Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cards and creativity

Another week has gone by and with it, I managed to make more greeting cards to add to my stash that is increasing on a daily basis.  I enjoy making greeting cards, but I find it difficult to fully complete one until I know which person in my family or extended family will be the recipient.  Consequently, some of these cards will still have more colour and or embellishments added to them.

Personalizing cards is the part of the process that I find extremely fun.  Adding colours or detail work that all tie in to the original design, but at the same time make the card more personal is part of my signature.  I want each recipient to feel the time, effort, but most of all, the thought that went into the process of designing their particular card.  The reality is that most people do not realize that I do not just grab a stamp out of my storage room, ink it up, place it in position on card stock and then sign it and send it off via snail mail.

Each card is unique in the way it turns out.  Even though I make two of each card that I design, each one will be unique in the colours used, the washi tape that adds a touch of whimsy or other embellishments that accent the subject matter.  I cut the card stock used for each card and keep a variety of colours on hand so that I can run into the studio and put a card together on a moment's notice.
Even when I am rushing to meet a deadline to get the card off in the post, I still take time to make every aspect of it personal right down to the envelope which also receives some detail work in the form of coloured stamps indicating that this is indeed for a birthday or that Easter is in the offing.  Washi tape also often accents envelopes now that I have a good stash of it stored away.  Might just as well make the postal delivery people smile if they glance at the envelope as they are out on their routes delivering mail.

What else have I been working on or thinking about?  Well, David Sandum (@DavidSandumArt) is working on another fundraiser in Norway by engaging Twitter folk to send in art pieces that will be sold.  His last fundraiser ended up in the library being able to purchase over 200 books for its children's library section.  You can get more details using this URL:  .  You can also search through recent tweets for updates either by doing a search using Davids twitter name or using the hash tag #twitterartexhibit.  Contact David to let him know that you wish to participate  Once again, submissions are required to be postcard sized as this will allow many artists to participate.  The artwork will be displayed in the library once again and just as in the last exhibit, there is likely to be a fair amount of press coverage which will translate into a good audience going in to view the walls covered with art from all corners of the world.  So, to answer the question posed at the start of this paragraph, I am working on a submission to send off.  I am hoping to use the coloured inks that I have been playing with to make a memorable submission.

Other than these artistic ventures, the week has been spent reading a series of books.  Yes, I said a series!  I am currently almost halfway through the third book in "The Hunger Games" trilogy.  I can recommend this series for people who can suspend their beliefs in what can happen to the world if for some reason the structure and dynamics of North America should change and the entire continent be divided into territories ruled by a severe and harsh Capitol.  The series is a quick read as none of the books is lengthy.  But, I will promise that you will find yourself thinking about what can happen if rulers decide to be punitive and make life one that leaves the general populace deprived of the very essentials of life.  Maybe this book is a bit too dark for some and I will warn you that some passages are graphic, causing you to put the book down and walk away to make a pot of tea before resuming reading.  If this frightens you off, do not read the series, but if you like a thought provoking series of books, this one is right up your alley and will give you pause for thought as you plough your way through the books.

That is how my week played out!  I plan to work on my #twitterartexhibit over the next week as well as work on some more cards.  But, this evening is devoted to reading the last book in "The Hunger Games" series.  I am hoping that good overcomes the evil that has played out thus far.  I will let you know next week if the ending was what I was hoping for or if it fell short of what the story line really required.  Meanwhile, I am putting up some snaps of the cards I have been working on over the past week.

Have a creative week!

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Finding a place for art in your day

I will be the first one to admit to finding that time can pass by me at the speed of sound and that I have not gotten around to the tasks that I had set forth to accomplish.  Generally, I have a schedule worked out for each and every day just so I can try to get as much done as possible.  Most mornings I tidy up the flat and do a load or two of laundry if necessary.  Errands are taken care of early in the afternoon so that I can be home at a decent time to make a pot of tea and sit down to an hour or two of reading.  Not a very exciting existence, but it suits my lifestyle for the most part.  I must confess that on some days, I long for a little excitement, just a little.  It is not that I long for a major change in my life, but just a little something to add some flair to the day would be welcome.

Excitement, or a change in lifestyle will only happen if I put the necessary elements into motion and actively pursue an activity of some sort.  That is where my artistic journey comes into play.  Each day, I try to find as much time as possible to spend in my studio room where I can paint, draw, work with various inks, stamps and other equipment necessary for artistic pursuits.  Sometimes I find myself working far into the night on one project or another and lose complete track of the time.  That is when I know that I am onto something that just might turn out into real art.  Real art is in the eye of the beholder, I truly believe that.

With this in mind, I wander through various art forms in search of inspiration and satisfaction.  Art is a passion and I try to work in as much studio time into almost every day of the week.  Some days find me working on calligraphy, other days you might find me putting paint to canvas.  So far this year, my passion has been for making cards using stamps, embellishments, various types of paper and almost anything that might give me a little texture or just a little oomph to jazz up what might have been a very plain card.

I mentioned in the first post of the year that I was going to challenge myself to make at least five greeting cards each week and put them up for you to see.  So, now that I have found out how to load the pictures onto my computer system, I will share with you some of my creations over the past couple of weeks.  Rather than make the cards too busy with excess colour, I have kept the cards on the simple side.  One series that I will share with you is one that I refer to as my ladies from yesteryear.
The ladies are done with a sepia coloured ink with the stamped image going onto ivory card stock.  I have embellished the card with simple bands of a peach washi tape that I purchase from Marisa at Omiyage.  Marisa has a passion for lovely little things from Japan and runs a web shop to sell them.  Have a look at her web shop and read her blog at  For those not familiar with it, washi tape is available in many widths, colours, patterns and some even with a confetti pattern.  The tape can be repositioned if necessary, but it is still wise to be careful with your placement as the tape curls easily when pulled up from the card stock.  I have used a number of rubber stamps that I have collected over the years and set aside for a special project.  Once the stamping was done and the washi tape positioned, I added a little colour where I found it necessary.  Sometimes in getting the image down on the card stock, not enough ink has been picked up in some areas of the stamp resulting in faint lines in some areas of the stamped image.  This is where a light hand with either coloured pencils or copic pens comes in handy.  I will not say that I am as deft with stamping as I would like to be, but I am working on my technique as well as working on various ways to create interest in the images on the cards.

My second series of cards is one I refer to as the black cat series.  Five different cards have been created by tracing shapes removed from a heavy card stock.  One can either trace around the images or use the cut out areas on the card stock as a stencil.  The shapes that pull away from the stencil sheet can either be decorated or used to trace around on various colours of card stock.  This gives way to a variety of different coloured felines to be created as the spirit moves you.  I have visions of some orange cats with black stripes showing up in the near future.  Washi tape was again used to add some interest to the cards which still remain simple in their style.

I have no doubt that I will have many interesting art sessions making greeting cards over the upcoming year.  As I put stamps away, I am grouping them into series that will end up on the front of greeting cards and possibly some other items that I have been eyeing over the past few weeks.  That is the joy of stamping, you find so many ways to use the images on items one might not normally think of as being suitable or destined to receive different imprints.

I will return to painting very soon!  A little more tidy up in the studio and I will be stacking up some canvases that need to be finished as well as a fresh pile of canvases requiring the initial coat of gesso.  I am still putting together some ideas for paintings and cannot say for sure what is going to be the first challenge put to the acrylics with me wielding the brush.  Jewelry is still a major interest to me and I am working on some designs on paper before I try to put my ideas into action.  So much I want to do, but I am rationing my time and energy so that I have time to kick back and have time to read and dream about what I want to try next.

I hope you enjoy the images I am posting alongside this blog!  And, I would love to hear what you are working on this year.  Type in a comment and send along a picture if you like.  I will put them up for everyone to see and be inspired by.  Meanwhile, I hope you are having a wonderful start to this new year and are feeling optimistic and inspired.  I know that I cannot find enough hours in each day to get done what I would like to or to read all the books that I would like to read.  And then there is cooking to be done.  But, I have that covered by using Julie Anne Rhodes' PCApproach to cooking meals.  Pick a day and cook several entrees at one time and then freeze them in suitable portions.  Check out her web site for more information, recipes and a wonderful friendly blog in which she relates some fun stories about her life.

Have a wonderful week and I will post more pictures next Sunday of other cards that have been made in the past couple of weeks.  Most of these are one offs, meaning that they are not part of a series, but still very special in their own way.  That is it for me this week!  I am off for another day spent in the studio puttering around at my own pace in my own little world.  Not to worry!  I will surface in time for tea.

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

Monday, January 16, 2012

Colour, design, content, inspiration!

I have been in the mood for watching films lately and tend to watch the same one twice over a weekend in order to get as much out of what I am watching as possible.  It is amazing how much more you pick up when watching something the second time.  So, with this in mind, I watched The Devil Wears Prada Saturday evening and again late this afternoon.  I have watched the movie a few times prior to this and enjoyed it immensely, but when I watched it Saturday evening, I watched it and saw it through another pair of eyes.

For those of you not familiar with the film, Meryl Streep (Miranda Priestly) plays the role of the editor of a fashion magazine, a dragon lady who instills fear into her staff.  The film has Anne Hathaway cast as the new assistant, Andrea, clueless about fashion as well as how to deal with such an ogre of a boss.  When "Andrea" breaks down and vents to the gentleman who pulls fashions together for the magazine, she is chided and told that it is very apparent that her heart is not in the job, one that a million other girls would kill to have.  Andrea gets it at this point, she has to put effort into the job in order to achieve success even though she does not truly understand at that point how fashion relates to so many other aspects of life.the

You may wonder why this film captured my attention this weekend.  I had to give that some thought as well.  I found myself thinking a lot about colour this week and for some reason a particular scene in this film came to mind.  This would be the scene in which Miranda makes Andrea aware of how showcasing a certain colour in the Runway Magazine can lead to fashion houses designing lines using that particular colour which in turn leads to designers creating off the rack fashions for department stores.  These fashions are purchased, worn, end up in second hand shoppes where those not willing to spend top dollar for fashion typically buy their clothing.  Case in fact, in the film at least, Andrea is wearing a bulky cerulean blue pullover with a less than currently fashionable plaid skirt.  Fashion does bring certain colours to the forefront each season and I started to think about whether or not artists carry this into their designs.  Are mixed media artists, or let us just say, visual artists, influenced by colours that are deemed fashionable?  Do we gravitate towards particular designs in our work, certain textures we see in the fashion world or for that matter, certain content?

Fashion is something that is not truthfully a big part of my life.  I wear affordable clothing, much of it previously owned.  The colours range from various shades of blue, some grey, and some plum.  I have two dresses, one a little black, suitable for warmer temperatures, the other, a dress using multiple tones of dusty pink along with a bit of purple.  Neither of these dresses are runway suitable, but they are easily tossed on and turn me from dressed to tidy up the flat or shop to dressed for an appointment where I need to look somewhat professional.  The colours mentioned here are not colours I use when painting, making mixed media pieces or even when playing around with coloured pencils or markers in the assortment of journals on my table.  When painting, I love to play with textures, shapes, but the content is something that I decide on without paying attention to what is being shown in publications whether they be artistic or fashion related in nature.

I see some mixed media magazines showing artwork involving somewhat moon faced individuals, some wearing various types of head wear.  Some are dancing in fields of flowers, some are suspended on the page with various elements of their lives floating around them and others are involved in different activities.  These may be trendy right now, but truthfully, not something that calls out to me.  I do want to start drawing human figures in my pieces, they may well be involved in some type of activity, which at this point, I have not decided upon, but the figures themselves are likely to be creations from my own crazy little world which leans to enjoying the type of figures found in anime.  Exaggerated in their physical stature to some degree, these figures appeal to me with their physical prowess evident, their hair featuring longish flowing locks and their fashion sense culled from Victorian and Edwardian eras but thrown full force into this millenium.

What appeals to you when you are creating?  Do you know why?  I am not sure that I can answer why, but I do know what I am hoping to put to page when I start drawing and am willing to practise diligently when I put my mind to it.  But, I am open to trying new techniques, pushing my boundaries and moving into uncharted territories when it comes to being an artist.  I stand by my wild use of colour and will continue to use up all the brightly coloured paints and coloured pencils found in the many bins in my storage room.  Colour, design and content are all subject to my current frame of mind and what appeals to me when I dive into the studio.  Every artist deserves to make these choices and have fun with them.  It is fun to see what is fashionable and perhaps even to partake of the madness on occasion. But, I want to be true to myself and make art that has meaning to me even if it might not make sense to others.    Every artist has this entitlement and should take liberties to make their art in their own way. 

Going back to The Devil Wears Prada, I still feel inspired by that film.  Andrea finds her way back to working for a newspaper and writing, knowing that whilst she learned a lot when working in the Runway Offices, she learned even more about herself and what had true meaning in her life.  We should all be so lucky to have a boss like Miranda who drives the meaning home, that being true to oneself is one of the most important lessons in life.  A lesson, that when one thinks about it, even Miranda has to respect.

As always, I would love to hear what you have to think about what I have written.  What film has inspired you artistically or otherwise?  Share your thoughts with all of us as we would love to hear what you have to say.

Have a wonderful week!  Rutheemac



Sunday, January 8, 2012

Another week gone by!

I am finding that the older I am, the more quickly that time seems to pass.  This is not a major break through in thinking by any means, but it is a quick shot to more delicate prod to make the most of each day.  That means setting realistic goals and trying to meet them head on, but not beating myself up if I do not reach the end of the line in the time frame that I arbitrarily set for myself.  One never knows what one is up against each week and this past week was no different.

Monday was pretty much like Sunday, a holiday before business resumed with a vengeance after stalling out for the New Year's celebrations.  Let us face it, everyone really needs a time out right about this time.  There has been an over indulgence in all ways of life; spending, partying, spending, eating and did I mention spending?  Surprisingly, the shoppes were filled with people still spending money or digging further into credit hell.  I realize that there were wonderful sales to partake of and so many new clothes, shoes, boots, pieces of jewelry and so on to indulge in and set oneself up to sail into a new year fashionably albeit, a tad poorer.

I did go out for one little bit of shopping on Wednesday.  I felt that the day would be calm enough for me to travel about without slowing people down in their travels.  I do not move quickly and it takes me time to focus on items that are on my shopping list.  And so, I set out to purchase a calendar, a flash drive and some oils to burn to scent the air and bring on some good karma in the studio.  Calendars were on sale and I quickly found one featuring Georgia O'Keeffe's art.  I really enjoy her works and the large calendar adds a punch of colour to my kitchen and allows me to make note of appointments.

Next on my list were the oils for burning in the studio.  A shout out to my sister is being inserted here. Do not be alarmed! I never leave burning candles alone and the oil is put in the burner along with a small amount of water and the small tea light candle is left to burn for about 15 to 20 minutes and then put out.  I am more than well aware of fire safety and actually have a certificate showing that I took a safety course and know how to handle a fire extinguisher.  Back to the oils!  I found quite a selection to choose from and had to decide what fragrance would stimulate my senses without overpowering them.  A mixture of sandalwood and ginger seemed to fit the bill as well as a bottle of tea tree with citrus for alternate days.  I like to have a bit of a variety and since the bottles were reasonably priced, both made their way home with  me.

Last on my list was a flash drive so that I could back up the new computer which had arrived two weeks sooner than anticipated.  I have been playing around on it and find Windows 7 to be fairly user friendly, but had not given thought to backing up my system with one flash drive to hold the original settings, just in case, and another to use for weekly backups in addition to the online backup.  Note to self - watch for sales on external hard drives!  Anyway the one flash drive I had bought in preparation for my back up was quickly used and the realization of the need for a second one meant that this shopping trip was going to end in a technical area of a shoppe.  Thank goodness for the knowledgeable young man working the section of the shoppe.  I am sure he has more fun with the younger customers, but he was more than patient with my questions and helped me find the piece of equipment best suited to my needs.

And so, where did the week take me artistically?  Not as far as I would like to have progressed, but I did come to some decisions as to how to proceed with some discoveries.  People who really know me, understand that I have a desire to play with blank journals and no piece of blank paper is safe from my doodlings  I have been known to sit through lengthy meetings drawing coffee cups on my pad of paper which should really be filled with notes of what was being said.  The notes got made, usually with a visual cue as to how I felt about the progression of said meeting and a few other thoughts best left to visual representations.  Once the notes had been transcribed, the offending papers were sent to the shredder and I now wish I had clipped the little drawings and placed them in one of my journals for posterity.  Not that these would be widely shown, nor should they be.  I think of a journal as a diary in many ways.  Only these journals would be capturing my thoughts along with some words, mixed media and so on, to put my ideas down on a page.

Not to fear, I have not forgotten my challenge to produce 5 greeting cards per weekday for a total of 25 per week.  Although that was not to be during the last week, I will get back on schedule for the most part this week.  I am determined for this to happen and will endeavour to do so as much as possible.  Life has to move on and I realize that I have been spinning my wheels for the past few months.  Health issues aside, and I wish they were, I am going to move forward and push myself to reasonable limits and make art more of a priority this year.  Afternoons will be spent in the studio for the most part and quite likely the early part of the evenings.  I feel a change in the seasons with the days being just a tad longer.  This is just what I need to fuel my soul now.  Although spring is still weeks away, just being able to see a change in the amount of daylight brings hope.  And, hope will bring a renewed sense artistically of where I want to head on my journey.

This week brings about a long awaited appointment regarding my hands.  I have had carpal tunnel problems for years and my doctor feels that someone should do some testing on my wrists.  I have mixed emotions about this appointment and the thought of someone cutting into my wrists is not something that makes me feel any sense of comfort.  This week is just for diagnostics and discussion after which I will need to make a decision as to whether or not to proceed.  I would love to hear from anyone who has undergone this surgery and know if you were able to take care of yourself immediately after the surgery.  How long did it take for you to regain the strength in your hands or did you lose strength?  I am desperate to know how others feel about the surgery.  I have read about the procedure on the internet, and truthfully was not impressed with what I saw or what I read of others' experiences.

So, while I plan to make the most of studio time this week, my mind is stuck on other things going on at the same time.  I will try to lose myself in just playing with colours, doodling, sketching and other pursuits.  Reading is also high on my to do list.  Each day will be filled with as much as I can accomplish, but within reasonable expectations.

I would love to hear how the first week of the new year played out in your world.  Click on comments and tell me what you are up to or what you hope to achieve this week, month or year.  All the readers will be encouraged by reading your plans.

Have a super week!

Sincerely,  Rutheemac


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolutions or guidelines?

Happy New Year!

I trust that everyone enjoyed a lovely holiday season and am anticipating all the wonderful things that the new year has to offer.  Everyone seems to ask others about their New Year's resolutions over the next few days.  I am not sure that I entirely like the idea of resolutions as it seems to be tinged with a bit of a negative aspect.  The idea of establishing some guidelines to help achieve a final goal seems more positive and one that I am happy to consider.  With this in mind, I would like to share a few of the guidelines I hope to follow in order to make the most of each day.

Making the most of each day is my mandate and in order to do this I need to feel rested.  I openly confess that I am a bit of a night hawk and always have been.  Getting to bed a decent hour has never been high on my list of priorities, but I am going to try to set a reasonable time to make my way to the bedroom.  I am hoping that within a week or two I can establish the pattern of going to bed, reading for a bit and then falling off into a restful sleep.  This little routine will bring about two positives for me.  First, I will be setting aside some time each day to read.  I have always loved reading and found that I did not set aside the time to enjoy books over the last year.  By reading for a spell each night prior to dozing off, I can make my way through the many books sitting on my shelf and at the same time, allow myself to wind down and more easily fall asleep.  The second positive is that I will be establishing the regular bedtime that is necessary for me in order to get the amount of sleep that I really do need.  I know that this will allow me to recharge and help in my quest to make the most of each day.  So, starting this week, a book or magazine will be set on the table beside my bed each day and I will make the effort to be propped up in bed with a pot of tea by 10 p.m. each week night. 

Truthfully, this should not take too much effort as I have a small mountain of books that are calling to me and the thought of reading some wonderful fiction or making my way through some enticing art technique books gives me great pleasure.  How did I stray from such a pleasurable pass time?  Reading will help my body settle into a calm state allowing for the easy transition into a good night's sleep.  I will let you know how this works over the next few weeks and hopefully, I will be able to report that I am following these guidelines and feeling better physically and mentally.

A new year seems a good time to issue a challenge to myself.  So, this year I plan to make five new greeting cards each week.  I have a wonderful supply of card stock in a rainbow of colours which should allow for some interesting cards to be created.  I love making cards but tend to make them only when I need them rather than play with my supplies and make a card just for the fun of putting various elements together and see what can come from my efforts.  My plan is to create a card and make a copy or two of it which will lead to building up a nice supply to dive into when the spirit moves me to send out a card to a friend.  Rather than wait for an occasion, I like to send out cards throughout the year to let family and friends know that I am thinking of them.  Not everyone sees the point of doing this and I realize that recipients do not always see the effort behind each greeting.  However, I plan to motor on and continue sending out my "I was thinking about you" missives since I get a lot of pleasure in not just the creative aspect, but also in the writing of a few lines to connect with a friend that I might not hear from as often as I might like.  Another positive from this is that I will have 5 cards to share with you each week and so next Sunday will be the debut of some new cards making their way into the journey.

 I have some other guidelines that I hope to test out over the course of the year, but will share these with you as they progress from guidelines to regularly scheduled travels on my journey.  Some of my guidelines will involve taking on some healthier ways to approach life which I am hoping will mean that 2012 will be a healthier year in general.  The generous doses of positivity should yield a better crop of finished projects in all types of art that seem to be intriguing me currently.  I will confess that coloured inks tempted me prior to the onset of the holidays and I am looking forward to some quality time spent playing with them in not just paintings, but also in working on learning some artistic penmanship.  Illuminated script has always been something that I wanted to try but never set aside the time to investigate or work on the necessary skills required to accomplish such beauty.  This will be the year to make time for this and to see if I can create an artistic alphabet on some wonderful paper.  So much to think about and work on!  I can already see the ink spatters on my blotter and stains on my fingers.  How fun is that?

What challenges do you anticipate trying this year?  Do you prefer the idea of making resolutions over setting guidelines for yourself?  I would love to hear what your plans are for 2012 and maybe we can all work our way through some creative journeys.  Drop me a line and I will share your thoughts with everyone so we can see where your personal journey is leading you.  Your comment just might be what will lead to another reader finding some inspiration to take them on their initial journey into artistic pursuits of a definitely pleasurable nature.

Have a great week!   Rutheemac