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Handsome Hunk and I have a Sunday ritual during the winter. We head to the club in the morning for a workout (I take an hour spin class) and then we linger over breakfast in the café. It takes the edge off the cold, gray days and gives us a false sense of accomplishment for the weekend. We then plow through two Sunday newspapers and often make soup to last the week.

In addition to adding to the work-in-progress encaustic diptych above, I played with my new acrylic paints today. What surprises me, is that acrylics take longer to dry then I thought they would. I’m painting layers that I plan to sand through in different places, so making sure each layer dries before I paint another is important—I think. Right now it’s all about experimenting since I’m used to painting with oils.

Recently I stumbled across Katherine Cartwright’s blog dedicated to the “advancement of critical thinking in art.” In her most recent post, Paint for Yourself, she proclaims, “the point is that I need to paint for myself and the odds are that few people will feel the same way I do about my paintings. And, when you get right down to it, what’s the point of painting from someone else’s view anyway?” Amen.

Yesterday I spent ten minutes of every hour imagining I was paddling about in the beautiful turquoise water of the Caribbean:

And mentally replaying our walk through the botanic gardens on the island:

C’mon Mother Nature, you can do it. Let’s hear it for Spring!!

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It’s been a year and 90 posts since I started blogging as an outlet for sharing, communicating, organizing my thoughts, expanding my horizons and connecting with interesting people. Today I refreshed the look and feel of the blog…very subtle, I know. I’ll change the header picture eventually, but on this cold, gray day I like the happy colors in the current one.

A little dis a little dat—that’s what I talk about in this blog and my “Blogs That I Visit” list is eclectic too: art, interior design, fashion and more.  I’ve updated the list, so you may want to peruse it again and visit some of the links.

Today is my Dad’s birthday. HAPPY 84 DAD!!! Still as handsome as ever. When I was young, all my girlfriends commented on this. I think his curiosity and creativity (he’s a woodworker, carver) keep him young.

Dad, Grandma, et moi:

And in case you were wondering, I did keep my promise to enter the Encaustic Art Challenge on Facebook (you can read my previous post about it here) even though my I made it just under the wire. In fact it’s the first one you’ll see when you click here to view all of the entries. That’s because it was the very LAST entry. Since I was strapped for time, I spent only a few hours in the studio working on the two panels (though I entered only one of them), took a photo and uploaded it to Facebook. It was fun because it was quick and I didn’t labor over it.

Here is the inspiration photo of the earth from space that I chose as a point of reference. The electric colors caught my attention.

And here is my encaustic painting (2 panels):

And a close up of the right-hand panel:

I hope you find something to celebrate today too!

The Facebook Group, Encaustic Art, has issued a new challenge to create an encaustic painting (or two)  based on “The Earth as We’ve Never Seen It,” recently featured in the New Daily News. These incredible photos from USGS National Center for EROS represent various combinations of satellite images from Landsat 7 and Terra Satellites to create the vivid RGB composites seen here. The satellites acquired the images in black and white, and then assigned a different ‘false color’ to each radiation wavelength, or spectral bands, most of which are invisible to the naked eye. You can find out more about these images here.

It sounds like an interesting challenge for the new year. Below are the stunning images that interest me from the 25 total images featured in the article. It will likely depend on my mood the day I start the painting as to which one I use as a jumping off point and how I interpret it. The colors are scrumptious. I’ll share my final painting later this month and link you to the other works entered into the challenge.  Any favorite?


Choo or Cheap?

Jimmy Choo $495 or Cheaper Brand $89?

Whew, this year is off to a fierce start. In a pretty good way I think. The company I’ve been doing a lot of consulting work with over the past two years offered me a permanent position that I decided to take. It was an extremely tough decision (imagine weeping and gnashing of teeth on my part) but Handsome Hunk and I weighed the pluses and minuses and it seems the right thing to do. I’ve tried to balance this commitment with new thinking…if I use up my vacation allotment, I can take unpaid vacation days, and I plan to. This makes a difference when your kids live so far away. So don’t cry Argentina I tell myself—smile and enjoy, there are a lot of people I know who would love to have fulltime work right now. I was taking every consulting job anyway, fearful that the well would dry up, so I didn’t have a lot of wide-open time to paint except for about 6 wks last spring. But that was really the first time I ever felt in the “flow” with my painting and it was very productive. The challenge now is figuring out a way to recreate that while working fulltime.

Trip planning at the beginning of each year is something HH and I love to do.  We’re headed to the Cayman Islands for a week in early February…some diving, swimming to prep for a triathlon (mini version!), walking on the beach and drinking in the sun. Of course I needed a new swimsuit that I ordered online (it beats the anguish of trying a suit on in the store) and a pareo. Plus I bought some XL men’s shirts from Filene’s in fun colors to wear as bathing suit covers…boyfriend shirts are in style I hear.

Speaking of sun, I ordered a Verilux light for seasonal affectiveness disorder that I try to sit in front of for an hour each morning. It’s only been a week but so far so good. I’ve noticed that I’m sleeping much better and feeling more energetic.

Back to trip planning: A spring trip to Victoria, BC to see my daughter and family. A trip in June to Barcelona, Spain, to meet up with my son who lives in Prague. Hopefully a long weekend hiking in one of our beautiful National Parks this summer. Another trip (or two) back to Victoria, and a 4-day Caribbean cruise with college girlfriends to celebrate our major milestone birthdays this fall (I know it’s also hurricane season). Throw in a long weekend in NYC around Memorial Day and you can see why I thought going back to work was a good idea! Love those air miles.

My recipe file. I see it, I rip it out and drop it in here. The Holly Hobby cover is to a little recipe book I got 30+ years ago. It holds some stellar family recipes even though it doesn't look very appetizing!

Last Friday  it was my turn to host book club. It’s fun to dig through my recipe file and come up with something new to make. We read White Tiger, so I opted for ordering Indian food from a nearby restaurant, but I did make a lemon almond sponge cake that was delicious with chocolate hazelnut gelato. Our next book is an older one (late 1980s I think), In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard.  Today I picked up The Privileges and The Gospel According to Coco Chanel from the library.

It’s been gloomy here in the midwest, so my shoe connoisseur husband and I headed to Nordstrom yesterday to find shoes for me. I can be decisive about many things, but for some reason I get hung up about shoes. I ended up with four pairs thanks to his encouragement. Move over Imelda.

On the way home we stopped at Home Depot and had a 4’x8’ board of plywood cut into pieces for new encaustic paintings. I’m starting to work larger, so one of them will be 3’x4’. My son and book club friends were complimentary about the direction my art is going, so I feel encouraged.

One of the casualties of the new job schedule is my 3x a week 8am boot camp. So I’m back to two personal training sessions a week. I believe in investing in keeping my body healthy, even if I’m probably never again going to be a skinny minny.

Let’s see what else? I capitulated and bought an iphone. I felt too fuddy duddy with my Tracfone.  We’ve also squeezed in a play starring Brian Dennehy and a few romantic date nights in the past weeks. Next weekend we’re going to see The Windy City Rollers, I think Roller Derby qualifies as a new adventure (my keyword for this year)!

PS. The top shoe is the Choo (not the one I got)

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We had a last minute reprieve from going to the land of the effusive, though I do regret I won’t be seeing some of our close friends. But since I took the day off, I’ve been happily playing around our place this morning. So far, so fun!

Last week I finished the paintings I had in progress so it was high time to clean the studio. When I’m in the flow, I somehowDSCF2030 manage to paint amid the chaos that accumulates as I work. I’ve always been oblivious to how much paint I get on me until I glance in the mirror and see it streaked across my face or see blotches of color in the bathtub that have come from my feet. Let’s face it, I am not known for being a neatnik. When I was younger I applauded the needlepoint pillows I saw that proclaimed, “A clean house is the sign of a life misspent,” and similar sayings about creative messes.

After cleaning up the studio, I used the wax scrapings from previous paintings to prime several boards for new paintings. It’s too expensive to just toss all that wax like I used to do before that dim light bulb in my head came on with an aha! thought.

Little things excite me. I had the fun of christening my new heat gun that I got from Ace Hardware online. SO MUCH BETTER than the little one I had from the art store. It has different tips that can be used as diffusers and different heat and blow settings that allow me to have more control. Since it’s larger, it also saves time fusing the wax. And at least with the flat diffuser I tried today, I’ve noticed that I can eliminate those little pits in the wax that are a bugaboo for encaustic painters.

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I love the way my heat palette looked with old wax on it:

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DSCF2032After taking the studio pictures, I had my camera in hand and took these shots of our mantle with a little collection of white ceramic vases I display from time to time. The sensual shapes, slight variations of monochromatic colors and different sheens please me.

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Now, I’m going to grab an umbrella and walk to the library to pick up a few books I have on hold. Has anyone read any of these?

The Girl Who Played with Fire
On Moving: A Writer’s Meditation on New Houses, Old Haunts, and Finding Home Again
Olive Kitteridge
How We Decide
You or Someone Like You: A Novel

If you’d like to share any reviews of books you’re reading and photos of your studio/creative space, please send them to me for a future post!.

Summer is fleeting. I hope you grab some of it this weekend!

I’ve felt productive these past few weeks, and it feels wonderful. My productivity has been in accomplishing some of the things I’ve always wanted to do such as focus on my creativity, but it doesn’t preclude contemplating my navel. I’ve always valued my down time when nothing is planned or expected of me. But now, even my down time seems ultimately more productive and satisfying. Maybe the guilt I’ve experienced from procrastination and dreams unrealized has moved on to greener pastures.

I feel that I am discovering, tapping into thoughts and feelings, unraveling and expressing. The voyage metaphor seems apt. A journey with an uncertain destination, yet the anticipation of the unexpected. Right now, I’m contemplating whether or not my latest encaustic is actually completed. I wish I had an expansive studio to hang my pieces on a large blank wall and encounter them unexpectedly as I walk into the room or turn around. It would help to see a painting with more detachment.

Encaustic Painting, 36"x24"

Encaustic Painting, 36"x24"

And, I’ve also been doing a free Deepening Creativity e-course designed by Shelley Klammer, Intuitive Artist. It involves taking 10 minutes each morning to create a spontaneous collage by selecting imagery in magazines that may feel vivid and exciting or that evoke an emotion. Shelley uses phrases on her Web site that appeal to me such as “Trust Invites Intuition,” “Visionary Creativity Can Be Accessed in Small Daily Ways,” and “There is Great Creativity Beneath Our Everyday Thinking.” To create a collage, she recommends that you suspend thinking to learn how to create effortlessly without planning. I look forward to this exercise each morning, it’s been more enjoyable for me than the daily writing recommended in The Artist’s Way that I tried years ago. Here are the six collages I’ve created so far:

I love color. I love flowers. I am torn between city life and rural life. I want a garden.

I love color. I love flowers. I am torn between city life and rural life. I want a garden.

Most of the magazines that I keep around relate to decorating. My art magazines, I rip out pictures and discard the magazine or put on the shelf by the mailbox downstairs for others to enjoy. I love food.

Most of the magazines that I keep around relate to decorating. My art magazines, I rip out pictures and discard the magazine or put on the shelf by the mailbox downstairs for others to enjoy. I love food.

I think I was feeling a bit blue and trapped this day.

I think I was feeling a bit blue and trapped this day.

I love to swim. The water seems so enveloping and soothing. The pool and surroundings remind me of a spot in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris where I chatted with a friend from South Africa I hadn't seen for 30 years.

I love to swim. The water seems so enveloping and soothing. The pool and surroundings remind me of a spot in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris where I chatted with a friend from South Africa I hadn't seen for 30 years.

Since I am between jobs, my future is uncertain.

Since I am between jobs, my future is uncertain.

Love the colors and sensual shape of the lamp base. Shoes to die for.

Love the colors and sensual shape of the lamp base. Shoes to die for.

What are you contemplating at this point in your life, your career, your relationship, your art? Inquiring minds want to know.

I think it’s time to go outside for a long walk, maybe it will help me get some perspective and locate my mojo. It hasn’t bothered me too much that it’s been a rainy week here in Chicago because I’ve been busy. Among other things, I’ve been working on an encaustic painting and I started sewing one of the dresses I bought fabric for.

Today I got the dress to the point where I could try it on and I have to say, I just don’t like it. Maybe it’s my body shape I’m not feeling too friendly toward right now, but I think I’ll put the dress aside and take a fresh look in a few weeks. And I’ve worked on the encaustic painting to the point that I don’t know how I feel about it, truthfully. Remember I was going to write a goal for each painting per Twyla Tharp’s suggestion? For this painting I wrote down, “keep it simple.” Yet, I found myself getting ever more intricate with it. I tried to tame the complexity and busyness with more structure —adding some order to the “chaos” beneath.

It’s often difficult for me to have perspective on my paintings. I think it’s time to put this one aside, like my dress, and take another look at it in a few days or weeks. Right now I’m on the brink of feeling discouraged. Maybe I just need a change of venue, so I’ll head outdoors for a walk between the rain showers. To quote Scarlett O’Hara, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Here’s the encaustic painting with found objects (24″x24″) that I worked on this week :DSCF1582

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And here are some other examples of my encaustic paintings:

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dont_fret

I couldn’t believe it the other day when my husband brought home this bit of paper he picked up a few blocks away from our place. He’s a scavenger for found objects just like me. It’s a little marker sketch drawn on a post office label that says: Art is Hard, Don’t Fret.

This little find seems karmic for me at this point. Breaking my “losing” streak, I actually made it down the hallway, all twenty feet of it, into my studio this past week and completed an encaustic painting to get the feel of the wax again.

24"x24" Encaustic

24"x24" Encaustic

I’ve found it surprisingly helpful to employ some of the ritual techniques that were discussed in the Twyla Tharp book I reviewed in a previous post. Now each day, I walk into my studio, turn on music and stretch or dance. Then I decide what color I feel that day and document it. One day I was “puddles of pink” which sounds a bit Pepto-Bismolish and nauseating now…but hey, I was going with the flow. Trying new things. I’ve also started writing down a mission statement for each painting to provide guidance when I need it. I feel very optimistic about art and life in general these days. Happy weekend!