Big Girl Mud

Oh my sweetums… I spent the weekend PLAYING WITH MUD! Big girl mud. Goes by the name of PAPERCRETE, a combination of concrete, all sorts of fibers, and other things like lizard eggs, dirt and eye of newt. Or something like that. People build HOUSES out of papercrete. It’s like cement, only lighter. And it handles like clay. Sort of.

Look it up. LOTS of stuff on the intertubes about it.

I discovered this wonder material at a cement sculpture workshop taught by Deborah Bridges. Deborah is my latest ART CRUSH.

Oh my goodness, I am soooo in love with her work.

Orb planter Deborah Bridges

Especially this piece. The first time I saw this I WANTED it. Wanted it badly. Sorry about the crappy photo but I thought you should see it on the pedestal.

Detail orb planter by Deborah Bridges

Here’s a better view. And down below is a single orb with river rock. Do you see the possibilities here? Texture. Rock. Broken spheres…oh, I am swooning!

Orb with river rock by Deborah Bridges

So when I heard Deborah was teaching a workshop how to make these I jumped up and down and did hand springs. Because oh, I sooo want me an orb.

We began Friday evening. Eight of us. A nice group of women all eager to mix up the magic potion and slather it on Pilates balls.

Mwah-ha-ha… You’d think women of a certain age would KNOW all about gravity. Really. But when mine kept slumping and sliding off the ball I was perplexed. Flummoxed. Confounded and confused.

There is a definite learning curve to all of this.

I finally got mine to stay on the ball. It stayed there all night and behaved itself until Saturday morning when I began working on it again. First it came off the ball before it was supposed to. But it looked really cool and I thought about leaving it just like that.

And then it broke. All by itself. With no help from anyone but the papercrete gods.

And it wasn’t the only one. A few of us had orbs behaving badly. But I always tell my students, NOTHING you make is precious, it’s all an experience. It’s all about LEARNING.

Yeah, right…

So I climbed back on the arty saddle and did it again. We all did. Because when it comes down to it, it IS all about learning the material.

By Sunday afternoon I’d made two orbs, one bowl, a planter pot and whatever the broken piece from Saturday eventually morphs into. I learned my lesson, I left the orbs at Deborah’s studio, still curing on the balls. I’ll pick them up later in the week when they’re good and hard. I’ll let them cure another week or so before using concrete sealer and stain. Then I’ll assemble them and find some plants I can’t kill.

This is the broken piece. I think it’s interesting. Don’t know what I’m going to do with it but I’m sure I’ll figure out something. Maybe some smaller river rock and a plant? Ha! I just noticed the lines from the ball.

This is the bowl. It’s about 14 inches across. I’m toying with the idea of doing some encaustic on this.

But I can’t do anything to these for at least another week, until the material cures to a certain level. I’ll show you when they’re done.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out Debora’s website. If you missed it up top, here’s the link again. Her work is fabulous! Seriously. Sculpture and encaustics.

And if you’re anywhere near northern California during the first two weekends of October, check out the the Open Studios Tour of Western Nevada County. Deborah and I are both on it and we’d love to see you!





I See Good

I See Good

Oh my sweetums, I have been away. Not away away, like needing a ticket or a boarding pass, the kind of away that would require me to bring home souvenirs like little plastic Eiffel Towers or sea shells with ‘Florida’ painted in flowery script across the smooth side. With glitter pen. By someone in China.

No. No. No. Not that kind of away. Trust me, I would’ve sent you all postcards from Paris. Or Milan. Or sweet Jesus save my soul…MIAMI.

I have been away in my mind…engrossed in every day workaday life. Tired of week after week where the temperature hit 100 degrees every day. Maxed out on fruit popsicles. In short, I was in the summer away place…August.

I do NOT like August, even though it is the birthday month for three nephews and one dearly departed dog. Oh wait, the dog died in August. Which goes to prove my point about the month. It sucks. Except for the nephews, of course.

Even my laptop went belly up in August. Last week.


It’s ten degrees cooler. I have a new computer. AND I PAINTED TODAY!!!

YAY!! Handspring time, I’m BACK!!!

So I was in the studio today and I pulled out one of my layer canvases. Think it’s 24 X 30 inches. You’ll have to trust me, I didn’t measure it.

I took a look and decided I saw a face on the right. I decided to make a painting based on the image from the art journal I showed a couple weeks ago, the one up above. It was uber popular on FaceBook. So I made a few marks, blocked in the figures and let the party begin.

Oh, having so much fun! So GOOD to be painting again. I just had to document it. Look, here I am, paint brush in one hand, camera in the other. And yes, I’m a lefty. Like Leonardo.

Another detail. Added some text which may or may not get painted over as part of the back ground.

Here’s where I left it tonight. Lot of work to do still but I probably won’t get back to it before next week. Have a day job, y’know. And this upcoming weekend is all about concrete. Friday Mr. Spouse and friends will be pouring the walkway around the new studio, which means no access for me.

But I’m doing concrete too! No, no…not concrete…cement. But close enough sez she who knows NOTHING about either one. AKA moi. Friday night, Saturday and Sunday I’m going to be learning cement sculpture at a workshop by Deborah Bridges. You have to check out her site, her work is AMAZING. We’re going to be making ‘orbs’ in this workshop. YAY! I’m so excited about that! OMG, can’t wait to show you guys. I should have something to show you Monday.

H2 Oh Nooooooo!

Fact # 1: We humans need water to survive.

Fact # 2: Computers do not.

Conjecture # 1: Someone with a history of maiming and killing laptops by way of liquid would learn her lesson after the first time. Or the second.

Fact # 3: She did not.

Conjecture # 2: Third time’s the charm, eh?

Fact # 4: Damn straight, Spanky!

Arty Life will be back in a couple of days, after an appropriate period of mourning…and a new laptop. Unless, of course, the old one pulls a Lazarus and rises from the dead. Which would suit me fine.

And would be a miracle.







Fair is Fair

Fair is Fair

Six PM. One hundred degrees. I’m in the hay shed, wrestling with a forty pound sack of beet pulp, trying to find the secret to the magic string, the one that’s supposed to open the bag easy-peasy.

No dice. I end up going after that sucker with a pair of scissors, one stich at a time. Because if I just cut the bag, like I’m tempted to do, the woven plastic unravels, comes undone and I end up serving shredded beet pulp with a side of shredded plastic to the ponies. Which wouldn’t be good. So I clip each and every stitch. It’s a slow process. I’m stinky, sweaty and impatient. I tell myself it’s not so bad, things could be worse.

And they could. I could be at the county fair. With children. Hot, tired, li’l darlin’s cranked out on sugar, demanding more. More, more, more, more, MORE.  Of everything! NOW! Eventually their whines becoming indistinguishable from the rest of the cacophony inside my head which includes (but is not limited to) country music played at a volume guaranteed to homogenize your brains and a couple of Sumo wrestlers tossing each other around somewhere between my right temple and the left.

All in 100 degree heat. That’s 37.7777777 degrees to those of you who measure these things in celsius. When the thermometer goes that high, it’s legal to kill. Well, it seems like it should be. Anyone you want. Especially if you’re at the fair.

Mwha-ha-ha-ha. And that’s when I know, without a doubt…and without trying to inject any theology in here, there IS a God…because my kids are all grown up and I don’t have to take them to the fair any more.

Sweet Diety, thank you!

Now before you think I wear my cranky pants during fair week, the biggest social event of the county, let me assure you I have nothing against going… on my own terms. Which means it has to be cool. Or at least not hot.  I go by myself. Bring my camera. And I wander around like a crazy lady talking to myself and eating caramel popcorn and funnel cake while taking lots and lots of photographs. I run into friends and we chat but I don’t feel obligated to look at the goats with them. Or the chickens. Or the man selling Vitamix blenders. No, no, no…I just do what I want.

Here’s a few photos from years past.

County Fair, Merry Go-Round

Going up

Upside down ride

Snow cones

Fair food

Midway game

Tweety Bird

So there you have it. Rides, games, Food. Anti-gravity kids losing retainers. And the craziness builds up and up and morphs into holy crap! Demon cartoon birds guaranteed to haunt your dreams…if you’re lucky enough to pop the balloon.

And now, because this post wouldn’t be complete without them, let’s SUUUUUUU-MO!!!


Spread ‘Em, Danno

Oh my sweetums, today I’m going to show you step-by-step how I create a page…no, no, a spread… in my arty life journal.

First, despite the fact that this is a prosperity journal, I’m using a cheap Composition notebook. Made even cheaper with back to school sales. I love these little books, especially now that I don’t have to have them, don’t have to fill them with spelling and penmanship and math.

Look at that. Brings back memories, eh? Can’t you just smell the pencils and eraser dust?

Blank pages just waiting

Okay, before we do anything, got to slap on some gesso. Because the paper has no substance, none at all. In fact, it looks like the page on the left has an owie. Think I closed the journal before it was dry. Whatever. Adds to the texture, don’t you think? Because it’s all about texture here. I love the way the pages feel at this stage. A little more substantial. A little crinkly. Just begging for paint.

Oh! Pretty colors!

In keeping with the cheap theme of the notebook, I used (what else) cheap craft acrylics. But only because they have little binder and a softer, chalkier finish. Better to write on. And besides, I happen to have quite a few on hand for working with plaster. Notice how carefully I apply the paint. Umm…not!

Then I covered the pages with text, in this case a prompt from Michele Morton Bergh’s Prosperity Blooms e-course. Yes, I see the irony…bragging about cheap notebooks, cheap paint while creating the prosperity intention. I used a variety of pens and pencils as I wrote the prompt forty times. Just to keep things interesting, you know.

The text begged for an illustration so I added figures representing my parents and myself.

And then a bunch of arty bling because it’s fun. And it’s ALL about the bling today.

And now, in the words of the great alien philosopher, Mr. Spock…

Live long and prosper!