Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Childhood Memories

Do you REALLY remember your childhood? I thought I did. I'm doing a childhood memory swap with Margaret, Linda, Carole and Patty (we named ourselves the Queen Bees which Linda has now shortened to "QB5"). I thought I had it in the bag. I knew exactly what I wanted to portray. Something altered looking with old stuff. Something pretty typical looking. Formula even. You know, "formula" for altered art.

Then I looked in the photo album and found something other than what I was looking for. My real, authentic childhood. Hardly formula. I am a first generation American whose first language was Byelorussian. I couldn't speak English until I started school (kindergarten) and was forced to learn to communicate. To this day, I remember kindergarten as a mostly silent movie. I didn't understand most of what the teacher said until later in the school year.

Anyway, I digress (as I am prone to do). So here's the photograph I found to use in the childhood postcard (4x6) swap. I am about 4-5 years old, dressed in a Byelorussian national costume, posing with my brother Victor. Mom took pictures of us when we were dressed for church or other special event. Here, we were probably ready to go to a festival. I always felt different. Not American. I hated being different. Now I enjoy it. Mine was not a Norman Rockewell, sepia colored upbringing. I lived with Eastern European folk designs and several languages spoken when visiting with friends (Russian, Polish, Ukranian and Byelorussian). Now I can't speak my first language to save my life, but I can understand a smattering of several.

What about your childhood makes you who you are today? I would love to read about it! Post a picture and send me a link.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Grave Situation

This project was the result of boredom. Namely that of Victoria (12) and her gaggle of tweeny friends. Half wanted to go to the park, the other half said, "boring" and I said, "let's go to the cemetary". I grabbed a large pad of ancient tracing paper, a cigar box of peeled crayons (undressing crayons is Rebecca's favorite past time) and piled 7 people into a car that should only hold 5 people safely. It's a small town and I was only driving 7 blocks. And it was an emergency. I had girls dying of boredom!I gave them the assignment to write out their names (first and last) by rubbing the letters off of different headstones. I jokingly told them that they would be graded. Neatness counted. I wanted the outing to last more than 5 minutes. One girl asked, "are you a teacher?". I replied, "no, I'm a MOM".
Two girls really got into it and would have stayed another hour rubbing and collecting headstone designs. The other three (one being my daughter) were bored again and wanted to leave. They did their little assignment and had enough. I personally had a great time and was excited to see that some of the girls thought it was a cool idea.

So go load up your kids and visit your dead relatives.
Take some tracing paper and crayons.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend Art

Over two months ago (it could hardly be less) I said, "sure, I would love to swap with you". We set a deadline, a generous month to work something up and the deadline came and went. We decided we were flexible. Another month went by. At least by then I had started my project. It simmered and simmered. Finally, this past weekend, in a fit of resignation (eg: procrastination finally over come), I pulled out the project and glued down a photo, some lace, a yellowed and torn envelope and lots of ancient wallpaper salvaged from my in-law's latest house project. Hmmm. I liked the results.
And it seemed to take very little time when I finally put my mind to it.

Why do I put these things off? We all know the answer to that one. No, I don' want to hear you say you "never". Because I won't believe you..


Friday, May 15, 2009

FANTASTIC Student Art!

I was blown away by the quality of work done by 7th and 8th graders at my daughter's middle school. When Victoria told me a day ago that she had to go to an art show at school (which meant I had to attend too), I got a bored look on my face. I pictured walls lined with drawings done on construction paper. It would take us 20 minutes and then we could be home again. Hardly worth the 8 mile drive (one way), but a parent has to do what a parent has to do. Right?Instead, the exhibits were amazing. There were communication arts posters up in the walls in the hallway, competing for attention from mathematical 3-D sculptures hanging from the ceiling. Science presentations on tables lining the length of one side of the hallway running the whole length of the school. The highlight for me, was the art hanging in the gym's hallway and displayed on tables. Scratch board animals, pencil portraits, oil pastel flags (folds rendered accurately with shading so they appeared to all flutter in patriotic unison), glorious renderings of over sized flowers a la Georgia O'Keefe, festive masks and bodacious paper mache letters.My daughter did the blue bird "boy" in the top photo. She would correct me and say it was a girl, but it doesn't look particularly feminine. The beak inspiration came from Gonzo, the Muppet buzzard (he's a boy by the way). The kids made a plaster mold of their faces (done in the first month of school or so) and used that for a base to paper mache over, then painted and decorated the paper mache. The results, as you can see are AMAZING. I kept mumbling," I wish I had brought my camera. Dang! I wish I had brought..." until I realized I had my cell phone (eureka!!!!) so I took pictures and emailed them to myself. The beauty of a Blackberry.

The butterfly girl by "Brittany" was one of the more unusual. I suspect their art teacher did a lot of art direction (with stunning results) because Victoria grumbled that her friend was told to add dots and dashes to her mask and herself had to add lines and dots she wouldn't have otherwise. Feathers and glitter and sequins were all artistically placed with brilliant effect.

I was also impressed with the coordinated name tags. Every mask was "best in show" in my book. No two were alike. Each had their own fantastic merits.

I WANT a set of these letters. Never mind that I do not have the room in my house to spell out anything longer than "ART".

Don't you just want to hug them and take them home?
I wonder if Arika, Raymond and Tarin would sell me theirs?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Prize Winning Rusted Bottle Caps

Acoholism has a bad wrap. Personally, I am blessed to have a neighbor across the street who imbibes. A lot. He leaves me rusted bottle caps to glean from the road in front of his house. He even kindly runs over the bottle caps with his truck, so I don't have to flatten the rusted gems myself. Although, some of these I have primped with a hammer so they are more symetrical. The black crud is the road's asphalt I can't scrub out of the caps. I am calling it a bonus, since I can't do anything about it. ;) Today's project was inspired by Margaret. (Scroll down to her April 30 post.) A brilliant use of a smashed bottle cap! And since I have become fixated with crepe paper, creating a prize ribbon was a natural result. Where do I come up with this stuff? Free association. Knitting random thoughts. Oh, and in this case, a kiwi in Switzerland planted the seed. She deserves the prize for "most inspiring" today.

So go rubber stamp up some crepe paper, distress the edges with an ink pad, ruffle it all up and dot it with a rusted cap (or a button would work too) and give it to your best friend, best mom, best kid, best dad or whoever needs to be recognized.

Go. Go NOW. Don't delay. Life is too short!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Creative Mother's day!

I am tickled when my kids follow in my creative footsteps. I was allowed to sleep late this morning and then was greeted with a bouquet of irises picked from the patch growing with wild abandon behind our garage. My inventive son (aged 9- almost 10) made a tall vase from two tin cans; cutting the bottom out of one and taping them together. I absolutely love that he left the labels on! The vase is reminiscent of the junk journals I've been making lately.
As you can see, I have a typical artists' kitchen. Teapots and the breadbox share counter space with bottles of glue. hee hee What's on your counter top?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Junk Mail (journal)

I made this junk journal for Linda and in my excitement to get it into the mail to her, didn't take a photo. But she did. And I "borrowed" it. It's got some of my favorite stuff (the color brown, the Bija tea box) because I started to make it for myself, but then decided I could wait so sent it to Linda. I knew she would like the blue couch the young woman was reclining on and I am not one to keep all the best original images for myself. I won't live long enough to use them all! Go see her blog for inside pages!

And go see Ashlyn for her first junk journal.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May Day part deux

Look at the lovely things I got on May Day! From Ashlyn, this folded cone she whipped up from an internet pattern, embellished with a garland of silk flowers and planted with a spider plant start (the dirt is in a plastic baggy). Clever and so sweet! From Liz, a sweet book of "friend" quotes, tied up with ribbon and a posy of fresh picked violets (wilting slightly by the time I took this photo). I don't know if she knew that I love mini books and have a collection of them.

I gave both Ashlyn and Liz one of my cones (previous post), never expecting to get anything in return, so their little gifts were SO wonderful because of that. Complete surprises!

I don't know if it's better to give than to receive. Receiving can be pretty nice too!