The current issue of Somerset Studio has arrived. If you've been following me for a long time you'll be familiar with the subject of my article - collecting dirt, which evolved from collecting sand. See the magazine for the full story. They left out the final photo of a tip I offer of how to secure a cork on a bottle to keep the contents safe, so I've included it here. Thank you to everyone who wrote me about the previous article highlighting Sam's new venture. I really appreciate hearing from you and that you took the time to reach out and share your enthusiasm. We've had a lot of orders recently so I'm going to be refilling the shop this weekend.
Oh my...it's been a while since I blogged. A sign that's it has been a busy and fun summer! Can't believe it's September already. Fallon will be starting at Rutgers next week. I love the beginning of a school year, even it if doesn't have a direct impact on my personal daily life anymore (packing lunches, driving carpool, monitoring homework....) However, I always regard this time period as a chance to start anew. Three quarters of 2016 is over but we still can view this month as returning students do, with sharpened pencils and fresh perspective. Shake off unfinished projects, clear off the table, open your mind, and begin learning something new. Change of season, change of routine. That's what September means to me - although I do try to hang on to the last pleasures of summer a little longer.
My next two classes will be at Pratt in NYC. See my WORKSHOPS page for the particulars. Hope you'll come!!
I had two terrific classes at The Ink Pad last month. It's always such a treat to see how the artists interpret the projects. I always leave feeling so energized and motivated when I see the magic of creativity at work. Thanks for joining me!
I'm off to float around the pool again while catching up on my reading. Have a great holiday weekend!
Oh my, the temps have been very red recently. This very second it is 95 degrees here and the heat index is even higher. It's going to be a very warm week. So it was a pleasant surprise when Sam shifted his color palette from warm to cool. The previous batch of cards were reds and oranges, and last week he chose blue, purple, and teal. I love seeing all the cards together. This is the stage where he labels the backs and packages into sets of four. Typically we have selected cards that are similar to be in a set but I'm thinking this time we may offer a variety of colors. New offerings will be posted this week.
As always, thanks for your support and your enthusiasm for Sam's new enterprise. We've received many lovely emails about the article in Somerset Studio. I've been printing out all the comments, notes, and Etsy reviews to put in a binder and we read them together. It's been a beautiful experience.
Check us out on Etsy later this week for these new cards.
Last week the new Somerset Studio arrived. My column in this issue features our son Sam and his new venture: Painting with Purpose. Look at this face - it says it all. He was so excited to see his work on the pages of the magazine that regularly arrives here. Our thanks to Stampington who recognized it was a worthwhile story - art making a difference.
We've already gotten some lovely emails about the article, and a handful of orders from new customers! We are adding more selections this week.
Thanks for sharing your kind words and enthusiasm for our story and our project to create purpose for our special guy.
Link to our store: ETSY: ForYourSpecialNeeds
If you missed the post about our shop, see HERE.
A new class for August 13 - FLIP OVER NYC. Get it? It's a flip-style book you will flip over. Ha! Super fun to work on this one. Come take the class with me at The Ink Pad. Call (212) 463-9876 to register. Then on August 14 we will be making a Frond Chronicle Journal. Learn how to make your own stencil/mask sets (from four different materials), then use them as tools with paint. This one is a favorite and often requested. See samples below. Hope to see you in class!
Stampington is offering a copy of the May/June Somerset Studio, and I am combining that with supplies I used for my article in the issue. You can win both the magazine and the fabric journal + embellishments. Leave a comment below to be eligible, drawing will be noon on Friday (EDT - east coast time). NOW CLOSED - We have a winner! Scroll to bottom.
In the latest issue of Somerset Studio: explore the Artist Portfolio of Jeanne Oliver, art inspired by the movie “Amelie,” and quirky vintage photos adorned with colorful handmade hats. Find tutorials for altered birdhouses that are perfect for spring, experimenting with encaustics, and weathered collages by Amy Wilcutt, see some fun washi tape ideas with Mary Beth Shaw, learn how Lynne Perrella interprets the Ballet Russe with alphabet letters, and my own article - Simple Stitch + Stash (using studio scraps, in peril of being discarded, to build collages on canvas pages).
Sneak preview of my article in previous blog post HERE.
With scraps of lace, miniature starfish, and bits of mica, I began using my stash on the pages of a pre-made fabric journal. I had so much fun stitching that I carried on playing with thread in different ways. I found the practice to be very relaxing and addictive and before I knew it I was moving on to a second book. I have quite a stash of these - maybe we could meet somewhere and have a class? Would be fun!
Enter a comment just below to be entered for the drawing. Good luck!
We have a winner! Ozge Basagac!!
Thanks to all who came over here to enter. I appreciate all your kind words.
Hope you'll stop by again! I also hope if you take up simple stitching you will
share your work - would love to see.
Full disclosure: I was given a copy of this book to review. To be perfectly honest, I probably would never have seen the book if it didn't arrive in my mailbox. As you know, last year I went on a massive studio purge and since then I not only don't buy new books, but I don't even shop for them. I do admit that I love books and I'm not opposed to adding to my library, but there is no longer a book store convenient to home - in addition, it seems that my last few out-of-the-way trips to look at books left me frustrated that there were less and less actual books in the store. You gotta love that as an alternative you can visit Amazon, who offers you a preview of contents, a nice deal, and great shipping options. For more on the book I'm going to talk about, or to order, click here: The Mandala Guidebook: How to Paint, Draw, and Color Expressive Mandalas by Kathryn Costa.
I'm not sure of the exact date that I "met" Kathryn online, but I know it was through the Creativity Crusades I hosted back in the day. Kathryn participated in many of the challenges with her own personal flair and was always a generous and thoughtful commentor to other crusaders. For my review, I've decided to interpret this book as a prompt, as though she is hosting a challenge, and see what happens when I run the information through my own filters, and make it my own. You can scroll down and see the results.
I love that in the bio section of her book she describes her passion in three words "create and connect". That's a perfect summary of her creative journey as she's been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration through several blog platforms - CollageDiva, True North Arts, and most recently 100 Mandalas. She intentionally creates from the heart and deliberately and genuinely makes connections within the art community. My impression of Kathryn is that she would feel like an instant friend should we ever get to meet in real life. It did not surprise me to learn she had authored a book on making mandalas - sharing her verve for the unique topic, with user-friendly teaching methods, vibrant illustrations, and authentic encouragement to discover personal style and ultimately, joy, from plugging in and applying the process in your own way.
I've always been intrigued by beautiful and intricately drawn mandalas. I also resonate with mandala-like structures created from natural materials, and have been mesmerized by watching videos of mandalas formed by patterns of colored sand. As a person who had never tried drawing or designing one of my own I decided to read through the book, gather all the step-by-step instructions into my mental vault, then have a go myself. Kathryn breaks down the process with clear illustrations and offers many wonderful examples of her own, plus a gallery of mandalas created by guest artists. She has a gentle yet enthusiastic voice that walks you through options for designing, embellishing, and adding color to mandalas with many demonstrations, and invites you to dig even deeper moving from decorative to meditative.
Before committing to paper, I had an opportunity one afternoon to mess around with temporary mandalas. I filled a basin with sand and sprayed with water so the surface would hold designs I marked with sticks and embellished with stones. It was really a pleasant practice to try something, then wipe away all evidence, and try again. Eventually I grabbed a few more tools - circle cookie cutters, a stencil, and other mark-making devices. I documented compositions made in minutes - such a quick and easy introduction to building off a circle. Next, I went from nature basics to high tech - and manipulated some of my artwork into digital mandalas. It was addictive to work on an axis and move elements around then experiment with color. The results are also below. I always have a takeaway from play on the computer - this time I recognized that I'm not into the coloring part. I'm more interested in the fine lines of design. So I moved forward with pens and paper.
I had to laugh - in chapter one, page 13, Kathryn admits to being a "recovering perfectionist". I can relate. Since I'm educated as an architect, my initial approach was to get out the templates, protractor, compass, ruler and triangles, with the intention of creating precise, perfect circles and segments on graph paper. I did use these tools with pencil for a preliminary layout, then set aside and free-handed everything with black and white pens. I didn't even use the graph paper! I love the results on kraft and the imperfection proves that they were conjured up by hand, not machine. The wonky black lines kinda bugged me until I started highlighting with the white pen and then the tension washed away and I finally began to enjoy myself. Not only that, but I also couldn't stop! I will definitely be carrying on with this simple interpretation.
If you have considered jumping into mandala making then I recommend seeking out Kathryn's book. It's a wonderful introduction to the unique art form. Thank you Kathryn, for prompting me to try something new. I can't wait to get back to discovering additional ways to work with black and white starting from a circle and a few basic shapes. Maybe I'll even venture into color!
Visit Kathryn's site: 100 Mandalas and again, the link at Amazon:
Before the day is over, just wanted to say - thanks for all the wonderful messages on facebook, and for all the cards, gifts, texts, and calls from friends. It's been a fun birthday - started out with coffee this morning with mom! She was visiting for Fallon's graduation. We visited my roses to see if there was a sign from Shannon. With many about to bloom, two stood out. One for her, one for me. Below is mom in the garden - the original rose bush is nearly twice as tall as her. Ok, she is pint-size, but the roses are also enormous. Another few days of sunshine and we will have dozens of roses.
On Saturday Fallon graduated from Raritan Valley Community College. She moving on the Rutgers in the Fall - studying Art History. It was a grand day, and so special to celebrate her achievement. We gave mom a tour of the new campus she'll be at soon. Well, not so new - Rutgers marked their 250th anniversary this year. *tosses confetti for Fallon*
I will be at Pratt in June with one of my favorite classes: Roll With It. You can see a great evidence shot from this class below the announcement. I will also be teaching at Pratt this Fall. October 8: What a Relief, and November 19: Compose Yourself. See all current postings on the workshop page HERE.
In August I will be returning to The Ink Pad. Classes still to be determined. I have a few new ideas....working them out this week!
As April approached I had a grand plan to blog each week under theme of autism awareness. Turns out the month got away from me. Here we are on the last day already. It's been busy, but oh so fulfilling. Thank you to our friends who have supported our new shop. 73 sales is pretty good for our launch month. We also had two commissions - just mailed the second one off today. I had a meeting with our DVR counselor this week. That's a state appointed person who tracks your progress in securing a job - she had referred us to two different agencies to assist with the process. As you know, after three years with no prospects we decided to go out on our own and build a business. She was very kind and went to bat for us with her supervisor to see if they could support us in any way - thanks, but we don't need anything. We got this. While I appreciated her effort, it ended up being a frustrating experience. Because I couldn't supply her with a tax ID and financial reports they regard our enterprise as a hobby, not employment,and have earmarked his file as a non-success. I left the meeting feeling deflated because they don't get it. Profit is not a goal. It's Purpose we are after. And Purpose we created. And Purpose fills our days and brings satisfaction and happiness. Who cares what the files say, we are doing it our way.
On launch day Sam received a bouquet of roses from our friend Janet - a sweet lady I only know through this blog and our email conversations. Thank you Janet - not only for making April 1st a very special day, but you've introduced us to a really fabulous enterprise: Roses for Autism. If you ever want to send roses, this is the place. Visit the site to learn more about their exceptional staff, HERE.
Just after Sam's birthday, he participated in a talent/fashion show at our high school with his peers. It was the most amazing evening seeing these special kids parade across the stage, and sing, and dance. Sam had a display of his cards with two other entrepreneurs; a friend who makes candles and air fresheners, and another artist who paints and illustrates. Super fun night and utterly heartwarming.
As I mentioned, in addition to painting cards, we were commissioned by friends to create special packages. Veering from our usual routine was something Sam took in stride but he can't wait to get back to painting next week. He whizzes through the labeling and packaging because he knows that once that is done he can get back to the easel.
Tomorrow is May. I remember making May Day offerings out of construction paper and filling with leftover Easter grass and a handful of treats to leave at the door of friends. Ring the bell, hang a surprise on the doorknob, and run! It was a tradition in my neighborhood that we continued with our kids. Anyone else do May Day cones or baskets?
The May/June Somerset Studio has arrived! If you subscribe you may have it by now - hits the shelves around May 1st. My column is about using up items from my stash, and venturing into stitching. I really loved working on this fabric book and have finished additional pages which I will show you sometime soon. You'll recognize that my topographical interest made its way onto a spread, of course! My friends Lynne and Mary Beth have colorful fun articles for their columns - be sure to get a copy.
It's a big day here. Sam is 24! Tomorrow he will join a community of friends and former classmates in a talent + fashion show at our high school. Sam's painted cards will be on display as a 'talented entrepreneur'. It's been so much fun watching these kids practice the 'runway'. After lunch out with his girlfriend Brianna we go the final dress rehearsal for the big show. It's going to be an action packed weekend. Lots of favorite memories in the collage below. Can't believe ~ 24!
Thanks to all of you who have shared your enthusiasm for his new enterprise of Painting with Purpose and the launch of his Etsy shop. We sold out and restocked the shop twice, and have been busy painting and folding more. Super fun!
SAM AND I HAVE BEEN BUSY!
We are excited to launch this new venture together, and are making our announcement today,
the beginning of Autism Awareness month.
SPECIAL NEEDS is a phrase that has a double meaning. Yes, Sam has 'special needs' in the way most people think. He has autism. But don't we all have special needs? Rather than shy away from the term we are embracing it to remind us that sometimes you just need a little something special. We hope you like our offerings and will choose to purchase when you want a card to send a personal message.
PAINTING WITH PURPOSE: Our goal is not to make profit but to cover our costs, and more importantly, give us a daily purpose. Our products may not be perfect, but that's the beauty of being handmade with heart. We will be donating a portion of our profit to make a difference in the lives of families who are affected by autism.
CREATING OUR OWN DESTINY: After years of working with agencies trying to find appropriate employment we've decided to create our own destiny with the self-imposed ambition to have a daily purpose. Painting with Purpose has become one of our mantras. Sam loves to sit at the easel and paint piles of paper everyday. Painting, cutting, sorting, counting, labeling, packaging and mailing will be a fun way to insert productive activity into our day.
RIPPLE EFFECT: (And the secret behind our logo) We hope that our choice to open this shop will have a ripple effect and inspire others to do something similar. If you know of a family that is also trying to gain employment for their adult child with special needs maybe you could suggest they find an item that could be handmade and sold too. When there isn't a clear path of what to do after graduation, this could be a worthwhile endeavor. I welcome any questions on how to get launched.
See our brand new shop, HERE.
As I mentioned here on the blog, a little while ago I had an epiphany. It wasn't a lightning bolt idea, it had actually been simmering for some time. After meeting with our sixth job coach in nearly three years, with grand hopes of finding appropriate job placement for Sam, it was becoming clear that we needed to invent our own plan for daily purpose. Sam has great skills and has had some work experience, but the applications and interviews were going nowhere. We couldn't even secure a regular volunteer position.
My first vision was to come up with a project that Sam could manage on his own, giving him a routine and a schedule - something that he loves. I purchased a die-cut machine with the intention that he could make sets of gift tags and sell them on Etsy. I buy tags from there all the time so it made sense. The endeavor would be a chance for him to be productive, and see results. Cut, sort, count, package. We began. Then, to explain better what we were doing this for, I pulled out some painted cards Sam had made back in middle school with his class. His teacher, Mrs. Reiss, had her husband make the boys some tabletop easels, and they painted papers which were made into card sets. The boys sold the cards from a table at school events, and even had a display at the church holiday bazaar. As I was reminding Sam about the handpainted cards he got really excited, and it was a *sign* we needed to drop the die-cut tags and focus on painting. So painting it is - and eventually we may circle back to tags, but we also have a few more project plans that will debut later in the year. Sam has purpose. Mom and Dad are proud. Family is supportive, and cheering, and tolerant of the dining room take-over during the painting sessions (he paints 30-40 sheets at a time!).
A few photos from 2007 when Sam's class was selling cards. Thanks to my friend Maureen Reiss, and the other teachers who got the boys started with the process of painting with purpose. Who knew this would become a daily focus? Awesome.
And a re-cap of our adventure - it's only just begun! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm with us. It's made the process really fun!
Ready to ship! See HERE.
EDIT (June): See my story in Somerset Studio (July/August) HERE