Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Legal" for 1 year!

One year ago today Margot and I were legally married. Though we were domestically partnered in 2004 and had a huge ceremony then (including the horse and carriage!), we were able to be legally married here in the state of California last June. We are one of over 18,000 couples that were able to take advantage of that five month window after the State Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional to deny basic rights to 10% of the population.
You all know what happened in November, and last month with the same court's decision to uphold Proposition 8.

Our wedding album that we picked up in Paris on our honeymoon

But because of the luck of timing - we're still legally married. It's not just semantics. As a country we found out 50 years ago that "separate but equal" is not equal And it's the little things as well. I can check the married box on forms now, instead of domestic partner. Stuff like that may seem fairly inconsequential, unless you've had to fight for it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Saturday Afternoons at Grandma's

Saturday Afternoons at Grandma's

This is a red rosin piece I did yesterday. I embedded vintage doilies in the gesso. The colours I used are ones I remembered from needlework and petite-point at the home of my uncle's mother.

On Saturday afternoons when I was very young, four and five years old, my Uncle Gordie, who lived down the street from us in Azusa, would go to his mother's house in La Verne to do handyman jobs and yard work for her. And often I'd get to go along. My paternal grandparents lived in New York and my mom's had died before I was born, so this was my equivalent of "going to Grandma's". She always made a delicious lunch of fried chicken, grits, gravy, and drop biscuits. (I'm sure there were vegetables involved but that's not something I was taking notice of at that age!) For dessert there'd be yummy pie, she had a deft hand at pastry. While my uncle was busy in the yard and the workshop, Grandma Dark would tell me tales of her growing up in the wilds of 19th century Texas. Sometimes, for an extra treat I was allowed in the parlour and that's where I remember seeing the cushions and pillows arrayed in these evocative purples, lavenders, and greens.

Seeing these colours in combination can instantly carry me back over fifty years to that dimly lit parlour. The smell of baking biscuits scents the air as I gingerly touch a purple needlepoint pansy, my eyes drink in all the colour and I hear "Erin, y'all come now. Food's on the table."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Life Changed Forever

photo courtesy of DK publishing

Seven years ago today I arrived in Paris for the first time. Not only Paris for the first time, but my first time ever out of the US. My younger daughter Jenny had just graduated high school, with four years of French under her belt, and this trip was her graduation present. My friend Susan came with us and for 10 days we had the time of our lives. Small cafes, museums, flea markets, food markets, shopping, sketching, journaling, cafe au lait, croissants, macaroons, pastis. From the top of the Eiffel Tower to the ruins of the Roman Baths beneath the museum at the Hotel de Cluny, from Versailles to Giverny, sunsets on the Seine and morning fog on the Rue du Bac. This trip was magical and memorable in and of itself, but it was also a gigantic turning point in my life. It opened up the world to me and I have never been the same.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mixed-Up Media Art Bag


Most of you know that my wife Margot has a business called Sassy Feet that is devoted to taking ordinary shoes and making them into amazing works of wearable art. If that's not cool enough, she has recently taken to doing purses as well.

The above was a joint effort between the two of us that I call my Mixed-Up Media Art Bag. You can see the before picture below - this is what it looked like when I picked it up at a thrift store for $2.00. With the addition of paint, leather patches, chain, tassels, beads, and a variety of cool art and ephemera pieces, the result is a wonderful piece of art that holds my painting and sketching materials when I'm on the road - for a week's vacation or just down the street to the local cafe. It was a lot of fun to make and for the two of us to work together.


Friday, June 26, 2009

From the Book Shelf

This week's wonderful book is Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida's Wardrobe. When Frida Kahlo died in 1954 Diego Rivera had her bedroom and dressing room in the Casa Azul sealed up for 50 years. In 2004, the rooms were opened and her clothes were once again revealed to the world.
Skirts, dresses, rebozos, scarves, boots -the items have been painstakingly restored by loving hands. There are gorgeous photos of the clothes and original pictures of Frida wearing them
In 2007 I attended a three day workshop with Lynne Perrella called "Frida's Trunk" that was based on the newspaper clipping that announced the opening of the 50 year locked room and
wardrobes. It was a magical weekend filled with calaveras, papel picados, colours and delight.

If you love Frida, if you love clothes, if you love colour - this book will enchant and fascinate you.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday +1!

Oops! I remembered Midsummer yesterday - but forgot that it was Cigar Box Wednesday - so here it is - one day late.

This one is full of food labels; vintage, some from last week's cornbread and everything in between. I love the colours, the lithography, the slogans. They make great backgrounds for journal pages and altered books, and it's fun to look through them, picking out ones that will fit a theme.

I've been warned by Margot though, that I can't have them until we've used the can or package, LOL. Avoids "mystery meals" and "Chef's Surprise" - remember that from our school cafeteria menus in the '50's and '60's?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania, sometimes of the night
Lull'd with these flowers, with dances and delight.
William Shakespeare

A glorious, magical midsummer to all!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dividers - Lost & Found

Allegory of Navigation - Dividers

I was lucky enough to pick up these old rusted dividers about a year ago when a garage sale I attended actually included the garage! Well, the contents of the garage/workshop. Literally hundreds of old rusty tools and hardware that had been sitting in the non-hermetically sealed, detached building for dozens of years since the man of the house had passed away. I'd been wanting to do something with them - but - and I know this will ring a bell with some of you, I had forgotten where I had stored them. I came across them the other day, looking for something else, and here's the result.

I used a masonite board, 11x14" as the base. An old navigation chart, well folded and with a delightful burn mark, was sanded slightly and then adhered to the board with PVA. I wrapped the chart around the edges ,much as you would when covering book boards. The picture is by 16th century Venetian artist Veronese ,entitled Allegory of Navigation -Astrolabe. I sanded it as well and then affixed using PVA. Couldn't find a brayer, so used a rolling pin to smooth things down. A coat of Golden's Fresco Cream Glaze covers the entire surface and Golden's Asphaltum Glaze was used around the picture for depth. The dividers are attached with craft wire and E-6000. Probably a good thing they were lost for awhile, it gave my brain more time to play around with the idea.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thanks, Sis!

Even more wonderful surprises in the mail. My sister Becky in Colorado sent these lovelies on to me. An ever needed cigar box - which won't stay empty long as we all know. And....

...this delightfully rusted and worn part from an old wood stove. She and her husband came across it many years ago while tramping the wilderness. And after reading my blog for awhile, she came to the conclusion that I'd have a use for it! Oh, the fun I'll have coming up with an assemblage. Thanks Sis, and Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

You've Got Mail!

Don't we all love to get great stuff in the mail? Duh! Of course we do. Here's some of the goodies I've received recently. Wonderful vintage sewing bobbins and porcelain doll parts from Time Passages Etsy Shop.

Ah! The mind boggles at thoughts of mixing these up with lots of lovely rusted bits and bobs.

And Seth's hard copy of "The Pulse" - I envision an evening or two curled up by the fire (it's cool and foggy here in Morro Bay on these late spring nights) and revisiting all the talented artists here within. I love great mail!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Paper Illusions

Paper Illusions

If you love paper, and who doesn't?, you will be enthralled and fascinated by this book. Isabelle De Borchgrave makes entire wardrobes of paper. Painstakingly hand painted to imitate all different kinds of fabric, and then assembled into magnificent dresses, suits, and all manner of accessories from shoes to jewels. This book will be eagerly devoured not only by paper artists, but those who love fashion and design as well. Available on Amazon, where there are a few, more reasonably priced, copies available. Eye candy to the max!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Drive in the Country

Yesterday was my darling wife's birthday. I took the day off from work and told her we could do whatever she wanted. She chose to take a drive on a narrow, bumpy, rutted, rocky, dirt road that climbs and winds 16 miles between Lopez Lake in Arroyo Grande and Pozo. It's called High Mountain Road, and we passed at least four warning signs about possible unsavory conditions.
I'd planned to get several pictures, but once we turned onto the dirt I was busy hanging on!

But Margot had a blast, four-wheelin' down the road. And it was her birthday, so that's what it was all about. After arriving in Pozo ( a ranger station, a saloon-open on the weekends, a library that closed a couple of years ago and a shell of a school building that closed in the '50's) we found a wide shady spot by the side of the road and had some delicious sandwiches that we'd picked up earlier. I took over the driving - on nice wide, paved roads - and Margot napped with a big smile on her face all the way home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

This week's box is full of wonderful vintage tabs.
I stumbled across this great find at Art From Scrap
in Santa Barbara. If you live in the Southern
Californian area it's worth it to take a trip up or
down the coast and drop in. The hours are somewhat
limited, so check the website before you go. It 's full
of donated stuff of every description. Leather scraps,
test tubes, paper, sample books, slide mounts, jewelry,
buttons, yardage, tiles, and so much more.
Even - cigar boxes! The prices are more than
reasonable and all profits go to supporting
art in the local schools - you can't beat that!

These cool tabs came in different colours, with different designations - forerunners of the Post-Its we see on legal papers now. When I saw them, of course, I thought how well they would work in my journals.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Quick Brown Fox...

The Quick Brown Fox

Just finished yesterday, the latest red rosin. This one uses every letter of the alphabet, many times over. Hence the title - thanks to my friend Destiny for coming up with it.

I use one set of cardboard stencils embedded in the gesso, then added another whole set and parts of two more sets as I painted. Also Scrabble letters, round copper letters, glittered letters and stamped letters.

Along with the usual cheesecloth,acrylic paint, drips, spatters, and water-soluble oil pastels.

This will be entered in Cambria's annual Alternative Arts Show next month.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Cowboy Standard Time

Cowboy Standard Time

When I was young, my favourite past time was playing cowboys. Every Christmas I received a new pair of holstered six-shooters and a new cowboy hat. I had worn out the ones from the year before. And when I wasn't outside riding the range, I spent hours playing with what my siblings and I called "little men" - those glorious small plastic figurines of the '50's and '60's that could turn your bedroom rug in the great wild west.


I used a cigar box for this project. On the front, after painting with light beige acrylic, I affixed two pages (copies) from an old cowboy brand notebook. I sanded the copies to give a more aged look. Then stamped the title. Below are two strips of cowboy ribbon and a nicely rusted star from a spur.

inside left

On the surfaces below I under painted with burnt sienna, coated with Vaseline in some areas, and then over painted with a light beige. When the top coast was dry, I wiped off the Vaseline and the burnt sienna shows through in a faux peeling paint look. This was the first time I've tried this. I like the result and hope to get better with practice.

inside right

And here, above, is the cowboy clock. Hey, when I was a kid, it was always cowboy time! A handful of those wonderful little men (in a variety of designer colours, LOL) surround an old wagon wheel with a Wells Fargo agent's badge on top. A fetching cowboy applique completes the back.


Lynne Perrella said once that my "little Erin cowboy energy" is what takes over when I start doing art. I think she's probably right. This was loads of fun to work on. I've worn many hats in my almost 60 years; jazz musician, junior high teacher, homesteader, opera singer, librarian, artist. And I've enjoyed them all, but I have to say that those yearly Christmas cowboy hats are among my fondest memories.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Where there's a will...

You gotta love this. A tiny California Golden Poppy plant pushing its way up through the asphalt. Growing, reaching towards the sunshine, proving once again that nature often does what it wants whether we try to get in the way or not.

Here's its bigger siblings at the edge of the pavement. Maybe it's just me, but I always love it when I see a plant growing out of a sidewalk or street or, in this case, parking lot. Happy Weekend!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

FAC @ the Mango Studio

Those of you who follow Lisa's blog or Stephanie's blog know about this already - but thought I'd help spread the word. June 19th - next Friday at Steph's new Mango Studio in Longmont, Colorado, it's Friday Art Club - FAC! As the poster says ART, wine, food and fun! Who could resist that? For those of us not in the Colorado area - there are promises of art for sale afterwards in Etsy shops. And who can resist that either?!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ho-Hum - Isn't it Ironic?

I've posted before about my love of signs; vintage signs, neon signs, funny signs... You get the idea. Here's a great one from our trip to Reno a few weeks ago. Margot found a place to let me out of the car and then waited while I walked back down the street and got a few shots.
I loved the neon, the vintage feel, but most of all that a motel in Reno should be called "Ho Hum". Ah, irony! -("It's like rain, on your wedding day" - my Gen X and Millennial readers are laughing at this.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oh, So Divine!

The Divine Home - Peter Vitale

This is a luscious book. Eye candy galore, beautiful photography, informative text - a full 3.7 pounds of delight. Peter Vitale has done a magnificent job covering the use of spiritual objects in the home. And every type of home; from santos in Spanish Haciendas in Santa Barbara to Buddhas in high rent apartments in New York City to crucifix- and saddle- covered entry ways in San Miguel Allende. Buy it here or check your library. Not to be missed!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

A few weeks ago I blogged about updates on my website to the "Inside the Studio" page. I received an e-mail wanting to know "What's in all those cigar boxes anyway?" I thought it might be fun once a week to pull one down and go through it here on the blog. And for whatever fevered reason I decided let's do it on Wednesdays! So here we go!

This box is full of skulls, skeletons and variations there of. Some plastic, some bone(not human), some wood, a few antique ivory. When I went to a Frida Kahlo Workshop with Lynne Perrella a couple of years ago, I was able to bring along skeletons to share with everyone.
I love this little guy from General Bead in San Francisco. They are all destined to end up in a shrine, journal or assemblage. I'm always on the look-out and,of course, stock up when Halloween comes around.

So look for a new Cigar Box - and its contents - every Wednesday. Believe me, I've got dozens and dozens and dozens of them - so this could take awhile!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Seth of The Altered Page did a great post recently about his inspiration board. It's beautiful and oh, so organized. His is on the wall behind his computer.

Mine is over one of the windows in the sunroom that I use as part of my studio. Cleverly hung on chains from the ceiling, it exactly takes up the space of one window. It's a combination of my art, other's art, some photos and cards, even a couple of 3D pieces.

Sometimes I clear off everything and start fresh, more often I just keep adding!