Saturday, October 30, 2010

Haunted Halloween House... and a Fun, Ghostly Tale

Happy Halloween everyone!  This week I have a fun, ghost story from the Pacific Northwest by one of my favourite "storytellers" Margaret Read McDonald AND a preview photo of the "Haunted Halloween House" I made in polymer clay and set into a frame.

What a lot of fun it was making this house!  Our friends, Scott and Sandy, are great Halloween fans and go all out with decorating their yard.  It was a source of inspiration for me when putting this polymer clay house with its embellishments together.  

According to hubby, the pumpkins look downright REAL and he loves the bats swooping across the sky.  I was a little disappointed in the moon... UNTIL... I turned the lights off.  Made from "glow in the dark" clay, I was amazed at how long you could see the moon in the dark!  The windows are made from a transparency with alcohol ink dribbled on it and then backed with silver paper.  The rough frame was made from paper mache clay and then painted with metallic paints.

Of course, every haunted house deserves a spooky ghost story to go along with it.  With that in mind, here is a wonderful "true" short tale from the Pacific Northwest.

The Femme Fatale of Rosario Resort
Orcas Island, Washington

Rosario Resort on Orcas Island occupies the former mansion of Robert Moran. In 1939 the mansion changed owners and a flamboyant lady by the name of Alice Rheem took residence. Rumour has it that her husband bought the remote property as a useful place to ensconce Alice and her drinking habit. She became a familiar figure on the island, riding around on a motor scooter, often after one drink too many, sometimes dressed only in her red nightgown. And she was known to have a proclivity for handsome young soldiers, bringing them back to the mansion whenever her husband was away. Alice eventually died in the mansion, supposedly a victim of too much drink. But she seems not to have left quite yet.

As recently as 1986 Alice was causing havoc. A tired housekeeping employee bedded down in an empty room in the mansion one night rather than drive home. Just as she was dropping off to sleep, she noticed a shadow pass across the wall. Turning on the light, she saw nothing. But the shadow moved again and something touched her hand. She waited and seeing nothing was about to trun off the light and go back to bed when she felt fingers caressing her hand. The girl bolted from the hotel, tossing the key to the desk clerk. "There's something in that room!" He shrugged, put the key back on the hook, and noticed that it was midnight.

As it happened, a trio of entertainers had been staying in the room next to her that night. They complained as they dropped off their key in the morning. "How long will that woman be staying next to us?" The desk clerk assured them that she had already left at midnight, the night before. But the entertainers had been kept awake all night, they said, by her carousing. Just before midnight they'd seen the light under the door go on and off three times. then the bed began to creak and the moans of passionate lovemaking started up. they were kept awake all night. The key to the room still hung on its hook and the desk clerk hadn't given it to anyone else. The hotel staff suspect that Alice was at work.

From the book "Ghost Stories of the Pacific Northwest" by Margaret Read McDonald
(Source: Seattle Weekly writer Kathryn Robinson)

Happy Halloween!  Have fun and stay safe...


P.S.   I decided to extend the time to get the  "Halloween Hilda" ATC Tutorial  under Current Free Trade Downloads to November 5.  If you would like this ATC tutorial package, Get it NOW as it will be retired on Nov. 5 and no longer available!!  Click on Current Free Trade Downloads link under the header at the top of this page to read how you can get this tutorial.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sidney Fine Arts Show Juried Art Entry - "How the Cow Comes Home"

Our Internet connection was down this morning so I apologize for posting this much later than I wanted and promised to...

Today, allow me to introduce you to "How the Cow Comes Home"... a whimsical, ceramic/polymer clay cow that simply stole my heart while I was creating her.

Photos often don't do justice to some art work and this is certainly the case with "How the Cow Comes Home".  It is difficult to see the subtle shading on this piece of fun loving art.

As many of you know, I don't plan my work.  I just get the idea, begin the project and allow the piece to tell me what it needs and wants until it is complete.  My job is simply to carry out wishes.  I certainly had a barrel of laughs with this piece... she was quite the fussy gal as she came into being. LOL.  With a "life purpose" of spreading warmth, joy, and laughter, this little cow snuggled right down into my heart and skipped gleefully through my soul every day I worked on her.

After another polymer clay piece, "If Pigs Could Fly"  I created earlier this year sold at the Sooke Fine Arts Festival, my friend Cindy wrote me an email and asked, "Okay, so what are you going to do next?"  I was still basking in the sale of my sweet Pig and hadn't really given it much thought.  Off the top of my head and laughing, I wrote back "Oh cows I guess! LOL"  and promptly forgot about it.

A couple of weeks later, our doorbell rang.  There was the postman with a package for me from Cindy.  I opened it up and burst out laughing.  Inside the package was a plain vanilla ceramic bisque cow (and a very tiny little pig).  I took it out of its packaging and set it on the kitchen table.  The first thing that popped into my head was "I want a personality."  "Okay, you've got it.  But not this week."  I said. Work on her began the following week.

When I "do" art, the storytelling side of my personality emerges.  Just about every piece I do has a story attached to it.  The story that forms and takes shape during the creation process is one I either "feel" or can articulate in actual words.  And so it was with "How the Cow Comes Home".  A "fable" was emerging and guiding the process!  It began like this:

"Once, there was a chocolate milk brown cow named Gertrude who lived in the mountains of Switzerland. In the winter, she lived with her family in a small village at the foot of a mountain. It was a quaint little town well known across the world for the tasty cheeses and chocolate produced by the farmers from her family's milk."

And, as "Gertrude" began to take on a personality, the story began to grow.  What fun I was having doing two things that I love both at the same time... art and storytelling.  I found myself becoming very curious about cows.  I had never really thought much about how cows ... certainly not as an adult.
If you have been following my blog for any time, you will know that when I was young, my grandpa had a dairy farm.  As a child, I remember feeling very intimidated by the size and strength of those cows in that enormous barn out behind the farmhouse .   They were BIG!
My grandpa was proud of his herd and each one of them (there were about 20) had a name.  According to my grandfather, each of them also had their own distinct personality.  I remember him and my grandmother talking about them as if they were their children... which, in a sense, they were.  Those cows were at the center of their livelihood.
As this whimsical little cow progressed,  "she" began to take on a personality.  I could hardly wait to get up in the morning to work on her.  Some of "her" ideas about how she wanted to become really did make me wonder some days!  Especially the morning when I got up and decided that I had to find the perfect compass to put on her head as sort of a brim to shield her eyes and to make sure she could find her way home.  Hubby roared laughing when I told him that little tidbit at the breakfast table. 
 "You're just having too much fun with this cow." he said with a big grin on his face.  "and  I'm having a great time just waiting to hear what comes next."

Fast foward... Adjudication time! When I unwrapped her at the "art centre" and brought her into the jurors room, I just told her to "go WOW those judges with your wonderful personality." Well, as you all know, she did.  She was accepted for the show.

The weekend of the show, the cold I had been nursing took a turn for the worse. I felt absolutely rotten and slept most of the time. It really ticked me off that I couldn't go out and enjoy looking at all the art on display. Phooey!!!

Fortunately, hubby and I had made it to the Artists Reception before the show actually started. Both of my pieces had received great placement. They were the first pieces you saw when you walked through one of the doors. I was delighted with the way they had been showcased.

They looked so wonderfully whimsical and fun in their spot. I felt so proud of them! I hung out around them for a few minutes to judge the reaction of other attendees discovering them. Onlookers laughed or smiled when they spotted them.

One older gentleman just couldn't help himself... he had to play with the teapot. I watched as he surreptiously moved towards to the teapot. Out shot his hand. He flicked the coil beneath the little bird with his finger. He burst out laughing as the bird began to move and sway!  I loved witnessing that moment. The pieces were "doing their job" ... spreading some joy and fun around. 
I was surprised when I didn't receive a phone call over the weekend telling me that one or the other had sold. I had been sure that the cow would sell. Who could possibly resist that cute, whimsical bundle of laughter and fun? 

I was a tad bit disappointed.  On the other hand, I feel it is an honour to make it into a show and 98% of the time, it's okay with me either way if a piece sells or it doesn't.

Being accepted into a show is a thrilling experience. It tells me that the jurors deem my piece "sell worthy" for this particular show.  After all, isn't this what the show's sponsor as well as the artist wants to do?  But it's also a way of spreading some enjoyment around.  There are bound to be some people who like what I have done.  The bottom line:  If my piece sells, it is a bonus. If it doesn't, that okay for me too.

Some people have asked me how I can be so okay with a piece not being accepted or selling.   Here's my answer:  I have never put a piece into a show that I didn't love in the first place. 

If it doesn't sell, it is not a reflection on the piece.  Affordability, size and "does it fit into my lifestyle?" are just some factors I believe are often considered by buyers.  But I also believe that a piece of art is a very subjective to the buyer.  If you fall in love with a piece, you will move heaven and earth to get it if you must.  That's certainly been my experience with art I have purchased.

But you know,  the best thing is that if  a piece of my art doesn't sell,  I get to keep it and perhaps show it again.  It all depends on the "rules" of any given show.  I recognize that juried art shows can't accept every piece that is submitted.  They often turn away pieces that I would consider beautiful pieces of art.  Art can be so subjective!!  Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder.

I firmly attest to the idea that attitude is everything when it comes to artists selling their art.  It  definitely determines your altitude.  The way I look at it is this: 33-1/3% of people who see my art will love it.  33-1/3% will stand in judgment and find everything they can wrong about it or simply not like it.  33-1/3% will not care one way or the other.  My attitude is... who do I want to hang out with and who do I want my art to be purchased by?  The answer is self explanatory. 

My heart was light.  Off we went to Sidney to pick up my pieces.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the cow had sold. I was delighted! You are about to read what I consider to be the best and most special part of this whole experience... getting to meet my buyer.

Accompanied by an art show volunteer, hubby and I went into the hall to pick up the teapot. As we stopped in front of the display area, a voice behind me said, "What a pleasure it is to meet the artist of these wonderful pieces." I turned around and there was a gentleman with a huge smile on his face. He extended his hand, introduced himself and told me that he wanted to meet the artist who had created the cow.  He had purchased it and was going to take it home with him.

I was delighted. Rarely does one get the opportunity of meeting the buyer of a piece in an art show. This was a very special treat. As we chatted, I discovered that he was a volunteer at the show and wanted to meet me to tell me how much he enjoyed this whimsical little cow. "Every time I look at her, I smile" he said. "I knew that I just had to buy her and take her home with me. I just love the whimsey about her."
It was such a wonderful experience to see and hear how much he appreciated what I had done and how excited he was to have the piece as his own. I was deeply touched by his words.

I let him know that it was a rare treat to meet the buyer and one of the things I liked to do was to send a personal thank you note to the purchaser of any of my pieces. I also told him that I usually wrote the "back story" on all of my pieces once they were done and I would love to to share it with him when it was complete. He was interested in receiving it so gave me his phone number and an email address to get in touch with him.. It was truly a lovely conversation and I was thrilled to bits to have had the opportunity of meeting him.

First thing the next day, I wrote him an email thanking him again for purchasing "How the Cow Comes Home" .  As well, I shared with him some of my more personal thoughts about the piece and the experience of creating it.  I promised, once again, to send him the background story when it is finished.

Yesterday morning, I opened up my email and there was a reply to my email from him. Only two words can describe it... beautiful and deeply touching. As I read it, tears welled up in my eyes.
In his email he told me that he had fallen in love with her the first time he saw her during the jurying process. When he saw her in the show, he was not only delighted but knew that he just had to have her. He wanted me to know that she will be treasured and for what he believes I created her for - to provide a sense of joy, fun and comfort in her presence. "And thus the reason that I wanted to meet you. I thought that these qualities in Whimsey (her new name) must be a reflection of her creator. That appears to be the case."

What a gracious and lovely thing to say.  How delighted I am that "little cow" has melted his heart.  I understand.  I felt the same way about her.  Now if that isn't special, I don't know what is! SMILE

"Gertrude" will be christened with her new name as I finish editing the story to send to him. I'll share the fable and the interesting "cow facts" I gathered (curiosity got the better of me!) with you story lovers out there when it is finished.
Thanks for stopping by today and sharing in my good fortune.

Wishing you an artful week,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sidney Fine Arts Show Juried Art Entry - the "Tweet T" Teapot

Well I think I have FINALLY beat the cold that has been plauging me the last couple of weeks into total submission. LOL. 

When my head cleared up, I realized that I had promised to post photos of the two polymer clay submissions that made it into the Sidney Fine Arts show earlier this month.  Better late, than never...  let's start with "Tweet T" and the fun story about her trip to the art show.  Here's a photo of this whimsical steampunk style teapot...

I happen to love tea pots!  Don't ask my why... I just do.  I really enjoyed creating this clay teapot.  What fun it was to see it "come to life" with all of the different textures, the faux screws, charms, vintage clay button replicas, and the clock with clay wings... just some of the "decorations" that found their way on to this creation.  But somehow it felt incomplete and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  So I did what I usually do when I run up against the "incomplete feeling barrier"... I just set it aside for a couple of weeks.

One afternoon when I was making a pot of tea, the whistle on the kettle sounded and I knew instantly what was needed to finish the teapot.  The image of a blackbird sitting on the end of a branch "tweeting" away was so clear in my mind I actually shuttered on the spot.  LOL.  The thought that followed it actually made me chuckle out loud ...  "Tweet T"... a fun pun!  Needless to say, I finished the teapot that afternoon.

When No. 1 son came to visit in July, he couldn't keep his eyes off "Tweet T".  He fell in love with that teapot... there was something about it that just spoke to him.  A least a dozen times he made comments about it until finally:  "Boy I sure love that piece." popped out of his mouth.  "Be a nice Christmas present." said he.  Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.  When I told him it was destined for the Sidney Show in October, he was visibly disappointed. 

A day or so before he left to go home, we were chatting over a cup of tea about some of my art .  He wants his mama to be famous LOL and wondered if he could do anything to promote my work in the town where he lives.  Once again, he mentioned how much he liked that teapot and said: "Well, you could make something like that for me for Christmas if you'd like."  Well, I was okay with that and said, "Sure, just as long as I have time to get it done."

Fast foward.  Out it went to Sidney for jurying and it got accepted for the show.  When I told No. 1 son about both pieces being accepted, he was happy for me but said: "Well, don't take this the wrong way Mom but I hope Tweet T comes home with you." 

Well I should have known right then and there that there wasn't a chance of it selling and going to someone else..  How dense was I anyway?  GRIN.  He put his name on that teapot and with that kind of energy around it, it was destined not to sell!  And sure enough that is exactly what happened. 

When I went to pick it up after the show, it all became crystal clear.  As I was checking in, I said to the volunteer, "Well that's going to make our eldest son happy.  He really covets that teapot."  DUH!  As it came out of my mouth, I looked at hubby and we both started to laugh.  It was just TOO funny!

No. 1 son doesn't know that it didn't sell.  He asked the wrong question when we chatted about the show WHEW I didn't have to fib!  Imagine his surprise when he opens his Christmas present this year... the look on his face will be priceless.  What a lovely thing to be able to do for such a thoughtful, kind young man.

Tune in tomorrow for the tale of "How the Cow Comes Home" and see a photo.  I have a very special story to tell about the lovely gentleman who bought her at the show that deserves a post all of its own...

See you tomorrow...


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween Hilda - FREE ATC Download

Hi Everyone...

Well, round two of my cold has shown up.  Just when I thought I had it beat, it has come back with a vengence!!  Tissues are flying everywhere and all I want to do is SLEEP!!  But no cold will stop me from sending a little gift your way....

Halloween Hilda 
the #2 ATC in the Instant 3D Hilda Series 

Here's the sample ATC I made:

The package comes with a ready to print sheet of all the pieces to cut out and put together  plus four embellishments, two bats and two word art banners, "Happy Hallowe'en" and "BOO Day".  Not to worry, detailled instructions on how to put it all together plus a supply list are included.
To find out how to get this fun, fun, fun Halloween ATC, click here.

Well, back to my bed for another round of sleep... if I am a little bit slower than usual getting this Hilda ATC tutorial package out to you, I'm sure you'll understand!  I did want you to have it before BOO season is in full swing.

Have a great week,


Friday, October 15, 2010

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 7

Here we are at Day 7... my this week went by quickly!  Hope you have enjoyed all the Halloween images this week.

Check back tomorrow when I will be posting photos of my entries that were accepted into the Sidney Fine Arts Show which began this week in Sidney-by-the-Sea, B.C. and my absolute delight discovering my "babies" at the Artists Reception yesterday.

Here's that so "ugly she's cute" witch again from Day 1... LOL!  See you tomorrow!

Right click to download image.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 6

SPOOKY!  I loved dressing up as a witch when I was a kid... it sure made my mom happy... that was one easy costume! I always insisted on being the Good Witch... half the time I would give my candy away to little kids we met along the way who didn't have very much in their bags... and then cry when I got home because I hardly had any candy left and my siblings had lots.  My mother, bless her, always gave me 1/2 the pan of rice cripy squares, which I adored and my siblings had to share the rest.  Hmmm... was there a secret method to my generosity after all??

Right click to download the image.
One day to go...


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 5

Although I can't put my finger on it, I have always found this very old vintage image to be somewhat fascinating... even though it sends chills up my back.  I am not into gargoyles or skeletons... they have scared me since I was a little kid.!
I've included it just to show how brave I am *GRIN* (it's the 13th today!... who me, superstitious???) and for those of you who like this type of Halloween image.

Right click to save to your computer.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 4

Now here's a little cutie on Day 4 who would just love to be included on a Halloween "inchie" or "Twinchie" you could trade with a friend!

Right click to save to your computer.  Remember these images are for your personal use only.

Hope you are enjoying these images and having fun creating some neat Halloween art this week.


Monday, October 11, 2010

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 3

Happy Turkey Day to all my Canadian readers!!  I can hardly wait for the turkey sandwiches... what about you??? LOL

Here's your image for today.  Now these must be Scottish witches!  Look at that pumpkin head in a kilt (showing off his cute knees) playing the fiddle!  I wonder if he is trying to romance one of those beauties round the cauldron?

Right click on the image to save to your computer.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 2

Here's your image for today... a friendly witch!  This would make a sweet image for a Halloween party invitiation or a postcard to a friend.

Just right click to save to your computer.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Week's Worth of Free Images

Hi everyone!  This week I have been down with a very bad cold with lots of chest congestion!  I am on the mend now but decided to do this week what I had planned for next week... to post seven days of Halloween images for you to play with and enjoy. 

As best I can determine, all are in the public domain and can be used in your artwork.  But please, do not sell or use these images for other purposes (i.e. collage sheets, CD's, collections, etc.).  That's a no-no!!! GRIN

Here's how it works.  Every day this week, a new image will appear.  All you need to do is drop by my blog each day to pick up that day's image and have fun creating some funky Halloween art! 

So let's start with one of my favourites... just right click to copy it to your computer. 


Drop by tomorrow for a new image and hey... tell your friends!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Favourite Top Ten Background Paper Techniques

Before I get into my blog post today, I received some absolutely wonderful news this week I would like to share with you.

BOTH of my entries into the Sidney Fine Arts show were accepted! I was thrilled to bits. To have two pieces chosen out of over 1,200 pieces of art submitted by 512 artists for adjudication and to be among the 388 pieces of art chosen for the show nearly knocked me off my chair. LOL

It was quite funny when I received the letter.  We were on our way out to go pick up my large apple order at the farm where I usually buy them so stopped to pick up our mail.   Aha... an envelope from the Sidney Fine Arts show announcing the results of the adjudication was among the magazines and letters I picked up.  I hopped back into the car.  I felt the envelope.  It was "fat"... ahh... good sign!   I opened the letter, taking it out of the envelope folded in half.

When I looked down at it, I immediately saw "Tweet T" had been accepted for the October show.

"Whoopee" I yelped "Tweet T got in."

Hubby glanced over as I unfolded the letter.  I was so excited at getting the news that Tweet T had made it, I wasn't really looking or paying attention as I unfolded the acceptance letter.
"Look again sweetie!" he said. "They accepted the cow too!"


I guess I don't have to tell you how excited I was.  What a high!  Hubby and I  were bouncing around in our car seats CELEBRATING like... well... remember when you were a teenager and made out in a car...    Need I say more?  We had that car rocking and I am sure that any neighbour who happened to glance out their windows at the time were mighty curious as to what might be going on!  LOL

It certainly has been a fantastic year for me in my art submissions to some of the top Fine Arts shows here on Vancouver Island.  I am just thrilled that these fun, whimsical pieces that are just a joy for me to create are finding favour with the judges and the public.

The pieces I submitted were "How the Cow Comes Home", a whimsical steampunk cow and "Tweet T", a steampunk tea pot with a blackbird in the spout! I will post photos of them once the show begins in a couple of weeks.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that they are both purchased by folks who fall in love with them and want to give them a special spot of their own in their home! (Chuckle)

My Top Ten Background Techniques

Last month in my Art Techniques group, I was the hostess for the Monthly Art Technique (MAT). A number of  ladies in the group tried out my "Magic Paper" technique and made some absolutely stunning background papers. Here's a photo of the magic paper I made and used on a card and a card box to match.

Looking around for an idea for this week's blog post, I decided that I would share with you some of my favourite background paper techniques. It was difficult picking out just ten! I have a notebook with nearly 100 techniques that I have gathered over the years.

To keep this post shorter, I decided to put the techniques along with the "how to" instructions in a PDF file. Some of the techniques may be familiar to you, some may be new or a different "twist" to one you know and some you may have forgotten you even knew!  Here is the list of techniques with some photos to give you an idea of the finished product.

1. Magic Paper Technique

2. Coffee (Tea) Stained Paper and Tags
You can read about some of the paper effects you can achieve with this technique by looking at the different tags.

3. Framable Abstract Art with Perfect Pearls
I looked all over the place for my sample of this but I'll be darned if I can find it to photograph it.  Of course it will turn up once I have posted this article.  LOL.  If and when it does, I will post it here.  But I can tell you that this is a fun technique that produces some absolutely wonderful designs.

4. Dreamy Blended Oil Pastel background

5. Faux Leather Paper with Gold Accents

6. Sparkling Midnight Black Background
This technique is really difficult to photograph, so just imagine what it would look like... it shimmers and sparkles in the light!

7. Delicious Deli /Watercolor Paper Backgrounds
The paper around this little vase was made with watercolor paper, then slightly crumpled and hammered flat!

8. Peaks and Valleys Paper/Canvas

9. Embossed Patent leather paper
This technique does not photograph all that well by itself. Just imagine shiny, embossed paper and you'll get the idea.

10. Blender Pen Transfers

For the PDF download trade instructions for these 10 techniques, click here.

So get ready to stock up on some creative papers!  Get out your cardstock, paint, heat gun, hair dryer, watercolour sprays, grocery bags, paper creaser, texture plates to name just a few of the supples you have stashed and tucked away and have some fun making background papers. 

Hope you have fun with these techniques!

Wishing you an artsy fartsy time creating,