Monday, October 17, 2011

Friday Plans -- See Some Art

I love going to artist receptions at local galleries. It's a fun, social night out. I often get to see an artist's work that is new to me, but usually I'm attending to support an artist friend. This Friday I'm heading to Whole Foods Market to see oil painter Nancy Tilles and her amazing nature-inspired art. Yes, Whole Foods Market. Our store in Wellington is using their eat-in cafe to showcase talented local artists. They've filled the walls of the cafe with over a dozen paintings.

Nancy Tilles is an award winning artist, well known for her paintings and portraits. Her paintings are joyful expressions brought to life through color and form. Influenced by living in South Florida for over 30 years, her images often reflect a tropical theme, rich in color.

Nancy will be bringing additional paintings the night of the event, including a new triptych she will unveil for the first time. If you'd like to attend this event Friday, October 21 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m., you may RSVP to Whole Foods Market at 561-904-4000. Whole Foods Market is on SR7 in Wellington, south of Forest Hill Blvd.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Online Magazine

The world just got a little more interesting with the first issue of a new online magazine, Sparrow Magazine.

The editors, Emilie and Kelly, have created a magazine that celebrates a grounded, nurturing life, where you can push yourself to reach your highest potential. They've gathered an interesting group of contributors, from across the U.S. (with one from the UK and one from Australia thrown in) who have written 23 articles for this first issue. They have grouped their articles as follows:






Here is the link to Sparrow Magazine.

So now comes a plug for me: I am a contributor to their magazine! I have written an article in their Connections category, titled "Finding Community in the Arts." I write about my experience as president of our local arts group, The Wellington Art Society. If you ever wanted to know what my "day job" is, read this article.

Sparrow magazine will be coming out with new articles every three months. Be sure and stop by to read some great content.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Creating with Friends

Two artist friends and I are challenging each other to make new art. We're inspired by the many art books we've purchased . . . but never actually used. Well, we read them, and we look at them, but like many other people, we don't actually try the techniques we read about. We've changed that and are now attempting some projects.

The first was a hanging sign I made from Shona Cole's book The Artistic Mother. The sign acts as a reminder to do something, maybe one of your goals. I made spots for two statements, so I could make my reminder more of an action statement. Currently it says, "Fly Toward/Creating Art." The word tags are slid behind mica sheets. I have other word tags in a little envelope in the back for other goals I have. I'll keep those to myself.

Years ago "star" books were all the rage. I remember seeing them in magazines and craft books. I'd never made one, because they looked so complicated. Surprise -- they're not at all! We also have the benefit that one of our artists works at a printing shop, and she has access to great paper cutters, and cut all the papers to size for us. All we had to do was score and tape the pages together.

It's called a star book because of what it looks like when you open it up.

Accordion books were also very popular. I made mine with painted tissue covers, and watercolor paper.

Unfortunately, the water colored paper looks a little wavy. Maybe watercolor isn't the way to go for a folded page.

Our next projects are banners and a decorated box. I've made the banners, but still need to "bling" them a bit. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Second Zine

The second issue of my mixed media art zine Paint/Paste is hot off the presses. The theme for this one is Scraps. My zines describe and show some of my favorite mixed media techniques, and are completely handmade. When I thought of the Scraps theme, I knew that I would use some kind of a scrap, or re-used paper, for the cover. My first issue, which had the theme Words, had a hand-painted cover, and each cover was different. This time, I used the pages from an old mixed media calendar. I gave credit to the artist who made the calendar page on the inside back cover. I also cut and paste papers onto it and jazzed it up with paint pens.

I've called my zine Paint/Paste because I want to focus on painting and collage techniques. With the theme of scraps, I used a two-sided scrapbook paper for some pages, and old green ledger paper for another, and old maps for another.

I showed examples of different paint techniques over scraps, and different adhesives you can use for scraps.

I included a how-to for making a mini-book out of a single sheet of paper, and included an example of a book made from a magazine page. I also included a bonus handmade book in a little pocket. By the way, I always use old envelopes for pockets. I try not to buy too many brand new art supplies, and re-use things as much as possible. I grabbed a stack of large flat mailing envelopes, cut them in two lengthwise, and used half an envelope per zine. The envelope is folded in half and stitched into the binding. If there was an address on the envelope, I obscured it with a rubber stamp or sticker.

I cut cardboard boxes to use as bases for ATCs, handmade books, or other art. I included some examples, cut from a mac and cheese box, moon pie box, Christmas cards, and photos. (Sorry, but I very much enjoy the Christmas photos I get from friends, but I don't save them. They're nice sturdy pieces for art.)

I also included some obscure scraps that I've collected over the years. Stationery from hotels, recipe cards, old over-sized photo negatives, really old photos, bingo cards, dictionary pages.

The planning and construction of a zine is a challenge you should attempt. Pick a theme that goes with the type of art that you do. Don't be stingy with your inserts -- what are you saving all that stuff for, anyway? I'll be announcing another zine swap in this blog soon, so stay tuned.

If you'd like to buy one of my zines, you can find them in my online shop here. I have a few left and will sell them until they're gone.

Future blog posts will tell you about all the other zines that I received in my recent swap. You'll be amazed by the creativity of the other ten artists!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Zine Swap

Three months of planning, gathering materials, creating inserts, and then one crazy week of assembly = my second zine. I love every part of the process. A zine is essentially a self-published magazine. You choose the topic and the contents. It's more than just writing articles, though, because you make the pages, the cover, and inserts. You make a lot of decisions in the planning stage:
-- Will I write all original articles or have guest writers?
-- Do I want to include a page of links or sources?
-- Should I do a how-to article, including examples?
-- Will I type the text, hand-write it, cut and paste it?
-- What size will the magazine pages be and how many will there be?
-- What material will I use for the cover? Will it be all handmade?

I don't know how you plan projects, but my initial planning is all in my head. In fact, I can plan an entire jewelry piece or ATC in my head. For the zine, after I've done the initial planning, I start to mock up the pages. I use 8 1/2" x 11" pages so I can type most of the text using Word. I'll take 5 blank pages, and fold them over, and write the heading for each page and the table of contents. I'll include other notes, like if there will be a pocket, what kind of inserts, and if I'll add handwriting to the typed words.

I think inserts are key to an engaging zine. It's fun to pull out examples of handmade papers, or ATCs, or mini-books. The theme of my zine is always mixed media art, so those are the kinds of inserts I include. I think the reader likes to see and feel the examples.

I'll tell you more about my zine in my next post, but here's a sneak preview of what it looks like.

I hosted a swap, and ten other artists made zines as well. We made one for everyone, they sent their boxes of zines to me, then I split them up and sent them back so they have a full set. Now we're all spending our free time reading these wonderful works of art. Check out my blog again, and I'll show you each of the 11 zines individually.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Orleans Jewelry Classes

I recently traveled to New Orleans with two friends to take jewelry classes with Thomas Mann. Thomas is an amazing metal jewelry designer who has been perfecting his craft for 40 years. Check out his website here and be sure and look at the gallery of his designs.

Here we are with Thomas and his excellent right-hand woman, Angele, who arranged the classes for us.

He is now teaching classes at his studio. He's created a space with 11 workstations, plus one for himself, and moveable tables he can set up for soldering or other kinds of specialty work.

I've worked with metal a lot, but needed some help with the jeweler's saw and soldering. I only broke about 5 saw blades, and melted my soldered piece once. It's never good when the instructor looks at your soldering and says "Start over". That's because I held the heat on too long and melted mine to little blobs. But I was having fun, and by the end I got it right.

He taught a week-long series of classes in metal working. We learned the proper way to use a jeweler's saw, soldering with a torch, and filing, etching, and cold connections to make a "Found Object Sandwich". Here's the soldering class holding our pieces.

Here are our finshed sandwich pieces. The sandwich consists of a metal front that has had the middle cut out, a plexiglas piece, a photo, and a metal back.

We stayed in a beautiful Bed & Breakfast right down the road from Thomas' studio. We could walk to his studio on Magazine St. in five minutes. We had a suite of two bedrooms and a sitting area on the top floor of The Terrell House.

Each morning, we were treated to a full, hot breakfast. The owner was even generous enough to share some recipes with us. We had egg dishes, pastries, all homemade, and an amazing bowl of fresh mixed fruit every day.

I highly recommend destination workshop vacations. It's great to get away from your usual life, great to visit a new city, learn something new, and meet new friends. If you've never done it, dare yourself to. Be bold, even if you have to travel alone. You'll find many surprises along the way -- like just how brave you can be and how much fun it is to try something new.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Harry Potter Takes Over

I'm a little delayed on making this post, but I just had to show you some photos from the premiere of the last Harry Potter movie. My son is a Harry Potter expert, and I'm as enthusiastic as he is. A few months ago, in anticipation of the last movie, he announced he would be dressing as Lord Voldemort, the total bad guy, and going to the midnight movie. I told him I'd drive him and his friends. And I decided I would be dressing too. I went as Tonks, the woman who can change her hair color at will. His friend went as Lucius Malfoy, as a Death Eater. We learned there would be a flash mob wand war an hour before the movie started, so we made sure we got there around 10:30. (Yes, we both own HP wands. His is the Elder Wand, and mine is Sirius Black's. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you may exit my blog now.)

Here is Michael before he dressed as Lord Voldemort.

Michael's friend who is in theater school applied his makeup. Yes, Michael shaved his head for this.

We're dressed and ready to go out.

We ran into a girl who made a perfect Belatrix LeStrange. She was so into it and enthusiastic. I don't know why Michael's head is glowing here.

We also ran into Albus Dumbledore and a Whomping Willow.

The wand war was caught on tape. If you fast-forward to around 3:50, you'll see Lord Voldemort, the last one standing.

Click here for the video.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Days, Summer Colors

This greets you when you enter my home. The colors will brighten your mood, even on the grayest of days. I don't paint realistic flowers -- I doubt if this depicts anything that is found in nature -- but I love messing around with colors and shapes.

Ironically, I really hate green. I don't wear it, I don't decorate my home with it. I had to consciously buy a green paint. This is my experimentation with it. I guess I like it in small doses, and when it goes with the scene.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pounding Some Metal

I recently got back into one of my real loves, working with metal. I love the pounding for texture, the bending, and combining different metals. I worked with copper and brass, and I bend sterling silver wire. I use metal snips to cut the other shapes. My dremel smoothes the edges.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bold Painting Tells a Story

I present my largest painting yet -- I think it's 3' x 3', and I've hung it right in my dining room. What do you think? I've been wanting to do one with high rise buildings, despite the fact that I live in a one-story home in a traditional neighborhood. I tell a story about people who come home from work, enter their homes, and shut the doors, never to go out again until leaving for work the next day. I thought the skyscraper-type home would make a bigger impact with the story. I love the bright colors that I've used. It's a pretty "out there" painting, but I'm proud of it. I also think it's a brave move to put it in my dining room. It goes well, though. There's nothing formal about my dining room.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wrap Around Bracelets

I'm trying out a new way to form bracelets. I make a strand that is about 22 inches long, with all kinds of beads. I add a nice clasp. It is designed to wrap three times around your wrist. What do you think? This one is my favorite. It's very beachy with turquoise, coral, and sand colors, with some seashell beads, pearls, and gems.

I'm thinking of changing out the silver clasp to a copper clasp on this one. I think it will work better.

This last one has golds, creams, and russet, with a gold magnetic clasp. This may be easier to connect for some people.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Are You Telling it to Win?

Here's what I'm reading right now -- Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story, by Peter Guber. You may vaguely recognize his name, thinking he might be in movies or something. You'd be partially right. He's currently Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, which produces movies (recently, The Kids are All Right), and runs sports teams. He has a long and successful career where he has made many deals and projects. But did people come to him, and say "Hey, I want to work with you?" No, he came to them. He pitched an idea, perhaps one they never knew they needed. He was able to tell a story that told them why they needed him, what he could do for them that they weren't already doing for themselves, and how he could do it better than anyone else. This storytelling is what he calls Tell to Win.

I'm not even finished with the book yet, but I want to recommend it. Are you thinking of taking your art business to a new level? Are you realizing that you're a pretty good artist, and maybe instead of just selling your art, you could teach others about your art? That's where you need to tell a story. What can you give to others that they can't give themselves? What is it in your background that makes you the one, perfect person who can give that to them? Have you analyzed your strengths? Those are what you need to capitalize on, and tell people about.

We're always telling stories, but are we telling them effectively? What kind of title do you give your art? (Please, don't tell me you've made a piece and called it "Untitled.") How do you describe your art? Do you mention the inspiration, where you found those certain beads that make that necklace, why you used those colors? Do you describe it on your website, your blog, on flyers or in brochures? Do you attach a small tag to it with a small description? How do you describe yourself when people ask what you do? (See my last blog post that talks about your Elevator Pitch.)

I hope this post gets you thinking. I found Tell to Win at the library, so you may be able to also. Has this inspired you to ramp up and focus the stories that you tell about your business?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's Your Elevator Pitch?

Have you heard this expression before? An elevator pitch is a statement you make in response to the question, "What do you do?" Imagine that you are riding in an elevator with someone who asks that question, and you'll get an idea of how long you'll get to answer that question. We're not talking about going into your whole bio. If I started with "I graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland ...", half the elevator would have gotten off before I finished, and the other half would have fallen asleep.

The first rule of the elevator pitch is then, keep it short. You don't want to lose your audience before you're done.

The second rule: be clear. The only way you can do this is to practice the pitch. Say it out loud. Say it in a conversational manner. Don't sound like you're giving a speech. What are you? What do you do? Are you a lawyer who is a partner in a firm, who takes dance lessons for fun, teaches French in night school, and is secretly writing a young adult novel? Only you can figure out what you want to put out there. You'll decide what you want to say based on who you are speaking to.

That brings me to the next rule: know your audience. Most of the time, you'll have a slight idea of the background of the person who is asking what you do. In the above example, that person may have an elevator pitch about being a lawyer, that he would use in some occasions, and a separate one about his novel that he would use in others. Don't be afraid to create a few elevator pitches. Just be sure they are specific enough to have some meaning and be interesting to the person you are talking to.

I've come up with my elevator pitch, what about you? Of course your elevator pitch can change as you change; it can always evolve. Here is mine:

I am an artist. I design jewelry and paint, selling my creations on the internet and at small shows. I also run a non-profit -- our local art society. We have over 100 members, and we provide exhibit opportunities and mentoring. We also donate art to our communities and award college scholarships to young artists.

What do you think? Are you an artist who is not afraid to say "I Am An Artist"? Or "I Am A Writer"? If you'd like to post your elevator pitches as a blog comment here, I'll post them in a later post. Why not get them out there? Who's with me?

Here's one of my latest jewelry creations. I've gone back to my roots -- working with metal. My camera recently broke, so I just got a new one and am back in business taking photos and posting them to my blog.

Here's my latest painting. I haven't thought of a name yet.

I'm looking forward to hearing your pitches.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I won an Award

Thanks to K.C. Woolf, way over in The Cotswolds, England. If you don't know where that is, look it up. I actually do know, because my brother-in-law visited there, and brought me back something for the kitchen that says "The Cotswolds" on it. It looks like a beautiful area.

Anyway, K.C. is a writer, and I stumbled upon her blog and have enjoyed reading her. You can check out her blog here.

She has bestowed upon me this award.

Thank you so much! As a stipulation of this award, I need to write seven things about myself, then pass the award on to someone else. So here goes.

1. I've visited Scotland three times, and absolutely love it there. I have a knack for coming during warm and sunny weeks. When we last visited, the first week of April 2001, it ended up being the warmest week of the year, warmer than the coming summer months. We love it there, and always do a lot of hill walking, which is like mountain climbing to this Florida girl.

2. My new favorite sport/hobby is stand up paddleboarding. I have no pictures of me doing it to show you, because we're always out getting wet while doing it. Our favorite is to do it in the rivers, where it's calm and relaxing. Our whole family has gotten into it. We haven't bought our own yet -- it's just easier to rent it right on the river. Here's a picture of someone else doing it.

3. I love alternative music, and music is a big part of my life. That means that I listened to The Clash, Modern English, and Duran Duran during college. Moved into the whole grunge scene with Pearl Jam and Nirvana. And rock to The Killers, The Airborne Toxic Event, and Muse now.

4. I have a degree in accounting (didn't like straight accounting), a degree in baking (discovered you can't make much money at it), and now run a local arts group.

5. I'm a movie nut, although I don't get out to watch many movies. I can tell you about different actors and what they've been in and who they've acted with.

6. I love to cook, especially desserts. I can crank out four kinds of cookies in one day, or a dessert buffet for 50.

7. I'm probably a bit Attention Deficit Disorder-like. I jump from interest to interest. But I like to say I have a Renaissance Soul.

I now bestow this award onto Sandy at Food and Fond Memories. Her blog is filled with recipes, travel, and great stories.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Let me Gripe for a Moment

Recently I mentioned someone in my blog, giving them a good shout out, some promotion, unsolicited. This was someone whose blog I read and enjoy. I emailed her a note to tell her about my mention, giving her a link so she could check it out. Here's the gist of what I got in response:

"Thank you so much for your kind note. Believe me when I say all my emails mean so much to me. However, I am just too popular to truly read all my emails, and certainly to even respond to them, so I'm just giving you this standard reply. Thanks and come again."

Really? Then why do you list your email address in your blog? Do you like being so popular that you don't have time for anyone?

O.K., I'm done now. My next post will be all rainbows and unicorns. I promise.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why Make a Zine?

First of all, what is a zine? The word comes from magazine, as it is a self-published magazine. Usually one person writes all the contents, draws or takes the pictures, designs the cover and format, types and assembles the publication. It can be quite personal. It can showcase you as an artist, writer, poet, illustrator, thinker, or political mind. The creativity can be in the content and also the format and construction.

The purpose of your zine can be to promote yourself or others. It could be simply a vehicle to get your thoughts or creativity out to others. In my case, it was the challenge of creating all aspects of a project. It wasn't about control, but about the planning, execution, and accomplishment.

Zines can be folded over, stitched, or stapled 8 1/2" x 11" paper, the simplest format. That's how I made my zine, Paint/Paste. They can be elaborate, glossy pages, put together through a website, such as or I wanted to go with the complete hand-made style.

Some zines are a showcase of many artists' or writers' work, not unlike a literary magazine. Do yu have any examples you can tell me about? I'll list them here.

Zines are usually pretty inexpensive to sell. $1 - $12 is normal for handmade zines. The professionally bound zines can be $20 - $40. If you're making it yourself, keep in mind that you probably aren't going to make money on them, so just think of it as a labor of love. You can find zines on Etsy, Amazon, eBay, and in some independent bookstores. A place that sells only zines is called a Distro (as in, distribution). You can do a google search for these.

I'm hosting a zine swap. If you'd like to challenge yourself to make a zine, then trade with other zine-makers, check out my tab at the top of my blog. There's still time to sign up.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Be Yourself

Do you love reading blogs that have long, flowery descriptions of their art or latest vacation? I do, but I don't write that way. Should I try? No, that's not me. I'm constantly developing my voice as I expand my art skills, but I'll never be someone I'm not. This is just a quick reminder to be yourself.

Expand Your Skills

This is a stretch for my X post, but here it is. I'm a jewelry artist. But lately I've been trying my hand at painting. I'm not a realistic painter, but I play, and I love it. What is something new that you have tried?

Wellington Art Society

I'm wondering if I've ever mentioned what my day job is? A few years ago, as I ramped up my jewelry making and got serious about entering shows and trying to sell, I joined our local art group. The Wellington Art Society formed 30 years ago in Wellington, Florida. Now it includes artists from all over Palm Beach County. I jumped in and joined a committee, joined the Board of Directors the following year, and was elected President the next year. Which means I'm now running a 90+ member organization. We put on outdoor art shows, gallery shows, one night "pop-up" shows, and display art in office and government buildings. My work involves lots of email communication, meetings, and running our monthly events, which include artist demos and challenges. Our latest venture is with our local Whole Foods Market. We will run a one-artist show in their cafe every three months, with a big artist reception the first week. These have been big successes in the past, just now we will be running it instead of Whole Foods. We generally take the summer off from our regular meetings, but we'll be doing outings to museums and small get togethers.

So that's it. My hidden job, that the blog world probably didn't know about.

Here's one of our artists, Linda Rovolis, at a recent show, selling her paintings and hand-painted purses.