Friday, November 26, 2010


acrylic on paper
12" x 18"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fragments of Life, of Death

Fragments of Life, of Death
14” x 20”
acrylic on paper

Last Sunday, saddened after hearing about the sudden death of a co-worker, I began this painting. Thinking only of creating a background for notebook covers, I realized the more I worked on it the more it was destined to become a painting. The above might be the best orientation but I also like it flipped 90 degrees to this:

Which do you like?

I have my first commission for a journal! An artist friend wants me to make a journal for her son for Christmas. So next week I’ll show her samples of books I’ve made and we can talk about what kind of paper, size, and cover would be appropriate.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Turning Seasons

Turning Seasons
9” x 12”
acrylic on paper

Lately, I have been trying to use up paints bought when I was first learning about color. I bought some color theory books and some recommended tube and fluid acrylics. Since I didn’t complete color charts or delve into examples, many were never used or became favorites. Thus, I was surprised this week at the lovely orange resulting from Cadmium Yellow Light and Napathol Crimson.

Besides playing with paint, I have been making hand bound notebooks and journals for my soon-to-open Etsy store.

A good book about bookbinding is Gwen Diehn’s new “Real Life Journals: Designing & Using Handmade Books,” which I am reading now. She takes each individual’s need and use into consideration. What is your current favorite art or craft book?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Rolling Hills of Eire

After too long a time away, I returned to paint and paper. Inspired by my recent trip, here is a new one.

The Rolling Hills of Eire
acrylic on paper
9” x 12”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Return from Ireland

I spent most of September getting ready and touring around the west coast of Ireland. Here is a special journal I made using blank 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper, as well as already-painted folios. The outside cover is upholstery leather with an inside green fabric fused to it with HeatnBond. Dark green linen thread sewn in a long stitch holds the 6 signatures of 3 folios each in place. There’s a Celtic button and round leather string to close it up. By folding up a recycled painting and hammering in some mini-eyelets, I created pockets. My intention was to take this journal with me everywhere and to write poetry, prose, thoughts, feelings, and lists, as well as to sketch. Spacing the signatures far enough to allow for thick collage, I planned for an all-purpose travel companion.

Now, here’s the ironic part. I did one sketch, in Doolin, the first day, and then nothing. Nada, zilch, nothing! Although it was a small tour group—four paying customers, the tour guide and her boy friend—it was exhausting. So much to see and do and feel. Although the pace was better than a commercial tour, to me if felt like non-stop go, Go, GO! It didn’t help the boyfriend would voice anything that popped into his head and often got into arguments with the girlfriend while the “tourists” became uncomfortable witnesses. Stress was thick when we were all crammed into the one mini-bus. Being an introvert and a Highly Sensitive Person, I found the atmosphere akin to an endurance test.

There were a lot of physical challenges, too: climbing up ancient forts and mountains on slippery rocks and slick grass, hiking here and there, being outside in much cooler (and lovely!) weather, navigating unfamiliar city streets.

Using this small notebook (below), first intended to hold art ideas, I wrote daily activities even on bumpy roads. Thus, my new camera became my main creative outlet for the twelve days. Eventually, with reflection and time, using fliers and brochures, I will transform my unused book into a travel journal.

The Irish food was all good and nourishing; I even acquired a taste for Guinness! The land and weather became a comfort, the people helpful and friendly. And the changeable light—dark clouds, rain, sunshine—illuminated and obscured distances. Ireland touched my soul since I first visited in 1982. So, regardless of the trials of this recent trip, I know the frustrations will fall away, leaving only good photos and good memories.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fire Dancer 2

12" x 16"
acrylic on paper

Monday, August 2, 2010


9" x 12"

acrylic on paper

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Threshold III

12” x 18”
acrylic on paper

The Threshold series is an interesting to work on. Using similar colors and compositions, each work is a different interpretation of space boundaries.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Threshold II

12" x 18"

acrylic on paper

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


9" x 12"
acrylic on paper

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rain Lilly

9" x 12"
acrylic on paper

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Painting

9” x 12”
acrylic on paper

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mystical New Painting

9" x 12"
Acrylic on paper

Last week I returned to painting. It’s been a while and remembering how to play with paint again, this piece of watercolor paper began yielding something wondrous.

This has happened before. I’ll be mindlessly rolling paint around when light and shadow will appear and I will be filled with delightful discovery. Since nothing was planned, I often feel like an archeologist finding an object in a dig and need to clear away the encrusted surface to bring a treasure to life.

If I had consciously set out to paint this mystical image, it would not be nearly so powerful to me. It might lack great technical skill or refinement since I’m often afraid to overwork such a piece thus losing its raw intent. So, I might not have nailed this one. It might not communicate effectively what I felt, but I’m pleased to have uncovered it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

IFJM Ends and Summing Up

Here are catch-up spreads in my Fake Journal.

Unlike last year, I got an idea two weeks before April 1 but felt I couldn’t start in it yet. It might have helped if I had, at least gotten some of the design clients decided and some color swatches and magazine samples done ahead of time. Because by the time I started, my enthusiasm began to wane.

However, some good things happened in keeping a Fake Journal this month:

I experimented with a new medium: Inktense pencils with stamp pad backgrounds.
I discovered a way to make a “stamp” with the pencils and had fun playing.
I learned about steampunk, which knew nothing about.
I enjoying using a larger version of the Hand Book (just the second; 2009’s Fake Journal in a smaller green was the first). I liked the way the paper took gel pens, gel brushes, Inktense pencils with water. It’s still too scratchy for Micron pens, though.

With muted enthusiasm, I almost quit early but I still had a few more spreads in Sydney’s book.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crafting a Coptic Book

A few weeks ago, I attended a Coptic Art Book class at a local stamp and scrapbooking store. Completing my first Coptic stitch recently, I was curious to see bookbinding from a crafting point of view.

The three-hour class was taught by a cheerful and enthusiastic lady and it was well attended—11 students. Assorted book covers, already with designs on them, were in a package from the company 7 Gypsies. Boxes of distress ink pads and chalk colors were passed around and everyone promptly began inking up their covers. I tried some sample stamps--one with wheat stalks and one with an oval vine--but since the boards were a bit warped they didn’t take the impressions well. I wondered if book board was underneath and if they’d cause problems later when we did the stitching.

Instead of finding the grain and tearing down large sheets of paper, we collected 16 sheets of colorful cardstock. I chose 4 colors each of light gray, light tan with deep chocolate inside, dark green, and deep purple. Folding each page in half, we nestled two together to form one signature, and using paper cutters we trimmed those to 5 ¼” x 6 5/8”.

The last hour we spent doing the assembly and stitching. To punch four holes on the covers, there was a scissors-like tool I’d never seen before, probably a scrapbooking item. Using an awl, we punched four holes in each signature, too. With two pieces of waxed linen thread and four needles, one on each end, we started sewing from the back cover and last signature upward.

At the second or third signature, our teacher called out “Whoops--I forgot to mention you hook back to the previous signature! But you don’t have to pull out what you’ve done so far.” Everyone was a little confused after that, especially me since I began doing a double stitch (going back two previous signatures as well as the one above). So, I ended up with a much thicker but kind of cool stitch. I ripped one signature a little and promptly remembered to sew and pull the direction of the sewing and not straight up.

The good-natured teacher went over any question patiently, checked everyone’s progress, and stayed afterwards helping anyone wanting to do the signatures the correct way. She even pointed out my unique stitch to everyone, calling it the Mitsdarfer stitch! It was fun going to this class. Bringing some drugstore magnifying glasses to wear over my contact lenses, I was able to keep up and finish the project (something that bogged me down in previous bookbinding classes). Afterwards, I browsed the shop and one of the owners demonstrated a form foam that, when heated, can press into any firm material and become a stamp, something I’d read about in Maggie Grey’s book Paper, Metal & Stitch. It looked like printmaking on a small scale and something I want to investigate further.

It will be interesting to see how this book functions and what kind of medium to use on the dark cardstock pages.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Fake Journal Spreads

Sydney reveals more of herself, her clients, her life in her journal.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More Fake Journaling

Here are more of Sydney's mix of daydreams and client designs, part of the fake journal I'm keeping for International Fake Journal Month.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fake Journal

In commemoration of this year’s International Fake Journal Month, we peek into the journal of Sydney Greene, a 30-something interior designer living in Santa Fe. In this journal, Sydney keeps track of her many and diverse clients as well as occasionally sketching and trying new art media. It’s her catch-all for ideas, inspirations, designs, elements, thoughts, and daydreams. She doesn’t use this to give presentation for her clients; it’s for her eyes only.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Misty Dream Time

Nothing quite beats the combination of a trip to a used bookstore and a little time off work. Although I love the convenience of buying books online, the tactical quality of taking tomes off the shelves and handling them, bending, reaching, and squatting at various subject areas, and the sheer joy of looking at books is something best done in person.

All weekend, I’ve been in a dreamy state of mind. I recall other times leaving bookstores—with or without purchases—feeling so awed by all the knowledge and wonder and possibility wrapped up between two covers. Tingling with that familiar brain-buzz happiness, I came out of the store on Thursday afternoon and saw trees green-yellow with new growth and an overcast blue-gray sky, giving a mythical wash to my thoughts. My choice of books only added fuel to that fire.

Driving home, the city awash with bursting colors of wildflowers, budding trees, and swooping birds, I felt such a connection with Nature and yet also cautious to distance myself from pollen and allergens. I felt so much a part of the Elements around me and also, paradoxically, a longing for ancient places across the sea.

This push and pull reminds me of things I wanted to express while trying to be a writer and not knowing art techniques. So, I may delve into that as well as continue my Fake Journal book (soon to be unveiled). A large painting is also beckoning.

So many paths, so many interests, so many means of expression. I wish you a happy Easter, a lovely spring, a wealth of possibilities. What is pulling you these days?