Patti Edmon Altered Attic: September 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall flowers - Take Time to Enjoy...

This is one of my favorite photos, taken during a heavenly late-September vacation in Vermont, a place where one can easily pause in the midst of sublime beauty. If only I could time travel...

Found the video at the bottom of this post on Sherry's blog, Esprit d' Art, she'd found it on another blogger's site, who'd gotten from another blog... at any rate, it's well worth the watch. How often do we take time out to really think... about what might be going on with people we encounter on a casual basis, whether or not they cause us a delay? One of the benefits of living with chronic illness is moving at a slower pace than many people. Over time, it results in living in the moment, paying more attention to the small stuff and taking in more detail. On a bad day it's like standing on the ground while the rest of the world whirls by on a merry-go-round; no stops, no tickets. Invisible illness becomes invisibility. After three years I've learned to appreciate the many silver linings in this cloud, though the word invisible is key. 
No telling how many times I  pull into a handicapped space (permit hanging on rearview) in a crowded, mega parking lot while at least one driver rolls their eyes, no doubt wondering why a healthy looking person like me could be so rude. 
One of my best friends lost his wife, also my dear friend, a year and a half ago. Their dog who had been a constant bedside companion, was bereft, and my friend could no longer leave the pup alone without incurring major damage. So, he had to take Gracie with him wherever he went. One cool late autumn night, he had the opportunity to see a movie with a friend while Gracie curled in the passenger side floor, with more than adequate ventilation, food and water. For an hour and a half. When he got to his car a vicious note from a 'well-meaning' passerby was stuck to the window, berating him, in detail, for being a negligent pet owner. I still get angry when I think about that. Not long after, the grieving dog had to go live with a friend where she could have playmates and constant attention. 
I wonder how that, um, person, would have felt had he/she known the circumstances, let alone the fact that the dog wasn't compromised in any way. Why can it be so much easier to jab at others instead of dealing with our own pain, complain without thinking, judge instead of shifting perspective, understanding... So thanks, Sherry, hopefully the message won't stop here. 

Speaking of cancer, there is a lot in the media now about supporting breast cancer research.  I just bought a lovely collage from Sherry's Shop for the Cure site, which you can navigate to from her blog. Though I know what it's like to be sick a lot, thankfully I haven't yet encountered the big "C" personally. But, I've been impacted enough to want to be part of the growing movement to ensure that the search for a cure is as exhaustive and intensive as the disease. So, I urge you to do the same - donate, wear a pink pin or bracelet, sponsor a survivor in a 10K, watch for ways to participate during awareness month; be vigilant all year long, have a mammogram and urge your mother/sisters/friends/blog buddies/co-workers to do the same. 
And while you're at it, next time you're in a hurry, slow down for just a minute and enjoy the turning of the season away from the dog days of summer to the colorful, cool autumn nights.  

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trash or Treasure?!

When I was working on my piece for the Trash Outside the Box Art-E-Zine swap, I was so focused on finishing it and sending it on its way to Canada, that I forgot that I'd get one in return. And, did I ever. This beautiful box was created by Pat MacMicken, who also hosted the swap. I'm amazed by the intricacy, detail, the sheer prettiness of this piece and I'm excited about adding it to my collection. A prize for sure!
That is the appeal of swaps, to me, being able to look around my studio and see fairy jars, ATCs, shrines and boxes, all made by women I've mostly never met in person, but with whom I feel connected through art. And, I suppose, knowing that my work is in studios across North America, hopefully emanating all the same good will, good vibes and sense of being in tune with artists working at all levels, with or without chronic illness, but all with our fair share of burdens, each translating those into meaningful, stunning, radiant art.
I've had to drop out more than once and always push the deadline to the wire; I blog hop and am constantly amazed by the volume of work some artists are able to produce. I work slowly and  have energy restraints that leave me frustrated many a day. Right now I'm working on my first visual journal; incorporating pieces of writing from as long as 30-plus years ago. It hasn't been easy, since journaling has been a constant presence and it has been through the written word that I've grown, changed, learned, hurt, recovered and forged new paths. Maybe I'll work up the nerve to post it here when I'm done.
The lyrics I posted yesterday, about letting our gifts come through our hands, were written by my favorite singer-songwriter, with whom I can relate on so many levels. He spent much of his early career writing for other singers; it took well over a decade for him to hit the charts performing his own work. Reading through lyrics, it's obvious that his path hasn't always been easy. That he might even be considered a late bloomer, something I can definitely identify with - and has earned a sage wisdom that has encouraged me on many an occasion. I was listening to that song at a fairly 'teen-aged' volume the other day while working on my journal and those words inspired me to share the sentiment. 
Thanks to Pat, and to every reader of these words, anonymous or not, for sharing in my journey. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So whatever your hands find to do
you must do with all your heart
there are thoughts enough
To blow men's minds and tear great worlds apart

There's a healing touch to find you
On that broad highway somewhere
To lift you high
As music flying
Through the angel's hair

Don't ask what you are not doing
Because your voice cannot command
In time we will move mountains
And it will come through your hands

      ~ john hiatt

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Princess Weekend

Have you ever seen the movie Elizabethtown? It was very underrated and overlooked by the masses. I, however, own the movie and the soundtrack. Orlando Bloom plays a highly celebrated designer for an athletic shoe that flops and cost him his job and the Oregon company a billion dollars. The night he gets dumped by his boss and his new gal, he learns of his father's death and his need to travel to Kentucky and retrieve the body. Along the way he meets flight attendant Kirstin Dunst, at first an overly helpful, somewhat ditzy but outgoing gal who ends up being the only person to whom he can relate during his stay in Kentucky. At the Brown Hotel.

Have you ever been to the Brown Hotel? If you haven't, Google it and feast your eyes on one of the most gorgeous hotels that wasn't altered for Orlando's stay there, where many of the movie's best scenes are filmed.
And, where my daughter and I recently indulged in a Princess Weekend. We were treated like royalty from the moment the handsome young valet whisked my car away to exploring the basket brimming with goodies on the table in our incredible room - candles, stationery, a hat - a photo of the 1918 Kentucky Derby and a book about the legendary Seabiscuit. 

The bed was Goose down and Egyptian cotton and, though we didn't have a suite like the one in the movie, every detail, from the quality of the wood furniture to the thick bathrobes and  lace curtains, was infused with the kind of luxury that you don't find at the Best Western.

Even the gift shop had an air of glamour, hand crafted jewelry and art, bath and spa and other luxury treats. The hat Alice is wearing cost more than a car payment - but I'm sure if were invited to Millionaire's Row at the Derby we would have been  at ease rubbing elbows with Susan Lucci and Jaclyn Smith.

Our dinner, overseen by a courtly, maitre 'd who also played a bartender in the movie, was four-star, the kind of gourmet restaurant that every eleven year old should visit at least once. In fact, the delicious French chef was delighted to see such a young girl dressed up and dignified. So impressed, in fact, that when we returned to our room, there was a long white china plate decorated with sumptuous, elaborately constructed chocolates, two bottles of Evian and a lovely note handwritten by the chef, inviting us back.

Why a Princess Weekend? The traumas of starting middle school, especially since her friends all attend a different school, a tough ballet schedule, the onset of the hormonal years, drama-infused conflicts and trials... little, if any time together, and well, it just seemed like the thing to do. And it was worth every cent.

Les Chocolates

I can't believe I didn't include a photo of the lovely chocolates that Laurant, the French Chef, had delivered to our room, along with the note he wrote. Probably the most princessy event of the weekend!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Switch is on!

I don't know what it is about buttons... I have hundreds of them. And light switch plates... Maybe because people buy them? I am finishing up a dozen  for Street Scene and these three, part of a bird series, were so much fun to do! I love playing in alcohol inks and Lumieres, bringing sticks in from the yard, and grunging scraps of papers and beads; the challenge of a small 'canvas.' 
I visit blogs to soak in the depth and extraordinary feeling of creation, whether it be dark or whimsical, and I keep saying I'm going to pour my soul onto journal pages, alter with abandon, collage wildly, paint with huge fat brushes on giant, well, a space bigger than 3 x 5, but, always after I get the switch plates done. I don't make a lot of money (obviously) on these, but it is very gratifying to know that people enjoy them enough to put them in their homes and that I'm paying for a portion, even if it is tiny, of my art supplies. 
I just read a great quote by Dorothy Parker: "If you want to know what God thinks of money, look at the people He gave it to." Actors, sports superstars, pundits and pol's... It's seriously out of whack when you think about the way we reward teachers, police officers and fire fighters, clergy...  But, if we didn't live in a capitalist country I'd probably be wading in a rice paddy or hammering on an assembly line. 
So, I have the freedom to choose what I create, to wander around ebay looking for lots of vintage buttons or jewelry parts; and there's the satisfaction of knowing that most of the embellishments have already been used at least once before - bottle caps, scraps of fabric and rick rack, stray earrings. I like to think that compiling stories from bits of other tales is only one benefit of creating recycled art. Now if only these buttons could talk...   

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Life is a Verb, Art is a Shovel

I photographed my new copy of Life is a Verb on the stool where my butt should be. On Patti Digh's site, 37 days, there are photos of people with the book in various settings, all demonstrating how the book is having an impact on their lives. I agree that life is a verb, must be a verb; I have always said love is a verb - didn't I have a post with that title? And, in reading the introductory pages and deeper, into the aptly titled, "Inhabit Your Story," which is  Part One,  I think that this book may indeed possess the motivation factor. 
Not that motivation is missing, more like time, well, energy time  when I can create. But it's more than just time. Yesterday, when I sat and looked at what I was working on, and compared it to the projects I most want to tackle, there was a gulf, a wide yawning space between the hands functioning, pasting, cutting, painting, and the heart that wants to scream, make itself known.
I love my art groups and every swap in which I've partaken. I have an invaluable collection of art pieces from buddies around the country, and I wouldn't have them if not for the connections of the art group. But, I'm cheating myself if I stop there, and resist going into the murky water beneath the current. 
So, I'm going to take my own advice and pick my journal back up (I've been keeping a written journal for 30 years, but doing art on the pages is kinda new) and use it as a shovel. Dig, deep, unearth those longings that have remained voiceless, unheard, in favor of the swaps and challenges that have stretched my artistic range, but not touched the images that haunt my dreams, float along like clouds hugging a deep blue sky, balloons with long, long strings that reach down into that place where the raw emotion lives. Life is a verb, so I'm going to go and do. Later.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

awareness is a good thing...

I came across this logo while reading My Vintage Studio, one of my favorite blogs, and it was like - WOW!  I've never heard about this before and it's the week, too late to do a lot aside from posting the info and reading the daily blog and spreading the word as widely as I can through my own blog and emails.
Having an invisible ailment - and I know of several blog friends who live with chronic illness that isn't readily apparent - is unique and presents different situations from, say, being in a wheel chair, or, God forbid, having a terminal illness. I'm not sick enough to be bedridden or homebound, though I don't travel too far or for very long. But I do have a handicapped tag hanging from my rearview mirror, and I get some pretty odd looks when I'm in a huge parking lot and actually use it; I miss out on long, late dinners and pretty much everything that happens after 7 or 8 at night.
I have been isolated socially for a couple of years now, and my old circle has closed, there are no loose ends, which is how it should be. But does that feel good? no.  I mean, should I still be getting regular phone calls every time an annual event hits the calendar, when they already know that I'll have to decline? No, I think not. I have found a lot of new ways to enjoy myself and have fun, but sometimes I miss those old ways and the grief cycles like seasons, sneaks up on me now and again. 
But, for every one of the lemons I've bitten into, I have made some tasty lemonade. Every piece of art. Connecting with amazing, talented, warm and REAL people... good friends. Time to consider what really is important, letting the petty, the trivial, the energy-consuming non-essentials slip away. But, occasionally there's a glass that I forgot to put the sweetener in, and wow, a long draw through that straw and I'm really awake - and stinging. 
So, I'm glad I found out there's a week dedicated to awareness.  Take a look at the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week site if you have a moment.  Next year I can start in August, getting materials for my church, wearing T-shirts, perhaps finding a way to contribute. Until then, here's to every one of you who spend the day dealing with lupus, RA, diabetes, Chron's, damaged ulnar nerves, sciatica... any and all of the enormous and growing number of illnesses that alter our lives.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I've long been a fan of the Quotable product line. I have a journal that says: Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly.  I have a magnet with a Churchill quote: When you're going through hell, keep going. The folks there find some pretty darned compelling quotes, to be sure. 
I was in a fabulously cute boutique/gallery in Louisville this past weekend and walked by the card rack and this one stopped me in my tracks. Fear of failure is the number one wrench thrown into my works all my life. And I don't think I'm alone... to some degree most all of us fear failure, or worse, fear success.
So, I wonder how many of know the heart-answer to this question? And how many of us are actually living / doing whatever it is, regardless of the potential for failure? Of course there is no guarantee. Ever. But, if I'm totally honest, the ideas that float along on the fringes of my mind are going to change my life view - hopefully the way I spend my time each day.
On 37 days, Patti Digh, author of the blog and new book titled Life is a Verb, asks, What would we be doing today if we had 37 days left to live? Another eye opener; and, though this isn't an entirely new concept it is fresher in the world of mixed media and art. I've ordered the book - her favorite book list and mine criss-cross, so I'm sure I'll love her writing and I can't wait to see the work of the artists included on the pages. And, even though I'm 'middle' aged, past the early, planning years, I think I'll spend the weekend pondering, to see how honest I can be.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

trAshEd bOx sWaP - a step outside the box

Every time I do a swap, I find that I'm trying something new, which isn't that amazing since I have only belonged to art groups for a couple  years:) From inchies, Artist's Coping Kits, to ATCs, fairy jars and, last week on Art-e-Zine, trash outside the box.  Like many of the projects I've so enjoyed, there was a lot of freedom, the only requirement being the box.
So, I found a heart shaped yard sale cast off and went to work. I got out wAy too much - paper, tissue, scraps, trims, beads and found items, then I sat and stared. I tried planning, holding things against the surface to see how they blended, if the colors matched. That got me absolutely nowhere. I glued a layer of paper on all the outer surfaces, ending up with purples and greens.

After some serious stewing and procrastinating, I finally found that switch inside that turns off the monkey brain and lets the hands work as though unattached from the circuits that try to control, er, perfect the process. I began a gluing frenzy and only changed my approach once, until the entire box was finished.
Sometimes having too much to work with is an obstacle. Sometimes worrying that it's for a swap so it has to be better than something I'm just, well, making because I felt like experimenting; someone is going to end up with this?! I guess it's fairly obvious that I've only been in a handful of swaps:)

I cut up a doll's tutu and glued in on to cover up the inside rim and cut shapes out of thin tissue, glued scrunched up wads of pink tissue paper and purple handmade paper.... 

Found some purple rick rack, more papers and glued with such passion that I totally forgot that I needed to make it perfect, and then, before I knew it, I was looking it over and thinking, hey, this is OK. Some pale green bias tape glued strategically to cover overlaps and a giant jewely thing and some gems to tart it up, as Gillian Allen demonstrated it her mini-tutorial on Art-e-Zine, a site that you must know about, and if, for some reason you don't, you must - it's absolutely loaded, I could spend hours perusing the fabulous projects and galleries that have been posted in the past few years. I began donating (small sum) long before I joined the group, and it's worth a hundred times more. Take a peek. 

Finally, after I similarly finished the inside, it was ready to wrap up, seal and figure out the best way to ship off to the Canadian hostess who has been kind and patient with all my questions. Then again, that's what it's all about, the sharing and caring thing. I so get that! On to the next project...


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