Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tidying Up Before I'm Off to Vegas!

I can't believe it's been a week since I've posted! I've been very occupied with family get togethers and preparing for my big show, which starts Monday. I'm all about gift cards these past few weeks!

But I needed a break from my lovely new catalogue and my BEAUTIFUL new cards! I continue to be astounded at the quality and magic of the printing press. I just can't believe I did it all myself!

I've been searching and searching this whole month for just the right little zipper bag for Michelle Ward's Crusade No. 17 - A Traveling Visual Journaling Kit. To my delight, last week, I found the perfect bag at my gym's boutique - but they were super expensive - and being the total cheapskate that I am, left them in the boutique. Well, it pays to be a cheapskate, 'cuz today they were ON SALE for 50% off! Hurrah! So, of course, I did what every woman would do, I bought two.Aren't they cute? I really don't plan on having a lot of time to journal on the go. These days, I hardly have time to go to the bathroom. So, my kits are fairly bare bones:

glue stick

Jet Pens brand gel pens in black, white, gold, and red

regular pen


prismacolor oil pastels (one of my fav things ever)

pair of scissors

Yah, I know. Seriously bare bones. But that's what it's got to be these days. Maybe when the baby is in preschool I will add to the kit. I'm just glad I got it in right under the wire!

Also, I've been up to a commissioned collage. As if I didn't already have enough on my plate - but I just couldn't say no, especially because I knew exactly what I was going to do. So, I thought I'd share the process of this collage. I think it's the biggest size I've ever worked on, and I must say, I'm loving it! Here's the first two layers:

It looks a little rough, but there's a long way to go. I will share the layers as I go on this blog, to show the progression of the piece, which I expect to take about a month.

The size of the wrapped canvas is 36"x36". I first layered cool looking vintage ads and images from vintage magazines I collect. Yes, I used the real things. These were mostly from vintage Esquire and Liberty magazines. I also added printed tissue papers and sewing pattern tissues. I just like the text, arrows, and images. Some are directly related to issues that my commissioner is having right now. Then, I added some gesso. I also added Titan Buff acrylic paint to sorta help some of the transitions from one paper to the next seem more smooth. It looks like a big mess in this photo, and I can see it needs a little more gesso and some layers of plain tissue paper to smooth out more transitions. I really like where it's going, but it will be sitting in my studio for at least another week while I'm in Vegas!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Do you have an ANT problem?

When we struggle with ourselves, are we our own worst enemy? Our own worst critic? I know I can be. I’m working on solving my ANT problem.

What is ANT?

Automatic (or Angry)
When you dream about a goal, what is the next thing that comes to your mind? Are you having an Automatic Negative Thought? When you think about submitting artwork to be published, do you immediately say to yourself – “my work is not good enough”, or “those real artists are just going to laugh at me”. When you think about your goals for your appearance or weight loss, do you immediately say to yourself – “I’ll never be able to stick to an exercise program”, or “I just have no willpower to say no to sweets”. When you think about starting a business is the first thing you think to yourself – “Who would even like this idea anyway”, or “no one will ever buy this”.

WELL STOP THAT!!! NOW!! You are simply causing your own failure! If you never even try – how will you ever know if you could make it? If you never submit any artwork for publication, I can guarantee you will never get published. But if you do submit, and submit often, you are bound to get published. Maybe not the first time, but perhaps the fifth time. I have a dear friend whose work I had to forcefully take out of her home to submit for publication (she knows who she is!). She said it “sucked”, it “wasn’t good enough”. Guess what happened? That artwork became the spotlight artwork for a certain publication.

If you continue to tell yourself you hate to exercise and can’t stick to a program, guess what – you will continue to have problems exercising. I have to say, that exercising is one of the THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS behind my high energy and positive feelings. I have found things that I enjoy doing – at least most of the time. I don’t always want to go. Yes, I would have much more free time if I didn’t exercise. But, it is a non-negotiable part of my day. I’m not always happy to go, but I sure feel great when I’m walking out the door. I keep reminding myself that.
Don't be a thorn in your own side!

If you never try your business idea, you will never know the success that awaits you. You don’t have to be afraid that someone out there won’t like your idea. Guess what, there will be LOTS of people out there who won’t like your idea. But, it only takes one person who likes your idea to get it started. What’s most important, is that YOU like your idea – in fact, you should LOVE your idea, because to make a business successful, it takes months, and more like years, to bring it to reality. You’re going to be spending lots of time with your idea, so you must be confident and believe in yourself (even if it’s scary or overwhelming at times).

I’ll go back to that quote from my dad:

“Ask, the worst they’ll say is ‘no’. ”.

You really have nothing to loose by asking. If someone says no - you are in the same place you were before. But, you say: “Well, I’ll feel embarrassed!” My response is – your ANT problem is not going to go away with that attitude.

My suggestion to begin getting rid of your ANT problem? Begin each day with saying something positive to yourself. Then repeat it at least 10 times a day. I bet you can even think about 10 different positive things to say to yourself. Do it daily, maybe even hourly. You deserve it. This is just a baby step. We all know that wiping away the ANTS with a wet paper towel doesn’t really get rid of the real, deeper problem, but you have to start somewhere.
Here's me and a friend helping you with your first baby steps.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Seven Nation Army Couldn't Hold Me Back

That is the strength, thought, and effort that I am currently putting into my card business. I started my afternoon on the computer rockin' out to the White Stripes, and they said it for me.I even finished my chunky book page for Art and Soul in Asilomar, which I will be attending this April! I will be looking forward to meeting lots of new people there. Anyone out there attending? The image above shows the front and back of my page. It's actually not all that chunky. I have no actual embellishments on the page, but I did add a little bell on the bottom right corner of the page with a jump ring.

The theme for the book is "Windswept". So, I went with the windswept hair look. I just love the look of my hand-drawn craggly branch (with sharpie) and the fabric leaves from a piece of leaf ribbon, which I managed to find in these three lovely colors while in San Francisco.

But back to business. I am expending serious amounts of energy and time right now. I want to. It's almost all I can think about. It's all I want to do. I dream about my catalogue layout. I'm planning marketing ideas. I'm emailing and preparing packages for potential customers. Big customers. I'm envisioning where I want to be.

If you have no goal, you will never get there. If you have no plans to achieve that goal, you will never find the right road to your destiny. What are you doing to set goals and make plans for what you really want? It doesn't have to be a business - it could be anything. Take baby steps - BUT TAKE THOSE STEPS!! You don't have to know every step on your road at the beginning, because it probably won't be what you thought anyway. But know your goal. Write it down. Then, write down one to three next steps to begin your journey toward that goal. THEN! Take those steps. What do you have to loose?

My dad always used to say: "Ask, the worst they'll say is no." It's so true.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Mission District Map! New Cards Now Available!

Interestingly, I've had quite a few private emails about posting exactly where this totally cool and hip area, known as The Mission District, really is. For you independant mappers, you can find the epicenter at Paxton Gate: 824 Valencia Street @ 19th, San Francisco, CA 94110. Or you can just click this link.
This week has been ridiculously busy, and to top it off, I've been kinda sick. I came home from teaching an altered photos class on Monday night, and literally felt the congestion moving into my head. I've been preparing like a mad woman for my tradeshow in March. Those scientists really need to get crackin' on that cloning thing.
So, within one week, I have put together 10 new gift card holder designs and put together my first, professional catalogue. By professional, I mean, I'll be printing it at a printer, not my home HP. I am still struggling with Photoshop and am having a hard time releasing Publisher as my main design factory. Print shops don't seem to work with Publisher, and converting files to jpgs is apparently "uncool" because sometimes things get screwed up. Converting files to PDFs from Publisher is possible, but not easy or straight forward. What's a girl to do? Yah, that's why I need a clone!
This post has a few of my favorite new designs. I hope you like 'em too. Off they went to the printer yesterday, so, now I officially have everything "in stock".

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sunday in San Francisco

After a tiring day of LOTS of walking, standing, shopping and dancing, I actually managed to get 8 hours of sleep. To you, that might not sound like much, but it’s a lot for me. I don’t have sleep problems; I have problems going to sleep at a reasonable hour.

That morning, my sister took me to a sweet little cafĂ© that I just don’t remember the name of. It was right across the street from a park on one side and The Creamery on the other. After a lovely breakfast of veggie omelet and scone (yes, there seems to be a scone thing in San Francisco) we walked on down to Valencia Street, where it’s all happenin’ in The Mission District.

Our first stop was Paxton Gate. What else can I say about this shop was that it was magnificent, and difficult to describe. Their store description reads: “Treasures and Oddities Inspired by the Garden and the Natural Sciences”. Their postcard also quotes TimeOut Guide: “Martha Stewart meets David Lynch…It’s completely bizarre, and completely unique.” Yah, I’d say so.
Walking into this store was like walking into a classic, 18th century science laboratory slash natural science art gallery of assemblage. Throughout the store are both small and large assemblages of taxidermied and preserved animals (yah, real animals) within a natural vignette. Some are in jars (not so natural…). Can you see the big glass jars behind my sister with the bright red, drippy wax? It’s creepy and beautiful all at once. Wouldn't you love to own that beautiful red bell jar and stand?
I was not allowed to take any photographs of the assemblages, but the store manager was gracious enough to allow me to take some very limited photos around the store, and I am so pleased to share them with you. All the sea creatures you see in the photo above are the real deal, perfectly preserved. The most interesting were the preserved ocean tube plants (the white tube things near the front of the photo).

This store was definitely the highlight of the day, and I can only implore anyone in the San Francisco area to visit and stand in wonder. And, oh yah – buy something!
Yah, those are porcelain mushrooms popping out of these cool little tree boxes. Made of real small tree trunks, the tops of the boxes swing open to reveal a small space inside, perfect for hiding a little nest of eggs, or a texidermied beetle with a little moss.
Right next door is a nonprofit children’s center for underprivileged kids to have a place to go after school. The theme of the center is pirates! Right when you walk in, there’s a big copper tub full of sand and plastic rhinestones. Just perfect to keep the kids busy. I need one of those in my house.
Here is a whole wall of drawers. Each drawer is labeled with a “mysterious” label, enticing you to open it and see what’s inside. For example, one drawer labeled “Enlighten” is filled with candlestick holders. Here’s what was in another drawer. There is also a small covered corner that feels like a mini movie theatre, but it’s really a big fish tank with lots of chairs around to veg-out staring at the fish. There’s a sign just outside stating that no one is allowed to propose marriage within the theatre. In context, it’s funny, ok?

Thrift shops galore! I want these drawers, don’t you?!
Check out the naked babe painting to the left - guess that one snuck in the photo.

Michael de Meng talks about these glove molds in his recent book Secrets of Rusty Things. I can’t believe I saw these at one of the shops.
Another shop I LOVED is called The Curiosity Shoppe.
A true mish mash of lovely and artistic…things…and …stuff…that you just…can’t…live without!

Don’t you agree? Who doesn’t need some white porcelain keys?

or mushrooms?

Or realistic porcelain peanuts? (There is even a small porcelain peanut rattling inside each shell…so cool.
There is a small alley somewhere along Valencia Street, where apparently a group of artists got together to paint murals. In general, there are murals all over The Mission District, but these really got to me. Among the trash and logs of crap (yes, I mean poop) are these beautiful murals. Go there, just watch your step!

This was my favorite:
As my flight time approached, we made one last stop. No trip to the Mission District is complete without having a taco at one of the many taquerias. This one is sisters’ favorite:
Oh my! The chicken soft taco was unbelievably yummy and unbelievably cheap!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Oh - San Francisco!

Can you see that circular rainbow right around the shadow of the airplane? I don't know how common that is, but that rainbow was around that shadow the whole ride up to beautiful San Francisco. It was either an indication of how great my trip was gonna be, or how much it was gonna rain!

Friday afternoon was mostly business. Meeting went great, we'll see what actually materializes. I got to see my two sisters' apartments. They live about two blocks from each other in The Mission disctrict. Very chic and cool. Dinner that night was at a beautiful and tasty Thai restaurant called Osha on Valencia Street. We also happened upon a gallery opening of all kinds of mixed-media art. I simply loved this artists' work:
This piece is called "Sad Girl" by Erin McElroy, and is a scan of the postcard I took from the gallery. It is an image transfer onto found pieces of wood, with acrylic paint. I just love the texture and grain of the wood that also shows through the image transfer. You can see more of this artist's work here.

The next morning, we were off to Berkeley to visit my wonderful friend Peggy. Yah, that chick who won the earrings. Don't hate her, she's super cool. We met in this area called 4th Street, which is on 4th Street (imagine that!) just off University. As you will see, this is a MUST VISIT when in the Bay Area. We started the morning at Betty's Diner on 4th Street. Yum! You get a scone with most breakfasts, which I was totally looking forward to. Then, the waiter comes up to me to tell me THEY ARE OUT OF SCONES! What the eff? He rattles off some other tasty sounding items, and I chose the cinnamon bun. Well, all I can say is, thank God they were out of scones, because I'll be dreaming about that darn cinnamon bun for a long time.

The first store we entered was Castle in the Sky. Oh My. This is an art store. The maniquins in the front window are dressed in beautiful dresses, all handmade from PAPER! Here's a little taste:

Yes, all those clothes are made entirely of paper, german scrap for the trim, doilies for the "lace".

The first thing that caught my eye was this amazing assemblage piece called Pygmy Place. It was about 4 feet long, 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall. Amazing...can you see the little party happening inside the treehouse?

You better believe I got me some of those mushrooms!

Little assemblages everywhere!
All handmade! In the back of the store was an Under the Sea room, with little sandcastle assemblages, and, of course, a mermaid throne for kids to take pictures. Here's one of the sandcastles:This store has one of the most amazing selections of german glass glitter, german scrap,!

There was a truly lovely Japanese paper store, and then this little tea shop and tasting room. Right above the little fountain in the floor is a rain shower head at ceiling height, which is pouring water into the fountain. This is the scene when you walk in the store. I just love the sound of water!

I also loved the big red lantern above the tea bar.

Here's a closer look.

We also perused a great scrapbooking store called Scrapbook Territory. Found lots of goodies for my spraypaint art and ribbon that I have been looking for forever!
There were cool furniture stores, and the ubiquitous Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel. After Peggy and I parted, my sisters and I stopped at Urban Ore on the way back to the city. WOW!!!! The best junque yard ever! I found key holes, old photos, and rusty things galore. Sorry, didn't take photos - too busy shopping! Very reasonable prices too - like $1. Or less.

That evening we had dinner at Red Star Pizza on Mission Street. Think spinach, tomatoes and lots of gooey cheese, or chicken sausage, red peppers and tomato with lots of gooey cheese, all on a crispy, deep, cornmeal crust. Oh yah - it was GOOD! I washed it all down with hard pear cider. My mouth is watering just writing about it!

Then, I pretended like I was in my twenties again, and we went out dancing!!! I haven't been dancing in sooooo long. First we went to The Elbow Room - and lemme tell ya, not much elbow room. Then we went to Little Bow Bow - awesome!! Funky reggae/"world" music with a hip hop twist. Right up my alley. Even less elbow room in there, but I danced and danced.

Being the actual suburban mom, not in my 20s, I pooped out at about 1am, which, is not too bad actually. I have three kids - I need sleep!

Well, that was just Saturday. Sunday was even better! I'll post about that with lots of cool pics later this week! Check back, because you don't want to miss what I saw at Paxton Place...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Climbing My Way Out

It's Tuesday already and I am just climbing my way out of a pile of cards (over 1,000) from orders just over the weekend! As you may or may not know, I spent the weekend in beautiful San Francisco (it was beautiful even though it was raining most of the time), had a delayed flight home, so didn't get home 'till really late, then got buried under orders yesterday. How lucky for me that I also came home to three sick kids who all stayed home from school yesterday, baby with a double ear infection. Oy.
I have unbelieveable, wonderful, fantastical things to share about my weekend in San Francisco, but don't have time to deal with photos today, so it will have to wait another day or so. In the meantime, I at least wanted to get out there the blog candy giveaway for February. Above is a 5x7 piece that I made about a year ago, and the subject matter seems appropriate for February.

Remember, every time you leave a comment, you get your name in Princess Ariel's box for a chance to win! Peggy, your earrings will be on their merry way to you today!

Friday, February 1, 2008

We have our first winner!

And the winner is...

Peggy G!!!

Now, this is really weird, because I am up here in San Francisco visiting my sisters, and I will be seeing Peggy tomorrow. Of course, I had no idea she was going to win, otherwide I could have delivered them personally.

Now, don't go thinking that this was fixed, 'cuz it so wasn't! I'll tell you what happened....This morning was so crazed, getting the kids off to school and finishing packing for my trip, getting ready for this important meeting this afternoon, I didn't manage to pick a name from the box. On the way to the airport, I was stressing to my hubby that I forgot to pick the blog candy winner and post it. He kindly offered to pick a name when he came home from work and text me the winner. Which is what he did. So, I feel pretty good about picking Peggy since I didn't even pick her!

Congrats Peggy! I will mail you your earrings when I return home. I will post February's blog candy on Monday or Tuesday when I return from San Fran.