Monday, May 24, 2010

Adventures in Gardening

Next entry, my husband and I have taken a plot in a nearby Organic Community Garden. Our first visit was cleaning out the plot and harvesting the remains from previous years gardens. Pretty lovely harvest, crisp diverse lettuce and parsley(used it in my morning smoothie!). Roland set up the soaker hoses with a timer for convenience.

Next visit, we took one sunny afternoon to get planted all the lil' green kids we'd so far acquired.

We are blessed to have the raised plots, saving our backs from strain. I also learned that some of the locals have a special name for those gardeners using these raised plots. You see there are three, evenly spaced arched bars placed over the gardening plots (probably for bracing taller plants to later in the season) and it took me awhile to understand what this one woman commented, "Oh, the covered wagon gardeners are back again!" I get it, if I placed canvas over the bars, hooked up some horses in the front and wheels to the sides - - it WOULD look like a lil Calistoga Covered Wagon!!!
The garden we had had the last two years at our home didn't fair well - not enough sunshine. So we have a little experience with tomatoes, peppers and basil from previous plantings. But this time, with all the extra space and sunshine we're planting tomatoes, peppers, basil, and also beans, eggplants, butternut squash, onions. We longingly searched for Fava Bean plants ... but may have to use seeds or skip 'em for the year. Around the lil' green 'kids' I've added Marigolds and Coreopsis for bug control (hey, that's what I read).
Our first group "clean up" day was last Sunday ~ a gorgeous sunny, breezy spring day. We met several of our peer gardeners and tidied up "community areas". I was assigned the weeds interspersed with the bouncing California Poppies and Iris. Roland carried off the weeds and other compost that had seeds to a flat, dry and sun scorched area that wouldn't allow the seeds nor plants to survive. Maybe like a plant "hell" ... I don't know. The small group met afterward to update any news. We'd voted "Yes" to allowing a group of recovering women from a nearby facility to have one of our available plots (I'm excited to meet them). Following the meeting, I'd so gotten into pulling weeds, that both Roland and I dug into the pathways around our lil raised beds, hacking and pulling at any weed that resisted us. Quite fun actually!
Isn't digging in the dirt just one of the most gratifying things alive? Must be a carry over from my childhood of some innate need ~ ~ whatever it is, I'm always so gratified after the fact. What can I add? Happy diggin'

Friday, May 21, 2010

Adventures into "Stitched Window" Journaling

This journal page entry seems to contain some sort of adventure energy. It must have something to do with it being Spring and the re-birth of life and vitality ~ because I'm daring to do things that thrill and surprise me.

I'm testing out a new venue within the Ashland Art Center where they have opened a new gallery in the back part of the building. I'll have my pieces on display on the main floor (will continue with my studio on the second floor too). Along with this venue goes a weekly, 4 hour shift on the "Creator's" register.

The contour drawing that began this entry came from our training session. I was looking to entertain another "stitched window" in my journal, specifically for one of my private student's class. I did the small painting of this "most intriguing artist" at the far right of my contour drawing, cut it out and then cut out a window that echoed a similar shape as my small painted image. To stitch the window together, I'd wanted to use a special yarn I'd just purchased ... it was this nice warm copper color with copper metallic threads woven thru it. I wanted it to express the warmth and camaraderie I felt in the training room but, integrated with my anxious irritability, and flashes of impatience. I felt the metal thread would indicate that. But after I'd gotten the holes punched and attempted to sew with the yarn, I realized I couldn't use it. Too clumpy :( So, on to a thread that could work.

To stitch the page, I had to clip a bulldog clip to my lamp, that gave me access to both sides of the page. I add some french knots (from my previous life as an mad embroider) to mimic her beautiful white hair.

And eventually, tah-dah, I got it all completed. Here's the finished wide view contour drawing the a few added color spots to add intrigue and carry you across the page. Hope it tantalizes!

Friday, May 14, 2010

May with "First Friday" & Class Demos

This time of year just seems to start vibrating with life. So many opportunities appear and it's difficult to make choices that best serve your dreams and still maintain some sense of sanity and peace of mind in the process.

Several month's ago I committed to being the "Boulevard Cafe's May Artist of the Month". So now that I'm all installed, I was prepared to go sit at the "Ashland's First Friday Artwalk". Unfortunately, the cafe is just two blocks off the center of the town and as yet, many people haven't discovered this lovely, cozy and friendly spot which is now part of First Friday. I arrived just before 5pm and brought my trusty journal. My vantage spot gave me a vista into the cafe overlooking a window panorama. I got the angles and chair in and debated what to include when this cute lil girl, dressed in pink took a seat at the cafe computer. That was the focal spot I'd been missing. I sketched in the closer window, computer and chair ~ ~ then of course, she left with her mom. Booo. But thank goodness for my trusty digital, I'd gotten a shot of my lil "star" and completed her at home. That was the main success at the Cafe ... there never was one visitor coming in specifically for the Art walk.

The next entry on this Journal page evolved from what was to be my "Intermediate Journaling and Watercolor Sketching" Class. But just not enough students signed up so, one dedicated creative student still wanted to persue the class agenda in private. So our first session we reviewed her portfolio of watercolors and then reveled as we traveled thru her imaginative journals. Next we did a brief overview of pigments and an exercise to show opacity of the pigments that she was not familiar with. I've also had several students curious about how to paint night skies ~ so I whipped up a quick demo of two night skies, one with sparkling stars and one with fireworks. Both she and I were surprised how well they turned out!! Then she proceeded to replicate the demos. We had so much fun towards the end, even invented a tiny campfire in one of her night scenes! But she made me stop when I suggested putting lil people around the campfire :) Who ever said I really get into things?!?

So life patters along on its merry way and I'm just smilin' ~ ~ glad to be part of it and hoping to bring sunshine to the lovely spirits I touch along the pathway. Happy Trails ...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

April Journal Updates ~ Tah Dah!

April just seems so long ago and so full. It takes on the full weight of the ending of Winter snows in addition to the savory teases of Springtime ... and long with that, comes all the awakening. The planning of Spring/Summer art shows, getting the ole garden dead fall removed so that designing this years plot can commence and pacifying the urge to outside in the sun, hiking and relishing flowers. So, rather than journaling, I've been doing all of that.

But I'm wanting to share all that flurry and the results, so, finally, TAH-DAH!

As you already know ... the upper left image of Zanfel tells the tale of my encounter with poison oak. It also personifies the fact that I'm extremely human (note the misspelling of the label on the front, compared to the correct title on the backdrop) ~ ~ don't you love it?!? This mischievious portrait was my favorite from the "Taste of Ashland". It's my peer artist and dear friend, preparing decorations for the evening. And, YES, she really is that mischievous!!

And dancing across the bottom of the full spread page was a thought that tumbled across my mind one afternoon driving home. I was pleasantly hopping from the earliest spring flower that appears in our yard, the Snowdrop, then came the Crocus, next our hycainth, then the Daffodils appear, followed by the Star of Bethlehem and most recently comes the Tulips. So I decided to create a medley of just those lovely blossoms. Aren't they divine? Don't their cheery faces just make you smile?

And so settles in my memories of 2010's month of April. Isn't life full of luscious events, people, and potential? I'm aiming at experiencing as much of it as possible in my life ~ ~ won't you join me?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Delicious "Taste Of Ashland"

This is an annual Ashland event . . . the Taste Of Ashland, a city wide sampling from restaurants, bakeries and caterers as well as various wineries (and even an organic Vodka!). This year their kick off event, the "Gala" which incorporates the "Quick Draw"(where artists create, ready for hanging, a piece of artwork in just one hour and auctioned off for fundraising) took place at our new "Ashland Art Center".

Since this is where I have my second floor studio I was present for the wild, gregarious and thrilling evening. There were drink and food samplings everywhere, two bands and 17 artists who participated in the "Quick Draw". I chose to watch, paint casually and take photos while encouraging my peer artists. It's one of the decisions I did make to lessen stress in my life (now, believe me that lil inner critic squawked about my not participating, but I'm acknowledging those comments and moving into happier, healthier commentary) and I got some hilarious images.

You can see how packed the space, even with three floors, was with celebratory guests and artists. Guest began piling in at 7pm and flooded every open area. Artists had been decorating the entire day in prep and psyching up for the "Quick Draw". At 7:30 the "Quick Draw" began and here are a couple of our artists at the onset of the event.

People milled around nibbling and enjoying watching the artists sweat it out. The public was requested to refrain from talking with the artists but, you can guess how well adults sipping wine, vodka and festivities followed requests!

Most artists finished on time and with all the flurry of energy and spontaneity ~ we had only one disappointment in the art creations. Susan's sculpture ended up being a bit to moist and just collapsed onto the floor. Our artist maintained an optimistic attitude and smiles, as you can see. My nearest neighbor, Sylvia Trujillo, completed her rolling hills oil piece and it sold immediately for the full asking price!

What a night to remember ~ ~ and, perhaps I'll take part in the "Quick Draw" next year. We'll see . . .

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One Show Comes Down, the Next Goes Up

This lovely venue, the Palace Cafe (, came to me on a quick spurt and I was able to fill this pleasant, well-lit wall. The owner, wanted new work on his walls, had contacted the Ashland Art Center, and they gave him a couple of us artists who have large format pieces. The other artist was "spread a bit thin" right now with lots of Spring shows, so mustered together ALL the bigger pieces I could and well ah!! All fourteen framed filled his walls with pleasant breathing room.

There was some confusion on when I was to take down the show and I double checked, mentioning I'd be able to leave my pieces there for another month if necessary. But I received a call, letting me know another artist was anxious to hang and I could come pick up. I was a day of flurry, because that very same day I was to hang for the upcoming May Ashland First Friday at the new Boulevard Cafe.

This venue I also heard about thru the Ashland Art Center. A newly redecorated end of the Strafford Inn on the south end of Ashland has long, well lit walls and will be on the Artwalk too. The have fabulous coffee and delectable eats along with a spacious room with overstuffed, comfy accommodations for patrons. They are very kind and accommodating to their month artist as you can see from their website:

Because of the open, wide cafe and an awaiting audience available in their Inn guests, I had a flash idea. So I've proposed to them, my offering to their guests, along with any of my previous students who'd like to partake, a "Journaling Clinic". I'd offer a short presentation in a class-like manner and then, just be available for questions and helping anyone who had requests. We are now bouncing back and forth the idea and may or may not incorporate this "Clinic" idea into their newsletter for the upcoming Shakespeare Theatre patrons and Souther Oregon tourists.
Life IS full of great opportunities and gifts . . .

I'm learning and trusting I'm open to all to the Universe's abundance. Join me won't you?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Jacksonville is for the Birds" ~ A Birdhouse Project

The Winter's Project for our "Art Presence" group, focused on highlighting fine art in our historic town of Jacksonville, was "Jacksonville is for the Birds". We'd solicited artists to create an inventive birdhouse to be auctioned in benefit for the "Jacksonville Woodlands Association" (10%), "Art Presence" (10%) and the individual participating artist (80%).

In February we previewed a portion of the completed birdhouses at the local Jacksonville entryway display case. From there, the thirteen various birdhouses nested into windows of main street retail business windows for a period of 6 weeks.

The culmination of an entire project took place on April 17th in common celebration with Jacksonville's Annual Hike-a-thon. In between all the gregarious out-door celebrations of Spring was our Birdhouse Auction. This year not only was there a hike followed by a breakfast, but an additional hike to dedicate a new trail to a local woman, who'd operated a long time business here in town, and recently lost her fight with cancer.

Our Auction went pretty well. Not as many bidders as we'd hoped but our professional auctioneer, Steve Wall, conducted a lively and humorous fundraiser. All in all, ten of our thirteen birdhouses found homes and we raised $261 for the Woodlands too!

Our "Art Presence" group learned alot about how to improve our presentation and effectiveness for next time. We'd succeeded with our first Birdhouse Project!! Next year we're thinking of "The Chair Affair" ~ ~ want to participate? Just start dreaming about your most magical, imaginative chair, table or even ottoman.