Searching for Letters Abroad

letters-abroad“There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all”  In My Life” – John Lennon

Of late, the Full Moon has been my time of introspection. Urged on by the changing of the seasons, so it was again this month. The feeling of melancholy surrounds me as I see the leaves change colour and begin their spiral dance to the earth. And the progression continues with change as the only constant.

I have mentioned how much the Artistcellar Labyrinth series has inspired my work. Believing in Synchronicity, they came to me just when I needed them most. This time my chosen stencil to work with was Gonzaga. I love the clean straight lines. It would be a superb counterpoint for the elements I collected for the collage.

A new medium for me is the Deco Art Media Crackle Paste. Application is easy and all that is needed is a palette knife and patience to allow for an adequate drying time. I picked a piece of copper metallic writing paper for my substrate. As I spread the paste through the stencil I wondered how it would hold up. Would this technique be its demise? It’s an interesting process to watch. The thickness of application varies the size of the eggshell cracks. And like magic…there they were. I pulled the stencil away from the paper and started my clean-up. I’m happy to report, as with all Artistcellar products, cleaning was easy and the stencil held up beautifully. Quality, quality, quality!

Hearing “In My Life” on the radio brought back so many wonderful memories from a time before email. It’s no secret that I am a passionate lover of the written word. Letters, postcards…anything in the mail is nourishment for my Muse! I relish the anticipation as much as the delivery. Just to see an address in a familiar hand is uplifting. I wanted my theme for the collage to be the art of correspondence.

I admit I find it difficult to meditate. So many ideas, so many images interrupt what should be a place of quiet and wonder. By using the labyrinth as the focal part of my work, I am getting closer to quieting my mind. The Labyrinth pulls together my random thoughts. So the work you see here is an attempt at stream of consciousness meditation, for lack of a better phrase.

It was time to complete the collage. Drawing from my Book of Backgrounds (aka the Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal) I selected other stencil designs I created: Halftone Dots, Seafoam, and Open Works from the Blocks series. Placing the images went smoothly…as if they knew where they should “live”. I allowed myself to feel, and to journey looking back at what once was with a definite optimistic view of the future. I recognize that accepting change is an integral part of the progression.

In my life all these places had their moments. And for that I am grateful.

Shameless Plug: The Labyrinth Series in addition to other works incorporating Artistcellar Stencils will be on show at the Oyster Mill Playhouse, Camp Hill, PA November 4 through November 20, 2016



The Golden Land


And so began the journey for so many of our ancestors. For me, it’s always all about the story. I am fascinated by the motives behind a person making the decision to depart the land of their birth. What made them head off to begin life afresh in a distant country? Did they ultimately fulfill their dreams? Was the move as successful as they hoped? Given the chance, would they complete the journey again?

Ellis Island was, and is, part of the fabric of our family. So many of the stories passed on to me by my Grandmother certainly were the catalyst of my interest in all things relating to immigration, especially at the turn of the Century.

America. Die Goldene Medina. The Golden Land. A land of opportunity for everyone. A place like no other where every dream, every wish, could and would come true. Looking at the photo of an Italian woman taken as she waited at Ellis Island, I wondered about her story.

I have been using my Strathmore Mixed Media Journal quite a bit lately. With 140lb vellum finish paper that is acid free, it is quite a help in building a portfolio of backgrounds that I can use for future projects.

For this piece, I started with the Artistcellar Seafoam stencil and my water colours. I wanted the overall appearance to be bright and “golden” so I limited the pallet to tints of yellow, magenta and orange. I allowed the pattern of the stencil to dictate where the colours would fall, as well as where to use the flat or pearlescent paints. When dried, I stenciled using one of my all-time favourite Artistcellar products, the Halftone Dots stencil. This time I reached for my metallic acrylics and layered complimentary colours.  Again when dried, I finished the background with my Punchinella and metallic acrylic.

I assembled my images…the photo of the lady from Italy, a postcard of Ellis Island, a map and airship from the Lunagirl Moonbeams collection of collage sheets.  The last element was a clever bit of repurposing: an artist friend sent me a dryer sheet she used to mop up paint. I loved the rough edges of the sheet and the lovely texture. I am a believer in Synchronicity and her generous contribution was flawless! Just the colour I needed to tie everything together. The timing was perfect!

Looking at my finished work, I wondered, did the Italian woman find her “Golden Land”? What became of her life? I hope she did find all she wished for.

I feel fortunate, as I am sure many of you do, to be an Artist. Our work and imagination can take us wherever we wish to travel.  Art allows us the opportunity of self-expression and experimentation. Our Art allows us to venture to our golden land where dreams come true.












What Does Your Art Say About You?

Paris Dance

The Can-Can – ATC

I love France. I love the French. The country and their people intrigued me from the time I was a child. I guess you could say I was born a Francophile.

Before I learned to read, my Mom and I would walk to the Brooklyn Public Library six days a week. And there in the children’s section, was my treasure trove. I would run to the books with the opening lines that set my imagination free… “In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines… the smallest one was Madeline.” How I adored Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline series!

And that was just the beginning. I dreamed of France…of seeing for myself the beautiful streets described in Bemelmans’ books. I wanted to experience the art, the culture, the sights, the smells, the food of that wonderful country.

All those feeling came rushing back to me when looking through my collection of ATCs. I found my homage to the dance I performed  at our “Christmas Around the World” school play. Ah…The Can-Can! At last! The play that year was my chance to experience Art Nouveau Paris and The Moulin Rouge. Visions of Lautrec danced in my mind!

It was years later when living in England that I made my pilgrimage France. With that first trip my feet were finally planted in the country of my childhood dreams. And everything was even better than I had hoped. The French could be “difficult”, I was warned, especially in Paris. I had also heard that about my home city, New York. I knew it wasn’t true about New York…could it be the same for the City of Light?

With my extremely basic hold on their lyrical language, I ventured into the streets of Paris. I found a small bistro off the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and did my best to order an omelette without the sausage. The waiter was patient and wonderfully helpful. And he responded to me in his equally basic English. What arrived at my table, honestly, was the greatest meal of my life. Imagine my surprise when the waiter said if I didn’t like it the chef could make me something else!

This exchange set the tone of my first trip and for all the ones after. Regardless of national origin, we are all the same…sharing the same hopes, dreams, and desires. The French say it perfectly…joie de vivre…a philosophy of life.

I used a standard manila ATC card for the substrate . Text from travel brochures, and dictionary pages were added.  I found a vintage image of the dancers and finished the card with rubber stamped images and acrylic paint.

As artists we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap we sometimes feel when taking a journey to somewhere new. Everyone, everywhere, wants to be treated with respect. We all want to feel that we do matter. Our work says more about us than words can ever convey. What does your work say about you?

Who Are You…Really…?

Journey from there to hereeThe Journey From There To Here – Collage

Do you ever wonder who you really are? Why are you attracted to some things and not others? Are you consumed by wanderlust or are happier to be close to home? Do you wonder if perhaps other members in your family share your emotions?

My Mom’s family is Eastern European, Polish and Russian. When growing up in Brooklyn we lived in the same building as my Grandmother, Zosia. My Grandfather, Anthony, died years before I was born, so I only know of him through the stories passed on to me.

This is the main reason I cherish my Grandparent’s wedding photo and my Grandfather’s passport.

My Grandmother, due to a father who also embraced the wandering spirit, was born in Brooklyn, but as a baby returned to the farm they owned in Poland.  She emigrated at nineteen, an American citizen who could only speak Polish. Through night school and working at the Oh Henry! candy factory she mastered English. She was a brilliant woman, a true feminist, a woman ahead of her time.

My Grandfather emigrated from Belarus to New York. A brilliant chef and linguist, his Muse was the Arts. He instilled the love of libraries, art galleries, and museums in my Mom who in turn sparked the passion in me.

The collage is an homage to my Grandparents. The substrate is canvas, covered with sewing pattern paper to give me a warm ground to build the collage. I stencilled the squares using metallic acrylic paint. I photocopied pages from my grandfather’s Russian passport on to tissue paper. I enclosed the paper with red string, a nod to my Grandmother’s belief in the power behind the talisman. The oak leaf, symbolic of strength and courage, was found in my back yard. The Polish quote on the wedding photo means “True Love Never Grows Old”. I placed both on red Ogura paper. The postage stamps are Polish and from the Soviet Union.

So, who are we…really. Do our ancestors influence who we are today? Can we trace our strengths to those who came before us?

Zosia, Anthony…I like to think so.

“Greet the New Year and Encounter Happiness”

New Year ATC

Happy New Year ATC

As this year draws to a close, I can’t help but wonder…where did 2013 go? It flew by for me, with numerous changes: some major, some minor, and with the eternal promise of new opportunities for the coming year.

With these thoughts in mind, I sat down to work on a list of fifteen Artist Trading Card challenges developed for my Creative Collage Class.

“An Asian Inspired” ATC is Challenge Number Two. I started by looking through my box of Asian papers and ephemera. Right on top was a New Year postage stamp. Muse..or Synchronicity?

The substrate is mat board. I sponged on several colours of gold acrylic paint. When it was dry, I rubber stamped part of an Asian image stamp to the card. As plum blossom signify being lucky, I tried to keep them within the live area.  I then added the postage stamp, mulberry paper with gold foil, and pearlescent liquid acrylic paint. I coloured the edges of the card with red Distress Ink.

Although normally filled with an even amount of money, keeping with Chinese tradition, I will give the card away in a red envelope. I love the idea of sleeping on the envelope for seven nights to bring good luck to the recipient.

January 31, 2014 ushers in the lunar Year of the Wood Horse. According to Chinese lore, the year will be one unexpected adventures, surprising romance, sudden and swift victories. Decisions should be made decisively and quickly. Distant travel is encouraged and will be auspicious.

Although the New Year is a few months away, I think it is never too soon to wish you all happiness by following your Muse…your bliss…and greeting the New Year with enthusiasm.