiman’s speech which he gave to graduates of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 2012. (Http://vimeo.com/42372767). The speech was put into book form by a graphic designer named Chip Kidd and I stumbled over it at the Morrison branch of our library. The book is all turquoise, orange, yellow, and red which gives it the quirkiness you usually find in Gaiman’s writing. (Coraline, the Sandman comics, Dr. Who scripts, et.al.)

The collaboration is a joyous mix of color and text and wisdom. The title is Make Good Art, and Gaiman’s was speaking to a room full of artists of all kinds. Considering my definition of art, he was speaking to every one of us.

The gist of the speech is “Follow your bliss” (Joseph Campbell), but said with great wit and laced with personal caveats. However, this morning the effect on me was to think about my personal definition of art.

What is art? IMHO

Make something. If it has an effect on someone else–love it, hate it, laugh with it, even puzzle over it–it’s Art. Creation + Effect. That’s all I require. Evaluating, critiquing, judging–a different process and not my concern.

I once made cupcakes for my daughter’s classmates. The kids ate them with gusto, inhaled them even. This was Not Art. It was merely eating cake mix food without noticing anything but the sugary taste.
20140110-114307.jpgToday there are shops which sell only cupcakes, and the customers consider each flavor carefully and admire each presentation. Then they purchase and eat with a smile, maybe even a moan. That is Art.

I knit. I follow a pattern–a recipe–a formula. But I choose the yarns, the color scheme, the buttons, the embellishments–even tweak the stitch pattern or alter the shape. I make Art.

I have a sketchbook. I draw. I’m not very skilled, but once in a while I draw something that makes someone connect and laugh (my favorite reaction). I made Art.


Steve cooks. Friends actually call and ask to come to dinner. He talks about flavor chords of food as he plans a meal. He uses white porcelain plates because he likes the way it shows the food. We eat, and sometimes we moan a bit. Yep. It’s Art.

So, go. Make Good Art. Your Art.

I would love to react to it if you want to share.

More later–


Happy New Year! We are delighted to be in 2014. Last year was a tough one for us, but this is a shiny new one with all kinds of possibilities.

I don’t make resolutions. They just invite failure to me and I don’t need the guilt. Instead I set goals. Any progress is positive, and no progress just indicates that I am still thinking.

This year getting back to my blog is one of my goals. I’ve learned so much this year about making things and have had so much fun. I can’t keep all that fun to myself. I did start back knitting a bit and still teach private lessons, but I don’t foresee any classes–unless someone invites me.

DD#1 and family board the plane tomorrow to return from 5 months in Chile. DD#2 is in the air as I type returning from a snowy after Christmas in Wisconsin. Steve and I have had a quiet holiday and we haven’t been lonely thanks to our wonderful neighbors.

I have been applying new collaging skills,



And figuring out how to adjust the too long side seam of a new knitted project.


More later–

South American Artwork

PS Painting on house Valparaiso (27)

Younger daughter and family visited older daughter and family who are in Chile on a Fulbright.  I am so proud of my grandsons who both remembered to get pictures of street art for Nana.  I thought I would share some of them with you.  I’m guessing everyone in Chile is an artist.

PS Valparaiso from funicularThis is Valparaiso and this is the required photo op there.  Taken from the top of the funicular railway, you get a good look at how hilly this city is.  The houses are painted lots of bright colors and decorated with art no matter how expensive the neighborhood.  Valparaiso is a World Heritage site.  I won’t be able to walk it, but I will find a nice cab driver.PS art on house Valparaiso (60)

This building is spectacular.  I love the dancing figures and the splash of gold paint.

PS Santiago (9)

This is an older art style on a building in Santiago.

PS The boys at Santa Lucia Park (2)This is Santa Lucia Park in Santiago.  Remember it is winter there, so the vines are dormant.  Looks a bit creepy, but I’ll bet it will be luscious when summer comes.

Sand art VinaSand art is big on the beaches at Vina del mar.

PS sand castle Vina del Mar we arrive in Chile (21)I had to share both of these.  I am amazed at this work and tortured by its impermanence.  Such skill.

PS Zentangle bird Valparaiso (56)Zentangle art is alive and well down South.

PS Pelicans Vina del Mar

Actually natural art is everywhere you look.  Meghan took this pic of pelicans near Erica’s home . . .

PS the Andes and La Cornisa (15)and this while they went skiing in the Andes.

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Can’t wait to go myself.

More later–

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