Earlier this fall I made Sugar Skulls and Baba eggs. I had so much researching and creating the Sugar Skulls. What a great cultural icon they are! In case you don't know, The Day of the Dead is a two day festival that celebrates family and friends who have died. There is a tradition that goes back centuries of making skulls from iced sugar to place on grave markers and altars as part of the gifts for the dead.
At the same time I made Baba eggs in various sizes: chicken, bantam chicken, duck and goose. They all have different hair colors, hair styles and eye colors. Their babushkas, dresses and aprons are different. I used traditional costume as inspiration as well as vintage patterns from the early 1900s.
When I went to CityFolk Gallery to update my display, Karen Alderer (owner) asked me if I made Santa ornaments. She usually had someone who did that but the person wasn't able to do so this year. I paused and thought about it. I've never made a Santa before but since I had just done Baba designs I said yes, I would give it a try.
Well, I have had a great time! These are not like the Coca-Cola Santa Claus but more like Father Christmas/Saint Nicholas/Sinterklaas. I kept the eyes blue after pondering and puzzling. I have some Swarovski crystals to glue on, ornament tops to attach and dangling beaded finials to attach to the bottom. Almost done!
I feel like one of Santa's elves! Ornaments have been coming out of the studio in various forms for many weeks: snowflakes, vintage-inspired, retro-colored, tasseled and traditional Fly Birds.
I cannot even begin to say which is my favorite because it is always the one I am holding at the time! Each one is very special in its own very way whether it is the color I have chosen, the eyelashes I have drawn or the gems that made me giggle when I put it together with the pattern. It is the most fun, special, hard work I do all year!
I wrap the tassels myself because, well, because. I think it is better for me to do it than some 9 year old in China. And then the color will be exactly what I want and the exact length that I want and even the exact thickness that I want.
The beads and sequins are all high quality pieces that you would sew onto evening wear. My little hens deserve to wear the very best! And they are all hens...so far. I just haven't found a rooster yet.
You can find my hand made ornaments locally at JAM Gallery in Malvern, PA, The Palette & The Page in Elkton, MD and at Mala Galeria in Kennett Square, PA.
Shop soon! When they run out you will have to wait until next year for more. I only make them once a year.
Every location has packaging to present your ornament beautifully as well as keep it safe. In the event you need to ship the ornament, simply provide enough shredded paper to prevent shaking (the shake test...you shouldn't hear movement), and wrap the gift box in bubble wrap. Then put that package in a box with enough bubble wrap or packing material so that you can't hear any noise.
I always wanted to go to summer camp but I never got to go. My parents were teachers so they had the same schedule we had. My friends went to camp. A couple even went to overnight camp and I was so very jealous.
I had the terrible misfortune of having parents that let me and my brother go into the woods, ride our bikes, pick wild blackberries, go fishing in the creek, have water fights (that sometimes extended into the house...my parents are a little crazy), backwards dinner (dessert first so you didn't run of room for pie), dropping everything and going to the zoo/museum/shore/river/somewhere .
Models or puzzles were built on a card table in the middle of the living room and weren't disturbed. And I don't remember ever not being allowed to use an exacto blade. I got cut and then didn't put my finger in the way like that again. My dad put the bandage on and that was that.
Make a mess, clean it up. Have a snack and talk about your mess.
I get it now that I'm a grown up. My entire summers were camp.
So now I teach summer camp and I mostly channel what I did as a kid: make a mess, clean it up, eat a snack and talk about what we did. My favorite camps are Dr. Seuss & Me and Mad Science: Where Art and Science Collide. We are talking Dr. Seuss and volcanoes here. What is not to like? It's all imagination, giggling and mess.
I always say that I have the nicest campers. Perhaps it's true. Perhaps it's because I love the subjects so much. Whatever the reason I credit my hippie parents who taught me gender neutral language, gender neutral jobs, kindness, good citizenship, that working is joyful from every age, respect for people of every age (and yes, children are actually people) and that every subject in education is for every person.
It isn't as idealistic as it sounds. STEAM, which is more sensible than STEM, is a hippie ideal. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math strives to educate both boys and girls because both genders are needed for balance. When only one gender creates, the things that are created don't actually work as well for the population as anticipated.
Dr. Seuss has always said the same thing. The books I mostly read are the old ones, his first writings and they still ring true.
One more week of Dr. Seuss & Me camp this summer. One more week of precious barefooted pre-school fun. One more week of chiclet teeth smile and bird chirp voices. One more week of rhymes that don't rhyme to match mine, early readers finding a new word, beginning writers spelling a new word. One more week of Seussical creations made by small hands with wondrous minds.
The hippie stuff stuck. It must of been the sesame honey treats.
Lynnette Shelley and I did it! We made it through heat, humidity, rain, my purple hair (why did I think that was going to work?) and had a wonderful first Chester County Studio Tour 2015 together.
It would be terribly unfair to forget my faithful helpers: Miriam Dages, Amanda Williams and my husband, Erik Hoet. Miriam helped clean the studio and house for visitors, offered general encouragement and was available to help set up, shop and do all the gofer stuff that just wears a person out if you do it alone. Amanda did similar duties but she sort of drew a short straw: the poor thing has horrible allergies and got to "plant" signs with me. The day was a windy one and I thought she was going to sneeze herself out of her skin.
My husband got to help with trimming trees, hauling branches, the last bits of mulching, mowing and other husbandly chores. I'm sure he did stuff I didn't even know that he did because it's just what husbands do.
Garden Thyme is the nursery less than a mile down the street from me where I get my plantings and mulch from. There support in allowing me to post signs, literature and advice in choosing the best plants was wonderful. The encouragement was great, too! Lenape Pizza also let me post signs and literature.
Thanks to Pete's Produce. The strawberries got raves and the watermelon soup I made from their produce was demolished by the end of the weekend.
This was my first year as a host studio and I would love to thank each of my neighbors who took the time to come and say hi, purchase something, cheerfully offered their lawn and driveway to parking and increased traffic and offered assistance putting items away on Sunday.
So many people took advantage of both days of the Chester County Studio Tour. Imagine that! Living in an area rich enough in art where an entire weekend isn't enough time to do more than scratch the surface and you have to plan your time this year for next year. I heard it over and over: well, last year we did the borough so this year we are doing the northern part and you were on the way or you are our neighbor so we are stopping here but then we are of to X, tomorrow is Y.
The Chester County Studio Tour is always the weekend after Mother's Day. Mark your calendar now, go to www.chestercountystudiotour.com and sign up for an email reminder or go to facebook.
A couple more days until Chester County Studio Tour 2015 will finally be here. May 16 & 17 seemed so far away and now it's here. In a couple days, my guest artist Lynnette Shelley and I will be showing our work to a couple hundred people we were just waiting to get to know.
I am grateful for the assistance of young friends with seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm. They have helped move furniture, sweep, clean, plant signs and have been just generally encouraging.
Today, we planted signs directing you to Studio #36. If you need directions to the studio, go to www.chestercountystudiotour.com to download the maps, get the address and find the best way to visit a number of studios in the most effective way. They are divided by Northern and Southern as well as by type of art. Or you can just flip a coin and choose that way. I don't think you can actually go wrong!
Remember that the County Collector's are available at 10 am. Once the item is sold, it's sold. Of course, you are then more than welcome to buy the next thing that strikes your fancy!
Lynnette and I both have our County Collector item but teamed up to make our own collaborative work based on Goliath beetles that is sold as a set.
The mulch is down, flowers are planted, whatever weeds grow between now and Saturday are probably safe. The cookies are locked in the pantry and I will be getting the strawberries tomorrow.
If you are too far away to make it, thanks for looking and thanks for cheering me on when I've been tired. If you plan on coming and things take a turn down another road, I get it. If you show up, you are most welcome and we hope we can make it a great experience for you.
Chester County Studio Tour is on facebook and at www.chestercountystudiotour.com in case I missed something.
I thought that knowing how to make a teapot in ceramics would be helpful in making a sculptural, non-functional teapot using eggshell and "parts".
I don't know why I always think things like that.
Perhaps it's sunny optimism. Confidence in my abilities. Blind hope.
It would have been much simpler to have made the pictured teapot out of clay. All of the parts would have been the same material and I could have attached them with the same material: clay. But that's not how mixed media art works. It's what makes it interesting and challenging and works your mind. How the hell do I make something look like the real thing when it isn't?
Not to mention the fact that I derailed myself by not following my own plan when it came to the painting. I'm am exceedingly grateful that it turned out just fine and that the theme still showed itself. It might even be better than I had intended.
Yes, I made the tray that it is sitting on. The acid etched goose shell has been sitting out all winter because I forgot it. The epoxy coating did a great job of protecting it.
This brown chicken egg was my first teapot. I did the egg body as an acid etched, wax resist and dye design in the Southwest Native American ceramic series I began earlier this year. The lid is a bead finding with a pearl bead. The spout and handle are porcelain.
I began the third one (no pictures yet) on a goose egg that is going to be painted. Maybe. I haven't made up my mind completely on it.
These beauties will be ready and available at my home studio for the Chester County Studio tour on May 16&17. Visit www.chestercountystudiotour.com to get your map. I'm studio #36!
"Patterns Emerge" was just installed at Cecil College Elkton Station. The opening reception is Friday, April 3. The gallery is filled with natural light from high glass ceilings, a tall stairway which allows students and visitors to get an eagle-eye view of the work and the neutral colors of the gallery lets the patterns and vibrant colors on the miniatures explode larger than they really are.
This exhibit is also the debut for the sculpture series, "The Facets of Women". It is the first time these works are being seen and the story each sculpture tells is unique to the piece. Each viewer brings his or her own history to the relationship and I could see the remarkable restraint it took for women not to touch. They would start and then stop, remembering it was artwork, and then begin to tell me their story.
In this space, the smallest eggs look big and equal to the full size torsos. Atmosphere is an equalizer, I suppose. The curator, Shelly Leishear, was indispensable in creating a dynamic and flowing show with sensitive suggestions of where pieces would look better as well as showing how the rail system could be used to its best capabilities.
While I didn't get his last name, Drew helped do the first installation of the Waterlily paintings and I really couldn't have done it better myself. He is in the work study program, is a painter and it was his first time hanging an installation completely by himself. He was a little nervous at first but I said that if I didn't like it, we could just move things around. Right. HIs eyebrows went up, the pressure went away and he went to work.
When everything was hung, straightened and tidied and the packing materials were stowed away so I could see what I had made, I was quite stunned by what I saw.
You see, I rarely see my finished work for longer than a moment. It's done, it goes somewhere. Either a gallery, to someone's home or in safe storage so that a cat or dog doesn't do something interesting to it.
So while I think I am doing something different and I am doing something different, my voice is still my voice and it can be heard. The patterns that are emerging are old and ancient. They connect me to the past but come up even now in the spring with every flower and fiddlehead, leaf and stem.
Thanks for looking and I hope to see you soon.
My day generally starts around 5 am.
I don't have an official alarm clock unless you count the hungry belly of a middle aged red nosed pit bull named Teddy who doesn't want to miss breakfast. He never sleeps in. Ever. He also doesn't ask my husband, who is awake and getting ready for work at that time, to let him out. Teddy fetches me to start his day.
I don't really mind. I like watching that first run of the day. I enjoy the wiggly butts trying to contain themselves as they go to their spots and wait for bowls to be filled. I like to hear the happy burps and contented sighs as they settle in for the post breakfast nap.
This morning started at 5:05 am as any other. I was looking forward to packing the car and being the "surprise" guest speaker at the W.I.S.E. luncheon. W.I.S.E. is a group for women that pursues educational and stimulating programs so I was quite honored to be asked to speak.
I pulled my car out of the garage to pack it up with my things and it happened.
I broke the garage. I broke the car.
I smashed into the frame of the garage with the side of the car. I drive a black car. The garage is on the top of a hill surrounded by trees. Our driveway is black. The light doesn't work in the garage at the moment and because it was early morning, the light in the driveway didn't go on. It would have been easier to see at night than it was at 8 am.
When I saw what happened I started to cry so hard that I thought my head was going to bust.
I called my husband Erik and started to explain through my wailing but he really couldn't even understand me at all. "Don't hate me! I'm worthless" Yes. I actually said those things.
I pulled myself together enough to explain that I crashed the car into the garage and Erik said he was coming home. In the meantime, one of my neighbors who was walking his dog happened to see the damage and came up the driveway. He saw me crying and told me, very kindly, that it was not as bad as it looked and that it could be repaired. I'm sure he wanted to hug me but didn't because he didn't know me well enough. I could feel his kindness but was just in pure misery.
I got myself together while waiting for Erik to get home. It's an hour drive so I had time to blow my nose, drink some water and load the car. The car was drivable, just damaged.
My brother called, offered sympathy and support and then Erik arrived.
We got things sorted and then I had to leave to go to my luncheon.
The luncheon was pretty wonderful! Four dozen smart, wonderful women all together in one room. I led my talk with how important it was for me to be there with all of these beautiful women, different facets of loveliness, since I had managed to really mess up my day. The empathy I received back from people who were strangers to me gave me such faith in my gender!
I had only just met these women apart from one or two and I could see and feel the camaraderie. I think every person came up to me at some point when the talk was over to say something to me. Rarely have I had such warmth and genuine affection from a group.
On my way home, I dropped off my friend Catherine in West Chester who I rode in with to the luncheon. When I was half a mile from home, one of my neighbors was one the road waving cars down. I couldn't imagine why. He looked upset and excited so I rolled my window down.
"The cows are out! I almost hit one. They are out of the barn. Be careful!" Every one of his statements were exclamations. I burst out laughing.
Of course the cows are out.
It was a lovely and brisk day. Perfect for being outside.
I slowly went forward looking right an left and to the right, two of the cows jogged just ahead of the owner. Blades of grass were dangling from their lips. They were absolutely adorable and furry looking with their shaggy winter coats and obviously enjoying themselves being on the wrong side of the fence.
The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
I was so upset when I damaged the car and garage. It's embarrassing. It's upsetting. It's scary.
My brother reminded me that we pay thousands in insurance all year long to pay for this kind of thing.
Chris at Progressive said it was the most common phone call he receives. I guess that's why they have cameras for backing up now.
My husband was more concerned about me.
I burst out laughing that I live in a place where the cows get out.
I am so very lucky to live in such a place. The cows get out and mess up traffic. What a fabulous problem!
Many people will look at my work and say, "Cool doodle!" or "Neat Zentangle!"
Thanks. I think.
Let me explain why I am confused, unsure, uncertain and perhaps offer an explanation of the terms. Because there really is a difference between the three types of ink art.
Doodling is defined as an unfocused or unconscious drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied. So, something you do in a meeting, on the phone, watching a webinar for work, etc.
Zentangle is trademarked method teaching people who believe they aren't artists to use repetitive patterns to create designs as a way to relax, have fun and learn to be creative. Users are given prescribed steps to learn as a way to release creativity. Brilliant methodology, brilliant marketing.
Drawing is, by definition, is a form of visual art that makes use of any number of drawing instruments to mark a two-dimensional medium like paper, canvas, board and so on.
The last is what I do.
My work is focused and conscious and it's the only thing I am working on so it isn't a doodle. Doodles are very important in their own right and it is proven in clinical studies that people who doodle remember more information and are able to solve problems better than people who didn't doodle while listening (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)61496-7/fulltext).
But my work is still not a doodle. It's focused and made while I was concentrating on the art itself.
It's also not Zentangle. I had never even heard of Zentangle and it was actually not invented when I first picked up a pen. Of course, I was in kindergarten when my mother gave me a dip pen and a bottle of ink with paper. I don't follow guidelines to created or work to achieve relaxation as my goal. While my art is typically meditative, I get frustrated and aggravated just like any other working person when things don't go as planned.
Zentangle has introduced a great number of people to patterns and visual textures who were not previously aware that such things existed. I am extremely grateful! I hope the next step the company takes is to let their students know that the patterns they are using are old, ancient and are human, not Zentangle inventions. They can be found in etchings, wood cuttings, stone carvings, silk screen prints, charcoal drawings, pencil drawings, ink drawings and even paintings going back centuries. Even jewelry and metal work found in burial sites has patterns that can be found on Tangled Art, as it is called.
Since my inspiration is elsewhere, I am not a Tangler. I am found of many artists who are and I am thrilled that so many people are drawing when they wouldn't otherwise have had the courage. But my work isn't Zentangle.
Drawing is the only one that fits. I use a variety of drawing instruments: technical pen, dip pen and ink, pencil, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, compass. I use two dimensional surfaces like paper and board. I even draw on a three dimensional surface with wax and ink: egg shells! The word pysanky literally means "to write".
The techniques and patterns I use in my drawings can be found in ancient art from around the globe: illuminated manuscripts from many cultures (European and Asian), Asian tapestries called mandalas, Oriental rugs, Islamic tiles, pysanky, lace patterns, wood prints from all cultures, metal etchings. The list goes on.
Wood block prints and silk screening are rich with texture! Since we silk screened as a family when I was a child, I was introduced to the style of visual texture and pattern needed to produce a design at a young age and it influenced how I create images now. The stylized Gerber daisy pictured left uses traditional ink drawing techniques like cross hatching (back ground), ink wash, hatching, cross contour and stippling.
Is it a doodle, Zentangle or drawing? It's a drawing!
It is my hope that this small essay helps clarify the difference between these common terms and encourage those of you who are actually drawing and didn't know it!
Pablo Picasso is quoted as saying, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to stay an artist once we grow up."
My husband would say none of this is important, that the name of it doesn't really matter. Perhaps. But I love words. And I believe that names are important. A dog isn't a wolf. A cat isn't a lion. Each is similar to its relative but they are different. And the differences count.
Thanks for your time! If you have any questions, let me know. I would be happy to answer.
I like to help.
Before I had this stupid Still's diseases I was able to do volunteer work that was very satisfying. But my very own body will frequently betray me with fever, fatigue, pain and weakness so ladders and paintbrushes are definitely out. But I still want to help other people.
Since I really like varmints and so does Erik, when PACT for Animals was suggested it seemed like the perfect fit. Fostering dogs for military families was right up my alley: helping military families and taking care of dogs. What could be better? I already took care of my family and friends' dogs for extended stays. What would be different?
Just lots different.
Let me stress that the dogs that came into our home from the military families were nice animals. They were friendly. The difference between those animals and my family/friends pets was training.
My brother has a pony for a dog. He's huge. His Doberman is a 90 pound giant that is an only dog that normally grazes. He was at my house for a month on one stay while my brother's house was being repaired because of a broken pipe. When I fed the dogs, I didn't need to watch them every second or need to leash anyone. At no time did I need to drag any dog away from dishes or physically block. I could get a drink of water, make my own dinner preparations, talk on the phone. Whatever I needed to do.
It was the same for my mother's dog who is also a singleton. My ex-husband's cocker spaniel had experience with other dogs. He had health issues but actually knew what to do to make cleaning up as easy as possible. Imagine having a dog that knew to go to the laundry room when he was having a seizure?
I have two old dogs and one young dog. Maggie is ancient and frail from arthritis. When she was younger, she could keep other dogs in line. No longer. Teddy. Teddy is made of love. Thinking beings are supposed to be comprised of pure and impure, good and evil. Well, my Teddy never got in line for the impure. Which means he is a target. And he does absolutely nothing to defend himself because he just doesn't know how. That leaves him anxious, confused and sad. Obe is six pounds. He is young and confident but the weight and size deficiency are a disadvantage against larger dogs.
We tried fostering because we wanted to help. Because Maggie and Teddy are pit bulls, other owners with smaller dogs wouldn't even consider us. My dogs are well trained and have certificates to prove it. They are old and infirm and don't have the strength to be around big dogs anymore. It didn't work out.
The last foster went to her new placement on Tuesday night. Normally, my dogs have breakfast at 6 am. Everyone slept in until 8:24 am.
Teddy is eating again and laying on his back which he hasn't down in months. Maggie didn't ask for pain medicine last night. Obe is scratching less.
I have and have always immense respect for the people and animals who foster other animals. It is hard work. Having strangers in your home takes a special kind of personality from your pets as well as from you, the owner. Just having desire to help isn't enough.
Last night our house was back to normal for the first time in a couple months. All the dogs and cats were in the same room as we were. Cats were walking on dogs, dogs were snoring, cats were purring, dogs chewing on bones. There was no growling, no careful watching, no chasing, no fluffy-tailed cat smacking a dog nose. Just a normal night.
It felt like heaven.
I promised my varmints that it would be like this always.
I like to help. And I want to continue to volunteer. Erik and I are glad that we tried to foster. We are sad that it didn't work because it seemed like it would be a good fit. We are more glad that it's over.
We are going to continue to watch dogs we know when needed so Kahzi and Mojo are always welcome.
I am an artist who has a supporting crew of two dogs, three cats, a parrot, some ducks and a pond full of fish for inspiration. My husband, Erik, is technical advisor. My studio is bright and cheery and I spend time every day making something.