Monday, April 29, 2013

The Sketch - Revealed!

here are the sections of the big picture. 

Reserve your print now, or wait to see how it comes together. The longer you wait, the more of a gamble, I'll only reproduce 10 of each panel. 

Big Things Come in Small Packages

How Can I get There From Here?

Art Prize was EVERYWHERE in Grand Rapids

Last year I exhibited my work in Grand Rapids, MI as part of Art Prize. This was something I had in my sights for a few years and last year I finally did it. If you are not familiar with Art Prize you must check it out online. Last year 1717 Artists from all over the world created 1517 entries and connected with 161 venues. There is $560,000 in prizes, the largest total purse for any art prize, chosen by both public vote and professional jurors. Read More.

the underpainting, by panel

I exhibited at the MVP Metro Club in downtown Grand Rapids along with good friend and fellow artist Kimberly Kelly Santini. Kim did a series of wonderful pet portraits entitled Cherised. Santini is already planning and prepping for this year's competition, it's a bit easier for her as she's a Michigan native. Me, I have to find a way to get there from here.

Blick shipped me over 15 12x12's in two relatively small packages

I started thinking about Art Prize 2013 in the last couple of weeks, as the registration for artists is now open through June 6th (better get crack-a-lackin'). I really would LOVE to be included again this year, and I really would love to have one rather significant piece, large in format. But how can you ship something 3x5 feet without incurring huge freight costs? 

In addition to freight cost limitations, I got to thinking about the fact that I'm looking at a significant amount of travel in the next few months. My Dancing Daughter has at least two out of town dance competition and convention trips, I am teaching in Atlanta and North Carolina, and the Extended Nelson Family Annual Summer Vacation at the beach is in place for the week July 4th. (When I pack to go to the beach house, all I can manage is a stick easel made for holding up poster boards at best). 

How in the world can I work on a 3x5 foot Art Prize piece being out of the studio for that long?

One small step at a time. 

3x5 feet made up of 12x12 squares

12x12 fits on the back of my seat back tray table. 12x12 fits in the travel bag, 12x12 fits in a suitcase. 12x12 can be worked on in a hotel room, a kitchen table, a dance convention dressing room... are you following me yet?

I've decided to nail together all these smaller boards, sketch and paint them and then separate them. I'll work on them completely separately, putting them away as I create them. Why? I want the reveal of them coming back together to be interesting and surprising and to take on a life of its own!

here they are, nailed together and numbered for the initial stages of sketching and underpainting

And the Fun Begins...

Are you interested in claiming a small piece of my big picture? I'm going to offer PRINTS of the 12x12's on a first come, first served basis in order to sponsor my expenses of not only applying to Art Prize and shipping it in a small box to Michigan, but also to help me fly there to see it installed and to take in the whole experience! (With any luck, Santini will put me up and maybe feed me. If we have any money left over, I'll buy some groceries and the gas for the 3-hour road trip to Grand Rapids)

Sponsor Me

Sponsor my Art Prize Project by pre-purchasing your print of a small piece (or two or three). The prints will be signed 12x12 gallery wrapped canvas giclée on extra deep stretcher bars. You will be able to choose your panel (I will show numbered sections along every step of the process). I will limit the prints to 10 of any one panel, so these will be limited edition, numbered prints.

Signed sponsorship giclée prints will be priced at $60 each, including shipping to anywhere in the continental US. (contact me for international shipping rates). Remember, prints will be limited to 10 of each panel. You may reserve yours at ANY time during the process. Will you commit to your panel at the sketch phase? Will you want to wait for the underpainting? Or will you wait to see exactly what you are getting? It could be a gamble, the longer you wait, once I sell 10, that panel is no longer available!

I'll have purchasing information available in the next few days. I'll accept payments via PayPal with a credit card of PayPal account. I've already worked out my composition and nailed the boards together, so stay close! And here are the sections of the sketch!

the sketch, by panel

The Big Picture

The completed piece will hang with about one inch of space between the 15 original 12x12 panels and will be priced as one. I think that the end result is going to have a very patchwork feeling to it and will be unpredictable, which is kind of exciting. Don't you agree?

Let's see where this takes us. Thank you, as always, for being a part of my art journey.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

For The Birds

10x10 bird on boxed wood panel with hand carved stamping - in progress

This week in San Francisco I tried to keep creating work even though I had a very tough schedule of exploring, eating and drinking. I worked in my room at night, when I could keep my eyes open after walking all day. 

I always bring my work with me, and often times I bring more than I need. "Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it," as my father 'Big Al' was fond of saying. 

This bird was created at a table flooded by natural light, which came into our room full force by about 6:30 every morning. It provided the perfect little spot to spread out my materials. 

Thank You for being a part of my art journey

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Courage and Confidence

photo courtesy

Wandering around San Francisco, down by the Pier, we came across a kid playing a trumpet and tap dancing. Now it's not every day you see a super talented kid like this (wearing a fedora, no less) just moving and grooving like he was having the time of his life in front of a HUGE group of bystanders.

But I have seen this kid before, he's hard to forget. Last summer while in Los Angeles with my daughter, who was attending a dance convention there, we came across him on Rodeo Drive. My Dancing Diva and I stopped to be a part of the audience for quite some time. "How old do you think he is?" "I don't know Mom, probably younger than me." she said, las summer she was 14.



Watching this young man made me think about just how far a little faith in yourself will take you in life. It's a cyclical thing too, isn't it? The more faith you have, the better you will be, the more faith you will have, the better you will be.... 

Have the courage to try again. Dust yourself off and submit your artwork to the next juried show, or the next call to entries at your local art league. Don't be afraid that you are doomed to be rejected forever. You're not. I almost was, but you're not! I could have wallpapered my studio with rejection letters in the beginning. I really could have. Or, at the very least, I could have made a whole bunch of collages with that paper. But it was on terrible quality paper, anyway. 

It's important to keep trying, that's the only way it will ever work out.


You have to believe in yourself. When you put your artwork on there to be judged and juried, you have to have know that if you don't make it into the show, that it's nothing personal.  This kid is dancing and playing and sometimes singing, he misses a note or two here and there, but he hasn't got a care in the world. Because he's got everyone smiling, he's got people stopping to watch him. He's got self confidence regardless of his flaws because in the BIG picture, he rocks.

Confidence makes you bold, makes you strong, makes you willing to take risks, try new things, and put yourself out there. Now who couldn't use some of that?

With art, we all need to remember that not everything appeals to everyone. Art is subjective, it's in the eyes of the beholder. I have taken a collage that was rejected by one juried show away, only to have it win an award at the next show. Keep this in mind.

And yes, I have told you this before. But I just was reminded, that it was about time I told you again. Thanks to the kid in the hat.

And PS, this kid really gets around doesn't he? He's taking his act on the road, one city at a time.

Thank you for being part of my art journey.

Snail Mail Me

US Mail box at San Francisco City Hall

Letter writing is a dying art form. I call it that, an art form, because of the beauty and individuality of hand writing. Penmanship is something that isn't even taught in school anymore. Did you know that? Sad. Even e-mail is going away in favor of texting! At least I could apply a fancy font and print an email. Not the same, but ...

Over the last few years I have been purchasing old letters from a man in Greece. He sends me these letters, envelopes and all, and I use them in my collage work. Sometimes the letters are done with ink dip pens, the variation in value within the handwriting is lovely. Sometimes the letters are in a foreign language, like German, this is extra special.

Handwriting makes wonderful texture, pattern, and a very unique line.

Send me a note

I'm asking you to write me a letter, that I can use in a collage. Yes! how fun would that be to have hand writing from you, my followers and fans, in my work. Be sure to put some positivity into your note, good thoughts and affirmations. Say something nice about yourself, what kind of day you are having, or some details of your own art journey. Positive vibes have a way of making the art extra special.

Send me your grocery list, send me a doodle, or write me a note! I promise it will find its way into my work. Use an ink that won't smear, so that when I add glue it does not disappear. Some permanent writing material suggestions are:

  • crayon
  • pencil
  • ball point pen
  • permanent fine point marker (Faber Castell or something that says "fade proof")

Any of these will do, and a variety would be wonderful! Big letters, small letters, fancy letters, printing, whatever you like. I'll even take a note from your child or grand child, they have the best printing, even if they don't teach them cursive.

Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson
362 W Hornbeam Dr
Longwood, FL 32779

I look forward to hearing from you, and then to tearing up your correspondence into teeny tiny pieces.

Thank you for being a part of my art journey.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Faith in Humanity

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
--Mahatma Gandhi

After the events that played out in Boston over the past week, I got to thinking about not how terrible people can be to one another, but how good. This week I auctioned off a piece of artwork to benefit the American Red Cross of Eastern Mass. I'm donating 100% of the profit in memory of those who lost their lives in the Boston Marathon bombing. 

"Home" 12x12 collage on wood panel

I can't thank you ALL enough for supporting my auction, for sharing the link, and for bidding. Ultimately the high bidder was Nancy Hall, a collector of my work who has become quite a friend. Any time an artist has a collector, she has support both financially and professionally in the fact that that person appreciates her work so much, they have to have more. That's a good feeling. Validation.

Thank you Nancy for supporting me, and for being so generous.

We spent a lot of time on public transport this week

This week in San Francisco has truly been a confirmation of just how good people can be. I cannot tell you how many people on the streets and on the bus have stopped to help us find our way, to let us know what stop to get off, to point us in the right direction. Some folks just asked us where we were from and what we had seen in San Francisco that we liked.

On the bus yesterday, I noticed there were some quotes about love, compassion and kindness, in lieu of advertising. As we exited on Van Ness St. to change buses I looked up to see this one:

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

This was just after I watched a man get up from his seat across from me, in order to go to the back of the bus and see why a woman was yelling at a man in his seat. "You're sitting on my transfer ticket!" She kept yelling "Get up! Get up!" The man across from me asked the man if he spoke English, he did not. The helpful man explained the situation in Spanish, the sitting man got up, smiling.

People taking the time to do things for one another, to look out for one another, to lend a hand. It's inspiring. And reminds me that a few dirty drops do not pollute the ocean.

And hats off to the amazing people and public servants of Boston for coming together and looking out for one another. Proud to say I'm from MA and reminded of it with all the Boston shirts and caps I've seen on the street (and the bus) this week.

Thank you for being a part of my art journey.

Finding Inspiration

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Today we ventured out in search of artistic inspiration. My husband the photographer, and me the artist. What inspires us? Color, texture, pattern, unique shapes, to start. Even though we are looking at the world through slightly different lenses, we are often drawn to the same images. I point things out to Doug that I want him to shoot for me (how great is it to have your own blog photographer?) and sometimes he ends up shooting it for his own purposes. He tells me I have a good eye, but he's got a better sense of composition. 

Artistic and incredibly smooth coffee with a hint of chocolate. Image courtesy of fancy iPhone

At the The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market we were drawn to the stalls offering fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, greens and jam. We sampled Asian pears, oranges, and stood in line for 20-min to see just what the draw was for a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee. And let me just tell you, it was worth the wait.

For a complete album of Doug's Farmer's Market images, check out this album on his Photography Facebook Page.


Art and Fashion, two parts of my trifecta of favorites, that's what we found in Chintatown today. San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America. We hopped the bus (we've really mastered the MUNI) and the cable car to the most colorful neighborhood in town. I started to take out my fancy iPhone camera for blog photos, then I watched Doug shooting and changing lenses and was like, "why bother?" "Can you send me those?" 

My new look, I love the color palette. Image courtesy of fancy iPhone

Fashion first, I had to have one of these jackets! I could just see myself pairing it with something unconventional and wearing it to an opening or dinner. Anyone who knows me, knows I love fashion and especially creating my own look of clashing patterns and styles. This piece will really offer me some interesting contrast to anything else I own. 

I came to Chinatown primarily for the color. What an amazing display of brilliant hues, between the lanterns strewn across the street, to the fabrics on sidewalk racks, blowing in the wind. Looking up, I saw more colorful architecture juxtaposed against the cloud free blue sky, than anywhere else in town. 

I also came for the paper. "I must find a newspaper while we are here" I said to Doug as we wandered about, all the while looking up.

I scored a couple of newspapers Image courtesy of fancy iPhone

We ended our inspired day at 49 Geary Art Galleries in the financial district. Five floors of independent galleries offering an array of paintings, assemblage, photography, and sculpture. The work there got us thinking, a lot. Doug and I found ourselves in Starbucks afterward, spilling out ideas for collage and photography at the coffee bar. It's at this point, when the inspiration starts making my creative brain churn, that I have to reel myself in from checking out of reality completely and retreating into my own head. This is why I have some of my best ideas in that space between asleep and awake around 3am. 

I'll be interested to see what I dream about tonight and tomorrow morning, after so much sensory input today. 

Thanks for being a part of my art journey. 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Day of Reflection on Alcatraz Island

An inmate cell at Alcatraz prison featuring paintings, art supplies, a bed and a toilet. Proof that tight quarters are no match for an artistic spirit. ©DouglasNelsonPhotography

Today I spent a good part of the day on Alcatraz Island visiting this historic prison site and National Park. Alcatraz was probably the most famous federal prison in US history, it housed some of America's most notorious offenders from 1934 to 1963. Alcatraz offered a virtually escape-proof environment on a rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. 

Inmates of Alcatraz had access to a library of 15,00 books and 75 popular magazine subscriptions. They could do artwork, write letters, and play stringed instruments in their cells. There was even an inmate band. There were several talented artists, including James Widner and John Paul Chase. 

Alcatraz Island as seen from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco Bay ©DouglasNelsonPhotography

As I walked around the cell block, I noticed some amazing photographic opportunities as well as some very artistic architectural touches. This made me think that current styles in art and design have always had an influence on every day life. My Art History professor Michael Sickler at Syracuse University would be proud. :)

A very nice art deco style spiral staircase served as a way for the officers to access three floors of cell blocks inside the cell house ©DouglasNelsonPhotography

This simple but beautiful spiral staircase was how officers and staff accessed the three floors of prison cells within the Alcatraz cell house. The black color of the stairs offerers a total contrast to everything else in the building which was painted white, cream or neutral. 

Something that lent the cell house to some wonderful photographic images was the presence of natural light. ©DouglasNelsonPhotography

The cell house offered an amazing amount of natural light. The windows in the ceiling allowed daylight to flow into the building and illuminate it completely without lamp lighting at all today. Doug's photos came out amazing and he said that the lighting was just perfect. How important is natural light to us as painters? When I used to paint in the solitary confinement of my garage, I never really knew what I was missing. Now that I have an art studio with plentiful natural light (especially northern light) I truly appreciate the difference it makes. 

Light filters into the prisoner dining area and illuminates the floor. ©DouglasNelsonPhotography 

The dining hall was a very cool wide open space in comparison to the individual prison cells. Alcatraz was knows as a "maximum security, minimum privilege" prison. Food and medical care, however, were not considered privileges. They were necessities provided to all inmates. The food was prepared by inmate workers, under the supervision of correctional officers trained in food service management. I'd say that natural light was also a privilege for these inmates.

Yours Truly standing in a solitary confinement cell, demonstrating just how small each prisoner's space actually was. This cell had an additional door that closed over the front, making it completely black and devoid of light.  ©DouglasNelsonPhotography 

Even the solitary confinement cell was larger than the studio space I had in my garage when I first started painting. I was so excited to have my own space, with AC and a door that closed my mess off from the rest of the house, that size and lack of natural light didn't matter. I produced a LOT of work in the garage studio. 

An artistic photographic impression of me considering what it must have been like to be confined to such a small space for so long. ©DouglasNelsonPhotography 

I can't imagine living and working in such small quarters, even though I can collage on my seat back tray table in flight. I do know a local Orlando artist who rents a storage locker to paint in, no kidding. She has no AC, no heat, no running water there BUT she does have an overhead door, that lets in a LOT of natural light. Fern Matthews creates amazing and beautiful artwork in her storage space because she is passionate, and her desire to create art over rules any limitation her physical surroundings offer. 

The fire inside us as an artists cannot be put out by physical surroundings or limitations. Many artists I know don't even have a studio space they can call their own. Many mornings my brain races with thoughts, ideas, and visuals that cannot be contained, I'm up and out of bed by 4:30 or 5:00am in order to execute new ideas. Even the soft, comfortable, warm bed cannot envelope my creativity. 

What do you have to be artistically thankful for?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Benefit Auction Art

12x12 "Home" nest collage on flat birch panel
finished in flight from Orlando to San Francisco today

The art is finished! 

The art is finished and the bidding is on. Bidding stops at 8pm EST on Friday night. Please share this with anyone you know.
100% of proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross of Eastern MA (Boston) in memory of those who lost their lives at the Boston Marathon this week.

Being from Western MA, born in Boston, with most of my family still residing there, this is near and dear to me. My sister is a marathon runner and I am a triathlete.

Please bid high on my Facebook Fan Page! retail value on this 12x12 piece is $395

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Benefit Auction

12x12 Nest titled "Home" to be completed this week

100% of Proceeds donated to 

American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts

I couldn't watch it yesterday, I got the news via text and was told what was happening, but I couldn't bring myself to turn on the TV. A close friend texted me to say "are you ok?" and that meant the world to me to hear. 

I am from Massachusetts, my entire family still lives there.  My sister is a marathon runner, I am a triathlete. The athletes in Boston yesterday should have been celebrating a milestone, a huge accomplishment. Not only to have finished, but even to have qualified to race in the first place! A long time in the making, to get to the Boston Marathon, only to have it marked by tragedy. 

I am super sensitive to the issue of bombings and acts of terror. Too many memories for me that are too close, just under the surface. Rather than watch the news, I decided to help in my own way. (Thank you artist Kimberly Kelly Santini for the suggestion).

This auction is live now and on my Facebook Fan Page. Please share this information with a friend, forward it, post it on your wall. This piece is in progress, as it comes together in the magic of collage, images will be added to the Facebook Album. 

Please put all bids in the main comment field that appears on the fan page under the original album entry. At the time of this publishing we are up to $150 to be donated to the American Red Cross of Eastern MA

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Giveaway!

Author Mary O'Connor interviewed me for her recent book Life is Full of Sweet Spots; An Exploration of Joy quite some time ago. We talked about how my artwork brought me happiness and how a day in the studio was truly joyful. It takes a long time to write, edit and publish a book. So this week I was thrilled to receive my copies!

Trevor Turtle starts the chapter on wonder and imagination

Wonder and Imagination

As I flipped through the book, my turtle artwork peered out at me from the chapter on wonder and imagination. I read my "Case in Point" See Beyond the Surface Image where I talk about my best way to experience joy being to learn and do something new:

If you ever have an opportunity, you can take a workshop and just kind of explore and play with new material. See if it might be fun to learn something new. Go in with no expectations and don't feel that you have to come out with a masterpiece. Give yourself permission to throw it out and just enjoy the process. What's most important is that you enjoy doing it; you shouldn't let someone else's opinion stop you from enjoying and doing what you love to do. 

Wonder as an Instigator of Joy

"Wonder, in its own breathless, fantastical way, is far from ordinary when it comes to the senses. In the hierarchy of things, wonder is an emotion—and a most important one at that. We might think of it as an engine that fuels our ability to make the most of our five primary natural senses. It's tempting to call it our sixth sense.

But call it what you will—a sense, an emotion, a mindset—one way or another, wonder opens the door to the delights of imagination, of curiosity, creativity, intellectual discovery. " -- Mary O'Connor

After speaking with Mary at length, I realized that it was the imagination and creativity that she saw in my work that led her to me as a potential interviewee for her book on joy. Becoming lost in a state of wonder, imatination, creativity, is so often a door opener to joy.

my autographed samples arrived this week!

Win A Signed Copy!

Respond in the comment field below (or on the Facebook post) with how you go about finding (and keeping) joy in your life. 

The top two winners will be selected by Mary and myself to receive and autographed copy (both of us will sign) of Life is Full of Sweet Spots.

This is a feel good book full of ways to find joy and happiness in simple things.  We could all use a little bit more of that.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cherie's Progress

Cherie, up and supporting much of her own weight, with the PT

It's been a while since I did a post on Cherie. I've been visiting her pretty regularly in Vero Beach and she's been making a lot of progress! She's working really hard with all of her weekly therapies and her dedication shows! 

Cherie has started her own amazing blog that tells her story of the accident and the following days, weeks, months of her life. She's an AMAZING writer and she has an incredible story to tell. If you ever wanted to be thankful for being able to scratch your nose, or if you ever felt down on yourself, Cherie's story will make you sit up and take notice of all you have to appreciate in life. 

She sent out this update today, things are looking amazingly positive:

Hello All, 

Just a quickie here… I am gaining so much, so fast that we have actually had to start keeping a journal wherein we write progress incidents almost daily. With the use of the standing frame every week I seem to improve all the more rapidly. Not only am I gaining in muscle tone in my legs but I am also gaining sensation off and on. My level of injury dictates initially, paralysis from the shoulders down. Obviously this isn't true any longer. But the interesting thing is that true sensation does seem to follow the path of the injury from the top down. So now I am feeling hot water, texture from bath towels and more touch specifically along my upper back and upper chest. My cold receptors turned on first which of course is ridiculously uncomfortable when you know it's 80° outside! Now I am getting more warm receptors and hopefully one day my thermostat will level out!

Anyway long and short of it, too much to say and try and condense an update. My hope is that I can transfer from the updates to the blog. I will catch my blog up to present day. And anyone who wishes to keep tabs can sign up to receive updates via e-mail. I have just posted page 7 of my blog. Anyone can comment, anyone can read. I want to be able to help people with the things I share. And just a word of caution if it hasn't already been obvious, I'm not going to sugarcoat what's difficult. On the other hand I am not going to allow the painful parts to dampen or suppress "me" my spirit or my forward motion.

Love you guys, for everything every one of you has contributed past present or ever after. There's a saying "It Takes a Village". Perhaps in some existential way, you are my village! Big hugs!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fabulous AND Flawed

"fortune" from the Dove Chocolate that came with our 
Sushi from Minami Japanese Restaurant

Who can honestly claim to be perfect? Certainly not me.

Last night in Sedona, AZ my friend Katie from Michigan and I spent the night at the Lark Art Gallery for the First Friday Gallery Walk. After the gallery walk, we decided to get some sushi for dinner. Last year when I rented a road bike and pedaled the hills of route 179 in Sedona I came across a little unassuming Japanese restaurant just at the edge of Oak Creek Village. I stopped and took some sushi away with me that day, because I was all bike sweaty and stinky and figured I would not expose anyone to that in the dining room. I sat and had a beer at the bar while I watched Yoshi make my tuna rosettes, beautiful.

Sedona offers amazing color in the spring

This trip I decided that Katie and I needed to eat-in at Minami. We really enjoyed talking with Yoshi about being from Okinawa and having been in the US for over 30 years. We met Michelle from the North of Boston who's accent sounded just like half of my family. She said that when she first moved to town folks asked her if she was from Australia. Michelle introduced us to Ian who had hobbled in on crutches sporting a bright green leg cast, Yoshi had to help him through the doorway. Looking over at Katie, who had just had "work" done to her face and was sporting swollen lips and tender upper arms, I realized we are all flawed in one way or another.

Our "fortune" made Katie and I laugh, we where relieved to hear that we were going to be OK.

Yours Truly teaching and talking about my love affair with torn paper
shot by Katie, who knows how to capture my "good side"

Standing up in front of a group was never really a big deal for me, I'm pretty confident when I know the subject matter. But 15 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, I contracted Bell's Palsy. This is a compression of the facial nerve, which results in paralysis. 85% of people heal spontaneously and completely within three months. Not me. 

I have been left with permanent nerve damage. Flawed. 

It took me a long time to feel better about this situation. I tried all kinds of miracle cures. I have had biofeedback, facial retraining, vitamin B12 injections, sublingual vitamin B, massage, and Botox. Still flawed. 

Somewhere along the way, my self confidence started to come back. I began to realize that things could be a lot worse, and that you can be Fabulous AND Flawed. Let's see, I have a wonderful family that loves me, I have talent, and I have a great job. I love what I do and I am very lucky to be able to do what I love and be myself on the job. I can have pink hair, a pierced nose, visible tattoos, and not have to answer to anyone but myself. 

How fabulous is that?

These days I'm OK putting my face out there in front of my Paper Paintings Workshop class and talking to people with my crooked smile. I'm ok with it because I know that I am a pretty good teacher, I'm very sensitive to folks who may not be very confident in their artistic ability, and I can usually make you laugh. Typically everyone in my class has a really good time. I'm confident sporting pink, purple, and teal  hair, knowing it will draw attention to my face. To use a popular saying these days, "it is what it is."

Ann came all the way from NYC to take this class with me in Sedona, 
and she looks like she's having a fantastic time!

This is my fourth time teaching at SAC where they welcome me 
with open arms and make me feel at home

This weekend I'm teaching in beautiful Sedona, AZ loving my job

Guess what? Being flawed makes you more empathetic. My heart goes out to others who may be suffering something similar, or worse. It's impossible to hide your face, it's the center of your expression, your emotions and communication, and the window to your soul. I met many people in the early years of my support group who had suffered facial paralysis due to trauma, tumors, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and more. I learned early on from this group that what I was going through was not really all that uncommon and one of the best things we could do was to reach out to others.

For years I practiced a "controlled smile" (big smiles make my right eye squeeze shut) I still prefer to use the self facing camera to take the photo of the two of us together, rather than let someone else do it. Why? I can see what I look like before I push the button. 

Katie and Yours Truly via the front facing camera

Recently I submitted a wine glass collage to my art licensing agent for reproduction on a wine journal by Target. He called me and said (in his awesome British accent) "Elizabeth, this is lovely but the glass is not symmetrical and you need to fix the one side." What? not symmetrical? Who cares? It's art, it's impressionistic, and I like it just the way it is.

Chardonnay / 9x12 / collage of hand painted papers

"Well Michael, I'll fix the image in photoshop for your purposes, but I'm not changing the original." Is what I told him. Because I think it's fabulous, just the way it is. 

Thank YOU for being a part of my art journey.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Unconventional Art Supplies

Jumbo erasers in Target's $1 bins

More often than not, art supplies can be found in some unsuspecting places. One day while wandering aimlessly around Lowe's Home Improvement, I found that a silicone sink liner worked as an amazing stamp! I picked it up for around $7. 

Today I want to share with you how to make a wonderful stamp from a jumbo eraser. I was so excited about creating these stamps that I popped up out of bed at 4:30 this morning with nothing else on my mind, I headed out to the studio with my coffee and my dogs. 

most artists have this handy tool in a drawer somewhere

These erasers are soft, flexible, and they carve like butter with traditional linoleum carving tools. I bought several of these jumbo erasers (I love that they are "jumbo" because we all know that bigger is better), I figured that I could not go wrong for a dollar. When I got them home I took them out of the packaging and sanded off the screen printed images of cats and pigs and peace signs with household sand paper I had tucked into a drawer in my studio. These images were insanely distracting and who knows what kind of things that ink would do when covered with acrylic paint. Better safe than sorry, or distracted.

Images sanded off quite easily, leaving me with a clean slate for carving

I had a very easy and good time carving the eraser material

 These erasers come in round, rectangular and square shapes, I bought a few of each for variety and size of stamps. I also switched the carving tool tips for a variety of thick and thin lines in my stamps. Anyone who knows me knows that I love the spiral, so of course my first stamp was concentric circles!

Stamp inked with acrylic paint I spread on a disposable palette sheet

I figured in homage to Target, I'd print this up in red. I mean really, THANK YOU TARGET. I transferred the acrylic paint to the stamp on a sheet of palette paper for a nice even coverage on the surface of the stamp.

Some great effects, I really like the distressed look of the line

Now, most artists learn techniques from sharing swapping, and DVDing other artists. This idea is not my own original concept. I must give kudos to my mother-in-law Tricia Nelson, fiber artist, for not only sharing this wonderful technique with me, but also for purchasing the original pig stamp for me so that I could try it myself. Of course I went back and bough six more! The circle is my favorite. 

Good luck and enjoy!

Do you have some unconventional art supplies you'd like to share? Leave some in the comment field. I'd love to hear about them. It just might keep me up at night. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lavender Lemonade iPhone 5 Case

Custom made Lavender Lemonade Case-Mate *

I loved this image so much I've made it available as an iPhone 5 case and I've ordered mine today. Very excited about my new phone replacing my old phone which was silent due to collage glue having made its way into the speakers. (don't ask)

**This is a custom order case, no returns unless the product is somehow defective

product description for Barely There Slim Case Here