Notes From the Road

Just for Fun


We were, as you might guess, on the road this past weekend, specifically to and from Mobile, Alabama, for MobiCon. It was #3 on the circuit of 6 conventions I’m taking my book to this year and we had a fabulous time.

We usually try to drive over the night before any given convention so we’re not road-weary when the show opens (usually around noon on Fridays for most cons), but that means grabbing dinner somewhere on the road. Since travelling is one of those times I try to be especially careful what I eat (so I don’t end up ill between points A and B), we try to find a sit-down place to eat rather than an drive-through.

Did you know Cracker Barrel has salads?

And not just the side salad or coleslaw variety. It’s not what you usually think of when you see the wooden rockers on that wide front porch, but they’ve apparently added some lighter fare options including this Chef Salad that was quite tasty.

Chef Salad from Cracker Barrel

Chef Salad from Cracker Barrel

Dinner salads are my default option for dining out while keeping the FODMAPs low.

Trying to get back into the Illustration Friday habit.

Ages ago I was among the first wave of artists to sign up for Illustration Friday prompts but my participation has been lacking for most of that time. I’d sketch some of them out but seldom would I get around to posting them. Friday’s prompt was “Universe” and immediately the Beatles started playing through my head. That song was stuck in my head all weekend long, but I didn’t mind.

Across the Universe

Across the Universe

I’d seen (somewhere, I failed to bookmark it) a coloring style that concentrated on outlines and corners (for lack of a better description), more a suggestion of color than anything else, and I was curious to try it. It worked especially well with colored pencils, and I like the composition enough that I might recreate it digitally for prints. Maybe. It was fun to have something to draw just for fun in the moment.

A little detour on the way home.

While I’m generally content to snooze my way home while Todd drives (I generally fight sleep if I’m driving the return trip, so we’ve just given up trying at this point), this time we made a little detour to the Tanger Outlet shops. Now, usually I stick with the outlets that are right off the Interstate but this one was 20 miles down a state highway and then had the nerve to more mall than outlet. What is up with the prices being just as high there as they would be in a non-outlet store?! My bargain-loving self was not amused.

I did, however, manage to find a good bargain on a handbag from Wilson’s Leather; $200 bag for $50? I’ll take that deal! But most of our time was spent in the kitchen stores (no surprise there) where we picked up a couple of Snap ‘n Stack Cupcake/Cookie Carriers at essentially 2 for 1 and the hope is that they will make taking our samples to conventions that much simpler.

The cupcake inserts flip to make 2 tiers per container.

The cupcake inserts flip to make 2 tiers per container. (image via Amazon)

It was a fun, if exhausting weekend. Our next convention isn’t until mid-July. That’s a good thing as now we’ve got to get on the ball and start packing!

Words of Worth for Gauche Alchemy

In The Studio

This month’s project for Gauche Alchemy is up on the blog today. I had fun getting back to some simple basics of paint and collage and I have to admit I’m itching to do more.


Right now The Abyss is in chaos, and the roller coaster of the house purchase is sapping a lot of my energy. Putting together a big canvas of words reminded me a bit of what’s important. This is just a hill, a wall to climb, and what’s on the other side may look a lot like where we are now, or it might look totally different. Experiences help shape us, if we let them (and I’m of the mind that that’s a good thing), but they don’t have to change our core.

Oh, and happy Pi(e) Day! Hope you have some tasty dessert lined up, and if not, maybe get into the kitchen and create a special treat for your loved ones?


Wedding Blinders On!

Everyday Adventures

Which means blog posts around here are probably going to get spottier and spottier. We’re now within 7 weeks of the wedding and I would dearly love to have all projects completed one week ahead so, really, the clock is ticking with less than 6 weeks to get a LOT of thing knocked off the to-do list.

But all of this mania has made me think of some potentially pithy remarks on

Delegating Creativity

A couple of folks–including my mother, most recently–have offered to help with some of the wedding crafts. While I do appreciate the offer, it’s more than the usual amount of difficulty in accepting the help.

Yes, part of it is my long-standing need to do everything on my own. Call it stubbornness or the never-ending quest for bragging rights, but it seems to be ingrained over the last 37 years and it’s a tough habit to break. But putting those habits aside, that’s not the only reason I’m having trouble asking for or accepting help. And it boils down to this:

It’s a little hard to tell you what to do when I’m making it up as I go along.

It’s not like I don’t know what I want to achieve or how I want things to look. I’ve thought about pretty much every facet of the look of the day and thought through how I think I’ll be able to go about getting there. More times than not, though, little things go awry and if I’ve sent someone home with a project I won’t be there to troubleshoot or creatively solve the problem.

And yes, I definitely need to be involved with each step.

Also, by the time I’ve tested and trouble-shot an idea, chances are I’m far enough in that it’s just as easy for me to finish the project than put it aside so I can show someone else how to do it the next day.

Looking at it like this, my wedding is starting to sound like a giant piece of DIY performance art. I swear that’s not the focus, I just want the details to enhance our experience, not detract or distract. Minutia-level involvement is my way of assuring myself that that will be the case.

But the point I’m getting at is… Is it possible to delegate creativity? Can our art become a truly collaborative project?

Sure, you can collaborate on a concept or idea, and everyone’s been part of a group project in some form or fashion, but delegation is a hand-off, less of a hands-on. Can we still claim it as ours?

Which brings up the whole question of ownership in general. Can art really belong to any one person?

Now I’m not talking about copyrights and trademarks, I’m talking about that intangible thread between the artist and her creation.

The Great Master painters had apprentices. You hear tell of the Rembrandt “school,” for instance, but it’s in-the-style-of the teacher, even if the project may have been begun by the big cheese himself. Who knows? But art historians can tell by studying the brush strokes and other infinite details who actually painted it. I finished reading The House Girl the other night, a fictional story about (among other things and themes) antebellum paintings attributed to the mistress of the plantation but that were actually completed by one of her slaves and who has rights to those works. Whose name goes on the back of the canvas. Who gets the proceeds, be they money or bragging rights.

In this day of Pinterest and rapid-fire inspiration sharing, where does the inspiration stop and the appropriation begin? Where does imitation cross the line into impersonation?

And does it even matter?

I think it does. Matter that is. It matters where our ideas come from. It matters what came before us. It also matters how we put our own spin on things. Some people aren’t interested in personalization but focus on replication, and I suppose that’s okay for them, but I want my thumbprint on what I lay claim to. I don’t mind sharing the spotlight if I was inspired by someone else, but I could never take credit for someone else’s work, either, even if it was my instruction that served as the catalyst for the finished object.

Hah! I brought it back around to delegation. (I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there, to be honest.)

So, what do you think? Can we delegate creativity or does trying to place us in the position of muse or catalyst, but no longer artist? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

37 Home Decor | It’s A Frame Up!

64 Arts

Displaying Art in Your Home Space

You know, I used to think it was terribly vain to display my own art at home. For the longest time the only painting of mine to be on the wall was the one I had to frame for the student show back in 2004 or thereabouts.

Color study still life by Jennifer Walker

Some day I’ll frame the feather panel that was originally part of this piece.

Some time last year, though, I changed my attitude. I don’t know if it was anything major that shifted or just that I was running out of places to store finished work except the walls, but I started with a cork board above my computer and then started hanging different projects I created for Gauche Alchemy, etc. Now my gallery wall is a nice piece of inspiration in my home office and I look forward to filling up the rest of the wall space in there!

Obviously I did not use a level to hang some of these. Gotta fix that ASAP!

Obviously I did not use a level to hang some of these. Gotta fix that ASAP!

There’s really no rhyme or reason with my gallery wall, I just pick the best place by size when i have something new to hang up. Overall I try to keep a certain balance going, but since this wall is a work in progress, it’s going to be a bit off now and then.

I love my medal bar signs--I even leave the Halloween ones up all year.

I love my medal bar signs–I even leave the Halloween ones up all year.

We did something similar in the dining room above the bar, only this was a more deliberate grouping of tin signs and other objects. The large center canvas is newer than the rest of the groupings, and I’m still not sure that’s where it’s going to stay (which is why it’s still overlapping one of my tin signs).

Regardless of whether it’s framed photographs, paintings, prints, or shadowboxes filled with collected items, I think art on the walls makes a space feel more lived in, more alive, and more soothing all at the same time. Most of my items are wrapped canvases, but for everything else I like to find a frame that’s large enough to hold my art plus at least 6 inches, then cut the mat myself.

image via

image via

I have the Logan Do It Yourself Mat Cutting Kit (that I picked up at Michaels years ago with that ever-important 40% off coupon) that makes cutting straight and beveled mats pretty simple (though you’ll want a self-healing mat to protect your work surface, too).

But what about those items that don’t frame easily? The prints and ATCs (artist trading cards) and other things without sufficient border to slip behind a mat? There’s always the shadowbox option, just mount whatever you’ve got to the backing board and go. You can also drill or punch holes in the corners of canvas board and attach a hanger that way, like I did with my Shower Inspiration piece.

But for the 4×6 art card I received from my swap partner, Michelle, I wanted a way to show it off without permanently adhering it (since it has equally awesome sides). Here’s how I solved this riddle.

Now to decide where on my wall this one should go!

Now to decide where on my wall this one should go!

First I dug out a suitably sized frame from the tote of random frames I have in the garage. The glass and backing board are long gone–who know what I did with it–but that’s okay! I cut a piece of foam core exactly the side of the rear opening and made sure it fit snugly.

Doesn't everyone have a tote full of random frames? No?

Doesn’t everyone have a tote full of random frames? No?

Then I found a piece of card stock that would work as a background for the 4×6 card without distracting from it and cut it just slightly smaller than the foam core.

The royal blue picks up on some of the splatters in the background of the art card but still stands out enough from the black edges.

The royal blue picks up on some of the splatters in the background of the art card but still stands out enough from the black edges.

Adhere the card stock to the foam core–I used double-sided tape, but a glue stick would work just as well, I’m sure–and then fit the covered foam core into the frame to stay. Mine was a pretty tight fit as is, but if you have a little wiggle room, it’s not a bad idea to secure the backing into place in whatever way seems best.

Another option--useful if the card is very bulky--would be to attach ribbon straps to the corners of the backing board before securing it, so you could slip the card into place.

Another option–useful if the card is very bulky–would be to attach ribbon straps to the corners of the backing board before securing it, so you could slip the card into place.

Since I wanted to make sure I could remove the card or flip sides whenever I wanted, I used clear photo mounts at each corner to hold the card in place. All done!

Have you thought of adding any art to your space, lately?

Art Therapy: Broken Ties

64 Arts

As I was taking the plaster out of the molds I learned (the broken way) that the heart-shaped plaster base wasn’t quite dry enough to handle.


So a few little pieces have now broken off and sit to one side.

I thought I could maybe fix it. After all, I’ve got plenty of glues and, once dry, it could be pieced back together and the mosaic and grout would cover it. Sure, the cracks would still be there but no one would see them.

*  *  *

I was luck to meet my best friend  in middle school, and we were inseparable for 6 years. She stood up for me at my first wedding and consoled me when my future mother-in-law called me an ungrateful little bitch just hours before we stood before the preacher.

We grew apart as I tried to deal with a marriage that wasn’t exactly made in heaven and, eventually, ended. On my own again, I tried to reconnect. In school we loved to go to dances so as adults: we went to clubs. One night we were going out and she had to get “permission” from her on-again/off-again boyfriend for where we were going. We deviated from that plan towards the end of the night wee hours of the morning, and she called to tell him where we were (nice public place, grabbing a bite to eat with some new friends I’d made).

He made her choose: leave now, or she’d never see him again. Furthermore, I later found out, he made her choose between him and me. She chose him. She no longer returned my calls. And when I saw her in traffic one Saturday I followed her, trying to get her attention, to her Mom’s apartment, and she told me she couldn’t talk to me again, and asked me to understand.

I didn’t understand, not really, but I did as she asked. A few months later I got a letter (care of my Mom’s address) trying to explain and saying maybe we’d meet up again at the reunion.

It’s been 10 years. They didn’t make it to the reunion in 2004. They’re still together, married, and (from what I hear) happy. And I’m happy for her even though I’ve never been a fan of his (and I knew him years before I met her). Thursday was her birthday and, well, it stung not being able to email or call to wish her a happy one. I’m still trying to be a friend by honoring her wishes.

*  *  *

10 years weren’t enough time to cover up the cracks in my heart from losing my best friend because of someone else’s insecurity, how did I think some glue and grout were going to successfully patch this piece of plaster?

So instead of a heart-shaped trivet that I wasn’t overly excited about anyway, I have this.

Memory Glasses by Scraps

Painted canvas base, collaged with photographs and magazine images, beads, buttons and other items, the mosaic broken heart, a light spray of pink spray-paint and silver pen.