step-by-step art

i realized today that i keep uploading all of my art pieces, but i never really talk about them. so, i guess i'll share a bit about how this whole "painting" thing began. first a disclaimer: i have no art training (which my husband and anyone with any knowledge of fine art can tell by looking at just one of my pieces!) and i don't want to be an artist. i am not trying to sell my work or hang it in a gallery or even claim that it is "art."

but painting and working with mixed media makes me happy. i love starting with nothing and ending up with something all my own. i love getting messy. i love when i can take a piece that i HATE and fiddle with it and turn it into something that makes me smile. and i REALLY love when david or my dad (hard to impress) or a new friend (thanks alicia!) says they like something i've done. i would also like to note that i work FAST...most of the pieces you see on my photobucket show were done in about 1/2 an hour.

okay, now i feel that i can talk a little bit about how i work...

  • almost everything you've seen has been created on an old album cover...i'm trying to reuse materials rather than buying new, and i was looking for something lightweight and compact since i was planning on making 52 pieces this year. (even with my own studio, storage is an issue) and at garage sales...they're CHEAP!
  • i use acrylic paint
  • i use a lot of vintage newspapers/letters/magazines/etc. from my favorite texas junk
  • i use a lot of my own photographs, simply printed on my crappy printer on regular paper
  • i have been a crafter for many years...always switching interests (scrapbooking, jewelry, mosaic tiles, painting/decoupage furniture, card making, and always photography)...so i have A LOT OF CRAP
  • and now that i have my fabulous studio space that is FINALLY organized, i just hit iTunes on my laptop and get to work
  • to upload, i take a picture with my digital, crop it and there you go

this week i've been trying to do an image over collage...



hilarious mini-discoveries

okay, so when i decided to look for some photos for my last post i came across some doozies. don't ask why i'm embarrassing myself so much with this one, but it is so absolutely horrifying...i had to share!

this one is a classic...i am about 2 seconds from being malled by an elk in the height of mating season. apparently taking photos of his woman is NOT OKAY. p.s. yes, my mom and her friend were TAKING PICTURES as i am about to be malled by an elk.

oh, and seriously...sorry if this guy's sergeant is seeing this, but it's just too good not to post. (we got a ride back to our hotel in the back -- see #2)

and this is my favorite halloween ever...i made oatmeal raisin cookies (from the martha stewart living magazine) and passed them out at each stop on the bar crawl.

just a little giggle for your monday blues...


discovery #5

i may have found the perfect job.
(well, if i have to work an 8-5)

as i was driving home and thinking about which discovery to write about this week, i realized i have officially spent 1/2 my life working. i started at 15, and (according to my social security statement) earned no income in 1998...college summer in europe. so, as i just turned 32, my math puts me at 16 years of employment. let's review:
  • lifeguard/swim instructor
  • olive garden server
  • costume designer (well, i was never paid for it...but damn i love halloween!) and i'm realizing i don't have pictures of myself at work much!
  • bar waitress
  • advertising agency intern
  • Promotions Coordinator - ad agency
  • Social Host - norwegian cruise lines (ship: norwegian sky) seriously, can you SEE this outfit???? (i'm in yellow) there are no words for the kind of humiliation i felt the first night i taught line dancing in this thing.
  • firefighter okay, that's a lie...but i did train to be a fire squad leader on the ship
  • Field Event Coordinator - avon breast cancer 3-day event
  • temp (at about 100 companies in chicago)
  • Youth Advocate - group home for boys
  • Executive Assistant - saks fifth avenue (in chi-town AND houston)
  • starbucks barista
  • medical social worker
phew...i should have warned you it was a ridiculously long list. i was the queen of i-know-what-i-don't-want, but had no clue what i was looking for in a career. becoming a social worker granted me the wish i had to take all of my volunteer positions (check out bo's place for my favorite) and actually get paid for it. and through my grad school practicum experiences i learned that i didn't want to work for a government system -- and needed the professionalism and multidisciplinary benefits of a large hospital.

top 10 reasons my job is perfect for me:
  1. my boss works in a different building and never micromanages
  2. my co-workers are supportive and FUN
  3. i meet someone new every day
  4. i learn something new every day
  5. i have balance between patient care and the administrative crap (i secretly kinda like)
  6. the opportunity for continuing education (who knew i was a perpetual student)
  7. my hospital has a lunchtime scrapbooking club!
  8. my hospital has a healing garden!
  9. i am paid a fair salary for my experience
  10. i am making a difference.
side note: anyone looking for a break from corporate life...working on ships is definitely an experience you will never forget. i have some awesome photos from NCL's gay cruise, but thought they might be a bit inappropriate to post. and for my GLBTQ peeps: those cruises are possibly the craziest fun i've ever had!


life is beautiful

since i began this journey a couple months ago i have begun reading creative blogs during my lunch break, when i can't get away from my desk. (note: i do at least 1-2x week leave the office and eat with friends near a beautiful fountain with a pianist playing in the lobby.)
i love to visit sarah-ji to get my chi-town fix every so often and today i found more writing than her usual description of a fabulous photo. her post on shutter sisters (an amazing place for inspiration!) really got me thinking about my own "lens"...how i view myself and the world. she also talks about "opening my heart to what (others) see in me" in a recent post, which is something i did about 5 years ago.

we'll start there...
just as i was deciding to leave chicago and move down to houston, we were planning for jamie/andy's pre-trial hearing in georgia. there were a lot of emotions and i was making a huge life-altering decision while i was still very much grieving (which is a big no-no in all of the bereavement literature, btw). so, i sent this e-mail to all of my friends and family i was leaving up north:

I am asking that each of you take some time and put down in writing your thoughts on me. (God, am I self-centered or what???) It's just interesting what other people's perceptions of you are, and right now I'm having trouble being objective. I have some thoughts on what I want to do, but before I go public (baby steps, you know) I need to do some soul-searching. Which is where you come in. And maybe it's a little need for confidence-boosting before this weekend.

i focused the whole message on my career, but the responses i received were overwhelmingly focused on me as a person/friend/cousin/creator of fun. i have referred to these love-filled messages many times over the past years, particularly when i need a boost and to remember that whatever i may see in myself at a certain point in time...these people are combining years of data into their assessments.

i am pleased to report that at this point in my life, my heart is fully opened to the view that others see of me. i am fortunate that as a result of a traumatic experience i found the strength to ask for what i needed at that time. and since then have continued to practice awareness of those things that make life beautiful.

as a social worker, and the sister of a victim of a violent crime, i know that life is not always beautiful. but i truly believe that it is my mission in life to look past the evil.dirty.ugly.horrible parts and embrace those gifts we may have overlooked in the past.


this looks terrible...

there's nothing more disappointing than a night in my studio when i don't like anything i'm working on...

discovery #4

that i'm a little scared on planes.

which sucks. because i love to fly. i always loved that little jolt of adrenaline when you hit turbulence, then straighten out again. but this weekend i noticed that it wasn't a GOOD feeling when we bounced around, it was a little anxiety-provoking. so i tried to make it a game...watching as we entered a group of clouds--feeling enveloped by its fluffiness--then spit out on the other side.

one time someone told me that you should never fly with all your family on one plane. just.in.case. this thought came to me as casey and i flew back to my mom the day after jamie was killed. both of her little girls on-the-same-plane. it came to me on friday when me, casey, our husbands, our parents, and my cousin--pregnant with her first child--boarded that tiny plane.

but the facts are clear:

583 deaths in 2008 resulting from airline accidents
37,261 deaths in 2008 resulting from auto accidents
(oh and as i'm researching...apparently there were a handful of triathlon-related deaths last year)

sadly, i am not more scared to get behind the wheel of my SUV (or maybe i'd drive slower). and i am beginning my training for the danskin tri in austin 2010. i always said i'd kick some butt on fear factor-- i never thought anything scared me. (but i also never auditioned because they kept creating more and more disgusting "insect-animal testicle-slime shakes"...yuck.)

but i digress. the point is...as i get older my fears change. when i was 6 it was probably the flying purple people eater (my dad loved that song!) at 16: not looking good in my bikini for spring break. 25: never finding my passion. and apparently this year it's air travel. but i'm sure i'll get over it, as i have all the rest.

and someday i might shake the fear of losing someone else close to me. because that's what it's really about...those things we have no control over. life changes. people come and go from our lives. the only thing we can control is the time we spend with those we love.

and to do that...i have to fly the friendly skies.


happy and exhausted

the fundraiser was a huge success!!! we raised $4500 and my painting went for $100...i couldn't believe it! and i'm so happy that it went to my favorite aunt carol! i'm totally exhausted from 4 days with my cousins...ready to watch a movie with my sweetie and finally sleep in my own bed!

as for my discovery this week...i can't decide what to highlight. i think i'll sleep on it. but i did just discover facebook. my friends have been bugging me forever...i have an account, but i only go there every 4-6 months and accept friend requests. tonight i actually made a couple comments and posted pictures. what is happening to me.....


wet paint

getting closer....


working on art

i'm putting my "discovery art" on hold this week, as i decided to make a mixed media piece for my sister's auction this weekend. we do an annual memorial fundraiser for jamie/andy and hold a silent auction to raise money for the scholarship we created in their name. i asked david to do a painting and the more i thought about it, I wanted to do something artsy too. so, this is the first run of my collage...tomorrow i'll paint and then add the quote at the end. in between packing and everything else i need to get done before we fly out!?

but i always feel better after a night in my studio...all dirty and inspired...especially with david working in the next room...


discovery #3

that good music makes everything better.

especially road trips. picture this: 7 hours in a car with your in-laws. or 10 hours in a (very small) car with your boyfriend's spanish-speaking aunt and cousin. who you just met 5 minutes before the trip. oh, and you don't speak any spanish.

this weekend i discovered that with some funky 80's groove, even a road trip with my in-laws is fun. and that trip from mexico with david's cousin last year: awesome! due to a 5-hour non-stop a cappella sing-along of beatles, beach boys, and of course, madonna.

my sister casey and i did a 6-week road trip after jamie's death, and the whole trip is represented by the music we listened to. we have video clips taken from the passenger seat of just the scenery, all set to a bad ass soundtrack courtesy of the car stereo. we didn't even need to add music to the video...and now every time i hear those songs it evokes great memories of the summer with my sister.

music is like smell for me, it can take me back to a time in my life...or a long-forgotten memory.

  • beat it (or any mj hit) -- in the basement of our house on ivy lane, with my dad's huge headphones covering my little ears
  • bel biv devoe -- 8th grade at loredo taft
  • YMCA -- willow dances and the smell of chlorine late into the night
  • 1999 and we are family -- college days at kkg
  • red red wine & standing outside the fire -- always remind me of jamie
  • and baby got back? the night i met my husband

what would make up the soundtrack for your life? i'm considering putting the above into a playlist...most aren't even on my i-pod now. it seems we always review our life with photos, but what about the music to accompany those images?


discovery #2

that as americans, we are unnaturally focused on time...and particularly on speed.

we do everything fast. and most of us don't even realize it. we expect timeliness. we base decisions on timelines. and as a service economy, we learned to expect everything fast. food.cars.mail.internet connections. the list goes on...

until we are removed from this fast-paced environment can we truly see the effect it takes on our lives. our ability to relax. our ability to enjoy life. our ability to WAIT. in a culture accustomed to:

the power lunch, power naps, the quickie, drive-thru's, one-hour photo...

how can we understand the 3-hour lunch...and businesses that close all afternoon to accommodate this phenomenon? i was shocked to find that i, the girl who doesn't own a watch, was asking my husband "what time is it"...when there was no good reason to know.

being in europe reminded me of all the reasons i love the leisurely pace of life outside the states. and forced me to realize how accustomed i have become to life on fast-forward. anyone who saw adam sandler's "click" knows what i'm talking about...at times i can't remember all of the amazing fun i've been having.

this week i discovered that i need to SLOW DOWN. although i've gotten much better at this--mindfulness is actually now a word in my vocabulary--i find that i still get overwhelmed. i love my active lifestyle, don't get me wrong. and travelling most weekends of the month is what i love to do. but there has to be a perfect balance for me...which includes staying home to write and paint and cook (and clean) and just breathe.

i pray that over the next year i can discover the secret to this balance.

milos, greece

the week we spent in milos was one of the most amazing trips of my life. here are a few of the photos...but they can't really do the place justice. to really get an idea of the experience, first you need to imagine yourself relaxing from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. a cool breeze ruffling your hair, and bringing in a delicious ocean scent. a sky so blue you don't see a cloud for 6 days straight. and some of the most amazing food you have ever tasted...fish straight from the sea, vegetables from the garden, local wine chilled to perfection.
the trip started off gorgeous...a sunset AND sunrise while crossing timezones!
we wandered around athens the night before heading to milos...through the narrow alleyways, up to the acropolis.
our hotel was perfect...the view from my lounge chair on the first day.
this is what i came for...the typical white washed homes make such a statement against the (always) blue sky.
mmmm, and my favorite meal on the trip...grilled calamari at a seaside restaurant in the fishing village of pollonia.



i love packing. making the long list of items i will assuredly never use, but deem necessary at this moment. i love the anticipation, getting ready for the big adventure. i love the moment when everything is securely fastened in the suitcase and the zipper is pulled tight.

i love airports. i love the excitement of getting my boarding pass, looking at the list of departures, watching all of my fellow travelers.

i love the unexpected pleasures. being bumped to business class for an international flight. finding that our "budget" hotel room has a balcony, AND an ocean view. meeting the locals and getting a tip for the best meal in town.

i love learning a new environment. that moment when you realize you don't need the map anymore. when you know how to use the subway-bus-pack mule-system without asking for help.

...and i love the bragging rights. i'm secretly most in love with the re-telling of my travels. the slight exaggeration of the highlights. the more impressive exaggeration of the mishaps and misfortunes. i love saying in dinner conversation "oh yes, i remember that from my time in china" or "well, when i lived in australia..." and i get an extra twinge of pleasure when someone says "wow, you've been everywhere."

not yet...but that's the goal.