Saturday, March 4, 2023

Which came first? The chicken or the ...?

As I just might have mentioned before, I LOVE linen.
Especially hand worked pieces.
Especially quirky ones.
Do you know what this round item with a crowing rooster on it is?
Does the second photo give you a clue?
The third photo is a close-up with the rooster as the star.
These are all hand embroidered, all just a little too serious, considering their end use.
They are cocktail linens! Get it? COCK TAIL?
We all know the Rat Pack era was when cocktails reigned supreme.
Please forgive me for using a wine glass to demonstrate instead of a short stemmed glass but I wanted to show you how they are used.
These petite napkins could have been used for just that napkins or for tray liners to carry snacks, nut bowls or petite sandwiches or tiny trays to accompany your cocktail (or in my case a glass of wine).
To me the astounding thing is these rowdy roosters are all hand embroidered! 
The embroiderer would have used a transfer to print the pattern on her (stereotyping here but most of the stitching was done by women) linen or counted the stitches onto the fabric by eye.
Consider that this tiny final rooster is made up of over 240 cross stitches. That means 480 individual stitches conjured this tiny figure less than ONE inch tall. There are 50 stitches along the end of the final napkin, embellished with a crocheted edging.
I would bet it is safe to say this needle artist did her stitching BEFORE she has any cocktails!

Today is Day 11 of #the100day project where I am attempting to write every day for 100 days.
Thanks for following along while I ramble about all the different things that come to mind. I am sure some order or emphasis will shake out eventually. Maybe.


Friday, March 3, 2023

Studio Snippets - Wall 1

When we bought this house it was the first place I have ever lived with a garage.
This place had kind of a "fancy" garage - dry walled, painted a cheery yellow, with windows, and climate control. Like I said, FANCY.

This wall is hung gallery style with work from friends and family, plus a traffic sign and a reminder that everything else in this place is supposed to be leaving this place.

When we moved in the garage was filled immediately with an obscene amount of vintage goodies (stock from my old brick and mortar that I couldn't part with, finished art, box after box of books (because this lovely home had no built in storage like our old colonial), art supplies, things that masqueraded as art supplies: stained & ripped linen, antique papers, falling apart books, broken jewelry, random balls of string, you get the idea. It was a lot.  Like that run on sentence. ;)

Frighteningly, these next photos are just one wall of my studio. The painting "Side" if you will.
I've got brushes, palette knives, works in process...
Boxes of random paper, tools I have bought and not used yet (I am looking at you printing press and quilting iron), mark making goodies, inks, markers,  On and on it goes.
The perils of being a mixed media artist is that EVERYTHING is an art supply!
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Hope you enjoyed this partial peek into my studio.

These two stacked to the side? They are paintings I am in the process of re-working. 
They are what I will be working on while I am waiting for commission layers to dry.
Leila, you are next (finally!). Kathy you are on deck!

Today is Day 10 of #the100day project where I am attempting to write every day for 100 days.
I am hoping by the time this 100 days is in the books I have regained some stamina and met some new friends. Thanks for following along!

PS When my late father came to visit he, the man who sheltered every vehicle he has ever owned, just shook his head, and said "there will never be a car in her, will there?" with a resigned shake of his head and a small smile. 

Sorry Dad. xo


Thursday, March 2, 2023

How did you get here?

I was dropping my car off today to get it repaired and the gentleman that was helping me said "Tell me about you. I see by your phone number from you are you came here from Northern Virginia, how did you get here?"

I thought, that is indeed the question isn't it?

Buying a house in Gloucester County five years ago feels like the mash up of all my various lives I have lived in the past: NASA brat, island dweller, ranch kid, suburban teen, DC sale pro, juggling mom, frustrated creative, entrepreneur, beach seeker.

Coastal Virginia was accessible to boring middle ages things like hospitals and airports but it was also accessible to acreage and the Chesapeake Bay. Gardens to take care of, scenery to paint, cities to visit, museums to explore, friends to entertain and enough room for the family to come visit and all be together. 

So now I am a living by the water creative. Still searching because pandemic shutdown cramped my friend making style while trying to find my way in this rural yet sophisticated community.

I had no knowledge of this place before we moved here. We fell in love with the house and the land. We've been blessed with great neighbors and expat friends. We are in the country but accessible to the city. I joke that the 20 miles to the Target is faster to get to than the one that was 5 miles away when I lived inside the DC beltway.

Moving has changed the pace of my live. It has changed my art. 
There is a lot more blue because of the influence of the water. 
I have the ability to take my time with things because I have more room to let them sit and dry or let me just sit and stare at them.

Not owning a brick and mortar gallery shop makes me miss my people: my clients, my artists, my pickers.  But it has given me space to work on things that are not what is expected and that has led me to grow as an artist. 

I am much more game to try new things. I have received commissions and opportunities I would have never dreamed of five years ago. 
Can't wait to see what happens next.

 Today is Day 9 of #the100day project where I am attempting to write 100 days straight.
                                                            Thanks for following along. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Art & Ornament for your Wonderful Life

"Art & Ornament for your Wonderful Life."

That's the tag line I chose for my art and vintage business when I opened it way back in 2007. 
It came about because I was talking about my life after I had quit my job as a corporate recruiter and I was home with my kids and making things in my spare (ha!) time and a friend said "Oh, it's a wonderful life you have!" I agreed. 
I loved incorporating vintage and antique cast offs into modern homes.
Helping my clients create their own beautiful homes, a place that they were comfortable and happy in was my mission. 

Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" movie was a reminder that we all count. 
The world would be a different place if you weren't born or died before your time.
So Stifel & Capra was my homage to that thought and a reminder to take delight in every day life.

That was brought home to our family in a real way when my husband was hospitalized with strep throat run amok. 
It turned into scarlet fever, then sepsis, then other complications to numerous to recount here. 
Sadly, Bob ended up having to have his leg amputated from his infection. 
Terrifyingly, losing a leg didn't mean he was home free. 
It took quite awhile in the ICU, lots of prayers and plenty of modern medical professionals to bring him around so he could re-join the family.

Amazingly, what my kids and I remember most from that fraught time was being taken care of. 
Food on the stove, snow shoveled, kids carpools, a glass of wine, all appeared seemingly out of mid air, leaving us to concentrate on Bob's healing, therapies, and recovery.

Although life is not always easy, I find, it usually IS wonderful when you step back and look at the big picture. It certainly beats the alternative, for sure.

A friend commented on one of my social media posts last week that "But you are happier today than lots of people in their whole live. "

My answer?  "That is certainly a conversation we could have sitting on the deck but I will say that I am actually struggling right now with both my physical and my mental health and have to be aggressively proactive about creating good things in my life. There is a great old Abraham Lincoln quote that says "most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
I worry less about being happy and more about being grateful and content in my circumstances. That leads to happiness I think.
Some folks are never happy or content with their lives no matter what they have or what blessings they receive."

What about you? 
Are you fairly content in your circumstances or are you always searching for something? 
I used to be future oriented to a fault.
Rushing through my day, planning for the tomorrow that never arrived.
I am learning now to rest and wait. To try to be still. 
To listen and to heal. It's not always easy but it's usually full of wonder.

today is day 8 of #the100dayproject where I am attempting to write 100 days straight. 
Thanks for reading.  :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Brights Spots

Bright spots in my day:

Yet another round of blood work revealed more right than wrong

I was honored to judge 2 regional art shows today

Meeting neighbors on an outdoor deck for snacks on this sunny day

Daffodils glowing yellow.

Bright, sunny
Glowing like sunshine
Tokens from new friends

Day 7 of #the100dayproject , challenging myself to post words to pull myself out of post covid fog and get myself back in gear.  Thanks for following along. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Baxter, trickier than he looks...

Meet Baxter. 
He is the puppy brother of one of my original pet portraits I did back at the beginning of lockdown. 
His owner reached out to me and wanted another portrait so she would have of pair to display.

I thought it might be fun to share my process with you.

Marisela sent a collection of photos to capture his "old man" face and his striking markings.
She wanted the same size and a similar background so that they would be a pair.

That was a great idea but I must confess I was freaking out a little that I would not be able to recall the colors I used. Lucky me, got it right on the first try!

I then did a composite sketch of Baxter and used charcoal to transfer the image onto the pre-painted stretch canvas.
The next step was to do some quick outlining with black and white. I like to get the eyes in first because if they aren't right, it is going to look like someone else's dog! 
The funny thing is that a lot of times their eyes end up being covered with fur but I like to get the whole shape in before adding the top coats.
The next step is building in some layers. I played with this for awhile and then realized I was getting distracted by the skin spots from his close cropped hair do versus when his fur was growing out. 
I conferred with Marisela and she assured me I am heading in the right direction. I am fighting the temptation to get overly detailed because the portrait of his brother Cooper (the white dog peeking out in the photo below) is very graphic and loose and I want the styles to match so they will read as a pair.
To accomplish this I will use the same size brush as I used on Cooper's portrait so the paint strokes are approximately the same size and I will revisit the sizing and spacing on the canvas to make sure they are a good pair. I fell like I am in good shape now. One more session should finish him up.

I started doing these little pet paintings during lockdown when my shows were cancelled. 
They really are a bright spot!
 People love their pets and it's fun to delight clients with reminders of their furry friends.

Today is Day 6 of my efforts toward #the100dayproject . I am trying to get some words down everyday for 100 days to get me back in the habit of writing again. Stamina has been something I have been struggling with so I am pretty pleased I have made it at least this far. 

Thanks for following along. :)


Sunday, February 26, 2023

This week's pickin's

Was on the road waiting to go to a doctor's appointment and rewarded myself with a trip to a thrift shop. Found some goodies that will eventually make it to my antique booth or to the online shop.
A pair of beautiful midcentury figural lamps. Although looking at those plugs I would certainly recommend rewiring them before use. No chips on these - they are in lovely shape!

The squirrel is READY for some nut cracking! He is unmarked but comes with some seemingly original vintage tools. He has a couple of chips but still is quite serviceable!
Here's a classic! Midcentury vinyl ice bucket with a clear handle. 
Interior is pristine.
This almost antique cocktail pitcher is chromium plated with what looks like a bakelite handle,
The lid fits smoothly and the spout cap screws on smoothly and neatly.
Not often that you see industrial locations on a souvenir plate- especially a southern California one!
I love souvenir plates! I have threatened to hang all the ones I have to post to sell but I don't want to put 100 nails in the wall! Think command strips would sponsor me?

This post is Day 5 of #the100daychallenge of putting some words of 100 days in a row.
For some odd reason yesterday's post will not upload so I updated it before I wrote this.

I recognize I am not writing anything particularly scintillating yet but hoping to be a little more educational or profound as I go along and get into the groove.
Hope you had a peaceful Sunday.
Until tomorrow friends-