Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cigar Box Wednesday

Something different for Cigar Box
Wednesday - not what's in them - but
what you can do with them.
These are examples of wonderful
journals, made by Pam Sussman,
using cigar box lids as covers. A
coptic binding forms the spine and
holds in the signatures of paper.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Water & Stone

Water & Stone - 16 x 20"

Several weeks ago I did my first landscape, Harmony Hills, using red rosin techniques on canvas and I thought it would be fun to try a seascape. Here's the result - Water & Stone, a depiction of Morro Rock and the surrounding bay. I gessoed the canvas using cheesecloth to form the rock and the clouds, and Golden Pumice Gel for the foreground and sandbar to the left of the rock. Acrylic craft paints in various greens and blues were used for the water and sky. The rock I covered with Golden Glaze -Asphaltum . Portfolio Water soluble Oil Pastels were used to add green accents to the rock and the sandbar. Small Morro Bay signs were rubbed with the pastels and then collaged on with matte medium. Drips in several sizes and colours were added. The final touch, a hand-dyed silk ribbon in blues and greens runs through the water in the foreground.

Detail of above, showing oil pastel and asphaltum glaze over pumice gel.

This foray into land and sea scapes has been interesting- and given me even more respect for the artists whose metier they are. This piece will be available at Open Studios this October.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Play Day!!

Autumn Leaves - silk painting by Camille Soleil

Margot and I are off to have a play day with our friends Dawn and Camille. Checking out Camille's new welding workshop, doing some silk painting, talking, talking, talking and enjoying great food and wonderful espresso drinks (they used to run a fabulous coffee cafe). Delightful way to spend the second half of my weekend!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life on a Different Coast - Venice

Looking across the Venice lagoon towards
the cemetery island of San Michele.

For someone like me who loves the coast, Venice was a dream come true! It's ALL coast. This shot was taken on a misty February morning as our vaporetto left the Fondamenta Nuove for the lace-making island of Burano.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Don't Leave Home without It!

On the gorgeous Pacific shores of Jalisco, Mexico in the little seaside fishing village of La Manzanilla. Warm sun, cool breezes, a cold beer and a library card - doesn't get much better than this! Just to prove here's another place around the globe where you can take your library card (so it will be in your wallet when you get home and need it.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

From the Bookshelf

Beyond Paper Dolls by Lynne Perrella is a delightful romp. Paper artists will be enchanted by the wide variety of "dolls" presented; everything from fairly traditional to anything but. You'll find many of your favourites here including Michelle Ward, Claudine Hellmuth and Leslie Riley among dozens of others. Eye candy and ideas to the max - after this, you'll never look at paper dolls in the same old way.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Atomic Lemon

Yes! It is almost 6" high!

One of the many great things about living on the Central Coast of California is being able to walk to the backyard and pick lemons. Our neighbours have several trees that back up on our fence and hang over into our yard. So not only do we get lemons, but we don't even have to do any maintenance on the trees - such a deal! I found this giant specimen on our deck the other day - yes, it is a lemon and yes, it is huge. Margot immediately dubbed it Atomic Lemon. You can see by the 6" ruler just how over-sized it is.

We've had fun dressing it up in different outfits (we don't have cable) and over the course of the summer, Atomic Lemon will grace these posts in all its varied glory. Watch for it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cigar Box Wednesday

One of several cigar boxes here at the Altered by the Sea Studio that have musical bits and bobs held within. This one - old guitar strings and a pair of cello pegs. The other 2 pegs are now in North Carolina with Nina Bagley, patiently waiting to be part of a fabulous jewelry design. I had mentioned having cello pegs in a cigar box and she was fascinated with their potential. So of course I send a couple to her.

I can't wait to see what delightful creation
Nina comes conjures up.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


500 posts! And what a ride it's been.
Thanks to all of you who drop by to visit here by the sea!

Monday, June 21, 2010

One of Those Good Ideas...

I've seen several pictures on blogs and in mixed media books and magazines where people were storing their small bottles of acrylic craft paint bottoms up so the colours were instantly visible. And I always thought "What a great idea!" But I never got around to it - we all know how that one goes. When I was starting a major studio overhaul a few weeks ago (more on that soon) I just stumbled across this old white storage unit (originally for CDs) that I must have picked up at a swap meet or garage sale sometime and forgotten about - we all know how that one goes too, don't we?
It only took me about 2 seconds to figure out that it would be perfect to put the paint bottles in - and voila! It was. Now I can look and grab the colour I need just like that. Another reminder to us all - check your stash - you never know what's hidden there!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Life on the Coast

It's that time of year when the ground squirrels come out and say "hi" along the boardwalk on Moonstone Beach in Cambria. They are very friendly and love posing for pictures hoping for unsuspecting tourists to feed them (big no-no!).

Cute to look at and fun to watch, but you really don't want your fingers anywhere near those teeth and claws!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Don't Leave Home without It!

Kings Cross Station in London - Platform 9 3/4. The baggage cart is halfway through the brick wall, caught in the act of catching the Hogwart's Express. So here's proof that not only can you take your library card along with you when you travel in this world, but in the world of fantasy as well!

Friday, June 18, 2010

From the Bookshelf

The Nest - Maryjo Koch

This over sized volume is full of beautiful watercolour sketches of bird nests, from small ones of bits of down and grass to the large stick mounds. Ms. Koch's love of her subject comes through on every page. A visual delight and full of information about the homes of our feathered friends.
My favourite spread is one that shows in great detail all of the many bits and pieces that birds will use to create their dwellings.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Many Happy Returns

Happy Birthday to the love of my life, my wonderful wife Margot!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cigar Box Wednesday

One of several boxes that are filled with alphabet blocks. These are always available at thrift stores and swap meets. New ones, old ones and every now and then some very interesting vintage ones.

Like the brown ones, above right, that are quite thin. I have over a dozen of these and plan to someday adorn the front of a journal or altered book with them.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Buttons & Blooms

Buttons & Blooms 11 x 14"

More than a hint of nostalgia here. Silk cabbage roses (from Flights of Fancy) in mauve and green anchor opposite corners and shabby trim lines the right-hand side. I found the delightfully distressed door escutcheon in Taos at a marvelous little shop by the San Francisco de Asis Church. A waterfall of miniature buttons (found at a 7 Gypsies parking lot sale a few years ago) cascades down the center, along with bits of vintage book spine and a copper stamping of a graceful hand A cabinet card is adorned with a brass stamping. Two young sisters, dressed in their Sunday finery watch wide-eyed. Another piece ready for Open Studios.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Study in Brown & Pink #1 & 2

Study in Brown & Pink #1 11 x 14"

These were fun to do.I found the leather faces years ago at a garage sale around the corner and came across them again recently while looking for something else. I covered canvas boards with brown and pink scrapbook paper and then ran a pink and brown diamond patterned ribbon diagonally down the center of each. I scrubbed and then spattered pink and brown acrylic across the papers, covering the faces with clingfilm to keep the them drip-free.

Study in Brown & Pink #2 11 x 14"

This was a bit of a different direction for me and I enjoyed it. Both pieces will be available at this October's Open Studios.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Life on the Coast

photo courtesy of Frances West

Eye-to-eye with a Brown Pelican. Over the last several decades these once almost extinct seabirds have repopulated California's shores in massive numbers. There is a breathless majesty watching a scoop of pelicans glide by overhead in perfect formation. Our dear friend Franny captured this shot here in Morro Bay.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Don't Leave Home Without It!

Margot thought this was the perfect spot for a library card travel shot when we visited Sanibel and Captiva Islands off the coast of Florida three years ago. As you can see by my forced smile, I wasn't so sure. "Hello, the sign says alligators and I've got my back to the swamp!" Believe me, feeding them and possible incarceration were the furthest things from my mind! But more pictorial proof - you can take your library card along when you travel!

Friday, June 11, 2010

From the Bookshelf

Mary Randolph Carter is probably best known for her series of "Junk" books - American Junk, Big City Junk, Garden Junk, Kitchen Junk, that showed us all how to decorate with found stuff and create wonderful surroundings for our lives. For the Love of the Old is a larger format with more emphasis on gorgeous photography, but still is chock full of all the "junk" we fell in love with in Ms. Carter's earlier volumes. Whether you're looking for decorating ideas or just want to sit down and spend sometime ooo-ing and ah-ing, this is one you'll really enjoy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Harmony Hills

Harmony Hills 16 x 20"

Allied Arts of Cambria opens a new show tomorrow night, a plein air exhibit that will run through July 4. I have entered my first ever landscape. Done in acrylic on canvas using gessoed cheesecloth for texturing in the clouds and hills. Oil pastels were used to highlight sections of the hills

Harmony is a little hamlet, between Morro Bay and Cambria that is put on the market now and then - the entire town of several commercial buildings, a (now-closed) post office and one street through the center of town. Official population is listed at 18. Opening reception for the show begins at 5:30 at the Gallery at the Old Grammar School. See you there!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cigar Box Wednesday

Bits and bobs and scraps of old tin - sardine can lids, candy tins, tea tins, shoe polish cans, snuff tins and more. Some collected - the sardine tins from Cannery Row in Monterey, some snipped off food tins from the kitchen once we were through with them (artful recycling!)

Ready for a page or cover in an altered book or journal or as a focal spot in an assemblage. Colourful and fun!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pocketful of Posies

A doll's dress on a charming hanger graces this canvas board which is covered in scrapbook paper. Silk flowers, a gilded book spine and wooden buttons are scattered across the surface and an illustration from a vintage children's paper/linen book anchors the top right hand corner.

A tiny bouquet of paper roses rests in the pocket of the dress and gives the piece its name.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I Hope the Leaving is Joyful

I Hope the Leaving is Joyful 16 x 20"

A quieter Frida piece this time. I used red rosin techniques of textured gesso and xerox collage. The central figure is from a photograph by Nickolas Murray. The background was painted using a palette of craft acrylics in burnt sienna, brown iron oxide and cream, then I dripped both horizontally and vertically to create a grid pattern. The quote "I hope the leaving is joyful and I hope never to return" was coloured with Portfolio Water-soluble oil pastels in violet, red, and black. The pastels were also implemented to accentuate some of the textured gesso (see photo below). Punchinello was used as a stencil for violet circles. Black Staz-On ink was stamped along the bottom using an Anne Bagby design.

As always, when creating an artwork with Frida as my inspiration, the ideas just flow and time stands still. This piece will be available at this October's Open Studios Tour.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

(The Perils of) Life on the Coast

Here comes summer, and what's more fun than spending some time by the water indulging in fish tacos and a shrimp quesadilla on the outside habour-view patio at our local fish market and grill.

We stood in line, we ordered, we grabbed our table and waited. Mmm... hungry. Finally our number was called, I went to pick up our tray and brought it back. Margot had barely picked up a piece of her quesadilla when a huge seagull landed on the table, grabbed the plate - not just the food, but the plate! - and flew off with it. It hit the ground and a least a dozen gulls surrounded it and in 8 seconds flat - no quesadilla! All that remained of Margot's dinner was the paper plate, a bit of lettuce garnish and a smear of salsa on the chest of the thief.

Good thing I'd ordered 2 fish tacos and was willing to share!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gather Ye Rose Buds

Gather Ye Rose Buds

A collage on canvas board; scrapbook paper, 2 vintage postcards, a brass stamping hand. Scraps of polka-dot ribbon anchor a carte de visite of an alert youngster of the late 19th century. Drips and splatters of acrylic in pale pink and green and the strip of fabric flower trim that gives the piece its name are the finishing touches. Available at this autumn's Open Studios tour.

detail of above

Friday, June 4, 2010

From the Bookshelf

I first read these just a few years after they came out, and I've been enjoying them ever since.
Elizabeth Enright is one of our most endearing and enduring children's authors. My first introduction to her was through The Melendy Family, which I still re-read every now and then. Her characters have the childhood we all dreamed of - big old houses in the country, secret rooms, attics, window-seats and cupolas, woods with brooks and swamps, plenty of brothers and sisters to play with and understanding grown-ups.

There is a line in the above book that never fails to come to mind this time of year; "It was June, the summer stretched ahead like a vast ocean and September was forever away." Of course that is exactly how it felt when one was 10 and school had ended the day before. There is something magical about books we loved as children that remain favourites as we grow older. These two are definitely in that category for me

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't Leave Home Without It!

Another photo proving it's possible to leave your library card in your wallet when you travel. The card's a bit hard to see, but the rather impressive statue of Isaac Newton shows up wonderfully. What a thrill, as a librarian, to visit the British Library!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cigar Box Wednesday

One of my few "modern" looking cigar boxes - full of tiny flowers and millinery findings. I found a lot of these at Art From Scrap in Santa Barbara.

I especially love the calla lilies - I see them in a Frida shrine someday.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Christmas in June

A Jolly Old Elf

A little early? You bet, but not if one is submitting for the holiday issue of Somerset Studio, artwork due by June 15. For once I'm actually ready a bit ahead, this will be in the mail and on its way sometime this week. The vintage postcards are part of a huge collection left to me by my maternal grandmother, splattered with green, red and cream acrylic and embellished with Santa faces in opposite corners, top and bottom.

And now I don't have to think about Christmas for 5 more months!