Observations on life & art and the inspirations I see around me

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Blessings of the Season

The week started off a bit rough.  We left home on Monday going to Austin and then left there on Tuesday for 2 days of hard travel to get to Ridgway, Colorado.

Coming over the passes between Durango & Ouray Wed. afternoon, I kept thinking of the carol, "In the Bleak Midwinter", "Snow on snow".  I felt more than a bit of panic as we slipped around on ice.  Thankfully we arrived safely & our exhaustion vanished with Karlie's giggly greeting.  

We jumped right in with 2 days of intense cooking and prep.  Wanting it to "look" like Christmas we managed a few lights on the porch & a small tree with "16 month old proof" ornaments.  This is different from my years of  Griswaldesque decor but I keep thinking there's a lesson here.  It seems that the holiday celebration goes along with the tempo of the year.

Different can be good and today was marvelous proof.  Karlie didn't really understand Christmas but she completely enjoyed the gifts & wrappings.  After a while she was ready for a break so she & I walked to the park in beautiful sunshine. She explored all the playground equipment with complete abandonment & delight and watching her gives me hope for the future.

The day culminated with good food & celebration with Karlie, her parents & friends, followed by football and dessert.  It was hard that Ashley & Frank weren't with us in person but they were with us in the spirit of the day.

Next week we will welcome a new year.  I'm hoping it is full of creative possibilities, peace & hope for everyone.  

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Soltice Marathon

Some people run and some ride and some swim great distances.  My marathon is about baking and it's one I usually only due this time of year.  Ashley came up Friday and we baked & baked & baked - into the night and more on Sat..  Hop over to her blog for the full report with pictures and some recipes.  I'm not being lazy; I don't have the pictures here (on borrowed computer). It is doubtful I could add to what she's shared so well.

Some of the bounty has been & will be shared as gifts; some was shared yesterday during our "trunk" sale at Robin's (Thanks, Dear, for being such a good hostess.  It was a good sale).  Some will travel with Karl & I to Colorado and some stays at Ashley's as she & Frank celebrate Christmas in Ft. Worth.  It's the most holiday thing she and I had done to date and it was great fun while more than a bit exhausting.

As we worked I felt a bit nostalgic remembering doing this with my mother and then Ashley and wondering where we will be when we repeat the tradition next year.  I am not willing to think of giving it up yet and look forward to bringing Karlie & Celeste into the fun.

Karl & I are in Austin tonight helping Celeste and Karlie get ready to fly to Colorado tomorrow.  We will take them to the airport and then drive with the car full of gifts and extra winter wear as their time in the mountains will be fairly long.  I'll use the hours in the car to enjoy early Santa gifts -  new art & quilt books & sketchbook.  I hope to have some new ideas & plans for 2011 creations.

We'll arrive by Thurs. taking time for a relaxed drive thru New Mexico.  We count on it being much cooler than the expected 80 degrees here. I'm excited at the prospect of a white Christmas and enjoying Karlie experience the holiday & the snow.

I don't know if I'll be able to post while gone so I'll say Merry Christmas and hope you get to celebrate with those you love.  I pray for a New Year filled with hope & peace & creative solutions.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ponder This

This is a shot of the booth at Cherrywood Art Fair last weekend where Ashley & I showed our work.  It is a very good and I hope we can do more together.  I really enjoy working with Ashley but I am tired and I've jumped right in  to rushing helter skelter getting ready for Christmas.  Because we will be traveling every thing has to be finished by Monday.  I am tired and frustrated because I don't have the energy I had when I was younger and my feelings about this LIMBO year are definitely effecting my state of mind.  Not only is all the art packed away but also all the Christmas decorations and that has made it difficult to feel festive.  

How is it that we can know rationally what is important and still not grasp it on a day to day basis? The following came today and is a good reminder of what really is important. I am now going to stop, count my blessings, and slow down.

Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit http://www.artistsuccess.com/.  The following is Leslie's story but I think many of us will identify with it.  I am working on slowing down.  I will probably accomplish more that way and I am sure I will enjoy the days more. 

A Bedtime Story
Leslie Riley

The flu took me unawares this month, landing me unexpectedly in bed for a full week without the energy or, more surprising, the interest in anything except rest. I have been sick before but it rarely kept me out of commission for more than a couple of days or, more to the point, away from the computer.

BF (before flu) I spent my days hurrying from one task to the next, juggling my time between my business, my family and my household, trying hard to get all the many important and necessary things taken care of each day. At least I thought they were important. Turns out, much to my surprise, they weren’t all that important and many certainly were not necessary. Nothing stopped working, nothing fell apart and I got along fine not reading the flood of emails that land in my inbox everyday.

What I realized is that all of this urgency and importance that I lived by existed only in my head - it was all self-imposed. To make a seasonally appropriate analogy, I think I may have started out each day as a tiny ball of snow - one that was on a downhill course, picking up uncontrollable speed and momentum and in danger of running out of control. More than anything, I think the flu (and I have my doubts it was a true flu), was a blessing.

I am actually thankful for that bed-time. I came through it a calmer, wiser woman. Here are the changes I have made so far:

Unsubscribed from dozens of emails – things I thought I needed to know in order to go about my days. I don’t miss them.

Meditate daily – spend 30 minutes unplugged. I have learned to love the stillness.

Move at a slower pace – no need to run up and down stairs anymore.

Don't beat myself up if something doesn’t get done. EVERYTHING can wait till tomorrow.

Stopped worrying. That’s a big one. To stop worrying also means to live in the moment. Qué será, sera. Whatever will be, will be. (Remember Doris Day? I used to sing that song all the time when I was little.)

Lesson learned? Life was not speeding by, I was speeding through life! My engine was revving and I didn’t even know it. I thought it was normal. I’ll admit, I knew it was happening, but never to the extent that I am aware of it now.

So what’s this got to do with you? You tell me. How many things are you involved in that you feel can’t (or won’t) function without you? Are you always hurrying from one thing to the next? Do you feel you can never quite catch up with your life? I place myself here at Artist Success s as an expert and a role model and yet I have lived a life I would not recommend for anyone. Let me recommend this AF (after flu) one now. Let this be a bedtime story for you to ponder.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What I've Been Doing & Where I'm Going

The weekend after Thanksgiving we stayed in San Marcos for the Eye of the Dog Art Center Holiday Sale.  We were part of Ashley's support team.  I didn't show as I'd been out of pocket so much during the fall.  Friday night was COLD but the weekend was bright and beautiful and the place is fun & festive.  If you want to  buy great ceramic or mixed media art or take a class from great teachers in San Marcos, this is the place.  Billy Ray & Beverly are not only talented but warm and friendly and I think they are creating a "Destination". 
I came home to get BUSY at the machine.  Ashley & I both will be at Cherrywood  this weekend.  We did the show together last year and are excited to be going back.  If you're in the Austin area come see us and shop for original gifts.  Below are a few of the things I'll have there. Now I'd better get back to the machine.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blessings & Thanksgiving

I have no art to show as I unexpectedly stayed in Austin this week.  Dad & Poppy went hunting over the weekend so Grammy stayed with Karlie & Mommy.  It didn't make sense to drive home to Argyle Mon. & then back to Austin today for Thanksgiving.  
I stayed and mostly played with a little bit of sewing for Ms. K and some handwork for the Dec. sale.  Mostly I just can just be with her and watch in amazement at how much she's learned in 3 weeks since I saw her last.  Having all this fun means really getting down to work when I go back home but it's worth every minute.
 It has been "unseasonably" warm in Austin this week.  I put that in quotation marks as in Texas you never know what to expect from day to day.  It's supposed to cool off tomorrow. We spent Monday afternoon at Barton Creek and Karlie didn't hesitate to go for a swim.  
The Red Lips show how much she loved sharing a snowcone with Mommy.  Other fav activities were swinging, hide & seek and chasing birds.
The Austin Children's Musuem has an hour for "Under 4's" on Sat. morning so Karlie & I went while Mommy was at sewing class.  Mommy made a really cute skirt for herself and plans to do one for little miss.  I guess being in a sewing family is rubbing off.  I can't wait to teach Karlie too.  In the meantime, she's mastering sign language and knows who to ask for snacks.  She's sweet to share as a guarantee of pulling on heart strings.  
For this week & all my many Blessings I am Thankful.  We will be with about 25 family and friends at Mitra & Marcus'; my heart goes out to those who are far from home such as our military and say a prayer for their safety.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and be safe.  

We will stay the weekend at the San Marcos property.  If you're in the area stop by Sleeping Dog Studio Holiday Sale.  Ashley will be there with her jewelry.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Ashley

Today is Ashley's birthday.  We celebrated on Wed. with a day of sewing for her (a beautiful teal green silk dress for another wedding).  In the evening we had dinner at Gloria's, a favorite of her's in Ft. Worth.  It's El Salvadorian and super yummy.  Today was rainy so she got her wish that Frank would get off work early and they spent the day together in Dallas.

I've been under the weather for most of the week but starting to feel better.  Karl has gone off hunting so I'm hoping to spend tomorrow in the studio.  I've got a lot of work to do for the Cherrywood sale in Dec.

In the meantime here are a few more shots from Robin & Chase's wedding.  Friends made the fun Crescent moon which lots of guests enjoyed; Ashley made the Love Birds atop the cage where good wishes were placed; I did the bouquets and suppervised the table arrangements, carrying out the bride's vision using family keepsakes including her grandmother's tea cups. 

Monday, November 8, 2010


 We celebrated Sarah's & Elliott's 30th. They have been friends since HS.  Sarah welcomed baby Gwen 2 weeks later.
 It was exciting to watch Karlie grow more confident every day in her walking skills.
 I'd never seen olives growing.  Northern California is full of them.
 They say there's gold in them there hills.
 During the Gold Rush there were 10,000 Chinese in the Oroville area.  The temple has wonderful artifacts from the 1800's.
 Golden hills of California
 Origami jacket in Japantown, San Francisco.
 Ashley & I prepared for rainy day in San Francisco.
One of my favorite store windows of many in the city.

 Crab Chowder at Fisherman's Wharf. YUMMY.
Visiting Coit Tower to say goodbye until next time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Very Happy Day

I returned from California Wed. evening and got 2 days to catch up at home (you know the routine - laundry, mail & bills, groceries, more laundry). Next order of business was putting on my decorator hat.

I was dubbed "decorating sheriff" as I gave out directions yesterday to the fab crew of family & friends charged with turning the bride's ideas into floral fantasy extraordinaire.

Today it all came together as we celebrated the marriage of Robin Phillips & Chase Johnson.  We were blessed with beautiful weather and spirits to match. The whole event was a wonderful expression of  love & friendship, theirs for each other and many around them.  If the marriage is as beautiful as the wedding they will be truly blessed.

My camera wasn't working but Karl did get this shot with my iphone.  I'll post pictures soon from Ashley of the decorations and, Oh My Gosh, Dee's fabulous desserts. I'm a convert to Rubbarb Strawberry pie.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Missing in Action

This might be the longest I've gone without blogging since I started.  Thought I'd check in and let everyone know I'm alive and well.  Oct. has been a blur of activity.  Since I am traveling without computer (on a borrowed one now) I'm not putting up any pictures.  I'll share those later.  First big activity of Oct. was going to Houston with Ashley for Bayou City Art Fest - fun and a good show for her.

Leaving Karl back in Texas working on the house, Ashley and I flew to California 2 weeks ago.  It's been a busy trip and lots of fun being with Karlie who changed every day with more steps and new words.  We did a whirlwind trip to San Francisco over the weekend in addition to daily walks and reading sessions with Karlie and helping them move to a new house.  Ashley went home today but I'm here until next week.

Now Oct. is almost over and the Texas Rangers are playing San Francisco in the World Series - not too good tonight - maybe tomorrow will be better.  If it rains tomorrow I may go to Chico to explore the art and quilt shop scene.  Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween.

When I get back to Texas I'll be doing wedding flowers for a friend in Ft. Worth while lots of you are going to Houston.  Have fun and take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


In the back of my head I'd had the idea that anniversary of my blog was near but then I got busy and forgot to check.....Opps.  I started this 10-4  (can't help but think "good buddy" - something from my youth), 2008.  Here is a repost of my first entry. Not much has changed; I'm still working on Moving forward. The picture here is new.  A prickly reminder of where life is today.   

Moving forward

One of my goals of 2008 is to move my art out of the studio into the wider world. This is my first post toward sharing my inspirations and motivations for creating art.

Since I've been following a number of blogs that I admire, most especially my daughter Ashley, http://ashleyakers.blogspot.com/ it seems like a good choice to get started here.

I have been making art for 50+ years. I have taught for nearly 40 years. I love to sew and mix things up (finding bits of treasures all along the journey that some call junk and trash).

This is a bit scary and is taking more than a bit of bravery on my part so I hope you will be patient and come back to share

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Boobie Alert

Taking the title from Cheryl of Ten Seconds Studio.  Be sure you get a mammogram every year and  in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month go over to  Ten Seconds Studio and buy raffle tickets on the niche canvas creations. I'm excited that my canvas is among the offerings (shown a few posts back).  You're supporting  breast cancer research and getting a chance to win some neat art.

Thank You Julia Cameron

Some years ago, at least 20, I read The Artist Way.  I never got a chance to work through it with a group but I remember that I thought it was helpful in my journey to being an artist.  I talked about it a lot until someone (an "artist" I respected)criticized it as "too 12 step".  I took that criticism to heart and didn't mention it much any more and dropped some of the good habits I was developing. 
I didn't know until I started reading The Sound of Paper in New Mexico last month that Julia was a recovering addict.  Now it makes sense; the 12 step aspect of AW is not only reasonable but very helpful and I owe her an appology and word of graditude. Reading SOP is helping me get some small glimmer of focus during a year of confusion, delay, and limbo.

I have the feeling that not many are reading my blog as they are tired of my whinning about "the move" that hasn't happened.  Every time I think it's almost here - the putting the house on the market - some other project jumps up.  I've never been known for my patience and now as fall has come to North Texas I want to yell "I'm tired of this test".  Yes, I know that won't do much good so I bumble along.

I do have some good news in the art dept.  "Detours I -Sign Posts" (above) was accepted into the annual Dallas Area Fiber Arts show as was "The Shape of Things to Come", #2 collaborative with Lu Peters.  The show opens on Nov. 5th at the Plano Art Center if you're in the area.  This weekend I will be in Houston with Ashley as she's exhibiting at Bayou City Art Fest.  I'm hoping the weather stays as beautiful as it's been the last few days here so come see us if you're down that way. 3rdly, Ashley & I will once again be showing (and hopefully selling) at Cherrywood Arts in Austin, Dec. 11 & 12. 

Now I'd better get busy on the house projects and art. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Slow down & Breathe

Inspiration for benches in San Marcos - we've got the fallen trees.

Early morning fog on Eagle Nest Lake

One of our Little Friends
 Friends of friends have a cabin in Eagle Nest, New Mexico.  We were lucky enough to be invited for a long weekend.  The cool air and soft wind were a soothing relief from the Texas heat and it was hard to come home yesterday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taking a page......

A few years ago when I first met Deborah Boschert I knew immediately that she was someone special.  Over the years I was often been amazed by her maturity -  to someone my age she's "just a kid" but boy do I wish I'd been as wise at her age.  She has talent galore and an incredibly giving spirit. I felt sad when she left Texas but she's still teaching me when I slow down to remember. Today I took a page from her book and worked small & quick on 2 project whose deadlines are looming. I wanted to do these and I'd put them off to the last minute.  Thanks Deborah for giving me a kick. 

#1 is "On a Wing - Say a Prayer".  It is a collage on nicho frame from Ten Seconds Studio. and will be part of their Auction for Breast Cancer.  I hope I won't get in trouble for posting it early but I figure publicity is good.  Go to their site for details coming soon.  

Project #2 is "Coins of the Realm" a small art quilt for C&T Publishing's Call-Out for Liquitex Acrylic Metallic Inks.  I did the background fabric in plenty of time but wasn't entirely happy with the results of a resist of flour paste (I will try again).  The problem was the white ink didn't show up as much as I'd like.  We only got 3 colors to work with and I knew I wanted the metallics for the elements.  On those I did stamping & stenciling with bronze & copper.  This is a favorite technique of Deborah's and also, Rayma Gillman, another inspiring lady.  If you don't have her book "creating your own hand-printed cloth" it's definitely worth the price. 

It feels good to be on a bit of a roll but studio time will get interupted once again on Thurs. as we're heading to northern New Mexico to cool off for a few days.  I do expect to get inspired there so I'll take my journal and do "a page" of a different sort. 

Happy creating; remember lessons learned and thank your teachers. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


We definitely are seeing the end of the summer drought. That's the pond in the background, well over it's banks, so Karl got his wish that it would fill before the house goes on the market.  We've had between 7.5" & 10" of rain since yesterday.  Happy that we're dry inside thanks to the ditches being dug out after much campaigning with the city and the drainage improvements we've made in the last couple of years. Sadly there are flooded homes in the area; I feel for anyone with water in their home.

Another bit of abundance is this stack of books I've read lately.  My favorites are on top & bottom but all were a nice diversion during the heat and my drought of creative energy. 

I loved the weeds, grasses, wild flowers and cactus fruit on the property this weekend.  We discussed cactus flower wine but researching the recipes led me to decide it's not worth the effort.  I'll just use the images as inspiration.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

NEED to Create

Last weekend we celebrated Karlie's first birthday and it was a great party.  I just had to make her some thing for the occassion so I did a dollie quilt & cushion to go with the baby doll and rocker we gave her.  I had saved some of Heidi Pridemore's fabric and love that it's Lady Bugs having a tea party.  I some time call Karlie my little lady bug.  
If you read Ashley's blog you see the beautiful bracelet that she made Karlie.  I almost cried when I read her post about how much she loves Karlie and I certainly agree that I smile whenever I look at her.  

On the 19th we welcomed a new friend for Karlie, the grandson of our oldest friends.  This is the baby who has the quilt I made his mom in his nursery. Now I NEED to make something special just for Leo. 

The rocker was mine when I was young; somewhere in storage is a picture of me in it at about 2. It originally had a music box that played when you rocked and I had hoped to find a replacement but didn't have any luck.  If anyone knows a source for one I'd really appreciate hearing about it.

This week my brother is visiting from Utah.  He seems to have brought some cool weather with him; it's only been in the 90's and actually tolerable to get out early & late.  Like most transplanted Texans who come back to visit, he wanted good Mexican food so we ventured down to Ft. Worth and played tourists on Thurs.  When he's around I depend on him for photography but since he still uses film I don't have any shots of the outing.  He's also a bike rider so he adjusted the seat and brakes on my "new" bike (purchased at university salvage center) and confirmed that I got a good deal.  Last night we ventured out for a short ride with him giving me lessons on gears & shifting.  He's out every morning doing several miles but I'll have to build up to that.  He wanted me to go this afternoon but I wouldn't budge from the sewing machine. 

After the week of traveling, painting & purging I really, really needed some sewing therapy. While the guys watched cops & robbers tv I came up to the studio.  I am enjoying the order and hope that I can keep it that way and work while the house is on the market.  I'm scared about the limited space I'll have in the time between here and the new house.  I'm contemplating setting up shop in the Airstream but won't be able to completely take it over.  All that is yet to be seen.  

Any way, this afternoon, I NEEDED to be in the studio.  I worked on bits of a collage for an auction Ten Second Studio is doing and also a project for C&T Creative Troupe.  Those both have to get done before mid Sept. and there's lots of other things on the calendar too. 

I have the collaborative quilt back from Lu but before I get to it I needed to practice and do a little mindless or at least streaming sewing.  I sorted out some of my "bits" and considered felting but rather did a fused and sewn base fabric for ATC's for the Sept. DAFA trade.  I went back and put some foil on the exposed fusible and since I had a pretty big piece I used some of it for a belated birthday gift - vase/pencil holder/whatchamacallit.  It's not stiff enough to stand alone so it will go around a jar (now to find one the right size).  I guess I'm into squiggles & such.  Yesterday while Rick played on the computer and we talked about Dad and old country music I sewed up a tote with part of the "Jackson Pollock" fabric I had created in the spring with the Wonders group.  I gave the bigger piece to a friend who saw it and said she'd stretch it and hang it in her home. Knowing I won't have room for it I'm glad it will be appreciated.