Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day & Favorite Things

Wishing each of you, and especially all of our servicemen and -women, a special Memorial Day.  It's a good day to be grateful for all that we have, and the freedom to live and share our lives with others . . . the good, the bad, and the ugly.  There is so much "ugly" going on in the world today, and one can only imagine, arguably, how much uglier it could be, without the efforts of our military.  Irregardless of why our country is involved in some of its efforts worldwide, I am thankful for the men and women whom willingly serve to protect us, and their families whom are left behind to await their return home, and pray that these servicemen and -women make it home again.
I am reminded of my grandfather, whom served our country many years ago, and rarely spoke of his experiences.  If he were here today, he would choose to share the good in life on this day.  In honor of him, I will choose to share some of the things that make me happy today, as I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have the freedom to enjoy and share these things.

The colors found in peacock feathers are some of my favorite ~~ they are so vibrant and speak to me.  It has been years since I have seen a peacock in person, but recently Alisa Burke posted some of the most gorgeous pictures of peacocks found on her visit to the San Diego zoo.  I could view these pics of Alisa's continuously and feel total bliss forever.  If you look at Alisa's next blog, you can see what she did with the inspirational peacocks!  Now this is taking inspiration and running with it, at its fullest!

May we all find inspiration, and bliss, and love in our hearts and lives today and always!  And may our country, its military, and the world, find peace and blessings today and always.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pretty Posies, Etc.

Well, I finally got some creative juices flowing...and made some cards yesterday, and plan to make more of them today...or something.

I love the posies made from Marah Johnson's Pretty Paper Posies Kit. It took a bit of playing with them to get the hang of it, and determine how may layers of petals I needed to use, and how best to color them. After a bit of experimenting, I determine the best way to dye them was to put my Glimmer Mist in a small bowl, tilt the bowl sideways, and dip my petals down in the GM. I began by being "stingy" with the petals, but eventually determined the look called for more layers of petals. Most of these have 7 layers of petals, but even more would be better. If I had a never-ending supply, I would love to use 12-15 layers, lol. To curl the petals, I painstakingly wrapped/curled them around the small "needle-like" tool I use to punch holes in paper to insert my brads in paper. This was time consuming, no doubt, so I eventually tried simply fluffing the flat petals with my moistened fingers, and this worked nearly as well . . . and took alot less time, ;). If you would like to try making some posies, here there are three different sizes of petals in one bloom. If you have floral punches, you could make your own, I suppose, using book pages or whatever you prefer. Or, you can order the kit from Marah; for roughly $8; she will send you well over 100 petals pre-cut using her Accucut dies. I have yet to find flower punches that I like, so I will be ordering another couple of sets from Ms. Marah real soon.

This isn't the best picture, as these two do not stay still long enough to allow for focusing and zooming in/out, lol. However these are my two "children" whom desperately wanted to help making posies yesterday. Gracie is a yellow lab, and Boomer is a black lab. They are both approximately three years old, however we rescued Gracie only five months ago. Thankfully, she is doing very well in her new home today, and Boomer has grown to accept her, and he enjoys playing with her. They are both sweet doggies, and the loves of our life. After 20 years of having kitties, these two are our first experience at being doggie parents, and we ask ourselves, "why did we wait so long to get a dog?" Admittedly, they are both Alphas to my DH and I, and Cesear would die if he saw how spoiled they are!

And this is where I get creative!  My "art studio."  It is a 12x12 building in our backyard that I refer to as my "Hawaiian Healing Hut," named after a colorful, Hawaiian quilt that hangs on the wall inside.

I hand-appliqued these colorful Hawaiian patterns onto the black backgrounds years ago, while sitting with my Mom in various doctors' offices and/or hospital rooms when she was battling breast cancer.  Thus I named the quilt "Hawaiian Healing," and when completed, I quickly discovered there was no place in my home to place it.  So...when I got my "studio," it just seemed fitting that it should be the interior focal "distract" from all the messy clutter!

Now you've seen my mess, and admittedly, it's awfully nice to be able to close the door and leave this mess outside of my house!  This little building was one of my best "art investments," as previously all this clutter would be scattered over my dining room table when I was in the middle of an art project.

Now, I'm off to my Hut to create something!  Wishing each of you a beautiful day of creativity and peace, xoxo ~~ Jeanne 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Daydreaming of Dorset

It's been a few weeks since I've created any art, besides cards.  Instead, I've become obsessed with blogs and magazines, and all of the inspiration therein.  I'm realizing it's time to stop and utilize some of the overflowing inspiration, and I plan to do that this week.  Although, admittedly, Marah Johnson and her posies (pic'ed on her blog) are calling me to include them on some cards!  So, if all goes well, I will have some form of artful creation to share with you soon . . . although it may be a new collection of cards that include these beautiful posies!

In the interim, I have received more beautiful pictures from Hettie in Dorset, England that she has agreed for me to share with you here.  These pictures were taken on the "Avenue of Trees" leading to Badbury Rings.  Beautiful views!

Badbury Rings is an Iron Age Hill Fort dating back to 800BC.  The trees lining the road are Humongous Beech Trees ~~ aren't they gorgeous?

Then I went on an expedition in an attempt to find something from my local area's landscape to share with you, and Hettie.  Admittedly, nothing in my local area of the eastern United States compares to Dorset.  However, what used to be the "Furniture Capital of the World" and a leading area of production of hosiery is located in my neighboring city (High Point, NC).  I say "used to be" because now High Point is simply a "distribution center" for furniture that is mostly made in China today, and all of the hosiery manufacturing plants have moved elsewhere also.  However, back in High Point's prime, a 20-foot-tall Chest of Drawers was erected within the city, and is the most remarkable thing within my local landscape, pictured below.

Where have your travels, and daydreams, taken you recently?  Hopefully they are happy places with beautiful memories.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Traveling to Dorset, England

Today, I am "traveling" by way of pictures sent to me from a dear friend whom has left her homeland of Greece, (several years ago), to care for her Mum in Dorset, England. Dorset appears to hold an enchanting land...and a most thoughtful friend of mine, ;)...both of which I dream of visiting, in person, one day.  These gorgeous blooms were captured in Pamphill, which I believe is in southwest England.  I can only imagine the tranquility this spot holds in person, as its image is sedating, to me.  I can almost smell the fragrance of these blooms.

This is a glimpse at the rolling hills of farmland within Dorset.  Can you feel the peace offered here?  (Peace I dream of my friend having, in her current situation of caring for Mum, whom is declining in health right before her eyes.)  I can imagine setting up our art supplies in this spot, with my friend beside me, and creating some beautiful eyecandy of better days.

Another view of the farmlands in Dorset.

This beauty of nature is referred to as Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.  "Durdle" is an Old English word meaning "bore" or "drill."  This is a piece of Nature's Art!  It is a hole drilled by nature through its "Portland Limestone" substrate!  The "Portland Cement," used today in much of our construction, was derived by an attempted replication of this natural material that has withstood years of nature's elements.

While viewing these images, I feel a closeness to my friend, Hettie, as if I'm able to extend my hand across "The Pond," and offer her some comfort, just as she, her thoughtfulness through the years, and her pictures, have offered to me.  My dream is to make the trip to visit her in person one day, and hold her in my arms in person, and share some beautiful moments together.  She is a very artful soul, and I dream of what we can create together one day.

Today, may we all find peace and beauty in whatever surroundings we are in the midst of.  May our surroundings inspire us to continue on, to create a better life within ourselves, and our art.  Big Hugs to Hettie, and each of you!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Out to Pasture

My DH and I attended a graduation picnic yesterday at a local park.  This big fella was in a pasture next to our picnic shelter.  He had two "friends" in the pasture with him, but this big guy grabbed my heart when he left his feeding post to approach the fence where I was standing, and stuck his head out, as if to say, "it's okay; you can pet me."  He was very patient with me, letting me take several pics of him.  I wanted to share more with him, so I reached down and picked some grass that I hand-fed him.  What a gift; he shared his beautiful self with me, if only for a few moments.

This was one of his buddies, in the pasture with him, whom appeared to have no interest in me...until he saw me feeding his buddy.  What beautiful animals, whom appear to have made the perfect life...out to pasture.

Our friend brought a few games to entertain the "kids" after dinner.  This was the coolest of them.  I'm not sure of its name, but its a game his grandfather built many years ago (if my memory serves me correctly).  You wind a string around a top and then pull the string to let the top go to spinning inside the box, with the point being for it to wind its way through doorways and knock down as many "bowling pin"-type pieces as possible.  It was a very nostalgic piece, to say the least.

It was a fun day, where I saw many folks I hadn't seen in several years, and received a great reminder that life flies by so quickly if we don't grab hold of it and make the best of each moment within our pasture, ;).

So, today, I will grab the pieces of life, toss them out there and see if I score!  Wishing each of you a great score today and always.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another Day of Inspiration

Today is my day off from work, and I'm enjoying it by blog hopping from "porch" to "porch," and finding some wonderful news and inspiration.  (I prefer to think of it as porch hopping, as opposed to blog hopping, as it truly feels like I'm stepping upon other's porches to say "hi," and they are coming out to greet me and share a piece of their life, and then refer me onto their inspiring friends' porches!)

First, I have to give a shout out to Diane Salter whom was profiled this morning on  the Mixed Media Artist Blog!  I'm so proud of her!  She is a "Fellow Suzi Blu Student," (and SO much more!) whom has grown tremendously in her artistic abilities since I met her earlier this year.  She will be displaying her beautiful art pieces at the Lilac Festival beginning tomorrow in Rochester, NY; if you're in the area, please stop in and say "hi" to her.  If not in the area, please visit her "porch" and leave her a message.  Go, Diane!

I picked up two Somerset Studios publications yesterday, "Digital Studio" and "Artful Blogging" (at the request as a dear blogging soul, Lorrie Spotts, whom just happens to be the same artful soul whom introduced me to Suzi Blu, so I trusted her judgment completely when she made this last recommendation to me)."

Oh my, was this a great recommendation!!!  Both are grabbing my divided attention this morning, as I flip through a few pages, then go check out a recommended blog and/or website within the pages.  I love Somerset publications; they offer so much inspiration and many great references!  Admittedly, these are not inexpensive publications, but they are so worth the investment.  In my quick flip through "Digital Studio," I found an artist whom uses Corel Paint and Draw, with what appears to be a step-by-step guide to producing a specific piece of digital art...with this software that I purchased recently...and have yet to determine how to use it.  I hope to become focused on this article later today to see if I can learn something here to assist in my latest endeavor of digital collaging!

And, somewhere along my "porch hopping" this morning, I found another intriguing site, Big Huge Lab, where photos can be edited using some really cool techniques, such as "Andy Worhol-ish" designs, and so much more!  Note to self: turn to this site and see what you can do with its contents!

Also found in my porch hopping was a site that can convert photos into fabric!  Turn Art into Fabric.  This makes me want to quilt once again...or find a way to incorporate fabric into my art!

While browsing the first pages of "Artful Blogging," I stumbled upon an article concerning the blog of Jeanne Oliver, from Castle Rock, CO (Bushel And A Peck); this is a great blog that I've stumbled across several times now.  Her blog, and printed article, have pictures of a recent piece that she's done (and has just recently taught in Louisiana) that is inspiring me to do a "Letting Go"/"Ready to Fly" piece, ;).

And, speaking of Louisiana, I'm reminded of the oil spill off its coast, and the lives lost there . . . within the original accident, as well as those to come.  An "Intellectual Facebook Friend" (whom I've never met in person, but hope to one day) posted a link this morning to some photo shots of the spill (thanks, Richard!).  The pictures are inspiring some unique collage backgrounds.  Pictures from

While these photos speaking nothing of the lives lost within the origin of this tragedy, nor the wildlife harmed from this event (and, potentially, the human lives effected in the days ahead) ~~ all of which are things that my heart goes out to ~~ I can see that art can be created from the effects of this event that can, perhaps, memorialize the portions of this tragedy that touch my heart, and give continuing life to those lost.  Perhaps digital art, should I...or others...figure out how to use my newest software and "art supply," lol.

As to what I left behind at work, here are a few photos taken yesterday that, again, capture my favorite things in my "working world."
These pieces are my "indoor passion" at work.  They are Memory Blocks by Sid Dickens of Vancouver, BC.  I could not get a glare-free picture of the shop's (River Twist) entire collection, but you can see Sid's entire collection on his website I've linked to, above.  They are awesome pieces of art, many of which are inspired by old-world artwork and/or architecture, and are stunning in a varied collection within homes, offices, or anywhere...only limited by your imagination!  But, should I warn you ~~ the are very addictive!  One of those things in which you cannot have "just one!"  However, (hint, hint to your family and friends!), once you begin a collection, they make awesome gifts from your loved ones whom are in desperate need of a gift idea for you on those special occasions...or a gift certificate for a portion of one of these beauties!
As I believe Blogspot is attempting to tell me "you've included WAY too much information and photos in this post!," I'll end for now with this pic of The Blues Brothers (Elwood and Jake, a/k/a Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi), happy fellas that have been the backdrop for many photos of visitors at River Twist from around the globe!

Happy creating and inspiration to each of you.  May your life be filled with peace and joy that passes understanding, today and always!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Day at Work

The sun is shining beautifully this Monday morning, as I awoke to a crisp 35 degree F temperature here in North Carolina.  A gorgeous spring day awaits us here; one I am looking forward to soaking up at work this afternoon, as I know the hot, humid air will be rolling in very soon.

I spent Sunday at the shop (a local gift, garden and design shop) and was very surprised to see there were no men rushing in to pick up that last minute Mother's Day gift ~~ instead, mostly, I saw moms and daughters out browsing at their leisure.  Our men are obviously getting smarter, and planning ahead, while allowing the women of their lives to enjoy Mother's Day as they wish ~~ browsing the best of local shops!

To share a peek into my work life, this is the front of the shop where you can find me four-to-five days/week, depending on the season.
At the owner's request a couple of years ago, I painted the awning in a faux tiger/zebra-ish print.  Needless to say, its bright yellow background draws alot of attention, and I suppose that was the point.  (This is the largest creative painting project I have taken on, and admittedly, it's size was a bit intimidating, as I could not see "the big picture" from below while up on the scaffolding, with paint and brush in hand.)
However, the bright awning does not out-shine the beautiful landscape and its contents that draw many in to browse in awe of all there is to see.   I only wish I was capable of capturing it all in pictures that would do it justice.

I love this vintage rusted iron planter, and this vintage copper-top planting bench, with the sagging upper shelf!

If I had to choose one planter as my favorite, it would most likely be this vintage rusted iron oval planter.  It is missing a "leg" on its back side (not shown here), and perhaps that makes me love it even more.  I propped it up with a rock and it's as good as least, to me!

The location of this fountain, (behind an iron, curtained awning) does not do it justice, nor does this picture, but I had to share it nonetheless.  It is one of my favorite fountains at the shop.  This picture reminds me that this fountain needs to be moved to a more visible location, but it weighs a TON, and thus will most likely stay here...until the boss comes in one day, as she is famous for doing, with a big smile on her face and says, "I have a plan!  Let's move this [huge, heavy item] over there [usually "miles" away, with many obstacles in between the two locations, lol!]".  We (the staff) love to joke with her about these instances, and I love it when my co-worker turns to me and jokingly says, on these occasions, "is she smoking crack today," meaning "has she LOST her MIND???"  Then, we all pitch in to get the job done ~~ somehow, preferably without any injuries, lol!

These pretty little fellas are my only hesitation to taking a day off.  I am the self-appointed "Dead-Heading Queen," at the shop, and know these fellas will miss my obsessive five-plus-times-daily-dead-heading process when I am away.  I love petunias, when properly groomed, but cannot bare to see them with dead blooms lingering.  Admittedly, I go a bit overboard with them, but tell myself, "if I were purchasing plants, what would I want them to look like?"  When planting any petunias, I always hope they will find a good home...soon...where someone else can care for them..or not, lol!

This Big Fella originally had a terra cotta sun face . . . that broke and fell to pieces last year, and thus has received a "face lift" consisting of the insertion of this round piece of wood.  Now he sits propped up against an iron divider piece, looking pitiful, in my humble opinion.  This piece has been calling me, saying, "please paint a new face on me, so I can shine again!"  I'm thinking this will be my next art project at work, ;).  This is part of the fun and excitement I find in working here, as there is always something that needs a creative touch, and the owner is a wonderful, creative lady with a "happy-go-lucky" personality, whom is glad to see any of the staff use their creativity on her "junk," as we like to refer to it.  (She is a Junkin' Gypsy Queen, whom loves to go "Junkin'," and we love to see what she returns with!  When she and her husband return with a trailer full of "junk" from the latest trip, I like to think of it as Christmas morning, as the trailer is unpacked and we get to see what she found on the latest trip.  Many times there are treasures found, all on their own, and other times there are "treasures in the making," begging for some creativity.)  Not to mention, the creative inspiration that abounds within the surroundings of the shop is a huge bonus within my "work"-life today.  I suppose my previous 20+ years of working in office settings also give me a loving perspective of this work setting, that I often think of as more of a "play" setting ~~ I get to play with so many wonderful things here.  I totally enjoy my work-life today.  Having worked in not-so-inspiring-unhappy-settings for many previous years, my heart goes out to anyone working in an uninspiring, or unhappy setting.  While I truly appreciate the salary obtainable in the "white-color world" (words used to express my vision of those working in much more financially prosperous positions than myself today), today I am much happier with less income and lots more peace, happiness and inspiration.  It's a good trade-off, for me.  
So, if you are ever in Piedmont, North Carolina, and/or should need a peaceful, inspiring break from life and can get away, please stop by and visit me and "The RT Gang" at River Twist in Jamestown, North Carolina.  Not only do I find peace here, I also hear many clients and visitors express sentiments of feeling peaceful, relaxed and/or inspired when they visit the shop; many stop in just because they need a break from their hectic life, and feel rejuvenated after a visit here.  (You can find us on Facebook, by searching for "River Twist," if you would like to see more of the shop.)

May we all find a way to discover happiness, peace, rejuvenation and inspiration in whatever setting we find ourselves within today.  Wishing everyone a beautiful week, filled with fun, happy, peaceful and inspiring moments.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

To all of our Mothers, I wish each one the best of Mother's Day.  To celebrate Mother's Day, I enjoy looking at old pics of my Mom.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom, taking one of her first steps alone, as she got out of Papa's car, circa @ 1937.  (Thank you, Misty, for sharing this picture with me!!!)

This is Mom (center), with two friends, during one of her first years at college, showing her fun, humorous side, circa @ 1954 in Red Springs, North Carolina (near Flora McDonald College).

This is Mom, as I last remember her, taken approximately six months before she passed, in 2002.  What a beautiful smile!
I was known as Mom's "Shadow" during my earlier years (following in her footsteps, everywhere she went).  She was a teacher at the Elementary School I attended, and actually taught me 2nd grade (and was the ONLY teacher to ever spank front of my classmates, no less ~~ a memory I'll never forget, lol). 

As a child (and, basically, throughout my life), my siblings were not particularly fond of me (to put it nicely).  Thus, I spent most of my early years under Mom's wing, seeking her protection and love.  However, to be honest, once I became a teenager, I grew very rebellious and, during this time, Mom and I had many difficult years.  If I could take these years back, I certainly would do them differently; however, today I see that they provided for some very stubborn growth, and thus they are a part of me, and helped to make me whom I am today.  

Thankfully, in Mom's last years, (and mainly in her very last year), I grew to once again appreciate her, and love her free spirit.  My very favorite memory of Mom is the time we spent together at a "Wild Women's Weekend Retreat" at a Bed & Breakfast, near Mom's home in the mountains, seven months before she passed away.  We shared alot that weekend, getting to truly know and love each other again.  On our last night at the retreat, everyone attended a winetasting where we had a ball together as a group of woman of all ages.  Thereafter, at roughly midnight, while most of the other attendees were tucking themselves into bed, Mom and I sat on a swing on the verandah, overlooking a pond, and sang some of our favorite tunes ~~ "I See The Moon," "Delta Dawn," "If You're Happy and You Know It," etc., then we headed off to bed where we happily giggled for no particular reason at all until we finally fell asleep.  What a happy memory, 8).  I wish I had more happy memories, such as this one, of Mom and I.  However, I am very thankfully for this one, and encourage all "children" to make lots of happy memories with their Mom.

While my Maternal Grandmother was very influential to me, she did NOT like having her pics taken, so there are not many pics of her that remain.  However, here is one of my Maternal Great Grandmother, whom had passed away long before I was born.  Mom shared many happy memories of her grandmother, the most memorable story being of Mom's love for her Grandmother Colclough, and her love of braiding her Grandmother's long hair each night.
I found the following on Facebook today, and cannot help but share it:

♥ ~*~If roses grow in heaven, Lord please pick a bunch for me. Place them in my mother's arms and tell her they're from me. Tell her I love and miss her, and when she turns to smile, place a kiss upon her cheek and hold her for awhile. Remembering her is easy. I do it every day but there's an ache within my heart that... will never go away. ♥ I miss and love you mom, Happy Mothers Day to you in heaven~*~ ♥
May each of you, and your families, have an enjoyable Mother's Day, making happy memories with family, and celebrating the Mom (and Child!) within each of you!  May we all learn to let go of any resentments, and truly enjoy ourselves and our time with Mom and family, today and always.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Day and Mother's Day

(Pic from Southwest Library.)
What a festive occasion May Day used to be...back in "my day" of the early '70s, during my early school years.  On this year's May Day, I ran into three school teacher's at work, and asked each of them "does your school still celebrate May Day with a Maypole?"  I was so disappointed to hear each of them say, "no, [that is a thing of the past]."  It was decided that schools simply don't have funds for such events today; what a sad thing.  Truly, how much would it cost to implement a Maypole at our local schools?  Surely they all have flag poles already...or I surely HOPE they do!  Add a bit of ribbon, (or even inexpensive party streamers, as we used in my day), as well as the readily available students within the schools, and voila ~~ a maypole!  Even though I do not have children (other than my two labrador retrievers!), I want to seriously consider making this a project for next year, at least at one of the local schools.  However, I can truly imagine that "my children" would have a grand time with this also, ... although the steamers would end up shredded to bits, lol!  Please let me hear from you ~~ do ANY schools celebrate with a Maypole today?  Is it "unethical" or "politically incorrect" today to use a standard flagpole for such an occasion?  How reasonable is my thought of providing local schools with streamers, so they can share in this celebration today?

Moving on, we have Mother's Day coming up on Sunday!  I lost Mom in 2002, but she "made her appearance" in my garden this morning!

This is the St. Francis that came from Mom's garden, and I cherish it within my own garden today.  It also marks the area where Mom's ashes were spread, and is one of my favorite spots within my garden because of this.  The ferns growing around St. Francis were also from Mom's garden.  This morning, I found this Peony bloom bursting forth beside St. Francis, and it just made me smile.  While the Peony plant actually came from my DH's Grandmother's garden, to me, it said, "Hello, I Love You" from my Mom.  What an awesome thing to find during the week of Mother's Day .... or anytime!  I will share this with my DH when he arrives home tonite, and I feel certain that it will say, for him, "Love You, Son," from his Grandmother!

Looking further in my garden, I found these lovelies this morning, also:

Sweet William, in full bloom.

Iris in full bloom in foreground, and Wisteria arbor in background.

Variegated Hosta ... that are inspiring a collage background!

As for my art, I've been blog hopping and finding SO much inspiration!  There are so many happy sites to see, and so much inspiration within them.  I'm so glad to be living in this time, when blog sharing is becoming a grand way of sharing ourselves, our art, and our lovely "junkin' finds," along with so much more.  My brain is overflowing with inspiration .... I'm determining that I need to keep a journal beside my keyboard so I can make notes of the inspiring things I find, and recall all of them when time allows for creativity.  In the interim, they are all going into my "favorites" list and I hope to find time to flip through them again, and be inspired to take my own spin on them, and make something fun!

Last week, I began my latest "Goddess" painting.  While I am not into tarot cards, or readings, I happened upon a box of tarot cards at a great price recently, thinking that their celtic patterns may inspire a collage background or some such novelty within my art.  My favorite image within the cards was the "High Priestess" card, and this is my inpretation of her.
She is still a Work In Progress (WIP), mind you, but she's what I am working on currently.  Happy Mother's Day, and Creating to each of you!  xoxo ~~ Jeanne