Sunday, April 19, 2015

Snippets: Weeks 15 and 16

Gearing up for the beginning of theater week tomorrow by winding down this weekend in my Snippets's hoping I survive four 6-hour days at the theater surrounded by nearly 50 middle school kids bouncing off the walls in Shakespearean costumes.

And here's the prepped spread for the next two weeks:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


"Minuet No. 6 - Portal"
Oh, how I wish I had my own personal portal so I could whisk myself off from wherever I am to wherever or whenever I wish to be! If I had such a thing, I'm sure it would look exactly like this...

And a note to new followers: I strive to post twice a week and if I'm feeling industrious, sometimes I post thrice. Be forewarned that I occasionally drop out of sight for periods of time. These planned or unplanned absences are typically due to health difficulties and/or a crazy work/studio schedule. However, I've been blogging for nine years come May 2015 and I always return to this space. Thank you to all who join me for the ride!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Minuets in the Meantime
"Minuet No. 5 - Command Center"
I'm planning a couple of new blog post series after I get through the next two weeks of theater madness. Once work settles back into its more typical routine, I'll have more time and energy. In the meantime, I'll be posting peeks at the usual: the Snippets journal and more of my work in my little Minuet collage book. This is a great project for small amounts of time where my focus is less than at its peak. Originally, I thought I'd go ultra-abstract but I returned to the representational after the first entry. I'm just playing around here, pushing scraps in different directions and into different combinations until a little story reveals itself. The calligraphic swipes of watercolor in the background provide an anchor to the collages so they aren't simply floating in white space. I try to inject a bit of humor and whimsy into the mix as well because that's definitely a running thread throughout my work. This particular Minuet might be interpreted as snapshot of my brain. (I'm going to overlook the fact that my "command center" is actually unplugged; I think maybe my subconscious took over on this one.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Challenging Parkinson's One Tune at a Time

I spent the majority of my mid-teens through mid-twenties in radio broadcasting, both as a civilian and as an airman in the USAF. Music was a cornerstone of my life and then, my interest faded. After spending years listening to music and keeping up with the Billboard charts, I spent an equal number of years never listening to music. However, here in my forties, and finding myself beset with an odd collection of health challenges - in particular Young Onset Parkinson's - I am rediscovering the power of music. Many chronic health issues respond to formal or informal music therapy. Whether soothing or uplifting in cadence, music can soften the rough edges of daily living and counter and/or ease some mental and physical obstacles.

In terms of Parkinson's, I find that a shot of upbeat music in the morning helps me get stiff muscles moving. I pop in some earbuds and in the otherwise calm predawn hours, I am often silently dancing across my living room (much to the consternation of my cats.) I start out in my chair, head bobbing and fist pumping and I progress to standing, then a slow shuffle-wiggle-shuffle and eventually, I'm doing my best 80's dance floor routine. If my balance is particularly bad, I stay near the kitchen counter so I have something to grab if I get over-enthusiastic. I'm positive it is all very silly-looking and ungraceful; I live in fear my son will somehow wake before noon and discover his mom shaking her hips to her own private rhythm. No matter. Researchers have found that regular exercise/movement seems to slow PD progression and improve patient outcomes. I'd rather chance a moment of embarrassment than turn to stone. 

This all said, here's my current favorite tune for my morning rock out. I dare you not to dance. Even a silly, awkward shuffle-wiggle-shuffle can spit in the face of health issues that are doing their best to steal your joy and your body. And while you're embarrassing yourself with abandon in your living room, remember that I'm out there too, dancing right along with you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lucky Ducks

Art-making will be slowing down to non-existent over the next two weeks as I turn my attention towards my middle school students and their upcoming performance of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Performance coaching is loads of fun but requires a sustained, high energy output that takes a lot out of me. By the end of school, I'm lucky if I can string three words together. Mostly, I just collapse on the couch and stare at stupid TV shows, recharging so I can jump back in again.

Thankfully, I have a backlog of old work to show so blog posts will continue during this crazy time. Today I'm posting the most recent page in my sketchbook. I'm very slowly getting back into life sketching; my interest in this journal burned passionately this past summer and then fizzled out. When I picked up my sketchbook again, I realized that I wanted to explore rendering different texture types in watercolor: smooth, soft, dull, shiny, plastic, metal. It is very challenging and that challenge keeps my attention engaged. I really do love this type of journaling and eventually, I'd like to focus on this almost exclusively. For now, it'll be a page here and there as time allows.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Snippets: Weeks 13 and 14

With the close of these two weeks, I'm 98 days into this "Snippet-of-Journaling-a-Day" project for 2015. Just 267 more days to go! This is the first 365 project that I've undertaken where I feel 100% positive about the odds of completion. My Snippets journal is super easy to keep up with and I enjoy the process. One thing I didn't expect is that the journal would get very heavy. Even though I'm only up to the first week in April, it has some heft to it. I can't wait to see how this journal looks on December 31st! (Patience, grasshopper...let's just take it one day at a time...)
This week, I managed to take a picture of the prepped spread for the next two weeks. I played a lot here with some new tools I made myself. There's a blog post coming soon about that...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Theater and Turnarounds

With one phone call this past weekend from my boss, my life became three-fold crazier with a temporary assignment to help with our school's production of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. For three weeks, I'll be at school Monday through Thursday coaching students in the finer points of performance and Fridays, my regularly-scheduled teaching continues. Thankfully, spring break is dead ahead so I'll get a week off in the middle of this chaos. Good thing I adore my students.

This semester, in addition to a class on creating children's books, I'm teaching cartooning, a class I started nine years ago and one that I am continually revising and updating as my own skills improve. Each session I take students through the basics of character construction and onward into the development of simple comics. Right now, we are immersed in the practice of getting characters out of static, forward-facing positions and that means doing turnarounds.

Turnarounds feature sequential character drawings in which the subject is - yep, you guessed it - turning around. You begin drawing the character facing outward and then draw the character in a 3/4-view, profile, and so on. In the past, I had students simply imagine what that would look like with their characters but I realized I was making an already difficult assignment harder. 

This year, I had students create a 3-D model in animation clay first. This gave students something to look at so they could see how the shapes in the figure change with each shift in perspective. They were thrilled with the chance to play with clay and the level of detail was delightful. Some of their sculptures made me giggle and I'll be sad when I have to package the clay back up for next year. (Animation clay is non-hardening so it can be used over and over.) 

The following week, they all began the turnaround process. I asked for a four-position turnaround: front, 3/4s, profile and back. While this was still a challenging assignment, I think the students had a better grasp of what they needed to do and how to do it. I've included a sampling of some of their efforts here. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Art for Sale!

I'm going to give selling small art pieces via my blog a try. Bear with me because I've never done this before and the Blogger platform can be a bit clunky with inserting lots of photos and links in a single post. I'll update this post regularly if pieces sell so you know what's available. Here's the best laid plan:

  • I am only shipping within the United States for now. I love my international readers dearly but shipping chunky items overseas is expensive for the purchaser (sometimes more than the item itself) and I always worry about whether or not an item actually reaches its destination. If this sale is even a little bit successful, I'll make some pieces on canvas board or other flat substrate so international mailing is possible.
  • Each piece in this post features mixed media/acrylics on a 6x6-inch canvas with a 1-1/2-inch deep cradle. To get an idea of what the sides look like, scroll all the way to the bottom. There's a picture of all the canvases stacked and numbered to correspond with each listing.
  • Each piece costs $40 dollars which includes shipping and PayPal's transaction fee. My plan is to ship in a large, padded USPS Priority flat rate envelope.
  • Make sure your PayPal account includes a WORKING email so I can send you the tracking number when your purchase ships. 
  • Packages will ship out when your payment hits my bank; It takes 2 to 3 business days for funds to transfer from PayPal to my bank once you make your payment.
  • Let me know if a button seems not to be working. I've tested everything but as I said, this is something new for me and I wouldn't be surprised if there are some technical hiccups. Well, enough I deepest thanks in advance to any and all purchasers!

"The Motley Flock 1"  (purple, long-necked birdie)

"Denizens of the Deep" (orange fish)

"All Creatures Small" (cricket)

"All Creatures Small" (mantis)

"The Motley Flock 2" (purple bird)

"Denizens of the Deep" (beta)

"The Motley Flock 3 (multi-colored birdie) 
Sides of each canvas are painted as well. Stacked in the order they are posted above.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


In spite of bilateral Kienbock's Disease (stages 3 & 4), bilateral fibromatosis (hands & feet), chronic migraines (7 to 20 a month), Young Onset Parkinson's Disease, and all the surgeries and symptoms that accompany these issues, I have a simple, one word motto that carries me through my days:

That's it. I just keep moving forward, some days slogging and some days skipping but always striving forward even if it is just in increments. I have plenty of days where I lose my footing and slip-slide backwards but as soon as possible, I plant my feet and start climbing again. Art is the most important tool I use to dig into the mountain of hard living that looms before me. One art project after another forms a rope that I will follow to triumph. Whether it's around, over, under, or through, always I strive onward. That's the underlying message I hope you glean from this humble space: keep making and moving no matter what. So let's get to it.

Today's Soundtrack

This song is getting me up & moving this morning no matter how much Parkinson's wants to turn me to stone...literally dancing before dawn in my living room. Every muscle is slow and sluggish, cramping while also tremoring and yet...I'm dancing. Turn the pain into power indeed. Screw you PD! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Snippets: Weeks 11 and 12

Whew! It has been a rough couple of weeks! I won't bore you with the details but let me just say that "When it rains, it pours" is a really weak cliché. "When it rains, it hurricanes" would be infinitely more accurate. I managed to complete my two-week spread but there's no preview of the prepped pages for March 23 - April 5 because as of this post, I haven't started yet! I'm hoping the Sunday rain will soothe my ruffled spirit and I'll be able to settle long enough to play a bit. I really need to get my hands painty... 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I work in bursts: bursts of inspiration, projects, energy, interest. Case in point: last summer, while laid up on the couch for the better part of 12 weeks healing from foot surgery, I worked passionately on my Sketchbookery journal, balancing supplies and subject in my lap or, once I was allowed, at my studio table while my foot rested atop a pillowed chair. I created a lot of ink and watercolor sketches in that journal and then *poof* my attention turned to other pursuits.

Recently, I returned to that sketchbook and tried to jump back in to the rhythm of seeing and drawing. My first effort since September 2014 is a bit wobbly & wonky due to time away and shaky hands; thankfully, this technique actually benefits from less-than-perfect lines and although I was discouraged at first, I ended up loving the final page. I definitely feel a burst of enthusiasm for this journal again.

P.S. Does anyone else feel like they have a pair of scissors for every possible task?? Once I started digging, I was a little embarrassed by my collection. It would take two or three more pages to document them all.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

More Minuets and Some Studio News

I have a long, intimidating list of major projects to work on including two upcoming shows, summer class proposals for our local creative reuse center, product to make for consignment at the local art supply store, painting commissions, and ongoing prep for my long-standing teaching gig at a local charter school. I don't know how much progress I'm making on those things but I am readily tinkering away on my personal projects like the "Snippets" journal and my new "Minuets" collage collection. Currently, my health is a major distraction and so it is comforting to think small and be "in the now" with little side projects. However, the relentless stampede of bills demands my attention and I just want to hide under a pile of paper scraps (which, by the way, I think I could actually do if I tried!)

In the next week or so, I'll be posting some work for sale here at Lost Coast Post if I can figure out how to insert PayPal buttons in a blog post; otherwise, I'll upload things to my Etsy shop. The Etsy option is way more complicated than I have energy for so I thought I'd give selling via my blog a try. I've always opted to keep the monetization of my blog to a minimum but I've got work piling up and I need to start trying to move it along to new homes to pay medical bills but also to make room, physically and emotionally, for new work to emerge. Brand new doors are waiting to be opened...if only I can get some old ones closed.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who takes time out of their day to pop into Lost Coast Post and read my random ramblings. Your support, whether quiet or posted, is deeply appreciated!

Minuet No. 3 - "Beacon"
Minuet No. 4 - "Underground River"  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Beginning Minuets

"minuet" - Slow, stately pattern dance in three-quarter time for groups of couples, originating in 17th century France; from the Old French word "menuet" meaning "small and dainty."

This past summer, in anticipation of a long couch convalescence post-foot surgery, I had prepared a small watercolor journal with rapid, random swipes of color and filled an envelope full of paper scraps. I had no idea what I was going to do on those pages but I thought quiet collage work would be soothing. However, I ended up doing a lot of sketching instead and my little collage project landed squarely on my rather overloaded back burner.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago:  I've been battling a relapse of severe fatigue (possibly Parkinson's-related) while also wishing I could do more art each day. I get up between three and four every morning so by two in the afternoon, my energy level is on the downslope. By the evening, I have trouble doing much more than staring at banal TV shows. I wanted something creative to do that was completely gentle on my tired brain. After some digging around in the studio, I rediscovered that small watercolor journal and its companion envelope. Something sparked in my mind and a new project sprang to life.

To create these pieces, I dump out all the paper scraps and just start moving things around on the page until something pleasing shows up. I glue everything down and add some doodling. At first, I intended to remain firmly rooted in the abstract but almost immediately, I strayed into collages that had a slightly representational twist. I find that titles come unbidden, popping into my head like lighthouse beacons as I work, guiding the completion of the collage. Each one takes no more than 30 minutes and almost all of the work is done without any pre-planning. I just let my subconscious Muse off-leash and follow her wherever She sees fit to wander.

I've titled this series "Minuets" because these silly little works help me take small steps through the brain fog and pain clouding my evenings. Instead of giving in, I'm dancing right around the obstacles, a step at a time. Look for regular "Minuet" posts as I progress.

Minuet No. 1 - "Supernova"
No. 2 - "Mother-in-Law Unit"

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Snippets: Weeks 9 and 10

Lots of affirmative self-talk in this fortnight of Snippets journaling: I've been ensnared in a crisis of confidence after several opportunities arrived at my doorstep in the past few weeks. Whether deliberately sought or completely unannounced, these possibilities for selling, teaching and/or displaying my work triggered the old hypercritical, skeptical voices and I've been trying to counter those negative thoughts with happy and encouraging words. I also paid tribute in gouache to actor Leonard Nimoy who passed away on February 27 at the age of 83. As a lifelong, passionate sci-fi nerd, his death hit hard. Star Trek was a huge part of my childhood and is a comforting companion in my adulthood (love watching sci-fi while creating!) I felt like an entry in Nimoy's honor was necessary. 

As always, here's a snap of the Snippets spread for the next two weeks, prepped and ready to complete. This time, I tentatively experimented with small, direct-to-journal Gelli prints. It was fun and I'm sure I'll do more of this in the future. I also create background patterns with stamping, stencilling, collage, and simple brushwork. As you can probably tell, very little of this work shows through in the end but it gives me an inspiring jumpstart when I journal.
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