Monday, January 26, 2009

Life in a Box

Someone at work told me today that she sees life as one long generational line climbing the stairs of a diving board. The oldest generation reaches the board and eventually jumps off (or gets pushed by fate) thus allowing the next generation in line to move up the steps.

I thought it was a pretty descriptive metaphor, but I'd rather look at life as an on-going collection of events, thoughts, hopes, relationships, accomplishments and dreams. On more fanciful days, I think of all of those components of life as being stored in a beautifully appointed box. From time to time, we get to pull the memories out of the box to savor, enjoy, cry over, and examine them.

The various thoughts and events in the box may become fuzzy or distorted over time. Sometimes we might even subject them to a rewrite to make us more comfortable in our own skin. The bottom line is, they're mine alone and they make up the person that is me.

I heard from a very old (as in longevity not age) friend today and that allowed me to take a whole bouquet of memories out of my box to giggle and reminisce over. Thanks for the chance to look inside today Donna!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the spirit within

The need to fly. The desire to see more than is easily seen. The hope of purpose. The prayer for compassion. The certainty of love. The complexities of daily living. A compassionate heart. These are the things that we struggle with each day. These are the things that make us who we are. These are what drives the human spirit. Let the flying begin baby!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Going Postal: Michigan Annual XXXV

A historic beginning...
A productive work day...
A personal accomplishment.....
Life is good!
My work was accepted into the Michigan Annual XXXV Gallery Exhibit!!!
Anton Art Center
Mt. Clemens, MI

Monday, January 19, 2009

I try to include at least one piece of my art work whenever I blog. Today, however, I can't think of an image more significant than that of our 44th president. I have such hope for the changes that Obama can bring to our country. I also feel such joy for those of African American heritage that this historical moment is finally taking place. It is well overdue. Congratulations America!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

cremation containers

Another funeral today. Rapidly becoming the older generation. Don't quite feel mature enough for that role yet.........

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This has been such a busy week! This is the first time I've been able to sit and collect my thoughts.

There have been no instances of creative meanderings, no sessions of studying art magazines, no moments of insight - not even a hand or two of computer solitaire!! Remember those days back on the couch waiting for my foot to heal? Me neither.

I love to be busy, but there has to be a balance. I won't find it this week, but soon, very soon, I just know it! In the meantime, someone please smear some gel medium on paper for me? Maybe I will be able to experience it vicariously.........

Sunday, January 11, 2009

winter glitter

The snow looks so beautiful outside my windows. I realized this morning that my obsession with glitter doesn't have to end with the holidays! If you look carefully at the snow, in just the right light, there is glitter covering my patio in the form of ice crystals! I'm not a huge winter fan, but I can certainly appreciate its beauty from the safe warm setting of my family room couch.

My husband and I were just commenting on being in a good place in our lives right now. Our sons are doing well, we have a good home, family and friends to keep us warm, and fairly secure jobs to keep us fed. Of course the economy is bad, the country is at war, and Michigan is facing tough times. But right here, right now the sun is shining, the furnace is working and the snow is beautiful.

Come Monday morning though, you can be sure that I will be snarling about the snow covered roads on my way to work!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

finding me

I am an avid consumer of magazines. I have very specific tastes in the magazines I purchase. I especially enjoy anything published by Stampington & Co. ( The quality of their publications is unsurpassed. They feature the very best paper and fiber artists from around the world as well as those just starting out. With every issue, I find a new technique or genre that I would like to try. Exposure to the work of so many artists can be a double-edged sword. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the style of others, and that of my own.
I began my artful journey drawing cartoon-like figures. I have certain characters that flow from my hands every time I pick up a pencil or marker. I can't draw just anything in cartoon form, but I do have a small repertoire. For years I would draw these figures on a regular basis. At meetings, in class, on tote bags, in little stories I would draw for my preschool students, and to amuse friends and relatives. I created handmade Santas which sold fairly well at a couple of craft shows and among friends and family. I even dabbled in sewing for a while. Art was always a part of my life, but I sometimes felt directionless. Then one day, about ten years ago, I picked up a copy of Somerset Studio.
I was instantly overwhelmed by the quality of work including collage, mixed media assemblage, and paper crafts. I wanted to try them all! I collected ephemera for my collages, found objects for assemblages, rubber stamps, handmade papers, paints and inks. I journaled like Teesha Moore, made jewelry similar to that of Nina Bagley, attempted all of Claudine Hellmuth's techniques, and took soldering classes taught by Sally Jean. I learned so much!
There came a time though when I wasn't sure if my work represented me or was just a clever imitation of the masters. Is it possible to have one's own unique style yet still incorporate techniques learned from others? I think so, but it can certainly be a slippery slope. When I find myself looking at an almost complete piece thinking, "should I give it a hat or wings?" I know I've lost my way. Sometimes, a hat or wings, or butterflies, or whatever recurring symbols might be out there is just what a composition needs. But sometimes, it can be what a composition needs to look like someone else has done it. That's the slippery slope.
In the past ten, twelve months I think I have begun to feel comfortable in my own skin as an artist. I am beginning to recognize my own style coming through. My work may contain techniques I've learned from others, but my goal is to make it my own. I've noticed that when my work is submitted for gallery showings, the work that is accepted for exhibition is that which most closely reflects me. I then focus on that piece and think about which elements are "patti-like" and build upon those for my future work.
Who knows, maybe someday, someone will mimic my style. Hey, imitation is a form of flattery, right?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

empty nest

My youngest is going back to school tomorrow. We've had a wonderful time with him home but all good things must come to an end. I will miss him terribly. I'd love to keep him at my side every day. The rational part of me (and yes, it does exist) realizes that his job right now is to chase as many rainbows as he can, find a way to fulfill his dreams, and live as an individual while still maintaining his responsibilities as a member of this family. He needs to fly. I need to let him. But that doesn't keep me from selfishly wanting him to stay a little longer! Learn lots little chick, but never forget who the top hen in the henhouse is! Love ya'!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

looking out the kitchen window

I'm lucky enough to have a kitchen sink that has a window directly over it. I'm able to see right into my yard as well as my neighbor's yard. We are especially vulnerable to each other at this time of year when all of the Michigan vegetation has gone dormant and my gardens have packed it in for the winter.

I don't live in the country with lots of acres around me, and I don't live in a kitschy art community. I live in a fairly typical neighborhood with houses all around me. I don't know most of my neighbors and those I know are very nice but don't really understand my version of art. This is a solid, hardworking community that loves its sports, trimmed lawns, and family. It has been a great place to raise our kids and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to live here.

On the flip side, (yes, I remember vinyl records) I've long felt as though I belong somewhere else. My son goes to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There is a thriving artist community in Ann Arbor and I always feel at home when I visit him. The women wear comfortable shoes and aren't overly concerned with make-up. The men seem to walk everywhere and the bumper stickers always seem to reflect my own point of view. I take art classes in Ann Arbor whenever given the chance and love to spend money in their little galleries and antique stores.

That type of environment comes at a cost though and it will most likely be some time before my husband and I can think about moving in that direction. It can be difficult to work on my art in isolation though and so I strive to make entries into my blog as often as possible in the hopes that someone from the art community will reach out and make contact with me. It would be great to connect with someone who speaks my language!

In the meantime, I will continue to appreciate the kindness of my neighbors, the security of a familiar and safe neighborhood, and the view from my kitchen window.

Friday, January 2, 2009

the little things

If there has been one theme that has run through my holiday season this year, it has been to take pleasure in the little things. A completed piece of art, a favorite old song, the way the sun glints off the snow on a freezing cold morning, the company of friends, the uncompromising love offered up by the family pet, the familiarity of an old movie watched many times, the random but insightful conversations with my kids, contact from a rarely seen relative, the smell of my son's cologne as he leaves for an important date, the freedom to stay up late and read a book without worrying about an early alarm clock going off are all things that have brought a smile to my face this past two weeks.
In a few days my son will return to school, I will return to work, my oldest will return to coaching, and my husband will resume his 80 mile a day drive back and forth from his office. My art supplies will come out with less frequency and conversations with my children will be reduced to brief tired exchanges on the way home from class. My husband and I will grunt at each other over thrown together dinners and each day will bring the thought of, "how many more days until the weekend?"
For now though, I will continue to look for those small pleasures and enjoy each moment. My resolution this year will not be the usual, "I need to lose weight," or "I resolve to give up Diet Coke (because that's just crazy!)". This year, I will resolve to try to look for those little things throughout the week that bring me comfort and contentment. There's no sense in waiting until the next vacation to enjoy life!

PS The snowmen above are a little more on the cutesy side than I usually go with my collage, but these definitely brought a smile to my face!!