from crayon box to powering my soul… color defines me

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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

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.

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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!

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Kendra and the 3 Girls Survivor Collage

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The Spark is ReIgnited!

This past year had been a bit of a challenge for me, as it has for many of us. I see, for example, the last time I wrote on my blog was 2015 just after my brother passed away from complications of Type 1 Diabetes. Since then, I’ve focused on taking care of myself, because, really, who else is going to do that for me, better than I will? I had a knee replacement and have been doing water aerobics and swimming laps several times a week. What a joy it is to be back in the water (must be the Aquarian in me?)!

Along with improved health, I’ve lit a fire under my creative side and have been happily creating new mixed media projects, many of which you can see in my Etsy online shop: CarlasCraft.etsy.com but, of course, I plan to share some with you right now – I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I enjoyed making them!


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A Visual Feast

Last fall I signed up for a week-long Artist’s Retreat in Puerto Vallarata. It was one of those rare (very rare, actually) decisions where I put myself first and escaped from work and home and the everyday. Arriving on a Sunday, with my largest bag stuffed with art supplies, I found myself at the Hacienda Mosaico searching for a way in. Eventually, I realized that the hanger wire poking through the stucco wall was a door bell, connected to an internal bell that let those inside my new haven know that I had arrived.

Once inside, the stucco’d walls encased an amazing world of tropical trees and flowers, a charming blue pool and several casitas. We had a wonderful chef who served us amazing breakfasts at 9 a.m. and late lunches at 2 p.m. which I usually followed with a swim to cool off. We eventually went out on the town between 8 and 9 p.m. for a bite or celebratory dinner on the beach, our toes wiggling in the cool sand surrounded by tiki torches. The hacienda is filled with mosaic and brightly colored art.

Our week included art classes and free creative time where we share ideas with each other and experimented with color, texture and products. A trip into town to a little art supply store and to purchase milagros, Spanish charms, and sundresses. Another trip one evening for the weekly Art Walk, a musical event in front of the Cathedral, and to watch the sun set. Here’s what I completed during my little reality escape:

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Cook for a Cold, Paint for a Fever

Summer colds are the worse. We should get colds when it’s cold, not when it’s warm and sunny and you want to be outside playing in the sun, the grass, the surf, the lake, just outside. My  cold started last week and carried on through the weekend. I found comfort in cooking in my crock pot – let’s just fake it’s winter and imagine it’s cold outside.

I made apple-cinnamon oatmeal with the apples whose skins were starting to crinkle but were still crisp and sweet inside; goodbye peel, hello breakfast. Then, I created chicken soup with udon noodles by adding pearl onions, shelled edemame, freshly sliced mushrooms and bamboo shoots, flavoring it with a splash or two of fish sauce and soy sauce. Served up with either a dash of rice wine vinegar or chirashi hot sauce (or both) – yum! Comfort food. Actually, I made it a bit salty so today I bought a potato and threw large chunks  of it in the dutch oven with the soup and let it simmer the salt away. Now, it’s truly yum!

So, I cooked for my cold and when I got bored with reading or watching movies, I painted. Sunday afternoon I stood outside wearing shorts and a tank top, bare feet soaking up the Southern California sunshine, hair unkempt, a clean face, painting. At the same time I realized that I was sweating, soaking actually. Hmmmm – must be a fever! Keep painting, shower, repeat. Here’s what I created when I felt like crap – actually the act of throwing paint on canvas and creating made me feel better. They are unique one from the other, but that’s probably just my being in a funk, feeling lousy and wanting to feel better.

Snowy Flight

Snowy Flight

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Fever


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Visiting Artists are Such a Summer Treat!

Dina Wakley visited the San Diego area this past week and presented several art classes at Stamping Details on Midland in Poway.  It is so wonderful immersing yourself in such a learning experience. It is such fun, too, to create with other artists and learn from each other. What a wonderful weekend we had! Check out Dina’s blog “Ponderings

The first three of these pieces I created in Dina’s Silhouettes Class; the last two, I was so inspired, I created that evening. Love these mixed media gals!

The next day I took the Encaustic Tag Class. I have always been fascinated by wax. The summer between 7th and 8th grades, I spent hours in our family’s garage in the Prairie Lane neighborhood of Omaha, NE, creating batik. I had a cheap electric skillet to melt wax, which I bought in blocks, and restaurant-sized plastic mayonnaise jars I stored my Rite Dye in. Paint, dip, hang to dry, repeat with successively darker dye bathes until almost the entire piece of cloth was wax covered. Once dry, I ironed and ironed and ironed the wax away between clean newsprint paper.

Somethinganythingcover

To this day, I still have the batik I created from the  image on Todd Rundgren’s Something/Anything album hanging in my bathroom vanity area.

In the second class I took from Dina Wakley, we created a mini book of tags. It is so invigorating to learn new art techniques and work with new materials. I so enjoyed the simple act of stamping and painting through stencils onto tissue paper which we later tore apart and heat waxed onto our tags. This process gives the most translucent effect literally bonding the image onto the tag surface. I think I will need to reach out to my beekeeper/safety consultant friend and get myself a stock of wax to create with! Here are photos of my pages:


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Pan Pastels Projects

I recently dug out my Pan Pastels and found this mixed media floral canvas by Donna Downey along with her how-to video “Exploring Mixed Media 2 Highlights” on their website: http://www.panpastel.com/7_kit.html

mixed-media 2 kit project

Here are my interpretations of this simple yet fun technique:

Three Flowers on Red

Tres Flores en Rojo

Three Flowers on Tissue Paper

Drei Blumen auf das Seidenpapier