Patti Edmon Altered Attic: 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Once again, a giant THANKS to Seth Apter for including my response(s) in the Christmas Day edition of The Pulse. Check out the amazing series featured on his blog, The Altered Page - engaging and inspirational!

Happy Holidays to all and best wishes for the coming year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the Season

After late nights and long weekends, my husband, Jim, finished his paintings in time for the gallery opening. As with any date in December, the weekend was packed with arts events and it wasn't as populated as previous New Editions Holiday shows. But what do you know, one of the attendees was the art buyer for the University of Kentucky Hospital. The major renovation includes a mindset that embraces the 'art heals' philosophy; according to Herald-Leader reporter Tom Eblen, UK Hospital is a notable art museum. They continue acquiring works to showcase Kentucky's amazingly talented, diverse artists, the most recent being nine of Jim's 18x18 mixed media pieces! What an honor!

Take a moment to enjoy his work while I digress...

I am not the only one who feels unprepared, behind schedule, frazzled and, well, tired. I know I'm not. But even after years of experience, I'm off the grid, out of the loop, in an oddly egg-shaped orbit that has taken me far from recognizable turf. I've seen very little of friends and festivities and lots of, well, preparation.

I do have two teenagers with busy schedules and a chronic illness that eats my time, and then there was the day after Thanksgiving incident involving abscesses, oral surgery... a painful ten days spent watching movies instead of being productive, blah, blah, blah. My new dentist, as she was finishing up my root canal last week, said she had a few patients who were completely prepared for the holidays and just enjoying the season. We had a simultaneous urge to barf. I mean, really??

The rest of us, a whopping majority I feel certain, all have unique and myriad reasons why we're never caught up with that sit-back-and relax kind of satisfaction. Think about it... if nearly everyone of us - are you with me? - is caught up in the fray, what does that say about our expectations? Are our days really supposed to be Chinese fire drill rehearsals? In spite of the countless reminders, self-help articles, sermons and vows about focusing on the true meaning aside, I wonder if I'll ever be willing to shift my perspective.

It's a matter of programming driven by the expectation trap. Life, as John Lennon said so aptly, is what happens when you're making other plans. Like my planned commitment to make 12 December calendars for the swap group I've been involved with for a few years now. Nope. The gifts I'd envisioned creating. Nope again. Between our own issues and the unplanned, it's all too easy to give up. Instead, perhaps there's something to be said for giving in.

Just when I think I've had the most comprehensive lesson in surrender, I'm tested anew. But the positive side is an acquired taste for acceptance, an appreciation of the days after the pain, the breather moments between pressure points. Along with a full realization of the incredible blessings that overshadow any trifling complaints.

The only work I've done in the studio since September has been to help Jim by prepping (previously posted) backgrounds, but what a reward. I may not be sending out Christmas cards but who says New Year's Greetings won't be appreciated? Yes, it took three days to get lights on the tree and I have yet to bake a cookie.

I haven't visited ANY of my favorite blogs either, hence the off-the-grid sensation. Less than a week before Christmas, twelve days until we greet a new year, and I decided to watch football with the boys and now, drink coffee and write a blog post and allow myself mindful meditation to focus on the good that really does outdo the petty negatives.

So, just when I've mastered the art of the excuse, I find I don't need it after all.

Happy day, blessed holidays, greetings and love to all!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Have Heart

A while back I won a shrine kit from the magnificent Kristin Hubick at Retro Art Cafe. If you aren't familiar with the Coffee Break packages, the Flaming Heart Milagro Shrine kit includes (3) 1/8" Masonite pieces, along with a small crown and cross, which I decided not to use in my design. After painting, stamping, drilling holes and other fun stuff, I glued the pieces together, further embellished, of course, and wire danglies. The finished piece measures roughly 5" x 4" with a 1" square opening - perfect for my message, have heart.

I sent the photo to Kristin and she entered it in the "I Love Retro Art Cafe" contest she has posted on Facebook. The deadline isn't until December 3rd, so there's still plenty of time to see just how much fun you can have with these nifty snap-apart kits. I just received the Baroque Door Shrine Kit (ATC sized) that I ordered, hoping to finish it before the end of the month.

Fall crocuses were just ahead of daylight savings time and enough wind to scatter the gorgeous color we've been graced with for several weeks. I already miss the beautiful trees and will ponder raking while I swish through the gold and russet colored carpet on the front lawn.

In the meantime, as the brisk chill brings spare time inside, I'm sure I'm not the only one planning for holidays and anticipating more studio time. And, the essential start to every day, a steaming mug of my favorite blend of fresh-roasted coffee - Big Blue - with a dash of cream. Yum. My darling husband, Jim, has been designing packaging (along with lots of other cool materials) for Coffee Times Coffee House, a Lexington-based, independent coffee roaster with uber-fresh product and, um, mail order service!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Backgrounds and then some...

I was fortunate to be featured on Seth Apter's latest edition of The Pulse. If you haven't been there yet, check out the amazing variety of artists on The Altered Page, now talking about their favorite tools and/or techniques. I could spend entire days wandering around the blogs he has graciously shared over the months - such fabulous art!

My favorite part of the creative process is diving into, or on I should say, a white surface and it just so happens I've been working on backgrounds for the past several weeks.

I grab as much 'stuff' as I can scavenge in my studio (not difficult!!), like coffee cup wrappers, gift wrap, tape, sewing patterns, corrugated paper, wholey paper (of course - a must on every piece - available at my pal Saluda Jane's Random Arts!) glass bits, punchinella, whatever.

Then, along with molding gel and several other textured media, begin the layering process. And layering and layering...

then grabbing sponges, bottle caps and a spray bottle and commencing with five, sometimes ten paints over the substrate, and that's if the basic color theme doesn't 'evolve' as it usually does.

Sometimes even when I'm happy with the direction I can't restrain myself and spread (more) gesso on stamps or flick it with a toothbrush... I always end up covered and can trace the history of every piece by looking at my hands, arms and painting clothes! Yay! Thanks again, Seth, you are truly amazing.

Happy Halloween All!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Flea Market Arrived

A couple of weeks ago, Trina at the The Paper Flea Market, had a water-damage related sale - the deal was $10 for a Priority Mail box. I love surprises and have done business with her before so I didn't hesitate. The biggest surprise was when I realized just how many treasures were jam packed in the box...

I can't imagine the value of the amazing stuff she sent me, but I suspect it would fetch quite a bit more than $10!! Game pieces, fabrics, tons of papers, post cards, playing cards, photographs, an entire book...

I love the vintage school work - who doesn't remember practicing the alphabet on ruled sheets (that were white at the time:), or the visual method for learning vocabulary - always my favorite.

These days every credit card comes with a reward or point system which has done away with the exquisite paper trail of old. The stamp books are a fave - I remember a really, really long time ago when my mom collected Green Stamps. She redeemed them for counter-top appliances, a barbeque grill and a canister set that my Dad said was nice but would never last. I just check to be sure, but they are still in use!

Game pieces, Monopoly money, playing cards and a birthday card that must have its roots in the Southeast, perhaps close to home?

The fabric was an unexpected treat - along with the wallpaper strips are two large pieces of old fabric and a couple of samples that are transparent, and quite lovely!

There hasn't been time or energy for working in the studio lately, so I've decided that I'm going to use this enormous stash for prompts. Journal pages, a collage, who knows? Trina was cleaned out of treasure boxes but the sale was so popular that she plans more in the future. Well worth checking out!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stacks and Gifts

Seth Apter's latest collaboration on The Altered Page, is the admission of our proclivity to stack. Hop on over to his blog to check out the myriad ways creativity can be piled! I immediately thought of the paper I use to protect the drawing table. Once a project is done I add the paper to the pile accumulating on a side shelf and tear off a new piece.

Yes, it's brown kraft paper, but, the sheets are also a journal in a sense. I can leaf through them and see what I was working on, sketches and doodles, stamped images, holes sliced out, lists, color experiments and a host of other information - phone numbers, names, dates - because having two teenagers necessitates the answering of the phone while working in the studio.

It also serves as alternative, readily-available gift wrap - what's better than recycling?! After I finished the box (below) I wrapped it with the paper I'd used and tied it with recycled sari ribbon. It may look a bit odd, but people who know me expect something a bit out of the ordinary. And, usually spotted with paint.

I gave this box to friends who had a baby several weeks ago. The one I'd made before was a deep earthy color and my daughter, though she loved it, pointed out that it didn't exactly look very 'baby gifty.' I agreed and made another that complemented the color scheme they used in the nursery.

I love lace and bits of trim and the myriad ways they can be layered to create subtle depth. And, fibers have to come into play somewhere, so, though you can't see them without enlarging the photo, there are charms tied and dangling at the back of the box.

I hope you are having a meaningful week with enough bursts of joy to fuel your creative process!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mildly Creative - and Then Some!

by Ken, August, 2011

Somewhere along my search for inspiration I ran across Mildly Creative. The proprietor, Ken, may or may not have a chronic illness, but his insights as a 'Quirk in Progress' run parallel to my own thoughts and beliefs. What is better than affirmations from a like-minded creative??

Two of his recent posts hit home in a particularly relevant manner.
The Courage to be Boring speaks to those of us who don't lead socially exciting or outwardly adventurous lives, but derive our meaning and happiness from our internal passions... such as writing and art. One of my favorite quotes: "The best thing I ever realized is that I’d rather be boring than bored." Limits on energy and resources due to chronic illness often force this practice though it's considering it a choice is a fine idea.

My other recent fave,
Doing and Failing is Better than Wishing and Waiting may sound logical and fairly obvious; however, I wonder how many creatives, aside from myself, might benefit from this practice. I highly recommend checking out Ken's brilliant site!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On the brighter side

A big challenge when blogging about National Invisible Illness Week is avoiding rerun mode when discussing life with chronic illness. As in, wow, I was going to post every other day but suddenly it's Thursday! Oh well, a crazy barometer and the crazier schedules of the mom-taxi passengers, and so on...
I decided to focus instead on a couple of CI folks who chose to contribute to the positivity flowing in cyber world. The first is Michael Nobbs, a British artist, writer and tea drinker diagnosed in the late 1990s with ME/CFS/PVFS (otherwise known as Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome).

The debilitating fatigue that derails many a creative endeavor is Michael's daily existence; his philosophy, however, is about sustaining creativity in blocks of time based on available energy. He counsels that devoting even fragments of time to one's art leads to a collective body of work. He focuses on prioritizing, or as he says in his free email newsletter, "Getting Your Important Work Done."

His career as a creative despite a lack of resources is an inspiring reminder to me. Through his daily podcasts, drawings, newsletters and e-books his encouraging generosity can surmount the most wicked flare.

Many thanks to Michael! I hope you will check out his site, and find a way to support his important work!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Invisible Illness (Next) Week

Though the national Invisible Illness Week doesn't officially launch until September 12th, I decided to post today because, well, I'm having a flare, probably like half the population. Yes, it's a stat; nearly 50% of us suffer from a chronic condition. It is very difficult to remain still when my dreams are so alive and energized. And when there are dirty dishes, laundry and chores that seem higher on the priority list than working in the studio, though usually not!
The IIW website is a wealth of information for those of us dealing with the myriad conditions that may go unnoticed, unless of course you happen to play tennis like Venus Williams (Sjogren's Syndrome) or golf like Phil Mickelson (Psoriatic Arthritis - both just like me!). In one of my favorite articles , founder Lisa Copen writes about the fact that living with illness doesn't mean choosing giving in! Next week I'll be writing more about this year's theme, Deep Breath, Fresh Start, the modus operandi for staying out of a funk.
Writing about feeling yucky seems trite given the multiple hurricanes and flooding, the fires in Texas, the impending 10th anniversary of 9/11, protests, war and unrest and, well, world hunger, the economy and politics and....
As in so many situations, I wonder how, as one person, I can possibly impact the lives of those suffering, so many far worse than I. But in preparation for the upcoming week I recalled a comment received several weeks ago.
A woman (who, unfortunately I wasn't able to contact/thank) wrote about my thoughts during last September's Invisible Illness Week. The realization that 10-month old words spoke aloud was very rewarding indeed.

Comment received in July from Smokey's Mom:
Ah, the silent chronic illnesses...I suffer from severe Fibromyalgia as a result of two separate traumatic injuries to my neck and lower back. I take so many medications, I've lost count. I cannot sleep at night without my Trazodone...I take 100 mg. of Morphine three times a day just so I can move and function. I am considered "disabled" (and I have the car plaque to prove it! Ha!) So, I really do hear you, and feel your pain. I am now experiencing rheumatoid arthritis in my left hand and fingers - good thing I'm right handed, lol. My life has changed so much over the last 15 years. You mentioned planning and then missing out on events - me too. Through all of this my savior has been my art. I'm certainly no pro, but being able to create art that other people want to trade me for or buy has been a blessing and it's what keeps me going. I don't get frustrated or angry any more, even when I lose time...Fibromyalgia is what I have, it's not who I am:) Your art is incredible. You are an extraordinary woman. How can you expect anything ordinary to happen to you. (Louisa May Alcott). I'm following your blog now:)
My lack of posting, due to my lack of arting, is very frustrating indeed but with this post I affirm that, like my friend states so well, though I have an illness I am not my illness. Thanks for sharing your eloquence Smokey's Mom, I hope you're able to create today!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How very cool to get an email from Seth Apter with the cover photo and news that the book will be hot off the press in a few short months - March 2012!! Knowing that my words will be contained within those pages is such an honor! I was one of a hundred artists who wrote - in detail - about art, process, inspiration... come to think of it, I was rather brutally honest - it will be interesting to see which of my thoughts appear in print!

Seth, as I'm sure most of you know, is an amazing artist, writer, blogger and host of the fabulous blog series The Pulse. The
Style File, launched early in July, is the first of six collaborative projects that asks artists the question, "how would you describe your artistic style?" Seth has gifted the art-blog world with an incredible opportunity to peek into the creative windows of a multitude of diversely-talented artists. My own descriptive was featured in the third installment.

If you haven't yet visited The Altered Page, grab a cup of your favorite brew and relax while browsing your way through a richly satisfying artistic world.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The making of a box

In a post a while back I mentioned that the owner of the corner market has been kind enough to give me (by the dozen!) Swisher Sweet boxes. They are the most durable of all cigarillo boxes - sturdy enough to withstand paint, sanding and gluing, but without the complexity of a wood cigar box.

Textured backgrounds are my most favorite part of creating.
I've benefited from so many others' blogs,articles in magazines and books, workshops and tutorials... I decided to document and share my process.

After a light sanding and coat of gesso, spotty pumice gel and some molding paste, I sort through the (exponentially growing piles) scraps left from previous projects and I save even the smallest bit so I don't have to do much ripping. Golden's Clear Tar Gel is so great for gluing, a habit I formed long ago, though there is likely a better (cheaper!) adhesive?

It's actually cool to look at this photo and see history, tissue, strip from a wedding piece, part of a teabag folio, text and other scraps - always pieces of wholey paper, acquired from my wonderful friend Saluda Jane - that remind me of earlier projects.

Usually I start with one of the colors in the palette that I have in mind for the piece, but I decided that a warm gray would be interesting so I could go in any, or many directions. If anyone is interested in finding a good warm shade of gray let me know because I had to search!

I seldom use the red family and when I did, I quickly realized that I wanted to brighten it up, incorporate some contrast so next came the yellows - Qinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold, Naples and Mars Yellows...

By far the most appealing aspect of painting is that if you end up with what looks like leftover pizza, or just don't like the direction your color is taking, a wash of Titan Buff is an amazing remedy!


I took that opportunity to add another layer of papers and texture and went more in the bronze direction. Liquitex makes small bottles of coppery and bronze colors that are iridescent but not as shimmery as Lumiere.

This time around I ended up with a deep red and earthy brown and, though decidedly different from others I've done, I liked it after a bit of tweaking.

Next the treasure hunt, which given enough time and patience, can be rewarding all on its own. I see a scrap of paper - below to the left - that came from my pal Alicia at Altered Bits quite some time ago... though we are often fairly isolated as artists I find that being surrounded by friends' supplies, scraps, gifts and works of art is most companionable.

Narrowing it down is the hardest part; deciding what message or feeling I want to impart often requires quite a bit of thought, one process I try to avoid in the studio. It's a sharp departure from the playing with color and texture and I can easily get hung up on details that really don't matter, as design can be every bit intuitive. I think that is the question I'd most like to ask every artist I know - at what point do conscious choices move to the forefront... are they preconceived in sketches, or determined while beginning of the piece?

I layered papers, mica, ribbon and added a handmade paper heart, bits of papers and lace, a small spoon... this gift will be in the mail soon and hopefully the hours I spent will seep from the box, enveloping the recipient with my love!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Buried Treasure

Thanks to Seth Apter for drawing the art-blog community closer together - again!! He is so amazingly generous; blog world is definitely a better place because of Seth and all his efforts. Here is one of my favorite 'oldies'!

deadlines. all the years I worked at our agency we lived by them. we had drop deadlines too. nice language. get it done or drop dead? think about or do little else until the deadline arrives and the project, thing, action is complete and one can resume living. It has been nearly five years since I've lived - and died more than a few times - in that world. other than paying bills on time, washing socks when everyone starts yelling, and stocking the fridge with the basics, I don't have deadlines. doctor's appointments don't count because you all know that passing the hours in a waiting room is enough to kill anyone. I am fairly self-propelled, albeit somewhat tardy on occasion; my daughter says we put the 'pro' in procrastination. call me human.

today I had a deadline. I have been working on a journal project that has elicited joy, inspiration, new techniques and a creative high beyond my wildest imagination. so it didn't feel very dead. I delivered the 8 freshly varnished books to the gallery where the woman ordered them back in October. I remember my jaw dropped when Frankie told me how she'd priced them... more than I'd ever think of charging, though I think it's natural to undervalue our work, especially early in the game. today she said they were worth every penny, beautiful, each one entirely unique in concept, color, execution. my costs were negligible, but then again, can you put a price on the creative process, the energy and love, attention to detail?
I found out how much love I'd expended when I left them spread on the counter and got in my car to drive back home. It was all so bizarre, how could I possibly feel sad, wistful, empty even?? I called my friend Debbie, who has been making her living as an artist for more than 20 years. She laughed and said she still goes through it, the not-quite-ready-to part with it, kind of like giving away a piece of yourself. How silly?! She said it was a good sign, that I had accomplished my goal. that more than art, each piece is a work of love going out into the universe.
My good friend and professional photographer, Jeff Rogers, photographed the journals in his studio the other day - I'll post them as soon as he gets around to burning the images on a disk. Hmmm, maybe I should have given him a deadline.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lobsters, Lighthouses and Legbones

Maine is the only New England state I hadn't had a chance to visit - until this week. The photos I'd seen, friends' stories... there are no disappointments. Though I grew up in New York (state) I've lived in Kentucky for so many years that it is truly a refreshing memory zing to step into this climate (a couple dozen degrees cooler as well:) and culture.

A couple of hours on a sailboat offered a splendid vista, the coastline and legendary lighthouses are as amazing as I'd imagined. And to think that some of the oldest buildings in the country are in this area is fascinating.

My sister and brother-in-law drove up to Acadia yesterday and the photos are incredible. The original Acadians were French who were driven out by the English. They sailed down the coast and ended up in Louisiana, and Acadian morphed into Cajun along the way. I'm glad my mother is a history buff:), I mean, who knew??

There are so many photo opportunities that it's almost overwhelming. I plan to shoot a few that I can use in my art before we leave. Weathered wood, rust, doors and windows galore - yikes!

My sister (on the right), Robin, obliged for this photo so I wouldn't feel so, well, touristy by myself. But honestly, how often do you see a lobster this size?

Jim and my son, Dylan, went to one of the dozens of road-side markets that offer an amazing array of antiques and oddities. This 'thing' looks like an ocarina but when I started to blow on it, Dylan told me it was made from a human leg bone - in Nepal! So, I just admired it and decided to share...

I'm looking forward to the Treasure Hunt that begins tomorrow on Seth Apter's blog - hope you're planning to dig!


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