Friday, February 27, 2009

When Given Snow...

We woke up to 3 inches of snow - very unusual for the Puget Sound especially in late February.
School was delayed 2 hours and I say When Given Snow...

... make snowballs, and snow angels and sledding tracks, and snowmen. Drink hot chocolate loaded with marshmallows (try Theo's chipotle spiced sipping chocolate!) and make some chunky vegetable soup. If you don't have a recipe, here is a quick, easy, healthy and tasty recipe from my very good friend, Mariangela.

Mariangela's Veggie Soup

Use whatever veggies you have on hand:
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Zuccini
Chop into small bite-size pieces and saute in olive oil and garlic until onions are soft and potatoes are slightly browned.
Cover with tomato sauce (I used what I had in my pantry - Organic Chunky Tomato Sauce + Stewed Italian Tomatoes + Tomato juice)
Simmer on Med-low heat for 30 minutes until potatoes are soft
Add salt and pepper to taste. Can also add any herbs or spices you want...

We will have left-over soup tonight and I think I will try for a 'mole' influence by adding chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and a bit of unsweeetened chocolate. Mmmm

When given snow...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On Teaching Art to Kids... and Myself

'Still Life in Reverse Charcoal' by Morgan Gilbert (2nd Grade)

Sometimes life seems so structured. Daily routines, commitments, appointments filling up each day and week until they all blur together. A left-brain world full of order, patterns, right and wrong. Did you know that before young kids start school most are driven by their right brain – the creative, unstructured, emotional side? But by the time they leave high school only 3% are right-brain driven. We teach that of course, that there are right and wrong ways to do things, a ‘right’ way to write, to draw, to calculate, to think and that left-brain careers are more valued than right-brain ones. We pay our accountants and engineers and bankers more than artists and social workers and musicians, right?

I fell into the mold – went into engineering, got my masters, worked in aerospace. I applied myself and accomplished things but was never really happy and never really great at it. I think my right brain was yearning to exert itself. But I never really thought about art. You see, I was not an artist. I couldn’t draw. And the little girl who loved to color everything around her was squelched inside the ‘me’ who told myself I was not good at art. There were so many years that I floundered – kind-of good at a lot of things, not great at anything and I thought it was
important to be great, to have a ‘responsible’ career, to make lots of money. Now I realize it is important to enjoy, to experiment, to push myself in new and different directions.

'3-D Snowman' by Morgan Gilbert (3rd Grade)

I teach basic art (drawing, painting, color theory) to 1st through 6th graders at my son’s schools, not because I have a talent for drawing, but because I don’t. I’m learning with them. My goal is to reach those kids who doubt their own talents as they compare themselves to the kid next to them. I have finally realized that we can learn anything once we gain confidence in ourselves – and what better ego-booster for the kids than in creating a piece of art that is better than the teacher’s?!

'Self Portrait' by Brandon Gilbert (1st Grade)

Most of all, I believe it is vital to develop both sides of the brain - and the really successful in any field are those that do just that. Because after all, engineers without imagination, creativity and vision are… just engineers. And artists need some sense of form, balance and proportion to convey their message.

'Hot and Cold Pumpkins' by 4th Grader

I'm learning by experimenting, by observing, by teaching, by pushing myself. And not listening so much to that voice telling me I can't.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Student Work - Featuring Jacqueline Talarico

Wanderlust Neckpiece by Jacqueline Talarico made with 'Sandy Beach' from my Bead Soup Collection

Beachcomber necklace by Jacqueline Talarico made with 'Coral Beach' from my Bead Soup Collection

Cornucopia of Gems by Jacqueline Talarico entitled 'Bohemian Fall Necklace'

Cornucopia of Gems by Jacqueline Talarico entitled 'Windswept'

and I have developed a wonderful friendship reuniting each year at the Bead and Button Show. She is a talented artist and philanthropist, a joy to have in class, and always game for marathon walks all over Milwaukee!

Jacque is very prolific in her beadwork and sells her pieces on her Etsy store: JTbeadsmith with 100% of the money she makes going to the Michael J. Fox foundation to help fund research on Parkinson's Disease. Amazing!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm feeling Green today!

I think spring is coming. The days are just a little bit longer - I didn't have to turn on the lights for the boy's guitar/piano teacher when she arrived at 7:00 am this morning. It's cold and there is frost on the ground, but the sun is peeping through the mist and the birds are singing madly. My first little crocus popped it's head out of the ground and there are buds on the wild plum and cherry trees.

If I had to choose a favorite color, it would probably be green... at least for today!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hot Analogous!

Hot Scarves on my wicker chair - photo by Diane Ahern

Colors next to each other on the color wheel look scrumptious together - especially when they are similar in saturation (how pure or intense the color is).

I love red-orange (can you tell?) and often combine it with red-violet (hot pink) - they are bright and intense, but harmonious because they both contain lots of red. The scarves on my wicker chair also have a bit of yellow-orange. But notice how your eye moves easily across all the colors because red-orange and orange are present to help pull from one section of the color wheel to another.

I named the following hot analogous soup 'Tropical Punch' because it reminds me of being 8 or 9 and going to a birthday party full of bright colors, store-decorated cake and a pitcher of really sweet punch (Mom always made my cake).

Bead Soup 'Tropical Punch'

Analogous colors can be expanded further by working your way along the color wheel. In this next soup, I've added some violet and blue-violet. Amazing how just a touch of these cooler colors adds depth to the soup.

Bead Soup 'Sunrise'

This soup is a serendipitous mix made by Geoff Raker (the cover designer working on my book) when he poured out some of my monochromatic soups for a background shot and they went wild... Voila! I couldn't have done better!

Bead Soup 'North Light'

It is similar to 'Sunrise', with different proportions and a little more blue. The color relationship can be characterized as an expanded analogous or two parts of the triad pictured here.

Thanks to my dear friend Joie Moring of MoringDesign for compiling the colorwheel art work for me!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Playing with Encaustic

'Underwater Coral' - Encaustic on Clayboard 12"x16"

My editor, Julie Hollyday, and book photographer, Christine Polomsky, loaded me up with a stack of books during my photo shoot last week. All of North Light Books are gorgeous and fun to pour through, however I became obsessed with Patricia Seggebruch's book on Encaustic Painting. My excuse is that I needed a tiny break from beads and besides my bead supplies aren't home yet... but the reality is that I am hooked! I've taken over Jerry's workshop and waxed over every scrap of plywood I can find.

'Dreamer' - Collage and Encaustic on Plywood 15"x13.5"x3/4"

Of course, I can't ever be too far away from beads and some of them ended up in the wax!

Here is a set of 3 little ones with HOT colors! Pretty cool, huh?

'Fire Trio' - Encaustic on Clayboard 4"x6" each

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ice Caves on Mount Rainier

Ice Cave photo (1968) by Charlie Anderson Jr.
When I was growing up, we often hiked in the Cascade Mountains just a few hours from home. On the slopes of Mount Rainier were ice caves that we could climb into and marvel at the immense range of colors. Unfortunately, the ice caves have now melted so that any that are left aren’t safe to hike into. Luckily there are photos, like this one by Charlie Anderson Jr., that can give you a hint as to the beauty and magnificence of these vanished treasures. I created Blue Ice bead soup in memory of those beautiful mountain gems.

Blue Ice Bead Soup and Gem Soup

Even though Blue Ice is a 'monochromatic' mix, there are numerous shades of blue from green-blue through violet-blue. Blue-black beads represent the dark shadows and bright blue, white and silver beads catch light and act as highlights mimicking the sun as it filters through the ice. Note also that shiny, dull and irridescent beads all used together give depth and intrigue to the entire mix. Don't be shy about including many different beads together in your bead soup - the more variety, the more pizazz!

Wanderlust Bracelet in Blue Ice

Bead Soups and Freeform Beadweaving go hand-in-hand and this Wanderlust Bracelet was pure fun to make!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bead Soups!

As many do, when I first started making jewelry, I tried stringing, wire work and patterned bead work. Even though the results were nice and sometimes quite elegant, the color was one-dimensional. I craved the ability to incorporate depth and flow of color. NanC Meinhardt turned me on to bead soups in 2002 and I immediately fell in love! The sheer fun of mixing colors together, the challenge of creating color palettes that glow and the endless possibilities for working with bead soups has captured me - a perfect blend of left and right brain activities. And the great thing is - anyone can do it!

I teach numerous classes using bead soups and some specifically on working with color. Eye For Color was designed as a tool to help students work with color and pull together exciting color combinations. And Tonia Davenport of North Light Books/ F&W Publications approached me a year ago asking me to write a book on color, bead soups and freeform bead weaving. Beaded Colorways: Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes is slated to be in book stores January 2010. My goal in my books, classes and interspersed throughout this blog is to share what I have learned. I hope that you will find beauty and inspiration in what I have to share and that your own creativity will soar!