Thursday, December 19, 2013

Great Gift for Beach Lovers

Do you have people in your life who make a positive difference? Here's a gift that a friend of mine discovered that is a way to let them know they're special to you.

Starfish Necklace
I am happy to make this necklace for you or a friend or family member who is special to you. Convo me at Dreamkeeper Creations on Etsy if you have an interest. It's based on a story that Loren Eiseley wrote about making a difference in this beautiful world. The version I love the most is this one:

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, 
"It made a difference for that one.” 

Downloaded from 12/20/13

This Christmas one of my favorite customers ordered 5 necklaces for people in her life that she appreciates and she wanted them to know this. So she asked me to do something based on this story. Each person's necklace was unique to them - I asked her what colors they love, and my muse took over from there.

Each necklace includes a sterling silver starfish charm, plus a beautiful focal bead that represents the colors this person loves, plus a lovely fluffy bunch of accent beads, including rice pearls, a potato pearl, and gemstone beads that pull out the colors in the focal bead and enhance the physical energies of the wearer.

This person loves red!
The description my customer gave me of this person was that she loves red and fun, funky jewelry. So I used a gorgeous handmade lampwork lentil bead that suggests the playful movement of water with it's splashy painted design. The accent beads include bamboo coral and agate, rice pearls and the sterling silver starfish charm. 

Golds and coppers
For another friend of hers, who loves gold and copper colors, my muse chose a coppery smooth disk made of shell, and accent beads of agate, hematite, rice pearls, potato pearls and glass, plus the special sterling silver starfish charm.

Blues and Lapis
For another one of her friends she wanted blues, so my muse chose a gorgeous handmade lampwork bead by Grace Ma, and we added Swarovski crystal beads, agate, onyx, and rice pearls as well as a potato pearl.

Warm earth colors
For another friend and colleague who loves warm earth colors, browns, greens, and oranges, we chose a gorgeous agate focal bead, and added agate, hematite, rice pearls, potato pearl, and the starfish charm.

Each recipient will receive a 20" sterling chain that feels like silk when you run it through you fingers, so smooth and flexible, plus a shorter 16" leather necklace with sterling end caps and lobster clasp in case they want to wear their necklaces a bit shorter.

They also get a copy of the story along with the reminder that the gift giver considers them something special - a "starfish tosser" - someone who makes a real difference in this world.

I had such a good time making these necklaces and was charmed at how different each one is, unique to the wearer, but holding the same message: you are special.

I LOVE doing custom creations. Don't hesitate to contact me for ideas you may have. Many good things are born of good minds and hearts working together, and the gift keeps on giving each time the wearer puts it on.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dance with Destiny - new ink image

Destiny shows me her dance steps
For my Wonderlit course we had an exercise where we had to write "the catalyst" for change.

Michelle said "Let it [the catalyst for change] describe itself--even if you've simply called it "emptiness" or "longing." She said, "Make sure to use strong language, especially verbs."

I perceived that the catalyst for change in The Dragon Slayer is "destiny," because he isn't the one who makes the decision to go slay the Dragon; he's chosen by one of the other noble warriors.

When I reread the first draft I felt that I had taken the suggestion to "use lots of action verbs" too seriously: the dialog below shows how I first imagined Destiny would talk to Dobrynya, the hero, who's been chosen to free the princess and the people of the kingdom from the twelve-tailed Dragon:

"I am Destiny. I am Fate. Hear my call summoning you. You've had enough time to practice, now it's time for the real thing. Get up! Listen! Act! (see my action verbs? ugh) Apply yourself! You have been chosen for this. Now is the right time!! (! do you think I put in enough exclamation points?!) I will give you strength and determination. I will stay with you; haven't I stayed with you all these long years? Now is the time to act, for you are very well prepared. Do not fear, but carry on!"

This dialog feels kind of like a kid getting yelled at by their mother. So I slept on it, and when I woke up I decided to change it. (This is one of the things I like best about writing, that we can change things.) I rewrote how I imagined Destiny would communicate with Dobrynya. (I kind of see everything in life as preparation for what comes next, like a puzzle where at the end all the pieces fit together to make a beautiful tapestry. In the story, Dobrynya has won many battles as a noble warrior, so one thought I had was that Destiny had been there for the ride all the way and she could take a gentler, more encouraging tone with this Dragon battle).


Destiny is patient, kind, and knowing. She has been riding with me all along. She sees and knows everything, so her eyes are important. She is beautiful, timeless; she wears the colors of the rainbow.

She says, "At last I get to meet you, Dobrynya. We are longtime associates. You are one of my favorites. You have a good heart and you are full of love. Come with me as you face the Dragon. Relax into me and let me be your wings. My sister is Fate and she is the culmination of all that you and I do together. We create fate in the journey of our destiny. Fate is legacy. Fate is all that you have done and said. Fate is the reflection of all that you are. Fate is love because you are love, and love always wins. Come with us now more consciously--and use your special gifts. You've earned them. Share them with the people of the kingdom to free them from the Dragon's cave. We are with you."

In another exercise we, as students, imagine ourselves in the protagonist's situation. In doing that I drew the image above that shows me (on the left), quite the ingenue, with offerings of sunflowers for my meeting with Destiny. I'm dressed in soft pink fabric with a golden sash (to represent limitation without the "magical" gifts, but not too restrictive). Destiny has no restrictions. She has more freedom and takes my arm to show me her dance steps (how to develop the magical gifts). She is a world traveler with very few limitations. She has a treasure box full of wonderful magical things for me to explore. She has, by her side, Crow, who represents Cosmic Law.

I think we all have special gifts and talents to use in our lives, and the little stars by my head in the image represent that. We can reach out and grab one if we want, and in the image Destiny helps "me" do that.

I still need to draw her sister Fate, which I'm contemplating. Am not sure if she'll appear in this picture (probably) or in another (probably). Anyway, the work is totally fun, not so much work as play, and the journey is interesting. I think the artwork is coalescing - which is part of what I'm looking for in this course. I am getting better able to convey feelings that may be common to others, and in that way, maybe can share a little comaraderie.

I will paint this after I finish drawing it. Should be beautiful--wish me good luck!


Monday, December 9, 2013

New Learning - Wonderlit Rocks!

Story Map
Well I'm about 6 weeks into retirement and pursuing some of the things my new "boss" encouraged me to pursue in order to create new foundations and directions (similar to what I did when I started my job as an instructional designer - learning is a great way to "resituate").

I'm about halfway through the Wonderlit course, and it is sooo much fun - multifaceted, and the learning is applicable to where the student has been, where the student is now, and where the student intends to go. It's very interesting from the instructional design point of view to experience how the course author pegged so many of the things that students are demanding these days, such as very personalized learning, total engagement, options (no single answer is the only right answer), applicability, depth, etc.

The image above is from an exercise that included a lot of thinking and application of course concepts; it is a drawing depicting the passage of the protagonist in a fairy tale of our choosing. I chose The Dragon Slayer from Fairy Tales of Russia, an old, old book that my parents used to read to me when I was very young. The illustrations in this story are so beautiful; they're what first sparked my love of art.

I love this image of Dobrynya fighting the twelve-tailed Dragon from the book Fairy Tales of Russia.
One of the course author, Michelle Tocher's beliefs is that fairy tales have much to teach us, and students often tend to focus on the ones that most directly reflect our life path or current circumstances when we begin to really study a storyline.

She teaches us about Joseph Campbell and his work with mythology and religion. Michelle herself has a strong background in the history of science and religion as well as journalism, communications, and storytelling (nice combination of skillsets!). In her course, we learn how to immerse ourselves in the story, really studying the story from many different viewpoints (including the characters themselves, whether human or inanimate, including magical forces), and we learn how to associate the archetypal lessons with some of life's real-life lessons and events.

My Story Map
When we apply the same storymapping technique to the events in our real world lives, it can be very interesting as well as confirming. My little map depicts the beginning of my real-life story at the point where I was a single mom with two beautiful children to raise on my own. I traveled from the mountains of Colorado to the town where my sister lived, where there happened to be a wonderful university, the largest employer of that little town. I worked there for 16 years while raising my kids, but at the point where they left home to go out into the world and spread their own wings, I filled the void left by their absence with art (of course). I happily worked on it many nights and most weekends into the wee hours, but after about three years of that schedule, I became very tired, and realized I had to choose between the day job and the artwork. It was a hard choice because I was very invested in both, but the art of my heart won.

Sometimes the universe has to kick us in the butt before we'll listen and my crisis point where I felt the kick was when I was in the kitchen talking with my husband one evening. I was in a place in our house that probably wouldn't pass code today (old house), where the basement door and the studio door and the door to the outside converge. It's a very small space. I was waving my arms about and my hand hit the little window on the outside door. To our surprise, the window broke into a thousand pieces, and that was the point of decision - we became silent, looking at the little pieces of glass on the floor and I suddenly woke up and realized I could no longer burn my candle at both ends. So I made the choice to take the leap into the art world, and what a gift that has been, though leaving my other world was very hard.

So my story map above shows me stepping off the "magic carpet" (which is the office floor at my university) and into the new and developing world.

Illustrating a message dream.
Another image I've done for this course is a depiction of a dream I had which represents a conversation I had with my husband about starting a new business. The image shows me holding a child (the child is "the new artistic endeavors/the business which is being "birthed" - in the dream it was a toddler because I had been working on it, but it was still very young). I'm standing next to my husband in the doorway of our home. The dining room represents the state of the "heart's dream," (to devote myself to art exclusively), and in the dream it was in a state of neglect (since I was more committed to the university job). So there are chairs turned over, spiderwebs, a little box of new tools that says "please open," and symbols representing the four elements - air (the window), earth (the plant), water (half-empty pitcher), and fire (unlit candle). The four elements are elements that must be present (and active) in order for the "thought" to become "reality"; for "matter to manifest." There is also the fifth element, spirit, which is represented in the union of the man and the woman (male = action plus female = intuition or receiving nature). When all these elements combine, the dream becomes reality.

So for this Wonderlit course, I've been doing the textual/thinking lesson work and supplementing it with some visual work, which is very fun. The next thing I get to draw is Destiny and her sister Fate. Can't wait to see how that one turns out. I will be painting these at some point. Right now am drawing them faster than I can keep up painting them, plus have several lovely commissioned bead orders for Christmas that I need to get done in the next few days.

Check back to see the painted versions and to meet Destiny and Fate : )

Along with the Wonderlit activities, I'm reading some really good books, which include Right Brain Business Plan, The Gift, and Make Art Make Money (a study of Jim Henson's philosophies) - really great stuff for creative people.

I think this learning will provide some direction for where my artwork goes. It also is helping to strengthen my writing for some other projects I've been working on (Tree Book, Tree Book, more info to come!!!!).

Thanks for checking in - hope your journeys are rewarding as well!


Monday, November 25, 2013

American Indian Inspiration

Coyote Listening
Some of my best paintings are from the period when I was working on the American Indian stories. The watercolor painting above depicts Coyote as he enters the village of the Wolf People who have stolen his grandsons and tied them to the centerpole in their roundhouse. His grandsons hold the light (they're "enlightened"), and the Wolf People have no light (they're ignorant and caught up in "group think"), so have kidnapped them and Coyote is there to rescue them.

Coyote's Village
This watercolor depicts village life around Clear Lake, which is the territory where the American Indians lived (and still live close to), whose stories are so wonderful. It is amusing to me that I made a mistake in drawing the fish and didn't realize it until later. When you catch fish and cook them like this over a fire (Internet wasn't available for easy research when I did this painting and I didn't think to check on this), you would probably run the stick through the gills of the fish, so that they would be hanging tails down. I have the stick running right through the middle of the fish, which is most likely totally wrong.

However, I forgive the error, as the picture is nevertheless able to convey the beauty and sense of community in the way these people lived. Everyone has a task and tasks are accomplished together. They didn't live with the "every man for himself" mentality that seems to riddle through many facets of American society today (especially political, medical, and commercial/business enterprises); they believed in doing what was "good for the whole." This is what I love and admire about many "primitive" tribes. I have learned from them that they were/are a lot less barbaric than many aspects of our society today.

Coyote's Grandfather passes to the other world
The watercolor above depicts Coyote's grandfather passing away, and in it I've tried to convey the belief of these people in the continuance of life. It amazes me that in their stories their teachings are pure and unadulterated--they understood energy in ways that we are only beginning to discover, including the energy of people--physicality vs. other planes or levels of existence. We think we're discovering new things through science and interdisciplinary sharing of information when all along it's been there if only we could be humble enough to listen instead of overrun.

So my new directions are taking me into the exploration of the threads of gold that run through all cultures, all religions--the good, life sustaining teachings that keep us whole and in community with each other.

I know I want to be a part of this understanding and work in support of it, though I'm not yet sure what my contributions will be, but am thoroughly enjoying the journey.

I lately find that the quote that is uppermost in my mind is the one that goes "if you are not part of the solution you're part of the problem." I'm spending time connecting with as many people as possible who are actively what I consider part of the solution (which includes many in the educational fields, as education helps to change lives for the better, and enables people to get out and make a difference).

With my art I'm asking myself what I can put out into the world that will add beauty, lend strength, will not clutter it up with useless, meaningless plastic garbage that just contributes to the pollution of our beautiful delicate planet--we'll see how this all arranges itself. For now the journey is pretty interesting.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Superstitions - How they make us good at our jobs

Lucky Green Shirt
I have some superstitions that must be upheld in order to secure success. Do you? If so, do you embrace them or do you feel weird about them?

I've always loved art, and have been completely unable to resist its call, no matter what time it is, no matter what my obligations might be for the next day; if I feel the call of drawing, painting, or writing, I must answer. 

HOWEVER! I am a bit weird about it - have been this way since the beginning, when I was about 11. When I first started drawing and painting seriously many years ago, I would put on my lucky green shirt each time, and the paintings or drawings would turn out great. If I didn't have it on, the pictures wouldn't turn out well. As a result, I wore the original green shirt for years and years during creative bouts - but eventually of course it wore out. I kept it so that I could at least touch it before starting a project or after a while, just look at it. Eventually just knowing it was there worked. (Shades of Pavlov going on here I'm sure.) After several years I had to consign it to the ragbag, so searched to find a replacement. Ta da, the soft green shirt above serves very well (it's a bit too big for me but I bought it anyway since it was similar to the original and they didn't have my actual size), but I've no longer a need to put it on, look at it, or touch it to have a picture turn out well, however, knowing it's in my closet is a good and comforting thing. 

Superstition #2 The Paper Towel
Painting with watercolor is as much about laying the colors down as it is about blotting them up. Control of the medium is very important. I always use a paper towel, but have some superstitions about this paper towel. It can take between 20 and 40 hours to complete a watercolor painting, comprising several sessions. And the thing is, I have to use the same paper towel throughout the whole process wherever possible, I have no idea why. Occasionally I need to get a fresh one, and I can never throw out the old one til the fresh one is in my hand. Something about carrying the energy over. Silly, huh?

Superstition #3 The Sacred Water Jars
I am also very particular about what containers hold the water that I paint with. When I start a painting I fill up two jars (organic spaghetti sauce jars from several years ago). One jar holds cool clear water and the other holds water with a bit of dish detergent in it so the brushes can get really clean when they need to. Yes, I do think I could paint with a different container for my water, but it comforts me to know that these jars hold the history of prior paintings and I like to use them each time. The little images on the glass must be facing a certain way (front) and I don't refill with clean water until I absolutely must. I never leave them empty during a project. Weird, huh?

Time to organize! NOW! Chaos is reigning!
Now I'll tell you a story about the OCD Gurlzz Club that I belong to. You may find that you would fit in just fine, if so, join us for lunch and giggles. I have a couple of friends that I love to go out to lunch with because we have a lot in common, and one of these things is our penchant for organizing (This will relate to painting in a minute). When we first got together we shared hilarious stories of how we do things. We organize our closets according to color. You can see in the above photo that my closet is in need of rearranging which is definitely bugging me but I'm putting it off because since I've retired and started to devote myself full-time to my artwork I need to redefine myself and I'm not sure what to keep and what to put away or give away, so this project still awaits.

Some of the other things the OCD Gurlzz do is organize the grocery cart just so as we're shopping so that when we unpack at home things are together and practically jump into the pantry and fridge properly by themselves, labels front facing of course. Another one of us flips light switches in her home so that all the doubles are either up or down, doesn't matter which direction, but they must be the same. Kudos to our husbands for going along with our foibles.

Counting Buttons
Another thing I do that reflects this behavior of comforting the self by organizing information is count buttons. Sometimes when I'm watching TV I find myself doing this. Not a problem - but I can tell you that most men take five buttons from neck to waist to cover themselves up quite nicely. (Aside: once when I was driving to work there was a shiny silver truck beside me chugging along with lights on along the bottom. Guess who counted all those lights? Tra la la....)

It's all in the details
So now we get to the painting/creativity part. This is a pen and ink drawing I did of my cat Ivy as she was playing in the windowsill with a little spinning top. The drawing is composed of thousands of tiny strokes, each of which has a direction and a "pressure" that must be pulled from the ink pen. In order to be able to do this an artist needs a certain attention to detail that many people may be blissfully oblivious of. We look at the world differently. We take in masses of information and organize that information using the creative side of our brains to create an output that makes sense. This is a tall order.

I think that this process bleeds into our "outside" lives in the ways that are thought of as superstitions or compulsions. I think I'm trying to describe the underlying type of personality characteristics that make us good at what we do, which could be interpreted by some as "superstitious" or compulsive, or even weird. For a person to be able to take in masses of information and put out something that conveys that vision in thousands of strokes, from eye to hand to paper there must be some ability to observe, take in, assimilate, and convey "data." We find ways to comfort ourselves in the process.

My conclusion is that in order to be a decent artist, one must have this ability to organize massive amounts of data in a comfortable way, and it can work successfully for us in a number of ways if we can learn to control it. I think the "superstitions" and OCDness help us to do that and enable us to be good at what we do.

Now maybe I should go wash my hands?


Clowns and Puppets - Are We This?

Bubblegum and aspirations
When I was a kid, I received an allowance - some few dollars a week for house chores, which began at the age of about 7, and I discovered I could get a good return on my money buying Bazooka bubblegum (oh those were the days).

We lived in England at the time when my favorite thing to do was to take my allowance to the little shop downtown where they would sell me 60 pieces of bubblegum for 60 cents/pence. I'd come home with a little crinkly brown paper bag chock a block full of bubblegum, not only for me to enjoy, but also to share with my friends at school. We enjoyed the comics (in those days each piece of bubblegum came with a miniature comic) almost as much as the gum itself. Blowing the biggest bubble was an ongoing competition between us. I did well, but suffered pink goo all over my cheeks and sometimes in my hair in the attempts. This little picture I did is an attempt to express the effort of just plain going for it - which has been one of the guiding features of my life. Take the risk, even though it may prove a bit sticky ; )

Just rockin'
During that time I was very close with my sister, and one of the games we played was the Rockin' Game. Each person would sit on the other person's feet and hold the other person's shoulders for balance. In this position you could rock back and forth like a personal teeter totter anytime, anywhere, which of course resulted in major giggles with some falling over and having to start again. We did this countless times while we were growing up.

The quick little drawing above, done years ago, depicts the connection and conviviality of child games. The figures are  depicted in the image of the heyoka, the American Indian teacher who brings lessons through laughter. I will probably eventually make a more professional painterly depiction of it, but the quick drawing will do for now. Did you ever do this as a kid? Or even as a grownup? If not, definitely try it, it's crazy silly fun and brings much laughter.

The optometrist
So while we're on the subject of humor, I'll include a little cartoon I created which conveys my take on the optometrist. Self explanatory. It just hits my funnybone.

And then there's this...ah sports....
Yes, the hazards of tennis. We appreciate the helpfulness of our tennis partners more than we can say.

So I did go into a bit of a puppet clown phase, which is ongoing, especially after attending some Cirque shows, which are awesome. (If you've never attended one, I highly recommend it, they're totally awesome!)

The clowns I did years ago were full of puppet magic, in that we can manipulate a puppet...or we can be the puppet that is's up to us which way that goes.

My Puppet
Black and white rendition with symmetry -

Black and white puppets with some symmetry
Colored puppets and their magic carpet

The puppets depicted here are on their magic carpet ride, having loosed their strings, they're floating free.

Sharing a bit of humor, hope it brings you a chuckle or two : )


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

White Sage Faerie done, new directions happening : )

White Sage Faerie
White Sage Faerie is finished, yay! What inspired me to do this painting is the American Indian tradition of cleansing the aura and environment with sage. Also I love the white sage growing in our garden in summertime. Nothing smells as fragrant as burning sage, and the properties of it for cleansing the aura or etheric body are amazing. Removes all negativity either within the body or the environment. Makes you feel light as a feather, really, you can tell the difference before and after.

There were some interesting challenges with this painting. One was that I am lousy at lettering and when I used my normal handwriting on the original, it was not legible, and of course that bothered me. So I fixed the hell out of it by coloring over the original attempt with black. 

Now that it was fixed I had to find something that would write over a black background, and that also presented several challenges. There are a number of markers on the market that'll do this, but some are too fat, and some are too thin, you know the fairytale - so finally I settled on the one that writes the smoothest and practiced and practiced my handwriting so it can at least be read. (Sharpie copper marker worked for this.) How did I do?

She's smiling!
One thing I noticed in this painting is that at last, my faerie is smiling. In so many of my earlier works there is a sadness - it just somehow came through. Maybe it was because I wasn't devoting my whole self to this work. I find it interesting that at last one of my figures is smiling. I have some control over the drawing, but it has a mind of its own as well.

The border is crazy Zentangling, which, as I've mentioned in my other posts is fun and relaxing, as well as a healthy way to spend a little time that lowers the blood pressure and promotes serenity. There are no rules in tangling, and that's what makes it so much fun.

So now I'm thinking parsley - I'm thinking I want to see what kind of little faeries are associated with various wonderful spices that we cook with - can you imagine cayenne? I can't wait to see that one.... 



Sunday, November 17, 2013

White Sage Faerie is all inked and ready to paint

Can't wait to add some color now!
Detail of White Sage Faerie
Her beautiful face
I'll sit down with some Arthur Rackham books to study his painting style, as I think this picture would lend itself well to something similar. I imagine a lot of blues and greens for this one, but we'll see - sometimes a picture has a mind of its own ; )



White Sage Faerie Cleansing Her Aura - Drawing

Drafting table is all set up to ink and paint the new Faerie
Last night we had Mom and Dave over for dinner, which was divine, but Dave decided he'd like to drink some coffee, so I made a hefty pot. I couldn't resist drinking just a couple of little cups, which is generally a no-no for me since I don't do much caffeine these days - but you know that fully loaded coffee tastes sooo much better than decaf.

Dinner was fun, we read a couple of chapters out of Robert Fulghum's Maybe (Maybe Not). This book is too funny not to read some parts aloud. He has a chapter on poinsettias that had us howling with laughter, and another about men and their wallets that's just priceless. He's the kind of writer everyone can relate to.

After the great dinner and coffee and laughs I found myself pretty wide awake so I grabbed my watercolor block and a pencil and plopped down on the living room couch surrounded by feather pillows (they make a nice poofy desk to rest the pad on) and started to draw. I've been feeling that special energy in my hands for a few days - that's how I can tell I really need to draw, they tingle and draw my attention.

It took about four hours to draw this image in pencil. I found myself popping out to the studio to sharpen my pencil every so often, and to grab my iPad so I could look at photos of sage. I wanted this little faerie to be surrounded in sage, since she has quite an affinity for it. We caught her cleansing her aura - so she's standing among the sage plants, holding an abalone shell and a wrapped bundle of sage that is burning at the tip. She waves the smoke over her aura to cleanse and purify herself. This is an ancient practice that many American Indians perform, and whenever your energy's feeling "muddy" or unclear, you can do it too. It's also great for cleansing your environment. Smells divine.

I'm also incorporating a little "tangling" for the borders, which is very relaxing and fun to do. If you've never heard of Zentangling, check it out - it's way fun and great for lowering the blood pressure.

Now this image is half inked and I'll do the rest today.
It took about four hours to draw her, and then I was going to go to bed, but I made the mistake of picking up a juicy black marker and started the inking. That kept me up til sunrise ; )

She has a beautiful face and a crazy hat and wild wings that take her flying anywhere she wants to go.
So I slept half the day away, but what a pleasure it is to wake and know that I'll be spending the rest of it finishing the ink on her face and body, then I get to paint her! She'll be mostly blues and greens, the colors taking their cue from the sage.

Check back to see how it comes out!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Studies in Black and White - Light and Shadow - Past and Future

Buddha in pen and ink
I've done a number of studies in black and white, using pen and ink, and sometimes paint or markers. I love using the crosshatch technique, as I did in the drawing above because the drawing builds slowly, giving me time to step back and see where to bring out darker darks, and where to leave the lightest lights.

The drawing above is of a huge 3-foot tall carved Buddha that I bought from Shanghai. He sits in the center of my studio, radiating serenity throughout the room. Every so often I like to rub his knee or foot for luck, and I like to clasp my hand over his hands and soak up the good vibes. I enjoyed doing this study of him.

Coyote is buried by his wife

In the 1980s while I was living in San Diego, California, I fell in love with a collection of Pomo Indian legends that were collected from the tribe in the 1930s by two wonderful school teachers. They were able to gain the trust of the Indian people, which helped to keep the stories true to the ancient teachings. They're filled with humor, and many layers of profound teaching providing different levels of understanding and enlightenment for listeners of all ages.

In the drawing above, which was inspired by one of these stories, what I loved the most was Coyote's irreverent and fussy personality - his insistence on feeling so bad that he considered himself dead. So in typical fashion, his wife took his insistent words literally and buried him. Then she brought a bowl of food and set it near him to taunt him, but he insists that he is not hungry since he is dead. This strikes my funnybone hilariously. I love the relationship between Foolish Coyote and his wife, Frog Woman.

I spent a lot of time at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park doing research to find out how the Pomos lived, and how to make my illustrations both accurate yet a bit stretched for the entertainment factor. During this period, I made friends with Illace Lavato, the Cultural Director of the tribe living in Palo Alto and visited with them several times, sharing my illustrations with them and asking questions. I donated a collection of beautiful American Indian children's books to their library, and was invited to attend a special Pow Wow where I got to see their beautiful dancing and the gorgeous ceremonial garments they made for these activities.

Coyote flies with the Crow Maidens
The drawing above depicts a scene from one of the stories where Coyote becomes enamored of the Crow Maidens, and flies with them up into the sky, but in typical Coyote fashion, he flies too close to the sun and you can imagine what happens.... The borders on my drawings are all based on traditional Pomo basket designs, and I found it a huge challenge to try to replicate them since they don't follow our traditional mathematics - when I tried to break them down to fit them to graph paper in order to plan the spacing it was a major challenge. I ended up using a ruler and pencil to measure out the spacing since, regardless of the size of the marked graph paper squares, the designs didn't fit predictably.

Coyote watches Turtle shooting his bow and arrow
This drawing depicts Coyote watching Turtle as Turtle shoots his bow and arrow straight up into the sky. When Coyote tries the same thing against the advice of his mother, he learns that Turtle can do this successfully because of the hard shell on his back that protects him from the arrow turning at its zenith and coming straight down, point first. He learns that because he does not have the hard shell to protect him, the arrow pierces his skin, wounding him. Lots of layers of learning to examine there : )

Cover for one of the stories
I completed many illustrations, some in black and white and some in color, while working on this project. I was also able to secure an agent to see if we could find representation with a publisher. However, according to the publishers in the 1980s, the children's book market was glutted with American Indian stories so we had no luck finding an outlet for them.

The wonderful thing about the Internet is that we no longer need to wait for the approval of publishers and middlemen (YAY!), so this project has a good chance of coming back to life, given that I now have more time to devote to it, along with other projects. We'll see what I can bring about...check back to see how it's coming along!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

A peek into my past - Angel Spirits and Anatomy

Angel Spirits
I've been scanning in artwork I've done over the years and am enjoying seeing it on screen. Back when I was doing many of these pieces we didn't have computers and we didn't have the Internet. Over the years I've imagined getting into digitizing some of my work in order to work on it in the digital arena. I haven't tried that yet, but it's on my radar screen. I'll be doing more drawing and painting once I've stocked up the beadwork at Dreamkeeper Creations for the holidays : )

The watercolor painting above is called Angel Spirits and I was playing with texture using salt in the background. I love the softness of the angel, who is an otherworldly being surrounded by various little spirit faces. Near her feet, in green, is a "real-life" boy reading/studying/learning. She is his guardian and helps him though he hasn't learned to see her yet.

I love doing angels and faeries, so you'll see more of these now that I have more time. In order to be able to do the angel and faerie figures, whether they're cartoon style or more realistic, I use my anatomy skills.

Anatomy study after Burne Hogarth
When I was young, one of my goals as an artist was to be able to draw people without a model so I studied anatomy fairly extensively. Burne Hogarth is one of the greatest contemporary teachers to learn from because his drawings are very clear and there's much power to them. The drawing above is a practice copy of one from his book, Dynamic Figure Drawing. I did this one back in 1984, seems like centuries ago.

Anatomy study after Tiepolo
In 2004 I took an art class to brush up on anatomy and the instructor had us choose a drawing to copy from the Old Masters. We learned to use the grid system to reproduce the image. I used charcoal for the drawing above to learn what types of marks Geovanni Battista Tiepolo used in his original drawing entitled "Nude Study."

Study after Cambiasi
Another project for the art class was to choose a classical artist and reproduce one of their drawings using pen and ink. I chose Luca Cambiasi. My drawing above is my attempt to reproduce his rendition of Cain and Abel.

Now it's time to get some beadwork done, so I'll sign off for now. Check back for more of a peek into my past works.

Til then,



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life and Death - Art as Therapy

Life is ongoing and indestructible
So as you know, I alternate between posts about my latest artwork and some from the past. Most of the pieces I do have meaning, either for me or as a story or message to the people who view the artwork. This is a difficult post and painting. I write it/paint it to help others learn to listen to their intuition, that still, small voice within, as it can protect you in ways you wouldn't imagine. Listen....

This piece took me 34 years to allow out of my system and it was a cartharsis of sorts. Sometimes art can help us to heal.

I hate putting this post up because I hate the presence of the degradation it tells the story of in this world. I much prefer to keep on my rose colored glasses in which everything is Winnie the Pooh, full of innocent wisdom and love. I have posted this before and deleted it because it is an acknowledgement of the hard to understand evils in this life, but I feel that if I am representing myself properly in my blog it needs to have a place here, it is fundamental to who I am and how I operate. Warning, this post is not for the squeamish. What happened changed my life, as it did many others.

I was enrolled in classes as a freshman at Florida State University shortly after I graduated high school in 1977. I was studying art and enjoying the sunshine and the free spirited open minds as well as the beautiful ocean and pure white sand beaches. I didn't have much money, and by November was looking for ways to bring a little extra in. A friend of mine was going away for the holidays and asked if I wanted to step into her job at a bar for a while, so I said yes.

I didn't know anything about waitressing in a bar, didn't know anything about the various drinks people could order, but I was attractive, and loved being around people in their happy party place, so they hired me to take on her job for several weeks while she visited her family.

As I was working one night, I noticed there was a man who stood out among the crowd, though actually he was sitting down at a table by himself. Dressed in a conservative brown turtleneck and dress trousers, he nursed a short drink for hours, all the while watching me. His undivided attention made me uncomfortable. He stared and stared as I pranced between tables of revelers, filling drink orders with a flower in my hair, dressed in tight blue jeans and white t-shirt  - the sort of standard uniform for the girls working in the bar.

After a while he came up to me, this man, and looked at me with eyes that saw nothing else, only me. I was prey. He asked me what time I got off work and if I'd like to go to breakfast with him. As he was standing near me I could feel the heat coming from his body - like a magnet, but not attractive, it was completely repulsive. The energy coming from his body extended about 2 feet out, and hit me in my gut. Get away was the message I was feeling.

I did something I never do - I lied. I told him I got off work at 3, thinking that he would wait for me until then. Then I felt myself directed by some higher force and I took action that I wouldn't ordinarily take. I left the bar right then - it was only midnight. I went to a group of my friends who were there and asked them to walk me home to my dorm room - I didn't inform my boss and I didn't let anyone know I was leaving, I simply left.

The walk to my dorm felt like an eternity. When I arrived I went into my room alone, put the blinds down, and sat smoking a cigarette in the dark. I didn't know what had happened, this disapperance from work with no notice was uncharacteristic behavior for me, but I knew deep inside that it was completely necessary.

I didn't go back to the bar. I didn't collect my last paycheck. News came out shortly thereafter of some sorority girls who had been attacked by a serial killer - some died, some survived. They'd left their door unlocked and he just went right in and the stories of what he did with bottles and broom sticks to them were horrendous. He was a complete psycho. I didn't delve into the details then, I didn't know that the man who asked me to breakfast was Bundy until years later when a book came out and I chanced to see his photograph. I did not read the book.

The mood around campus after we'd heard the news of the murders was surreal. When I went to my classes I was so aware of my vulnerability everywhere. Long sidewalks full of bushes and trees and spaces where you could be attacked and no one would know. All of the females attending the university at that time were afraid. The males were awesome. In my classes there were always some who'd offer to walk me to my next class or to my dorm - totally gentlemanly, and much appreciated. When we pushed the button for an elevator wherever we were and there was a tall white male in there and no one else we took the stairs instead or waited for another elevator.

We changed our habits to foster safety as this murderer roamed our sacred territory uncaught - when we ordered pizza in the dorm we'd go down in pairs, and the pizza delivery person who normally would just be buzzed in and come on up for delivery was met at the door which was carefully locked upon his exit.

It was just hell. Just hell to know these girls were taken advantage of in their innocence, hurt in unimaginable ways. I lost my faith at that time - my religion failed me. And I lost my trust in most human beings.

I checked out of the university - unenrolled immediately, and went back home several hundred miles away to get to a place I felt safe. It was many years until I could set foot on a college campus again. My opportunity for a college education had been blown all to hell.

It was many years until I could examine what had happened and how to put into some life context the fact that this man who had done these things had asked me to breakfast which was a sure invitation to a private painful death, which I had somehow escaped. I asked myself what does it mean to be a survivor after you've been targeted? What do I do with this?

How do I make it all right that these kinds of things happen in this world, how do I keep on going?

So this painting is about a time many many years later when I allowed myself to think about those events. The girls who died, the ones who lived, my place in securing my freedom from the same fate.

As I worked on the painting my receiving self was open to whatever communications would come through. It began with the image of Bundy - black. Soon I found myself drawing the spirit of the woman/women that were killed, floating out from him, above him, going to their celestial home. Then I noticed his face - at first turned away from the living, dehumanizing - but then turning toward the light of the spirit ascending - and I knew that in his process of death he would realize he had not destroyed anything forever. He had cut short lives, but the energy of these beautiful spirits lived on in wholeness - and he realized he was sent back to himself to absorb the revelation that he did not have the power to destroy, only to change. The compassion with which the rising spirit touches him shows the forgiveness and love that is extended to him by the bigger spirit of the woman. The spirit sliding out of the body on the ground shows that life continues regardless of earthly limits.

The girls spoke to me - their spirits showing me that they are not gone. They are very much alive and well in the place where we all are whole. So the statements along the right-hand side of this image are the ones they expressed to me. I am whole. I am alive. I am. I am. I am.

I didn't know this picture was going to come out of my system. I thought I had put this experience into some manageable context years ago. But as I painted it and allowed the suggestions for what should appear in the image to come through (I didn't want to paint the dead body at all but found that when I did I then had to do the spirit sliding out and the spirit rising, as well as showing compassion to Bundy along the way). I learned through this picture that life goes on, energy is indestructible. It is changing, and the Bundy energy has the capacity to become whole and healed on the higher levels of our existence. Thank goodness.

My heart goes out to the families that must live on in this world without their loved ones. It aches to imagine the pain and outrage of these events. But there is a peace that underlies these events that says life continues. The girls sent me these assurances and I believe them with my whole heart. So I continue. I go without fear and work for a university for 14 years, on campus (prime territory for certain kinds of predators), and I walk the grounds through thunder storms, sunshine, soft spring breezes, knowing that life is everywhere, and though it seems it can be cut short without warning, in reality, we are. We are. I am. I am. So we must live and do our best to be the good the world needs so much. We must counterbalance the atrocities. What else is there?

I am grateful for the protection I received that night. I believe absolutely in intuition. I listen to my still, small voice within. If I hadn't, I might not be here today.

Go with courage into your life, and listen, always, to your still small voice within.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'm a kid in a candy store!

Gorgeous, fun, and one of a kind!
I feel like a kid in a candy store putting together new Dreamkeeper Creations that'll be available at the Green Drake Gallery any time after this Friday. Lately, every time the mailman comes I pop out to see if he's brought a new delivery of shiny new beads to play with. Working with these is such fun because each bead is unique and the colors are delicious.

When I create each pair of earrings I look at the colors in the beads to see which ones to pull out and accent. For the pair in the photo above, I loved the auburn colors in the spiny shell teardrop beads, and the playful pattern of soft stripes against the rich translucent background of the shell material. They also include a little agate for balancing and harmonizing the physical energies.

The sun was almost setting yesterday as I took these photos so the colors are not as clear as I'd like for sharing. One of my projects for the coming year is to figure out how to do great indoor photos. I've been known to take photos of my jewelry outside in about 40 degree weather but when it gets much colder than that I become a lodge bunny who much prefers the hearth fire.

Ear candy!
The focal beads in these earrings are handmade glass, and the colors echo the beautiful fall colors we've enjoyed for the past several weeks. They go great with a little black dress, or a pair of blue jeans and just about any color top. They're fun and playful with agate, hematite, and little pops of red bamboo coral next to shiny glass accent beads.

These bracelets are sold in sets of five for $20.
I've also finished 9 new sets of beautiful cloisonne bracelets, which will also be available in the gallery. These bracelets are so easy to wear. They don't get in the way when you're using the computer keyboard, and you can mix and match colors to your heart's content. I like to wear about 12 at a time when I'm in a bit of a gypsyish mood.

Our mailman will be bringing lots more beads in the next few days, and I'll be happily putting together their sparkling colors as the November clouds roll in, and getting them up on Etsy for the holidays (let there be SNOW in December!).



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The commissioned beadwork Statement Necklace is finished - YAY!

Dazzling Statement Necklace  is finished - WOOT!
Ta da! Here it is, the Statement Necklace commissioned for Beverly Kaye. Oh I've discovered a world of joy in making pieces like this. I tried wearing it for a few minutes (I always test my pieces) and it sits well and isn't heavy. I worked hard on the necklace part so that it would be comfortable. Look at those colors! You could wear this with a number of different outfits, depending on whether you're feeling purple, black, silvery gray blue, or forest green....

The back of the cabochon
I glued the beautiful glass cabochon to Lacy's Stiff Stuff, which is excellent for beading, and after sewing the peyote stitched rows around the cab I covered the back with soft glove leather. Then added the fringe! I wanted this piece to be a bit asymmetrical, so made the fringe fluffy, but not predictable. There are some fun end pieces, such as the polka-dotted smooth oval bead and the glass teardrops. Also wanted to accent the shape of the piece itself so used several bicones in the fringe at strategic lengths.

Beaded toggle clasp
I discovered it would be good to have about four hands while beading the toggle clasp. I wanted the piece to be cohesive, no metal elements, so used flat peyote stitch on the toggle then zippered it up and added beads to the ends. It's fairly soft so goes through its loop nicely.
Toggle done up
The toggle clasp sits nicely and is quite secure and comfortable. Who knew the receiving loop would be the hardest part of the necklace? With nothing substantial to weave back into it presented some challenges, but I think I've got them covered.

Heck of a statement!

So I'm meeting Charlene so she can see and touch it, then will ship it out to her friend. Hope she enjoys wearing it as much as I did making it!

More to come and they'll go into my Dreamkeeper Creations Etsy shop and the Green Drake Gallery!