Patti Edmon Altered Attic: 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

This photo album was my last creative output before Christmas. It was a commission, for which I am most grateful, and the last in a series of have-to projects that, along with the rest of the seasonal duties and festivities, left me a bit, well, uncreative.
I'm sure it's still in there somewhere, beneath layers of exhaustion, though a break is certainly much needed and will hopefully be restorative. I haven't cleaned up the mess. Yet. The entire house is oddly rearranged with clutter and goodies amid the decorations; there are two teenagers upstairs that don't know it yet, but today we are going to restore order.

Then comes the cleaning and organizing in my studio. A fresh start... yes. I believe that is what we are granted every day, but especially when looking toward a new year. I haven't made a list of resolutions but when I do, they will be very different from those of years past.
Whatever this day finds you creating, clearing, renewing, I hope it is calm, mindful and blessed. Happy Monday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Ice before Christmas

I just deleted 30 emails... aside from the swap group I belong to, a few blogs I follow and one from Alice's dance studio, they were all offers I could not refuse. Free shipping... only four more days.... last chance... save 50%... final clearance.

Last Sunday's snow storm was followed by an ice storm and my kids spent a day and a half at what was to be their finals - and fun - last week before winter break. I had my projects lined up and my plan in place for each day... wait, like John Lennon said, life is what happens when we're making other plans?

To infuse a bit of holiday spirit, Alice and I baked cookies yesterday afternoon while dancing around the kitchen to Harry Connick, Jr.'s Christmas CD.

Squishing the too-sticky dough through her fingers between pirouettes and kicks she felt like a little kid again. We had fun.

But her dance class was canceled and by early evening she was not happy. She wants to DO something.

I empathize. What is this called... cabin fever?? My arthritis has been complaining a bit more, and though it has shortened my days, the house is decorated and the most important shopping has been done. Thank heaven for the internet!

This year was supposed to be different. I envisioned making dozens of small gifts for those I cherish, in my studio with music, well, a bit too loud, steeped in the warm depth of all the reasons why I cherish those people. Along with doing a Christmas card, they'll most likely have to wait.

Each day has been laced with a unique blend of tension, anticipation and drama sprinkled with newly made memories. I am thankful that last year I made a few small reminders of my philosophy, well, most of the time.

The limbs on my beautiful trees arch low to the ground; hopefully, they'll remain intact to blossom again in spring.

They are captivating and an interesting parallel for life on the inside. Beauty, beads of life encased in ice, a bit off kilter but surviving.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Tis the Season

No matter how many times I tell myself it won't happen, it does. By early December I've savored three Thanksgiving dinners, celebrated my son's birthday, decorated my parents' house for Christmas and, Sunday night, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a party at a fabulous restaurant - photographer and all. I have lost most all of my (prednisone) weight and I'm in good spirits but the auto-immune situation plants the brick wall in my path. And here I sit, more blessed than so many, yet... the shopping, decorating, unfinished art projects that I can't post and who wants to hear a lot of whining anyway?
This advent, Dr. Woody Berry, our Senior Pastor, is centering his messages around being still... listening, no, listening deeper. So, after spending an entire day without checking one item off my list, I silence the noise, the chatter and stories I tell myself whether or not I mean to*... and what is it that I hear?
The peace of knowing that I am loved, touched by life details of friends close by and in cyberspace. Like my beloved friend who finally came home so that his family and friends can care for him during this scary time of illness with vague diagnosis. Another who has found a hopeful alternative to poisonous post-cancer preventive treatment. And today, a post by a friend who survived a surely-fatal aneurysm. And I think about Patti Digh's words... "we are living in choice every single moment."
We may not be able choose our circumstances, cure an illness, live in the Martha Stewart Pottery Barn Christmas commercial, but we can decide our response. So, a bit like the wee pansy poking up through the snow, I can choose to show my color. There is much to be done but I can shine in a state of joyful gratitude for all that is, the wonders I have been graced with - deservedly or not - and the hope that underlines living in faith.

*Patti Digh is amazing. If you don't have her book, Creative is a Verb, I'd suggest it for any/everyone on your gift list, including yourself.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Winds of Change

Most everyone reading this is familiar with Seth Apter and the myriad projects he manages, along with creating his own art... does he ever sleep?? He spends so much time and energy on connecting the mixed media community, through his visits to studios, book reviews, and giving us a window into the 'hearts and minds' of so many talented artists.

I wonder though, if you have taken a moment to check out his book, created with Roxanne Evans Stout. I haven't yet 'met' Roxanne, but the collaboration between these two is amazing... seamless. The depth of each piece of art makes me want to reach in and, not touch of course:), but study it again and again.

A phrase written by the artist accompanies the art in The Winds of Change. They share their reflections, sentiments about Autumn, change, evolution, staying on the path... such an inspirational vision of a time, a life stage, a season, that is often fleeting but lingers in the soul.

Earlier in my life, fall was a visually stunning, yet emotionally troubling time for me; not so much for the introduction to an icy cold winter, but a vague sense of loss. It is the time of year when I left my native Upstate New York, relocated to Kentucky. I was a senior in high school and the friends and (boyfriend!) and memories I left behind would fall like tumbling bricks in my heart each year. That is, until I recognized the grief and let it flow into my words, art, photographs.

All of us have such stories, perhaps not equated with a season, but as Roxanne so deftly puts it, "Brittle leaves drift no longer."
If you haven't yet taken a peek, or stocked up on copies for yourself (and others!), I'd highly recommend it - perhaps it will speak to you as well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Skirts for Salvation

Back in August, we got a call asking if Jim and I would create Christmas tree skirts to benefit our local Salvation Army. How could I say no? The days were long and hot and the studio was the coolest place to be.
My immediate thought was to create snow people with funky hats... This endeavor was a big shift from the wedding project and I didn't even start until 2 days before the skirts were to be delivered. Fortunately, my darling husband, Jim, had finished his prancing reindeer skirt in plenty of time to help with the background and mounds of snow.
Making the hats was my favorite part. Even in a time crunch I never knew there were so many fashion variations! I didn't even use half my ideas, which made cleaning up a royal mess.

If you're so inclined, visit Bluegrass Home Interiors, view all 32 skirts and cast a vote. Or two. It's for a great cause!

Real snow people wear hats!

And Jim's fabulous contribution - reindeer prancing for charity.

A few of my favorite hats...

Monday, November 8, 2010

I now pronounce thee finished!

Once in a while, fortune does smile; while I didn't sell any canvases at the gallery show, a woman who loved my journals was also busy with the details of her daughter's impending wedding. She commissioned me to create three projects - the guest book, a box for envelopes and a photo album.

Aside from two belts and a bag of jewelry and knowing the colors - ivory and aubergine, she gave me no direction whatsoever. Just do what you do... if you love it, I'll love it. I must admit that, four weeks before the wedding, I was a bit daunted, however, I've never turned away from a challenge.

I purchased a 9 x 12 sketch book, blank photo album and pulled a cigar box from my stash. I'd like to say that it was a breeze, but any artist who has ever had a commission with a deadline knows better.

I started on the guest book. The background was not a problem, of course, that's always my favorite part - gluing, sponging, dabbing, adding more layers.... The belt buckle decided to be the centerpiece, since no photos were to be used. I extracted it from the leather and ground the stems down, made a sheet of paper for petals and designed the rest of the cover.

I couldn't find a guest book, or journal even, with lined pages - so we (my hero-hubby Jim) printed them out and I learned just how difficult it is to glue paper to paper, evenly and without smudges. I used a jar of Yes!, recommended by a friend, and for that I was thankful - no rippling or bubbles.

I had a piece left over from the bride's dress alteration and it seemed the perfect focal point for the box cover. After I had decided on the concept, it occurred to me that the box would be open during its use, so on to more design.

I chose a cigar box because I usually use reclaimed pieces; making functional art, however, is entirely different from working on canvas. I found that adding paint didn't leave enough clearance for the lid to
open and close - at all - much less smoothly. I shaved away enough of the inside of the lid for it to work, thankfully without losing the hinges.

The photo album was the easiest piece, so I'm very happy that I saved it for last, though there always seemed to be just one more detail... I was immersed for three weeks, putting all else aside, like blog posting and visiting, staying in touch with friends, cooking and laundry.
The client was extremely pleased when I delivered what felt like a chunk of my life; the wedding was this past Saturday and I never did meet the bride, but now that they've debuted publicly I wanted to share.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It is inevitable... autumn paints fiery colors across the trees, winds shift and chill, light disappears early in the evening. Yet each year it feels like the first, as does every other change of season. I suppose for those of us who do not transition easily, this isn't a negative, as it allows a fresh eye, open to seeing new detail in well-familiar sights.
Other transitions are not quite so simple. From fairy princess to teenager, cute little skeleton to rock band drummer... OK, they did dress for Halloween, but aside from the costume, the shifts are seismic and not always pleasant. Does anyone tell a soon-to-be, or new mother that her angel baby will morph into a stranger along about age 13 or so? That so many conversations escalate into arguments... that my 'style' will soon be ridiculous? I suppose the magazine articles were all there, I just didn't read them.
Not much for Woman's Day or Good Housekeeping, I went along my merry, blissfully ignorant way in total denial. Yes, separation is a good thing, the transfer of responsibility, boundaries, all the buzzwords are quite apropos; however, so are stab wounds to the heart, an unexplainable sadness, unshed tears. My husband is counting the days, well years, until our nest is vacant. I, on the other hand, am in no particular hurry.
I am adjusting to the changes and learning to respect space while maintaining order, dishing out what seem like the final lessons and advice that will come from me rather than peers. Though every day is a challenge, most all remind me of why I became a mother. I love every ounce of both of my teens and it's unconditional... as I tell them, no matter what! They are talented, creative, intelligent and a lot of fun. And most of the time I'm still cool:)

I hope this isn't taken as a 'downer' but a bittersweet observation on a life season...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Adhesive Question

Lyle Lovett was the ideal voice to wind down the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games. "If I had a pony, I'd ride him on my boat..." He and his Large Band performed for visitors from every corner of the world who came together to cheer, volunteer, or compete for the coveted world titles.

Horses have been the focal point of Lexington in more than one way; 82 fiberglass horses are situated across the city adding a colorful and artistic element to the games and photo ops for countless tourists (and locals!). The horses, which began appearing across the city and at the Horse Park in July, are as diverse as the countries represented in the games.

Two of the designs - both in the 'top ten' - were created by my good friend Debbie Westerfield. Nonesuch, named for the tiny rural town where Debbie lives - and also the famed English castle built by Henry VIII - is the first of the two shown below.
The second, Midway, is a reference to the small art town midway between Lexington and the state Capitol, Frankfort, where Debbie owned and operated a gallery for several years.

Most unfortunately, Nonesuch, adorned with hundreds of pearl beads (many from my stash) and crystals was vandalized early in September. Random, of course, heartbreaking, most definitely. Nonesuch spent a few weeks in an auto body shop for repairs to the nearly destroyed legs and lower torso, which were then primed a nice shade of gray.

Debbie has spent hours repainting and today, I spent the afternoon gluing crystals one a front leg, for the second time, obviously. Debbie's adhesive of choice is two-part epoxy; definitely a contender for sturdiest adhesion, particularly because the piece is exposed to the elements. After mixing the fifth tiny batch and trying to apply the glue as quickly as possible, followed by crystals, before it set up like concrete, I decided I didn't care much for two part.

I asked why she didn't use E6000, my weapon of choice, and she wasn't sure... the two-part had been recommended and though they fall into the same category of adhesives, we weren't sure if E6000 - far easier to use - would get the job done. So, I ask the experts. If you have any suggestions, experience or recommend either or both, please let me know. Though not as tacky as they were a few hour, I don't think I will have fingerprints for a few days:)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Doors and Dinosaurs

I actually had the energy to take a photo walk the other day. The weather has changed fairly fast - as it usually does here - but it was a beautiful morning. Not the 100 degree days we'd had so many of, so I set out on my mission.

My photo walks are a challenge - depending upon how far I can walk, in this case around the block - to see. Really see, notice small changes, details that might otherwise be missed. What a metaphor for living a creative life. I'm not sure my vision has improved but I finally had a 'happy' studio day.

Something about making pieces for a gallery or hopefully to sell is very unnerving. I realize that I'm still fairly green, when it comes to making art anyway:) and I have to say that this is the first time I've experienced 'Monkey Mind' in the studio - questioning every move, not sure if I like or not, which color, etc.

In my writing history, I had a similar experience while attending a series of advanced fiction workshops with instructors who, well, let's just say their names are on many a literary book jacket. I had so much potential... isn't that so often the case? In two years I crammed so much into my brain that I couldn't write a sentence.

Then, in 2004, at workshop, I got sick. No energy, blurred vision, grief. I had to put all of my work aside; I don't think I realized how deeply embedded my writing desire was until I had to put it all away.

So, lest I digress too far from topic, I was having a crappy time in the studio. That is my haven, my sanity, my good mood:) So, the photo walk was important, and turned out to be quite an inspiration.

I've noticed that doors and windows continue to fascinate me... curiosity? Entry to the soul? Not mine, apparently, but the wavy glass (historic:), choice of curtain, or flowers or statue, are endlessly intriguing.

I haven't photoshopped these, just tweaked the exposure, knowing they'll be in my file should I require a new door or dinosaur.

Oh, the photo of the ladders against the porch... sigh.... still under construction.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Everyone whose blogs I visit show so much activity. art-making that is; and now, National Invisible Illness Week has passed, and believe it or not, I have been making art! Having such limited time to spend in the studio certainly takes away from blogging, commenting and visiting all the wonderful artists who stop by, laundry, cooking, all that good stuff.

Most everything, aside from the frame and wings, which came from ArtChix Studios, is found. However, in keeping with the no copy policy, I snipped out a lovely photo for the frame and now cannot recall from which sheet it came. The inside of this box was a piece of cake compared the one on which I am now working.

Working on the cardboard cigarillo boxes proved very helpful, as a learning curve; however, the real wood has proven an entirely different, well, cigar. Hinges that can't be removed and reinstalled, rough, nearly shredded wood along the inside edges and corners that are too rough for sandpaper alone, not sturdy enough for heavy duty, so that's when trim comes in very handy. Like vintage lace and ribbon from Random Arts. I learned a lot while finishing off the inside of the box and I'm currently using that to hopefully have another done this week, before the opening of Gridworks at New Editions Gallery.

Gridworks Opening Reception!
Please join us in welcoming 17 local and national artists.
This Thursday September 30th, 5pm - 8pm

The gallery show was planned to coincide with the World Equestrian Games. The Alltech FEI Games officially opened Saturday night (I watched the ceremony on television, too much walking, but being there would have been amazing; I'm not certain just how many visitors we have but just considering the number of athletes, from countries that make me, well, Kentuckians proud to host, from Great Britain, Israel, Dubai (where the Federation's President, Princess Haya, beautiful, savvy and controversial - imagine that), China, Denmark and Guatemala. A choir of angelic children were flown in from Haiti to perform. That worries me a bit, but that's another story and, as usual, I digress.

This piece is an 'experiment' and that means deviating from my style, if I have one, and rethinking my approach to a mixed media collage. Again, mostly found objects, pieces from old books, a few small embellishments, a suspender clip from Nathalie Thompson's fabulous Etsy shop and an elongated X from the amazing Seth Apter, I used a face I cannot place. I guess I'll have to start writing down as soon as I cut. I cannot decide if the piece is finished or needs more... how does one decide? Helpful suggestions from art buds of course. I never tire of making journals, for fun, for sale, for friends who have unfortunate incidents or circumstances. In my next post I'm going to say thank you to a lot of people who commented on my blog during National Invisible Illness Week and others who have made my life more blessing than illness.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Here we are, September 19th, the last day of National Invisible Illness Week.
I end the week filled with joy at the comments to my posts, the messages from friends and the dialog that I hope will continue until next September. I have learned so much from reading the blog posts of others.

Lani Gerity Glanville, mentor, friend, moderator of online art group I am proud to belong to, read my post and wrote an amazingly powerful piece. An Art Therapist, Lanie has a wealth of experience and uses her incredible creative talents to live, learn, share and teach. She has continued the conversation by delving a little deeper into resilience, one of her favorite topics. Well worth reading. Also, a post by a young, too young, gal who has Lyme's Disease (and a host of others) but who uses her illness to spread good. Victoria is her name and I was heartened by her words.

The bottom line is, for every person dealing with an Invisible Chronic Illness, there are countless others involved in their lives as caretakers, friends, partners, family... and I am more blessed than many. If you know someone who is suffering, take a moment and reach out. Oh, and the photos below? Aside from my email and blog pals these two are my daily entertainment!

Lance and Tony, both of whom I know personally aside from their excellent porch replacing skills, are two of the funniest people I know. Stepping outside with my morning protein drink, and sitting on the steps is often the highlight of my day!
Ciao and blessings to all!


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