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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Playing with clay...

Living in the Chicago area is wonderful, except for January and February.  I usually don't complain but honestly, it has been a tough winter.  My little respite from the cold has been a ceramics art studio called Clay Space.  I am taking a ceramic sculpture class taught by John Pacheco. I have only taken a few classes before and I am a beginner.  We receive a lot of one on one attention and John is a very patient teacher.  I should have started in the beginner class but I have to admit I am glad I didn't.  John does not seem bothered that Fanny and I ask MANY questions and that we give him a hard time. The resident artists are friendly and always offering donuts (and advise).  A nice place to warm your soul on a frigid Chicago day.

Here is John, showing his eyes and ear sample he did for us (and hiding from the camera...)

Check out his ETSY shop.  He is one talented guy.

Here are a few of my pieces waiting for bisque firing...REMEMBER I AM A BEGINNER...

A little cottage. You will be seeing more of these.  I love small houses.

Eyes are difficult but John insisted we learn.  Could not decide if this is what I would look like stoned or  how I look in the morning.  Imagine I am sleeping on a pillow.

Noses are difficult.  Really hard for me. I don't normally notice people's nostril's or their bridge but I have a feeling I may be staring soon.  Did you know the indentation under your nose is called the philtrum? Just a little place to hold your finger while you are thinking.

Ears.  Dang.  Looks so much easier than it is. Remember I am only a beginner. It is lopsided, sorry I can't turn it around.  

A highlight of my class.  Fanny.  She is "coming out" as an artist and is very talented and sweet.  She even said I looked cute in the photo booth  picture from the 80's from my previous post.  What a kind woman.

Stay Warm and get messy!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Solo Adventure-retreats can inspire and renew

I discovered Lillstreet Art Center about a year and a half ago. It is "The Creativity Shop"- my dream- times 100! There is gallery space, a café with a mission, 3 floors of classroom space and a floor of individual artist studios. Plus they have an art youth outreach, a corporate teambuilding aspect, art shows....the list goes on and on. I totally lose myself when I go there. I have taken a number of workshops with Eileen and another friend Alice, BUT yesterday I went for a daylong retreat alone.

Lillstreet has a new space they are calling the LOFT. It is a large beautiful space- exposed brick walls, lovely wooden floors and fabulous lighting- half a block away from the art center. They are running daylong events which are designed to provide, "a little creative and relaxing, 'me time.'" as the brochure states! Just the ticket for a third grade teacher who has had to deal with 8 year olds NOT being able to go outside all week because of the weather....NO ONE likes INDOOR RECESS!

So I escaped to Lillstreet and participated in, The Buddha and You: A ceramics and Yoga retreat.
The group of about a dozen started out with introductions and tea or coffee.

We moved into a 75 minute yoga class where the instructor led us through a physical yoga practice and guided meditation.
After a lovely lunch, we were led through the process of forming a face sculpture inspired by the Buddha using terra cotta clay.
 Our clay teacher Robin gave general directions to the whole group and then supported each of us individually with what we needed. What I LOVE about Robin is that she encourages the "process not the product." She teaches a technique-then lets each person make it their own.
Me and my creation.
The best part of a day like this is always meeting new people...
Suzi and Nicole
                                                                Adrianna and Iggi
After class I made my way to an awe inspiring place which Eileen introduced me to.
                                                                                          All sorts
of inspiring

 storage spaces,
display ideas,

 and creating spaces for my dream....
What is your idea of a wonderful retreat day?!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friends fuel the fire

Getting away to Milwaukee last weekend reminded me how important friends are.  My friends inspire me. They tickle my funny bone, they push me to think differently and they are unconditionally supportive.  I have to admit I am very fortunate.  I have interesting and interested friends.  It took a while to find "my people" and boy, am I ever thankful I did.  Having a good friend is a precious gift and as we get older I find I need them even more.

Here are a few who warm my heart.  More posts to include family and children later....if i get them to sign the consent....

Joan, my old college roommate and keeper of many secrets.  Love her.

Posting this to make you laugh.  Yes, this was us in the 80's and yes, that was my hair and eye balls. I think all of the teasing and aqua net I used in the 80's is a factor on my current thinning hair and squinty eyes.  This photo also includes the Suester, another good soul and life long friend.  Will be seeing her in Greek town in March to celebrate her 50th.  Oppa!!!

Christina, fellow "Smother" and my barometer on teenagedom.

My artists way sisters. Aren't they adorable?

Tricia, our  relocated AW sister.  Love how she swings into town without any warning.  So fun. This also includes my good friend and talented artist Laura.

Barbara and Lisa.  Blonde babes. Barb is so fun to travel with and is such a sweet heart.  She acts like a big sister to me.  Lisa always listens, really listens.  We have shared much on the Prarie Path together.

Lucy is my lifelong friend, the catalyst for much of my creativity.  I am so happy she married Billy.  He is truly a good man (and a lot of fun).  The other handsome bloke is my BFF and hubbie, Damien.

Hope you get to spend some time with friends this weekend. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

A surprisingly Art-filled weekend

For the past 3 years my friend Michelle and I have taken the long MLK weekend to go and visit her daughter in Madison, WI. The weekend has always consisted of visiting yarn shops, eating out and drinking wine and knitting. We found a place which allowed us to knit in front of a set of massive, 30 feet at least, windows which overlooked the farmlands of Wisconsin. It was stark Midwestern beauty...alas, her daughter has moved away from Madison this year we had to find a new venue for knitting weekend. We decided on Milwaukee, WI. We also invited a few more friends and it turned into more of an art gallery and creativity shop inspiration weekend.

Thanks to the encouragement of many friends and family members, I am pursuing my dream of a community art/craft studio. I am taking baby steps, BUT I am putting my ideas out into the world. I have my mission statement which is:

The Creativity Shop/Studio is a public space which promotes the exploration of the creative process. We believe that the creative process allows individuals and groups to experience an art/craft energy which in turn creates a "creative flow"... making our world a better place!

The next step is to explore what the space will look like. I got lots of ideas this weekend!
Before I left for my girl's weekend Billy, George and I had dinner at our friend's home. This planter was outside their front door. Friday night we had a dusting of snow-the sparkle is better than glitter! 
My first unexpected art experience was pottery made by Teddy. I use to change his diapers-now here he is posing with his ART!
Saturday and Sunday were filled with gallery visits, eating and drinking too much wine and chit-chatting about art. This picture was of one of the galleries we visited

Don't you love this idea for an "OPEN-CLOSED-BE RIGHT BACK" sign for a shop!

The Creativity Studio/Shop will have lots of messy projects...I am collecting ideas on how to organize the space.

Of course the weekend was filled with amazing art as well. These wall hangings were made of wool and tapestry NOT quilted. The boxes below were created out of tar paper and had pin holes in them and were illuminated by white lights shining from the inside.

We stayed at the Pfister Hotel which has an artist-in-residency program housed within the hotel. This program supports a different artist each year. Quite a wonderful idea for a hotel to promote!
Hope you are all staying warm and moving forward, if just a little bit, on your dreams!
Just LEAP!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Art inspiration sites I love

It is another cold day in Chicago.   I have officially unsubscribed myself to all of those websites having blowout sales.  I may miss a bargain or two but I have weaned myself off the imaginary shopping cart.  Most of the time I never pull the trigger and actually purchase but I can sure waste a lot of time looking. If I need a little pick me up it would be much better served by looking at some of my favorite websites for a little bit of distraction, beauty and inspiration,

This site is run by artist Danielle Krysa.  She features contemporary art and will expose you to new artists and trends.  An easy pick me up to any day.  She posts daily. This is her new book.  Can't wait to get it.

I love the title of this next site.  Features art at reasonable prices.

This is my favorite piece on the site right now.  It is by Emma Louthan and is titled "Innertube"  I can relate to the inner tube reference as my growing perimenopausal padding around my waist looks just like an inner tube.

This next site is big so beware, you can lose some time but it is worth it.

This is a daily website with home sneak peeks, products, before and after and my favorite DIY.  They also have city guides for art, shopping and design highlights for many US cities.  Run by Grace Bonney and her staff.  They have ventured into books and newspapers.  Here are a couple of things I made from their DIY projects

French knot ombre needlepoint.

Paper Clay barnacles.  Fun and Easy.

Lastly check out a permanent home for spontaneous art and start doodling.

Let us know any of your favorite sites.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

A bit of warmth and greenery feed my winter soul

This past week Chicago was hit with an artic freeze which kept most people indoors for 48 hours! It was so cold, that schools which were set to resume after Winter break, closed for 2 more days! So how do people combat the winter blues (in my opinion they should really be called GREYS?!)

I like to find as much color as possible to help me through the next couple of winter months. SO I talked my Mom and my sister Michele into accompanying me to the Oak Park Conservatory.

There are many indoor "plant palaces" which are larger and more manicured in the Chicagoland area, BUT I like the little 3 room indoor garden-I find that I can enjoy each room and really spend time looking at details....
                                                             Giant lemons



A cacao bean
 Michele trying to make "George the parrot" talk!
 Green on green

A pinky red to remind me that Valentine's Day is right around the corner!
Plants for sale outside the gift shop.

I of course had to bring one home and place it in my kitchen.... to combat....THIS!
Here is hoping you find color in your world....