Monday, August 14, 2017

The Elephant and the Songbird

Here's the final version of the latest Lost Aesop painting I previewed last post: "The Elephant and the Songbird." This was a fun one to paint and I am in love with this color scheme.

The original Aesops' fables were mini morality plays starring all sorts of animals, birds, and even insects. At the end of each story, a summarizing, one-sentence moral was provided (in case the lesson wasn't already clear.) For all of these paintings, I have a moral in mind but I am keeping that secret; I want each viewer to find his/her own moral in the painting. I'm curious...what moral do you see here? (Just for fun, try to encapsulate your moral in a single sentence.)

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Mad Scramble

Now is the time when a return to work, prep for the October show, and continued healing from surgery come crashing together with a great flurry of activity inside the studio and out. As summer winds down, I scramble madly to utilize the uninterrupted free time available to me. I am woefully behind (can't actually remember when I was ever ahead) and sometimes I feel the pressure and stress like a smothering weight upon my chest. I juggle lesson planning, sample & step-out making, painting, doctors' appointments, and physical therapy, all while trying to fit in some down time before school resumes.

The show goes up the first week in October and I know that when I go back to teaching, I'll only be able to manage small pieces so I have been working on a few larger canvases since the beginning of August. After moving rather happily and briskly through the first two works in my "Lost Aesops" series, I stalled on completing the third with the intervention of surgery recovery into my daily life. Once I was able to sit with my foot down for more than 15 minutes at a time, I got back to painting. I finished that third canvas (which I'll share in the next couple of days) and surprised myself by launching into the fourth canvas I had visualized in my sketchbook. Titled "The Elephant and the Songbird," it has a bit of exotic flair with lots of rich teals, warm quinacridones, and golden yellows. As my Parkinson's tremor is progressing, I painted much of this sitting on my left hand to minimize the impact of its constant shaking on my right/dominant side. It is getting harder and harder to manage this type of high detail work and I think perhaps in a year or so, I might not be able to do it at all. However, no sense in mourning that which I haven't yet lost so I continue to plunge onward through life, flinging paint and wielding pencils. My days are often hectic, sometimes frustrating but always rewarding in some way.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Blind Contour Yearbook Friends

Last week, Tammy of Daisy Yellow did a live stream on Instagram, demonstrating blind contour portraiture on index cards. I was subsequently inspired to do a few of these portraits myself using my old friends from Hughes High School's Class of '25 as subjects of my wonky portrait play. I actually do blind contour drawing almost every year with my middle school students as a drawing warm-up/"getting to know each other" game and it always generates smiles and giggles. However, I forget to do these myself so I was grateful to Tammy for the reminder to relax and get silly. 

These are in a Stillman & Birn hardcover Beta sketchbook; I finally finished Volume 1 of Sparks of Madness so it's time to start Volume 2! I drew from the reference photos (mostly without peeking,) colored with Tombow markers, and then added a few more details with a fine point technical pen.

Quick, fun, and betcha can't do just one!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

One-Day Sale at Society 6

Heads Up: 

Society 6 is running a 1-day sale Sunday July 23 starting at midnight PST and running all day until 11:59 pm PST. This is probably their best deal: 20% off everything AND free shipping. There are many fantastic artists at Society 6 offering their art printed-on-demand on a wide variety of products. Society 6 handles printing, shipping, and payments and artists get a small cut of the sales generated. I'm there too with my mixed media owls on a small selection of items and as of today, this pretty, energetic flower print as well. I particularly love the canvas pouches but you can find all sorts of gift and home decor items. Interested in supporting Lost Coast Post? Click here to beam on over to my Society 6 shop. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Studio Beckons

I didn't mean for so much time to lapse between posts but I am, for once, trying to let my body's [irritatingly slow] healing process take the lead. I've had much more fatigue, pain, swelling, and bruising with this surgery; three weeks post-op and my foot is still not ready to come down off the elevated pillows for long periods of time. I am returning to the studio by degrees though and dabbling in a little bit of everything for as long as I can tolerate it. There's not much time left now in my summer break and I am overwhelmed with preparations for a brand-new art program and teaching focus at work come September. (I'll write more about those exciting developments soon.) In addition, my annual October art show is looming so there is certainly no shortage of stuff to do. 

Healing from surgery has its ups & downs and some days, it's more down than up. However, if I manage to spend even 15 minutes at my studio table, I remember that art makes everything better. Life isn't perfect but it can be colorful, playful, and creative. I can't wait to get back to doing and teaching art at my usual pace.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Road Bump, Not a Road Block

So I lost a lot of sleep last night over this stupid Photobucket screw-over but this morning, I woke up with ideas and resolve. Sometimes what feels like a dog pile needs to be interpreted as a kick in the ass from the universe. I've been dithering over creating a website for years, mostly because I felt leaping from a blog to an official website meant I was taking real ownership of my "artisthood" and deep down, I wasn't sure I was worthy of such a designation. Enough already: it is time to set aside reservations and claim my space in the wider world of professional artists.

The real anxiety-producing issue is that this new challenge is really poorly timed: I am still early in my post-op recovery (not able to drive so that makes life extra inconvenient) and I am in the middle of preparing for huge, exciting changes in work this fall. Somehow I am going to have to fit in preserving my blog archive, pulling 1550+ photos off of Photobucket, and building a website from the ground up. Cue hair-pulling and sense of overwhelm! Luckily, I had already been dabbling in Wix for work. It is mostly drag & drop designing so it might not be as difficult as I fear.

In the meantime, I'll be uploading photos directly to Blogger. There are size & storage limits and Blogger has an annoying "auto resize" feature but it'll do for now. I'll have to find a different option for hosting videos...maybe I'll just post to YouTube and temporarily drop the idea of a more formalized online class. I think the best solution will be a central website where I can have a blog (hopefully with all my past posts,) photo gallery, and shop/class site. It will just take time which is in pretty short supply right now. *breathe*

I deeply appreciate all your love and support! I have tried to live as if obstacles thrown in my way - whether they are health issues, financial restrictions, or crooked corporations - are just annoyances to be conquered, road bumps rather than road blocks. The ride might get rough and but I will continue onward.

PS: Here's another great article on what Photobucket is doing to its customers.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Photobucket Issues & How This Space Is Affected

For the eleven years that Lost Coast Post has been a blip on the internet, I have used Photobucket to host my photos. I upload my edited photos to the service, get a link, and then when I write a blog post, I embed that link in the post so the photo shows up. In short, Photobucket stores the pictures and allows 3rd parties (i.e. Blogger) to access those photos.

Well, as of July 6, 2017, Photobucket has decided to deny 3rd party hosting/linking to all but the most expensive plan. My account was up-to-date and in good standing before the change so I can continue to link to Photobucket until May 2018. At that time, I will need to pay $400 per year (due in one lump sum) to have Photobucket host my photos. If I don't pay, all photos in my blog will disappear and be replaced with the Photobucket logo and a "Unable to View" notice. And in case you were wondering, no warning was provided to customers; I was made aware of this issue via another blogger and had to go digging through Photobucket's site to find information on this issue. I'm sure they buried this huge policy change because they knew it would anger a great many people.

As you might imagine, I find this situation outrageous and financially impossible. Photobucket is going to cut off access to my photos, even ones I uploaded and linked to under plans that allowed 3rd party hosting when I paid for them. I will have private access to my photo library (theoretically) so I can download them but there will be no links available. There was zero heads-up on this policy change. In addition, in recent months the Photobucket site has been riddled with technical difficulties. Just today, when I tried to log into my account to upload pictures for a fresh blog post, I got stuck in an endless log-in loop. Half the time, I cannot even access the service I paid for.

Bottom line, this change means two things: 1) I need to find another way to store/host photos for the blog and 2) I will have to go back through almost 1000 blog posts, replacing blocked photos. I will need to download the original photo from my Photobucket library (if I can't find it in my archives,) re-upload to another site, and then replace the disabled link with a working link. Often times, this will mean restructuring the post itself. In addition, if you read through the endless pages of users' angry comments on the Photobucket site, a vast majority are having difficulty simply accessing and downloading their photo libraries. I have each and every one of my 1500+ photos on Photobucket saved elsewhere but it will be intensely time-consuming to dig through all my archives. I have some time to do this but it is a tremendous amount of work to add into my already chaotic life. I will just have to work on the problem bit by bit.

I am asking you, my beloved readers, to please be patient when this whirlwind hits. I am, in this very moment, trying to find an alternative to Photobucket (Google Photos?) so I can stop uploading to Photobucket immediately. (There's no point in continuing to use the service - even though I just renewed my plan a month ago - if access to those photos will be cut off eventually anyway.) I am looking into creating a website, purchasing a domain etc to see if perhaps that would be a better option. I am also considering Patreon.

I love Lost Coast Post and will continue as long as I am physically and financially able.
Please understand that I live on a shoestring budget and I cannot, in any way, add huge new bills into my budget just to be able to blog. Give me some time to see if I can figure out alternatives but be prepared for changes. I treasure your support of my art life and hope you will continue to show up for my art and ramblings wherever they may be found. This particular space will NOT close up shop unless I simply cannot find an easy, reliable, and affordable way to host photos for my posts.

How You Can Help:
1) Suggest photo hosting sites. Photo sharing sites that have reliable, affordable 3rd party hosting rules are hard to find.

2) Suggest alternatives to having a blog here at perhaps? Has anyone ever used Wix to build a website? (Keep in mind I am not super techno-savvy nor do I have a lot of extra time/energy to get that way.)

3) Check out Patreon...would you be interested in supporting me on Patreon? (For say $2 - $5 per month to read blog posts/see art...more for access to how-to/videos etc) It is totally OK if you can't but it would be nice to get a feel for what people think of Patreon. I have considered it in the past but always assumed I wouldn't garner much support in that particular format.

4) Tell me to breathe and not panic...

5) Stick close because I have more art to share and will do so as soon as I find even a temporary fix.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Art Always Finds a Way Through

Taking stock,
Leaving a digital post-it note
To reference later
When things get tough:

I've had 11 benign masses removed to date
(All but two from my feet.)
No guarantees that a 12th won't arise.
I've lost three bones from my right wrist
And subsequently had that wrist completely fused
With bone dug out of my hip.
My left radius has been shortened.
Two tendons have been released via scalpel,
One in my wrist, one on a toe.
I've gained two titanium plates
And 12 screws.
For variety,
April 2013 brought a diagnosis of
Young Onset Parkinson's,
Solving a decade of mystery symptoms.
Sprinkle in a few migraines each month
And I am a limping, shaking, painful mess.
And yet,
I am still standing.
(Not right now
But soon.)
Art always finds a way through.

And with the art comes

From their sick beds,
Fragile & failing
But fearless,
Henri & Frida showed me the way:
I will tremor,
I will hurt,
I will be constrained
But as long as I reach for my art
I will always be free.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Home Resting

Home from the hospital this morning after my foot surgery on Tuesday. I have three separate incisions on my left foot as my surgeon had to work on three different issues. He encountered some abnormal tissue deep in my foot surrounding the largest fibroma (in my arch) and was unable to do any internal stitching there. So only the surface of my foot is stitched together.  This means I have to be extra careful with weight-bearing as the wound is more prone to bleeding and opening. Of the six foot surgeries I've had now, this is easily the most painful and just might be in the top five most painful of the 13 procedures I've had so far.

I'm giving myself a little time to spend mostly sleeping and watching TV and then I am going to try and get back into the swing of life as fast as my foot healing allows. I might have to take things a bit slower than in the past but I just need to keeping reminding myself that I always get through.

In art-related news, I actually managed to film 3/4ths of a class before the surgery! I filmed how to gut a book and recover it. It isn't perfect but it is a start. Once I can climb a chair again (so I can focus the tripod-mounted camera above my head,) I'll film the last part on how to bind in your own signatures. What I did record will give me some footage to edit. I also took more pictures of my journal pages so I'll have images to pair with posts in the coming weeks. So give me a little time for a few long naps and I'll be back more regularly in this space.

Note: The picture here was taken at my staff retreat in Junction City, CA. Lots of oddball issues with the vacation home our school had rented for this event as well as a week of 100+ degree weather but it was definitely pretty to look at.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Sonnets Journal

Well, the 2016-2017 school year has come to a close...sort of. Next week, I'm off to a weeklong staff retreat to work on next year's plans. Every June the staff (and their families) go somewhere out of town to live and work together for a week so we can nail down schedules & plans for the fall and then have the rest of the summer to make those plans a reality. This year, the principal rented a fancy house a bit inland with seven acres, private lake, and pretty much every amenity you could think of. It is a working vacation but still...

Anyway, in my last post, I promised I'd start showing you the insides of some of the new journals I made recently. First up today is a journal I made from a small book of Shakespeare's sonnets. The journal is 5.5 inches wide and 8 inches tall. On the cover, I adhered a vintage French postcard I got years ago at a local flea market. I altered it a bit...added some rub-ons and a doodad. So lucky that it fit exactly inside the gold frame on the book's cover.

Now here's something you'd otherwise never know: I wanted to see both sides of that beautiful postcard; the address side is crazy lovely with some incredible handwriting in French. So I thought I'd be clever and cut a hole into the cover, just slightly smaller than the postcard so I'd be able to view both sides. That plan went well enough until I thought I needed to reinforce and protect the fragile card with some gloss varnish. Well, the old paper reacted funny with the varnish and the address side of the postcard sadly became unimaginably ugly. (The cover, you can see, held up a bit better.) So now, I had not only ruined part of the postcard I wanted to save but I also had a huge hole in my cover. If I had tried to pull the card off, I would've lost the thing entirely and my little "Sonnets" cover would've been ruined too so I chose to cover up the hole on the inside with a heavy piece of watercolor paper and some collage. And viola! Problem solved!

This journal is all about sketches & scraps, just bits and bobs that I glean from my stash and draw from my life. I've really missed journaling on a consistent basis so these little handmade journals are a place to dive back into that practice. Based on previous comments, I'm considering filming a short class on how I use old books to make journals. If I want footage to edit post-op, I'll need to somehow squeeze in filming this weekend or next...absolutely no promises but it is a good idea. I have so much to do between now and the 27th that my "to do" list might self-combust if I add one more task. However, I'm crazy that way so we'll see.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Journal-Making Frenzy in the Middle of Life Frenzy

I have just a week left in the school year (plus a week away at a staff retreat where our entire staff plans for the fall.) My surgery is scheduled for June 27. So I am caught up in a unique whirlwind of closing out past activities while outlining and creating future projects before I have to go into a two-month holding pattern for recovery from surgery. And somehow, in the midst of everything, I had an irresistible urge to go on a journal-making binge. I offer photos of my studio in disarray as explanation for my absence here.

My journaling practice, after many years of consistent, devoted attendance, now ebbs and flows. It isn't so much that I fell out of love with art journaling but rather that I fell in love with so many other things. Every so often though, I become consumed with a need to journal again. Maybe it is the current state of the country or the fact that surgery number 13 is looming or maybe it is just because I need to return to a practice that anchors and documents my days. When the chaos reaches dangerous levels, keeping a daily journal helps me stay in touch with the present. Journaling gives me something quiet and beautiful and inspiring to balance the anxiety, ugliness, and busyness.

I have been casually working in a variety of small purchased journals but I prefer handmade books when I want to journal every day. And I really, really love "junk" journals, books made with a variety of papers in all sorts of colors, textures, and sizes. I had several book covers in my stash that had been waiting a long time for the right project. (I gut the book block from small books with interesting or pretty covers.) I wanted to preserve the spines on some these particular "book husks" so I spent some time working out a binding technique that would allow me to insert a signature in papers of my choosing without destroying the existing spine. And once I got has been almost impossible to stop making these journals.

I kept the original covers on three of these journals and added fresh paper to the other two. These are all small journals with a single signature of heavy duty papers inside (nothing less than cardstock but mostly 140lb hot & cold press watercolor paper.) I added a tab or edging on every page for lots of pops of color and pattern. In the next couple of posts, I'll share pictures of the individual books and their insides. The small pink and purple journal will be available for purchase as well.

Monday, May 29, 2017

For Sale: Rubber Stamp Destash

I am selling about 80 percent of my rubber stamp collection and today, I present four stamp lots for sale. Here are the details:
  • I have treated my stamps gently over the years. That said, these are used stamps and the rubber is stained. This does not affect future stampings. I will clean each stamp again before shipping but I want to be clear that these are NOT brand new stamps. (There are many though that I've only used maybe once or twice.)
  • These stamps will be sold in the pictured lots only, not individually.
  • Wood-mounted stamps are heavy to ship so I will be mailing these within the United States only via USPS priority flat-rate shipping. The listed price includes $10 to go toward shipping/packaging costs. I will email you a tracking number once I ship so make sure the email and physical address associated with your Paypal payment is correct.
  • Shipping will take place once your Paypal payment successfully transfers into my bank account, a process that can take 2 to 4 business days, depending on when you send payment. (Payments made on a weekend sometimes take a bit longer to process.) 
  • All sales are final.
  • Thank you for your support!

Lot #1: Asian-themed Stamps $35 (includes $10 for USPS Priority/Flat Rate Shipping)

Lot #2: Asian-themed Stamps $40 (includes $10 for USPS Priority/Flat Rate Shipping)

Lot #3: Nature Stamps *SOLD* Thank you Carol!

Lot #4: Nature Stamps $45 (includes $10 for USPS Priority/Flat Rate Shipping)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Eleven Years Today

As of today, this humble collection of data bytes has existed on the Internet for 11 years. I've had plenty of moments over the years where I questioned continuing but this space has grown on me. Here I share my art, my thoughts, my time, my worries, my challenges and by some miracle, there are people who show up to read those musings. 

Compared to many of the art blogs that remain active today, Lost Coast Post is decidedly longform (I love to write) and non-commercial. I have slowly increased the exposure I give my work-for-sale and I include product links for stuff I use & love; it is a matter of economic survival. However, first and forever foremost, I deal here in inspiration. Whether you need a little push to try something new or continue along the path you've chosen, whether life is relatively easy or whether it is studded with obstacles, I hope that this space encourages you to rally onward.

Like most blogs, my comments section is generally soft-spoken but the words you do leave behind after a post lift my spirits. A few send lovely personal emails telling me how much you love LCP and some drop a bit of financial support into my tip jar. I am grateful and humbled by it all. Thank you for your readership, whether you've just discovered Lost Coast Post last month or whether you've been along for the ride since 2006 (is there anybody in that category out there?) Let's keep forging ahead...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Learn When to Let Go & When to Hang On

Art and work and the race to summer break (and my 13th surgery) continues at a breathtaking pace. I am getting better at taking time outs to just breathe and re-gather my wits so I am surviving the daily chaos reasonably well. However, even though my foot will be trussed together with more than a dozen stitches after June 27, I am looking forward to downtime for a couple of months, sitting on the couch, binge-watching Netflix, doodling, and planning for the fall. There's lots of fresh changes coming at work; I am very excited to begin writing lessons and creating class samples & step-outs. These surgeries are never fun and often become complicated but I am going to try to make the best of it and keep my chin up.

My series The Lost Aesops is still alive. This piece, completed on an 18x24-inch gallery-wrapped canvas, is titled "The Raccoon and the Balloon." The moral of this pictorial fable might be something along the lines of Learn when to let go and when to hang on. This canvas is quite a bit bigger than my first ("The Tortoise and the Hares") so a bit of the patchwork busyness is lost. I did want to evoke a feeling of spaciousness as is appropriate for the sky and a smaller substrate might have made the piece feel cramped. The balloon needed some room to soar.

Again I restricted my color palette. My color choices represent a loosely interpreted accented analogous scheme. Analogous colors are lie next to each other on the color wheel and usually the artist chooses three colors for her scheme. I traditionally choose four colors; in this case, I used yellow, yellow-orange, orange, and red-orange. Accents are usually chosen from directly opposite the analogous colors and my predominant accent is blue in varying tints (white added) and tones (grey added.) There is, of course, some green present so the rigor of the scheme starts to break down. The overall look though feels restrained to me; I am trying to rein in my usual "all rainbows, all the time" approach to color choice.

Fun fact: I do actually use a handheld color wheel while painting. Back in art school, it seemed like every class I took required the creation of a color wheel and I grew to dislike making them. However, I saved all of those wheels and use them often to this day.

I just finished a third Lost Aesop this morning. A fourth is already sketched and waiting for paint. I'm not sure if I will do a fifth but there is still time for an idea to come calling. I need to move onward and I am beginning to feel a pull towards other things. As I've said, I'm a "pinball artist" and I get restless when I linger on any one task for too long. I guess the raccoon's lesson is also my guiding philosophy. I'll hang onto this idea as long as I can and then I'll let it go in order to land somewhere new and different.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sketching Memories

I read somewhere once that it is hard to remember the pain of childbirth clearly because your body is then flooded with happy-making hormones so you can bond with your baby. Hmmm...something similar happens with the school year as the beginning and even the middle is so wonderful and then I realize I had forgotten the INSANITY of the last few weeks. The energy level is somewhere between whitewater river and simmering volcano. I come home exhausted, thankful to just stare at a blank, white wall for a while in utter, blissful silence. Then, as time for art-making is ever dwindling, I peel myself off the couch and stumble to the studio table a few feet away to recharge.

I've returned to my sketchbook in anticipation of teaching observational drawing again in the fall and I love the peaceful, engaging effort of looking and really seeing all while trying to record the lines, shadows, shapes, and colors before me. I'd like to do a sketchbook filled entirely with drawings of toys; a while back I was completely inspired by my wind-up collection sketches. Here I begin that project with sketches of some toy cars that belonged to my youngest brother Sam, whom I lost to a rare brain cancer when he was eighteen. These cars were passed along to my son Daniel. Daniel has long grown beyond pushing toys in the dirt and making engine noises in some great construction yard of his imagination but I can't bear to throw these playthings out. Through them, I touch my brother and don't want to let go.
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