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July 2009

Valley Ridge retreat & recharge

DSC07583Sigh... Just got back from two days at Valley Ridge Arts Studio.  It's such a treat! Kathy and Bill are such excellent hosts and have created such a welcoming environment in which to create art.  I went with Mom and we camped overnight - looking at the many stars in the dark country night, listening to the coyotes in the middle of the night and the cows and songbirds really early in the morning.  Katie Kendrick is a great teacher.  She was very helpful and shared so much of her knowledge with us. The other thing that is so great about Valley Ridge is to take a class in the company of fun and inspiring classmates.  It's neat to see how everyone starts with the same teaching but runs with it in different directions - color selection, style, images, etc.  Everyone shares some little talent that is uniquely theirs and that adds so much to each workshop.  We met each day at 9:30, took a break for a delicious array of salads and sandwich-makings for lunch, and then met again for class in the afternoon with a mix of instruction and time for working.  Since we didn't have to drive back to Madison overnight, I could go back to the studio/classroom after dinner and worked until 11 pm, painting pages madly...  It was such a treat to get away and think only about paint on paper/cardboard.  I think everyone should treat themselves to a Valley Ridge workshop!

These are picture of one of my books.  Well, let me back up a bit.  The idea for my books started on our trip to California in January, when my brother-in-law, seemingly on the spur of the moment, suggested we drive up the hill to see the observatory.  We spent the afternoon wandering around and I started getting inspired by all the interesting architecture and the visual effect of the various exhibits.  So, I took a lot of pictures and started planning for a book project.  While in California, I also got interesting pictures at the Long Beach Aquarium.  Thank you, digital camera.  So, when I came home and was looking through my pictures, I came up with the idea for a book called "aquarium planetarium."  Having no spare time, the days turned into weeks, when suddenly I realized that I could work on that theme for the Valley Ridge workshop.  It always helps me to have some vague idea before packing up all of my collage supplies.  This way I could focus on colors and images of seas and skies.  But then the pile kept growing bigger and bigger and I thought, why not make two books?  one "aquarium planetarium" and one "planetarium aquarium"   I know, I know, splitting hairs, but it made me smile.

DSC07586 Of course, even with some vague focus, I still had way more supplies than I had time to work with in the two days at Valley Ridge. Typical. Up to a certain point, I worked on all the pages at once - 9 per book, cutting and tearing cardboard, applying gesso and paint.  Painting with watercolors and acrylics, using lace and other things to add texture, sewing on pages.  I didn't even really get to the collage part of things.  Oh, and trying to figure out exactly how one book would be different from the other.  And then I started running out of time and had to just focus on one of the books to be able to follow along with various steps.  So, here are pictures of the first book.  This one is "planetarium aquarium" - looking at the skies reflected in the seas.  The colors are ocean colors but most of the collage imagery (to be added later, along with explanatory text, poetry...) will be imagery of the constellations, including photographs from the observatory.  In this book, I ripped out round and crescent shapes to suggest the moon.DSC07591

The other book is not at all ready to be photographed. It is deep purples and navy, colors of the sky, but the torn-out cardboard shapes are supposed to suggest fish and starfish and waves.  I'll stitch various pictures from the aquarium part of the trip.  Someday...

summer is here

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 And it is more than just tissue paper in bloom (these are from a Martha Stewart kit -- super fun and easy to make).  And it is almost for real, according to the calendar, and according to the weatherman.  After a lovely spring - cool, rain for the flowers, all of a sudden, it is summer.  Sometimes in Wisconsin it seems like spring doesn't last nearly long enough; you get some 80 degree days in May and then it is all over.  But this time, spring has lasted until now.  The pansies are still lovely, though starting to wane, and we've had a few warm summer days.  But it seems like summer tourist season has already begun.  We basically went from graduation and Mother's Day, straight into out-of-town visitors.  It has been a really busy week, lots of people who are new to the store and thus require the full explanation.  I installed the window too so that always creates some chaos - have to rearrange the store while I'm at it. I arranged various products by color, which is something that I've always wanted to do for a window ever since see the windows of The Den.
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Meanwhile, there are new shipments that have come in, deliveries from artists, magnet picture frames and other things to restock... and never enough time.  I'm hoping to grab a few moments in the morning before we open, to get set for the weekend, but those moments go so quickly.  Certain things will just have to wait, I have a feeling.

Next week is my workshop at Valley Ridge for two days, with Katie Kendrick.  I am really looking forward to it!  I have a huge pile of supplies gathered and am looking forward to the creative inspiration, as well as the chance to get away for a little bit - one night away... hopefully that won't set me back too far. 

I was up very late last night, working on an altered Alice in Wonderland for the Wisconsin Book Festival exhibit in October.  I removed all the pages but I am going to use the chapter headings and some excerpts from the text, incorporated into collages.   I also finished my first set of pages for the journal exchange.  This was for Andrea's book, with the theme of love notes. 

Andrea 001 Andrea 002 Now I'm just waiting for someone else to bring me a book...  In the meantime, I'm sorting through all my collage images and pulling out some possibilities.  It's fun to play at night with something artsy but not quite in production mode for the store. 

But I am making magnet picture frames too, don't worry.

time is FLYING....


Art journal 008 It's already Thursday, which is only the middle of my week, but every single week I'm surprised.  You'd think that one would stop being surprised, but no.  Pretty soon it will be August, and then Christmas. 

And, honestly, look at that girl! That, of course, is the clearest indicator of time passing.  Now I see little babies that come in the store and I get all teary -- those moments are already gone!  Did I hold her enough? take enough pictures?

We've had a busy spring.  April and May were both great months for us at the store.  We are starting to become a destination for those who remember us, the store is filling up with new merchandise, and sales have continued to be very strong.  I'm not bragging here, but I thought you'd appreciate some good news in the midst of the current national economic situation.  We are so grateful for our customers and our artists who continue to make this a lively and ever-changing store.

We finalized the calendar of craftivities for summer and are having fun working on new projects.  Scrabble tile necklaces are very popular.  We have necklaces from two different artists; supplies have also arrived so we can make our own.. and you can too!  I'm continuing to have fun using little scraps of fabric to make covered buttons for bracelets.  And there's plenty of restocking to do as well.  I need to make another batch of magnet picture frames and headbands.  I'm also sewing knitter's pockets and artist pockets and Pamela's birthday present and the Facebook-making surprises and a new quilt for the store. I haven't looked recently at the list of what has sold in the last few months - but I do need to look at that and start to deal with the rest of the restocking.  And, oh yeah, button bracelets, always button bracelets.

In a few weeks, I will be taking a workshop at Valley Ridge Art Studios with Katie Kendrick.  I am really looking forward to that!  Mom is coming along too and it is always such a treat to go out to Valley Ridge.  I can't recommend it highly enough. 

Finally, as if there isn't enough, I am participating in an art journal collaboration/swap.  There are over a dozen artist friends in all; each of us picks a theme and starts a book, then we trade them.  You get to work in everyone else's books and work from their themes.  It's a fun way to work on different themes that you might not otherwise, and to get some friend's artwork into your own collection.  My book (actually books... one is an address book and one is a desk calendar) have the theme of: beach/vacation/vintage/floral/travel/breath/relax/stay at home... That's right, I can't make up my mind.  I decorated the cover and a few pages; now it is ready to send on its way.  Here is one of my pages.  I made a series of human-like figures; the white label stickers are for all the participating artists to sign in on.  Other themes include: deep dark sea, owls, water towers, the muse, shadows/silhouettes, France, Egypt.  I'm really looking forward to working on such a variety of themes and have already started sifting through my collage pieces.  Fun!

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