Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Revolutions...

So often before the new year, we think about things we'd like to accomplish. But do we think about why we want to accomplish them? Especially those resolutions that start out with a bang and end up fizzling out after a few months, weeks, or even days! I know I'm guilty. So one day I sat down and thought... what is it that I really want? Forget about the next year... what is my life goal. It was a daunting exercise, but about 13 pages and just as many days later... I figured it out. Wanna know what it is?

To no longer be bound by the constraints of time.

Okay, I know... I know... sounds like something out of an H.G. Wells novel, right? But really it's more simple than that. If I had everything I needed to make a good living... I would be free. Money, success, friends, family, travel, a beach house, cool clothes, a giant art studio... none of these things are worth anything without time. If you don't have time to enjoy them... what good are they? Not much. But, oh... if I could find a way to enjoy these things in a leisurely fashion.... now that's what success means to me.

I wouldn't have to rush around trying to get more done than one person actually can. I could hire people and delegate tasks. I wouldn't have to compromise on a creative project, trying to meet a deadline. I could take my time and re-do or re-work anything I wanted. I could play, experiment, have fun. I'd have more time for family and travel and hanging out with my friends. I wouldn't even own a watch because time wouldn't matter!

And so that's what I'm after. No matter who, what, where, when or how I can attain this... I have no preconceived notions. You never know how your dream will be delivered, but you definitely need to have one. So... what's your New Year's Revloution?

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: I Love Wood!

 I'm not sure why, but I absolutely love making art on wood! And this woodburnt folk art-style doll purse I made while taking a class from Suzi Blu is no exception! Perhaps it's the smell of the burning wood... reminds me of being around the campfire. Maybe it's the way acrylic paints let the wood show through... I just love me some texture... courtesy of mother nature!

Transferring the image is easy-peasy with the age-old pencil transfer method! Some things never go out of style.

Burn, baby burn! This part is fun and scary all at once. But oh, the smell of burning wood. Mmmmm...

Painting in the details. She's coming around now. Although my anal-retentive side would not let me paint over the burn lines. I like the contrast of the bright paint and the burnt wood, but... ugh! Sometimes I just need to chill out and let go!

Some finishing elements and then there's still more room to play, play, play! I love working with wood so much that I just bought ten 16" x 20" wooden panels. Not sure what I'm going to do with them. But I'm sure it involves paint, collage and lots of layers! Fun time!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Art Retreat... Creativity By-the-Sea!

I'm so excited to finally let you in on this new art retreat taking place right here in my home town of Ocean Grove, NJ! Creativity By-the-Sea is actually the brainchild of my very own mom — Carol Bernard — who has enjoyed organizing events for decades and wanted to dip her toes into something a little more creative.

Creativity By-the-Sea
March 23 - 25, 2012
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
This weekend of inspiration features an exciting array of workshops that take place within the one square mile of this quaint, Victorian, seashore town of Ocean Grove, NJ!  You can choose from a wide selection of classes in jewelry, fabric, mixed media, collage, assemblage, painting, drawing, photography, fused glass... even baking! The location will provide a relaxing respite for your soul while you awaken your artistic side. With the Atlantic Ocean right at your doorstep, what better place to play and learn.

I'll be teaching a class at the event — Boardwalk Memories — where you'll get to make a folk art style assemblage that looks like it's from days gone by! So... come join me at the shore and let's make some stuff!
For additional information about Creativity By-the-Sea, visit our blogsite where you'll find class listings, hotel information, events, and more!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas... Everyone!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, fun and maybe even a few surprises!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: Art Imitates Life!

One of the things I've learned about life is... if I'm in disagreement with how things are, I can create plenty of misery for myself. And that's no fun! Everything is what it is... my bank account, my health, the economy, the floor that needs repair, and so on. And the more I get mad at things and don't accept what is actually happening... the more aggravated I seem to be.

So every once in awhile I take a deep breath and say, "stop fighting what is!" And here, I've illustrated that point with one very amusing flea market family photo I acquired for my collection... by adding the "WHAT IS" in Photoshop. Just as a little reminder that... things are the way they are. Believe me when I say that... a little acceptance goes a long, long way!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Can You Sugar Coat It For Me?

Goody-goody gumdrops, and cotton candy too (of course)! After I had so much fun with my pop art ice cream cone, I decided to make a cotton candy version as well (actually, my brain has created a whole series of candy art... now I need more canvasses!).  And since cotton candy is all sweet and sugary, I thought that gumdrops would make the perfect accompaniment. But after I stared and stared at the finished piece, I thought the gumdrops looked a little naked.

So... I covered them with glitter! Big, fat, chunky glitter! Now they really look like gumdrops.

The final, final piece is totally sugary and 3-D! But I still can't decide if I like the gumdrops with or without the sugar. But that's how it is with original art.... sometimes you just have to take a chance. There's no "undo" button.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: Flea Market Family!

In much of my artwork I love to use vintage photos that I find at flea markets, antique shows, rummage sales, and the like. I try to buy them for 50 cents and I usually can find them or pass them by for that price. I also tend to be drawn the photos of strange looking people, so they usually go for less. Funny. Cheap and interesting, not a bad deal. I call them my Flea Market Family.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We All Scream for Ice Cream...

Recently I sketched this argyle ice cream cone and wanted to turn it into something fun. I actually tried a 5" x 7" watercolor version... but I did not like that at all! So I decided to fall back on my favorite techniques... mixed media and acrylics! And I was going BIG...

I wanted a fun and whimsical background, so I decorated this 16" x 20" canvas with a mottled pink background, made some paper peppermint swirl candy, and sprinkled in varying sizes of white stars for visual contrast.

I transferred a gigantic version of the argyle ice cream cone sketch and started to mask it off. I seem to  be building on other techniques I've tried out lately! Wasn't sure how far to go, but I did want to keep the background elements showing through.

Then it was time for a nice, thick, dark, black outline of acrylic paint. I wanted it to look like a silkscreen image and really stand out against the super sweet background. I was very pleased when it turned out so well. Oh... and the smiley face... well, that just happened. Totally unplanned... but this delightful painting was just begging for a kawaii-style happy face! And it won.

Next up...  I think maybe a cotton candy with gumdrops in the background!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy National Cotton Candy Day!

Did you know that today — December 7th — is National Cotton Candy Day? Yeah, me neither until just a few months ago when I was searching around the internet for that cotton candy machine I saw at Bed Bath & Beyond!

But over the years — and especially the last couple — I've grown to love this sinful confection of spun sugar even more than ever before! Not only do I like to eat it, but now I enjoy making art in honor of it!

Oh, cotton candy... so soft and wispy... so sweetly delicious... I love how you glisten in the sunshine and melt on those hot, humid summer days. I love how you stick to my fingers so it looks like I have 5 little troll dolls on my hand. I wish I could eat you every day! But since I can't... I'll just build a shrine to your magnificence!

How I love to silkscreen you!

And to paint you!

And watercolor you too! No matter what "form" you take, you melt in my mouth and bring a smile to my face. So thank you cotton candy. Thanks for being you! Have a sweet day everybody!

If you're looking for a cotton candy gift... check out my Etsy shop! Many of the items you see here are for sale.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness...

Last week, a friend of mine, Kecia Deveney, did a blog post about Random Acts of Kindness. She pointed out that the holidays were a perfect time to give the gift of kindness, and shared her own personal Christmas story. Kecia also asked us to share our own stories — which made me think of my absolute favorite — and so I thought I'd share it with you...
About 6 years ago, I was in Atlantic City attending the Artiology retreat and staying in a hotel about a block from the boardwalk. It was dinner time when I arrived so shortly after, I went to the boardwalk to get a bite to eat. On my way I found a red rose boutonniere that someone had dropped. Of course being someone who picks random objects up off the ground, a beautiful red rose with a hint of baby's breath was no exception. I had no idea what I would do with it, but my the palm of my hand was a better place for this lone flower than the sidewalk. 

Just a few moments later I was about to pass by a homeless person sitting on the boardwalk. He asked me for some money... but I had another idea. I cupped my hands over his hands (hiding the rose) — and then waved them over his like a magic trick — revealing the rose. He went, "oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!" and was just awestruck. He was so appreciative of the gesture, he couldn't stop smiling and thanking me. He blessed me and I continued on my way. Smiling. 

Sometimes when I need an instant smile, I think of that moment. To be able to lift someone's mood with only the tiniest of gestures is a gift we all have. So why not give the gift of a Random Act of Kindness? What a great way to get into the holiday spirit!

I'd love to hear about Random Acts of Kindness that you've done, or that have been done for you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mother's Little Helper...

Super busy this week making jewelry from my flea market finds, and creating unique pieces for a Holiday show and sale this weekend. But I thought I'd pop in and show you some of my faves. This upcycled Menthol tin I'm calling Mother's Little Helper. Great to store your happy pills or "whatever".

And speaking of mothers, this repurposed Cub Scout scarf holder is perfect for that proud Cub Scout mom! Grrrrrrr.

And you'll be blinded by the tons of recycled vintage costume brooches in this Bling On The Holidaze necklace. Better put on your sunglasses!

That's it for now folks. Back to the worktable for me!

The pieces you see here will be available at Hand Made for Hunger Aid this Saturday. And don't forget my Cyber Monday Discount Special lasts all week.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Cyber Monday! Shop Yesterday's Trash...

After an incredible discount-focused weekend at these big box stores, I have to ask myself, "How can a small art business compete with such low prices on mass-produced goods?" This is how — I don't. I have to look at it like this... they can't compete with me! I'm unique, friendly, real, approachable, honest, flexible... and everything in my shop was made by me... with Love!

So I invite you to shop this Cyber Monday, but also to shop hand made. Shop my shop. Hey, I'm not afraid of shameless self promotion! And, just because I like you... I'm offering 15% everything in my Yesterday's Trash Etsy Shop — now through Friday, December 2nd at 5pm EST. Just enter the code MYTRASH when you check out. You'll find lots of unique items made from vintage, found and everyday items including...

Dolls! Like this easy-peasy, make-your-own Coraline Little Me Pattern!

Uncommon Jewelry! Made from vintage items, interesting finds, and antique pieces and parts... like this Carousel Necklace.

Tons of Carnival & Circus Fun stuff! Including arcade-inspired Knock-Down Dolls and Assemblages.

Mixed Media Art! Including shadowbox-framed collages and some really weird and interesting stuff too!

And then there's the token holiday stuff like Kitschy Ornaments for your wacky relatives and some Holiday Home Décor items too.

So skip the malls, don't fuss over parking, avoid the crowds... and be a Cyber Shopper. Shop loud. Shop proud. Shop in your underwear if you like, because I can't see you! And... Thanks!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hand Made for Hunger Aid - Saturday, December 3rd

Take the spirit of giving to a whole new level this holiday season! Shop directly from talented local artists for handmade items to benefit Asbury Park’s Need To Feed charity. Stroll the quaint indoor setting of Ocean Grove’s Quaker Inn — our gracious host for this one-of-a-kind event — while you choose from unique and creative gift items. Featuring...

original paintings • unique jewelry • boardwalk-themed art • knitted fashions • crocheted creations • hand woven goods • photography • home décor • accessories • gift items • cards  

I'll be there with tons of new carnival assemblages, Tillie Knock-Down Dolls, unique upcycled jewelry creations, original art, collage and more!

Saturday, December 3rd
10 am until 3 pm
Quaker Inn
39 Main Ave, Ocean Grove, NJ

In the spirit of giving, 15% of your purchases will go toward Need To Feed — providing free meals to local people in need!

Need to Feed is a weekly food service that offers a good free meal to those in need in the West Side neighborhood of Asbury Park and the surrounding community.  Created and run by neighborhood youth under the direction of Interfaith Neighbors, Need to Feed serves no less than 200 people weekly including children, elderly and families.

*Cash & Checks ONLYplease

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: Let's Talk Turkey... or Chicken?

Chicken wire, that is! In my ongoing quest for fun and funky ways to display my jewelry items, I stumbled across some frames that had open mesh wire attached in the center. I thought chicken wire would be even cuter... and that was it. I was in love!

So I decided to repurpose a vintage frame I purchased for $1 (yes, one dollar!) at a rummage sale. Besides its beautiful raised designs, I loved that it was all crunchy and crusty and dirty.

I wanted to make it match my signature color — pink, of course— but also to add interest, so I lightly dusted some highlights onto the raised parts using acrylic paints and a little piece of foam.

Isn't it just delicious? That's the icing on the cake. Yum!

Then I had a contractor (okay, my friend who enjoys doing all this weird construction stuff for me) attach chicken wire to the back, and.... 

Voilà! Instant jewelry display!

I punched holes, and cut a slit up to the hole in order to hang the cute little ticket stubs I made for my earrings... and I'm all set! Now to just figure out a funky way to showcase my upcycled vintage necklace creations. I'm working on it...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Having Fun With My Little Monster...

No... not that little monster! Romeo kitty is a good boy (mostly). I was actually referring to this little monster... from my sketchbook...

Inspired by the work of Jesse Reno, I wanted to create a collage where the main subject stood out from the background, but in a reverse-masked-out kind of way. I love the circus and thought a funky primitive elephant was a good place to start.

I recently bought a vintage mirror — that I disassembled to make an earring display —and the backing was an old piece of cardboard from an air conditioner box. It was so thick and full of fun graphics, that I wanted to use it as a base for the collage.

I started with one of my favorite techniques... creating circles with different sized bottle caps and jar lids.

Then I continued with acrylic paints, pencil, sketching, adding vintage papers and such.

Then more layering with more paint, more drawing, masking, vintage photos, tissue papers, ephemera and the like. When I got to where I liked it, I stopped messing with it!

I enlarged my elephant sketch — who by now has evolved to take on the name Monster of Love — and made a transfer of it.

On to "masking off" the image with acrylic paint. I decided to stay in the pink family, but go a little lighter. I did many, many, many coats of paint... starting with a watery mix at first and then slowly graduating to a dry brush technique.

Then the scary part! The outline. I wanted it to look sketchy like a charcoal pencil, but I didn't want it to smear. So I put a call out to all my little social media monsters and got some great ideas back, but eventually went with black acrylic paint... watered down at first, and then using a very dry brush to add that sketchy look.

I loved my little Monster so much, but could not stop at the original design. I added some feet... and he was just begging for a curly tongue... which then begged for something to drink. And that was that.

I think I'll be making a whole cavalcade of crazy circus creatures in this style! And maybe I could even teach this as a class. Because I had way too much fun!