Monday, April 6, 2015

Snail Mail

There's nothing quite like getting a real letter or postcard in the "snail" mailbox!  E-mail is easier, but I'm old fashioned enough to love the anticipation of hearing the mailman and then hopefully finding something other than bills or political ads inside.  That's one reason I have participated in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap for the past two years.  Let me show you the five postcards I received in the past couple of weeks through the swap.  I found ways to display them in my back yard.

The first postcard arrived while winter was still in full swing around here, and I loved the whimsical message and bright colors.  It came from "Snap" in Texas.  I set it on a trellis that (hopefully) will be filled with clematis later this season.

Next I received this portrait from April in Florida.  She is displayed with some lovely tulips from the grocery store, since ours haven't started blooming yet.

The photo of this old firetruck is from Kelly Warren, a photographer from Florida.  I follow her blog, and you can check it out here.  

Written on the back of this one was a quote from Marilyn Monroe:  "Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world."  My daughter would definitely agree!  It came from Darlene, a photographer from New York.  I thought it looked rather fun on our bird feeder.

I forgot to photograph one of my favorite postcards that I received, but I will do it next time.    

I also had the pleasure of receiving a REAL LETTER from my friend Lynnie in Nevada.  Look at this gorgeous envelope and sweet hand-made card.  She also enclosed a letter, which I immediately curled up with to savor!  

 What have you received in the mail lately?  Anything fun?!?!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Exploration 2015 at the Newberry Library

Each year, the Chicago Calligraphy Collective sponsors a juried art show at the famous Newberry Library in Chicago.  Although I have not yet had any pieces accepted, I had the privilege of serving on the jury this year.  It was a daunting task, given the quality and variety of the submissions.  There were five jurors working independently, but then coming together to create a consensus, which made the process go quite smoothly.

Saturday was the opening reception for the exhibit, and here are some images from the day.
 My friend Marge did a demo on illumination, which is the colorful decoration and gold leaf you see in the piece near the bottom of the photo.  That is a copy of her gorgeous piece "Anniversary Prayer" that was part of the exhibit this year.
This is another friend, Julie, demonstrating contemporary decorated letters.  She shared many fun techniques, which she made look easy!  Below is one of her pieces in the exhibit -- a whimsically decorated letter "J".
 As if lettering isn't difficult enough, my former teacher, Tim Botts, actually lettered on birch bark in this piece!  I don't know how he was able to keep the gouache in line!
 A current teach of mine, Reggie Ezell, did the piece below.  The colors and the gold leaf are magnificent, and this woman is obviously in awe.

 The lovely piece below was done by a former student of Reggie's, who came in from North Carolina to attend the reception.  Her name is Julia, and another piece that she did won the Newberry Purchase Prize this year.  That means she was awarded a cash prize, and her piece will be kept permanently in the Newberry collection.  Sorry, but I didn't get a picture of her winning piece.
As a juror, I also had a piece in the show.  Instead of submitting a calligraphy piece, I used one of my favorite nature photographs.  I can't show you a photo of it here, because the only photo we took of it is on my husband's cell phone!  I'm sure I've posted it somewhere on the blog in the past!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Ramblings

Spring is my favorite season, and the one reason I haven't packed everything up and moved somewhere that is sunny all year long.  (Except for the fact that I would dearly miss my husband, who would undoubtedly stay here!)

Spring is life and growth and newness and walking outside each day to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine and the surprise of tiny green shoots appearing.

Except for Monday.  Monday was everything I dislike about Chicago in the spring rolled into one day.  But then I looked out my window and saw some friends who were even more miserable than I was:

 Fortunately, they moved to the front yard, where I had just filled the bird feeder.  Hopefully a nice breakfast helped to warm them up!

I have also been working on a calligraphy commission for a friend.  Her friend has just come through a tough round of breast cancer treatments.  Fortunately, the treatments were successful and her friend is doing well!  These are some thank you notes that I did for her.  I scanned the lettering and copied it on various shades of pink paper, then embellished them.  I'm hoping she will enjoy sending them out to all the friends who helped her during the past few months.

The next time I post, my goal is to have photos of spring!!!  Hurry up, spring!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

by Jan Richardson

May you set out on the road

 that begins in your heart,
your soul.

May the path
that starts as a dream

become real beneath your feet.

May you walk
in the way of blessing

and stand in the spaces

where earth and heaven meet.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lions and Pandas and More . . . oh my!

While we were in California, we had the opportunity to go to the San Diego Zoo.  Neither of us had ever been there before, and we were not disappointed  They have a SkyTram ride which soars over the Zoo, from one end to the other.  We started with that, and then leisurely strolled back past the animals.
 I don't remember what kind of a bird the above one was, but the one in flight is a California Condor.
 Definitely the king of the beasts.  I was very glad to have a telephoto lens on my camera, as I wouldn't want to get close to this guy.

 This giraffe is pretty cool looking in a distinguished way, as opposed to the flamingo, who looks like he just sat on a pine cone.  The giraffes were quite active, and we watched one carefully sit down on the ground.  It was not an easy process -- I guess it's pretty hard to be that tall.
 We were thrilled to see that pandas, especially since the docent said they usually sleep about 16 hours a day,  It was lunch time, and Mama and Baby were both busy chowing down on the bamboo!  This is Mama.  Her back was toward us most of the time.
 Baby was not camera shy at all.  He even seemed to be grinning at us.

We've been back for a week now, and I'm finally feeling better after my bout with bronchitis.  Stay well, and here's to spring arriving soon!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Beach!

My youngest daughter and I just returned from a wonderful escape from the land of ice and snow to sunny southern California.   It was a much needed, healing week for both of us, and here are some of my favorite pics of the Oceanside Beach.
 This was the view from our balcony our first night, and we could not believe the gorgeous colors of the clouds.
 Torrey Pines State Park -- one of the best places to hike and enjoy the sunshine sparkling on the water.
 Such a wonderful surprise to see this lovely rainbow greet me one morning.
 Sunsets at the Pier are magical.
 Love the birds . . .
 And the colors . . .
 Sharing it with my daughter . . .
And our final night eating fish and chips at the harbor while enjoying this beautiful show!

Now we have been back in Chicago for three days and I have been sick in bed with bronchitis.  At least I have these memories and images to remind me of our trip!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

I know I'm a few days late for Valentine's Day, but I finished my Valentine bookmarks this morning and gave them to my co-workers today.  Better late than never, I guess.

Because I'm in a year-long class with renowned calligrapher Reggie Ezell, I have been practicing the basic Blackletter hand as well as a few variations.  I decided it would be good to incorporate these into my Valentine project this year, and I can also use this as homework to bring to our next class.  These are a few of the finished ones.

These were quite a challenge to make, and I must admit that I kept only about a dozen of the over 30 that I made. One of my biggest mistakes was to forget the "g" in extravagantly, so the word read "extravantly" on many of them!   The white is Dr Martin's bleedproof white ink, and the red (which is a bit hard to make out) is Windsor & Newton gouache.  I mounted them on red cardstock and embellished them with ribbon, hand-painted paper hearts and hot foil dots.  

You might remember that I did these last year.  They seem to have been easier, but perhaps I wasn't as worried about having good letterforms as I was this year!
I think it was the year before that I made actual Valentine cards using Zentangle hearts.  It's fun to see the various projects that I have given as Valentines over the years.

I would love to see what Valentine projects you came up with this year!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Daily Treasures and some fun Apps

Where does the time go?  It's good that it's February already -- we are that much closer to spring!  And speaking of spring, this was one of my daily treasure photos that I posted to Instagram recently.  I was very delighted to see seed packets in the store and I had to take a photo of them!  Then I added to it in an app on my phone called Rhonna Designs.  It wasn't a free app, but it lets you do lots of cool effects.
 Last Friday the late afternoon sun was out, and I took a wonderful walk to enjoy the rare bit of sunshine. The photo below shows two trees glowing in the sunlight, but then I added a bunch of extra texture and color with an app -- I think the one I used was DistressedFX.  Lots of cool stuff on that app as well.

On Sunday, Chicago got hit with quite a blizzard.  It was also the first day of February, and my cousin made a calendar in which the February page was a wonderful explosion of lovely colors.  I used an app called DXP to blend our snowy backyard tree with her calendar page, and the result is this fun treasure!
 The photo below was of the full moon rising in the blue light of dusk, with tree skeletons in the foreground.  But I played with it in a fun app called InstaBlender and came up with this fun abstract.
 I worked on Saturday, and was perusing one of our books when I found this poem by Vachel Lindsay.  I memorized this poem in grade school, and haven't seen it since, but snippets of it have been floating around in my head.  It was fun to see the full poem and realize that I had remembered a good bit of it!
 Today it was time to begin work on my Valentine bookmarks.  Here's two versions -- both a little rough, but I think I can tweak the design and come up with something by Valentine's Day.

Wishing you sunny days and warm nights!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Daily Treasure

The first week of a new  practice is usually the easiest one.  Now that I'm into my second week of daily treasure hunting, the daily grind of winter has set in and it's a little harder to remember that each day holds treasures.  Especially with the sub-zero temps, traffic-congesting snow and extreme winds.  (Sorry -- that's not supposed to sound so whiney. . .)  But there were treasures each day as well.
 Winter fruits like oranges and grapefruit as especially yummy AND so healthy.  It was good to eat this one a little more mindfully, savoring the juicy sweetness.
 I have fallen in love with this magazine.  Published in the Netherlands and printed in Poland, it is filled with beautiful images and inspiring articles.  I just have two back issues, but I am very tempted to subscribe.  It's a little pricey though.
 I vicariously enjoyed the Documented Life Project last year as fellow bloggers shared their beautiful journal pages.  This year I took the plunge and joined.  The prompt for week 1 was to use a book page as background.  The image of the girl is from my Flow magazine, and the notes are ones I took while reading Christine Valters Paintner's book, Eyes of the Heart.
 Taking the Christmas tree down.  Again, I tried to be mindful and grateful as I took the ornaments off and put them away.  I will be glad for a little extra room in the house, but I will miss the twinkling lights.
Finally, an image of warmth and light on cold and dark winter days.

Wishing you daily treasures this week!