Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Reuse Workshop

This week I had two fantastic opportunities to partner with Turnip Green Creative Reuse. I'll keep this post focused on the first one: leading a workshop for Metro Nashville Public Library. I love our library system; the main downtown branch is by far my favorite- the center courtyard and grand staircase are GORGEOUS. And now I love the library even more, since learning that for their staff retreat days they invite local organizations to put together a variety of educational workshops and let employees choose what they would like to attend.

Turnip Green Creative Reuse (TGCR) was one of the local organizations selected to put on a workshop during the most recent staff retreat. As an artist who has made use of TGCR's donated materials in my own work, a connection had been made; Kelly Tipler, C.E.O. of TGCR, reached out and invited me to lead this workshop for the library. My reuse work has centered around book art (if you're local you can see it at East Side Story), and being for the library- a book reuse art project seemed the perfect fit!
The following images from the workshop are courtesy of TGCR:

Project Examples
Distributing Supplies
Participants Chose a Book Page to Alter with Paint
Work in Progress!
A Completed Piece 
Participants of All Ages Got Involved
Everyone Altered Their Book Pages Uniquely!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Intervals & Introspection

I decided to get in my speed work run at lunch today. With E.S. Rose Park (and it's track) being less than a mile from my house I often go there- running an easy warm up on my way there, then intervals on the track, then a cool down as I head back through the neighborhood.
As I came to the end of my warm up, I approached the track from a path that overlooked it slightly. The day was absolutely gorgeous, and I had already noticed quite a few other people out in the park enjoying the sunlight. I should add that my usual routine is to go early, around when the sun is rising- so not surprisingly there are very few other folks making use of the park while I am there. Back to approaching the track- I notice baseball practice is going on, so is softball practice, comparatively there are ALOT of people. I start feeling self conscious about the all out intervals I'm about to run- how silly I might look, how loudly I might gasp to catch my breath- than I see a large group of jr. high kids have walked over from the school next door and they seem ready to hang out at the track during their lunch period. Immediately I think, "GREAT. We're going to get in each other's way. I'm going to get heckled for being the crazy lady in purple lycra. Maybe this isn't a good idea." I'm already at the gate though, so I go in. I've also already got the interval times entered into my watch, so I hit GO and the beeping counts down..and I'm off on my first lap.
I take an outside lane and the pack of kids walking the track stays on the inside- we peacefully share the track for a couple more laps. Then the kids break into smaller friend groups: some hanging out on the benches talking, some playing football in the center field, several laying in the grass, a few still walking the track. So far, so good. Except that my mind is going wild with negative thoughts directed at myself: "Who do I think I am, trying to act like I'm fast? My legs are way too short and thick. I am too short and thick. My pants are too tight. Everyone can hear how hard I am breathing." and so on. And then my thoughts are broken as I run past a group of girls and hear one of them say in an admiring way, "She's so fast!". Now- that "fast" was all in the eye of the beholder, but today I was proud to hear it and claim it.
It went to heart- in a reality check type way. The past several weeks I 've struggled with a lot of really negative thoughts and self-doubt; today was no exception. Until I was there just running my little heart out in front of everyone on this gorgeous day at this really great park in my very own neighborhood. I had everything (and more) that I needed to accomplish exactly what I set out to do: the right shoes, the right clothes, the time, perfect weather, a fancy running watch, access to an excellent track- and yet I almost talked myself out of the whole experience because I was scared. So I am the one holding myself back these days. 
I kept running: all out sprints then recovering. That one girl's comment successfully shifted my mind's gears. Not only did I badly need to get out of my own head, I needed to be aware of what these kids were seeing as they watched me. They saw a woman who does not have a perfectly lean, long legged runner/ model's body out there pushing herself. Choosing to work hard and not give up, despite the huffing and puffing or jiggly thighs and lots of strangers looking on. Not only did they see that- but at least a few thought it was even something worth complimenting. I can think of no better example I could hope to offer teenage girls in such a natural, simple way. I am so lucky to have the ability to be involved in the sport of running. I am grateful to be reminded that everything, even just a workout, is about more than just self, and that life is far too good to let fear hold you captive. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Is Here!

It's officially the first day of spring! I love the excitement that comes with this season- plants are coming back to life, days are getting lighter, people are breaking out of hibernation mode. Lots of great energy is surfacing! 
Butterflies are a perfect symbol of new life and the beautiful, light colors of spring- so I chose them for my most recent spring themed decor project. The goal was to create lighting that would brighten and add unique seasonal detail to a shop window- while keeping supply costs low. 
I chose to use pendant light cords , white paper lanterns in three sizes and upcycled paper butterflies as the primary materials. 

24" White paper lanterns
16" White paper lanterns
14"White Paper lanterns
Silver electrical cord kit
Old magazines
An old book
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks
Light Bulbs

Either die cut/ hand cut butterfly silhouettes. If you're a Nashville local check out Turnip Green Creative ReUse as an excellent source of paper you can upcycle; similar organizations exist in many other major cities as well- look into it where ever you are! Die cutting will be WAY faster and will give a "cleaner" look to your butterflies; if you have access to a die cutter, I recommend it over hand cutting. As far as the amount to cut- it really depends on how minimal vs ornate of a look you want, as well as how big of a lantern you chose to use. Always cut more than you think you will need- you'll be happy to have spent a little extra time cutting and have extra than to be in the midst of hot gluing only to realize you've run out!

Assemble your lantern/s. If possible hang them in your work area. It was very helpful for me to have it hanging while I was working on it, so I could be sure to place the butterflies the way I envisioned them looking on the finished product (which would hang in a window).

Lay out your butterflies and get that hot glue gun going. Imagine roughly where you want your butterfly "swarm" to land on the lantern. Begin gluing some butterflies on- start off by attaching them smoothly/flatly as seen below.

Go back to your stack of paper butterfies and crease some of them. As you make a 2nd pass over the lantern attaching butterflies this will add interest- some butterflies will appear to be resting, some will be perched with wings still "fluttering". Using a bit of hot glue along the crease, press these on top of and around the flat butterflies.

Be sure to move around the lantern as you work so that one side does not get considerably bulkier than the other. Continue to add butterflies as you go, alternating book and colorful magazine pages.

Once you're happy with your butterfly coverage, carefully insert the cord with lightbulb and hang!
If you have any left over butterflies, thread them onto fishing line (simply punch a small hole in the paper and knot the line). Tie the strand below the lantern or to the ceiling hook above and let them flutter around the lantern; add a couple varied lengths if you're really into it!

The above pic is my end result. It can currently be seen at Rodney Mitchell Salon in Hillsboro Village.
Happy first day of Spring!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

the Compass

I just completed a commissioned painting, and wanted to share my process of work on it.
First, the inspiration. This was a piece inspired by a personally significant tattoo; the thought was to take the tattoo design, keep the meaning behind it, but transform it into a painting. 

the tattoo

After determining basics like size (30" x 40") and color scheme (blue dominant), I decided this piece needed layers. After all, it the concept of a personal compass has deep meaning- a smooth, even surface didn't seem to fit. I began layering paper in shades of blue. Then, I layered maps and images. Finally, I added significant words- verses.

When I was happy with the layering, I brushed on a coat of blue paint.

Then, I scrubbed it off it the areas I wanted to draw focus to. 

 Lots of steps- adding, adding, taking away, more adding- it all adds a richness and texture that I felt was important for this painting.

 Then the prominent part of the design- the compass!

With this part I was careful to still allow parts of the background to show through- a subtle indicator of the piece's meaning.


supplies: acrylic paint with mixed media

The finished piece!

The finished piece with it's new owner!

notice his right forearm ;)

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Youngest Art Collector

At a recent show, a delightful young lady purchased one of my watercolor animal pieces. Her father brought her to the opening reception of my show and told her she could pick one piece- her first art purchase ever!

This is the one she chose:

And here is what she had to say about it when she brought it home:

This young lady is my youngest (and most adorable) collector; I absolutely LOVE her thoughtfulness and the way her dad encourages her appreciation of art. What a beautiful thing to see. And what a treat to get to hear her talk about this piece in her own words- I had to share!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Artist Inspiration

Today I stumbled across two other artists who caught my eye; one who is also named Sarah Shearer and the other is not. Her name is Alisa Burke.

Other Sarah Shearer works with a subtly beautiful color palette and gravitates towards lovely organic forms. Here is her website; check out her portfolio! Here is one of my favorites of hers:

courtesy of Sarah Hayman Shearer

The non- Sarah Shearer, Alisa Burke, came up via Pinterest surfing. I love her blog and I think you might, too. Why? Because she comes up with vibrant, creative projects like making marbelized paper using spray paint. LOVE. Here is one of her pics from the process:

courtesy of

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Animalia @the Arcade

The opening reception for my current show, Animalia @the Arcade, went fantastically last night! It was a solo show of animal and nature related works.

Thank you to all who came by; it was good to see so many cheery faces out and about for the First Saturday Art Crawl despite the chilling wintery weather we've been having in Nashville.

Many thanks also to Beth, lovely proprietor of the Twist, etc gallery where my work will hang through the month of March.
Here are some snapshots from the evening, the first couple are courtesy of friend and fellow creative, Liz Streight:

Me, with painting Sky Fall.

Gibbon 11" x 14", watercolor & ink on paper

Explore, 12"x 20",  acrylic on wood
AND I attempted a video recap of the exhibition. The video quality is a little rough but, hey- I'm not a videographer so hopefully we can all look past that: