Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dia de los Muertos...........

What a wonderful holiday!  Lots of color, music, and light celebrating the souls of those who have gone before us!  I find it much more acceptable than wearing all black and feeling sad (that's not to say I haven't done both, but the Day of the Dead approach is what I aspire to!) :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Doll Hospital...................

Tis the season!  I'm doing a show this weekend with a decidedly "Day of Dead" / Halloween theme.  I found some really creepy doll pictures, an old grocery box, shutter slats, the metal siding of a vintage wash board, rusty metal, and raggedy jute twine and turned it all into a doll hospital from the
dark side :)

Monday, September 26, 2011


One of  my favorite themes revolves around the observance of Day of the Dead.

Wikipedia Definition: People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

I love the humor associated with this celebration!  The holiday embraces all of the things that I hold dear, respect for the past, respect for family both present and deceased, creativity, vibrant color, and humor.  I have often used skeletal images in my art work and since learning of D of D, I feel as though my fondness for these images has come full circle.  An upcoming art show in Ferndale will focus on my D of D art.  Some people find my work to be "creepy" or "Tim Burton-like" (an honor of course).  I'm hoping to spread the word about this annual observance, to gain understanding and to encourage others to learn about this wonderfully rich tradition.

The following are some excellent websites that will provide basic information about The Day of the Dead tradition:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Learning Curve..............

With every new endeavor, there is a learning curve, right?  Well my fledgling art business has sent me a few whopping curves this summer.  Instead of frustrating me though (okay, maybe I've been a little frustrated) I'm looking at each encounter as an opportunity to grow.  Most of that isn't true but sounded like something I should be saying. 

Case in point:  I have been blessed with a small following of fans in Australia, a continent that I have longed to explore and hope to someday cross off of my bucket list.  My Australian followers are supportive and kind and wonderful.  The Australian postal system, however, not so much!!! One lovely follower ordered a piece I assembled called "The Condo".  I love this piece and was very proud to send it to her.  The problem?  The piece is 24 inches high.  Thus began my three month sojourn to the post office.  It's not that my post office is so very far away, it's just that I made the trip a total of eight times.  Each time I went, the postal worker would tell me that the postage rate was more than the last time I came.  The hoops I had to jump through were unbelievable and ended with a postage due of 783.00!!  Truly NOT worth it for my artwork!  By the time I had to return the box to my vehicle for the eighth time, I was in tears. My follower, however was not to be daunted.

She then suggested that I disassemble my piece and pack it into a smaller box (the box size, not the weight being the primary problem with the postal system).  Now I'm a nervous wreck.  Take it apart?  I had worked quite hard to ensure it's never coming apart when I initially constructed the piece.  To make  long story short, that is exactly what I did. It then packed in a much smaller container and off it went to Australia.  Four weeks later, I received an email from my customer who exclaimed it had arrived intact and was already assembled and sitting on her table.  Heavy, heavy sigh of relief!!!!!!!  Again, a huge learning curve but one I am truly grateful for having experienced :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lynne Whipple Workshop

I was fortunate enough recently to take a workshop conducted by nationally known mixed media artist Lynne Whipple.  Lynne and her husband (an outstanding artist in his own right) held a collage workshop in downtown Ann Arbor last week hosted by Found (a wonderful little shop in Kerrytown which specializes in art and found objects just waiting to be turned into art). 

My art journey in recent years began with collage and eventually evolved into assemblage.  I signed up for the workshop in an attempt to return to my roots.  I wanted to revisit the techniques I had used in early journals and collage efforts.  This is a particularly turbulent time in my life as my son is shortly getting married and I have been hip deep in launching my art business.  I thought that a lovely collage course taught on a sunny Saturday afternoon in one of my favorite cities would be soothing for my stressed soul, a balm to my raw emotions sorta speak.......

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong.  Ms. Whipple's techniques along with the persistence of her talented husband had me so on edge by noon, that I nearly use the lunch break to jump in my car and go home!  

The problem? The techniques being taught to me were so far out of my comfort zone, that I became increasingly agitated.  I had a beautiful collage assembled on canvas.  It was well composed, interesting, and whimsical.  In short, it was exactly like many other pieces I have made over the years.  Once I had completed it, the peace and calm I had achieved while pulling it together was instantly shattered.  John Whipple came to my table and instructed me to edit my collage by painting over most of it with white paint!  What? Cover my collage?? He then took particular interest in me as he sensed my reluctance to "let go" of the tried and true.  Each time I tried something new at his insistence, he would come over and challenge me to do something else.  A soothing balm? not even close!  But, a wonderful, frightening, agitating, exhilarating experience? Absolutely!  Thank you Lynne and John!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rust Belt Market................

Well, I had my first market showing this weekend.  I was so nervous!  It's been a year since I decided to retire from teaching and embark upon an art career.  The year was fraught with ups and downs, including financial adjustments, empty nest syndrome, a house fire, and a total remodel.  Two studios later, I was finally able to spend two solid months creating and finding my creative voice.  Though I've received positive feedback from family, friends, gallery exhibits, and my contemporaries at Loving Mixed Media,  this past weekend was my first public exposure to all I've done. 

The most rewarding part of the whole experience, was the feedback I received from the artisans working the same market.  It was so rewarding to meet other artists who understood me and appreciated my work.  They were encouraging and supportive.  In addition to that, they bought lots of my stuff!  I would say that the public opinion was overwhelmingly positive as well.  I did receive four comments that I took the time to write down because I found them amusing:
  • "Oh wow! This stuff is soooo creepy.....but in a sweet way!"
  • "Ooooh, this is totally morbid......but cool ...I guess"
  • "This all reminds me of Tim Burton and Beetlejuice!"
  • "Oh wow!  I'm really creeped out here"
These four comments were definitely in  the minority, so I didn't take offense.  At the end of the second day, a gentleman came and spent a great deal of time looking at everything I had done and then he very quietly came over to me and said, "I really like all of the decisions you've made" and then he walked away!  I thanked him and said that was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me!  I know he was referring to my art, but it almost felt like a very cosmic affirmation of the decision I had made to pursue art at this point in my life.  It was very cool................

The above piece was sold at the market to a woman celebrating her tenth year free of breast cancer.  She loved the sense of Hope in my piece, what an extraordinary compliment!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In the garden...........

One of my favorite things about this medium (assemblage) is the journey.  I love walking around my garage, my garden, or my art room looking at all of the bits and pieces that I (along with my family and friends) have collected with an eye towards putting them to use in a future project. On days when I am very lucky, something will jump out at me (though I may have passed it many times before without a similar reaction) and I will know exactly what to do with it.

I have often heard people refer to their "muse".  I'm not sure what that means, but I will say that something definitely comes over me when I look at a piece of discarded metal or a block of wood and realize that it is the "perfect" fit for the piece I am working on at the time.  Is that what a "muse" is?  

My brother recently told me that he can't figure out how I come up with my ideas.  He loves my work but having come from the same gene pool is at a loss as to where I get my inspiration from. I can only pray that it continues to guide me as I love what I do and would be bereft if the "muse" ever left for good.  The above piece, "In the Garden" is assembled with broken garden fixtures, vintage door handles, exotic wood, flea market doll head, old faucet handles, and found wire.
PS  I will be showing my work at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale this weekend!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Backyard Diva............

My wonderful son is working on a landscaping crew this summer.  They are responsible for clearing vacant and abandoned lots in a rather large city near us.  Within a week of beginning this job, my son had every member of the landscaping  crew (including the owner) picking up trash for his mother.  Soon, I received crates full of rusted metal, discarded landscaping materials, and even broken toys.  While some of the members of my son's crew may not completely understand why his crazy mom wants this stuff, they have been more than willing to join the cause!

The above piece is a tribute to my son and his work friends.  It is composed of rusted metal, discarded landscape materials, acrylic paint, and found wire.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Out of Time.........

My mother had a bucket list.  It wasn't lengthy, but there were certain things that she wanted to accomplish during her lifetime.  She wanted to learn a variety of languages and she did. She wanted to travel around the globe and she did.  She wanted to excel at golf and well ....she gave it a good effort. In her 76th year, my mother decided to jump out of an airplane.  In August of that year, she went skydiving with my then 18 year old son while her more cautious daughter videotaped the adventure from the ground. 

Mom's next plan was to go up in a hot air balloon. However, shortly after her airplane experience, my mother was diagnosed with terminal second hand smoke lung cancer.  Throughout her treatments and courageous battle to beat this horrific disease, mom talked about going up in a balloon "as soon as she grew stronger".  She never did and almost a year to the day of when she jumped out of a plane, my mom died.

Following her funeral service, I handed each family member a helium balloon to which I had attached pictures of mom.  Following a short prayer, we let the balloons go and gave mom her hot air balloon ride.   The piece above is dedicated to my mom............. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

All Hail.........

From Buckingham Palace, to a street corner in the projects everyone wants their own little piece of the world...their own little fiefdom.  Maybe it's because life so often feels completely out of control.  I sometimes wake up wondering just what the day has in store for me.  

To quote my favorite book of the month, "who is in charge and do they love me?" Will my experiences today be positive or negative ones?  Where will I find myself at the end of the day?  WILL I find myself at the end of the day? The unexpectedness of it all is, of course, what makes life worthwhile.

Who wants to know exactly what will happen each day.  Humans like an air of mystery.  We like surprises too...well some surprises :)  A steady diet, however, of unpredictability can wear a body down.

Once more, I'm calling for some middle of the road time.  A few predictable days a week would be nice.  A calm ordinary day without surprises would be welcome. A day in which I am totally in charge of what happens to me and mine would be outstanding.  A small piece of the world for however brief a time where I could stand tall and proudly proclaim that at this moment and at this time I am the Queen of my existence would be freaking amazing.  All Hail Queen Patti.....................

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Social Network at it's best.............

I have mixed feelings about the social network. 

On the one hand, you hear wonderful stories about its potential to empower people who may not have a voice under different circumstances.  Take for example the recent situation with Delta airlines and returning military soldiers (who were charged a ridiculous amount of money for bringing four bags home from their deployment instead of three), or the stories that come out of repressed regimes where ordinary citizens have been given the opportunity to unite against an unfair system of government. Closer to home, there are everyday stories of friends and relatives who have been reconnected after years of separation through the magic of YouTube and Facebook.  
On the other hand, we know of several government officials who most likely regret exposing their private lives to a world wide network standing in the wings ready to exploit any sign of weakness or fragility. (What were they thinking?)  

Does the social network merely add to the continuing erosion of our privacy and civil liberties?  Or is it a useful tool designed to connect an ever shrinking society?  I suspect, that like many things that at first seem too good to be true, it's a little bit of both. 

I know I certainly continue to use it to promote this blog, Artful Musings and my business, Legacy Mixed Media.  The above piece pays homage to a simpler time when social networking actually referred to people speaking with one another...face to face............

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bright Ideas

Lake Orion Art Center puts on a really nice show each spring called Recycled Art Show.  Art pieces created with re-purposed and recycled  materials are featured.  This is my third year in the show.  It's an adorable venue and I really enjoy going out there for this event.  The above work is currently on display at the Orion Art Center.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When life hands you leftovers................
As a result of over planing for the  wedding shower I recently threw for my future daughter-in-law, I found myself with an excess number of glass bottles when all was said and done. Utilizing E6000, vintage rulers, wings by Tim Holtz, a frozen Charlotte doll, and a variety of scrap papers/materials, I created an interesting new home for my pussy willows :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Cleaning..........

As always, the  season of spring brings me to thoughts of rebirth, home, family, and flight. My sweet little bird in this project has a colorful history.  For those who have been following this blog for a while, the first completion of this bird resulted in my Mugsy Moo puppy biting its head off.  I then created another head for him with paper clay and had just finished it when my art studio burned down.  While digging through the rubbish, I found little bird charred and scarred but not completely destroyed.  He has now been reconstructed for the second time and I believe he has found his final home complete with mailbox :)  Everyone needs a little fun and whimsy in their lives..............

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day of the Dead Fairies!!

Doesn't Spring just bring out the whimsy in everyone?!  I love these fanciful characters!

Monday, April 11, 2011

To Fly or Not To that the question?

Here I am approaching Spring and once more my art tends towards birds and eggs.  New birth, new life.  

I am in the process of figuring out what my new life is going to look like. My early retirement is supposed to be about new beginnings. I periodically think about returning to teaching but wonder if that's my way of playing it safe.  I like working on my art but realize that I need to do more to round out my life.  I need to take classes or volunteer somewhere.  After all, art is a reflection of the way an artist sees the world around her/him. The walls of my home are becoming a little too confining.  So, the question remains,  to fly or not to fly?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happily Here After

An Homage to Michael Demeng:
I spent the last couple of weeks pouring over Michael Demeng's latest book!  He is amazing. I wanted to try some of his techniques on my pieces.  I have always had a thing for "Day of the Dead" paraphernalia and love using skulls in my work. Demeng's style also incorporates skulls as he has a great connection to Mexico in his work.  Here is my tribute to Demeng!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bearer of Wisdom........

"With age comes wisdom", isn't that what they say?  Well,  I keep getting older, but I sure don't feel any wiser!  There are days, in fact, when I'm sure my brain cells are shrinking rather than swelling with wisdom. One thing is certain, though.  I find myself thinking about those things that as a young mother I didn't have the time to ponder.  I'm more introspective now that I've retired.  I think about my family, my friends, and those things in life that are worth dwelling on.  I also spend less time worrying about the minutia of daily living. 

It all started with a revelation my friend Nancy shared with me after I retired.  She informed me that she doesn't shower every single day!   You see, after two months of freedom from work, I was still getting up every morning to shower and do my hair!#@! Not shower?? What a concept!   

Once I contemplated that idea, I moved on to other "truths" I had adhered to over the years.  This is what I came up with:   The floors don't have to be clean enough to eat off of (that's what plates are for), the dusting can be done in preparation for company - not every flipping week, and the only person who will be annoyed if the bed isn't made every day is me...and I don't care anymore! 

Hey, maybe that's what they mean by "wisdom comes with age"!  Maybe wisdom doesn't have to be on the same level as developing the theory of relativity.....maybe it's just the wisdom to leave the damn bed unmade from time to that case, I'm golden!!!  The above collage is dedicated to Nancy for opening my eyes ...............

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Crying on the Outside.....................

Sometimes being a clown isn't all it's cracked up to be (no pun intended).  This little guy is sad.  Not sure why, but he certainly isn't enjoying his time at the big top!  This assemblage was made with a chess board circa 1973 (which doesn't seem that long ago to me as that's when I graduated from High School), deconstructed doll, wire, and decorative paper....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


We have a new associate priest at church.  God Bless him but he is the most boring, negative, depressing speaker ever!  I know he's new and he will find his groove, but in the meantime, I have found myself using his sermon time as a time for reflection on my art work.  Two weeks ago, during a particularly grueling speech, I cleared my mind and asked for inspiration.  The word "exultation" immediately flew into my brain and was followed by a complete image of what my next art piece would be.  I have to tell you, I'm not a very "religious" person. I've never experienced the kind of comfort from church that others have.  This moment of inspiration brought to me inadvertently by a struggling public speaker was as close to a spiritual experience as I've ever had.  I also seldom know what my work is going to look like before it's completed, another anomaly.  Here she is, "Exultation".....

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I spent six uninterrupted hours in the art studio yesterday! I just received a book in the mail written by Michael Demeng.  I am a huge fan of his.  His off the wall style and penchant for storytelling speaks to me in a way that is difficult to explain.  I know there are those that feel his style is strange, but I love it!  The art work I will be displaying in the next few days, is an homage to his work :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ahhhhh, here comes the sun!

I entered my studio this morning to a very welcome sight.  The sun is shining through my new windows!  What a glorious beginning to the day.

If you don't live in Michigan, it is impossible to describe the feeling of waking up on March 1st and seeing the sun shine through your bedroom window.  A loyal Michigander is always quick to defend our climate to outsiders by saying, "We LOVE the change of the seasons! We wouldn't have it any other way!"  But let's be honest.  Right around now, the end of February, the beginning of March that change of season cannot come fast enough!  It isn't necessarily the cold, and though this year enough is enough, it isn't necessarily the snow.  For me, born and raised in this great but deeply troubled State, it is the lack of SUN!  We face five sometimes six months each year of gray, cloudy days.  Oh there is the occasional brilliantly blinding sunny day that turns the now tiresome snow into sparkling diamonds but they are few and far between.  

The worst part of working full time for me was driving to work in the dark and returning home in the dark. Despite the best efforts of daylight savings time, the sun sets early in the north and we spend our days in darkness.  If you are lucky enough to have windows in your place of work, you look out at gray cloudy skies then drive home in the dark.  There is a marked difference in the way people behave in Michigan when the sun is shining.  Endorphins are flying, people are smiling, manners return, and police officers enjoy days of ticketing ebullient drivers excited to have dry pavement and bright skies for a few hours.

I am looking forward to a very productive day with the sun as my inspiration.....................

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Another Just For Fun Challenge this week:  Angel Wings
My contribution is called "Humility".........
I hope you enjoy it :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And Sometimes We Have to Make a Living!

A friend of mine is getting married in April and has asked me to make a wish box for her guests.  having been out of the wedding circles for a number of years now, I had no idea what she was talking about.  Luckily (as you can imagine) there are about a billion websites devoted to wedding stuff.  After some research, I realized what my friend was talking about and this is what I came up with for her.......

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sometimes Silly is Enough!

I often feel as though I should narrow my artistic efforts into a specific genre.  It's almost always collage,, and assemblage, but I am sort of developing my own "style" or "voice".  Sometimes, however, I just want to have fun and slap things down as the mood strikes!  This piece is the  result of a very silly mood.......

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Little Angels

Just For Fun Challenge....... Wings of a Bug!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Life is a Gift

I've heard that tragedies come in sets of threes.  I don't know about you, but there have been many times in my life when I've stopped counting!  Sometimes sad news travels in packs of three, sometimes as singular occurrences, and sometimes the bad times seem to just keep on rolling with no regard for the "three" rule.  It's at times like these that one can easily slide into a "the world sucks" mode. 

I find myself guilty of this from time to time.  It doesn't take much effort to give in to the temptation of feeling down and believing that life is all about sadness.  It takes a great deal more effort to remember the things that are good and precious about our existence.  

Our family, our friends, and our dreams, those are the things we need to focus on and remember when that old sadness comes creeping in.  It's important to believe that life is a gift.........
Chocolate helps too :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Sometimes we have to reach beyond our demons to find peace .................

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


While sitting through a sermon in church two weeks ago, I drifted into thoughts of frustration over the artist block I had been experiencing since moving back into the studio.  I just wasn't happy with what I had come up with thus far.  Suddenly, a word flashed into my mind that I don't think I had ever used in my life. "Supplication"  On the heels of that word, the picture of a  complete art piece formed in my mind by the end of the sermon.  Miracle of miracles, the piece actually turned out the way I had imagined it!  It feels good......

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nesting Beauty

My little nesting beauty is gazing through the window wondering what lies on the other side.......

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Royal Prince

One method I use to break through an artistic block is journaling, and another method is creating decorative boxes.  I enjoy taking a variety of materials, developing a theme, and converting a plain wood box into something that's fun to look at.  It's a great way to use up some of the stacks of art paper I find difficult to pass up when I shop.  It's also a nice confidence booster. 

The box shown here displays a tag with the image of a young man on it.  The photo is vintage and I just love the expression on his face.  Imagine having that kind of confidence at such a young age!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Texture on Canvas

Canvas with acrylic paint, spackle, texture, collage.............Doesn't she just crack you up?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Journaling on Canvas Continued.....

This was the first canvas I attempted when the art room reopened.  I love the concept of windows and thinking about the unique distinctions between what individual observers see when they look out.  When we lived in the hotel, I became aware of the impact the view from my window had on me.  The room we stayed in was comfortable.  We ha a kitchen, our dogs, a television, and eventually a computer...all the comforts of home :)  But when I sit here on my own couch and look out the window, I see the beautiful pines in my backyard.  Yes, they are covered with snow and being the cold weather wimp that I am, I will most likely not actually interact with those pines for several more months.  But the sense of contentment I feel gazing at them from my window is beyond description when compared with the feeling of despair the asphalt parking lot evoked as seen from my perch in the hotel.  What lies beyond your window?  and how does it make you feel?.............

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Journaling on Canvas

I do a monthly art swap with my friend Veronica.  We met on line and have been friends for two years.  Each month or so we take turns choosing a theme for our swap and this month the theme is "small canvas utilizing texture".  I decided to combine the canvas challenge with journaling as an exercise in bringing my creativity back up to speed.  While the art "room" is fully operational, my art "brain" has remained on post fire hiatus. I did a series of three canvases utilizing spackle, modeling paste, acrylic paint, and stamps.  I love this little girl's straw hat......

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fully Operational

Yesterday was my first full day back in the newly created studio! What with the holidays and moving back into the house, it's taken me a while to get in here.  I have to admit though, my re-entry has been partially due to procrastination.  With my old studio, everything I put into it was comfortable, familiar, and repurposed.  Though I only had the studio for three weeks, it was created by the culmination of many years of anticipation of the day that I would be able to move in to the room.  My new studio is beautiful, complete, and BRAND NEW.  The atmosphere is one of fresh paint, lingering fire smell, and new carpeting (by the way, I hate my new carpeting).  With the holidays over, I had to force myself to come up here yesterday and spend the day playing with my materials.  I managed to pull off three canvases that are in various stages of completeness.  I still don't feel as though I'm working in my own skin (if that makes any sense) but as I make more of a mess with my mediums and papers, it's becoming more like my environment.  I do have to come up with a solution for the fire smell, it's giving me a headache and strangely causes my ears to plug up as though I'm riding in an airplane.  I'm not complaining, please believe me.  I'm so blessed to have gotten my space back.  It will just take the meantime, I'm sitting here waiting for inspiration.........
PS  No idea what the strange color bar across this old painting is...too tired to rescan