Patti Edmon Altered Attic: November 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I set out on a pre-Thanksgiving walkabout, part of a 3-week challenge I signed up at the last possible moment. The program was developed by Marguerite Bryant and I read about it on a post, I think on Creative Every Day. 
Her method blends daily morning pages (remember Julia Cameron's groundbreaking stream-of-consciousness cleansing) and art journaling, prayer, partnering with buddies, with a focus on a creative goal. Mine is to stop worrying about what I didn't do, ran out of time for, left unfinished on the table... Take a 30 minute walk? I could do a wash on the series of three canvases I'm starting; I could wrap my mind around the two swaps I've stalled on... I could start a blog post.... It's well documented that writers and artists walk, though, and my feet are in good enough shape to facilitate so I grabbed my camera and, as my bff Karen does daily, took a time out to renew my vision.
So, I ended up walking way longer than 30 minutes and finding some interesting angles and objects to photograph, though I've combed these streets hundreds of times before. Our neighborhood occupies the eastern edge of downtown Lexington. It's a historic blend of towering Victorian four-squares, smaller Arts & Crafts with really cool architectural detail; a park and Greek Revival Mansion in the center was once the estate for Colonel John Todd who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782. Acquired by the Bell family in 1842, the Greek Revival mansion is the scene of countless weddings, anniversary and holiday parties and, our chili cook-off and Harvest Feast that are the platform for our neighborhood association's annual meeting.

What was once the carriage house is now home of the Studio Players, a theatre troop that performs regularly in the auditorium on the lower floor. The visible upper floors house a reception area and offices. The grounds provide the dozens of neighborhood kids (and parents), including mine, with space to frisbee, run with the dogs, hunt easter eggs, play football, picnic, practice skateboard techniques and build forts in the cavernous bushes. The Bell House is visible from Main Street and more than once, I've pointed it out during tours as our house, but never let it get past the first laugh.

Our house is very modest and extremely square, the curves and angles that spoiled us in the bungalow we used to live in have been replaced by enough room to spread out, acquire major clutter and, of course, house the Altered Attic (windows across the top floor.) From my window seat I've watched birds playing in the water (oops) making rivers in the box gutters, and the change of seasons, trees flowering, greening, fiery and then graceful upstretched arms awaiting a new life cycle.


What I find so amazing, is that every time I do take a walk I see things that weren't in focus before; not that life is stagnant, or that neighbors don't change their outer surroundings, but it's refreshing to quickly breathe in that sense of discovery.  I think most folks around here are used to my peering about, sometimes a bit closer to the porch that I should be, with my face pressed against the camera. 

Today is Black Friday and a friend and I are going to set out on our ritual walk to the many locally-owned shops in our neighborhood to peruse the art, jewelry and fresh fun and functional array that you can only find in such small, attention-to-detail independent shops. More on that later. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Got Mine!

One of the (many:) issues of being compulsive is pre-ordering. Of course, what else is one to do when reading about the impending publication of such a delicioso book! I'm a fan of Susan Tuttle's and I have to tell you, I've been carrying this book around for an entire day now only peeking in now and then. I'd like to say that I stayed up until 2 a.m. devouring it, but anyone who knows me would spit out their coffee laughing at that thought. (auto-immune disorder - sleep = no-person's land). 
It's like trying to make a candy bar last a reaaalllllyyyyyyy long time. Only a nibble. One of the difficulties is, that she's a great writer, and I want to read it. Savor each page and make it last. What an inspiration.
If you click the book photo it will take you to Amazon, where you can look inside and see what I'm talking about. However! Please consider ordering your copy from Jane at Random Arts, or another independent artist working their tush off to make our mixed media world a better place.
With that said, happy reading, Happy Thanksgiving, take time to make a gratitude list if you aren't already art journaling, morning paging or practicing some other form of self-connect that opens up the nugget of joy that is nestled inside each and every one of us. I'm off to bake pumpkin pies....

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Amazing Jane Does it Again!

Jane Powell, proprietress of Random Arts, in Saluda, NC, one of my favorite havens on earth, issued a challenge in September (I think?) that was answered by 75 people! Our assignment: make a 5 x 7 journal page using the ingredients she sent each of us in an envelope. That's all, no further instruction. 
That sure didn't help me one bit. I stewed and procrastinated, all normal so far, and then I asked if she'd be posting any early... like an incentive. She saw right through that one and told me to have fun. Well. One day I was looking at the envelope and saw an image stamped on the back: We are Famous, Glamorous Artists.
Finally, some inspiration! I cut apart the envelope and went to work. I've not done much art journaling and I still think my page is kinda kooky, but I did have fun. 
In November, once she had a whopping stack of envelopes, Jane started posting 5 entries every day on her blog (Random Notes). From there they went to the 'tower' in her shop. Once she binds them, the book will be auctioned off at the Saluda Senior Citizens Center. Something tells me that the charity event won't be the last we see of this project.  
If this is the first you've heard about it, go look! You can spend hours poring over some of the most diverse and wildly creative art you'll ever see in one place. What an amazing, generous and phenomenal undertaking - way to go Jane. Mine is post number 71, I think, though, so I'm not sure what that means, exactly....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Take a Look!

My bff (remember Frog & Toad?) Karen, recently finished a Biographia project, compiling, distilling, translating an amazing woman's life journey into gorgeous, handmade books. Karen is a master at listening, something we could all use a lesson or two in, and her writing is, well, visit her blog and you'll see.  If there are people who have at least one of everything they need, I can assure you this is the kind of gift that opens itself for generations to come. 

Another childhood friend, Carol VanZandt, whose work is in collections around the world, creates stunning works that are unlike anything I've imagined. In Boston and then while living in Japan, she studied with masters of the art of Japanese Calligraphy; I find that meditating on her images, even tiny and on screen, charges the creative neurons.

My friend Karin, Beyond Words, posted yesterday one of the most amazing journal pages on pain and its relationship to spirit and body. Her recent surgery and lingering recovery are evident in the raw, stark beauty that she has captured.

As for me? Ornaments, ornaments, ornaments.... The Street Scene open house is Saturday, with a Meet the Featured Artists' event from 6 - 9. Notice I didn't say crafters:) Wish me luck!

Monday, November 17, 2008

new collage

amid the glitter and gold of holiday production, I managed to set aside some time to work on my development as a creative... an... art person. artist. ok, I said it. I still somehow manage not to consider myself an artist - in fact, this piece is the latest of a very small handful that aren't functional in any way.  I mean, the clock doesn't even work. ha. 
the collage I used for my banner is another non-utilitarian piece - I made it long before I had an inkling that I'd blog. I don't hesitate to  make art on journal covers and ornaments and switch plates, but  working on canvas is still somewhat foreign ground. so I started with a small one.  

Friday, November 14, 2008

My First Holiday Show

Last night Traditional Bank hosted their first annual "Connections... Holiday Bazaar." We have had a relationship with the bank as both a customer and vendor (they have been an EdmonDesign graphic design/marketing client) for more than a dozen years; when we started working together I established a very fabulous friendship with my contact there, who is now the president - and still one of my all time favorite people.
The event was designed to bring community women in, serve them fabulous food and wine and offer a selection of holiday gift and decor items, from jewelry and giftware to catering, skin care and a variety of specialty items. And, they were kind enough to invite me to display my Altered Attic holiday art. Jim also framed several of his illustrations to add a little variety to the scene.
Each booth was 'personed' by women, in my case our business manager Kristyn, me and Alice, my wonderful daughter, without whom I could not have managed - let me tell you, that one is an entrepreneur, artist, detail person and all-around delight - and she's eleven!! 

One of the downsides of making small product is that it takes a lot to create a presence. So, since I don't exactly have an inventory, I made 50 pieces - this past week. Yes, 50, fifty, FiFtY, 5-0, and I've been eating, sleeping and dreaming in glitter, paint and wire. I keep finding buttons in the oddest places and have enough gel on my hands to make a salon wrap. And the prednisone, well, that's my crutch of choice, along with caffeine, one I'll have to start trimming back on. Soon.
I made ornaments, light switch cover plates, pins and gift flair. Had business cards and order forms made (thanks to Jeff the photographer/groom and my DH), along with signs and holiday chocolates, which we ate most of:)
It was a good, albeit exhausting experience and I have enough inventory left for two shows next week, a Gallery Hop and open house at Street Scene, the coolest vintage shop in the region. Phew.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Leave it to Jane

So what makes art fine, anyway? Is it fine art photography, like the panoramic photo published by my friend (and recent groom) Jeff Rogers, that appears on the coffee table book, Kentucky Wide? (for which I wrote the forward:)

What makes art, for that matter... Is it my son marching with the Thriller ensemble, channeling his passion in rehearsed and spontaneous rhythm through his drumsticks?

Or the grace and amazing beauty of my daughter, who has been a ballerina for 7 of her 11 years...

I admit it may have been a bit petty to even post the cartoon below, and Jane's comment is beyond perfect. But after living for years as an 'invisible' artist, with a painter who has a BFA in Fine Art (and earns our living at our graphic design business), I was curious to see what kind, if any, response it elicited. 
According to my dictionary an artist is "a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby; a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker; a person skilled at a particular task. 
In Kentucky there is a diverse, amazing wealth of art, including some of the most popular (and pricey!) folk art that is, to me, finer than much I see labeled fine art. Like Lady Feeding Chickens, by Lonnie & Twyla Money. But, that's the issue isn't it... labeling. Living in Kentucky is a factor - cosmopolitan islands awash with waves of good-old folk and rednecks. Now that's prejudice, and that's another story.

So, whether it's one of Jim's (dh) paintings

Or one of the mixed media puzzle/hanging art/magnet pieces I so love to make...

Or a Jackson Pollock, it's pretty wide open to interpretation.

There's a guy, excuse me, a professor who teaches art and design at a private university, along with being a fine artist of some regional acclaim. He gets really bent when referred to as a teacher or instructor. At an opening several years ago I studied one of his new pieces, which was essentially collage, non-original material integrated into his painting. I really liked it. When he had a free moment I asked what was going through his mind as he worked, was there an inspiration, did it begin with an idea... He shrugged and said, "I don't guess I think about anything when I work, they (pieces) aren't about anything, really."

Cartoons like Speed Bump may well be intended to poke fun at those who take such matters to heart. That by separating the masses (crafters) from the few (artists) with hope that by lowering their entry standards they'll attract enough students - or talent - to have a real sign. Who knows and, now that I think about it, who cares?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Comments? Please?

I'm tucked away in the Altered Attic, on a blustery, chilly, gorgeous fall day, making ornaments... a little crafty project that I hope will help me pay for some art supplies. There was a time when this might have offended me, and I know fine artists who would jump at the chance to be even further validated.
I'm not sure where the line is between art and craft and if mixed media has blurred it - I'd like to know what you think.... 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Day at the Beach

Jetting off to Florida for a beach wedding.... how romantic, even if it wasn't ours. I've never done it, so of course it sounded exotic. So, we'll try not to think about how we got up at 5:00 for a dry run (missed our original 7:00 a.m. flight), were selected for additional security and the bracelet that was stuck halfway up my arm went undetected 27 times. Jim (dh) had to turn the propellor so the plane would start... But the pilots were waving and the flights were short.

Once we arrived in Fort Walton Beach, we rented a GPS, along with a brand new Jeep. It didn't understand that the WaterColor Beach area is all so new that none of the streets are in the system but our arrival was only delayed by 45 minutes. And what an arrival! The 4500 square foot house we stayed in (on the market for 2.5 million) was grander than we'd ever imagined.

The bedroom was fit for royalty, or newlyweds:) And after traveling for 15 hours it didn't take us long to crash on Saturday night, after availing ourselves of the walk-in bath that is larger than our second floor.

The next morning, after an infusion of coffee, we slid from the bed and dressed (casually, fortunately) and headed to the garden for music, readings, communion and what turned out to be a bit of a roast. The groom has been one of my best friends for almost 20 years. We were psyched, to say the least.

You may now kiss the bride, eat barbecue and cake and head to the beach for one of the grandest sunsets I've ever witnessed! A late dinner at a biker hangout in Grayton Beach, crashed again (fortunately all the crashing happened on the ground), up Sunday, coffee and hit the road... for the airport.  

The GPS system also tried to send us to the bombing range at the nearby Air Force Base, so the agent was calling our names when we hurtled the seats and hit the gate. It's a lovely place and I'd highly recommend a vacation there, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, all in the Panhandle. Next time I'm hoping to take the kids and wander through the galleries and shops, sample more of the seafood... next time.
In the mean time, congrats to Jeff & Missy, may all of your sunsets be so blissful.


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