Monday, August 31, 2009

Filler Up!

Back to work this week! I was inspired to create this last spring when someone asked me what I do for a living. Sometimes our students come to us with so little foundation. They haven't been taken to the zoo, exposed to play groups, gone on nature walks, or traveled outside of their neighborhoods. These children come from homes that are so socially and economically depressed, that they are starving for information. Their world has been viewed through such a narrow lens that to expect them to come to school fully prepared to absorb reading and math skills is unreasonable.
My job is to expose them to as much information as I can in the short amount allotted. My classroom teachers address their academic needs and I try to fill in the environmental and foundational gaps. I would love to just pull up in a big bus, load them in, and take them to museums, ball games, science centers, and zoos! I would pull into the lots, unload the kids and tell the curators, "Filler Up!" please!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Angelic Outcast

My Beauty Denied Trio have been joined by an angelic outcast. She has tried really hard to fit in with all of the other angels, but always seems to fall short. Her wings are tattered, her hair is unruly, her jewels are covered in rust, and her aura is in an obvious state of decomposition.
Though she remains optimistic, as the years go by, it becomes more apparent that she will never quite measure up to the expectations of others.
Her true gift is that she never fails to try, to give it her all, and to think of the needs of others. She will work herself weary, but she will never be what they want her to be. She will forever remain an Angelic Outcast.............

Hearts from my hubby......

My husband has created a heart for me in a most unconventional manner for him. Isn't it wonderful? My family has really jumped in to support my heart challenge. They don't always understand me, but they always have my back!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Empty Nest Once More

My Trevor left for school again this afternoon and with him he took a big chunk of my heart. I enjoy his company so much when he is home and miss him terribly when he leaves.

Trevor is premed and when he heard about my heart challenge, he decided to draw his own personal representation of the human heart.

Thank you Trev! While you are slaving over those books, remember how much we love you and support you.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Inspire Me Thursday - Sweet Agony

This piece came together very quickly and was so much fun. I always wanted to do something with the pear shape. I also love this rubber stamp by The Uptown Design Company @ It is called "Contemplation-Time to Fly" I've always thought of it as a fairy in agony. Not sure why? The sweet, of course, refers to the pear. I just looked at the whole thing and that title came to mind. Maybe I was thinking about the fact that I have to go back to work soon, and yet I am grateful for having a job - thus, sweet agony!
By the way, I used the advice sent to me about using a scanner to capture the glitter on this piece. I do think it shows more but my husband is also going to implement the advice for taking a photo of it angled in the window. We've just had rain for days here, and I didn't want to wait to post :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lemonade out of lemons.......

I mentioned earlier that I had attended an education conference this summer. Though the conference was well done, it was really geared for those just entering the field of education. After 32 years, I found it to be lacking in new information. While dieing of boredom on the last afternoon, I hear the speaker say that she is going to be handing out prizes at the end of the session. Considering the uninteresting subject she was covering, I thought that was a brilliant move to keep her audience from drifting out the door.

The first name pulled from the basket was mine. Wow! I never win anything and here I was the first name called. I was excited, maybe the two days hadn't been a complete loss! What would I win? A new professional guide, the latest children's book? When the nice lady handed me my prize, I couldn't believe it.

It was a 5x5x5x5 square block of wood, the kind that fence posts are made of. The block had been painted black and had clear plastic credit card sleeves attached to four sides. The idea was to slip concept cards (such as letters, numbers, math facts etc. ) into the sleeves and to have students roll the block like dice. Student would then be required to solve the fact or produce a word beginning with the letter sound etc.

Cute idea, been done a million times and usually with far less dangerous materials than this ginormous hunk of wood :) All was not lost though! I saw the wood and immediately knew what I was going to do with it! Meet "Carbon Footprint". My answer to two days of lectures on fairly redundant information. Recycle, reuse, repurpose...........

Monday, August 24, 2009

Living the Dream

I named this collage, "Living the Dream" tongue in cheek. Now, reflecting back on the morning I've had, it seems appropriate to feature it in my blog today! It was on of those mornings, where by 10:30 I had already dealt with my son's car needing over 1000.00 worth of repairs, my girlfriend calling with unsettling news about her latest mammogram, and my Weeping Cherry tree out front giving up the fight to live. Obviously the mammogram takes top priority to my issues, but it just makes you wonder why tough things seem to come in waves. Even now, as I am sitting here writing out my blog, I look down to see that my newly pressed blue shirt somehow got covered in bleach when I did a load of laundry earlier!
My girlfriend will be fine, my credit card will handle the car repairs, and my oldest has offered to cut down the tree. The blue shirt has now become a new painting shirt (you can't have enough of those) and tomorrow will be another day. After all, I am currently "living the dream"......... right? :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hearts have arrived!

I posted a request (challenge) a few days ago asking bloggers to help me on a journey to deal with the loss of my mother and to explore the connection between the brain and the human heart. Jocelyn from London sent me the attached hearts in answer to my challenge. I particularly love the apples! Thank you Jocelyn!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

United at Last

I finally finished the third member of my Beauty Denied trio. I actually think this one is my favorite. She is the little sister and has a certain delicacy about her. One of the things I really like about the way these three turned out is the plaster-like look of their skin. It's a technique I use that combines tissue paper (must be natural colored paper), gel, dry brushed gesso, and vintage paper. I love the way this looks. The finish reminds me of ancient Greek statues.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inspire Me Thursday Challenge

I have decided to try my hand at challenges! This has truly been a summer of firsts for me. The challenge was to represent a cupcake. I really like the way my cupcake turned out but I have one question. Does anyone have a technique for showing glitter on a photo? My cute cupcake, entitled "Go Big or Go Home" (which is clearly my philosophy in all things: witness my children), has some really scrumptious glitter on it in all the right places. I'm not sure that it showed clearly on the picture. If you have some advice for me, please let me know! Off to do weekly shopping. Cupcakes, hmmmmmmm............

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I have a request........

Have you ever had thoughts swirl around in your mind, stay there for some time, and eventually link up so that they begin to make sense to you? A couple of things have prompted me to ask this question:

1) A book by Noah Scalin, Skulls

2) The death of my mother

Mr. Scalin announced on his website,, that he would be creating a skull a day out of a variety of materials for a year. He subsequently created and received enough skulls to publish a book and receive the Webby People's Voice Award in 2008. I purchased the book and have since been fascinated with the idea of creating a specific, recognizable shape out of a variety of materials. I don't have the ability or time it would take to create something every day for a year (I do have a day job :) and am more intrigued by the process than the schedule.

How does all of this relate to the death of my mother? Losing my mother was the first true experience I've had of losing someone close to me. For the first time, I knew what was meant by the concept of having a broken heart. It's made me ponder the existence of a soul, the ability of organic organs (such as the heart) to feel, the relationship between parents and children, the correlation between thought, emotion, and function, the pain of loss, and in short - the workings of the human heart. What causes the actual organ to feel pain that is caused by emotional responses rather than physical assault?

I'm not pretending that I will be able to find answers to these questions, but I do think that I will eventually be able to come to terms with the mysteries that lie within. Art always helps me to work through any inner struggles I may have.

OKay, now to my request: I would like to explore the shape of the human heart. I would like to look at both the organic shape as well as the iconic shape. I intend to explore this concept in as many mediums as possible and I am asking that my readers participate in this endeavor. Whether you consider yourself to be an artist or not, I know that you all have artistic souls. Create from that place inside of you that understands the loss of a loved one and/ or the questions of how we feel the things we feel. I am looking for any and all representations of the human heart. Please help me on this journey.

Patti Pfaendtner

47624 Valley Forge

Macomb, MI 48044

*email is listed above for sending attachments :)

Variation on a Theme...

I told you this was my favorite quote! I actually made this mixed media (wood blocks, canvas, found objects, vintage photo) before the ATC card celebrating the same line delivered by Nathan Lane.

The small vintage picture in the center of the composition represents a great find I made three years ago. My husband and I were combing through a local antique shop when I came across a sandwich bag stuffed with small photos. The pictures were the kind that must have been lovingly carried around in some one's wallet. They were worn and faded. Many of them had been cut out along the individuals body lines. Some of the 25-30 pictures were hand tinted! I have used these photos over and over and am profoundly grateful to the original owner for inadvertently leaving them in my custody.

The lady pictured in this collage is one of my favorites. She has a real devil-may-care attitude that dares the conservatives of the time to question her joy for life. What better symbol for "needing a splash of color"?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


My talented but very busy husband has finally had a chance to photograph some of my newest work! I've been in a creative frenzy this month and I couldn't wait to see how some of it looked on my blog.

The first thing I would like to share is my latest contribution to "The Swap". Our theme was famous movie quotes. Well, my favorite all-time movie is "The Birdcage"! I love both versions, but my true love is the newest one starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams. My boys love to quote movies they are fond of. They will have whole conversations that make absolutely no sense to me because they are quoting entire paragraphs from the script of some movie! Well, though I've enjoyed many movies over the years, I don't have the memory required to quote each one of them. There are two exceptions to this lack of ability on my part; "The Birdcage" and "Independence Day". I love both shows and can quote from them with pride!

When we set the theme for the swap, I knew I wanted to do something with "The Birdcage". The question was, which one? There are so many wonderful quotes associated with that movie. One of my favorites is spoken by Nathan Lane. He has just made an attempt to dress as a traditional male in order to fool his adopted son's in-laws to be. Dressed all in black pinstripe, he crosses his legs to enhance the masculine persona. As he does this, he reveals a bright pair of fuschia colored socks. His partner, Armond, asks him about the socks and he says, "Well, one does need a splash of color". I don't know why, but that line cracks me up every time! My ATC is an attempt at representing the idea of a "splash of color". It also contains a photo of Nathan Lane that has been stylized in Photo Shop. In the middle of the night, I sat straight up in bed and realized that I wanted to send the ATC in a birdcage to complete my tribute to the movie.

Hope you like it, and hope Veronica is happy with it :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Joy of the Swap!

I have been engaging in an ATC (Artist Trading Card) Swap this summer with a friend I met online. Veronica is from Virginia Beach and has generously agreed to introduce me to the world of swapping! I was very intimidated at first. I had never really done an ATC and wasn't sure I could work on such a small surface. My collages are always larger and often multidimensional. The smaller substrate is a challenge for me. I actually feel as though I have been cheating a little bit because I found ATC sized canvases! The dimensional quality of the canvas fell within my comfort zone.

With each additional swap, my confidence has grown in small increments. I attended a conference today that included a discussion about the "Zone of Proximal Development". It is an older concept, generally applied to instructional strategies used with students. The premise is that we have a level of mastery in any particular task we attempt that we can confidently work in without support (for example, I can drive my car with a fair amount of confidence and mastery). Then, there is a level that we can function in with "some" support (for example, I can operate the TV remote as long as one of the males in my family is nearby ready to answer my questions should I get stuck). And then there would be the level that is beyond our reach without a great deal of intervention and support (I do not understand my husband's version of Photo Shop and cannot do the simplest task on there without him sitting right by my side).

That was a long winded way of saying that I feel I am in the "with some support" range right now with regards to ATCs. The wonderful thing about swaps is that the participants tend to raise the bar for each other which each exchange. It's a great way to stretch and challenge yourself.

I'm loving the experience and I've included pictures of Veronica's ATC cards. Aren't they great?! I would also like to provide a link to her blog. I will attempt to do this with out additional "support", but there are no guarantees!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Feather Your Nest...........

Isn't that what we all strive to do? I spend much of my at-home time arranging and rearranging my environment; moving things from one place to another. There's a similarity between my movements around the house and that of our backyard birds friends. The hawk family is particularly industrious in rearranging the twigs that make up their nest. Each day I find little piles of branches lying on the ground beneath their home. I've included one of their twigs in this piece.

I've started incorporating more fabric into my collages. I like the contrasts between the fabric, paper, and wood. I also enjoyed using some bead work to "feather my nest".
This one was fun!