Patti Edmon Altered Attic: April 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

bleeding hearts

I walked into the living room on Saturday and my DH had a news program on; I heard something about a professor in Georgia killing three people and I turned and walked out. I am old enough to remember when the news was a function of society rather than a self-contained industry. I try not to bury my head in the sand, but I can't take 'news' in very large doses.
Later that day my son was watching another of my favorite new trends, the Hundred Stupidest Stunts Ever, or something like that. A guy was riding a bicycle down a ski slope trying to reach 100 mph. I'm not sure if he set any records though he broke a number of bones, popped a lung and sustained other injuries. But he lived. Unlike Natasha Richardson, whose death I still mourn, (she fell and hit her head while taking a lesson on a beginner slope); I shudder to think of the untold resources - the medical costs and the camera crews, production teams, air time - consumed as he captured his flight of fancy.
Within 2 days of Natasha Richardson's accident, newsstands were papered with photos of the deceased actress and her grief-stricken loved ones, one of the rare, enduring relationships in a world that doesn't boast a high marriage success rate. I suppose people who live a public life have come to grips with the loss of privacy at some point. And in recent years shootings on campuses and in schools across the country bring lives, and deaths, of people into our living rooms.
Well, it turns out that I knew one of the three people killed by that whacked professor at a community theater in Athens. He was Ben Teague, and I only met him once; he was the brother of my close writing buddy, Tom. I met him at my first advanced fiction workshop in San Francisco several years ago. The couple that publish Narrative Magazine cram the contents of an MFA into a series of 2 - 3 weeks, and it is a strenuous, grueling process. And when you spend 24-7 with a group of folks that share that kind of passion, it's amazing how deep - and fast - the bonds are formed. A group of us has kept in touch in the years since and these friendships have blessed my life. When Tom emailed us about his brother, it was as though it had been minutes - rather than months - since we last spoke.

Me (standing) with Deb and Tom, at Fort Mason, San Francisco in 2004. Tom and I were the token southerners, in a room full of writers from California, the Northeast... One of the funnest things about workshop was keeping up with Tom's love life, fodder for countless conversations and more than a little sarcasm. These days most of us have single friends and Kent, Deb and I - all long-married - were happy to dispense wisdom and advice.
Needless to say, when he met and married Stephanie a couple of years later, we were thrilled. Jim and I made the trip up to Ann Arbor for a fabulous weekend, interesting, warm people, the wedding - a traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony in one of the most beautiful sanctuaries I've ever seen - painted ceiling and all.

Tom, Stephanie and my DH after the ceremony

Tom, me and Elmore Leonard - I had to put this one in, how often do you get to say, "yeah, me and Elmore Leonard... and talk about his newest novel.
Here Tom and his late brother, Ben, inspected the bag pipes played during the ceremony, customary at European weddings.  
Much of life, and death, is beyond our understanding and like it or not, bad, horrible things happen to good people every day. Tom was working in San Diego at the time of his brother's death. The very tool I despise for shoving the world in my face also allows us to share blogs and art, make new friendships and maintain existing ones bonds for years, regardless of physical distance. So, for that I am grateful. Knowing that, in his grief, Tom is comforted by an outpouring of support from his friends and relatives wherever they might be across the globe. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

While visiting Leah at Creative Every Day, I noticed she is running a special in her gallery. I also watched this video clip of Jonas Girard in which he describes his painting process. Told at art school to find a different career he ignored them, fortunately, and pursued a prolific career in his Asheville, NC studio. What is it about art and North Carolina?! 
What I like most about watching Girard work is his total abandon, lack of planning, letting the colors speak to him and decide what comes next. Leah incorporates this in her Art Picnic Class, to help artists find and become grounded in their intuition, unblock, get creative and play. She's holding a class today so it may be too late, depending upon where you live - but check it out.  
I'd planned to participate but have been sick for nearly 10 days with an upper respiratory virus that kicks a lot of butt. My son was sick this week and DH began feeling it last night. We're all holding our breath around my daughter, who is in the thick of her rehearsals for the upcoming production of Sleeping Beauty, a difficult classical ballet that is stretching her artistically and physically, a delight to watch.
I am signed on for Lani Gerity's Resilience Through Art class, scheduled to begin on May 4th. In the introduction to the class, she asks: Do you feel that you'd like to learn to use your own strengths and artistic passion to create a happy life? Do you feel as though you have answers within, if only you had the tools to find them? Would you like 3 months worth of exercises, prompts, and support that will help you feel stronger, happier, and more resilient? My answers? Yes, and yes! I can't wait. Her newest e-course is only one of the many Lani, art therapist extraordinaire, has designed to improve the quality and happiness in our artistic lives. 
One last note, pal Jodi Ohl, Sweet Repeatshas been working feverishly to prepare for her first major outdoor show, again in North Carolina. Best of luck Jodi!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Green is the theme for this week's Inspire Me Thursday, in honor of Earth Day on the 22nd. This collage, the third in a series of 6 x 8's, seems an appropriate response. Seek is the title and though not visible unless you click on the photo for a closeup, the dictionary definition for 'find' is pasted to the left of the hands holding the, um, bird's nest (earring). 
Speaking of finding, while foraging in a thrift shop on spring break I came across several cards of Wilton porcelain roses and leaves that were ivory, maybe even white a few decades ago. I grabbed 8 cards for $2 and looked for a way to use them as soon as I got back; I painted a few of the leaves with alcohol ink before gluing them on the tree. I suppose using discarded jewelry, buttons, rusty stuff and other treasures in mixed media is a form of recycling.  
Thanks to an upper respiratory ailment I've fallen behind on my swaps, forget about the laundry and other chores, but it's hard enough to be creative without wondering if it's the phone or my ears ringing. I have a couple more canvases started, workshops to check in on and several new colors from the Claudine Hellmuth Studio Paint line...  hopefully I can go play again soon.
As Earth Day approaches, I'll be looking for more ways to go green; I'd love to know how you celebrate our precious environment - and I can use the tips, so please share!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What a difference a year makes...

This photo was taken on April 18, 2008, for one of my first posts on my new blog. 

I had just returned from Random Arts, in Saluda, NC, a haven for mixed media artists. My family spent a week in a cabin and my visit turned into a considerable amount of time absorbing tips and techniques, the warm hospitality of Jane, Jen and Joyce and stocking up on a decent share of new supplies. When Jane asked if I had a blog and I said no, she told me I needed one. So, instead of unpacking and doing laundry and chores, I took Jane's advice. It was a beautiful spring and this photo was used for my early post called View From the Altered Attic. 

I didn't have a lot of expectations for this space, just knowing that my love for photography, writing and art would blend with life's realities, abundances, gifts and, well, other stuff too. Jane was kind enough to add a link on her blog and leave my first comment. Friends and family logged on in support as I learned the ropes. 
Within a few short months I'd met dozens of fellow artists, as they left comments on my fledgling posts and added links to their blogs. I never dreamed that blogging would have such a profound impact on my art and life.  

I still don't have a great deal of solid goals for this blog; a year and nearly 11,000 page views later, I still feel as though I'm finding my way along. I don't know all the 8,000 people who comprise the visitor totals on my site meter, but I do know this: I have made incredible friendships, gained invaluable support and maintained a strong sense of connection to a compassionate, funny, real and irreplaceable community on days when the day felt a little too empty. 

A lot has changed in the past year - the photo below was taken after this winter's storm took out half of the limbs.  I worried that it would have to come down, that after decades of beauty it had fallen victim to one too many ice attacks. I have to admit that, while not nearly as full and lush as in years past, I'm thrilled that my beautiful tree had the fortitude to present its spring offering despite the severed limbs. What a great metaphor for life, this blog, art, relationships... we don't always know how or why but we move forward, offering up what we can. So rather than missing half the limbs, I choose to view it as half blooming and continue to enjoy the view.

If you're reading this, thank you - for coming to visit, taking time to leave a note, sharing your thoughts and your art, your wisdom and stories, providing inspiration and laughs, in short, for making my a world a more inspired place

Paying It Forward - Wanna Play? No Strings!

While visiting Soulbrush, I saw this wonderful pay it forward post; I've seen it on Facebook too, but with the creativity involved, this seems the perfect place to join in.

Here's how it works....
The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.
2. What I create will be just for you, with love.
3. It’ll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it’s going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!
5. I reserve the right to do something strange.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to your blog post.
7. Send your mailing address - after I contact you.

Note: This offer is supposed to be null and void if you don't post this on your own blog and pay forward; however, in light of my one-year blogiversary I am removing this condition. Two more slots left...
This was copied from Soulbrush's blog - stop by her place and visit! 
Have a wonderful day....
Well, who wants to play?
Who dares...........

Saturday, April 11, 2009

when one door closes

I've had a fascination with doors since the 80s, when I photographed with a medium format and printed my own black and whites. I saw this last week, while we were at the lake, and it called out to me. After I snapped the photograph - not even with my good camera, I started looking around for other subjects. As any of you photo-hounds know, there is never any shortage of subject matter, no matter where you are!

After we got back, I was visiting one of my favorite blogs,  The Last Door Down the Hall, Elizabeth Golden is a truly gifted artist; she even gives away cool vintage images on a regular basis! Sure enough, there was a fabulous image of a door that I'd highly recommend viewing, along with the rest of her wonderful collection of photos and art. 

While at the lake we were lucky enough to spot deer that were nice enough to stand still; I had to take the photo in low light from quite a distance. These days, maybe deer aren't altogether fascinating - my good friend in Minnesota has totaled 2 cars thanks to their lack of traffic savvy (the deer that is:), but being a city dweller I marveled at their beauty, the dance of the cardinals, the daily visits from the woodpeckers chipmunks, and even the fish that my father-in-law desperately tried to befriend.
My son had been out roaming on the golf cart when he spotted the deer, so my daughter and Leo, the dog, had to come along - once I squeezed in that was one crowded golf cart. The deer were probably stunned at the sight.
No lake trip is complete with out a fishing expedition and since the water was 50 degrees we didn't battle the usual crowds. Lake Cumberland is one of the largest human-made lakes in the country; a few years ago they lowered the water to make badly needed repairs to the dam. My father-in-law said that if it doesn't hold, there's enough water to flood Nashville. Not a pretty thought, one that I kept reminding myself of as I cruised with my DH and kids along a lake with an adjustable water level.

Last but certainly not least, no outing is complete without a trip to the country thrift store. I found coasters, an old wood box, vintage lace, light switch plates, an old beaded basket, funky jewelry and a princess gown. It just happened to fit my darling daughter, Alice, who hasn't worn anything as stunning since those long-ago dress up days. It cost a bit more than we thought reasonable so I didn't buy it until she and my mother-in-law went to the car. After we got back and she saw the bag I'd scrunched up, she squealed, then transformed and we went to the woods for a photo shoot. 

She's growing up so fast, more changes this year than any other since birth. Fortunately I'm old enough to understand the value of cherishing every single moment with her and I'm grateful to have been included in most all the 'firsts.' I have to admit, though, that with the parenting techniques designed to teach independence also come tears, hidden of course. All too soon she'll be dressing like this for special occasions and I'll be waving, from the other side of the door.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy April

My good friend and art angel, Debbie Westerfield, had her paintings printed in a CD-sized, 2009 calendar - I just love April and must say, the umbrella is most apropos! She also needs a fur coat, though, since it's supposed to snow later today! 
I call her my art angel because I've known her for years; she used to have a gallery and sold several of my husband's paintings. She is an accomplished artist in many media and has sold at market in New York and exhibited in Chicago and just about everything in between. Shortly before I started dabbling in mixed media I stopped by her studio and she had a piece fresh from the frame shop. It spoke to me in a language I didn't then understand, and still have a bit of trouble with - it spoke of the longing, the need, the passion to reach, to create, to feel the exhilaration that flows through the veins when a new technique is mastered, a piece completed.
I asked her the price and it was more than I could afford at the time; a short time later she and a couple of other gals picked me up for lunch and she handed it to me, a gift. Since that time I have shown my work in her studio during Gallery Hop and she has supported me in so many ways, sharing knowledge and treating me like a peer, though her work is in collections across the country. She's kind and gracious and funny and we have such a good time together. If I had known back then that I would be this involved in art, well, that's the wonder of life isn't it... we never can see far enough ahead to envision where the road will ends up, but the journey certainly is fascinating.


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