Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What's inspiring me today

"What inspires you?" she wanted to know.

A million things. Maybe a million in one. I can only tell you what inspires me today, right this very minute.

Today it's the whiskers on my dog, some fallen ginkgo leaves laying in a golden pile, and the trees that line the river.

You might be looking at that picture and thinking, "my goodness, if I lived in a place that perfect, I could make something lovely, too."

Well, let me tell you, I took this picture as I ran up to Lowes to meet my husband and buy a dimmer switch for the dining room. It wasn't anything as ideal as you're imagining. Here is what was at my back when I snapped the photo above.

Beauty is where you find it. It's all around you. I am fond of saying we are surrounded by miracles, and it's absolutely true. Look for a miracle near you. Ignore the ugliness of the freeway, the cheap and ugly. Just dwell today on the everyday miracles and forget the rest.

Be inspired.

What's tickling my eyes and imagination? The memory of a parrot I saw in the tropics. The smell of muffins baking and the fire's gentle snap. Bare branches swaying. Rounded tummies of pregnant friends. Time to get the scissors out. I've got deadlines and an ever-flowing creative stream.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The blessing of being loved

Donna, it's all your fault. You started it Saturday. Calling me bright & early in the morning from the barn sale where you had your mitts on some fabulous old paper. Picking it up and mailing me a fat box of old books and calling cards and miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam... You made me feel so loved!

It must be a conspiracy of the very nicest sort because the very next evening, up to my doorstep tripped not just one or two but TEN of my dear friends, ready to help package five hundred dear prints for the Jan/Feb issue of everyone's favorite magazine- Victoria. How kind! We howled with laughter, reading the tiny scraps and telling stories. Fingers flew and the prints look wonderful... never mind the condition of the house when the party was over!

This is the season to stop & say thank you for the abundant gifts we've been given this year.

My surgeon, Dr. Eric Fassler, helped me back to vibrant health again. My licensing partners have made my work more rewarding than I'd have ever dreamed possible. My husband tells me how much he loves me over and over, my friends & family have made it plain. I am blessed beyond belief.

I made this crown from vintage paper, my dear old press and my overactive imagination. Today as I count my blessings I could just about sum it all up by wearing that crown. Being loved and cared for by so many people is my blessing this year.

If you're reading my blog, you're a part of the blessing. Thank you so much, whether you're a dearly loved friend or someone I've not met yet. I am thankful for you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sneak Peek at Cheap Chic

Today I'm sharing a sneak peek at cheap chic (just try saying that quickly three times without stopping!)

This is a photo - granted a horrible one but let's be gracious and remember Yours Truly never pretended to be a photographer! - of a project from my upcoming book, Silhouette Decor.(Shameless self promotion: coming out from Lark Books in Spring '09) I am hard at work writing this, my second how to book, and while some may doubt it, writing a book is a project that resembles a black hole; it sucks up an incredible amount of time and energy. But hallelujah, when your book comes out it's like giving birth. You instantly fall in love and forget the pain.

But I digress.

This project is cheap decor with lots of flair. Simply put, you cover a piece of foamcore board with a piece of paper of your choice. I even used a sheet that was very fibrous and not quite big enough, but I patched a bit here and there and you'd never know it.

You choose an icon- in this case obviously I chose an armchair. In the book you can cheat and use the pattern I'll provide but if you simply can't wait you can just do as I did and cut out something fun. I then took a piece of bright contrasting paper (if you must know the truth this was something I found in the Daniel Smith sale bin for a mere quarter! That's how cheap I am.) Cut wild scallops or curves or florals, anything that suits you.

Now arrange it all on another slice of foamboard- here I used black foamboard, which I adore. Using a stiff glue, stick the paper on first and then the large icon which is dimensional.

Add a hanging device of your choice on the back. Now hang it on your wall, step back and admire the fruits of your labor, you gifted thing, you! Don't you feel clever?

Sometimes friendship looks like banana bread

Last night I heard a tap-tap on the front porch steps and then the doorbell gave a cheerful ring, which set the dogs tails wagging and joyful barks.

I opened the door to see Eileen's cheerful face.

"Here!" she cried. "Look what I've brought you!"

An adorable mug and matching little tray, spicy tea bags and a fragrant mini-loaf of banana bread.

"Eat it nice and warm and give yourself plenty of butter."

And then she was gone. And I was left with a mug of tea and a loaf of warm, sweet friendship that looks curiously like homemade banana bread.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thank you so much

I have heard lately from so many wonderful people, and if I had a tail it would be wagging like nobody's business.

How can I say thank you enough? If you've stopped to look at my art or bought a product I've worked on I just want to say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can't believe I get to do this for a job. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blissfully printing the day away...

This morning at oh dark hundred, I tiptoed out to the studio, printing plate in one hand and a cup of cocoa in the other. When I print, I dress in my oldest, comfiest clothes, a wide, silly grin spreading across my face as irresistible as sunrise coming over the horizon.

Soon the press was humming along, its rollicking rhythm intoxicating me, the scent of the ink and buttery feel of the paper giving me the usual thrill. Fingers fed the sheets one by one through the press. I could print forever!

And now you have a sneak peek at the beginnings of the sweet prints which will appear in the Jan / Feb issue of Victoria Magazine. Antique Harper's Magazines are being readied for the rolling vintage cutters, and it's coming together beautifully.

Woohoo! Happy times in the studio today!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Autumn gems

I remember being a tiny child on my mother's lap and hearing the phrase "from glory into glory" and being fascinated by the words. Even when very little I loved words and everything about them. I would spell out the words on a milk carton, sound out the letters on the street signs, try to write curly cursive in second grade.

My grandaddy had an enormous dictionary that weighed more than I did when he taught me the magic of looking up the letters that would string together to capture any meaning you wanted to convey, anything at all! Sonnets, business deals, comedies, all contained in that magic dictionary.

So naturally when I heard the phrase "from glory into glory" I repeated it over and over (likely driving my parents mad, but my mother was the very soul of encouragement and always encouraged curiosity no matter what.) I looked up the words in that enormous tome, and never forgot.

Glory: noun; Great honor, praise, or distinction accorded by common consent; Adoration, praise, and thanksgiving offered in worship.Majestic beauty and splendor; resplendence.

So today, while on a walk surrounded by the majestic beauty of autumn in this little valley, I found myself thanking God for such an overflow of inspiration and saying "this is amazing!"

Sunset over the fields. Glory. The jewels of produce in the barn. Glory. Maples glowing in the last afternoon rays. Oh, glory, glory, glory!

Everywhere you look around here, you move from glory into glory. It's autumn again. I am drowning in work but never to busy to fill my eyes with the miracles that are commonplace and gloriously everyday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I love shapes

When I was little I loved my sister's set of Colorforms. Remember those chunky vinyl stickies in bright colors that would adhere to the shiny black background? You could make those shapes into almost anything.

Afternoons slipped into months and months became years. And here I am, all grown up, and still loving the way a triangle joins an oval and an oval overlaps a square.

Which might explain how it was that I found myself at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai yesterday afternoon, oohing and aahing over the shapes of the plants while the rest of the people in the garden were content to smell the flowers and admire the views.

Today I'm home again, and when I loaded my 840 favorite pictures of the trip, I realized that some of my favorite photos are those that show so clearly my passion for shapes.

I think I'm a little odd in some ways... I look at the world differently. I'm a grown-up, it's true, but in some ways I have never given up the Colorforms I loved as a kid. I see the world as shapes, shapes that are expressed in a rainbow of colors and textures and levels, but the bottom line for me, the most visually exciting stuff is all about the shape.

So today I wanted to share a bit of the botanical garden through my eyes. Can you feel the joy of abundant shapes?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Simply resting on the beach

Sometimes the nicest thing you can do, maybe even the most essential thing you can do, is just to lay down and do nothing.

Just rest.


Lay back and watch the clouds slide past.

I've spent more than a week now doing mostly that. I admit to working a bit, dancing a little, running on the beach and snorkeling when that sounded like fun. I've laughed and dodged some raindrops and clinked a toast to more happy years ahead. And squeezed in a little more work.

But mostly Hawaii has been all about rest.

Tomorrow night we board American's red eye flight for home. I am so thrilled to be going home to the usual chaotic work schedule. And isn't that the point of a good rest, after all? It's all about that delicate balance between working hard and playing hard, resting and exercise.

Boy, has this been a good rest. And now to real life again, full of inspiration and ideas, ready to tackle the challenges.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Hazards and happiness, or in the tropics with Mr. Right

Picture me, dear friend, in my new yellow bathing suit and movie-star sunglasses, toes painted a bright & sassy pink, iced tea in hand, reclining on a chaise lounge on a stereotypical beach in Hawaii. Sketching spring icons, all things Easter bunnyish and gardeny (rather an unlikely topic for a beachside sketching session, but I am working on spring giftware and a chocolate bunny fabric collection.) Sweet rounded tummies appeared in my sketch pad as I sat dreaming and planning out the basic elements for a pregnancy journal.

Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the gentle trade winds turned nasty, and my papers, stashed beneath a giant bottle of sunscreen and a rather large novel, were snatched up and flung willy nilly over the beach and tumbled down the lava rocks past the sandy shore. Instant disaster!

Thank goodness I married the sweetest man in the universe. Who else would scramble heroically after my missing papers? Who else would shout encouragement as I stretched my leg down between boulders, trying to retrieve a sketchpad trapped between boulders in the pounding surf using those pink toes with the polish barely dry?

Most of what we got back dry was blank paper. The rest was a soggy mass too blurry to use. Russell is a smart man as well as a kind one, so he mumbled sympathy as I dumped the dripping mess into the nearby garbage.

Much as I hate to start over, I have to admit that usually when I trash something, accidentally or otherwise, the next batch is usually better than the one I lost. So once I got past the frustration of throwing away so much work, I trotted out to the beach, with fins and mask and my for-sissies-only wet suit shirt, ready for another snorkeling adventure.

Tomorrow will find me exploring the botanical gardens in the morning, snapping photos galore. That will provide more creative fodder than I could exhaust in months. Then in the afternoon I plan to tackle those spring icons and the pregnant mommies again.

Picture me, dear friend, on the beach in that sweet yellow bathing suit, bright pink toes, iced tea in hand, reclining on a chaise lounge and making sure I anchor the next set of papers so securely that even a rogue wind can not possibly whip it away.

Drawing on the beach in Hawaii alongside my very own Mr. Right. Bliss. Pure bliss.