Friday, December 24, 2010

Nutcracker Aftermath: 12-24-10

Colin and his Clara

Colin and his Spanish Princess
Merry Christmas to you all. It is Christmas Eve and it will be Christmas Day by the time I actually post this.  I am sitting here now reflecting on my 2010 Nutcracker experience and still seeing visions of Sugar Plums.....  These last two weeks have been all about the Nutcracker, as they have been for a good 10 years.  I have told friends that I felt as if I was watching the events unfold hovering from above.  I never felt really present but rather floating through each performance.  The culmination of three months of rehearsals ended with the Tech week at the Woodstock Opera House (December 7-10).  Those four long nights of rehearsals went surprising well.  Colin and Claire even got their homework done.  And then came the first weekend of performances followed by a week of rest and then the second weekend (Dec 18 and 19) of performances.  As I am the proud mother of two very talented dancers, my opinion is very biased.  However, to put it mildly, I was blown away...yes blown away by the quality of dancing, the quality of the performance, and the high energy that the Nutcracker held for me this 2010.  Colin and Claire just get better and better.   I received many compliments from parents and relatives etc.. Many of the people that literally grabbed me, I did not know.  How they knew that I was Colin and Claire's Mother is beyond me but I have to say I enjoyed basking in their light, even for just a few moments. 

Colin and Claire as Chinese
Colin was the Nutcracker Prince this year.  He was also the Spanish Chocolate Cavalier soloist and the Chinese Tea soloist.  Claire was in the snow scene as a snowflake and she was the Chinese tea soloist, partnering with her brother.  When I saw Colin for the first time,he came on the stage as the nephew of Uncle Drosselmeyer.  He was as tall as Uncle Drosselmeyer (about 6 ft).  Tears welled in my eyes as I realized that my precious boy was now a young man.  I just never realized how tall he had grown in just a few short months (he was 5' 10" in July).  So here was this young man playing the part of the nephew, soon to be the Nutcracker prince.  At that moment, I knew that these shows would be marvelous.  And my Claire, she stepped up to the plate in her first solo appearance.  To see them both dance together was one of my happiest and proudest moments as a Mother. Their performance was something I will never forget.  After two weekends of nothing but Nutcracker  (yes I saw every performance) I realized that even though these past weeks, many weeks of preparation for these performances, were full of stress, it was worth every minute and yes, I would do it again in a heart beat.  Thank you Colin and Claire for the best Christmas gift ever. 

As a final note, all the pictures on this page are courtesy of Dan Swinson.  His website,
A final Kiss.  I cried like a baby., is full of beautiful shots of the JSSB (Judith Svalander School of Ballet) Nutcracker performances.  These were pinched from his facebook photo album.  Thank you Dan for being such a generous artist.  These pictures are awesome.

And so it is that Christmas has arrived.  I do hope you have created many memories this holiday and that 2011 brings many more.


The cast

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Update: Paper Packets and Christmas Cards Arrived

I have been remiss in posting Paper Packet photos from The Studio.  Tami, thank you for sending me photos these last couple of weeks.  Time has just escaped me but now that I have surfaced from my Nutcracker fog...I can get back to reality (more on the Nutcracker in the next post).  So here is how they are looking.  Lucy hung the packets in various places outside her studio in an enclosed patio of sorts.  The space is surrounded by four brick walls of the adjacent buildings.  It is a cute space and perfect for the exposing the packets to the elements.  I will share with you a few photos so you can get an idea of how this project is proceeding.  In February, we will meet to open the packets up, dry the papers, and begin the creative process.
The papers have been exposed to sun, rain, snow and ice.  I have said it before, but I can't wait to take a look at some of these packets once they have been opened. 

As a side note, my Christmas cards from Vista Print arrived 14 business days after I ordered them. I received an email from the company that they were to arrive on Dec 7th.  I received them on Dec. 13th.  Needless to say, I was not happy at all.  Let me say once again, a lot of my artist Internet friends use Vista Print.  However, it only takes one bad experience for me and I simply won't use them again.  The quality of the cards was nice, nothing spectacular though.  I just now got the last of the cards mailed.  I hate working up to the last minute like this but at least they are on their way.  No, I did not call to complain although I suppose I should have.  I have the product, the cards are out, my form of protest will be never to use them again.






Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Merry Christmas: A Christmas card for 2010

Christmas 2010       

I started this work just before Thanksgiving getting the idea from the current issue of Somerset Studio.  Unfortunately I do not remember the name of the artist who showcased this project.  She did her Christmas collage on wood, I choose a portion of a game board that I had.  I never throw anything out and just happened to have a chess board that was used for a Sesame Street version of the game.  The board measured 16 by 16 and I divided into four pieces.  It was coated with a plastic like material which I promptly sanded off and the rest is history.  The final collage is being turned into Christmas cards at Vista Print.  It was due to arrive yesterday and I still have not seen the package so I hope it comes tomorrow or Vista Print will be getting a serious email from me.  Let me just say while I thought it would be charming to turn an original work into cards for all on my Christmas list, it was no cheap undertaking.  I could have bought two or three boxes of the most expensive Hallmark Christmas cards and come out ahead.  What was I thinking?  

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Paper Packetts update: 12-4-10

More than a month since I shot a picture of my at home packet.  And it is just 3 months till we reveal the artistry of Mother Nature.  I am so excited about this project and can't wait to get my hands on those papers.  I have yet to get to The Studio to take shots there of the numerous packets we have hanging.  So I will definitely get there before the big holiday (Lucy, I did get cards made of my Christmas collage and I want to hand deliver one)Here are some shots of my packet from home.  It is hanging on a 30 foot white pine :)  And here is a flash---We have snow today so the packet is almost entirely covered!!!!  You go Mother Nature!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Crystal Lake Christmas Parade: 11-26-10

Colin, the Nutcracker and his Clara
 The day after Thanksgiving is always a Christmas decorating day for our family.  We pulled out the Santa's, the nutcrackers, the holly and pine cones, the wreath and greenery, the linens, the tree, the get the idea.  Of course half of that stuff is sitting on my living room carpet but we did manage to get a good portion of the works up and in place.  It will take me another couple of days to finish the tree.  Oh and then I have pointe shoes to sew (the dastardly Gaynor-Mindens), and Colin's canvas ballet slippers as well. I really need to stop dreaming about getting back into my studio, even though the need is strong.  Preparations for the Nutcracker have barely begun.  My son and daughter have had several "guest" appearances in and around the area with one of the first being the Christmas parade.  I did not get many pictures but these two will give you an idea of the motley crew that participated.  Everyone froze.  I guess that is a tradition around here.  It wouldn't be the same if one could feel their hands and feet during the parade.  And so, onward to the craziness.  Even though I cease to exist in December, I would not have it any other way!  Happy December first!

the motley crew:  Colin, the rat king (AKA Rachel), to the right of the rat king is
my Claire (Colin's twin) as a caroler, Emily, is Clara, on the other side of the rat king, her twin
Jenny (next to my Claire),Sugar Plum Fairy (AKA Fabi) and another caroler
(AKA Helen- far right).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Time never stops....11-29-10

Where did this month go?  How did I get through Thanksgiving?  How many more days until Nutcracker or Christmas for that matter?  I feel like I have been floating through this last month, sort of looking down on the days as they pass.  We've been holiday busy as I am sure most of you have been.  Thanksgiving week was a blur of cleaning and cooking and eating.  And now we press onto Christmas.  I do hope your Thanksgiving was filled with good family memories and for those who do not celebrate this holiday, I do hope your month of December celebrations are shaping up nicely.

More class participants

Claire and her purse

Right before Thanksgiving I finished up a class in which we altered ballerina pointe shoes and satin purses and sandals.  I promised to post some pictures and because these past few weeks have been blurs, well I am just getting to posting them.  I did finish a very special pointe shoe, the Nutcracker 2010 shoe, for the Judith Svalander School of ballet.  That was the secret that I was working on.  I presented it to Mrs. Svalander right before the holiday and I am thinking she loved it :))))  So here you can see some happy participants and their creations.  I really loved this class because it was so laid back.  No pressure to create a master piece...just fun.  My kind of class.  Enjoy the photos!!!

Nutcracker Altered Pointe shoe
altered purse

altered flip flop

altered purse

more altered pointe shoes

Monday, November 15, 2010

Paper Packets Are Assembled

A stuffed packet
I promised pictures and finally, finally I uploaded them from one of our cameras I have to say, some of the papers that were brought in were really gorgeous.  We also had rusted nails, dried blueberries (my favorite), onion skins, leaves, Easter egg dye tablets, tea bags, coffee grounds, and I can't remember what else.  There was a lot of stuff flying around :)  The participants made two packets.  One to hang at The Studio and one for home.  This first gathering was a lot of fun and relaxing.  We all talked and laughed.  It was a great way to kick off this collaborative.  So below are some pics from the evening.
Assembling packets

The evenings work, ready to hang


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Donation piece for library in Moss Norway.

Finished, except for a little varnish :))))  Now I am moving onto my second piece and if I don't finish by this coming Monday, well then this piece will go into the mail.  I am giving myself an out on the second piece only because I am prepping for a class on Thursday.  Drum Roll please!  The paper packet class is a go.  I might have mentioned that below somewhere but I don't think that I formally stated that.  Currently I am cutting cardboard and screen for the packets.  I am really excited about this because I know we will all get some great papers to work with.  

This donation piece is entitled, "Misty Floes."  I used papers from my art table and worked intuitively as I normally do.  The shading was done with both Neocolors II and Portfolio water soluble oil pastels.  The substrate is 300 lb watercolor paper. And so with funk is over.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Moss Norway books for Children Donation: phase 1

I am so happy to have this little donation at this stage. Again, using "scraps" from a pile on my work station (and you know these are gems because I never throw them out), I created this larger postcard size abstract land scape.  It is yet untitled but given where I will send it, Moss Norway, it might have something to do with the climate in that part of the world :)  I need to do shading with my favorite Neocolor II crayons and also, I think I want to do a gesso wash but not sure yet.  I became aware of this little project, championed by David Sandum, through Twitter.  Here is the link to read more about it.  If you would like to contribute, scroll down to see when the drop dead mailing date is.  I can't think of a better way to unit the global community than through an art project such as this.  Kudos to David! 


Monday, October 25, 2010

Paper Packets: Oct 25 2010

It has not been that long since I hung my packet on the white pine in our yard.  The rain storms this passed weekend has initiated some visible changes.  The packet cardboard is buckling and I am seeing some staining of papers from coffee grounds (which have disappeared) There is also some blue stains from Easter egg tablets I inserted into an envelope.  Tomorrow we are supposed to be getting some severe winds and a storm yea!!!!

   As far as studio time...well I am thinking about it.  Actually I do have a good reason to get myself beck in there.  I have signed up to send a postcard size work to an artist twitter friend who lives in Norway...  Their local library is trying to raise some funds for new children's books and David put out a call for artists around the world. The library will display these little gems and hopefully sell them. Here is the link to read more...    So I will keep update when I have something to show.     k

  blue stain  & coffee or tea stain

Monday, October 18, 2010

Paper Packets: A beginning, October 13th

As I mentioned in my post below, Art classes have not taken off this fall.  I am sad but at the same time, I fully understand.  These classes would be classified in the discretionary spending category and of course they require a certain amount of time be committed. We have rescheduled the Paper Packets class twice now with the new date being November 4th (for the packet construction).  I do hope this series goes.  I so love the idea of having a gallery show on Earth Day with works that have incorporated nature altered papers.  Crossing my fingers big time!  Meanwhile, I brought home one of the packets I constructed ( on display at The Studio) to hang in my back yard.  I placed the packet on an Austrian Pine tree, October 13th,  for right now.   So periodically I will take some photos to document Mother Nature's handy work.  These packets (I still have one on display at the Studio and will put that one outside on Nov 4th hopefully at the Studio) will provide the nature altered papers I will use for my art next year.  I want the theme of the Earth Day show to be "Ecological Ethics in our Global Society."  Even if the class does not go, I will still create works around this theme for the 2011 Art of The Land Show.  So that is where I am at right now, in a holding pattern.  


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Of Art, Colin, Ballet, and a Competition: My last couple of weeks-10/14/10

So I am embarrassed.  I love to blog, I really do.  I enjoy the writing, I enjoy putting my thoughts into a logical order, I enjoy sharing, I enjoy the process.  But I am also a master of procrastination.  These topics are near and dear to my heart and yet they have weighed so heavily on me during the past two weeks that I get emotional when I talk about them and hence write about them.  A couple of FaceBook buddies suggested I just write and free myself and they are absolutely correct.  So here it goes:

OF ART: There has been painfully little art.  After the Art of the Land show, which was a huge success for The Land Conservancy and a great show for the artists including myself, I basically crashed.  Actually I think it was a little before the show that I crashed.  My muse has flown the coop.  I have little motivation right now and I have some reasons why that is, although they are not excuses.  So I am a little burned out for one, I have a lot on my mind both consciously and unconsciously, its Nutcracker season and I am on the run, my classes are not taking off at the Studio School of Art (in my defense, a lot of different classes are not taking off).  Enough said.

Of Colin:  My son is a wonderful ballet dancer.  All of his childhood and teen years (he is 15 now), have been spent  in the dance studio.  Being a male ballet dancer as a youth and teen is a difficult thing for a boy in America, but I am so proud of how he has weathered the storm thus far.  You can imagine what I am talking about.  He has been called some names and bullied and excluded from outside activities because of his "sport." And through this all he has held his head up and forged forward.  To my point, I worry about him all the time.  I can't help it. And strangely enough, I know I can't control other people and how they treat him.  I do hope he does not lose sight of his goals nor lose his passion for dance.  He is really good.

Of Ballet: Both Colin and Claire are in the throws of our annual Nutcracker. The rehearsal time is added onto their already very long class schedule.  Claire will be dancing with her brother in the Chinese scene and she is trying to get in shape for that.  Colin has been lifting weights three to four times a week for all the lifting (of dancers) he will be doing.  The physical demands of this beautiful performing art are daunting.  To keep Colin in food, for example, is like trying to put an elephant on a diet. He eats all the time and we have to remind him to down those protein shakes and gator aides before and after his classes.  I have been doing some creative cooking to keep meals healthy but at the same time, not look so healthy (Colin hates anything green) so they get all the  micro nutrients and vitamins.  Oh yea, and then there is something called home work and of course sleep. When they do not get enough sleep, both are prone to injuries.  Shin splints are common, especially with all the extra rehearsals. Blisters from extra time in point shoes (Claire), sometimes 6 hours or more, are also occurring more frequently.  In the end, I know it will be worth it...I just don't see any light yet at the end of the tunnel.

Of a Competition:  My Colin was asked to enter a local competition (in Chicago).  We looked at this as a great opportunity for him in more than one way.  It would serve as the first time that he would be seen by the whose who of the Chicago dance scene, it would be an "audition" experience for him, and he would meet and observe other guys dancing and at least get a feel for his talent.  He began rehearsing in late June, once per week with one of his dance instructors, a variation from the ballet Don Quixote. And then in late August, a special modern piece was choreographed just for him by another dance instructor to the music The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel). The competition was held the first weekend of October but it seems like I have been with him in this since the summer.  OK so the experience got mixed reviews from both of us.  First of all, he was the only male of about 27 other contestants. Next, no one really talked to us or him.  Parents stayed in their little pods as did the competitors. 
 We had no idea where all the other dancers haled.  It was very apparent that no one was going to give us the time of day.  I am not sure what to make of that.  Was it rudeness, was it that because it was our first time in a competition that we did not know what the etiquette was?  Gosh who knows, and we probably never will know.  Colin did not win anything.  That is OK because I understood where the judges were coming from and what they were looking for.  I am OK with that really.  But what I found utterly amazing was that after the competition was over, not a single judge (and there were 5 of them) came up to Colin just simply to say hi, or come back again next year, or its nice to see a boy here, or offer any words at all of encouragement (have they all forgotten how hard it is for dance schools to recruit boys or how hard it is for boys to stay in ballet in this country) I mean come on.  I just found that incredibly rude.  I saw that one of the judges was on his blackberry (or whatever) and another fell asleep during some of the performances.  Anyway, it seemed that all the judges knew the first pace winner though and that is who they flocked to after the competition.  So am I way off base here.  I am obviously biased, big time biased... but geesh.  Here is what I think I took away from this all that was positive:  The judges did offer their own individual  comments to all of the dancers collectively at the end.  What they said to them had one consistent theme and that was while there were many good technicians (Colin of course was one of those) they wanted to see a performance, passion, expression.  And for what it is worth, I agree.  What separated the winners from the great technicians was just that, the fire and passion, being present in their performance, smiling once and get the idea.  Its not like Colin has not been told that a thousand times, it is just does not come natural to him.  He dances with his head and he's got to include his heart if he wants to take the next step.  I am not sure if Colin bought all of this.  He was pretty upset after the competition.  Time will tell.  I just hope that my experience wasn't typical for ballet competitions. 
waiting for results with Claire

Monday, September 27, 2010

Art of The Land Recap, My Perspective: 9/26/10

It was one of those never ending weekends...So much to do, running in circles, barely catching my breath... I don't think I could even regurgitate all here without burning out!  Suffice to say I do have comments on The Art of The Land Benefit for The Land Conservancy of Mchenry Country.  KUDOS to the TLC for a beautiful gallery show.  I have to say it was "the" event to be at this weekend if you lived around here.  Friday night was a pre sale of the art followed by story telling music and poems inspired by the land.  I brought my Claire to see the exhibit as she had extra credit points she could earn for her high school art class.  Yep, she had a good time.  She got all dressed up, very Soho if I do say, and she knocked em all dead.  Wouldn't you know that I don't have a picture of her.  I am so bad at that.  Then on Saturday evening was the one night gala.  Since the new space opened up in the Starline Gallery, there was great room to move around.  I took a few pics as you can see. And as I was basking in all that beautiful art, I started thinking about next years show.  I want the papers that are in my paper packets to play a significant role in my body of work next year.  Ecological Ethics in our Global Society will be the theme I will be working from (hopefully this class will be a go at The Studio School of Art). I think that this theme will fit nicely with land inspired art.

The rest of the weekend was taken up with an all day festival in Crystal Lake that my Colin and Claire were involved in.  They spent time at the dance studio leading mini classes for walk ins, handing out literature, and performing.  Long, long day.  I also ran to the Opera House to get my tickets for this years Nutcracker, yes I said the Nutcracker.  Tickets go fast around here!  My Colin is the Nutcracker Prince again along with Spanish Chocolate and Chinese soloist.  While Claire is Colin's partner in the Chinese dance.  Sunday I picked up art from the Art of the Land Show, did 4 other errands and then cooked dinner. I don't think I sat down till 9 PM (after throwing in 4 loads of wash).  Monday was a blessing!
El Valle de Paz

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Found Art: 9-23-10

by Kathy LaRocco.  Mixed Media and Collage on canvas board.
Today I left my little 4" x 4" collage at the Starbucks in McHenry, Illinois.  I had been trying to get it out since Monday but we have had iffy weather and some deluges.  I used a little duct tape to secure the plastic baggie to an outside chair (check my fan page on FaceBook and you can see the pictures)!/pages/Artful-Musings-of-Kathy-LaRocco/134584443222432.  It was gale force winds (well may I am exaggerating a little but ya know...its my art and I want someone to find it.  I included a little flier for the ART OF THE LAND fundraiser along with my found art write up. I created this small piece with scraps from "Blue Moon 12/31/09."  Nothing goes to waste!   I am a happy camper. 

Oh and I sold my first art print today on Etsy.  Thank you Karen!  The print was one that was inspired from my kids performances in an annual Nutcracker.  Its titled "She Bowed for Clara," and Karen received number 1 in a series of 50 prints.  Karen, someday, after I am dead of course, that print may be worth something (ahhh wishful thinking on my part). The second print has been uploaded to my Etsy Store.  Being a mom who has teens in the ballet and who has teens that do a nutcracker every year, it is hard to find "Nutcracker gifts."  Flowers were never appreciated by my children, and so that left basically really junky stuff, or really, really expensive gifts (like Nutcrackers made in Germany for 300.00).  So why not a work of art, an original work of art or an art print?  I don't know...just a thought.  OK babbling now. 

Off to feed my greyhounds.  Art of the Land begins on Friday and I am so excited.  More to come.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Blue Moon 12/31/09"

Blue Moon 12/31/09
12" x 12" mixed media and collage on cradled masonite board


                                  Blue Moon 12/31/09
"The moon was exceptionally bright
that New Years Eve 2009.
A Blue Moon shinning through the night
And in the distant full moon light
a coyote howled
a tree swayed
The Moon smiled, all was right
that New Years Eve 2009."

by Kathy LaRocco

Its finished and it came from my heart.  This Blue Moon so moved me last New Years Eve, that the image was burnished on my soul. The image kept calling me for months and finally at the end of August, I began the work.   I don't think I ever saw a moon so bright or so big.  As we drove home from our dinner, the moon followed us, as it typically does, but something was definitely different about it. Maybe it was the night air, or maybe the yipping of the coyotes that live in a preserve area just a few miles from our home, I don't know for sure.  However, the coyotes were definitely affected by the moon that night. I think it  was the first time I heard them bay in unison....  Definitely eerie.  You can see this work at The Art of The Land Benefit gallery show. 

Now its time to move on.  Just as that Blue Moon stayed with me for months, so too has an image depicting the joy I feel when I watch my Colin and Claire dance.  My inner voice is screaming at me to do it.  So I guess I will comply.  But first, there is always a first (that is why it took months to get to the Blue Moon piece) I have to prep for the Papers Packets class coming up this Monday.  Lots of screening to cut.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Almost ready for Art of the Land: 9/16/10

I wish I could say that I have been more organized, more productive, more creative these last three or so months, but I can't.  I started this final piece for the Art of The Land benefit/gallery show well over a month ago and am just now drying the first coat of varnish on it.  Talk about procrastination.  I will put the second coat on tomorrow and then...yes it will be officially finished.  I have to figure out how to scan it (my photography skill is minimal especially with the cameras we own and I have never in all my years been able to take a decent photo of one of my collages).  Oh well, its the little challenges that make life interesting.  So this Sunday, I drop off my art work at the historic Starline Gallery in Harvard Illinois.  I participated in this show last year and no doubt posted pictures of it  I reread that post from a year ago and indeed I have created several abstract landscapes of my memories from Santa Fe.  And indeed I have a small body of work done with this benefit in mind.  I guess I should go back in my archives more often, I now feel really good about what I will show next weekend. Here is the link to the benefit's information.  If you are in the area, this is a wonderful show with lots of great art, music (live), nibbles, and drinks. 

Snow scape for found art Tuesday.
While I was watching Blue Moon dry, no just kidding, after I finished the first coat of varnish, I had a ton of scraps left over in luscious blues.  Out came a small 4 inch by 4 inch canvas that had a painting on it.  Of course, I sanded it and began a new collage.  I think it took me all of 20 minutes which is a record.  The piece needs to be sealed (don't think I will varnish it) and I am putting this out into the world for Found Art Tuesday next week along with an ad for Art of the Land.  I thought since the show is about art inspired from the land, why not?  So all you locals, I hope to get it out there on Tuesday but that depends on the weather.  I will post a photo of the location on my facebook fan page and I do hope a Facebook or blog reader will find it.  But you just never know with found art.
Hopefully before Sunday I will have a scan up of my "Blue Moon 12/31/09" work.  I want to make sure the varnish is good and hardened before I try scanning it.  Until then...

PS, I need to mention what a worthwhile benefit this is.  A portions of the proceeds from art sales will go directly to The Land Conservancy of Mchenry County... They are dedicated to protecting the Oak trees of this area and have been responsible for preserving over 1800 acres of McHenry COunty's wetlands, woodlands and prairies.  Your $20.00 ticket gets you into the gala evening of art, food, drink and music.  This is the art event you want to go to! 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Transfers Class 9-10-10

Prepped before class; paper removed
in class
It was a good night, she says even though the last post was my rant about transfer techniques.  And while I would have loved to stop talking and laughing long enough to shoot some pics of the gals working on their transfers, the truth is, I just plain forgot.  These classes are so good for my soul and I say that even though I run around the house grumbling that my life is too complicated with no time to even breathe especially 4 hours before a class.  So, just how were the hours preceding my class.  Here comes my justification for my grumbling:
1.  6AM wake up, brush teeth
2. dress
3 prepare three greyhounds fresh/raw meals
clean/wash bowls (raw food can't sit on those surfaces for too long
4. run around getting things ready for pre-k (my little ones needed an art project for Friday so I was chasing down a few materials)
5. 7 AM- realize that my oldest (almost 18 yr old) forgot her money for a senior picture that was due.
6. left early so I could get to her school before it started then made my way to work
7.  2.5 hours of one child crying for her mother (and she is almost 5). I got relief at 11:30
8. run two errands then back to work at 1 PM for home coming parade (yes it was homecoming yesterday and with three teens....)
9.  Picked up Colin from parade and headed home.  Arrived 2:40
10 headed to my studio to run in circles.  Finished/prepped some samples for the evening art class and finished packing ( I have a large Sterlite container that is always half packed for class with staples that are used regardless of what I demo).
11.  At 5 came out of my cave, prepped dinner (god forbid that we eat frozen).  Only had three to feed but also prepped my 3 dogs raw meals.
12.  Cleaned up and headed out at 5:45.
13.  Hit Staples to make copies of images to use for transfer class (only just found out how many copies I needed on Thursday and had no time to get their prior to leaving last evening.  However this was completely understandable since we wait until twenty four hours prior to class for late registration, I had budgeted my time very poorly).
14.  Dropped Colin off at Homecoming game (my girls were who knows where)
15.  Hit The Studio School of Art at 6:30
16.  Helped to set up 
17 Hit the ground running.

Demoed in class: soft gel matte transfer
Notice I did not eat breakfast nor lunch.  What a day.  But during class I could feel my blood pressure return to normal.  Art is magical that way.  So, above is a sample that I did prior to class and here is one that was demoed in class (I hurried through the second one).  Both are soft gel matte media transfers.  They are not perfect but that is the charm of the transfer.  I think that my biggest joy was watching the fledgling mixed media and collage artists achieve some measure of success with the techniques shown.  I made sure to demo Talbot's transfer method and give them a great book recommendation (Image Transfer Technique Workshop, 2009, by McElroy and Duncan-Wilson).  I think once artists start going down this path, even though it is dangerous, frustrating, and often ambiguous, if one achieves the desired result, there is no turning back.  OK now back to my own studio to finish Blue Moon!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Transfer Hocus Pocus: 9-2-10.

gesso transfer in my journal.
  OK, I am going to admit it.  I have a love-hate relationship with transfer techniques.  I remember about four years ago when I first discovered, I think it was Claudine Hellmuth, adding transfers to her earlier collages and  then I saw an article in the now defunct Expressions.  I can't remember who the artist was but there was an entire article on making a transfer.  Since that time I have been captivated by the technique(s) trying maybe 20 different solvents or adhesives and even laser tran.  Most of these methods yielded inconsistent results for me. I thought maybe a little hocus pocus might help lol. It actually drove me crazy.  My learning curve included discussions with mixed media artists via the Internet.  You know the ones...where to get the best Xerox copies,which shops actually had xerox machines that still use toner.  Then there were the ink jet discussions: which printers were best, which archival inks were preferred, what about the paper.  Why don't my transfers come out like so and so's?  So how many of you, as mixed media artists, will attest to my revelation. 

    To continue, about three years ago, maybe 4, I took a workshop with Mr. Jonathan Talbot, and my transfers are finally recognizable .  I subscribe to his method almost religiously now, even if I may not use his collage technique for a particular work.  So, cool you say...well not really because now I  have decided to teach a class in which the black art of transfer techniques is explored.  Stupid on my part I think, because while I am certainly knowledgeable, other transfer methods just don't work well for me (most times unless I use some black magic hocus pocus). Sitting on my studio shelves are about 10 different adhesives like DAP clear caulk, Elmer's Glue caulk, OmniGel, soft gel matte medium, soft gel gloss, polymer medium, fluid matte medium, Diamond Glaze,and I think a few more.  And then there are the solvents like Xylene, acetone, various rubber stamp cleaners (don't know what is in those), and Citra Solv.  Ah yea lest we forget beeswax and assorted acrylic paints like gesso.  I guess the hard part in teaching a class like this is that I really only use one method to do transfers (maybe two methods). So what do I teach.  I certainly don't want folks to run out and buy all these media only to get marginal results, so I went with stuff I know that they will have on hand:  soft gel matte medium and gesso and then I will wave my magic wand :)    I decided that I would demo Jonathan's methodology so they can see what is involved.   I remember seeing Jonathon do his transfer and I thought "It can't be that simple,"  but it was (I say with a huge smile).  I digress.  I just finished some gesso transfers as samples.  They turned out OK.  The soft gel matte transfer turned out OK as well but I am not a huge fan.  There are variables and really most write ups suggest letting the transfer dry overnight.  We are going to cheat and use heat to hurry everything along (using my trusting heat tool and an iron).  So there you have it... I hope to have a good write up for this class and then I will be sure to have that magic wand with me.

On the current work in progress...No time today to get into my studio.  But yesterday I made some good progress.  I added to transfers which help elucidate the work and I am very close to finishing (I think).  Yea. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Studio Workshop Page Updated: 8-29-10

Whew...I was on a roll this weekend, you know that feeling you get when you are on a roll...euphoric.  Classes were hammered out with Lucy, at The Studio, I cleaned up my write ups with proper dates for classes, listed classes through November on the workshop page, finished a sample for a November class (Altered Pointe Shoes), and almost....almost finished laying out the papers for my latest piece.  Once I finish laying out the pieces, I will fuse them to the substrate.  I love when I can cross things off the Longgggggg list.  Since a lot of the administrative computer stuff is done (she said with a huge grin), I can concentrate on getting some art done this upcoming week.  Here is the pointe shoe I altered.  Its on Facebook and on the Workshop page.  Now I am going to take a deep breath, calm down, and start dinner.

P.S.  I forget that everyone may not be savvy to what a pointe shoe is.  This shoe is used by ballerinas for going up on their toes (on pointe).  The material on the outside is satin (usually pink) and perfect for altering.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Class Outlines Completed...8-24-10

Today, well today was a wash.I am getting my class room ready for our pre-k open house tomorrow and well doing some general house cleaning.  Curriculum has to be prepped for the first week back (day after Labor Day) and that is what I was doing today.  The director of the pre- school told me I have a 9 in my class (there is still room for one more).  I am excited to meet the children.  At 5, well you know how eager they are to learn (for the most part).  I love introducing them to stories that they have never heard before like the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Native American tales and so forth.  I often tell the stories without a book and play act them.  The kids love it.  In their free time, I will see them playing Nutcracker or being a coyote etc...  It won't be long now so I better get some art finished.  If my computer had not crashed, I could have gone right into the school year effortlessly.  But you guessed it, all of my pre-k files are gone.  Sigh.....

The classes that I hope to teach at The Studio this fall and into winter are all outlined and ready to be reviewed by Lucy.  I should be ready to promote these on my blog by Friday.  I hope to do another Artistic Dialogues class (journal class) right off the bat in September.  Plus I want to offer the collage crate class again.  Making this crate will really help sharpen collage skills especially for what I have in mind for 2011.  Because I am impatient, I want to give a brief preview.  Let me preface this by saying:  I first became aware of this project from Laura Lein-Svencner    (   search on the word bundles to read her entries).  She in turn read about this project from Seth Apter, a New York Artist ( and search on disintegration).  And now I hope to continue in the same vein.  The picture below is what I am calling a paper packet.  It will be assembled and then hung outside at The Studio for about 5 months after which time we will open up our packets, dry the contents, and then make art.  More to follow if the class goes, if not, well I am doing this anyway.  I think the concept is right up any collage artists alley!  Keeping my fingers crossed.


Paper Packet prototype.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Productive Weekend: 8-22-10

And that is just what it has been.  My good art friend, Lucy, owner of The Studio in McHenry, sent me a sweet little message letting me know that the fall schedule of art classes is underway and asking if I would like to book some fall classes to teach at The Studio.  Oh heck yea I would, especially since I have stopped feeling sorry for myself, picked up my self esteem, and got back to work.  With that gentle nudge, I have been at my desk, both yesterday and today, flushing out classes and moving forward with ideas.  I tend to multi task, not very well actually, and so I don't have any pictures just yet to show but I am working on it. Once classes are approved and scheduled I will post here (on the The Studio Classes page).  I am finally motivated to get moving on class samples and finish off that 12 by 12 inch piece I started for The Art of the Land show.  Finally, the found art piece, posted below, is wrapped nicely and still sitting on the kitchen table.  I have not "found" the "perfect" spot to leave it yet.  Sigh...


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Studio Time, Yipee.

I have a few precious weeks to myself now that the kids are back in school and I am not back to work just yet.  Our pre-school starts right after Labor Day.  I divided the time I set aside for productivity in two: two hours for computer work (yes still recovering from the crash), and three hours in the studio.  In the studio today I developed this rhythm that moved me along further than I thought I would get.  You know that feeling you get when you break through what I call the creative beginning block (of any given new work)?  I was even humming along with Beach Boys.  As I searched through some of my altered papers, I think I managed to find some nice textures and the right color scheme for this piece.  I coated a bunch of the papers with polymer media and then altered a few more National Geographic pages. The results from the National Geographics were just what I was looking for.  Now I can't wait to get them laid our on the masonite board.  Tomorrow maybe. 

I also found a small 4 by 4 inch canvas board with a very old work on it (from 2005).  It was really, really bad.  Usually I would throw something like that away but I decided that I would work with it some more.  I de-collaged the piece a bit using sandpaper and then redid the facial features of the person.  I left the message alone.  This will be my next found art piece.  It is done so I just need to figure out when and where I will leave it.  So those of you in the area, be watching my face book page.  Free Art soon!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kelly Rae's E-Book Series

I just wanted to give a little plug to a wonderful series of E-Books that Kelly Rae Roberts put together after her 5 week Class called Flying Lessons.  As I was taking the classes, my computer crashed.  I can't tell you how extremely frustrated I was and very saddened that I could not finish the class (I missed out on the last two sessions).  Kelly published E-Books for the class and I managed to get the class done.  I am so glad that I purchased her series because I now have excellent references for future business expansion.  The tips she gave on web resources were invaluable to me.  Some of her suggestions are out of my realm because I can't afford the time nor dollars to build my own website (for example) but many other tips were greatly appreciated.  If you are the creative type and wanting to start or expand a web based business and presence, these books are wonderful.  I have a link on the side if you are interested in taking a peek.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another Week, Almost over!

I first just wanted to welcome you wonderful new followers to my little piece of cyber space. I don't look at my statistics that often ( those types of things don't drive me anymore), but I do delight in seeing new faces on the follower list. So many of you are already accomplishes artists and that really humbles me to think that I might have something interesting to say to all of you. So welcome again!

My husband and I have been trying our best to fit in some last minute day trips with our 3 teens. School starts Monday. I hate this time of year, really I do. I hate seeing them walk out the door and get on the bus. They are that much older, that much wiser, that much more grown up. My oldest will be 18 in February! My twins, turn 16 next April. They have their own opinions, want to be as independent as possible, have their own dreams and aspirations, and are either dating or on the verge of dating. I am happy for them and sad for me. As a parent, you revel in the fact that you have raised them to be good kids and that at this age, they have not strayed from the path just yet. At the same time you also know that as the apron strings are unraveled, there are many more perils they will face, more dangerous than falling off a bike or crashing head first on in line skates, or ...well the list could go on. Sigh....

To continue, we took the kids to the museum, the Field Museum in downtown Chicago. Since I was a little girl, that museum has been my favorite. It is now my Colin's favorite (so cool). We specifically went to see Lyuba, the perfectly preserved, one month old baby Mammoth. Gosh she was beautiful. I have never been so drawn into this period of Earth's history that is until, this exhibit. Simply fascinating. Picture taking was limited however I was able to use my iPhone to snap a few. Lyuba's (meaning love in Russian) story is very well documented in a National Geographic Special and here is the link:
And here is the link from the Field Museum:
Kaitie,Claire,& Friend

Because this baby mammoth was so well preserved, they have DNA, DNA that can actually be cloned. So exciting. Who knows what may come out of this incredible find.
Baby Lyuba

We also joined in the museums 10 year anniversary celebration of Sue, the worlds most famous T-Rex. They had a sort of cheesy interactive experience with robot dinosaurs. I think it was probably more appropriate for 10 year olds but I enjoyed it.

Robo Dino
Shopping has also been a heavy part of our agenda. It is a tax holiday in Illinois (August 6-15th) and clothes and shoe supplies are state tax free. Yipee. With two teen girls, that helps the bank out quite a bit :) Today, shoes for my son and some basic wardrobe needs.

Art- I finally put out a found art piece. It felt good to let loose an "old" work for some strangers enjoyment. I have been meaning to jump back on the band wagon for sometime now but just never got around to it. I'm back baby! I am still working on a write up for a workshop, and wish I was more motivated right now. Tomorrow, my daughters want to hit the Russian Pointe Store in the city. Sigh...Art?
Found Art at Crystal Lake train station