Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year with Walt Whitman

Song of the Open Road excerpt

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,

I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.)

From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines,

Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that
would hold me.

I inhale great draughts of space;

The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women
You have done such good to me,
I would do the same to you.

I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,

Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.


(The entire text of this lovely poem can be found in multiple places on the web. It creates a pause or space for contemplation of a New Year, a New Decade, a New World.
What do you want to create in the years ahead?)

Love to All, and Peace Be With You.

p.s. I had no idea Whitman was so controversial. Thanks to all who posted comments. I've had my first New Year's education. xoxo (I am sincere in my thanks.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Card Zentangle wishes for you

Here are my Holiday Wishes for YOU. May you know your importance in my life, and may you feel appreciated. You have enriched me in ways you'll never know. I continue to be inspired by each of you, and have learned so much. I'm entering the season with a grateful heart. What better gift is there?
May you be blessed in the New Year


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dyeing for Christmas

You probably need to know the little five-year-old who prompted this project. Jonas is in kindergarten. You might understand more if I say he is the middle child, between two perpetual motion, high-kinetic-energy children. He has hated shoes and socks his whole life, immediately taking them off as soon as he's buckled in his car seat, carrying them into my house and depositing them in the shoe basket at the front door. So, when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, and he answered, "I want some tie-dyed socks, Grams," I couldn't resist. I ordered wonderfully soft bamboo from Dharma Trading, and tie-dyed a family's worth. (If you're in Tennessee, you're invited to place an order, including all white, if you like what you see.)

Now, to show you the youngest constant motion child in the family, you'll see that I couldn't get her to hold still for a photo. These were all taken within one minute of each other. She is 2 1/2 years old, but the clothes are 18 month sizes, so you get an idea of how tiny this little hurricane is. She walks on her tippy-toes, but usually the toes turn under, like a toe-dancer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Peace wishes

Doodling some wishes for Peace during the holidays. What if we kept that word in mind the whole season, and just inhaled PEACE, and exhaled CALM and LOVE. Think of the JOY we would be spreading! May these gifts of the holiday season be yours.
Love to all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No pictures, but plenty of good wishes.

I had to speak today to the Chaplaincy program at St. Mark's Hospital. While pondering about it, I looked up my collection of poetry, and found some Christmas wishes I gave to my friends one year. I tried to write an individualized letter to each of them. So as my gift to you, I'm going to share my wishes of love and good cheer, and hope that you'll receive inspiration from them.
Love to all.


I wish for you Authenticity,
That you may express your true self,
The Divine Being that is connected to the Source
Of Pure Love, Light and Creativity.

I wish for you Joy,
In solitude and silence,
That you may hear the inner music of the spheres,
The rhythm and harmony of life
Expressing itself through you and
Because of you.

I wish for you Rest
From your fears and worries,
Your striving and your concerns,
That you may fully feel your own
Unique aliveness and essence,

I wish for you Play,
That you may dance from your center,
Sing from your heart,
Write from your hopes and dreams,
And know the Artist who lives within.

I wish for you Love,
That you may know your worth and value
And place in the world;
That you may share that knowledge
From your essence, and bring
Peace and healing into the world
Just by being.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sneak Preview-Quilt Gift for Christmas

We have a bit of a Christmas dilemma every year. If I can possibly think of a gift for my DH, I can pretty much guarantee he'll go out and get one 6 weeks before. In all of our married life, I've not been able to surprise him. This year I thought I'd finally come up with an idea. He has confiscated one of the old kid's bedrooms for his multi-purpose room, and I decided to finish a UFO for his newly carpeted, lighted den. Yesterday in the mail, a package from LL Bean--and, you guessed it!! A quilt for his new room. Well, here is a peek of the quilt that was in progress. We'll see who gets it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vaclav Havel, "It is I who must begin.."

Once I begin, once I try
here and now,
right where I am,
not excusing myself
by saying that things
would be easier elsewhere,
without grand speeches and
ostentatious gestures,
but all the more persistently
-to live in harmony
with the "voice of Being," as I
understand it within myself
-as soon as I begin that,
I suddenly discover,
to my surprise, that
I am neither the only one,
nor the first,
nor the most important one
to have set out
upon that road. ...
Whether all is really lost
or not depends entirely on
whether or not I am lost. ...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I believe I am worth the time it takes to create whatever I feel called to create.

I believe that my work is worthy of its own space, which is worthy of the name Sacred.

I believe that, when I enter this space, I have the right to work in silence, uninterrupted, for as long as I choose.

I believe that the moment I open myself to the gifts of the Muse, I open myself to the Source of All Creation and become One With the Mother of Life Itself.

I believe that my work is joyful, useful and constantly changing, flowing through me like a river with no beginning and no end.

I believe that what it is I am called to do will make itself known when I have made myself ready.

I believe that the time I spend creating my art is as precious as the time I spend giving to others.

I believe that what truly matters in the making of art is not what the final piece looks like or sounds like, not what it is worth or not worth, but what newness gets added to the universe in the process of the piece itself becoming.

I believe that I am not along in my attempts to create, and that once I begin the work, settle into the strangeness, the words will take shape, the form find life, and the spirit take flight.

I believe that as the Muse gives to me, so does she deserve from me: faith, mindfulness and enduring commitment.

Now, I, Marie believe that we can all write our own Artist's Creed. I plan on doing that, and publishing it here. I would challenge any reader to contribute their own artist's creed, and I will post a link to yours here, if you desire. And if you believe you are not an artist and don't need a creed, then add your LIFE PURPOSE creed. I'd love to see the blogging world be as inspirational in word and deed as it is in visual appeal.
Happy Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for a place that lets me enjoy my freedom of speech and my right to my opinions.
Love to all.

Jan Phillips is the author of 4 books: Marry Your Muse, The Art of Original Thinking, Divining the Body, and God is at Eye-Level.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No visual images, just inspiring words

Being a lifelong reader, I have always loved beautiful language, so I collect quotes, passages and poems.
Here is food for thought.
May we all enjoy the gift of words.
Happy Thanksgiving!

An object made with love and care can be a thing of beauty, a whole, even when it is imperfect; by contrast, another one, although flawless, can leave us untouched and strike no sympathetic chord.

Is it not substance and meaning that we are longing for in our daily lives? The most wonderful result of our involvement in craft can be this: to stretch the boundaries of the ordinary and add a new colorful dimension to being alive.

True amateurism should not be looked down upon. In times like ours any manifestation of liveliness must be cherished.
all 3 quotes by Franz Zeier, in Books, Boxes and Portfolios

When we make things with our hands we put into them energy which comes from our innermost self. When we see and feel objects which were made by craftsmen long dead I believe we can still sense their energy lying beneath each brush-stroke or sweep of the pen, and we can respond to this energy as much as to the object's surface beauty or ingenuity of design. When we ourselves write we not only communicate information by the choice and sequence of the words; we also reveal something of our inner spirit with every tremor of the hand.
So those marks which remain to us from the very beginnings of man's experiments with the alphabet not only provide us with physical evidence of his ingenuity and skill, but like the handwriting of a friend they are an intimate link with his heart and mind.
Donald Jackson, The Story of Writing

I've been a hard worker all my life, but "most all my work has been the kind that perishes with the usin'," as the Bible says. That's the discouragin' thing about a woman's work...if a woman was to see all the dishes that she had to wash before she died, piled up before her in one pile, she'd lie down and die right then and there. I've always had the name o' bein' a good housekeeper, but when I'm dead and gone there ain't anybody goin' to think o' the floors I've swept, and the tables I've scrubbed, and the old clothes I've patched, and the stockin's I've darned....But when one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren sees one o' these quilts, they'll think about Mama [or Grams], and wherever I am then, I'll know I ain't forgotten.
Mirra Bank, in Anonymous Was a Woman

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gabrielle Fox comes to town

I live in a wonderful place known as the "Crossroads of the West", where incredible international artists visit. This weekend was a book artist who has written a definitive guide for making books, but has a sub-specialty of miniature leather bindings. So, here is my meager attempt to create a miniature leather book. It's hard to tell the size of this, but it's 2 inches by 3 inches....teeny. The leather was pared to paper thinness, which took at least half of the workshop time. The book itself is not what I'm most proud of, but I leaped over a big hurdle and actually CUT UP AND USED my own hand-marbled paper for the end papers. I have hoarded these little marbled gems, afraid to use them up. What made me courageous to try it? The word miniature. I guess that qualifies as a baby step, one necessary to break out of a previous plateau that keeps one stuck. Fear is always a block to creativity. So, in a tiny way, I feel like I've taken one tiny step and one giant leap. Yea!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finally getting the hang of it: Zentangles

You may not know, but I went to the Zentangles "Teacher Certification" retreat, and that's another whole story, or three (i.e. why would anyone need to get certified to doodle? Exactly!)
But after practicing on these little puppies for a month, I'm starting to see some improvements.
It's about time, since I'm supposed to start "teaching" it on Friday. (7:00 p.m. Inner Light Center, Salt Lake City). Anyone who is a "real" artist could do this in her/his sleep, but for me this is a stretch....not the teaching part, but the idea that I could possibly offer an art form. I feel like such an impostor.
Well, here's the rest of the story. I was drawn (pun not intended, but enjoyed) to this particular form because of my background in meditation, relaxation and stress-reduction. This little doodle has the potential to lower blood pressure, calm the mind, remove one from the daily stresses, and increase creativity. There is something quite satisfying to see a design start to emerge. This is what real artists must feel when they see something born from their own imagination. Zentangles are making their way into the mainstream. This month's issue of Cloth Paper Scissors has an article in it, and the web abounds with examples, including YouTube instructions. Lori Vliegen has posted another idea on her fabulous blog here.
The official zentangle website is where you can find professional examples by the promoters of it. Check out the back issues of newsletters.
Try it out. You'll breathe deeper and slower, and move into your day a little calmer....until you get into your car. (smile)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dena Crain's Darned Quilts

Here is a photo of the quilt I made in Dena Crain's class at Quilt University. It's a humble offering compared to what is possible. I was blown away by the fabulous quilts in Dena's Gallery on her website, especially this one. I continue to be amazed by the creativity of everyone, although by now I should just know that the "creativity explosion" is as real as the "technology explosion." LIFE expressing Life. xoxox

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gilded Goldfish Batik Card

Here's the before and after goldfish sent to my grandchildren in Tennessee. I'm sure they would have been just as happy with the before picture, but I'm still practicing my Zentangles, and getting to know the nature of paper batik. While I'm at it, I'll post a Thank you card I'm working on. Everyone in blogland knows how hard it is to reproduce a 2D image that has gold and silver on it. It just doesn't do justice to the real thing.....anyway, that's my excuse. I still think someone will like receiving it. Who doesn't like to be thanked?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More Batik--On PAPER

The two above pieces are 6" x 8", and the ones below have been folded in half, so they measure 4" x 6". Sometimes it's hard to get a visual reference on a blog. Think small.

Still playing with hot wax. A work in progress, as usual.
These greeting cards are made just like fabric batik, with the tjanting tools. They are so much easier, though, because you can just paint the dye on, and no rinsing is needed. There are still a few "halo auras" where the wax shows through, but I'm getting used to them. Overall , there's a lot of possibility here. You might notice drips and splotches which, I have been assured, are desirable (probably for people who are messy and can't help it, and I fit that description).
A renowned calligrapher, Carol Pallesen, came to town for a two day workshop.
As usual, I'm the slow one. My very talented sister-in-law, local artist Kathy English completed many beautiful hand decorated painted designs. These are just a few of the 18 cards I made. As I complete them with designs and embellishments, I will post more.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

TA DA Finished!

I'm pleased to show off the batik project, completed on schedule as planned. I decided to change the blog template so the autumn colors wouldn't clash with the "show-and-tell".
Scroll down to review the backgrounds, so you can compare the results.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Work in progress report

Most artists doing a blog will usually wait until they've finished a project before posting. I, however, want to document progress, and some of you (all 3 of you, ha! ;-) might like to follow along.
So, here is the initial work on my batik projects.
First, I used my leaf cookie cutter to apply the wax. Then I gave it a dye bath in yellow. Next, I waxed some of the leaves to have them remain yellow, then I painted the other leaves with dye and allowed it to dry. You'll notice that some of the dye ran outside of the initial lines, bleeding onto the yellow. I'm not terribly worried (yet), because I will wax the rest of the leaves, and finally I will put it in a brown-ish dye bath to dye the background. We'll see if it works.

I painted these backgrounds with dye,
and then I will wax patterns onto them, overdye them with a darker color (reminiscent of your childhood days, when you used your crayola crayons to color a heavy background, then colored heavily over it with black, then scratched out a design. O.K. Not quite like that, but maybe you get the picture.)
Tomorrow will be the overdyeing day, so will post the finished project Monday.
Happy weekend.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to Batik

I started my creative journey two years ago with Quilt University taking fabric dyeing classes with Marjie McWilliams. I figured without an art background, I could dunk chunks of fabric into colored water and be happy. From there I went on to shibori (tie-dye, basically), which started the hippie hobby. Then I tried batik, figuring I already knew how to dye. Now, I'm taking another batik seminar with Marjie, so you'll have to stay tuned for progress. For now, I'm posting a preview of some things I made last time around. I hope this time I improve.

You know how sometimes you're disappointed with a project when you first see the results? Then you put it in the drawer wondering what to do with it? Then you take it out a year later and are amazed you did it? That's how I feel right now. Wow, "Once upon a time, I made that....."
I'm thinking about quilting the sun face. Now I'm getting courage enough to stitch with fancy threads. Wait for the "rest of the story."

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Art of a Poem

Maybe the original intent of this blog was to post evidence of my hobby/craft, and though I'm a beginner as an "artist" (notice: still in quotations), I think I've always had the heart and soul of one. One hint of this is that I have always loved poetry passionately. It speaks so deeply and so clearly to me. So today's post is not visual, physically, but visual emotionally. Isn't that what art is, to bring into physicality a deep emotion? Poetry does that so beautifully. Thanks to my friend, Paula, for passing along this gem.

by Roseann Lloyd

to sit in your car at the wayside rest
watching the seagulls
high over the water
somehow they're backlit even though
the fog has taken the sun

to be ordinary
to stop and read every sign on the Nature Trail
unashamed of taking this day hike
this easy hike
hard-driving backpackers scorn

to be present to your life
to walk in the green sweetness
of the spring woods

feeling your winter stiffness as you walk
mindful yet not minding
everyone has scars

to be content with what is given
to take in the dusty sun smell on the piney path
new earth released from snow
to say all the names of the wildflowers
knowing they won't stick in your mind tomorrow
mertensia bunchberry blue-eyed grass

to be gentle to yourself
to walk slowly along the creek
watching the sparkle of rocks in water
pink and gold and silver
the rusty color of root beer
to stand like a cow in the mud

to be open to ordinary pleasures
to watch the fat moon rise
over the lake over
the cliff where the cliff swallows fly
to accept the gift of not knowing
before you got here
that the moon would be full.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So much fun for baby.

A friend with a new baby boy came to town, so I made up some little onesies for them. These have some little knit pants in mottled navy to go with them. I hope Tennessee Luke enjoys them. I'm lucky to have friends who let me give away my hobbies.

I'll have more musings to post, after reflecting on Baodad's comment. I've learned a lot and I'll share what I'm thinking.
Dye in Peace.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Getting Unstuck

(Free association: Kurt Vonnegut's most famous first line...."Billy Pilgrim was unstuck in time."
I went to see the Time Traveler's Wife the other night, and it was all about Eric Bana being unstuck in time. This post is not about time traveling.)

I get paralyzed often when I sit down to work on my art. I'm not entirely sure why I sit down, get up, move supplies, rearrange, begin to clean up, sit down, get up, wander around, go away, come back, sit down, rearrange..... you get the picture. In my past lives (this lifetime, many years ago) I accomplished a lot, fearlessly. There was nothing I wouldn't tackle. Now that I have time, there is a fear of.....something....what? stopping me almost before I start. Yesterday, I just decided to do what my mother ALWAYS admonished: "Don't just sit there, DO something."
So, I tried a negative zentangle. Instead of being black ink on white, I reversed it. Remember, a zentangle is only 3 or 4 inches square. This one is 3, so the resolution is a bit vague.
I had some hand dyed fabric I love, got out the acrylic paints, took a deep breath, reminded myself "I am a good person", and went to work. Here are the results, and if I ever find out what I'm going to do with it, I'll post it. Perhaps that is why I get paralyzed....I just don't know what to do with it.

Remember the gelatin monoprinting? I still had the gelatin block (getting pretty dried up), so I spread some paint on with a brayer, and lifted the print with some muslin. What you can't see is the Jacquard Lumiere effects, which add sparkle and glitter, like a metallic sheen. A few of them turned out quite interestingly, although once again, what do I do with it?

I'm experimenting with a lot of techniques, and I guess I must exercise faith that something will come of it. Hope, hope, hope.
If you have any ideas on how to deal with paralysis, please let me know. It's a real time waster.
In the meantime, you can check out the real artists on my blog list.
Go with a happy 'art.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Zentangles for fun

(There are still so many things to learn!! I finally got the scanner hooked up and these images are my first to test out for a blog. Each zentangle above is about 3 inches square. )

So, next month I'm going to Whitinsville, Massachusetts to do the Zentangle workshop. You might be wondering why anyone would need a workshop to learn to doodle. It's a Zentangle Teacher Certification program, but the main reason I'm going is because I needed a mini retreat. I have a friend in Boston I hope to see (Trish, are you reading this?), one of my online teachers (Sue Bleiweiss) is there, and I'd love to meet her and see her work at the Danforth Museum. Also, my very favorite book arts teacher (Barbara Mauriello) is doing a weekend workshop at the Garage Annex School, so I have multiple reasons to go.
Interestingly enough, I had decided to post my zentangles, when I looked at Terri Stegmiller's blog, and she had put one up which included calligraphy, and that addition to the idea pool is terrific. Terri and Sue introduced me to another online workshop called Calligra-Fun, taught by Martha Lever. We worked with Zig Brushable markers and played with easy, free letters.
Here is one of my practice pages.
Most people put perfection on their blogs, but I'm just learning, and I need to document the progress, so I'm putting practice pages here.
The zentangles at the top are my first three attempts at a new meditation form. My intent in doing them was to try each suggested doodle in the very sparse instruction manual (also 3" square). You'll notice Terri's work is much more professional, and she's incorporated many of her own designs. The lettering she has added is from the brushable workshop. You'll notice she's a professional artist.
One of the quotes I practiced is, "YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE GREAT TO START, BUT YOU HAVE TO START TO BE GREAT." So, I'm starting my art journey. I hope you'll come along with me. It's much more fun with friends.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

imprinting--I'm printing

When DeAnn Singh came for a calligraphy workshop a few weeks ago, we did leaf printing with Speedball water soluble block printing ink. We had so much fun, and everyone's projects were spectacular. In fact, this is nearly a no-fail activity for all ages and stages. Here are some of the tips I learned:
  • Less is more concerning paint. I liked the images better when they were skeleton-y.
  • Use a tweezer to carefully remove the leaves. The paint was a bit sticky and many of the the leaves were very thin and papery.
  • It takes a long time to dry, so if you want to overprint, let it sit for several hours or overnight--even in the dry Utah desert.
  • It works better on a padded surface. I used 4-5 layers of paper towels.
  • If you goof (you wouldn't know that the above print was a goof, would you?), since the paint is soluble, you can spritz it with water and let it bleed on purpose. Also, (note above) that I spritzed too much water and it got runny, so I dabbed it with a patterned paper towel and VOILA! No fail.
I also tried it on various surfaces, and I liked the results on colored and textured prints.You can see I was enamored by the sweet potato vines.
Next, I made a gelatin base for monoprinting. This was my first adventure with that technique. I'm not sure I captured anything more than some basic trial and error beginner's stuff, but here are some of the results.
The top one was the very first monoprint, with the leaves covering the top. The second photo was the one lifted off immediately after the top one. Same image, two prints.

The one above is one of my favorites. It's a grape leaf.
Then we have an old kid's type rubber stamp-foamy with the negative/positive monoprint.
The good thing I've learned from many associates is that even if the entire piece of paper isn't usable, there's always a section that can be cut or "windowed", so I can have fun with these. They're probably 9x12, so you get a sense of a big stamp.

This leaf is a 4 inch long viburnum, which is leathery and hairy, as well as having strong veins.
When I printed the leaves, I always made a "leaf sandwich" so I got both sides of the leaf at the same time. On the gelatin monoprint, I lifted the print from the leaf, then brayered gold ink onto the leaf and imprinted it onto the gelatin, then pulled it off with the paper. By then the gelatin was getting a bit ragged. The good news is that I only used one side of the gelatin block, so today I can try new things on the other side of it.
So, I'll "LEAVE" you with a few more images. Try it on your own or with your kids.
Here on the orange one, I used a children's rolling pin with many sizes of rubber bands tied around it. I'll have fun with that one.
This last one was a grape leaf print on an envelope, with a gelatin textured print behind it, using a mesh-like fabric. If you want to make gelatin molds for monoprinting, use 2 envelopes of Knox with each cup of water. My pan held 4 cups, so I used 8 envelopes of gelatin. It set up pretty fast--a few hours. I think I'll try different paint today. The water soluble works well because it washes right off of the gelatin. We'll see. Stay tuned.