Monday, January 21, 2008

Romance Fan

Today I've been surrounded by romance. . . no, I haven't fallen in love with anyone. The romance came from the project I've been working on since early morning. The Paper Whimsey Yahoo Group is creating Romance Fans in honor of the upcoming holiday. Participants could choose one of six themes and create six fan blades in keeping with the theme. We will then send one of our blades to the other four members of our group and receive a fan blade from each of them. By Valentines Day we will each have received four blades which we can combine with the blades we created, and each of us will have a scrumptous Romance Fan. I am privileged to be grouped with Carol, Gina, Anne and Joan, and our theme is Love In Bloom using pastel springtime colors and images. Joan really set the bar high with her blade, which she posted to the group yesterday, and inspired me to plunge in and make mine today.

Our sixth fan blades will also be assembled into a fan and sent to a moderator of the Paper Whimsey Group for a charity auction. Definitely the kind of project that is rewarding on multiple levels: the pleasure of creating the blades, the fun of interacting with the other artists in our group, and the satisfaction of knowing that a fan to which we contributed will benefit a charity. That's love on a lot of levels.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What a Gift!!!!!

Leaving my cozy warm home on a bitterly cold winter's day is not something I do without an extremely good reason. Today I had just such a reason, and I am happy, happy, happy that I ventured out. The motivation came in an email I received on Friday from a delightful woman, Pam, whom I had the great good fortune to work with at the National Cancer Institute's Mid South Cancer Information Center in the years prior to my retirement in 2005. Pam wrote to say that she and Toni, another loved member of that CIS staff, wanted to drive over to my neck of the woods and have lunch with me. Given that the three of us have not seen each other in well over a year, I'd have gone even had it been snowing bloody blue blazes.

We met at Applebee's, and the other patrons probably thought we were long lost sisters from all the hugging we did right there in front of God and everybody. Being with them again, catching up on the events of our lives, just being together brought home to me forcefully how blessed I am by their friendship. You know the kind of bond where you haven't been in contact with the other person in a long time, but there is no sense of estrangement when you meet again, rather just an instant picking up where you left off? That's how it was to see Pam and Toni again. Pure magic!

As if being with them again was not enough joy, they brought me one of the most meaninful gifts I have received in a long, long time. It's a crocheted prayer shawl which they took turns working on. Done in my favorite color, purple, it is super soft and snuggly. Not only am I heart warmed that they worked together to create it for me in my favorite hues, the pattern they used touches me deeply too because it's a pattern built on threes and represents the Trinity. They asked that each time I snuggle under its warmth that I remember I am enfolded in their love for me. That led to tears on my part, let me tell you!!

So here I sit, once again back in the welcome warmth of my home, with the purple shawl warming me from toes to neck, being supremely grateful that my life is blessed by Pam and Toni and their precious gift. I am truly one lucky old woman!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Vintage Cards

Last night I dreamed the details of a series of cards I am committed to make for Lenna Andrew's "An Alpha Stamps Tallulah Vintage Card/Postcard Swap," so I've had a grand time today bringing those dream images into my waking world. Because I tremendously admire Lenna's art (, I feel privileged to participate in swaps she hosts and lucky to have grabbed a spot in this one since full enrollment happened very quickly.

The swap requires use of images from the Tallulah Collage Sheets sold by Alpha Stamps ( All swap participants will receive a gift collage sheet from Alpha Stamps for participating, and one lucky participant will be awarded a special first prize for the most creative card or postcard. How's that for motivation?!

My first card is finished. Four to go.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gothic Arch Project - January Pages

I have noticed more and more groups using the Gothic Arch format for swaps lately, and now that I've worked with it for the first time I can understand why. The shape is intriguing and lends itself well to a creative process. The alteredartswap yahoo group is using the arch as the format for a year long mingle. As with the group's 8 x 8 Tip In Journal, which I described in a previous post, 12 artists chose their own theme and are paired monthly with a partner for whom they create an arch illustrating their partner's chosen theme. By year's end each participant will have 12 themed Gothic Arches, which we can bind into a book or display in whatever way we like.

My partner is Debbie, and her theme is Shirley Temple Movies. Such fun! My first challenge for this project was to narrow down my choices from Shirley's many movies. Given that I am a life-long Kentucky resident, I thought about working with "Seabiscuit," which recounts the story of an "underdog" horse who rises to fame, but genius definitely was not burning on that one, so I then considered "The Little Rebel." After all, I'm a big rebel, although not necessarily in the movie's connatation of the word, but my muse felt no inspiration for that one either.

Then it hit me. "Heidi." As a child I pestered my mom near to death with my frequent pleas to read Heidi to me again and again as my bedtime story, and when I mastered reading for myself, I nearly wore out our copy of the tale. To me there was something magically alluring about the title character, something so pure and loyal about her. I was also fascinated by descriptions of the alpine goat farm where she lived so happily with her beloved grandfather. That imaginary scenic beauty informed my dreams for years.

In 2005 I had the great good fortune to take a two week cruise through the fjords of Norway, and my favorite experience of that voyage was a day trip high into the mountains to visit a goat farm, which is operated today just as it has been for hundreds of years. Fascinating! And everywhere I turned, I caught glimpses of Heidi's world. A long time dream came true for me that day. So to create my Heidi-Themed Gothic Arch, I chose some of my favorite snapshots from that memorable day and incorporated them with scans of posters from the movie. I mounted them on a trio of coordinated papers and outlined the entire arch with tiny, tiny, tiny beads (one of my new favorite art supplies).

The pages appeal to the happy child within me, and I'm hoping Debie will like what I've created for her.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers Pages Are Finished

I can't remember when I have derived more pleasure from creating a piece of art than I have from these two pages for the alteredartswap group's 8 x 8 Tip In Mingle. If you have read my post from Thursday, you already know a bit of the history of why this poem is deeply meaningful for me. I will be getting them into the mail this week to their intended recipient (Sandee) with the hope they will bring her even half the joy that their creation brought to me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers

Once upon a time I was a miserably unhappy woman. Newly out of a stiffling marriage, with no valid employment skills, I had enrolled in college, three young children in tow, and was striving to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and passing grades to my name. Exhausting. Highly stressful. At the end of the first semester, I was given the amazing opportunity to attend a Writer's Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. A week all to myself, no children, no major responsibilities, just the chance to immerse myself in words. Glory!!! The resident poet at the conference was Adrienne Rich, and her words resonated deep within my spirit. She spoke to my need to have an independent life that I created for myself, where I would succeed or fail on my own merits. Today I can still close my eyes and see her sitting on the grass under a Live Oak Tree, Spanish Moss tendrils trailing in the breeze of a hot Georgia day, reading poem after poem to us and talking about her creative experience. I pulled up that mental image, and her poetry, often during my undergrad and master's programs, and always her words and that memory buoyed my hope and determination and helped me to keep on keeping on.

Thus, as I am beginning the creative process for a very special art project, it seemed natural and right to turn again to her words. The art piece on which I'm starting today is for a year long exchange, which I know is going to be one of the primary joys of 2008 for me. Facilitated by the AlteredArtSwap Yahoo Group, 12 artists, myself included, have each chosen a theme which has personal meaning to us. On the first day of the month, we are each assigned a partner for the month and are to create a two page spread interpreting our partner's theme. Sandee is my January partner, and her theme is "Favorite Poet." To which I reply, Adrienne Rich, of course. The difficulty was in narrowing it down to only one poem, and I've spent untold hours in the past week re-reading Rich and pondering which of her works I want to illustrate. Last night I went to bed still unsure which poem and how to create an appropriate art work. You guessed it, I dreamed the answer. . . Aunt Jennifer's Tigers. All morning I've been selecting and playing with images, and I'm about ready to put glue and stamps and embellishments to paper to visually represent the following words.

Aunt Jennifer's Tiger
Adrienne Rich

Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Angels for Room to Read

My first art project in this bright new year was the creation of 24 paper angels to be included in a charity auction to benefit Room to Read. The auction is sponsored by the ArtForCures Yahoo Group ( of which I am a member. We worked with an original template created by the talented group leader Ana Maria Seton. Each artist chose two monochromatic color schemes for her angels and let our creative imaginations do the rest.

My yellow and turquoise celestial creatures were a joy to create, and knowing that something I made will help fund reading opportunities throughout the world adds to the joy.

New trick for a really old dog

Born the year Pearl Harbor was bombed, I predate the computer by a number of years; thus, the thought of creating a blog is at once exhilarating and a tad frightening for this non-computer-savy gal. However, I've decided to take courage in hand and venture out into the exciting world of cyberspace communication. My life is enriched daily by reading the blogs of my artistic friends around the world, and I hope the words and art I post here will have meaning to those who visit this space.