Thursday, December 25, 2014

For Chocolate Lovers

This was a present from a friend.
Take a closer look….

"I heart chocolate but U aren't getting any."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Drawing Class – The Finale

I have completed my 6-week charcoal drawing class.  Honestly, I am surprised by what I was able to create.  These final 2 drawings used the kneaded eraser to remove the charcoal from the paper.

Now I need to continue to make time to draw with these tools – both pencils and charcoal.  Practice is what is needed to improve so I must make time to practice! I definitely want to try using these tools on different types of papers, including papers with a painted or collaged background. Only 9,972 hours of practice left to perfect my craft.

- christina

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Maker 1

My son’s girlfriend attends the same liberal arts college as my daughter, although they have different majors.  A required class for all art and design majors is Maker 1. “What could that class be about?” you are no doubt asking yourself.  Well, it’s about making stuff.

One assignment involved making 10 pieces: something that hangs from the ceiling, something as long as your arm, something made from found materials, something soft, etc.  Another assignment was to make an object that involved font (interesting that the instructor chose the word “font” rather than “text”).  My son’s girlfriend made some cool letters out of wood that had hinges so the C could also be and S or an O.

For the final project the students were given a word to inspire their creation.  The words were randomly selected and my son’s girlfriend got the word “collage.”  Lucky for her, she was able to trade with another student and obtained the word “line.”  She made a lovely book.  Here are the pages before the book was bound.

And in case you are wondering, there is a Maker 2 class.  I have no idea what those class projects might entail.  What have you made recently?

- christina

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Be Present

Recently I visited my son’s high school for parent-teacher conferences. As I walked through the halls greeting parents whom I knew and avoiding collisions with others, I saw a sign hanging above an arch in the main hallway.  The sign read, “Be Present.”

“How amazing,” I thought.  “They are teaching mindfulness to high school students.”  I was very excited to imagine all the lessons on living in the present, rather than focusing on the past or the future.  What good skills these students would gain from the discussions about meditation, relaxation, and enjoying every moment as they experience it.

Then I read the very small line of print below the “Be Present.”  It stated, “Know when to unplug and connect with people.”

So the message was not exactly what I interpreted. Students are being encouraged to look up from their technology, divert their attention away from their virtual friends, in order to connect with the real people around them.  This is a message that will resonate with young people much better than meditation and relaxation.  I hope the students are listening… and connecting with the people around them.

- christina

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Drawing Class Part 2 - Charcoal

Although I look forward to my drawing class each week, it’s also something I have a hard time actually getting to on time.  During this second session, I missed the first class (minor emotional crisis related to work), was an hour and a half late to the second class (had to work late due to parent-teacher conferences), and was 15 minutes late to the third class (unanticipated phone call from long lost friend).  The teacher has been very patient with me and I have high hope for the upcoming fourth class.
My first drawing was rushed. I finished in about
an hour and had to leave out a few lemons.

In spite of my unreliable attendance record, I have learned a lot about drawing with charcoal so far.  The most surprising thing is that I like it!  Since I am not a person who enjoys getting my fingers dirty, I thought I would dislike charcoal, but the results of my efforts have been so exciting that I don’t mind the mess at all.

For the second class we had to choose from 3 photos.
I'm pretty sure this is Gregory Peck.

I think I made Gregory look a little younger
than he actually was in the photo.
He would probably appreciate that.

Next week we are going to draw a still life by removing the charcoal.  My eraser may not survive the experience.  My son said to me yesterday, “You may have found your medium.”  He may be right!

- christina

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Drawing Fundamentals

I recently completed my first drawing class.  It was a 6 week course taught at a local art league headquarters by a very enthusiastic artist named Eileen.  She taught us contour drawing and shading and I completed my first ever still-life drawings.  My favorite activity was drawing on mid-tone paper using both dark and white pencils.
My first still-life

I like using the white pencil
From this course I learned that drawing is not difficult in the way that I thought it was.  Seeing things like an artist is the challenging part.  Looking at a still-life and translating the shadows and colors into shades of grey (values) is what I find difficult.

I have signed up for another session of the course and I will be learning to draw with charcoal.  I’m not sure if I will like getting my hands all messy (as a child I hated having messy hands) but I am determined to try another medium in my continuing search for the area of art at which I am naturally gifted.  Perhaps I will never uncover my natural gift, assuming it exists of course, so I will enjoy the search and the little discoveries that come from it.

- christina

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Art as a Vehicle for Change

This morning I was watching the CBS morning show and saw an interesting story about a New York artist who is trying to affect change in a crime-ridden community through art.  London born Killy Kilford has created inspirational street signs with the help of local students to post all around Newark, New Jersey, where the murder rate has been increasing. His goal is to surround people with positivity.

There is a website that describes the positive street sign campaign.  What positive message would you put on a street sign?

- christina

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Elmhurst Art Museum

Last weekend I visited the Elmhurst Art Museum and saw an exhibit of Richard Koppe’s work from the 1950’s.  Here is how the museum describes his work.

Combining aspects of cubism and surrealism, Koppe explored line, color, composition and space, producing works that are both playful and intricate.

I really enjoyed his abstract paintings as well as his drawings of fish.  Here are some photos of his works.

- christina
I love the background on this one.

Interesting color choices.
I wonder why he added the circles?

Koppe's fish drawings are great!

Monday, September 22, 2014


If you have been reading my blog you know that I have wanted a Bernina sewing machine for a long time. I finally bought one at CREATE in August!  Her name is Lola.

I got a great deal ($999 for a $1,499 machine) from the local Bernina store and the company rep at the retreat.  Isn’t she is a beautiful machine?  The first time I turned it on it made a terrible noise.  I read the manual but couldn’t determine the problem.  I contacted the store and after talking to 2 different people we finally figured it out (it was a switch up on the top by the bobbin winder). 

My first training at the store isn’t until September 27, but I have been able to sew a few straight and squiggly lines already.  Unfortunately, I can’t figure out the automatic threader, which is one of the features that I need most desperately!  All in good time.

Buying Lola was a dream come true for me.  Which of your dreams have come true lately?

- christina

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The HeArt Felt Booth

Here are some photos from the booth my friend and I had at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Chicago.  Her company is called HeArt Felt.

Me and my friend, Lucy

The booth sold paper ephemera and hand dyed fabric

Lucy's hand dyed fabric is beautiful

My journals and pouches on display
 - christina

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Something to Smile About

I was walking in downtown Chicago with my kids and saw this great sign. 

Hard to resist an establishment that offers this type of service.

- christina

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer Goals & CREATE

I finally accomplished my summer goal: making handmade journals and canvas pouches.  The goal was to make 20 of each.  I did make 20 journals but I only sewed 15 pouches.  I ran out of canvas, time, and enthusiasm.

On August 15 my friend and I had a vendor table at the Artist Faire of CREATE Chicago 2014.  It was a learning experience for us both.  We did not sell very many items, but we are happy that we did it nonetheless.

Ultimately, I am proud of myself for making all of the journals and pouches and achieving my goal.  In addition, Joanne Sharpe bought 2 of my pouches! Maybe she will use them in one of her online classes. 

Did you achieve your summer goals?

- christina

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Little Something

I have spent many hours this summer working on my handmade journals and pouches to sell at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat (which is coming up in a few weeks).  I haven’t spent much time creating new art, so I decided to try a quick, little project that I saw in Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.

Tammy Northrup's article from July/August
issue of Cloth Paper Scissors

I started with a scrap piece of watercolor paper.  I put painter’s tape around all 4 edges so that the final painting would be quite small.  Following the directions in the article, I started “flicking” 3 colors of acrylic paint onto the paper.  It was not as easy as it looked (how many times have I said that about art??).

This project was all about instant gratification, so I just kept flicking until I decided it had the impression of a grassy field.  I added some flicks of red to represent wildflowers.
My little wildflower painting
2" x 2"
Is it perfect? No, but I smile when I look at my little tiny painting.  I added some shading around the sky to frame the painting and I think it looks a little like a stormy sky.  A happy accident.

I hope you find time to make a little art soon.  (Get it? “Little” art?)

- christina

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Visiting My Sister

I visited my sister in Maine for a week in July and had a great time.  She is an artist who is currently obsessed with making jewelry using foam - the colorful kind of foam that kids use to make art projects.  She is designing earring, necklaces, and bracelets that are colorful, creative, and fun.

The purpose of my visit was to help her write instructions for making her foam jewelry.  I have read a lot of books that contain directions on how to make stuff: jewelry, paintings, books, collage, and more.  I also write technical instructions as part of my job.  That means I have a little more experience than my sister when it comes to writing directions. 

So many instructions - so little time

Foam comes in a rainbow of colors

My work table

While in Maine, I made 10 pairs of earrings using my sister’s instructions and edited what she had written.  Her ultimate goal is to publish a book and she is working diligently toward that goal.  I am very proud of her for being so focused and productive.  Whether she publishes a book or not, she has accomplished a lot.

One of the necklaces my sister has created using foam
- christina