Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Walkin' to Work

I started a part-time (very part-time) temporary job last week and I decided that I would use the job as an opportunity to get in a little extra walking, so, last week when I needed to turn in some paperwork, I walked over so I could see how long it took me: 20 minutes, just 20 minutes to walk from home to my new job at Willamette University. It is a job I left eight years ago and since that time I have become a counselor, artist, workshop leader, yada, yada, yada. What I did eight years ago was serve as the office manager for the Hatfield Library. I also arranged and created exhibits in the upstairs display area, developed a library newsletter, and facilitated all kinds of Friends of the Library events. In short, I had a blast and did much more than the Administrative Assistant/Office Manager job had been hired for. Well, the woman in the position currently, is sporting a very pregnant belly and is set to give birth any day (her mother is hoping sooner than later since she is here for only two weeks!). I was hired to work the Administrative Assistant side and I’ve had a chance to get reacquainted with the procedures and I’m muddling my way through the latest technological changes, but otherwise, it feels fabulous to be back on the beautiful Willamette campus and I’m looking forward to breathing the academic air once again. Today, as I left the campus, I snapped photos along the way so I could share the scenery of my walk. Walk with me . . . .

The Artist's Way Week Twelve: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy

Life does get in the way of fun things on occasion and last night was one of those times. Three of our six beautiful women were unable to attend: one had out of town friends, one was sick, and the other had a personal emergency. The rest of us soldiered on, glad that we were together. Our creative activity for the evening was making a God Jar, something Julia Cameron describes as: “A jar, a box, a vase, a container. Something to put your fears, your resentments, your hopes, your dreams, your worries into.” I provided each woman with an empty Tazo tea can, and as usual, the women jumped in with gusto, chatting and visiting, all the while choosing and gluing on colorful fibers, then adding embellishments that hold special significance and meaning. Their creations are revealed here:

A different view:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Itty Bitty Pretties

I presented at the DIY Lounge for the first time ever last Saturday and it was a very cool experience. The space, which is located at the back of collage (a wonderful and well-stocked art store in case you haven't had the pleasure to visit), is bright and airy with a large workspace. I arrived early and got everything set up for the six ladies who had registered. Only one of the women had taken a class previously at the DIY Lounge, so I felt honored that so many of these women had chosen my class for their first experience. After brief introductions and a fun warm-up exercise (I gave everyone a photograph of a “stranger” and a random page from the dictionary. They had to come up with a name for the person in the photo and then choose a word from their dictionary page that best represented their person; there were some pretty funny names and words chosen for MY relatives!). After that bit of tomfoolery, I gave some instructions and set the women free to work at their own pace. Wow! They enjoyed choosing from my piles of pretty papers, then gluing down photos they had brought, selecting a word from the dictionaries I had on hand, then began the embellishments – charms, beads, metal bits, googly eyes, swirlies, rock shards . . . . I was able to share from my abundance to their tickled delight.

The Artist's Way Week Eleven: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

Amazing! That’s the word of the week for the six women who found their way to our Creative Cluster last night. All six checked in with feeling tired and drained and I sensed that it took great effort just to get to our group – during check-ins it was confirmed that several had contemplated staying home, but knew that if they came, they would be rewarded; that was the case.

Our Artist’s Way theme for the evening was self-protection and our creative activity was embellishing a simple muslin doll. Once I turned these ladies loose, they became whirling dervishes, pulling out bits of lace, pieces of sparkly trim, gluing on beads, painting faces and shoes . . . . words do not do their handiwork justice.

Here are their creations in circled up glory:

Introducing: Oliver

Well, we weren’t planning on getting a dog, although we have talked about it in the past. However, whenever we talked about getting a dog, we always ended up deciding we didn’t want to be tied down, we didn’t want the responsibility. Then we met Olive. Olive is an 11-month old black standard poodle and was lucky enough to get adopted into our daughter’s family. My Hubby and I babysat our two grandsons last Saturday night and after they were tucked in and sound asleep, we got to “dog sit” Olive. Our hearts melted and we were in love. When my daughter and son-in-law returned home, they informed us that Olive had a brother . . . . thus began another round of discussions, only this time, there was a tangible dog in the picture. We talked into the evening and woke up talking about it throughout the morning, as if we never even went to sleep. We were sort of leaning toward getting the “brother,” but then we went into Petco to see about a collar and a lead: I started hyperventilating at the sight of all the dog accoutrements! We put the collar back and stepped aside to talk some more. I picked up a copy of “Poodles for Dummies” and began to leaf through it; the reading calmed me down and allowed my Hubby and I to confirm that yes, we did in fact want to get and were ready for a dog. We purchased the essentials and headed north on I-5 to Kalama, to the breeder’s home. After we arrived, we realized we weren’t really buying a dog from a “breeder,” but were really on a “rescue mission.” We had the option of choosing from a dozen little puppies, all jumping against their cages yapping and yowling “Pick me, pick me.” But it was Olive’s brother we were after and there he was, standing alone in the end cage, not jumping or crying, just standing with determined resignation. We were introduced, wrote out a check, slipped on his collar, and loaded him into my nice, clean, clear windowed car. We tried out the name Leo, but that didn’t seem quite right. When we tried out Oliver, it stuck. Oliver had never left his farm, never been in a car, never had on a collar, and had never seen stairs (but that’s another story). Our first stop after driving back into Portland was to a veterinary clinic for an exam and a rabies shot. Then to the groomer’s (we had called and made a late afternoon appointment). Oliver was so matted and dirty, that the groomer needed to take all of Oliver’s hair right down to the nub, to the point of seeing his blue skin! Yes, he has blue skin, sort of an eerie bright gray/blue. The groomer said his hair was sort of moldy – yuck. So, we are starting fresh and will allow his hair to grow out a bit before the next trip to the groomers. Here are a series of photos:

Olive, Oliver's Sis:

A ragged Oliver:

Charlie, our shy and reclusive cat, thought we bought her a new bed:

Olive and Oliver reunited for the first time:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Artist's Way Week Ten: Recovering a Sense of Compassion

We did one of my favorite creative activities last night: Blind Painting, and at the conclusion to the evening, I think everyone else had a new favorite. The energy was palpable as I turned off the lights and cranked up the music (cries of “louder, louder” were heard coming from a couple of the ladies). The music, Anatomic, by Afro Celt Sound System, pulsed with an infectious beat as the women closed their eyes, swayed to the music, and put paint on their paper – all in darkness. After a writing exercise (and to give the paint time to set a bit), the women were given free reign to open their eyes and add whatever colors and designs they wanted to their painting. Here are their finished pieces:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Funky Found Object Canvas Village

Leighanna Light rocks! Last Sunday I took a full day workshop from her at the always delightful and inspiring studio of Diane Havnen-Smith, Innerstandings. The class was titled Funky Found Object Canvas Village. This class was a perfect marriage of all things I love: smallish size (8 x 8 chunky canvas), paint, paper, and rusty embellishments! Yowie Zowie I loved this class. Then, a little icing on the cake, was that I got to take the class with best friend Vicki and the class was filled with other creative, talented, and inspirational women, including (I'm bowing down) Judy Wise (be sure and check out Judy's blog post dated today and you can see her finished pieces). I've prepared two pieces, which are ready for paint, but I was so excited to share about this class I'm jumping the gun and posting early.

The Process:

And this is the stage where paint is added, and rubbed off, and more paint added . . . you get the idea. When I get my paint added, I will add an addendum to the post so you can see my completed Funky Found Object Canvas (and I hope it is a village!).

The People:

Leighanna "helps" Diane

Judy Wise


What's Inside: Exploring the Potential for Change

During the month of February, the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery presented “What’s Inside – Exploring the Potential for Change.” This was Mary Lou’s fifth annual 100 Artists show. Each participating artist received an 8 x 8 wooden box in the mail, which was used as the starting point for his or her finished piece of art. The artists were invited to involve a young child in the process and ask them about what makes them feel safe.

Each year, a different non-profit organization benefits from the proceeds and this year’s recipient was Poyama Day Treatment Center, a psychiatric day treatment program for emotionally disturbed children ages 3 through 12 and their families.

The boxes are all for sale with beginning bids set at $50; the maximum price for any box is $200.

The show ran from February 5th through March 1st and it was getting later and later in the month and I hadn’t yet stopped by for a peek. Finally, last Wednesday on my way out of town, I swung downtown and ducked into the shop. Even at 11:00 on a Wednesday, the little gallery was filled with people looking at the walls of boxes. One of the women who works at the gallery had on white gloves and was opening boxes at our request. Many of the boxes had already sold, but I found a few that caught my eye and one in particular. I loved it because the artist, Linda Welch of Lake Oswego, had left all of the original mailing information (address and postage) in tact and incorporated it into her piece. I found the bidding page and placed a bid, not knowing if someone would come behind me and place a higher bid.

On Saturday morning I received a call from Bonnie at Mary Lou’s gallery, informing me that I had won the piece by Linda Welch. I felt like I got a new piece of art and supported an amazing program that helps kids and their families. Win-win.

To see all of the boxes that were part of this show, click here.

The Artist's Way Week Nine: Recovering a Sense of Strength

The women arrived a little tired and emotionally drained, but by the end of the evening they reported feeling energized and inspired! Our creative activity for the evening was making dream sticks, sometimes referred to as spirit sticks. I initially got the idea for this project when I was in Yachats last November and went into one of the several cool art galleries in that cute little coastal community. One of the artists in the gallery had taken pieces of driftwood and wrapped them with fibers. Accompanying the dream stick was a little printed message about placing the stick next to your bed for protection and sweet dreams. While on that beach trip, I found myself on the beach gathering pieces of driftwood so I could make my own. I also spent time last fall at Bush Park after a storm gathering interesting shaped branches, many with lichen and moss still attached. Last night I spread out a big plastic tablecloth and dumped my large collection of sticks onto the floor. Each of the ladies then chose a stick that had the shape and texture that appealed to her. I had set out a large basket of fibers and lots of tidbits for embellishment: copper wire, seashells, starfish, sea glass, beads, and Tibetan prayer bells. The ladies dove in with their usual enthusiasm and each designed and created an individual piece. By the end of the evening I was wishing it wasn’t so late because their creations so inspired me that I wanted to get to my studio and begin creating my own new designs! Here is what they created from a pile of sticks:

A side note. Each week I ask the women to bring an object to share that represents the theme of the chapter for that week. Last night our theme was strength. One of the ladies brought two sculptures for show and tell and we were all so taken with their beauty and sense of comfort and strength and how well they fit in with our centerpiece that one of the ladies said, “You’ve got to take a picture of that.” The artists who designed and made these lovely ladies are Shelley and Michael Buonaiuto.