Monday, October 31, 2011

Smitten with Kittens

Ok, so here's the thing about me and John. We are slightly nuts. Ahem, or perhaps I only speak for myself. I would venture that John often feels like our life is an amusement park ride. But I warned him about that, admitted as much on our first date.
So anyway, last time I wrote, I told you all that Gilligan died, right? It was horribly sad and our feelings were only eclipsed by the forlorn attitude of Jasper Johns, our remaining cat who continued to mope around the house day after day. I was grumpy, John was silent, we were mourning. 
At the same time, we knew we wanted another cat (and I secretly wanted 2 more) preferably Maine Coons since that is what we like - big ole furry animals!
John and I worked all the angles and contacted numerous organizations, toured humane societies, surfed online, etc, etc, etc. We were a tad obsessed and yes, I do mean both of us.
I registered on the Maine Coon Rescue site and was assigned an adoption counselor named Kelley. She was a treat to work with and quickly tied down what we wanted, that being 'older' kittens. But, as these things sometimes happen, the cutest kittens were in North Carolina and were plural as in there were 2 of them and you know how tragic it would be to split up a duo. Hmmm, what to do, oh what to do?
My glorious, perfect, kitty loving husband jumped in the car and drove on over there. From Missouri to North Carolina. Ten hours, you say? Pshaw, we say!
From upper left - Remy with Jasper, Lyra stretched out, Lyra asleep, all 3 on the landing, Remy playing, then on the scratching post, Remy closeup, middle pic is Lyra standing and Remy seated.
He met with Cat & Glen, the wonderful foster parents, loaded up the babies, and then drove 10 hours back home. After a brief isolation period (ok, I'm impatient, so sue me), we introduced the critters and life has never been the same. They jump, play, leap, scratch (we're working on that) and generally sound like a small herd - oh so much action and noise for such small kitties - running around the house. We love every second of it. In fact, it was love at first site for me. Definitely smitten. 

So there you have it. We are a 3 cat family again.
Everyone is getting on splendidly and happiness has returned to the Shaw household.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rambling around

When I stepped into my Collector's home and saw the diptych in their foyer, I felt like I had come across an old friend. I honestly couldn't even remember when I painted it, at least 5 years ago. Then I walked into the dining room and saw a more recent piece, I think that one was maybe last year?
And there were others too, not shown here because my photography is so unbearably pitiful. It is interesting to see how my style has changed. This Collector first met me when I was doing the Common Denominator series, which started over 10 years ago. They own a few of those too, what a blast to the past. I feel incredibly blessed to have Collectors; people who own multiple pieces of my work. What a gift to be in their home and see my work all around. 
They told me a story about a friend who visited and, after looking at their art collection said....I saw some art you need to see because I know you would love it, I think the artist's name is Mary Beth Shaw....We all got a laugh out of that one.
And their children, so adorable, they have been the subject of several commissioned works although they are too young to take it seriously, I feel they will appreciate it one day.

I am coming off a crappy week, what with my cat Gilligan dying on Tuesday. I have been wallowing around, can't seem to motivate myself in any specific direction; I wander about my studio making ugly art, sit in my office staring at a blank screen or hang out in bed way too long.
I though perhaps I would try to pull myself out of it today. And be thankful for all that life gives me, thankful for the fact that I shared almost 20 years with such a loyal and loving kitty. Thankful for the gift of art, the way it restores and invigorates me and allows me to share my passion with like minded souls. Making it, looking at it, reading about it, all those things. And especially that lovely sweet spot when someone resonates with a piece.
So thanks to all of you too, my readers and friends. 
I think I am finally ready to get back to work. I have paintings to make, ideas to explore. How about you? What is going on in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I'm in The Pulse - let's celebrate with a contest

YAY, We have winners!!!!! Carlanda, Bren, AmyD Woo hoo!!!

Check it out HERE. It's Techniques & Tools, so this ought to be good. I think I'm going to mosey on over myself and see what everyone talks about. I have also includes a link over in my sidebar, so you can click over any time.

Since I talk about Wood Icing (yeah, yeah, I love the stuff, what can I say?), thought this might be a great time to have another leave a comment below and you will be entered for  container of Wood Icing. YAY!!!!  I will give away 1 container each to 3 lucky winners. I'll draw names on Friday, so you have plenty of time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Artsy Shout Outs

In the course of my rambles, I often run into other artists. Well duh, of course I do! I always enjoy seeing other people's work but sometimes I really really like what I see. And that is when I need to do a 'Shout-Out'. Just so you'all get a chance to look at these neat things too.

First up, and this goes back awhile, to when I was in Chicago at CREATE. The first day - in my Circles class - June Pfaff Daly was in there. She is a blogger I met online and then I met her in person several years ago. We sort of clicked, you know? Needless to say, I was thrilled when she signed up for my class. And....brought a couple of her friends, Claire and Heather. They were My roommate, Julia and Kelley (I met both at Valley Ridge, is this a small world, or what!??!) had dinner with these girls.
Aren't they cute? Anyway, if you look real close you will see they are all wearing uber-cool fiber necklaces made by Heather, she is the one in the middle. She collects gorgeous vintage fabrics from Paris and sews them (by hand!) into amazing necklaces. I bought one. Julia bought one. Pokey Bolton, yes, *that* Pokey bought one. We were all wearing them, cult-like, as we perused the stores of Napierville. I can't believe how many people complimented us on our necklaces, it became a joke of sorts. But they are really that cool. So, anyway, I was cleaning my office. Ahem. When Heather's biz card surfaced and I knew I had to tell you guys about her. So here is a  LINK to her etsy shop if you happen to be interested.

The second artist is Carmen Alana Tibbets - she goes by Alana. I met her at The Historic Shaw Art Fair, a show I used to do, back in the day (a few years ago, ha, ha) when I was doing the outdoor art fairs. Anyhoo, even though she lives in Edwardsville, IL, I had not crossed paths with her before.  Here is a pic of her holding one of her completely delightful creations.
You must go look at her WEBSITE. Seriously. Go now, I'll still be here when you get back. Look at the gallery and enlarge the pics of all her creatures. They are so amazing in person, the level of detail blew my mind, especially the hands.....and the faces. Plus all their little outfits. Oh my, I really want one of the rabbits. Their expressions are so real, I can't even find the right words and you know I am rarely rendered speechless, ha!!
Seems to be a little trend here, in my admiration of fabric work, eh?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Destination Creativity Blog Hop

We have a winner, woo hoo!!!! Contest is over, thanks so much for entering :)

Have you heard that Ricë has a new book? You all know who I'm talking about, right?  Ricë Freeman-Zachery, writer extraordinaire! Maybe you saw her hilarious video book promo? Maybe you heard people talking about the book at a recent retreat? Maybe you have already pre-ordered a copy? Or perhaps you wanna WIN a copy? More on that in a minute.

Ricë's new book, Destination Creativity: The Life-Altering Journey of the Art Retreat is all about Art Retreats. She and Earl (her hubby, aka The EGE or the Photographer) spent a year touring the country and attending Art Retreats, interviewing artists and kind of documenting 'the scene.' I ran into them several times, first was Artfest 2010. Naturally I had heard of Ricë, I mean she is a celebrity in my world. So I was more than a wee bit star struck. And yeah, I acted ignorant like I do when I get nervous and don't know what to say. But thank goodness I got to know them better. Cause they are such fun folks!! 
Since Ricë spends so much time interviewing artists, I thought it was high time someone turned the tables and asked her some questions. So how about a little back story.....some of the nitty gritty, never been told details, revealed right here, right now (oh my goodness, I feel like a tabloid writer). Because I dare to ask the questions, tee, hee, hee........and share the answers. Read on for my interview with Ricë.
1. You have such a strong sense of personal style and make/alter/dye many of your clothes. As a 'fashion chameleon' I am curious as to when and how your style developed?
Thanks, Mary Beth! I’ve been obsessed with my clothes as far back as I can remember. My mother and I would go shopping for my school clothes, but not in clothing stores; we’d go to the fabric store and pick out fabric and patterns. But not just A Pattern. Nope. My mother would get one pattern for the bodice, and one for the skirt, and another for the sleeves. I would describe what I wanted, and she would bring it to life. She indulged me totally. My favorite outfit in grade school was an orange corduroy jumper worn over an orange-and-white striped long-sleeved t-shirt with orange fish-net tights, burnt orange patent leather shoes, with an orange plaid poncho my mother made and finished with a rabbit fur collar from an old coat. I ADORED this outfit and would have worn it every single day if I could have gotten away with it. I started altering my own clothes when I was in high school, embellishing my jeans and swapping out the buttons on my workshirts every night. I was inspired by Native Funk and Flash and just kept on going.

2. Prolific is your middle name! How do you find your writing inspiration and do you ever face the blank page syndrome. If so, how do you handle those moments?

Mostly I work on assignment, and those have deadlines, and I’m really good with deadlines. So I don’t have a lot of trouble getting started. I’m *kind of* (snort) anal-retentive about it. But if I have something huge to do--a book, for instance--I get started by setting my own deadlines and working back from those, picking a day to start and telling myself, “OK. Today you need to write just the first sentence, and then you can stop.” Since I really love to write more than just about anything, once I get the first sentence, I want to keep going. I love the process of writing; it’s just that, like most people, I dread getting started on something huge. By telling myself I can take baby steps, I’m off and running. It’s kind of pathetic when you use reverse psychology on yourself, isn’t it?

3. Ok, so who did the driving, you or Earl or do you take turns? What do you do in the car - listen to music, books, work on hand sewing, etc?

Earl drove every. Single. Inch. Of the entire trip. I didn’t even back the car out of the parking space at the hotels. We have music on the iPhone going through the speakers, and I sew whenever I’m not navigating. I love road trips where I can get a ton of stitching done--that’s why I love going to Dallas or Houston--it’s far enough that I can get a lot done, but we’ve done it so many times I don’t have to navigate at all. The truck could drive itself.

4.What's up with all the animals in your car? 
Those are Car Toys. The SUV is so big and empty, we thought it needed some toys. Some are ones friends made for us, and some are those you buy at Kohl’s for $5 and the money is donated to some good cause. You need toys, you know?
5. When did you start with the tattoos and are they your own design? Are you still adding more tattoos?

Until I was 45, I had brown hair that was below my waist--I could sit on it--one set of holes in my earlobes, and not even the slightest interest in tattoos. I’d never even thought of getting one. Then I started going through menopause, and, man, did my life change. By the time I figured out what was going on, I had a couple tattoos, very little hair, and a bunch more holes in my ears. Better than joining the circus or having an affair, for sure. I haven’t gotten any tattoos in several years--I had the whole melanoma thing with checkups for two years, and I kind of got out of the habit. 

6. Your favorite road food? Snacks you keep in the car?
We’re not really snackers. [of course they aren't, this is MB talking, because they have amazing friggin' bodies and, well, how did I think they maintained them, duh, stupid question on my part .] We’re pretty disciplined about what and when we eat, but when we travel, we do make some allowances. Earl gets ice cream every now and then, and I will sometimes eat Cheetos, which is pretty much like eating deep fried salt with a shovelful of fat. Sure, I feel guilty for abusing my arteries. Also bloated. And thirsty. But, oooooh, the crunchiness! 
7. I know (for sure) that you love to hit used clothing stores, can you reveal your favorites around the country?

Ha! You know the answer to that one: My Sister’s Closet (all four fabulous locations!) in Phoenix, introduced to us by Jeanie Thorn. Here in Midland, I love BJ’s (yeah, the name always makes me snort, too, especially since the sign for the shop features just the name and a huge pair of lips. For years I thought it was a naughty lingerie shop, which is totally laughable if you know Midland, Texas (they’d have the sheriff shut it down in a heartbeat)). I’d love it if people would take me to their favorites when we travel, but Jeanie is one of the few who’s willing to share. Most people keep their sources pretty secret, you know?

Would you like a chance to win a copy of Rice's book? Oh I know you would! Please leave me a comment below and you will be entered for the book drawing. 
If you want to go ahead and order the book now, you can hit the link below. 
Be sure to check out the other stops on the Blog Hop!  

Thursday, October 6th: Carla Sonheim 
Friday, October 7th: Lisa Myers Bulmash 
Saturday, October 8th: Melissa Manley 
Sunday, October 9th: Deryn Mentock 
Monday, October 10th: Jen Cushman
Tuesday, October 11th: Jill Berry
 And don't forget to visit Ricë's blog here.

Monday, October 03, 2011

My summer vacation - ICA Boston

After I left Squam, I drove down to Boston to pick up the hubster who was flying in from St. Louis. I knew I would have a little extra time and I wanted to see the Swoon exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art. 

Swoon is a street artist who has gone museum, woo hoo for her, huh? I adore her work because of the printmaking and of course all the paper cuts. They are incredibly intricate and honestly I can not even imagine how her mind conceptualizes these pieces.
At ICA Boston, the piece spans their lobby area and then sort of meanders over into an elevator shaft where you can view the work from various floors. Needless to say it is hard to photograph. I swear I walked around with my mouth hanging open the entire time. Really cool. I wanted to take the papercuts home with me. LOVED.THEM.
Go watch this video to see what I am talking about.