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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dollhouse delight

Our homemade dollhouse was a big hit. Jenna, of course, rearranged the furniture right away. She enjoyed the small Take Me Anywhere dolls, which are bendable and sit on the dollhouse furniture. It really is cute. My father made it out of scraps of plywood. The front exterior is the paneling from our old rec room. Each room has carpeting from our house at the time he built the dollhouse, which I'm guessing was around 1969-70. The wallpaper is contact paper that still lines some of my cabinet shelves and drawers. Nothing is made to scale, but it's a perfect size for a 6-year-old. The doors and windows are larger than the dolls and furniture, making it easy to move things around. Jenna named all the dolls and took two of them home to stay at her house. The other four stayed here and helped me rearrange the furniture this morning so I could take the photos. (My favorite is the gray-haired Grammy doll.) Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas cookies

Our little family descended upon us yesterday afternoon for a spree of baking Christmas cookies. Jenna was a big help, learning to roll the dough, cutting out the shapes, and putting them on baking trays. She decorated most of them, becoming more and more creative as she played with combinations of colored sugars and sprinkles. Before we finished, both of us were covered with flour, although she had more on her face than I did.

The floor needed sweeping, so Daniel helped with that, pushing the swiffer hither and yon in his efficient toddler manner. Granddaddy and Daddy added to the excitement by running a little remote car around the halls, chasing the kids from room to room. I shut the door to the bedroom where the dollhouse is stored, after covering it with a sheet. Her mother couldn't resist peeking and was excited to see the little house restored to glory.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ghost of Christmas Past

Our daughter requested that my husband and I restore the dollhouse she had as a child to give to our granddaughter for Christmas. My father made it for my daughter when she was about six, the same age as Jenna. We had taken it apart and stored it in the attic for more than 30 years. It's the perfect size for Polly Pocket dolls. She has several of these and I found a new set that includes a gramma, a mommy and a little girl--very cute. Last weekend we assembled the house. Eventually, we determined which pieces to nail together to stabilize the exterior and what size nails to use. At first, when we drove a nail in one side, something popped out the other. Between the two of us, we finally worked it out. I still must clean the furniture; we had stored many pieces to furnish the five rooms. Oh, and I need to landscape the front.

Am I having fun, or what?


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Creative Flow on Psychology Today blog

Susan Perry, a writer for Psychology Today blog, interviewed me a short while ago and has posted the interview on "Inspire Your Creative Brain Via the Visual Arts". Susan was inspired by my book, The New Creative Artist. While you're at it, add her to your blog links, if you're interested in creativity.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Mr. Pig is ready for winter

It has been cold and blustery for several days now. Every time I pull into the garage I find Mr. Pig frantically cycling on the road to nowhere. He looked very cold, so I knitted him a scarf. Now I feel better, and I'm sure he does, too. We've had some unusually cold days somewhat earlier this year. I've had to get out my warmest coat and scarf. I hate it when I have to zip up my coat before New Year's. I've been struggling with sacroiliitis for several weeks and finally have it under control. I'm sure the cold hasn't helped. I think it's over now and I'm ready to take on the holidays.


Natural pigments

I love this blog from colourlovers.com on prehistoric colors and natural pigments still in use today. The photo of the earth colors in their natural state is amazing. A student in one of my classes some years ago had collected these pigments in Italy and brought them to show us--incredibly beautiful.

Speaking of pigments, I finally got around to checking out four more M. Graham watercolors on my chart. All are richly pigmented and I liked them, except I didn't find the Manganese Blue Hue to be near enough to the original to merit the name. However, it's a beautiful color and would work well as a cyan in an expanded palette. The Cadmium Yellow Deep is rich and opaque, and I love the Permanent Green Pale. I don't care much for the phthalocyanine greens in the yellow shades, but this one is a different mixture. Clear and bright. The M. Graham Terra Rosa is opaque, like Indian Red in other brands. I like this color for Southwestern themes. My chart is complete, except for Mineral Violet. One of these days I'll run across it, I'm sure. If I have it, it is buried somewhere in the vicinity of my drafting table. Know what I mean?

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

The best kept secrets in books (for readers)

I've been a constant reader since I first learned to read. My idea of a good time has always been to curl up with a good book, and the next best thing is finding books to read. When I was around 8 years old, my parents allowed me to take the bus to the public library, where I would check out the limit allowed to children. Eventually I outgrew children's books and wouldn't have been permitted to enter the adult stacks, but my father was a friend of the head librarian. I had access to adult books and could check out as many as I wished. An early favorite was The Count of Monte Cristo, which I'd read twice by the time I was in eighth grade. I'm hopelessly addicted to books and reading.

Years ago, I belonged to the Book-of-the-Month Club, until hardcover books became so expensive. It seemed a frivolous expense to buy a book that would be read once. When our children were still living at home, I used the library, but got out of the habit as quality paperback books became available. Then the prices escalated on those. I stopped buying books, other than Half Price Books or recently released art books for my personal reference library. I found they piled up relentlessly. I had an Amazon bookstore for awhile, but the return on my investment of time and my limited storage space made that effort unprofitable.

So, back to the library. We're fortunate to have an exceptional library two miles from my house. The Woodbourne/Centerville Public Library is nationally ranked, and its books and services are fantastic. I love going there, both in person and online. I can request a new book and they'll order it for their collection, with me at the top of the reserve list. I can reserve a bestseller, request an unusual book from Interlibrary Loan, or simply ask a question of a reference librarian. The only problem with using the library are finding the time to get there and remembering to return the books in three weeks. Once in awhile I find myself without a stack of library books to read.

So I have now built a stack of purchased books that I raid when I don't have library books on hand. Here's my secret: I go to Half-Price Books and head to the back of the store, where the clearance books are marked down to $1.00 and $2.00. You would not believe the number, quality and variety of books on sale there. Some are even keepers. Yesterday I found a wonderful book on the art of the Freddy the Detective books I loved as a child. The book was released at $40.00; I bought it (a new book) for $2.00. I spent almost an hour working my way through three 7-foot stacks of non-fiction and selected 11 books, which cost me $13.48.

Half Price Bookstores are found throughout 15 states. I don't know if they all have clearance corners, but I'll bet they do. When I was teaching in Dallas, a student took me to the flagship store, where the area dedicated to art books is about the size of your average independent bookstore.

When I've finished reading my clearance books will I take them to Hithergreen Center for their library or garage sale. Sometimes I take them to my Curves, which maintains shelves of read-and-return books. And a few end up in my overstuffed bookcases to be reread.

So now I have my security blanket of books to get me through the winter (or at least until next week). Maybe I'll go to the library this afternoon and see what's new. I think my addiction is worse when the weather grows cold and I can cozy up with a lap blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and a good new-old-used-fiction-memoir or art book.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

What I'm thankful for

Aside from the obvious--my family and friends, a good life, sunny days and snow flurries--I'm thankful that I've almost survived this year of 2008 and all its challenges. I've never had so many book signings for a new book, and I'm thankful for that and for the amazing response to its appearance. I'm thankful to have a new project in the works that will soon be announced, and especially glad that my part in it was finished ten days ago and I can relax from the stress going into it. There's lots more to be thankful for, but this is enough for now.

I've finally made a Web page for the exhibit at Town and Country Fine Art Center's "Art in Motion" space in November. I'm sorry I couldn't get to it earlier. The exhibit was great and the opening was a grand occasion. The holiday gift gallery is still on at the space until after the holidays.

Art to Art Palette online magazine is now available in its annual print edition. The magazine is an amazing collection of resources for galleries, museums, art and performance venues focused on the midwest-eastern states--Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania--and well beyond. Besides the resources, there are artist profiles that are fascinating to read (never mind the one about me and my mountain-climbing days). One of the best features is the extensive section on pottery and clay arts. The $13.00 price includes shipping and handling. This is one for your reference shelf. Contact Ben Rayman to order.

Five artists who are included in Confident Color are featured in an exhibit titled "Connecting Vision With Inspiration," now showing at Middletown Arts Center, Middletown, Ohio through December 17. Karen Benedetti, Kathleen Bertolone, Rosie Huart, Trish McKinney and Sharon Stolzenberger have widely differing styles and mediums with exciting interpretations of a variety of subjects.

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