Today we prep for a roast beef + Yorkshire pudding dinner, and bake breads for the neighbors, then frost a cake for baby Jesus. My large Nativity has a Mary who is holding the baby, so we resort to another infant Jesus who lays in a straw manger, made of plastic, to be set in a ring of candles and sung to Christmas eve. It belonged to the kids so they could play with the Holy Family. We used to make a cardboard stable, and pretended to act out the famous story....with the kings arriving after following the star. There were several years where couldn't locate the plastic Jesus and frantic-ness ensued to get him recovered and placed on the cake in time to celebrate his birthday. I began the tradition when our oldest was just over a year old. Getting gifts on your birthday is something we all grow up with, so it was the perfect way to explain Christmas to our children. So we don't lose Him, plastic baby Jesus spends his non-birthdays in our silverware drawer. He's never far away to visually remind us of His presence.....and today we honor Him as we exchange our presents.
My favorite track from the Very Special Christmas album series is by Stevie Nicks, with guest Robbie Nevil. This is the best video I could find. To see the 'making of', click HERE.
This year Bergdorf Goodman took on ICE as their running theme throughout the holiday windows. The fabricated icicles look real, and even slightly wet, and must have been a huge project. Frosty finishes might have been easier, but BG always goes the extra mile with amazing detail. Their icy items are clear - amazing. Halloween was my favorite - with the actual BG building as the main star, formerly a Vanderbilt mansion. If you visit their blog, you can read more about the festivities of opening night, where they actually had a 'reveal' celebration of pulling back the curtain, with aerial acrobats descending the facade of the building. Finally! I love to see that they've claimed the event as an EVENT.
The large and perfect photos I'm presenting here have been borrowed from the BG blog - credits to Ricky Zehavi. I always wondered how she was able to get non-glare, non-skewed, stellar photos of the full windows. Details about how she does it are shared HERE.
While Mom and Dad visited for Thanksgiving, us girls spent a day in the city for a fun meal, a Broadway show, and of course viewing the holiday windows. First up is Tiffanys. They have smallish windows in comparison to other stores on 5th Avenue but they manage to step out of the little (blue) box. One year they popped out from the frames as if a carousel was emerging from the facade - an amazing spectacle. This season they covered the entire buiding with a decal, yes....a press-on sticker, to alter the architectural impression. Amazing! Clever! The dispays behind the glass were simply enchanting. Tiny rows of white brick homes, with glowing street lights and warmly lit windows. And of course, the jewels.
Next: Bergdorf Goodman
I can't believe I haven't posted since Halloween! This definitely has been one of my busiest months. With the holidays nearing it appears things won't slow down for a while, but I try to catch a few moments to do things that aren't on the list, like playing with photoshop....it's important to keep practicing your skills, whether with a mouse or a brush. My self-imposed assignment last night was to make a birthday card for my favorite rock star, Ville Valo. The photo credit is unknown. I placed him over a scan of a painted page.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of team teaching with some respected colleagues. It was such a blast to share our love of stencils with a huge group of enthusiastic artists at The Ink Pad in NYC. We even spray painted! It was pretty blustery outside on the second day but most came out with me to brave the wind to give the spraying a try - with some very cool results. I didn't take alot of pictures, but here is the happy clan. I'll show you the fab journal we constructed under Andrew's direction in a few days.
Happy Halloween! I was talking to my friend Julie yesterday about how cool a cyanotype would be in black and white. So I had to try it on a photo of my thorn print - converted in photoshop. Have a fun day!
The Halloween rituals have changed around here. We haven't carved pumpkins in a while. Last year, we missed the event altogether due to superstorm Sandy, and the year before there was a freak snow storm that brought down trees and affected the night of trick-or-treating. Some years it was so warm that our carved pumpkins rotted out and were gnawed at by squirrels before the 31st arrived. So we started buying the fakes, adding our embellishments with a few paint pens. You've seen the white ones, and now we've added black and orange. Fallon's are still in progress. She better hurry, Halloween is almost here!
It's Lucky's first Halloween with us. She doesn't know it, but Halloween was Winston's birthday. She looks just like him here, doesn't she?
New arrivals this week - the latest Somerset Studio - Nov/Dec 2013, and Mary Beth Shaw's new book, Stencil Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for Making and Using Stencils. I'm very impressed with the book publisher - I got the book and the return of my art one day after the book release. It's usually weeks before we get a copy!
Thanks to all the new visitors to Green Pepper Press who ordered stencils and stamps after the exposure on the GelliArts blog. Wasn't that an awesome video? I've been filling and sending orders, and preparing packages to go out as soon as I get restock on my inventory. After teaching and vending in Connecticut, then this promotion, my merchandise has been cleared out. Crossing fingers that I get a nice big box from my manufacturer early next week so I can fulfill all the remaining orders and send them on their merry way. Again, my thanks to Joan at Gelli for this opportunity. I have been making lots of prints of my own - will post soon. So here's the peek at the latest ink:
Are you on trend and making prints with the Gelli plate? It is a genius invention and superb product. If you've been out of the loop you can catch up quick with a visit to GelliArts.com. Joan's videos are so nicely done that you'll see how easy it is to pull cool prints from the plate, and the many many ways it can be used with stencils and with texture for your art-making.
They are just launching a 8" round plate - swoon! AND it can be won by entering their giveaway. Pop over to the blog HERE, and leave a comment to be in the drawing. Be sure to get in by October 22. I am honored to have three of my Green Pepper Press frond stencil/mask sets included. You gotta see what Joan did with them in her video demonstration and photos. I've grabbed one to show you, below. Don't you just want to lick it? It's that delicious.
I still think facebook should have a "lick" button alongside the "like" button *grin*.
Last week my mom flew into town and we headed up to Stamford for our first Art-Is-You. We had a great time together and loved meeting many new friends, and getting to connect with old ones. It was also fun to finally attach real people to names and faces I've gotten to know online. There is always something special about these artful gatherings - because we are there for art-making but the friendships forged over a shared experience end up being way more valuable than anything you could offer in the goodie bag or class kit. I'm sure you'll agree, if you've attended a similar retreat, that while you might return home wiped out from all the activity, you are filled with a refreshed verve to keep the momentum and creative energy going.
I'm bummed that my camera remained in my apron pocket for most of the three days I taught...I don't even have one photo from Parlor Tricks. I also missed getting the whole group for Linear Equations. I've got all but one for Recess. The day flies by and before you know it the supplies are being packed up, we hug goodbye, and I smack my head that the photos didn't get taken. It should be a rule that you have to take a class photo before you break for lunch. I'm writing that into my itineraries from now on.
Art-Is-You will be returning next year at four locations. My next gig is at The Ink Pad in November for a two-day workshop with the teaching team of Mary Beth Shaw, Andrew Borloz, and Pam Carriker. Then I have a break in the schedule until the two workshops I'm cohosting with Lynne Perrella in May. You can read more about Crowning Glories HERE.
Thanks to all the wonderful artists who joined me in class last weekend. It truly was a privilege to spend time with you.
My friend Samie had the idea for this particular mission, and earlier this summer we embarked on a field trip to scoop up some dirt and present it as a gift. If you've been following along on this blog you know I am a card-carrying member of the Grave Dirt Crew. I believe this was the fifth successful delivery - something we continue to do as we know our efforts have made an impression - getting special mention in two live interviews as well as two print interviews with lead singer Ville Valo. Lest you be confused, gathering dirt is a way we honor respected departed souls. The collection is now more than a dozen bottles - poets, musicians, writers, and actors that we know Mr. Valo would appreciate. The latest presentation is that of Peter Steele, singer for Type O Negative - Mr. Steele was from Brooklyn and we passed it off on Saturday, perfect timing as it was the last night of the HIM tour.....and we saw them perform in, you guessed it, Brooklyn.
EDIT: I've been asked about the graphics - the green circle with the line through it is the band logo for TYPE O NEGATIVE.
Here's one of the mentions....proof that he doesn't think we're nuts, and that it isn't a dark thing, just cool.
CLICK HERE to hear it on youtube, scroll forward to minute 16:50 for the audio evidence, transcript excerpt below.
Link to full interview transcript HERE.
I feel some new fronds coming on. In a hotel breakfast room these beauties were humbly poised at attention beneath a large screen tv that rattled away the morning news. I couldn't take my eyes off them. Loved the simple arrangement - the clear glass tube vases with the spikey full color floral stalks, and then those random vine/twig things, and the rocks. Great composition. Interesting shapes. Made me want to come right home and cut some stencils to interpret that mental picture. Who knew I should have had a camera with me? (Popped back in on the way to the elevator to snap a quick photo to remind me of the inspiration.)
Some years ago I took several online tests to determine whether I was right- or left-brain dominant. It was not surprising to learn I am equal-brained. Makes sense as I am an architect and an artist. And it might illustrate that I found inspiration from these hip exotic flowers just moments after tearing out a magazine page that depicted a fine specimen of European architecture carved from stone. While I tend to prefer linear images, structured composition, and symmetrical shapes, I am also really intrigued by natural organic forms, irregular contours, and how to create balance while maintaining space.
What inspired you this morning? Take a walk through this glorious day and see what awaits you. It's FALL!
p.s Anyone know what these plants are called?
I've had the pleasure of being interviewed at Sissy Sparrows, a lovely site hosted by sister who are artists, and designers. Read their About page, you'll instantly like them. So envious - I wish I lived a street away from my sister, and could enjoy the same daily fun they get to share. I love that they work together to create cool stuff, neat digital products, and a site that is full of encouragement and inspiration with their tutorials and challenges. Hop over for a look, and bookmark them! Thanks for having me ladies.
This just arrived today, (very early xmas) and I had to plug it in for morning toast. Julie knows I'm a Saints fan....says 'Toast Your Team' right on the box. She suggested BLT's this Sunday. I'm thinking French Toast :) Isn't this the coolest? Thanks friend!
In one month I will be on the road to Connecticut to teach at my first Art-Is-You event. I'm looking forward to attending this event - have heard great things about it. I've met Sallianne, one of the co-hosts, and she is a doll. This was news to me - they actually close registration in two weeks. I love their philosophy that this will allow teachers to prepare their class materials, knowing the number of attendees. I also love that they have shared the names of the students, and provided their email addresses so that we may begin communication. Isn't that terrific? I think that makes for a much more intimate experience, and gets everyone into event-mode. So if you've signed up to take a workshop with me in October you will be hearing from me soon. And if you've been on the fence about getting registered it's time to jump off and join the fun. My mom is coming too!
Just a reminder that if you are interested in registering for the Perrella/Ward Crowning Glories workshop, we will begin taking deposits September 1st. Both classes filled up quickly last year. The dates are May 2-4 or May 9-11, 2014. Scroll down to see the full announcement, or if you're reading through a feed click HERE.
I've been sorting through files and finally moved some over onto the tutorial page which is still under construction. I've completed carving stamps, cutting stencils, digital tricks, and mounting stamps. More to follow at a later date.
Enjoy the holiday weekend!
Before the sunny summer days are over, and the evening darkness starts to creep into the afternoons, I have a suggested project: Paper Casting. I've written an article about it for my column in Somerset Studio - the September/October 2013 issue should be arriving to your home, or your local bookstore soon. It's not required to utilize the sun to dry your casts, but it certainly makes it more fun to have them dry quickly, so you can 'harvest' them and refill for more.
Since I took alot of photos to support this article I chose to edit and leave out a few - the embossing folder casts were cool, but they were fabricated in a different manner than all the other casts so I didn't include for the article. I've been making and using paper casts for years, and have talked about them on this blog several times, but if you are new to the concept, perhaps the article will be useful....you know I love to advocate for Making It Your Own :)
Today is my friend Linda Warlyn's birthday. It was exactly one year ago that I gifted her with the beginnings of a website. Thanks to many of her friends, who answered the call to share their photos, I was able to launch the site in secret. Across many years, several of us have been lucky recipients of Linda's precious work. Believe me, these gems are keepers. On the site you'll see evidence of her charming cards, generous gifts, figures and assemblages, and lovely items for swaps or collaborative projects - each meticulously detailed, full of magic, and recognizable to those who love and admire her work, as so very Linda. She is a clever one - not only with her inventive compositions, and handsome displays, but in the manner in which she demonstrates that she gets you. Her choice of color, her selection of subject matter, her insertion of little secrets, prove that she observes, listens, and never forgets. And you should see how she wraps the offereings! She is a master of details so I gave her website the tiny title "it's the little things".
I had the best of intentions to keep up with additions to the site, as I have alot more images to share of Linda's work. I thought I would roll out a big announcement last year once I was completed - but it's still a work-in-progess, and as I turned the calendar page over to today, I realized I never publicly shared the link here. Please visit, and see why we think she is so gifted. You've seen her work in Somerset Studio many times, and she appears in books too. Perhaps you've sat near her in a workshop and marveled at her intricate handling of the artful process....or maybe you're just meeting her today. Let me formally introduce you - here is the birthday girl, Linda Warlyn.
A recent gift, from Linda to me, is the newest update....I told you, she's gets you. The colors - black and white and red, all those fabulous patterns - diamond, dot, stripe, and check, a Top Hat, those wings!, pleated paper and fabulous little dangles and tucked-in treats, and then (gasp) that tiny toy theater. She's got my number, don't you agree? OMG. Right?
Happy Birthday sweet friend, and many many more! xoxo
Lynne and I are excited to announce our workshop taking place in May 2014 in Connecticut. We had an amazing experience last year with two stellar groups of artists, and we look forward to presenting another two weekends with Crowning Glories. An information dossier is available upon request from Lynne, LKPerrella (at) aol (dot) com beginning today. Registration will begin September 1st. Hope to see you there!
Here is a sneak peek at our studio tables as we prepare the materials and samples. We love sharing our favorite techniques and we love digging into the art-making process, and have conjured up a multi-layered project that we will build upon across the three-day event. The beautiful thing that happens in a real-life workshop is the connections we make with other artists, and the many peripheral learning opportunities that occur as we interpret the assignments with our individual perspective.
We are happy to answer any questions you have about the workshop or the venue. Just ask!
I am such a lucky girl - CREATE Mixed Media Art Retreats hosts one of its events practically in my back yard. For four days I got to teach an amazing collection of women just down the road, then had dinner with my family and slept in my own bed each night. The students were awesome - some were in more than one class, and a handful took three. Some were repeat students, and some were new-to-me, and some totally new to this kind of venue. It was so rewarding to see how each artist interpreted the assignments and projects, bringing their own personal flair to the table. I thoroughly understand that it can be difficult to create-on-demand and often a student may experience performance anxiety but while we may be there to learn technique or make a specific project, I think the most important thing is to come away with the momentum to keep going. I've said this before, sharing your enthusiasm for creativity is more important than what you create. I hope I did that last weekend. The other beautiful thing that happens at these events is we get to widen our circle of friends - making connections with fellow artists through a shared experience can be life-long. I know because I've done it.
Here are most of the students I was privileged to spend time with - some got away before we took pictures.
I will never forget this event and some of the very cool things that happened in the workshops. I witnessed big break-throughs and many subtle a-ha's. Lots of eager girls who tried lots of new things and shared freely their discoveries so that we all could learn even more. That's what happens when you are in the classroom - the energy is so positive, so thick, it's nearly as visible as the hanging humidity outside. I always depart feeling motivated to do it all over again, with a notebook of scribbled ideas for next year. In one class I presented a little start-up assignment that became its own thing, took on a life of its own, and we ran with it because it was constructive, productive, and a really useful tool to review and remark on the results as a group. I think that assignment could become a whole class and I can't wait to start planning it.
A special thanks to all my students, the event planners, and the entire community of artists who were present to make this such a remarkable retreat. There was an Artist's Faire Friday night and it was a great success for my little GPP table. Fallon was a terrific helper - thank you to our customers for your patience as we got you through the line. Here are some more of my displays - these were spray painted with all the stencils I sell, in the extreme heat we suffered through recently. A few of the shots of paint never made it to the surface as it actually dried mid-air. Crazy.
Doesn't it look like the stencil sheets are hanging there? I love how the edges show so you can see exactly what the sheet looks like.
Next big teaching gig for me is Art-Is-You in Connecticut on October. Hope to see some of you there! For details on my classes click on the WORKSHOPS button in the toolbar on top.
This heatwave is awful! In about ten minutes I'll be packing up the van with supplies for the first of four workshops just down the road for CREATE NJ. It's such a treat to be so close to the venue! I visited the hotel yesterday and the classroom was nice and cool, whew! I ran into some old friends (waves to Sylvie) and met some new ones. I am so looking forward to this event - there was a creative energy in the lobby as artists were arriving and checking in, it's going to be fun! I will report on everything when I can - until then, stay cool!
Prepping for vendor night....some of the displays:
I will be introducing one new stencil at the Artist Faire during the CREATE NJ event next week. This is the first in a series where the design was driven by my current interest of cutting into cardboard. This one is called Duets because there is a square and circle that can be painted or drawn in first, then a second image can be layered over. Available in my online shop soon - current inventory is intended for the show next week.
It's been too hot to be spray painting this summer. I tried it a few times and the paint was nearly dry before hitting the surface. The last few days were cooler so I finally had a chance to make some displays for the event next week. Loved using the new Gothic Collection! I have some large panels I will show you later - here are a handful of clipboards:
Couldn't you just lick them? Oh, it's makes me happy to be spraying again!
Lots of heat and rain means the clovers are reaching up from earth, wanting to find the sun. The lucky ones always manage to get noticed, at least by me. Evidence:
Something else that wants to get noticed....she always has to see what's going on, and is very much at home with us now. We took down the gate so Lucky has the full run of the house but she's never too far from any of us and we track her with the sound of her little green bell. I didn't think I could open my heart so swiftly and easily after Winston, but she's a charmer and has brought us so much joy.
The final report card came in. Fallon's highest marks ever. Pretty good considering some seniors tend to slack off as the year winds down. At college orientation we learned that parents aren't given access to grades. ??? You'd think that signing your name on tuition checks might give you some privileges but it's time to let them fly, and trust that they'll continue to do well and communicate with you. I'll be filing away this last report, with some of the other remarkable items I've saved over the years. Onward we go!
We are so proud of you Fallon - bravo!
Had a great time with family last weekend. Mom and Dad, John and Renee, and my nieces Morgan, Mackenzie, and Meg joined us to celebrate Fallon's graduation. We spent a day at the shore, rode some terrifying rides, got in the ocean, and enjoyed walking the refurbished boardwalk. As the slogan on the airwaves keeps reminding and reassuring us: We are stronger than the storm. There's still alot of work to be done following superstorm Sandy but it was wonderful to see the crowds filling up the beach.
Summer is here! Be well and behave ;)
I'm pre-programming this post because this week we have family visiting and tonight is Fallon's graduation. I will be back with photographic evidence of that in a few days, but for now here is more cardboard manipulation. If you are in Jersey, or nearby, you might be interested to come take my Debris Journal workshop at CREATE - NJ either Thursday, July 18th or Saturday, July 20th. That's one month away - can't wait!! I will be teaching four days plus vending on the Friday night. Hope you'll join us.
I'm still playing with cardboard. Here's something I tried this weekend. I traced the stencil onto the cardboard panel, then cut and lifted out the negative. I was so excited by the concept that I wasn't so careful about the cuts and used a chunky blade. I may have done better with a finer knife but who has time to look for one when you're ready to try something? Don't forget that stencils aren't just for paint and spackle - they are cool with pencils and knives too.
As I've mentioned, when I'm behaving, I store my stencils in page protectors in 3-ring binders. When I'm not behaving I toss them all into a large clear rubber bin. But as John Shaw once said, some of my stencil designs do not play well with others (lots of parts that can get tangled) so I do try to separate. At Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago I found this presentation portfolio. Couldn't be more perfect for my new Gothic Collections stencils and masks! Come on, HCIT?
Speaking of the new collection, I've had new customers who are asking what to do with unmounted rubber sheets. There are lots of ways to use them - temporarily mount on acrylic blocks, or if you are a grab-and-go girl, then you might like my method. I use thick foam as a mount as it provides the cushion necessary for a good impression, and it is grab-able, similar to a wood mount. Just pay attention when you are cutting the foam so you have a nice straight line where the rubber ends for aligning on your stamped surface. Here's a quick tutorial:
Gothic Collection stencils, masks, stencil/mask sets, and rubber stamps available at GreenPepperPress.com
I've been enjoying the slow collection of vintage tools. So many of our devices are plastic, that it's really nice to come across an old once-loved and well-used tool for my studio. The tracing wheels are terrific for rolling in paint and then frolic up a page, or better yet, poking through a corrugated cardboard surface. The newer ones aren't as pokey, with much smoother edges on the wheel. The old ones may not be safe but they can assist you to do cool stuff. The awls are so nice to hold, and they force nice holes. I am so happy to have a toolbox that is filling up with these treasures.
Inspired by Louise Nevelson's monochromatic assemblages with emphasis on shadows, I have been manipulating surfaces in cardboard as part of demo sample for the Debris Journal workshop in July. Similar to working in altered books, where I believe it is much more interesting to alter the text and minimally modify the page with subtle markings versus full-on coverage with paint and collage material, I think that starting a cardboard journal should be all about how to respect the material and then determine methods of achieving interest with clever cuts, folds, and punctures. Below you can see some examples I'm preparing - the die-cut circles and the bull-nose corners were part of a cardboard package. I can never resist unusual findings when it comes to cardboard as they make for great pages in the journal.
Below is another vintage tool - a man-made protractor for determining angles. Some person scored in these lines with precision. Amazing, don't you think? Found on ebay about ten years ago!
I love that these tools belonged to someone. I love that there must be stories about how they were used. I really wish I could rub the wood and learn the history. Since I can't do that I will just carry the artisan in my heart when I'm working with their tools.
It was an action-packed weekend! The rain shut down the opening ceremonies Friday night for the Special Olympic Summer Games, but the remainder of the weekend was perfect for the event. Many athletes and their families enjoyed two full days of competition and awards. Thank you to our Piscataway Chiefs coaches, and the hundreds of volunteers who make this such an amazing experience.