Monday, January 31, 2011

A Year in Provence

I have read Peter Mayle's book every January for the last, hmmm, eight or nine years.  My mom gave me the book (naturally) one year for Christmas, hmm, probably (dare I say it?) 20 years ago.  (I was three at the time.  haha)  I "studied" in Provence my senior year at Oregon State (Go Beavers!).  But that's an entirely different post.

I read A Year in Provence in January because it's just a nice, cozy book to curl up with after the hurly-burly of the holidays, and the drizzly, dreary weather of January.  It reminds me of my time there - which (naturally), I loved.  Plus, I love Mr. Mayle's, Peter's, writing style.  (Sheesh, I've read the book 17 times now, at least.  I think we're on a first-name basis.) 

His stories about daily life in the Luberon are charming.  And even the first time I read it, I felt that I really got to know his friends and neighbors: Faustin his vigneron, Menicucci his plumber, Didier his contractor, Masot the crazy old guy down the valley.  He sprinkles his narrative with enough French phrases that I have to consult my French-English dictionary on several occasions (which I dig).  His references to places I visited (and fell in love with) make my little coeur go pitter patter.  Oui, c'est vrai.

Every night, after I turn off the light and before my pea brain shuts down for the day, I allow myself to dream about selling everything and doing what he and his wife did all those years ago:  packing it all in and moving to a charming old farmhouse in the middle of a lavender field.  C'est parfait, non? 

What do you dream about in those sweet moments between wakefulness and sleeping?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Painting and Stitching and Making Art

Painting on unstretched canvas is very satisfying, I must say.  It's not a stretched canvas, so I don't get that deer-in-the-headlights thing that happens when I think, "Man.  I spent a lot of money on this canvas.  I better paint something really great."  Which, is dumb.  I know.  I am learning to let go, and painting over stuff I don't love.  But when the canvas is just an unstretched bit of fabric, it seems less daunting.  Does that make sense?

Anyway, I start by painting just some inexpensive white latex housepaint (from Home Depot or somewhere) on the canvas, otherwise the fibers in the canvas just suck up too much of my acrylic paint.  After it dries, I painted just a bunch of circles in varying sizes all over the canvas.  Some whole, some wandering off the edges.  Then I painted little ruffly flower petals around some of the circles, and left some of the circles, well, circles.  After all the paint dried (this is one of those projects I started in November, and finished in you can imagine, that is more than enough time to let paint dry.  ha ha.)  Anywhooooo, after the paint was dry, I went in with my Caran d'ache watercolor crayons and added little details to my flowers and circles - stripes and scallops and polka dots and outlines.  So fun!

I let all of that simmer for another few weeks (because, muse went AWOL for a bit.  See previous post.)  I finally got the mojo to cut these canvas into heart shapes.  And I love them!

At first, I couldn't stand the thought of cutting into those beautiful paintings.  But then, realizing how much I loved them, I vowed to paint them again on stretched canvas for paintings.  Yippee!!  Deer-in-headlights?  Get a move on!

You know how I love a quote or inspirational phrase.  That's what came next.  My sweet little alphabet stamps and my quote journal.  I hand-stamped some of my faves onto the hearts.  I had created larger and smaller hearts.  To the larger hearts, I attached little streamers made from vintage seam binding in all of my favorite colors.  Then I stamped words onto vintage ledger paper and stitched those onto the streamers. 

So cheery and whimsical!  The smaller ones are simply little pillows to sit on a bookshelf or windowsill.  The larger ones can do the same, but I've also added a little wire loop-de-loop to the back so they can hang on a wall or door. 

I am really loving the way they turned out, and have several in my studio.  They're a bright bit of color on these grey Pacific Northwest days. 

I also listed a few on my Etsy shop

I've grown to love writing my descriptions for my Etsy shop.  Do you get the J. Peterman catalog?  I love that catalog!  And I love reading their product descriptions.  For example:

When I spotted the original in Paris (where else?), it sent my categorizers into a "what to categorize it" frenzy fit.
Is it a sweater?
Or a jacket?
Or a blouse?
Or all three?
As a noted French designer said on the subject, "The Americans are category crazy. As long as it's chic and will be the envy of other women, who cares?"
We filed it under pending. the description for this jacket.

Don't you just love that??!!

So, I've decided to get a little creative with my own product descriptions.  For example:

You plow head-first into your dreams. You believe with all of your heart that you can, and you do. When someone asks "why?", you answer with a resounding "why not?!" You're as sure as the day is long. You go girl!

That's my description for one of my canvas pillows.  So much better than just "acrylic paint on canvas, cut into a heart-shaped pillow and says blahblahblah.  More fun to write, and hopefully, more fun for peeps to read. 

What are you up to on this Sunday?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Hey, I'm glad you found me over here.  I'm simplifying.  Re-grouping.  Re-focusing.  Finding balance.  (Ahhh...deep, contented breath.)

All of this contented bliss comes after eight freaking days trying to import my Typepad blog over here.  Egads!  What a headache!  For days on end.  Lots of frustration.  And I still can't make it happen. 

So, for giggles, I tried importing my Typepad blog to a Wordpress blog.  You know, just to see how big a moron I really am.  And guess what?  It worked!  I was doing it right!  So, you can also see my archives over here.  But not here.  Nope.  Not on Blogger.  I mean...really?  Come on, people.  You're powered by Google.  Get it together!

And then, today?  I realized something.  I checked out on January 7th to re-group and re-focus and find a balance and learn to breathe again.  What I really meant, I think, was start over.  Begin again.  Clean the slate. 

So.  That's what I'm doing.  I'm okay with not being able to import my old stuff.  If you'd like to see it, it's over here.  And here.  But now?  I'm moving forward.

I've been feeling creatively bedraggled since the holiday show blitz.  Can't find my mojo.  Started painting, only to paint over what I've started.  Started stitching, only to rip those stitches out.  I just couldn't get it going.  Ever have those days.  That turn into weeks?  Sad.  Sad, sad, sad.

Nothing for it, really, but just to step away from the studio.  That's right.  Get out of there!  Mm-hmm.  That lasted about six hours.  Long enough to see a movie with my girl, feed the dog, and load the dishwasher.  And although the muse wasn't exactly singing my song or calling my name, my little room under the eaves was a MESS!  Stuff thrown on piles thrown on stuff during the holiday show schedule.  Maybe what I really needed was a purge-fest.  Out with the old, in with the new.  Clear out the cobwebs yada yada yada. 

And, just like that.  As if someone flipped a switch in my peabrain, and made my little heart go pitter-pat.  I am en fuego, inspired, on fire, baby!  And everything I seemed to be searching for after the holidays, and all the little notes I wrote to myself when I woke up in a panic at 3:12 am (does anyone else wake up at exactly the same time every single night when she's stressing herself out?  Can I get a show of hands, please?  Where are my neurotic soul sisters?).  All of that seems to be coming together.  Things are happening.  Paint is going nicely onto canvas, colorful stitches are finding their way onto white linen.  I'm sleeping until the alarm goes off at 5:30.

Can I get an amen and hallelujah, puh-leeze??!!

Now.  Of course.  Nothing is finished, per se.  A lot of wip's.  But, that's what tomorrow is for.  Tomorrow is another day.