Baby Elephant – Collage/Painting

Baby Elephant, newspaper collage, acrylic paint, and watercolor on paper, 9×12″, 2014. 
This is the most recent nursery artwork that I completed only this week.  It is for a colleague who is expecting a boy in March.  I have been returning to my painting and collage roots as of lately.  Hopefully I can get some more work done this weekend to share with you.  
As always, prints and artwork are always for sale, please inquire by e-mail or through my Etsy shop, which is currently empty.  If you are interested in purchasing something you have seen on this blog, I will create a custom listing for you.  I also do custom commission pieces as well.  

Sewn Paper Cards – Playing Card & North Carolina Theme

I’ve been working on more sewn paper cards this week.  I added in some scrap booking paper, but I am still using old books and the interior print from envelopes – the blue North Carolina came from our old credit union’s mailed statements.  That is one problem with being into collage – you save too many scraps.  I have my scraps organized into file folders and in a plastic tub for easier access.  

The card symbols were inspired by the pages of an old bridge book – I just love the mix of text and card suits.  The Crisco pie ad, on the right, is from an old advertising book I found at an antique book shop in Greensboro – it’s a treasure trove of card possibilities.

These are heading off in the mail this week for a friend’s birthday.  I just love making things and passing them on to others.  I have to, otherwise my house would be full to the gills by now.  So friends, say mercy when you’ve had enough and say more if you’ve not had enough.

Golf Baby Art

Whew!  It’s been a while since I completed an artwork that wasn’t a demonstration artwork for my classroom.  This piece was created for friends who had their baby back in August.  I know, I am behind, right?  Mom and dad both like retro themes and golf – so there you have the theme.  You can check out the cutie on her blog, at Iowa Girl Eats

 They started off as three paintings of retro golf apparel.  (I’m thinking tweed bike ride theme may need to be next on my list).  I sat around on this for quite some time, trying to figure out what on earth to do for a background.

I had been playing around with different papers, making small weavings, when I realized the weavings could work as a paper collage stand-in for fabric.  After all, the Scots invented golf and they also have some pretty amazing plaids.

 Paper weaving isn’t too bad, you just need patience.  A paper cutter is also a big bonus.

The final two backgrounds were draws with oil pastels (above) and painted with watercolor with added magazine collage for texture.

NC Home Collage

North Carolina Home, collage & mixed media on paper, 9 x 12″, 2013.  
Do not reuse image without permission. 

Our Iowa home has something  new and interesting to grace its spacious gallery-like walls – a collage.  This collage makes use of old Greensboro maps, vellum, scraps of wall paint from the old house, and acrylic painting.  Since this was our first home, I made this for Eric – coincidentally one of the first artworks I’ve actually made for him.  Eric remarked on the house drawing, “Wow, I’ve never seen you use a ruler before to make art!”  Hey, there’s a first time for everything.  

Sewn Paper Cards

These are a few more of the sewn paper cards I have been working on lately.  I have so many projects, they are coming out of my ears – I can’t get them on paper fast enough.  The infrequent art project posts on here are only because I have too many going at once to get them finished enough to document for the blog.  Not to mention a all the other distractions in life: work, daycare prep, making meals, keeping a house clean and organized for showings, packing, and the move.

The move to Iowa has been in the back corners of my mind for months now.  We leave NC for Iowa in two months – surreal – I won’t deny that I am nervous and scared out of my mind.  Changes are, and always have been, difficult for me – I am still to this day amazed that I chose to pick up and move myself to a state I had never been to, a job I didn’t know if I would love, to place where I knew no one.  Now, after years of saying how much I want to be back in Iowa, I am realizing how much I will miss Greensboro and the state of North Carolina.  I have grown to love this place and we made it our home.

Despite my fears of the unknown, I am getting more excited though as we look at places to live in Iowa, discuss Greta’s birthday in Iowa, the new job possibilities for Eric, applying for teaching positions all over the Des Moines area, and the old friends we will get to spend more time with.  It also helps that we have two excellent people who have committed their time to helping us get back to Iowa and know that with their help I can stay upbeat.

To help me focus on the positives of this move, I made a book for Eric and me to use on nights out.  Each page has a different restaurant from the Des Moines area – in an effort to get us to try new places and maybe just maybe find my new Sticks & Stones and become a regular.  I have a few good leads on a place to call ours.

I saw this idea from Sara of the Spotted Fox, on Pinterest and knew it would be a perfect way to find new places in our new old city of Des Moines.

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Self-portrait Workshop: Weatherspoon Art Museum

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a self-portrait workshop at the Weatherspoon Art Museum located on University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s campus.  The workshop was led by Elizabeth Bradford, who did an amazing job facilitating.  This image is a sneak preview of the finished self-portrait made from this workshop.
It has been a while since I last took an art class or workshop to make my own art, so I did a little prep work.  I took a few photos, worked on some sketches, and collected materials I was interested in using.  Eric kept making me laugh while I was trying to take phone self-portraits.


On Saturday morning, I hopped on my bike and rode to the workshop.  We started with coffee and quick bread for a breakfast-snack.  After introductions, we viewed a few examples of self-portraits, and then headed up to the galleries to see the exhibit, The Penetrating Gaze.  If you are able to make it to this exhibit, I highly recommend it.  It has an excellent array of portraits and is on display through June 16, 2013.

This is one of my favorite sculptures at the Weatherspoon – I love her reclining posture.

I love her bottle hair-do, very medusa-like, if you ask me.

Portrait of Benny Andrews, Alice Neel, Lithograph, 1978.

This Alice Neel portrait caught my eye immediately.  I love her sense of line in this image.

Self-portrait, Chuck Close, hard ground etching and aquatint on paper, 1977.
This Chuck Close self-portrait begs a closer look.


The zoomed in view shows the amount of time put into this self-portrait.  I am impressed!

Self-portrait, George Tooker, lithograph, 1984.

The expression and use of the hand caught my attention. 


Top: Untitled (Map Faced Man #13), Timothy Cummings, Map and acrylic on canvas, 1996.
Bottom: June 25, 2009, Fred Tomaselli, Gouache and collage on printed watercolor paper, 2010.
Anything collage, especially when it involves text like the map, above, and the newspaper below, interests me.  I used these two artworks as inspiration for my self-portrait, the most.


Girl Before Mirror, William C. Fields, oil on canvas, 1961.
This portrait has a warm, nostalgic feeling.  It reminded me immediately of my Great Grandmother Mabel.


After spending some time with the portraits, we headed back downstairs to the conference room we were using as our studio for the day.  At first, I thought this was made from blue plastic bags, but upon closer inspection, it is layered muslin.

Contemplating – where to begin?  This is the best part about art workshops, I get to be the student and remember what my students feel like when they are sitting in front of a blank paper waiting for an idea to appear.


I mapped out my drawing in pencil over 4 pages from an old bridge book.
Then it was time for a lunch break with my two cuties at the new Chipotle across the street.  They have these great plywood walls with holes drilled in them.  There are lights behind the boards so that the holes glow like orange stars.  It was something I may have to copy sometime in the not-so-distant future.


Here is the drawing after inking over it in thin Sharpie.


After much deliberation, I added the watercolor wash to the clothing.  Then, decided to give it some white balance and go with white streaks in the hair, white in the eyes, and white on the necklace.  It made the portrait come to life.  I always love how a small detail like white paint can transform an artwork so dramatically.
After this stage, it was time to go home.  This was one of the most successful art sessions I have had in a long time.  It is hard to make art without feeling guilty when you have a toddler bringing you books or tugging on your pant leg.
The following day, Sunday, I finished this artwork.  I knew if I let it sit any more than that, I would not get back to it at all.  I went back to the card theme and turned myself into the trumping Queen of Spades.
I hope this post inspires you to go out and create.  I am on a spree now and am working on some fun things at work now too.

Tree Mixed Media Artwork

I forgot all about this collage & watercolor piece I had completed a while back – in November.  Whoops!  I made it on a friend’s birthday and subsequently ended up giving it to her .  I have been really enjoying using the old books in my collage work lately.

I have another one of these mixed media, old book collages finished that I will be posting on here soon.  I had the pleasure of taking a workshop on Saturday at the Weatherspoon Art Museum.  It was well worth the money as a way to force myself to devote a day to art.

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Happy Valentine’s Day + Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake

It’s not too late to make this sweet treat for your Valentine.  It is fast, simple, and takes very minimal prep time.  

I spread out on the dining room table last night to make this cake for Eric, who actually requested a cake.  Usually if I start talking baking on a weeknight there is some eye rolling, because of course, there are other more important things I should be doing – lunch prep, coffee prep, walking the dog…

I mixed the cake up in a medium mixing bowl.  Normally for this recipe, you mix everything in the pan, but since I was using a layer of cherries on the bottom, a bowl was necessary. 

I made the same vegan cake I made for the Super Bowl last year, but added a twist with a layer of cherries on the bottom of the cake. 

Of course, I made the horrible mistake of reading the ingredients!  I think next time I will go with frozen or fresh cherries and a sprinkling of sugar and melted butter or margarine.  No more corn syrup and Red 40 for me. 
Grease a 9-inch cake pan with margarine and then pour the can of cherries on the bottom of the pan.  That Red 40 sure does look festive and Valentine-like though! 
Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Eric!  He got to enjoy his cake with an IPA. 

Here are the last of my Valentine Day cards for 2013.  I liked the ice skating design on this one.  I used pen and ink again to create the blue heart background and then sewed the image to the card.  My sewing line slipped a little on the ice.  :)

Eric and I always opt to stay home on Valentine’s Day, we are curmudgeons that way – it is just too busy in the restaurants, the wait staff is annoyed, and the “specials” are over priced.  We plan on staying in and making dinner tonight.  What are your plans?

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake


1-1/4 c. flour

1 c. sugar
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c. warm water
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.  Open can of cherries, pour into bottom and smooth out.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with fork. Mix very well.
2. Mix water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar in a small bowl or glass mixing cup. Add all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Use a spatula to scrape sides and bottoms to ensure adequate mixing.  Pour cake batter over the cherry mixture. 
3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or til knife comes out clean.


Handmade Valentine’s Cards

I’m back with more handmade Valentine’s card ideas.  This time, I mixed things up a bit and used pen and ink as the background to my old advertising book collage.  I love the classic car in this image.  
The Iowa collage is for an Iowa transplant friend here in Greensboro.  I saved a couple books from library discard on Iowa and have been using them for art projects.  The background on this card is made from rubber stamps. 

For this card, I went out on a limb.  I decided to take a more abstract approach.  This card is the practical card for teachers – tissue, bandages, paperclips, and paper.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the Valentine Day cards from 2013.  Enjoy your evening, y’all!

Hand Made Valentine’s Day Cards

Here are a few more examples from my 2013 Valentine’s Day cards.  For this card, I stamped the background with a rubber stamp before sewing paper shapes onto the surface.  At first the faded stamps bothered me, but upon finishing this card, it turned out ok. 

Here is another gem from the old advertising book.  The book is chock full of old advertisements that crack me up.  Who knows why this person is standing inside of a hay stack.

This card is made from layers of torn and cut papers from my old advertising books.  The repetitive red edges of the paper corners is my favorite part about this collage.  I used watered down glue to get a smoother surface quality.  I am never going back – brushing on watered down glue is the way to go.