from crayon box to powering my soul… color defines me

A fine site

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It’s Vintage!

When my mom moved back to Omaha to live with my sister and her family, the enormous task of cleaning house ensued, and the constant questioning, “Do you want this? or this? or this?” or “Maybe your sister wants this.” Many of the items brought forward for decision-making including the handmade items I had gifted her with over the past half century. Some I passed on. Some I had long forgotten, had a good laugh over, but still passed on. A couple I had forgotten and kept with a big Cheshire cat grin.  These two are ones I kept, had professionally dry cleaned, chose new mats and frames, and waited.

The results are in and I’ve found a bit of empty wall space to show them off. Made over 40 years ago. The first and only needlepoint canvases I made myself. Long before there were Michael’s Crafts Stores, Lee Wards out of Elgin, IL, was where I worked part-time during senior high school. One of my re-loved projects was from an introductory class which taught us a variety of needlepoint stitches and the other from a holiday DIY kit. If vintage is classified as anything over 25 years, then these two pieces certainly qualify:


Learning needlepoint stitches, the cat in blues and purples, Lee Wards Craft Store class, circa 1976


Poinsettia stained glass needlepoint kit, circa 1978

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Learning How to Learn

I am currently taking an online 4-week MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) course titled Learning How to Learn. Through UCSD and Coursera  I am working to learn new and unique methods for learning another language. As my Final Project for this course, I created a journal with these methods to allow me to have a handy reference point for helping me to learn. Here is the link to the video where I review this journal:

Many thanks goes to my friend, designer Suzy West for given me pointers on creating a video (my first!) as well as being my camerawoman behind the scenes!

For a closer view of these pages, I’ve added photographs of each journal page below:


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The Block Home Generation

I’ve purchased my plane tickets, reserved a rental car and am thinking ahead to my trip to Omaha, Nebraska, for my high school reunion this summer. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been back there. Many of my friends will return, too, from all points of the U.S. where we’ve scattered to over the past decades. I’m looking forward to reconnecting and laughing hysterically over shared memories. I guess it’s my plans for summer vacation that have me thinking about growing up in the Midwest and how different it is growing up, just about any place, these days, years later. My older brother returned more recently and he and I were talking about the changes. GoogleEarth shows us the home we lived in for so many years and I am surprised by a couple of things. First, the house seems so much smaller. Of course, I was a child, so some of that is a perspective thing. Second, and what my brother commented on, is how all of the trees have grown. I remember that we started out with a row of poplar trees that defined the back property line. And there was the weeping willow in the back yard separating our neighbor’s back door two-step stoop from our clothesline. Plus we had some bushes alongside the front of the house.

After several years, our father planted some new trees in a few random spots in our yard. I never understood why he chose those locations. I thought it made the yard more difficult to mow and when they moved, the front yard was no longer the best on the block for yard games like Red Rover. When we lived there, you could see the entire neighborhood from the freeway. Now, decades later, the trees have grown, taken root and are all you can see for miles and miles. I was in second grade when we moved into that home and it was, in the late 1960’s, on the outskirts of the city. Now, that house is literally in the middle of town as the city has grown and spread out enveloping smaller nearby suburbs.

There is a FB group titled Forgotten Omaha which I’ve joined because people will post old photos of the Omaha I remember. I asked the group whether anyone had a photo of a Block Home sign. Not the kind of block home you would get as the result if you did a Google search, which would show a block design for a house or a separating wall made of glass blocks or decorative cement blocks.  There was much discussion about Block Homes where a window sign designated that there was adult help available in the neighborhood if you needed to get away from a bully or were simply lost. Before there were McGruff houses, neighborhood safe houses were called Block Homes.  Our neighbor across the street was a Block Home. Of course, this, too, was during a time when leaving the doors unlocked in your house was not uncommon.

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Online auction Maria Pace-Wynters’ work

These three (two originals, Frida and Georgia and one fine art reproduction, Picasso) will be available May 3 during the online auction ‘Ode To A Famous Artist’ with Heartful Soul Artist Collective. There are so many great painting in this upcoming auction, you do not want to miss it. Join us here to take part […]

via Frida, Georgia and Picasso (just hanging out) — Maria Pace-Wynters

The Impressions We Make

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Since facebook has started bringing back memories of what we posted 3, 4, even 5 years ago, I am sure that I’m not the only one who has been tickled to see something we posted but had already forgotten. A few years ago I met my friend Rosie. I was gifting my mixed media paintings to the local area Starbucks Coffee shops, like these prints on canvas now availalbe in my Etsy shop:

Rosie saw one in our neighborhood Starbucks, asked about it and they handed her my business card. Rosie called me and asked if I would be willing to show her how to create her own mixed media art.  I was so excited to meet her and create with her. She made this gorgeous, colorful collaged Christmas tree. It came back to me on facebook as a memory from 2012.

My friend Rosie’s first mixed media collage – not quite dry yet so some areas of glue still appear white

A friend sent me a photo of the mini album I created for her when Margo was surprised by her now husband’s proposal. Remember this? she asked in the text. I laughed! Yes, I remember creating it, but more importantly, I was so warmed to know she still had it around and would share the pic with me.


Margo’s Marriage Proposal Captured in a Heart-Shaped Mini Album

Another canvas I created came back to me recently in a totally unexpected way. I participate in an annual breast cancer fundraiser. At this year’s Think Pink Crafting Extravaganza, formerly known as Survivor Crop, and my 12th of 15 years participating in this wonderful event, breast cancer survivor Kendra spoke to us about her experiences; her journey with chemo and then radiation treatments was harrowing.

She spoke of how difficult it is for people to talk to someone when they are sick. People look away, pretend they don’t see you, fail to acknowledge your existence, mostly because they don’t know what to say or how to act around cancer patients. Friends fail to call, you’re sick, in pain, scared, and lonely, so lonely. Other people come into your life, like the wife of one of her husband’s co-workers. Sandy listened to Kendra and was a resourceful and caring sounding board. Sandy is one of the Think Pink Crafting Extravaganza organizers.

After talking to us as a group, Kendra visited with many of us as we crafted all day in our fundraising efforts. When she made her way to our table, she stopped to sit down by me. I had just finished a mixed media canvas using Simple Stories new Hope Collection of patterned papers and matching stickers. I call it Breezy:

Kendra talked about my Breezy painting and how it reminded her of the collage she has been gifted with.She told me how she had it hanging in her bedroom and when she was too sick to get out of bed she would look at it. She said it was fascinating because each time she looked at it she would find something new; there were layers and layers of messages and images in the painting. She said she loved it and how much it had helped her.

I asked Kendra who the artist was, but she didn’t recall. I asked her what the collage was of and she told me it was 3 women; it was breast cancer survivor art. You know how they say you can just sense where something is heading, the goosebumps appear on your arms and it becomes really quiet all around you as you focus in on just one person or one thing? Well, that’s what happened to me. I then asked where she’d gotten the painting and she told me that Sandy had given it to her.

For several years, I would make mixed media collages for the Silent Auctions at this breast cancer fundraiser. I recall creating one with 3 women on it and wondered if Sandy had bid on it and won it at one of the auctions? It was so rewarding to know that a collage I had created and donated to a previous year’s silent auction had been bid on and won by my friend, Sandy, and then out of the thoughtfulness of her heart, Sandy had gifted it to the lovely breast cancer survivor sitting next to me,telling me her story, Kendra.

I told Kendra that I thought I might be the artist and asked her if she would send me a photo of the canvas, and I’d also love a photo of her with the painting and she agreed.  I was close to tears, but it really didn’t hit me until the drive home that night. We raised almost $20,000 that day and the tears poured down my face driving home. It means the world to me to know that my art can have this kind of an impact on a total stranger.

My hope has always been that my colorful, whimsical and, sometimes. quirky view of the world through my art will touch emotions in others. Unbeknownst to be, I certainly had. I couldn’t be more proud, so I’m off to paint more! Happy Thanksgiving 2016 everyone!


Kendra and the 3 Girls Survivor Collage

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Halloween Just Might Come in a Tin

As many of you know, I love to recycle or upcycle stuff. I had been collecting empty Altoid mint tins for a mixed media canvas class I intended to teach at a local scrapbook store, but unfortunately the store, like so many other small independently owned shops, has closed. We are down to only one or two scrapbooking stores in San Diego county and it’s disheartening. If you aren’t already familiar with the 3/50 Project, Saving the Brick and Mortars our Nation is Built On, please visit their site here.

So last weekend while participating in a pet rescue fundraiser, I created 15 miniature Halloween-themed tins from ribbon, stickers and beads I had sitting around my studio with my stash of creative goodies. What can they be used for? Spare keys, spare change, business cards, or even that emergency chocolate supply you want to keep handy, just in case.


Want to make some yourself?

Here’s how: Starting with a clean mint tin, I printed vintage witch photographs on full sheet label paper, trimmed them down to size and adhered them to the top of each tin.

Next, I realized that the tin had the mandatory nutritional information on the bottom, so I added photos there, too, to cover it up!

Using a hot glue gun, I adhered ribbon to the top outer rim of the tin creating a skirt for each tin. I have one with this crinkly old ivory ribbon that reminds me of the inside lining of a coffin.. how appropriate for Halloween, right?

I added stickers and jewels, flowers and glitter glue dots, rhinestones and mica flakes using liquid glue and pop dots for a raised or 3D effect.

Lastly, I added “feet” so that each tin would stand elevated off of a surface. I used matching beads, ensuring that the ones I chose had a least one flat side to keep them level. Using my hot glue again, I glued 4 beads onto the corners of the bottom of each tin. In the photo, the first tin on the left in the second row was photographed upside down so that you can see the amber bead feet.

Remember to keep a cup of ice water handy when using your hot glue gun because it’s inevitable that you’ll forget and touch a spot of hot glue so quickly plunge the burning finger into the ice water to harden the glue and stop the burn… just think of it as a little witches brew you have on the side!

One other thing… I found my Halloween costume at WalMart in the women’s PJ department. It is so soft, comfy and was only $6! It’s a black night shirt with this on the front. The only thing that would make it more perfect was if it glowed in the dark!


Happy Halloween!

More Tea Time

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I discovered another Tea Room in the San Diego area and had Afternoon Tea there today. The Aubrey Rose Tea Room is located in the old town area of La Mesa, CA. I recognized the area as one where we (my sister, her husband and my son) had attended an Oktoberfest celebration when my son was little – many, many years ago. It is a large venue with retail products, like tea pots, tea cups, strainers and tea, bordering the old fashioned dining areas. It was a charming touch to have a personalized reservation card at my fully prepped table.

Personalized Reservation Card

Personalized Reservation Card

Queen Victoria Afternoon Tea

Queen Victoria Afternoon Tea

The Aubrey Rose Tea Room - La Mesa, CA

The Aubrey Rose Tea Room – La Mesa, CA








I will say that each of the tea rooms I visited sat me in a chair I least preferred when dining alone. Understandably, most people will tea with a friend or several friends, but I was on this mission to peak my creative side by focusing on the mixed media books I was reading while enjoying warm and iced tea with finger foods. Almost every location had the table set for me to face a wall, while one of the four had me with my back directly to the door. I sat where I preferred and the service was easily moved, but in retrospect I wonder if there was any thought given  to the best of two options for seating. For example, at Aubrey Rose I was to sit facing an L-shaped tea display with my back to everyone else in the shop. I chose instead the seat in front of the display so that I could look at the other people and see my server approaching. Is it just me or do people simply not think through (or better yet try out) the best seat options at a table usually set for 2 or 4?

I opted for the Queen Victoria Tea which started with a broccoli cream soup with mini croissant. The soup was delicious, which was good because the croissant lacked any flavor, making me presume they were store bought not handmade. The savory bites included a baked artichoke and cheese crostini, a sundried tomato swirl bite and a mini biscuit like scone. None of these items were terribly exciting, but I do love me a tea sandwich and the cucumber cream cheese and egg salad were both creamy and flavorful. My favorite part was the sweet lavender and lemon scone served with the best cream I’ve tasted and lemon curd. I tasted the scone first alone, then the scone with cream, then the scone with cream and lemon curd and, surprisingly, thought the lemon curd overpowered and was too sweet for the scone. My Cheeky Peach hot tea was delicious, but for my second pot I needed to switch to decaf, so I tried the Decaf Apricot Peach.

The service was excellent and the owner’s husband, he jokingly talked to a table nearby about being referred to as her husband, handles reservations and ensuring that service is satisfactory. It is definitely a welcoming spot and they give every effort to having you as a return patron. I did find a bit of humor on their website, as the “Now taking reservations for Mother’s Day” in July is either very ambitious or simply outdated. And the photos on their menu page look marvelous, but maybe that is a special tea like for Mother’s Day?

I’d love to return with a group of friends and spend a couple of hours chatting and drinking tea. The parking is limited and metered, so the longest a meter will take is 2 hours. Which means making that your time limit or running out to feed the meter. Possibly why their customers refer to the Aubrey Rose as a “two-hour mini-vacation.” Regardless of the parking situation, my preference,  both here and the at the other tea houses I visited, would be to stick with just the tea sandwiches – like cucumber dill or watercress, and salmon spread – and sweet scones with cream and jam or lemon curd. These, with the tea, of course, are my favorites. Adding soup and savory bites didn’t seem to be worth the extra cost to me. The mini desserts don’t do much for me either; most are often too sweet, at least after enjoying scones with cream!

So, overall, the best venues were outdoors on the patio under the canopy with the nice cool breeze surrounding us at Shakespeare Corner Shoppe and Tea Room and the Aubrey Rose Tea Room. While I liked the Coral Tree Tea House being given a lovely window view, again with a nice breeze, being a historical house, it was not as accessible as other locations. The best tea? I think each of the locales served great tea, with many options. I actually bought the Apricot Black Tea at Tea Upon Chatsworth. And the best food overall? Hands down, my favorite would be Shakespeare because of the sauces, spreads and flavors in all of their food. Which really shouldn’t surprise me since I like Shakespeare Pub’s food, like bbq pork shanks and french fries with curry sauce for dunking… to quote Rachel Ray: “Yum-o!”

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