Thursday, December 31, 2009

Art on a Scarf

You've heard of "soap-on-a-rope" - this is art on a scarf. My art! Another delightful holiday gift from my wonderful Margot. She transferred pictures of my type trays that I did for Open Studios onto silk panels, then assembled them into this lovely scarf complete with jazzy gold fringe. Now I can wear my art around my neck. It's a real treat to live with someone who is so talented.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

Just a bit of a departure this last Wednesday of the year. Not about what's in the cigar boxes, but where to get them. I'm sure everyone knows you can go to your local cigar shop and pick them up. There are still a few proprietors that will save them for you and even make a gift of them. Others will charge a nominal fee. Thrift stores, swap meets and flea markets will usually turn up a few and I guess some of you might actually know someone who smokes (more and more rare these days). But the best sources are on-line cigar sites. They will send you empty boxes for around $1.00 a piece, $2.00 each for the classy wooden ones. Try Thompson Cigars and Black Cat Cigar Company. And then of course, after they come, you have the fun of filling them up with fantastic ephemera!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Artful Abundance

Here are three of the delightful artful presents that came my way this holiday season. Anne Bagby's Collage DVD, Lynne Perrella's new book Art Making and Studio Spaces and Brilliant Beginnings:The Youthful Works of Great Artists, Writers and Composers
I look forward to many evenings of eager perusal - eye candy and inspiration to last throughout the coming winter.

Monday, December 28, 2009

How Cool is That?

My wonderful wife Margot surprised me on Christmas with this fantastic T-shirt (long sleeved even!) with my own artwork on it. She took several shots of my colourful Dia de los Muertos skull (that I made for Lynne's Perrella's Frida Kahlo workshop a couple of years ago) and then made transfers and put them on the shirt.

I love it - and if two heads are better than one, three skulls must be the best!! Thanks sweetheart!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Life on the Coast

Presents unwrapped, feasting done, friends and family here and gone - now there's time for a walk along the shore and reflection on the joys of the season.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day!

In my younger days, this was always the day we took a long walk through the woods, came home to eat Prime Rib, Yorkshire Pudding and Sherry Trifle, and pulled our Christmas crackers. The riddles were read aloud and puzzled over, the tiny toys played with and best of all, the funny paper crowns to wear while the Stilton and Port made the rounds. This very English tradition was started to help a young friend, recently come from the British Isles, who was homesick and finding an American Christmas missing a few important bits and bobs. She was 13 at the time and celebrated every Boxing Day with us for the next 20 years. Happy Boxing Day, Michelle!

Friday, December 25, 2009

From the Bookshelf - Merry Christmas

This is a book I've read every Christmas since I was in grade school. I loved it, my two daughters, both grown up now, loved it. It's just not the holidays without Tasha Tudor's Becky's Christmas. The simple story of a 10 year old girl growing up in New England, her loving family, good friends, pets and farm animals and cherished holiday traditions.

Tasha Tudor wrote and illustrated countless books in her long lifetime, including several beloved Christmas volumes, Take Joy, The Doll's Christmas, The Christmas Cat, Corgiville Christmas and others, but I know for my girls and me, Becky's Christmas will always hold that special place in our hearts. An extra special Merry Christmas to Bronwyn who is spending her first Christmas away from home - we love you sweetheart.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Joyous Christmas Eve

Nothing the whole year 'round can touch the delicious anticipation of Christmas Eve. Peace and joy to all, everywhere.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All that Snow!

And my all time favourite holiday movie. When it first came out in 1954, I was only two, but in 1966 when it first was shown on television I had a ringside seat. I was a big fan of both Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby in my younger days, and have always loved Christmas - so this was heaven on film for me. I went so far one year as to use my little mini reel to reel tape recorder to capture the entire movie, so I could listen to it again and again. Which I did - to this day I can quote entire scenes at the drop of Santa's hat. You can imagine my delight when it was released on video in the late '80's and I could watch it, uncut and no commercials every holiday season. The highlight of my personal history with White Christmas was about 5 years ago when a local movie theatre (the old fashioned kind that only has one movie at a time) actually did a weekend screening of it. What fun to see it on the big screen!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Their Sound has Gone Out

My all time favourite holiday album. Lorena McKennitt's voice is magic. The selections include traditional carols performed in non-traditional arrangements and new pieces that will steal your breath with their haunting beauty. This recording is now 15 years old, but is as fresh as new fallen snow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

photo courtesy of

At this darkest time in the long calendar of year,we celebrate the return of light as each day now becomes just a bit longer and lighter and closer to Spring. Glad Yule and Happy Solstice!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas on the Coast

photo courtesy My South Coast

How's your weekend going?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Road Trip!

We'll be spending the weekend here - visiting good friends, going to an amazing holiday dinner and party, a bit of shopping, a bit of relaxing, and of course, some journal time at a local cafe.

Friday, December 18, 2009

From the Bookshelf

For those of you who don't know "Miss Read" this will not be major news, but for those of us who have loved her books for decades, it's a wonderful holiday treat. Starting in the mid '50's Dora Jessie Saint, MBE - Miss Read - began writing of village life in the Cotswolds. Her tales of Fairacre and Thrush Green have delighted untold readers throughout the second half of the last century. She laid down her pen in 1998 following the publication of "A Peaceful Retirement", so it was with great surprise and excitement when I found out about "Christmas at Thrush Green" - the first new Miss Read in over ten years. Created in collaboration with her long time editor Jenny Dereham, I found the story to be true to the Thrush Green tradition - what a delight to once again spend time with all my old friends from the village. I know this one will be pulled out every December to read again and again.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Travels in North Africa II

Here are a few more pages from my latest altered book. And yes, that is a scrap of Anne Bagby paper on the lower right side. At the Taos workshop last February, Anne said we were welcome to take her papers if they were in a piece of art when we left.

I had taken this book along for a "Show & Tell" session we had one night at dinner, and grabbed the opportunity to enliven the page with Anne's delicious paper.

In this shot you can catch a glimpse of the end papers that I added - wonderful Italian paper that I found at FLAX in San Francisco for - wait for it - $.25 a sheet!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

Last week clay - this week clay molds. I have to admit my favourites are hands and faces. I love to use both in my journals and assemblage art, and what fun to make them. The ones in the front are molds I made from 3D objects in a Paper Clay class I took from Melissa Manley a couple of years ago at Art Fest.

I've got the clay, I've got the molds - I even have the dedicated toaster oven - So Chris when are you coming up to play?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Travels in North Africa

This is an altered book that I began a year ago. Then, when I devoted 6 months to getting ready for Open Studios Tour, it sat at the back of my work table. It's been a pleasure to have the time to actually get to work on it again.

Here we have a fictitious tale of an explorer/adventurer traveling across North Africa in the early part of the 20th century prior to WWI. The path winds from Egypt to Morocco. The pages have maps, diagrams, old photos, correspondence, and other bits and bobs collected from the journey.

I started with a leather bound journal from Barnes and Noble, removing about half the pages. "Instant aging" was achieved with walnut ink, tea staining and Adirondack Color Washes. I'm almost finished and will share more pages in the next few weeks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the Fence

My daughter Jenny took this stunning photo a few weeks ago when she was on vacation in Hawaii. I love the receding fence line and the wonderful weathering on the posts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Tis the Season!

photo courtesy UK Telegram

A rainy weekend, off to find the tree. Then after decorating, a warm fire, Enya's holiday music playing softly and a cup of Cadbury's hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and nutmeg.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Guadalupe Day

La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico

Taos, New Mexcio

Boulder, Colorado

San Miguel Allende,Guanajuato, Mexico

And last but not least, my lovely new journal bag, made by my
beautiful wife Margot.

I remember when I was young, the members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Society celebrating on December 12 each year. Dressed in black and wearing their colourful ribbons they would sing the beautiful "Bendito, bendito, bendito sea Dios, los angeles cantan y alaban a Dios". Even as a child I was struck by the heartful devotion and love in their celebration. One line of the music transports me back 50 years to a small Catholic church in Azusa - I can smell the beeswax of the candles, hear their strong voices lifted in song, and taste the delicious tamales that were served up after Mass. My growing collections of Guadalupe icons is a tribute to these women from my childhood.

Friday, December 11, 2009

From the Bookshelf

Collage, Assemblage, and Altered Art is a treasure trove of fascinating eye candy and wonderful projects. Author Diane Maurer-Mathison delves into the how-tos of collage(hard copy and digital) and assemblage and then shows how both form the the basis of Altered Art of all kinds - books, jewelry, clothing, compacts, even pencils. The photography is excellent and the book well laid out. You'll find many of your favourite artists here and some that are not quite as familiar. Definitely worth a look!

And Joyous First Night!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Monet's Paint Box

Here's my entry for Somerset Studios' latest challenge "The Impressionists". I call it Monet's Paint Box. I was lucky enough to find - and win! - a vintage metal paint box on ebay. I splattered and dripped several colours of acrylic craft paint on all the surfaces.

Then I delved into my cigar box stash - the one labeled Art Stuff - and found old brushes, really old tubes of paint, palette knives, etc. I attached these in their various compartments using E-6000. I printed out several Monet paintings and then collaged them to canvas board using matte medium. On the fold out flaps of the box I adhered stickers of Monet's paintings and dabbed acrylic around the edges.

Viola! You can almost see the ripples on the pond and hear the late spring breeze as it kisses the wisteria on the Japanese bridge. The paint box silently waits for the master to return from his midday meal in the Giverny dining room, to pick up a brush and capture the afternoon light on the water lilies.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

Clay: polymer clay, paper clay, lots of colours

All waiting to be turned into lovely projects, to adorn journals and enliven assemblages.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This Frog I Like

Anyone who knows me, knows I don't like frogs. Well, that's putting it mildly. Actually I'm really scared of frogs. One of those irrational fear things, like mice or spiders or '70's disco music.

But flower frogs I love. I'm not big on fancy flower arrangements, mine are always just sort of casually done. But, flower frogs make great brush holders! These are the cheapy (around $.69)
brushes that I use for my red rosin paintings and this is a great way to have them to hand. This frog I like!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Time to Clean Up

This is what my workbench in the garage studio looks like now.

This is what I'd like it to look like when I get through cleaning.

I'd even settle for this, but who am I kidding, it's not going to happen until after the holidays!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Life on the Coast

Weathered wood

Rusty Metal

Lichen-encrusted Railing

A morning walk filled with found object art - but just a bit too big to put in an assemblage! Enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Art Day

photo courtesy Destiny Carter

We had a Creative Urge Art Day at our house at the beginning of the week. Margot and Destiny spent the time going through shoes for Sassy Feet and playing with the above- Shiva Oil Paint Sticks. Lots of luscious colours.

I'm working on the next Somerset challenge - The Impressionists. I hope to use my weekend getting it completed and ready to send off.

Friday, December 4, 2009

From the Bookshelf

I pulled this favourite volume off the shelf during the holiday weekend and was delighted anew at the marvelous eye candy and excellent techniques presented within. Carol Owen has put together a mini-workshop in shrine making - including using foam board to create the structures.
A gallery spotlights all different types of shrines from many of our best-loved artists including Lynne Perrella and Judi Riesch.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

300th Post!

photo courtesy of University of Edinburgh

I don't know if all these people are holding balloons and celebrating my 300th post - but I choose to think they are! Because, hey, it feels like a party everyday, getting to visit with all of you who drop in here "by the sea". So raise a glass - or a balloon! - and join me in a happy toast to the next 300!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

For several years now I've been amassing WWII memorabilia with the thought of eventually doing an altered book about my dad and his service in the Army Air Corps. As a kid, I can remember looking through my parents' photo albums of pictures from that time, my dad's medals and stripes. I have no idea what happened to them.

So as I peruse thrift stores, flea markets, swap meets, antique fairs and eBay I've tried to recreate what I remember from the album and what I know of where my dad served, his rank etc.

I've found a vintage 78 record album of service songs - "Anchors Aweigh", "The Caissons go Marching Along", etc. and plan to use this as the substrata for the project. I'll keep you posted.