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!