Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spreading Christmas Cheer!


As I sit here typing, peering out the window between the sunflakes, I see the power of the wind and how it seems to make nature dance with reckless abandon. At times, I hear a limb knock the house, reminding me that even the trees like to say hello on occasion. Overall, despite the cold, today I am surrounded by beauty and I am most grateful. Holidays are a mixed blessing for me. I love them....and I loathe them. 

There are reasons I do both, and I would not be true to myself if I simply marched through the holidays with a perky face. In fact, there are moments I could completely channel Scrooge in all his glory. But, they are few, thankfully, and I work hard at breathing through these days, counting my blessings, and choosing to be content despite feelings. That can be hard.....the contentment, but it's a work in progress, sometimes in five minute increments. 

Art is a gift in my life. My ability to create it, but most of all share it, is precious to me. The friends I have met in the art world are the ornaments on my tree you could say, each one unique and brilliant. So, I find myself in a mood to spread some Christmas cheer with you all. My Collage a Day series is coming along nicely. Much has been revealed to me about my passion for collage, my ideas about life, and my willingness to share with others through this series. Today, on my fanpage on Facebook, I decided to ask my fans to share a Christmas memory on my post, and at 4pm, I will be giving a collage away. To me, that's what Christmas is all about, the giving, the sharing of love with others. Hopefully, whoever receives it will pay it forward as well.

For those of you who find these days a struggle, my thoughts are with you, and my prayers. As the wind blows today, I pray it blows blessings, positive change, and health your way as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Gratitude List

This is one of my collages from my Collage a Day series, You can read more about these here:Collage A Day

Well folks, I had a blog written for today.....had worked about an hour on it, all filled with gratitude and fru fru fluffy stuff for the holidays, but......after I walked away before hitting publish and came back to it....I HATED IT. It was strange, because I pretty much feel that HATE is one of those words I choose to use only on special occasions.....but there it is....I HATED IT. Here, you get the one I was meant to write.....the one I LOVE!

In this moment, regardless of what chaos surrounds me, 
In this moment, regardless of my self doubt, I choose to
In this moment, regardless of my pain, 
In this moment, regardless of my fears, 

And because I know the edgier side of my personality longs for some face time:

Life is short - make another pile!  (That's a nod for all of you, like me, who have piles around your house that seem to be growing their own personalities and becoming family members)

Happy Thanksgiving dear ones.....I LOVE YOU, love your support, love your comments, love the fact that little ol me is able to share my art with all of you! ((((((((Turkey Hugs))))))))))))

St. Louis Cathedral in N. O., see my entire Landmark Series HERE

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Birth of Art(ology)

Art(ology) Gallery and Gifts 306 Dauphin Street

I often find it amazing how opportunity comes knocking at the door when it's least expected. Many times this has happened in my life, but because my health has been fragile, I had to watch those opportunities come and go. This past month was no different, except the winds of opportunity blew in and I was able to take them for a magical carpet ride you could say.....with the birth of Art(ology) Inc. William Chesser, who I never had the privileged to meet, but know he was so loved, created the Chesser Gallery at 306 Dauphin that seemed to have a unique spirit about it. Though the space went through a few transitions over the years, and after the Paper Wasp closed, I just felt in my bones it needed to stay a gallery, and be true to the spirit that William placed there. 

Now, starting a gallery had been a concept I had thought about a lot, but I knew there was no way physically I could pull that off. I knew that because of my spine and joint problems, I could not open and run a gallery by myself, it just wasn't possible. So, I started considering other options.  I had always hoped there would be a gallery in town that had a funky, eclectic vibe to it, and that it would be a co-op. The beauty of a co-op is that several artists with common goals join forces and help one another. It's in the bond of friendship and common goals that co-ops exist and are successful.  I had been part of the Cathedral Square Gallery co-op for many years, and as much as I loved it, I just knew a lot of my art didn't quite fit there.  So, I started putting the word out to find a small group of artists that wanted to take a risk and start one. I also put a ton of prayer into the idea, trusting that God would open the doors and bring together the right group of people. He did, and the birth of this little gallery on the square is cause for celebration.

Art(ology) Inc. has a unique feel to it. It's not a traditional gallery with only paintings by certain artists in specific places. Rather, the decision was made to approach this as more of a gallery/gift shop, because we felt strongly about several things. One, our downtown area has a lack of nice gift shops available for tourists and those who work downtown. Inside Up is a little gem on Beinville Square, and there are many galleries, but it just seemed that there was a lack of fine craft and gift shops available for the tourist/general market. Two, we felt that an emphasis on smaller, more affordable art was important, especially due to our economy and tourist needs. And three, we knew that a funky, eclectic type of spot would be a nice addition to Cathedral Square. 

This Friday night, the 12th, is Art(ology)'s grand opening during LODA Artwalk. It's an opportunity to celebrate with the artists, their friends and families, and welcome this new gallery to the heart of the downtown art market. I invite you to come out and share this opening with us. For me, it's because of a love for art, but mostly community, that gives me great motivation to paint through my pain on a daily basis. I relish in the thought of celebrating that accomplishment with many of you who have been so supportive of my efforts, and those I am passionate about. And, I want to make sure and thank the other artists, Gail Rancier Wilson, Marsha Sutton, Claire Noojin, Terri Keller, and Michelle Foreman Leech for working so hard to get us open. What beautiful teamwork we all have. Thanks, as well, to my wonderful son and and husband who made this possible for us....for you both I am forever grateful.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

For the Love of All Living Things - Postcards From the Gulf

As an artist, I get bombarded with charities wanting me to donate an original piece of artwork for worthy causes. As much as I would love to donate to each one, it simply isn't possible so I pick and choose those I am most passionate about, like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and The Alabama Children's Hospital. In light of the terrible events this past April when the oil spill devastated our coast line and natural habitats, my artist friend Val Webb decided to start an art event called Postcards for the Gulf. All of the proceeds will go to help clean the animals most affected by the oil spill, and that is one group in need that I was more than happy to paint for. 

It was difficult at first, trying to narrow down exactly the perfect subject to paint on only a 4" by 6" postcard. I mulled over it, thought about which living beings I most loved, and repeatedly I was drawn to the Damsel Fly. I have always been fascinated by them and Dragon Flies, because of their beautiful, iridescent colors, but more so because they simply seem like such gentle beings, flitting here and there and adding only beauty to this planet. The thought of one of them lighting on a reed covered in oil gave me the chills and I prayed that these tiny, lovely winged insects would be safe from harm. 

And, as I often do, I had to combine the art of writing with the art of painting. My piece is a mixed media collaboration of acrylic, ink, collage, and watercolor. The photo doesn't do a whole lot of justice to the iridescence of the piece, but it is close enough. Nov. 14 during LODA Artwalk this, along with dozens more will be sold for $50 a piece. They will go on sale this Tuesday from the Postcards From the Gulf website as well. 

I wanted to thank Val for putting together such a wonderful art project that will make such a difference. The prayer on my card states this:

May we once again strive to be PROTECTORS of the natural world around us and may the sheer beauty and value of life in every living thing become more important than man's need to please himself. 

I thank God for the beauty of our planet and pray daily for its protection.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Love Making a Collage a Day!


Many friends of mine actually work towards creating a painting a day, which after much attempts at it, I found hard to get done. Yes, I do paint often, but actually painting every day was difficult and I began to marvel at their fortitude in getting it done. Then comes along a fellow artist who for the past several years has made a COLLAGE A DAY! Yep folks, cut and past every day, and that blew me away.  Not because of the creativity factor, but because as we collage lovers know, it's messy and totally can take over your house. Randal Plowman was managing to create one every day, which meant he had to be uber organized or something.....and I foamed at the mouth in envy.

This got me thinking....could I do it....should I do I tried it, without telling anyone, to prove to myself that I would be able to stick with it before I announced to the world that I was making a collage a day. Guess what?....I LOVE IT! Yes, I had to get super organized and have a plan, but the timing of it all seemed to fall into place. Not only did I enjoy starting the day with a quiet meditation, to talk with the big guy upstairs, but I decided to combine it with my collage making and then blog about each one. So, my blog, Ardith's Collage a Day was born and I did I tell you.....I LOVE IT?

Because of my back and neck issues, painting or creating anything big is really difficult. Each collage a day is only a 4" by 4" so that tiny size makes it much easier on my pain level. I also have realized how much more creative I am in my other work, because being disciplined about making one a day has enhanced my creativity. What's more, I love, love, love to combine art and writing, you all know that, so blogging about each one makes that the perfect marriage. Here are a few of my collages with links to their blogs. If you know a few of your friends who are blog followers, feel free to share, I love the feedback from you folks. 

BEST OF ALL......if you become a follower of this blog, my daily collage blog, or my Found Baby blog....I will send you a coupon worth 25% off any piece of original art! How cool is that???? Because you are a huge part of what keeps me going!

Living and artistic life is a out the beauty in yours, :)

It's All About the Five Minute Walk
Be Still and Know
Fearless Bricolage Bird

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Art at the Murray House

A fellow artist and friend, Connie Hozvicka, wrote a blog the other day about what it means to hit the big time as an artist. The thought perplexed me. For months I have tossed that concept around, chewed on it, tip toed around it, and occasionally given it up for dead. Alas, it would never leave me, and then I read a blog about the exact same thing and I knew, like I was breathing, that it was something I must come to grips with. Some greater force in this crazy artistic world knew I needed an answer to that big time question so I threw in the towel and decided to really pin my thoughts down about it. During the pinning, I was invited to go cut and paste with some ladies in their 80's and 90's, and I oh, so couldn't pass that up......idea on hold yet again.

The Murray House is a retirement center in the heart of Mobile on lovely Dauphin Street. I have passed it many times, but never had the opportunity to visit, until Jami Buck rang my phone and invited me. Her dear friend Annette Simmons, who is sister to a dear friend of mine, Mary Beth Culp, lives there and Jami had thought the idea of doing an art class at the center would be grand. I was thrilled and suggested we do an art party for Annette, work with collage, and we both got excited. Now, we knew the ladies would be in their upper years, some of them artists in their earlier days, but we actually had no idea, other than Annette, who we would play with. I say play because art is always play to me, or it should be at least. 

When we arrived, we had met our four ladies, which turned to six, which turned to seven, which ended up at nine! And, rather than freak out, we rolled with the punches, shared supplies, and had a lovely time with these ladies. They all, well into their 80's and 90's still had their wits about them, were quite hilarious to be honest, and had a come back for every joke we threw at them. They loved the color palettes we worked with and some of the images brought back happy memories for them, of pets, and family, and things they didn't like. They told a bit about their occupations, Flora Mary was an elementary school principal at Mary B. Austin and Annette, who was an occupational therapist for children, was also an artist. It was just a great experience sharing art with them and here is why....

That hitting the big time question came full circle to me during this event. With total clarity, at least for me, I realized that hitting the big time as an artist was in this moment. It wasn't about being 'discovered', selling a piece for a ton of money, getting into what some would say is 'the best' gallery. It also wasn't about me getting my name out there or about me trying to network or sell my art. All of that, which is necessary for a professional artist, is trivial to me really. What means the most, what tells me that I have hit the big time as an artist was the look on Lurlee's face when she clapped, and with teary eyes, said, " This is so much fun, I had so much fun." Yes folks, clap your hands, I have hit it big! 
Thanks Jami for this photo, love it!

After we left, we learned that many of those women were the movers and shakers of their time in Mobile. Mary Abbey Berg, who now has a senior center named after her,  was not thrilled at the temperature, but she was pleased with her finished piece, especially the use of the word "fearless." I hope and pray that when I am their age I still feel fearless and am able to create art in some capacity. But more than that, it would mean the world to me if I am in a place like the Murray House, to have some young, whipper snapper artists like me and Jami show up with paper, scissors, glue, and paint ready to make art. 

Annette added the phrase "Don't Be Afraid" to her collage

Ms. Sullivan was a hoot, kept us on our toes.

Their finished pieces, which I think are beautiful!

Flora Mary thought out of the box, loved her!

Can you tell they were loving this?

Annette's finished collage

Mary Abby Berg's finished collage
I have seen with my own eyes how our elderly folks are forgotten and it's heartbreaking. The Murray House seems full of love and it's clear that they have families who visit and love them, which is rare for so many their age. If you are an artist, I hope you would consider hitting the big time with me and volunteer at a senior center. We will be there one day won't we? 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Collage Tuesdays Start Back!

Yippie! Collage Tuesdays have returned for the next seven weeks and this line up looks to be great fun! Unlike the last six weeks, the focus this go round will be on working on projects together, step by step, with pre-selected materials. That way, I take the stress out of deciding what to make and help you concentrate on the techniques. You will get a workshop kit each class, and by the end of the evening, you will be leaving with a finished work of art! How cool is that?

Classes will be tentatively as follows:
9/21 Tinting Photos and Mixed Media (You will learn how to tint black and white photographs with watercolor paints, use torn paper and ephemera layers, combine text and distress your canvas.) 8" by 8" canvas on board

9/28 Box Board Tags...You're It!  - Tags are all the rage these days! You will use rubber stamps, ephemera, layered papers, and text to create unique tags for special occasions and holidays. At the end of the class, you will leave with five tags, Christmas, Birthday, Wedding, Thinking of you, and a personalized one. You will also take 5 box board tags home to customize later. 

10/05 Trash Divas - you will learn how to use painted and torn newsprint, along with painted and patterned paper to create you own, one of a kind, diva.

10/12 - Found Poetry Collage - You will learn how to use found poetry using magazine articles or text from vintage children's books to create a translucent, layered collage in a single color palette.

10/12 and 10/19
Art Journal I and II- You will learn how to use box board to construct a hand made journal. This class is in two parts. Part one, we will measure, cut, gesso, construct, and create our book and cover. Part two, we will use various mixed media techniques to create several art journal pages, discover great online resources and forums for art journals, and delve into the book, Collage Lab. For anyone who ever wanted to begin an art journal, this class will be perfect for you!

10/26 Angels Among Us - With Christmas season around the corner you will learn how to create a luminous collage with angels. I will show you how to use text, acrylics, and layers as well as photograph your collage for publishing as a Christmas card if you chose. You will leave with your collage and your image on disc, suitable for printing.

Each class is $25. If you choose to attend one, then you will not need supplies. If you are interested in all 7, then the cost is $20/class, $140 total,  payable up front the first night and you will want to purchase a round tip brush and your own Mod Podge in matte or gloss for home use.

Looking forward to cutting and pasting with you, :) Ardith

Sunday, September 19, 2010

21 Secrets - Best Art Journal Workshop EVER!

Every now and then an opportunity comes along that can't be missed, not for all the candy corn in October! 21 Secrets - An Art Journal Playground is being offered by Dirty Footprint Studios, which is home to one of my all time favorite inspirational artists.

If you are an art journal artist, one who MUST, I mean MUST, express yourself artistically through an art journal and are looking for new ideas and inspirations then this workshop is the pot of  gold at the end of your rainbow friend.  21 cutting edge artists, many of whom have been showcased in Somerset Studio, which I believe is like the holy grail for artists like us, will be teaching a workshop. That means, you get 21 different workshops, how cool is that? Three of my favorites, which honestly, they are all pretty great, are Connie Hozvicka, Hanna Andersson, and Lis Hoffman.

Now, you know how much I love mail art don't you? Lis Hoffman, author of the blog, Dandelion Seeds and Dreams,  will be teaching about altering postcards as part of your journal entries. Her blog is lovely, and I could spend many moments reading and daydreaming there.

Can't tell you how many friends have sent me the link to Hanna Andersson, author of iHanna's blog She is by far the queen of all things mixed media I believe. Got tissue paper, don't we all? She will teach techniques about how to use tissue paper as textures, layers, and basically everything in between, so looking forward to that one!

And....the host of 21 Secrets, Connie Hozvicka, artist extraordinaire at Dirty Footprint Studios, is here to teach how to get those elusive ideas that swim around in our heads at night onto paper, you know the ones.....that drive us crazy because we are afraid to go there. Yep, she teaches how to be Fearless, that in a nutshell is enough to sign me up...period.

Those are just three of my favorites, but there are 18 more, holy cow moly! You can read about all 21 HERE and get the juicy details about this workshop. Sign up begins tomorrow, the 20th. And why am I shamelessly promoting a workshop I am not teaching? Oh that's easy, because I believe this one is the "#1 Workshop NOT to miss!" out of all of them. And, on a more exciting note, this blog enters me into the drawing to get this workshop for free, along with one of you, so I am all in for sharing the love friends, cross your fingers!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Beautiful Mobile Alabama!

Bienville Square Fountain
Mobile, Alabama has got to be one of the most lovely cities I have ever seen. As a child, all I remember about it was lots and lots of pine straw, nettles that gave me a rash, the humidity, and dirt. Most likely that stemmed from growing up in the country rather than the city, but as I grew older I began to notice the quiet beauty of our town, especially spring when the azaleas and hydrangeas were blooming. When I decided to turn my interests to art, I marveled at the landmark paintings done by other artists because I had never noticed how beautiful our city really was, until I saw it through their eyes. I began to take a closer look at our town, especially the landmarks that were important to me and quickly realized  that I had missed out on appreciating Mobile for what it has to offer, and decided it was time to honor it with my own paintings.

Thank goodness I had taken lots of photographs in my day because I needed them as references for each landmark. I guess there was part of me that found Mobile's images captivating, so I ruffled through several and decided that Bienville Fountain would be a must, along with the Cathedral. Bienville Square is home to our fountain, which is actually home to many folks who love to enjoy a tasty meal under the canopy of the oaks. Often, there is live music at the square and always someone or something interesting to look at. Not to mention quite friendly squirrels and many years ago a most unusual fire hydrant.  It is considered part of the heart of downtown, and a big heart it has.

Bienville Square Fire Hydrant

The Cathedral is a grand church, with glistening, gold crossed tops that overlooks Cathedral Square and its patrons. Lots of art happenings goes on at the square because Space 301, The Mobile Arts Council, and The Paper Wasp all call the square home. The Spot of Tea rests in between them, is quite famous for its strawberry tea, and tourists and locals alike seem to congregate in the square, all in the protective shadows of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral at the Square

View From Space 301

Wintzell's is a famous restaurant on Dauphin Street, right across the street from the Cathedral Square Gallery where you can see these paintings, is known for offering some of the best oysters found in the South. While you eat, you can spend time conversing with friends, or simply reading the thousands of iconic sayings on the wall amidst the pictures of famous folks who had graced the place. Ben Franklin would have been proud.  The Bike Shop, or Dauphin Street Taqueria, is a local bar/eatery with an authentic, double-decked bus parked right outside. If the bus isn't enough to peek your interest, then the fish tacos must. Hands down, best fish tacos I have ever eaten.

The Bike Shop on Dauphin

It's Miller Time at Wintzell's

When it comes to quaint stops, Bienville Books and the Haunted Book Loft has got to be top on the list. My favorite bookstore of all time, offers vintage and hard to find books at prices you wouldn't believe if I told you. They also offer this wonderful t-shirt that says, "I Read Dead People," which makes me laugh every time I see it.

Bienville Books on Dauphin at Royal

So far,  I have about 15 pieces in my series with plans to finish it up with 30 paintings showcasing the unique beauty and attractions our city has to offer. My next blog  will focus on the beautiful Spring Hill College campus which is near and dear to our family's heart. Until then, if you have friends looking to visit Mobile, share this blog with them. I have included several links they might find helpful. You can view all of my landmark paintings HERE and you can purchase prints of them through my Ardithian Arts Etsy Shop. Mobile, a beautiful city where you hardly ever meet a stranger. Just ask Henry, King of Clark's Gas Station.

Henry, King of Clark's Station

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th A Black Letter Day

Twin Tanks, Twin Towers   watercolor/mixed media

I woke up this morning with the memory of the events of September 11th fresh on my mind and found it a melancholic way to wake. Not sure if I dreamed about it or if the media coverage had simply saturated my psyche, but it was on my mind and heart. This past week I chose to paint an image that I have loved dearly for many years, and am now quiet fond of. 

In 1999, I was fortunate enough to go to New York to be on the teacher's advisory panel for Scholastic. Our meetings were held at the top of one of their buildings and I found myself wishing I could stand on their rooftop indefinitely, because the view was simply amazing. I had my camera with me, the kind that had the panoramic mode which took wide photos, so the clicking began and I came home with two photos of the New York skyline. At the time, I didn't realize how meaningful they would be, and honestly, I wish they were simply shots of the city, not shots of a skyline that is no more.  Nevertheless, I came home, filed the pictures away, and regarded my only visit to New York quite fondly. 

September 11th, 2001 was a red letter day for the entire world, or should I say a black one. I was teaching 3rd grade at Collier Elementary, and the word began to spread through the halls. Those of us who had  televisions could only turn them on with the mute button because we were asked not to tell the students about it until we knew more.  Mute was more than enough because those images screamed with more pain and emotion than any commentator could have ever shared. My student teacher at time explained to me that his mother lived a block away from the towers, and his face paled. 

I told him to go and make some phone calls, which he did, but he returned with no news and chose to continue teaching despite the fears I knew were racing through his head. I felt it was a testament of faith and courage on his part. It took three days before he learned the fate of his mother. Three days of not knowing, praying, hoping, but not knowing. Three days in the midst of our countries darkest hours. His mother did make it out, but the fear of all that ensued after that day was palpable and the days that followed were simply dark. 

I often wonder about the families that lost loved ones that day. I often wonder about the sheer number of losses we suffered. According to New York Magazine, here are a few of those numbers:

The initial numbers are indelible: 8:46 a.m. and 9:02 a.m. Time the burning towers stood: 56 minutes and 102 minutes. Time they took to fall: 12 seconds. From there, they ripple out.
  • Total number killed in attacks (official figure as of 9/5/02): 2,819
  • Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343
  • Number of NYPD officers: 23
  • Number of Port Authority police officers: 37
  • Number of WTC companies that lost people: 60
  • Number of employees who died in Tower One: 1,402
  • Number of employees who died in Tower Two: 614
  • Number of employees lost at Cantor Fitzgerald: 658
  • Number of U.S. troops killed in Operation Enduring Freedom: 22
  • Number of nations whose citizens were killed in attacks: 115
  • Ratio of men to women who died: 3:1
  • Age of the greatest number who died: between 35 and 39
  • Bodies found "intact": 289
  • Body parts found: 19,858
  • Number of families who got no remains: 1,717
  • Estimated units of blood donated to the New York Blood Center: 36,000
  • Total units of donated blood actually used: 258
  • Number of people who lost a spouse or partner in the attacks: 1,609
  • Estimated number of children who lost a parent: 3,051
  • Percentage of Americans who knew someone hurt or killed in the attacks: 20
  • FDNY retirements, January–July 2001: 274
  • FDNY retirements, January–July 2002: 661
  • Number of firefighters on leave for respiratory problems by January 2002: 300
  • Number of funerals attended by Rudy Giuliani in 2001: 200
  • Number of FDNY vehicles destroyed: 98
  • Tons of debris removed from site: 1,506,124
  • Days fires continued to burn after the attack: 99
  • Jobs lost in New York owing to the attacks: 146,100
  • Days the New York Stock Exchange was closed: 6
  • Point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average when the NYSE reopened: 684.81
  • Days after 9/11 that the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan: 26
  • Total number of hate crimes reported to the Council on American-Islamic Relations nationwide since 9/11: 1,714
  • Economic loss to New York in month following the attacks: $105 billion
  • Estimated cost of cleanup: $600 million
  • Total FEMA money spent on the emergency: $970 million
  • Estimated amount donated to 9/11 charities: $1.4 billion
  • Estimated amount of insurance paid worldwide related to 9/11: $40.2 billion
  • Estimated amount of money needed to overhaul lower-Manhattan subways: $7.5 billion
  • Amount of money recently granted by U.S. government to overhaul lower-Manhattan subways: $4.55 billion
  • Estimated amount of money raised for funds dedicated to NYPD and FDNY families: $500 million
  • Percentage of total charity money raised going to FDNY and NYPD families: 25
  • Average benefit already received by each FDNY and NYPD widow: $1 million
  • Percentage increase in law-school applications from 2001 to 2002: 17.9
  • Percentage increase in Peace Corps applications from 2001 to 2002: 40
  • Percentage increase in CIA applications from 2001 to 2002: 50
  • Number of songs Clear Channel Radio considered "inappropriate" to play after 9/11: 150
  • Number of mentions of 9/11 at the Oscars: 26
  • Apartments in lower Manhattan eligible for asbestos cleanup: 30,000
  • Number of apartments whose residents have requested cleanup and testing: 4,110
  • Number of Americans who changed their 2001 holiday-travel plans from plane to train or car: 1.4 million
  • Estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder as a result of 9/11: 422,000
They are humbling to me. My life changed, along with so many others around the world. But for each of the numbers above, there is a life that was altered in ways that I can't fathom because I am blessed to be where I am. I remember the gas lines, the grocery stores having empty shelves, the images played over and over and over. But what I never experienced was the terror of hearing, of receiving the news that my loved one was gone. Gives me chills just thinking about it.

I recalled the photograph I took back in 1999 and realized the importance of the image, at least for me. And as I began my landmark series I knew that would be the first that I would paint. It was my way of simply honoring the lives, the loss, the heroes, and our way of life. That painting is at the top of this page and a few others, from Mobile, are below.  The New York one is the only one not from Mobile in the series. I plan on spending some time today praying for all those families who find waking up on this day to be one they would rather sleep through. May God be with them and you.

Bienville Square Fountain in Mobile, watercolor/mixed media
St. Joseph's at Spring Hill College, Mobile, Al. 
You can see all of the images in my Landmark Series here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How Do You Start Your Day?

Biological clocks fascinate me a bit. It doesn't matter how tired I am, at 7am my internal clock goes off with a bing and a bang! I could lay there and fight it, but it does me no good. Rolling out of bed to brew the cup of Joe that I have only come to appreciate in this last year, is a pattern I have found myself in, and can I share a secret? I LOVE it!

Not the coffee, that is more of a 'like', but the routine, of waking, seeing a new day with all its possibilities, and embracing it thoughtfully, quietly, makes my spirit content. Often I pray, often I read through my art journal, often I write down my thoughts, but ALWAYS I breathe. I breathe deeply and slowly. I breathe in God and out everything else. I breathe in courage and out fear. I breathe in peace and out drama. I breathe in the love I have for my hubs and family, and breathe out love into the world. And then I step forward into my day. 

So tell do you start yours?

And as always, I must include art into my day so this morning, after all my breathing and drinking Joe, the beauty of the ivy that surrounded me made me think. God must love green, in fact, I wonder if it's his favorite color. But, it's not mine, and I couldn't leave well enough alone. A wild hair got the better of me and I chose  to give one green leaf a little "personality". Even bugs and critters and birds need a little art in their world too, so I gave them some. May your day be filled with beauty today, even in the darkest moments.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Can Art Change the World?

I was recently interviewed by Art is Moving and they asked me this question: Is art moving and can it change the world? My answer was this:

"If it's not then I don't know what is and changes the world every moment of every day. When an artistic idea is born, the world is changed. When it is shared, an energy is created around us and we move and interact within it. Socially, humans interpret the world differently, but within the same context of being artistically natured. Nature itself is art, and as nature evolves, so do we and how we respond to it. Art is so varied, as we all are, but within that variety we share much of the same urges and desires to express ourselves....and art is a natural form of that expression. I may not love, agree with, or find certain forms of art appealing, and some may even be offensive to my personal sensibilities, but as an artist, I can appreciate them for being created and adding to the beautiful collective conscience we all share. It's the sharing that's the key in my opinion. As art is shared, opinions are formed, they develop into beliefs, and the beliefs are then acted upon. It's a lovely system to be a part of, simplistically complicated, but aren't we all?"

I woke up this morning thinking again about that question, reading over my answer, and realizing I was quite content with it. I wouldn't take anything away, but I will share an addition, or should I say, a passion of mine, related to it. 

Over the past 9 years I have had the beautiful experience of watching art transform me into the person I am today. When I had to give up teaching, I felt my world had collapsed on itself, and it took me a long time to crawl out from under that belief. Art was something I enjoyed, so I turned to it in hopes that I could find some sanity while my body began to heal. Little did I know that it would become a way of life for me. I had no clue that it would awaken the spirit of creativity within me, I simply thought I would spend some time painting or drawing to take my mind off of the medical nightmares I was living through. And, I am grateful to God that he chose to use art to help heal all those parts of me that were so dark, and there were many. 

Living in the light is the way I would prefer to label my days now, and art has been a channel for that light to shine in me and through me. My passion, my dream, is to be able to use that creativity to touch others, to show them that no matter where they are on their journey, that art can be used to make that journey more beautiful. I can't bring myself to simply be an artist for profit. So, in the context of can art change the world: Yes, one person at a time. And when one shares their creativity, their inspiration with another, it lights a fire that can't be extinguished. I hope in my lifetime my actions cause the world to be ablaze with it. 

Here are few new pieces I have been working on. I love, love, love it when art tells a story. Shakespeare wrote the play, "Much Ado About Nothing" which I found beautiful and hilarious. I chose that text as my background in this mixed media piece, "Beatrice Pulled A Fast One," because her sharp wit was so fresh and entertaining throughout the play. 

Because I am of course, obsessed  with doll parts, LOL, I worked with some unconventional doll forms in photography. I would have loved to share this with a class of students and had them write about these "Fruit Beings" and their adventures. 

(All Images copyright of the artist)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Baking Edgar and ATC Musings

I baked Edgar. Yes, dear, sweet Edgar, protector of prayers, spreader of joy, one hot looking, studly dude...I baked him. Actually, it was for his own good because had I not thrown him in that super hot oven, he would have smeared his comb over, and we just couldn't have that now, could we?

Edgar is one of my Ardithian creations using a bottle I found buried in a dump pile and polymer clay. I decided he needed to be a prayer protector, so the prayer he protects says this: "May you days be filled with love and joy always." I think Edgar will do a perfect job making sure that prayer gets to the big guy upstairs, I mean, come on....who would wound a soul like Edgar?

Alas....I have also bitten the ATC apple of obsession. Actually, until I move some of my larger pieces, I decided to work on some smaller themes and play around with ideas. Art Trading Cards and mail art are two perfect ways to do that. My most favorite format is 4" by 4", but ATC's are always 2.5" by 3.5", or playing card sized, and those aren't too bad to alter. Several of my friends are into inchies, and although I have prepared some for paper, that tiny size is a bit too hard to work with when my neck has to look down so often so I may just leave the inchies to them.

It's the beginning of September and I am forced, yes, forced to be thinking about what items I need to prepare for my Christmas show. I now understand why we see holiday items in stores so early, which I really dread, but from a retail sense I get it now. Lots going on in the art world in Mobile these days which is a wonderful thing. I plan on sharing some local events and local artist on my blog in the next few weeks. If you know of an artist that wants some 'media coverage', and not the MSNBC kind, shoot me an email.

Until then, Edgar and I are going to have a conversation about his friends, or lack there of, and I plan on introducing him to Found Baby. I think she might just find his comb over quite appealing, LOL!