31 January 2009

More Pencil Practice

Thursday evening was the second session where I sat down with my pencils, sketchpad and a magazine! I enjoy this exercise so much and seeing it here, in writing, I must admit I am frustrated that I wait-so-long-in-between!! ARGGHH!

I believe it's important to add "copy work" to my skillbuilding toolbox along with freehand sketching. As a true beginner with no recent drawing experience (does 20 & 30 years ago count?), it's a challenge when there's nothing IN MY HEAD to pull from. At times, I believe we all struggle to come up with ideas and I do envy those with unlimited imagination!!

All artist's use inspiration to feed their creativity. My grandfather (no relation) was a professional painter and airbrush artist. He also did alot of portrait commission work and I recall the steady stream of people that came through his home studio in the late 50's and early 1960's. Models, clients, fellow artists, etc. When possible, he set up his easel and painted landscapes & seascapes from his island home in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I have a box of Kodachrome slides that he labeled "for painting" so naturally photographs are a great source of inspiration, as well.

The choices are as varied as the individual! We can paint from a photo of a flower or a sunset, or tune in to an emotion; something that's pulling at our heart such as sadness or loss. Many choose to focus solely on the uplifting aspect of affirmations and draw from the feelings they get from words such as hope, dreams fulfilled, joy and love! Yet another form of inspiration is to look at something someone ELSE has created and make it your own, as in a tutorial or in a classroom.

The simple skill of observation comes in handy, too! As mentioned in an earlier post, where I described the "foundations" of my creativity, 25 years of photography have helped me to develop a clear vision. By taking 10's of thousands of pictures and experiencing what appeals and what doesn't - I understand MY views of contrast, color, perspective, proportion - and the BEST PART? It constantly changes because we are constantly changing.

Long winded post today, but I simply enjoy sharing my world with others. What I do, what I think about, what helps me to become a better person; a better artist. That is why I'm drawn to blogs that allow a peek inside someone's thought process. I learn MUCH from seeing their surroundings, hearing about their challenges as well as what inspires them. In that sense, I hope that you will be inspired by some of the posts here. In sharing so much of myself, which is the true nature of my personality, my goal has always been to make CONNECTIONS!

I'd like to sum this up with the idea that we are all a Work In Progress. Never stop learning and you will never run out of ideas!

30 January 2009

The Family Historian: Me!

Meet my great-great grandparents:
Alice St.Clair & Winfield Scott Sterner -
born in 1840's. Pic taken approx. late 1860's

Some recent "Digi - Play!"

I have always been fas-ci-nated with my ancestors ever since I was a child.

what were they like?
where did they live?
how did their lives differ from mine?
what were their struggles?
whose NOSE do I have?
what was it like to live without electricity?
and why is great-grandmother's rocking chair SO SMALL?

I was a piece of work! (my poor mom)

At 3 years old I begged my grandmother to tuck me into bed with stories of what it was like when SHE was a little girl! Lucky me! So, whenever my brother and I came for a visit, she would lull me off to sleep while fondly recalling her childhood days! (The picture, above, is of her mother's mother) Born in 1893 in Lynchburg, VA, my grandmother Alice had 7 siblings, sadly 2 of them died when they were young, a few chickens and a nanny who cooked for the family and helped with all those children! "Nanny" as she was affectionatly called, remained with them for decades, until she retired. Grandmother's father was in the furniture trade, which is why he moved to Lynchberg with his young, but growing family. When Alice was still very young, his ambitions required them to move again and they travelled to Philadelphia where he became a very successful businessman. (see "freehand freedom" post for a link. His business still exists TODAY!) She told me wonderful stories of this large, happy family and two parents who were very much in love. Weekly dinners with extended family were their custom and because of that, my mother (now 85) can recall in vivid detail, many of Nanny's special dishes. Among them fried chicken, peas with fresh cream and bread pudding.

Random web pics: 1929 Packard all-weather Town Car. A house in my grandmother's childhood neighborhood - Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia, PA

Those memories along with stories of a lifestyle entirely foreign to me, such as, "How The Butler Was Caught Stealing Daddy's Liquor" (and how mother was horrified when she found out he fired him on the spot). "The Christmas That Daddy Surprised Mother with a Packard." And the ever popular "Why People Thought Mother Was A Catholic" (because her driver parked the car in front of St.Mary's while she was at the library.) I had the kind of bedtime stories that little girls dream about. I'm sure this laid the groundwork for my childhood dreams of fairy tales and princesses!

Standing in front of my grandparent's house - 1958.
Close-up of the inquisitive one! Middle name: Alice.
Namesake of the storyteller, my grandmother Alice
and of my gr-great grandmother, Alice - above.

The only reason I am in posession of such a TREASURE TROVE of information... is because I have always asked!

23 January 2009

Hollywood comes to my hometown again and AGAIN - Pop. 28,000

Today I went searching for information on my town's website and decided to catch up on the latest news from our local Film Commission. Looking through the list of past projects I was really surprised (& proud) to see this YouTube video of an American Express commercial that spotlights our perfectly picturesque town center. It runs for the final 21 seconds from :40 to 1:01!

Filmed in CT on May 6, 2006

"Mr. Deeds" was also partially filmed here starring Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, Peter Gallagher and John Turturro. The first picture is Adam and Peter on the set and the second shot is from the end of the movie when Deeds inherits a billion dollars and buys his friends a few dozen Corvettes!

Filmed May 25, 2001

"The Secret Life of Pippa Lee" was filmed here and stars Blake Lively, Julianne Moore, Winona Ryder, Robin Wright-Penn and Keanu Reeves, among others! It was written and directed by Rebecca Miller, a local resident and daughter of the late playwright, Arthur Miller.

April 2008

Also appearing on Main Street was an indie comedy, called "The Six Wives of Henry Lefay." It's scheduled for release sometime this year and was shot in 2 other CT locations, as well. The movie stars Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert, Paz Vega, Jenna Elfman, Andie MacDowell, etc and was both written and directed by Howard Gould. A resident shot this cute pic of Jenna, former star of "Dharma & Greg", talking to a group of inquisitive pre-schoolers who were lined up on the sidewalk to watch the filming across from their school!

September 2007

(P.S. We knew this area was a perfect slice of "small town America" long before Hollywood figured it out! LOL)

22 January 2009

(Flickr) Love Is In The Air!

love is in the air!
Originally uploaded by

A heARTfelt thank you to the artists of flickr for the images combined here in my newest mosaic! Valentine's Day has always been a favorite of mine since it represents so many of my favorite things ~ hearts, the color RED, romance and L.O.V.E. - !

On the rare chance that I can really sit back and browse this A.M.A.Z.I.N.G site, it is always a "vacation for the eyes." And, now that I think about it, just when WAS the last time you took a look around? Please take a MOMENT to click and


Search on a favorite flower (I tried: "black rose"), favorite bird (check out "hummingbird") or how about the word "macro" (almost 3,000,000 images are tagged with "macro)!

Here are a few interesting places to land - what are yours?

-The Commons. Your opportunity to contribute to describing the world's public photo collections.

-Rural Decay

-Craft Rooms

-Vintage Photo Sharing

-Arts and Crafts Tutorials

-Rusty and Crusty

-Corners of My Home

H.A.V.E. F.U.N. ~ be inspired ~ a great way to unwind!

10 January 2009

A Little Experiment

"Gratitude" 12 x 12 - 1st Digital Scrapbook page

About a year ago, my DH surprised me with a long-awaited copy of Photoshop Elements. 8-10 hours later I knew just enough to make a few collages, nothing very advanced. And then I moved on... still frustrated by the steep learning curve.

A few weeks ago I asked an online friend if she had any links or tutorials to recommend (Kimmie from The Challenge, on NING - website link is over there ->) and this layout was the result!

I've always been fascinated with documenting my ancestry, scanning treasured photos for future generations, preserving their stories and learing MUCH along the way! In my growing collection I have pictures of 7 (out of 8) great-grandparents and now.... 3 of my great-grandparents. Anna Zurn Cook is one of those 7 and Barbara Grupp Zurn, her mother, is one of those 3. They are from my father's branch of the family tree and I have documentation tracing Barbara's immigration to the U.S. in 1837 from Aalen, Germany. Over the next 2 centuries, many of her descendants remained on the East Coast in both PA and NJ, not far from Philadelphia, including myself and my mother's side of the tree.

They lived in an era of extremely difficult times, especially for a woman, and I wanted to honor their sacrifices in my first Digital Scrapbook Page. I am eternally grateful to both my great grandmother and my great-great grandmother and many others that I will be scrapbooking.

This is only the beginning!

03 January 2009

2009 Outlook: Delve Deep!

Art Journal Page - "the time is now"
November 2008
(made for an Artist's-Way-style challenge on NING)

As we turn the page on 2008 and prepare to begin anew,
~ allow me to share an uplifting thought ~

The economic downturn has effected each and every one of us, if not personally then it has most assuredly impacted someone that we love. Housing foreclosures, unemployment, sacrifice and loss. Life lessons have been learned and we will be forever changed. And that is not always a bad thing.

We are reminded that it is our relationships, not things, that are important.
Now is the PERFECT TIME for:

~ reflection
~ learning
~ delving deep
~ self love
~ patience
~ finding creativity
~ adaptability
~ resourcefulness
~ discovering strengths
and most of all,
~ reaching out to uplift a friend because
a trouble shared is a trouble halved

I have earned an MBA and a PHD in the "school of hard knocks" over the course of my lifetime. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing since it has shaped me into the person I am today.

If you have major obstacles in your life right now, I want you to know that I care. You are in my thoughts and I believe in you!

“Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you." - Mahatma Gandhi