Patti Edmon Altered Attic: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

April Showers Bring May Flowers

The thing with feathers that perches in your soul, and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all (Emily Dickinson). Grounds for believing something good will happen (my dictionary). The one virtue that keeps us believing that, if the sun isn't shining on life today, then the rain must be bringing a healing, restorative power that will brighten our tomorrow (me). 

Lani Gerity Glanville, group leader of the 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life, is also an art therapist. She finds ways to enrich, enlighten, further the understanding, empathy and wisdom in our lives as artists humans, which are inextricably interwoven. One of her latest endeavors is a course on Resilience and Art. one I plan to take for sure. While researching, she discovered a wonderful site, Wisdom Commons the source for many of the quotes I used in this post. It explores the character qualities valued by secular and religious traditions across the globe. Listed alphabetically, hope is found linked to faith. 

Hope -- Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us. . . A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead. President Barack Obama

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.
Henry David Thoreau

Those of us living with chronic illness or health issues work to acquire a silver-lining type of hope that brings meaning to the daily difficulties that might otherwise just be depressing. I made these healing tags last week, one for a good friend who recently lost her father; another for a group member who lost her son to kidney disease, who talks on her blog about the devastation of outliving one's child. 

I have to admit that I feel somewhat like a phony for espousing hope and flowers and fairies to people who have weathered such significant loss. Faith has carried me through fairly rough times and I have carved a boat that has held so far. My hope is, that when I face the kind of grief that knocks the wind out of me, that lingers, cycles for months, years, a lifetime, it will hold. 

I suppose when it comes right down to it, there is no life without suffering. Change. Struggle. Resilience and the ability to triumph over adversity. I have spent considerable time with others who have lost spouses, friends, relatives. And always wondered about the right thing to say in the wake of such profound loss. Perhaps more than words, though, it's about making the effort. Showing up. Faith. Love. Perseverance. Carry on, breathe in, breath out. Know that if hope offers no comfort today it will continue shining long enough to bring warmth when the clouds part.  

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Who Turned the Lights Off?!

Well, we did it; promptly at 8:30 we powered down for an hour of, well, darkness. My husband and son are already headed off on to the cabin, where my daughter and I will join them in between ballet rehearsals; she has a friend over so the two excited girls and I darted around hitting all the switches. 
I did wish that I'd located the flashlight before turning them all off; a quick call to Jim confirmed that he had, indeed packed up the reliable ones for the trip. So, we lit candles. Then, we thought, how magical, we'll go outside. The entire neighborhood was lit up; one house a few doors up still has Christmas lights dangling from the eves. Huh. Apparently they didn't know about the Hour of Darkness. I felt the sting, a tiny dart of disappointment, as I wondered - to myself - if we could really make any difference. 
But I'd seen it pop up so many times on Facebook, in posts and videos... Then it occurred to me that an entirely separate consciousness exists, that being tapped into this community of bloggers - the artists, writers and creatives - who stay connected via the internet is every bit as meaningful and real, regardless of whether or not it's physically next door. So, I finished the hour meditating, listening to the myriad noises that are barely audible without the distraction of darkness. 
At 9:35 we turned a few lights back on, blinked and thought, well, we did it. My friend Kym called and said we'd already made news. Turns out the Washington Post had already published the Sunday edition with an article citing the 4,000 participating cities in 88 countries across the globe. No dollar amount has been tagged to the savings of an hour without power; the hope is that the effort, up from 400 cities last year, will capture the attention of the Obama administration. That if America takes a stronger stand on Global Warming the world will follow.
In reports on CNN online and Google news, the AP has published photos of the world's most notable landmarks - all with dimmed lights - from the ancient Giza Pyramids, to Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Washington Monument, Golden Gate Bridge and Times Square. And then, of course, our house, tucked in a historic neighborhood in downtown Lexington. 
I'm grateful to be part of this community, and while passers-by might have wondered at the flickering of candles in our foyer, I think we were definitely on to something!  

Vote for Planet Earth - Tonight!

Thanks to Sharmond, The Adventures of an Art Addict, I saw this video and remembered that Earth Hour is tonight! By turning off our lights for an hour, we cast our vote for planet earth. The organizers are hoping for a billion votes - make yours count! 8:30!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Law of Attraction

The only thing more fun than raiding the fridge is decorating it. Making magnets is one of my favorite art projects and I just shipped this small batch off to Third Street Stuff, in downtown Lexington, to see if they attract any passers-by. 
I don't know about yours, but my ancient white Kenmore looks like a study in some subcultural group that, if found in hundreds of years, would likely cause super-genius scientists to scratch their big, green, globe-shaped heads. I mean, We specialize in beans, with a vintage Texan couple? Mother heads bobbing in a coffee cup with wings - what does that have to do with finest fit and quality?! A large-headed chick in curlers and a prom dress... 

I guess the point is that they don't make sense and that's why making them is so darned much fun. Finding old puzzles with pieces big enough to fit all the 'stuff' on isn't easy, so if anyone has a stash, I'll be glad to take them off your hands! I have enough found objects, buttons, jewelry and junk to make a zillion more, so hopefully they will sell, as did the ones I put in Street Scene last fall.
The price is a bit prohibitive; I had a bit of success in reducing the labor in this batch, but it still boils down to the fact that they are 2 x 4 inch mixed media collages. I sand and layer the puzzle pieces with acrylics, gels and other media, then the fun part - finding the phrases and images that will make them just goofy enough to be appealing (to me anyway:)

But, say the word magnet, art magnet, or altered art mixed media magnet even, and most people still don't equate that with shelling out for a mini-collage. So, for now, it's a darn-tootin' good thing I have so much fun making them; maybe one day I'll figure out the profit part:)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I asked Al (my daughter, Alice) if she'd like to help me organize the Altered Attic, where there's hardly a path to walk, an empty space to squeeze in one more container, so many piles - of paper, books and magazines, bottles and tins and jewelry repair pieces and watch parts, buttons, images clipped that I clipped but didn't use during the last project, or the dozen before that... 
One of the downsides, maybe the only one, of having a studio is that it doesn't serve double duty. So, it's really easy to let old beeswax sit in the pot on the table next to the heat gun and dremel, jars of various media stacked like beer cans, paints and prepped substrates, the beginnings of a zillion brilliant ideas. Or two. 
She had just the solution. It was a bit late and we had just finished making Cinderella's gown and veil, complete with tiara, mounted on cardboard for her Humanities class. Yawning, we looked around and I sighed and once again decided against tackling anything major. So she posted a sign, adequate warning for anyone who dares risk life and limb in the disaster zone.
Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Birds and Coffee

Space in the Altered Attic is at a premium, the bins are overflowing  and there's stuff every where I turn, piles, stacks, boxes full of trinkets and other found objects spilling out over the tops of shelves. Spring cleaning? Heck no, but I can hear the birds singing outside the windows, on the days that it's 65 instead of 35 degrees.
So, I continue to ignore the obvious, which is the enormous amount of time I'd probably save by getting organized, and use all my 'extra' time to play.

Last week I posted a small collage I'd done - a coffee cup filled with flowers, coffee beans, buttons... everything but coffee. And, what's with the birds? I don't know that the two necessarily 'go' together, but I wanted to find some elements I could use to experiment with color, texture and process. Using the same color themes to create different finished pieces, like a magnet made from a recycled puzzle piece and trimmed with beads and charms. I also love altering journals, and quite a while back grabbed a handful of tiny (3 x 4) journals with slots for little pens - how cute - in the dollar bin at Michael's. Just the right size. 

I got some new pattern stamps recently, one is a Klimt cube and I love the way, once I stamped one of the shapes with gesso, it kinda looked like a coffee cup. OK. To me, it did, so I helped it out with a little charcoal. I used it in other areas with ink and it makes me want to go at my kitchen cabinets... OK, that might be a bit busy and my family might not appreciate it, but my husband the fine artist might.

I'm on to a new series, this time lighter blues and greens and I'm trying to figure out what color to use to make things pop. Red? Yellow? Orange? I don't have a lot of experience with color and, while I am fearless when it comes to attacking a background, I get stumped easily when it comes to making choices. My blog pal, Jodi, has been soliciting color theme suggestions on her blog, Sweet Repeats, and I hate to borrow her idea, but if anyone has suggestions for complementary colors, I'll take them!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seeing Red

I don't normally associate red with late winter, pre-tulip season that is; but when I went for a walk around the neighborhood, I noticed a swatch here, stroke there. Then I began looking for the color red. That's how it often is; we find bits of what we didn't realize we were seeking, in places obvious and subtle. 

Walking with my eyes open, awake, aware, I captured the brilliance of a red birdhouse on an otherwise drab morning. The plane of a shutter sweeping out from a window, chimes thoughtfully placed in a spot where the light catches, splattering an array of larger circles across a wood floor. We notice if we're lucky, in tune with the wonders that are too easily buried, tossed in with the unusable, leftovers, the rinds pitched in with compost that loses all color. 

Days ago we emerged, blinking like groundhogs in t-shirts reveling in the glory of the long-anticipated warmth, only to wake the next morning to a carpet of fresh snow, again, clumping on buds that followed too, the order of nature. When is the time ever right? John Lennon said that life is what happens while we're making other plans, one of my favorite sentiments. 
I consider myself fairly alert, living an intentional life and yet, so often I find myself lamenting the day that vanished, the unspent minutes, the sun waning even when March comes offering up an extra hour. And what of the dreams and prayers that fade like the crocuses and daffodils, red tulips bowing their graceful heads at the close of another spring. 
So much of  life is spent in uncertainty. I find myself suspended between seasons, slow to change despite an eagerness to plunge forward, held back by illness, fatigue, the busyness of the day, the stuff that has to be reconciled, completed, filed away, no matter that it really isn't important. I long for the simple physical exhaustion of chasing toddlers and grieving the onset of the separation I've been preparing for, unknowingly in the beginning, only too obvious now.

So I take walks and look for the innocence and splendor that I can hold close, even if only for a moment. And I thank God for the color red, for the tight fisted bud that stirs in my heart, the deep longing to flower that survives the unexpected, last snow.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Vision Board Update! Any of y'all in Texas??

Joyce Schwarz, author of The Vision Board, the basis for the class I'm preparing to take was kind enough to leave a comment on my blog. In it, she mentioned that she is presenting the book at a reading tonight at SXSW. For those of you, like me, who live east of the Mississippi and have no clue what the heck it is, SXSW is South by Southwest, an annual art, music and media event held in Austin, Texas. She's working to raise funds for an ATX charity -, and asked if I'd tell all my friends. If I were anywhere close I'd be there in a New York minute. Wrong direction:) but you get the idea.
Also, you can take a peek inside her book at Amazon or the publisher's site, Harper CollinsI'm totally psyched and though I won't meet Joyce in person - tonight anyway, I look forward to starting on my vision - especially after reading Chaska Peacock's (who will be teaching) comment about the class on my earlier post!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A little birdy told me...

I spend a lot of studio time making light switch plates and magnets, ostensibly because they generate a (very) little cash - enough to help offset my supply bill, again, a very little. I recently decided to vary my substrates, add some excitement to my creative day. 
The visual journal workshop rekindled my love for creating backgrounds, and techniques I learned from Pam Carriker came in very handy (I'll never run out of baby wipes again!). Though I didn't have a clue what the image would be, I knew I wanted to use shades of blue. And, I've been stuck on coffee and birds lately. Maybe because I discovered that I can draw both and I'm thrilled, albeit behind the curve a decade or so:); everything I touch will probably have a bird, or coffee cups and beans on or in it - for a time anyway. 
A while back, in the letters section of several Somerset Magazines, readers made mention of the possible overuse of certain embellishments/ephemera in art pieces. Like crowns and wings, both of which I love and use whenever I feel the need. Not sure why anyone would bother taking issue with classics but no doubt birds and coffee cups have appeared in at least as many pieces. 
A blog pal and very talented artist, Jodi Ohl, recently lamented a comment made about her fabulous house series, which depict her life history, being trendy. Do we not all, or most of us anyway, live in a dwelling of some kind? A yurt, a mobile home, apartment, row house or mansion... how can a house be trendy? Who monitors and decides these things? I'm either super naive or really onto something. 
I guess what I'm beating around the butterfly bush about is that certain images lend themselves to mixed media and are important, if not universal thematic elements in our lives.  So I did this canvas, a puzzle piece magnet and a mini-journal using the same color palette and images - birds and coffee. 
I'll post the other pieces soon. Until then, here's my latest, and one of the few canvas/collages I've done lately! Thanks for looking (and for listening:)  

Monday, March 9, 2009

Altered Vision

wheeee. what better way to usher in a new week (read monday, first day of spring forward, like I had an extra hour to begin with), than to receive an email notifying me that I won the complimentary slot!
yes! starting march 15th, I'll be a happy participant in the Vision Board workshop, so I'll get the hands-on I need to unearth my deepest desires, artistic longings, painterly passion. 
I've never been one to look to the future, to dream, to plan even. that's not a good thing. it comes with fear of change which stems from... well, I won't go into all that here; suffice it to say, it's about time I started!
my daughter is the wind dancer on the far right - this photo doesn't relate, except for the part about wind, freedom to grow and become... gratitude.  

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It Takes Vision

Hopping around, I found Art Alchemy Studio, and an intriguing class about creating vision boards based on the book by Joyce Schwarz. I haven't read the book, but not long after I plunged headlong into the mixed media world, I made a small, quickie (8-1/2 x 11) dream board using magazine phrases and photos that represented what I most wanted in my art and personal (is there a difference???) life. 
I haven't looked to see if any of my deepest longings have risen closer to the surface, but I am interested in Chaska's class, which promises powerful change rather than my cut and paste exercise. Has anyone read the book or taken a class? Results? I'd really be interested in knowing...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

harbingers of spring

There are signs of spring.... crocuses frozen in clusters of tiny pearls, the slant of light not nearly as harsh in the late afternoon, the remnants of our ice storm finally cleared. I photographed this piece of ice a week or so ago, still in the yard plastered to the leaf that gives it its shape. Up at 1:30 this morning, for some unknown and unusual reason, I messed with it a bit in photoshop, thought I'd present it, an offering to the receding winter, one that has been a real dandy.
The ice on my front porch did make a nice backdrop for the bracelet that broke... slid off my wrist as I was flinging my keys in the direction of the front door. boo. One of my favorites, though I must admit, I do love this photograph. Having found most all the parts, one day I may repair it so that I can enjoy wearing it again.

I suppose that making a cool photo from a broken bracelet is one way of finding treasure where I stumble (no, I didn't fall:). Blessings can be difficult to spot amid the travels of daily life, though being the parent of two adolescents makes it highly necessary. 
I am lucky that I won't have to wait until they're fully grown to see evidence of my mistakes... the times I wanted to save them from heartache, disappointment, frustrations, unknowingly robbing them of the lessons that, once learned, can last a lifetime. They are a lot harder to teach once the eye-rolling and exaggerated gasps are firmly in place. For me anyway. My bad.
I might as well admit that I love that corny saying that yesterday is forever gone, tomorrow never comes and today is called the present because it's a gift opened one day at a time. That's usually all I can manage anyway! Can you tell this morning wasn't stellar? I am heading up to the Altered Attic to vent a little more, this time on canvas. I hope your day is filled with meaning, wonder and the harbingers of spring.


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