Thursday, April 21, 2016


It’s been a long time since I wrote a post.  I’ve been distracted lately; distracted by work (not a good thing), distracted by spring break (a very good thing), and distracted by a man (a darn good thing).  My biggest distraction, however, has been a new hobby.

I started playing the ukulele in December.  When I bought my instrument at Sam Ash, the salesperson told me that a ukulele club met at the store on Tuesday evenings.  I joined the group of 20+ ukers and it has been lots of fun.  We play for about 2 hours from a song packet the group organizer prepares.  The songs range from country to folk to rock to ballads, but there is rarely anything more recent than 1970.  I’m not sure if that is a reflection of the age of our group organizer or his musical taste.  Either way, it’s excellent practice for me.

To give you an impression of the makeup of the group, during Christmas week one of the members showed up with a homemade hat.  It consisted of a yellow construction helmet with a toilet plunger glued to the top.  The plunger handle had been made into a small Christmas tree complete with lights that lit up. Extremely creative!

I have discovered some amazing ukulele players online.  My 2 favorites are Jake Shimabukuro and James Hall.  My son and I were fortunate enough to see Jake in concert a few months ago and it was inspiring. Click here to watch Jake's TED Talk where he plays Bohemian Rhapsody.  Here is a video clip of James Hall playing Michael Jackson's Billie Jean on the uke.
Jake Shimabukuro's concert at
City Winery in Chicago
I plan to keep practicing and continue trying to convince my friends to sing with me while I play (that’s difficult to accomplish, by the way). Technically, I have had my debut as a uke player.  My son and his girlfriend played at a charity event and they let me play with them for 1 song.  It was the end of the event and no one was paying any attention, so it was the perfect debut for me!  
My ukulele debut playing "Can't Help
Falling in Love" with the band Swellshark.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Creativity Space

Have you ever been to Columbus, Ohio?  I went there last week for the very first time.  The downtown area seems really nice, reminiscent of Milwaukee, although I admit that we drove through it rather quickly.  3 co-workers and I attended a conference that was held, much to my delight, in the Columbus Museum of Art. 

One of directors told us that she wanted to make the museum more relevant to the community, so she developed a new Creativity Space.  We were given a lunchtime tour and it was a lovely, inspiring space indeed.

Materials to build a nest
The nests that people have built

Materials to build objects for
the little people who live in the walls
Little room for the little people who live in the walls

An artist whose "thing" is to include
his hands in his photos

A display that allowed me to recreate the hand-art

Where have you seen a space devoted to creativity?  If you had the opportunity to develop a space within an art museum, what would it contain? 
LEGO versions of famous paintings

How cute are they?


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Something Cool

Recently I attended the One of a Kind Show in Chicago.  It’s a show featuring 600 artists selling handmade items.  Unfortunately, the facility was packed which made it nearly impossible to see the items in each booth.  I didn’t really enjoy the event, but I did see one booth that made me smile and gasp at the same time.

The booth contained canvases that were made up of paint chips.  The directions under each canvas stated to view the art through a cell phone.  And this is what it looked like ...

In real life, the artwork was amazing.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  To take small colored squares and turn them into recognizable faces is truly impressive.  Can you tell this is Frida Kahlo? 

Personally I love making art with paint chips.  Have you ever tried it?  You should!

- christina

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Painting Class – Mixing Colors

This month I am taking an acrylic painting class through my local art league.  My goal is to learn about mixing colors, not painting a still life.  I am not proud of any of my 3 paintings, but they are color studies more than anything else. 

My teacher went to art school.  She is knowledgeable, but not particularly friendly.  That’s OK because I’m only with her for 6 weeks and then I will return to my drawing class with the teacher whom I really like.  My painting teacher talks a lot – about tints, shades, brightness, dullness, tone, etc.  It’s all a little overwhelming because most of the time I am trying to remember if I am supposed to mix the phythalo blue with the magenta or the ultramarine blue with the cadmium red.  Did she say to add a drop of cadmium yellow or did I make that up?  We have to lay our supplies out on the table exactly the way she tells us.  She claims to have eyes in the back of her head.  She would have made a good 5th grade teacher in the 70s.

First class. So many colors!
So overwhelming.
Didn't bring enough paper towels - I am messy!

Complementary colors - blue and orange.
Feeling a little more comfortable.
Tried a little shading.

Next set of complementary colors - yellow and purple.
More shading and experimentation.
Decided not to get hung up with shape of the yellow bowl.
Seriously thinking I want to be an abstract painter. 
We work with 6 paint colors plus white.  Thankfully my sister, the artist, says that is correct.  Although I am not really enjoying the class, I am definitely learning a lot about mixing colors.  I intend to paint over all of my canvases very soon.  At least I tried something new, added to my knowledge of art, and explored (#wordoftheyear).

I hope you keep exploring too.

- christina

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jumping (Partially) on the Bandwagon

Apparently I am the last person in the US to hear about the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  It’s been on the New York Times best-seller list for quite a while, even reaching #1.  The “life changing magic” was first mentioned to me this past summer by my BFF, but the message didn’t spark my interest at that time. Later, my officemate mentioned she was listening to the book on her phone and she played a bit of it while she was tidying her third of our office. 

The portion we listened to happened to be about the order in which you should tackle the stuff in your house.  This was advice that I sorely needed.  One should start with clothes and then move onto books, documents and finally mementos (the most difficult items due to their sentimental value).  I decided to start the organizing process, although I admit that I didn’t put ALL my clothes on the bed as the author suggested.  I started with my dresser drawers.

Before photo of my scarf drawer

If you are familiar with the book, you know that the test for whether to keep or discard an object is does the object bring you joy.  That’s an interesting choice of words - joy.  As I held each t-shirt in my hand, I asked myself if that shirt brought me joy.  Turns out this isn’t a simple yes or no question.  Sometimes the shirt brings me joy by wearing it, like the bright blue t-shirt with the low cut V neck that makes both my boobs and my eyes look good.  Other times the shirt brings me joy by having it in my drawer, like the red t-shirt I bought when my daughter and I took surfing lessons in California on her 16th birthday.  I think I am supposed to get rid of the one that is just a happy memory, not a useful shirt.  I was able to do that sometimes, but not every time.

After photo of my scarf drawer - I can see all the scarves at once!

After photo of my t-shirt drawer
(I forgot to take the before photo)
Ultimately, the system worked for me because my drawers are more organized and contain fewer items.  I implemented the KonMari method of folding (see this video for directions to this method named for the author) and get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I look in my drawers.  Am I ready to tackle my 2 closets worth of hanging clothes?  Hell, no!  That’s on my summer list of things to do.  No way I can face that daunting task in the dead of the grey, Midwest winter.  Too depressing.

Also, I haven’t finished reading the book yet!

- christina

Friday, January 8, 2016

Word for 2016

Every January I choose a word for the year.  For me, it’s a more inspiring endeavor than a new year’s resolution like losing weight or eating healthier. 

Last year my word was nurture.  Upon reflection, I have decided that I was about 85% successful at being nurturing throughout the year.  One lesson I learned is that nurturing needs to be delivered in different forms depending on the person.  Not everyone appreciates the type of nurturing that I find the most fulfilling.  You have to know a person to know how to nurture him or her. Although my success rate was not 100%, at least I became a better nurturer (is that a real word?).   

My word for 2016 is explore.  What I love about this word is that I can take it in so many different directions.  I can explore geographically, creatively, professionally, or spiritually.  Explore implies courage and resilience, which is something I need in my life.  The options this word presents are exciting and I'm looking forward to all of my explorations.
Have you picked a word for 2016?  If you need ideas, try searching #oneword2016.

- christina

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Eyes Have It

As I have mentioned in previous posts, a friend of mine is the art teacher at the junior high in my school district.  Her students recently completed a project that focused on eyes.  It was a drawing exercise with colored pencils.  

The best pieces were shown at the district's administration office.  Here are the results.

This one is my second favorite.

This one is my favorite.
I love the shiny reflection.

- christina