Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh, Sandy!

In case you hadn't heard... there's like this little storm brewing off the eastern United States. Her name is Hurricane Sandy and she's heading right for New Jersey and is expected to land sometime later this evening! Although we've been feeling the effects since early Saturday.

I happen to live in central New Jersey... 3 blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and 2 blocks from a local lake. And so this morning, my mom and I took a ride down to the beach to check out the morning high tide situation. I was pleased to see that the waves weren't even as high as they were on Sunday around 4:00pm.

...and that the ocean's edge had not even reached the boardwalk yet. This is good. But the relentless waves and wind were still making their presence known to our tiny little fishing pier.

My family and I have chosen to stay. If there are any water surges, they aren't like tidal waves that overtake the streets... it's more like a creeping water level you can see or react to in plenty of time. If we lose power, I'd rather be in my dark house than a dark hotel room. My 2 kitties agree!

I'll be posting more as the storm progresses. You can follow me on Twitter or check out what's happening on my Facebook page. For everyone in the path of this storm... stay safe and stay smart!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hunting & Gathering...Sideshow Style!

Lately, a lot of my time has been spent scouring the help wanted ads in the newspaper, as well as the many, many, many online sources that are available these days (did I say many?). And boy... has finding a job changed a LOT since I was searching in 2004! The process is so anonymous... very impersonal... and kind of confounding. You click a button. Press send. Apply to a blind e-mail. You don't send anything through the mail. And you don't hear back from anyone. It's like a black hole. That's why I'm trying my best to get myself out there. Go to job fairs. Talk to anyone who will listen! And get some real face time and make some real connections.

Well, a funny thing happened while I was vending at the Ocean Grove Harvest Festival recently. A gentleman came into my booth and asked me who made these Crustacea Banners. I told him that I painted the original 3 foot by 4 foot piece and made mini banner prints of it. He shared with me that he used to paint sideshow banners for a living!! While he told me a little more about his foray into the circus sideshow job, I attempted to pick my jaw up off the ground and stop drooling. He commented on my style and said that it was "right on" with the original style of banners (can I pass out now?)! I laughed and confessed that my painting skills were limited, but since the old style was a little primitive, I felt like I could take it on... even though my background is in graphic design.

"Graphic design?" he asked. I explained that before I did the art thing full time I was a graphic designer, and that I'm actually looking for a full time job. Well, it turns out that he is the Design Director for the Asbury Park Press — our local newspaper! And they were looking for designers!! And I had actually handed in my resume to the Press at a recent job fair!!! And now I have a direct contact. How cool is that? So we exchanged e-mails and he asked for some samples. Of course I had to do something to stand out, paired with a little reminder of how we met. So I made a little sack using some muslin and a banner remnant, distressed it, filled it with graphic design samples, and hand delivered it to the Asbury Park Press. Now that's the way I like to apply for a job!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Prints Now Available...

Well, I finally photographed a bunch of my original whimsically weird art and had prints made, which are now available in a special section of my Etsy Shop! Seeing them all together was quite exciting and I plan to be painting more and more as the Fall season turns to Winter. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed painting them. Happy browsing!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Let's Go On Safari...

I'm so excited to introduce a logo I designed for Art & Soul Mixed-Media Retreats and their 2013 On Safari theme! When Glenny Moir asked me to create the logo for next year's theme... I was ecstatic. That little hamster wheel in my brain started going a mile a minute. What should I do? Maybe a Survivor themed logo... Outwit, Outcraft, Outlast? Maybe an animal print logo... like a zebra or a cheetah? But when it came down to the actual design, I ended up just gathering as many jungle and safari images that struck my fancy until the ultimate idea came to fruition.

Playing around with the mixed-media theme, I thought it would be fun to silhouette a bunch of animals that you'd see on a safari... using the many types of papers, fabrics and ephemera I love to use in my own collage work! So I searched through my own papers, books and even random pieces of fabric to find just the right look for each animal. After creating a pleasing composition for the animals it was time to design the logo for the theme.

I knew I wanted to use the Acadia Tree and once I had that in place, everything else just seemed to fall together. Even when I'm doing graphic design, my process seems to be very organic. I get inspired by the serendipity of the moment... and I just go with it. For example, using the tree as the '1' in 2013 just kind of popped into my brain... just like having the giraffe eating the '&' just kind of happened. So I ended up with the perfect combination of clever and whimsy, and I must say...

I'm wild about it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Everything New is Old Again

Everything new is old again. One of my favorite backwards sayings. Believe it or not, I'm actually an old fashioned kind of girl. I like to take things slow... take my time... savor the moment. Not all this rush-rush-rush we have today. So I like to surround myself with things that remind me of a simpler time. Antiques, collectibles and, well... junk. The older-looking the better I like it. But I can't always find what I'm looking for. Either the items are out of my price range, smell a little funky, or just too rare to obtain.

And that's when the fun starts! I get to take something new and make it look old and dirty and dusty and unkempt and disheveled and like it's been kept in Grandma's attic (or perhaps basement) for decades! Such is the case with my most recent acquisition... a dress form.

Before and After
I searched high and low for an antique dress form to use as a model for my jewelry making. But, alas, there were none that met my criteria. So I gave in and ordered a new version, with the intention of transforming it into something vintage. And that, I did. Over the course of a few days, I dyed it with tea, aged it with espresso and spritzed it with a watery mix of Van Dyke Brown acrylic paint... letting it drip dry in the sun (although I think I scared the mailman once or twice when I left it in the alleyway!). I sanded it, stamped on it, and went back over it way too many times! I even took an old page from a math book and added it to the neck (I thought it looked like a measurement chart. And of course I had to distress that as well.

Sometimes it's just the simplest of details...

Look at those beautiful, decades-old looking discolorations...

 Every diva needs a pair of wings...

Sticking my neck out...
Why 42? Because I'm 42!
All-in-all this was one of my favorite projects to do. I love aging things just right because it's impossible! Huh? That's right, these techniques are so unpredictable that you never know how they'll turn out, and you are just going to have to course correct. Kind of like life...

Photos: All photos by Michelle Bernard, with the exception of: Original Dress Form picture courtesy of

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Drawing from Nature...

Over the weekend, I decided to get out of the house and go immerse myself in Nature for a bit. So I took a little trip to a local park and brought my sketchbook so I could practice drawing... from Nature. Other than a single class in college (with a not-so-great teacher), I don't think I've ever sketched something that was right in front of me. And so it was time to be brave! I really enjoyed myself and was impressed with the results (pats self on back).

And I just loved being back in a natural setting on such a warm, sunny, Fall day... that I left a little something behind to express my gratitude.