Monday, May 18, 2015

We Are Stardust


Warning - wordy post below!

I recently returned home from a quick trip to Guatemala to visit the house we purchased in the beautiful town of Antigua.

It was my first trip there on my own, and the first time staying in our new house.  I was a little nervous about navigating it all with my limited Spanish.  But, dictionary in hand, off I went.
Of course, I had my travel case of art supplies with me - my travel journal, some fine tipped Sharpie pens, a small watercolor set, and a few water brushes.  On the way there, I doodled and painted some funky birds:


When I returned home - some of these birdies made it onto greeting cards...

We'll see if they fly anywhere - wink wink.

I had been a little worried that I might regret our house purchase.  After all, we only saw it in February, and purchased it through a representative in April.  It all happened so fast.

But, as soon as I arrived on our little street, and went into the house, my doubts flew away.

In addition to being a beautiful place to visit and hopefully retire to someday, it has already proved to be a lovely gathering place for our "From Houses to Homes" family.  And our godson got to take his first shower with warm water.  He thought the shower head was truly magic!





Shameless plug - The house is available to rent-- hint hint!  (The rental price shown is for a month - the weekly rate is $900 and it sleeps 8 - two bedrooms have full beds and one bedroom has two bunkbeds!)

I was supposed to fly home on Friday, May 8.  I have never, ever had a problem flying home from Guatemala.  This time, however, our plane sat for several hours on the runway as mechanics tried to fix a malfunction.  Then we deplaned and sat for several hours at the gate.  Ultimately, the flight was cancelled.  By then, there were no more flights out of Guatemala and 250 people had to be re-ticketed for the next day.

I had been seated next to an elderly gentleman, Señor Roca, who was traveling alone to Patterson, NJ.  He was a very old 78, frail and tremulous.  He had no teeth and was hard of hearing.  He was making the trip to see a doctor in the States for lesions and ulcers in his legs and feet, caused by diabetes.  When we had to leave the plane, he was very scared, but I told him I would stay with him and help him with the process.

With the help of the man sitting on the other side of Señor Roca, I was able to advocate for a wheelchair and for him to be re-ticketed ahead of everyone else, as he hadn't eaten in hours and was visibly shaking.  But first, we had to go to the baggage carousel and re-claim all of our luggage.  Then, it was three flights up to the ticket counter, which was a mess.  Imagine an entire plane-load of people in a non-air conditioned area, with only three ticketing agents trying to take care of all of them.  We had been sitting in a hot airplane for over 2 hours (because that was part of the malfunction), and then at the gate with no air-conditioning for another two hours (because the airport was officially closed).  People were sweating and frustrated, and tempers were running high.

Watercolor I did while sitting on the plane on the tarmac...
I might have gotten angry along with everyone else.  But because all of my attention was focused on Señor Roca, I was not thinking of myself and my own frustration and discomfort.  Instead, I was feeling generous and of use.  In this way, Señor Roca was my angel -- he helped me see myself as more than just my ego.  We were all in the same predicament after all ...  even the three hapless ticket agents, who were doing their best while fending off everyone's anger.

At some point, an airline employee brought several trays of sandwiches to the ticket counter, as well as sodas and cups.  Oddly, no one moved off the line to get something to eat or drink. I don't know if people thought they had to wait to get to the front of the line, or if they were afraid to lose their spots.  So while Señor Roca and I were waiting (the re-ticketing process was taking about 30 minutes a passenger as the flight still had not been "officially" cancelled so first all the passengers had to be "de-ticketed"), I took it upon myself to unwrap all the sandwich trays and distribute them and the sodas throughout the long line.  (My dad calls this my "take charge" gene, and swears I get it from my mom!) This gave me a good feeling of being useful and helpful.  People were grateful to me, but I was grateful to them for, again, helping me away from my ego.

United Airlines put us all up at a nearby Holiday Inn and gave us dinner, breakfast, and travel vouchers.  The next day, we embarked again.  This time, it all went without a hitch.  By then, Señor Roca and I were committed travel companions!











When I finally came home, I had a wonderful Mother's Day reunion with my husband and daughters.  


And... I finally was able to finish an art journal page I had started before I left.  This lady appeared in my journal before my trip, but I wasn't sure how to finish her.  

Here's how I had left my journal page.   No journaling, and a lonely outline from my Layered Peony stencil from Stencil Girl Products.  



I painted in the peony and added some words...

Then I scribble-journaled my experience with Señor Roca and our adventure traveling home from Guatemala.  I want to remember that if we can reach out and connect with the souls of other beings, anything is possible.  


After all, we are all made from the same stardust!


Update on Señor Roca - I spoke with him today and he is still at his daughter's house in Patterson.  We have plans to visit with each other in Guatemala, when I return there in December!

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

The Stenciled Home


Why limit your use of stencils to your journals or fabrics?  They are great for decorating your walls too!

With help from my friend and amazing interior designer Tracey Stephens, we recently built a bathroom on the third floor of our house.  Michelle Ward's Circle 9 Stencil was just perfect for the walls and mirror!


Of course, the stencil was not laid out in the arrangement I wanted, because it was designed to fit on a 9 x 12 rectangle.  Solution?  Cut all the elements out and tape them back together to flow the way I wanted!  Remember - your stencils are YOURS to manipulate and make your own.


I used acrylic paint from Deco-Art,, and chose my colors based on a beautiful painting by Denise Thewissen, and a much treasured pillow by Kristin Van Valkenburgh.  I love that I "see" and think of my artist friends every time I go in this happy room!  I stitched and sewed the flag like valances myself, on fabric decorated with lots of my Stencil Girl Stencils.  


I hope you'll share your "off the page" stencil ideas with me.  Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Art Journaling Bit By Bit






I have an altered book that I've been working in for quite a while.  When I first started doing mixed media art journaling, I worked in one journal until it was finished.  But since I started working in altered books, I have a few different kinds of journals going at once.















This page started as a scrap paper on which I had stamped off gesso using my Shiva stamp and my gelli plate.  I adhered it into the book, and then it sat for a while.  Little by little, I accumulated different pieces of ephemera, that all combined to create a page that was ultimately pleasing to me.

The "fingers" on the top and bottom of the right side of the page are from one of the hands on the Namaste stencil.  I thought they looked cool, once separated from the palms.  The five medallions are from the centers of those hands.



The page on the left features Mary Nasser's Latitude Longitude Stencil.


Here's another page that started and then sat.  It began with a beautiful piece of Mail Art from Corrine Gilman.  


It evolved using my Hamsa Stamp from RubberMoon, and my Hebrew Calligraphy stencil from Stencil Girl.  


The other side actually evolved first with tags, and I posted about it here on the Stencil Girl Talk blog.

Those hands come in handy, as you can see in this post.


Do you journal sequentially in one book at a time, or have different journals going all at once?  Do you work on a page from start to finish?  Or do you sometimes let pages sit for a while?  Interested minds want to know!

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lemonade Out of Lemons

Pain in my thumb joints has recently necessitated using these *lovely* gloves most of the time.  This got me kind of down, but stenciling always makes things better!  




When life hands you lemons, stencil them!

Stencils used:

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Completing Another "Facing Faces" Demo


Here's more follow up from the "Facing Faces" class I recently taught in my home studio through my Meetup group.

This face started with a sketch using Portfolio Pastels on a vintage map.  


You can also watch Finishing a Facing Faces Demo on YouTube here. 

The piece really came together with the addition of a beautiful embellishment gifted to me by one of my students, Sherri Scott.


Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.


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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Art Journaling with Stamps, Stencils and Inventive Inks



Recently I stepped outside my comfort zone to take Marjie Kemper's online class at Craftsy.  Thank you for all the nice comments on that post.  I am please to announce that the winner of the 1/2 priced Inventive Inks class is:

Congratulations Suzie!  I've sent you the 1/2 price link and hope you enjoy the class nearly as much as I did!

I decided to take one of the tags I started in the class and build around it in my art journal.  Here's what happened:

I had stamped one of the Shiva faces from Rubbermoon and embossed it (thank you Marjie - Distress Inks are awesome for embossing!).  I also had left over from another project one of the hands from the Namaste stencil, which I had stenciled using embossing paste.  
These worked perfectly to embellish the tag I had created in the class, using a phrase from the Wall of Words and Flowers, Pomegranates and Leaves stencils from Stencil Girl.


I also used the distress inks mixed with water to tint a picture of myself from High School.  The white swirls and Lotus flowers are from one of the stencils from Stencil Club.


I know I will continue to be inspired by Marjie's class, and the techniques will reverberate in works to come.

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.


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