My word for 2018: Learn

Instead of setting a long list of “resolutions” this year (because we all know what happens to those), I’ve decided to choose one word that will be my inspiration for the year ahead. My word is “learn.”

I plan to learn as much as I can in as many aspects of my life as I can: new Zumba choreography for my classes; new techniques that will push my art forward and help me provide fresh inspiration in my art classes; new skills that will improve my full-time work as a communications professional.

I’ve already learned something from trying out a new approach in creating the tissue paper artwork that you see here. The lesson is: When something isn’t working the way you thought it would, don’t give up, keep trying, go back, rethink, redo, keep going.

I think this applies to everything I do in the studio and in life in general—and it is a lesson I need to learn over and over.

Happy New Year! Do you have a word for the year?

Art workshop projects

What a weekend!

It was filled with art-brainstorming and art making. On Saturday, my art buddy and I went into Boston to a salvage store that has great items and inspiration for art projects. I’m blessed to have a friend who gets just as excited as I do imagining what we can do with the most mundane objects. No scrape of cloth, paper or metal is safe from our imaginations.

I spent today in the studio whipping through ideas for art projects. I’ve been given the opportunity to facilitate art workshops–for the first time ever. This is all new to me and came out of the blue, but it feels like I’ve been waiting for exactly this for a long time. I have always wanted the opportunity to do something truly meaningful with art.

I don’t have it all worked out yet, but I’m leaping and trusting that just the right ideas will come to me. I’m trying to design workshops for adults who don’t consider themselves “artist” (of course, we are all artists, aren’t we, in one way or another?). The projects need to be crafty, easy to do but not childish, interesting to both men and women.

These are challenging guidelines, but I feel so alive just thinking about all of this.  I love the rush of trying out these new projects! Can’t wait to share them with others.

I’m open to ideas. Please feel free to share anytime. And I’d be happy to share how I did the projects you see here. Speaking of sharing, a big thank you to a fellow artist who donated her fabric scraps to me. I used them to create the flowers on mat board that you see here.  Thanks, Molly. She’s a very talented fabric artist. Check out her blog.


Emerging from my vacation coma of doing absolutely nothing all week, I finally pulled myself together and created this mixed media collage piece today. It’s on paper, about 18 x 22. I began by pouring one of my favorite colors in liquid acrylic paint on paper. While cleaning up my studio today I found the left over shells from mailing labels so I stuck those to the paper and then ripped them up after pouring the paint, which left some lines where the paper had been covered and also ripped up random sections of the paper. I then played with remnants of other papers I had laying around the studio, and here you have it.


I’ve been working on this mixed media piece for several weeks, first by playing with lines that turned into trees. I collaged the trees on canvas, then added the lady in red because I find it difficult to NOT include the spirit of women in my artwork. I let it sit, looking at it off and on, waiting to see what it wanted. This weekend I felt that it wanted silver circles that shimmer in the daylight and seem to disappear at night. I may or may not be finished with this. I’ll wait a bit and see.

Do you do that, too? Wait for your art to tell you what it needs and wants? Or am I the only crazy person?

CED: Mixed media

The theme for this month’s Creative Every Day Challenge is “mixed media.” Perfect. I love working in mixed media. I enjoy layering mediums and materials in ways  that add complexity and dimension to my artwork. Mixing materials fuels that element of play that inspires me in my art making. I want people who look at my art to feel a need to touch it, to connect with it.

This piece, which I have yet to come up with a title for, is 8 x 10 on canvas. I used acrylic paint and folk art liquid paints over collaged paper rectangles to create it. The key was dropping the brush and using my fingers to play in the paint. That helped to add the texture. This scan doesn’t truly capture the painting, which sparkles in the daylight. I’ll have to take a photo of it to do it justice. Click on the image to get larger view.

SPARK 15: Words as inspiration

Beyond the Horizon

This is round 15 of SPARK, which was created to inspire art from writing and writing from art. Artists are paired up with writers or work alone to create visual and written works in response to assigned inspiration pieces. This time I collaborated with talented poet Ray Sharp. (He is working on a poem based on one of my paintings.) I created this piece, “Beyond the Horizon,” based on his poem “Birds.”


By Ray Sharp

There must be birds
beyond the horizon. We feel
their wings beating in the wind,
hear their murmured conversations
roll ashore in waves, and it grieves us
who remain rooted to the still earth.

To me, the poem is not really about birds. Instead, I see it as being about looking off into the future, about longing for freedom, admiring those who have the courage to fly and grieving for those who are afraid to try, and, thus, remain “rooted.” This 14 x 18 mixed media collage on canvas is about  hope and faith.

Art play date

My art buddy and I enjoyed an art play date this weekend. We attended a two-hour free demo workshop sponsored by Golden paints at the New Art Center in Newton. Artist Adria Arch showed us a large variety of the mediums, gels and paints that the company makes. She opened up a whole new playground to explore. I never knew there were so many possibilities with paints, gels and mediums. I plan to try out many of them to see which ones I like best. One of the best things about the workshop is that we got free samples! I love free! So I rushed home and used all of the items in my little bag on this 9 x 12 mixed media piece that features collage work, glass bead gel, fabric paste and molding paste. I just wanted to see how each one worked. Great play date!

You can find out more about the free demo workshops and locations here. The artist does talk about the company’s products a lot, but there is no hard sell, which would have sent me running screaming from the room. Check it out.

Self portrait

Self portraits are not the easiest things in the world to do. You might think they would be. Who knows you better than you, right? I think that may be why I have trouble when I do one. I’d rather draw the Sandy I wish to be (she looks very much like the skinny version of Jennifer Hudson) rather than represent exactly what I see. First of all, who wants to stare into their own face in the mirror or a photograph for as long as it takes to create a self portrait? I spend most of the time critiquing my face instead of creating my face. (Geez, when did I get my mother’s dark circles under my eyes? And how much weight do have to lose to get rid of that second chin? Yada, yada.)

But, I love a challenge….well, not really (but, that’s what I’m supposed to say, right?)…I do love art “homework.” Any kind of art assignment that pushes me in some direction or toward some sort of art area to which I’m not naturally drawn. These assignments stretch me creatively, and I’m often surprised and pleased with the results.

My latest assignment came courtesy of a magazine that I’m now in love with: Cloth, Paper, Scissors. The reader’s challenge in the July/August issue is to create a 6 inch by 6 inch self portrait using mixed media collage. I worked on this one over the weekend. Using my own photo, I used translucent paper, water color pencils, ink, cloth, three-dimensional fabric paint on card stock to create this self portrait that I call “So Very Sandy.” It’s full of drama (note the giant orange divalicious hat I recently purchased for an outdoor jazz festival; hope they can see around me), whimsy, complex textures and plenty of imperfections.

Slow motion

Boy, it has been a bit since I posted. Feeling lazy. Summer does that. I’ve been making things, but have not made it to the scanner to post them here. I’m on “staycation” now with my mom, who is visiting from Alabama. We’re doing a lot of sitting around watching tennis on TV.

I’m trying to relax and realize that these moments are precious and not in need of being filled with lots of touristy stuff just for the sake of doing touristy stuff. As my mom says, “I’m just here to visit y’all. I don’t need to go anywhere.”

Here’s a piece of art to look at for now until I get myself back in scanning gear. This is the final version of a piece I worked on for “Spark.” I blogged about it a few weeks ago. This is a huge work of art (wow, ‘work of art’ sounds so much more vain than ‘artwork,’ doesn’t it?) 30 x 40 collage with acrylic paint on canvas, “Moonlight Lady.”

CED: Metamorphosis

The theme this month for the Creative Every Day Challenge is “metamorphosis.” So this weekend I spent time allowing for “change,” something different. I began on Saturday by getting up at 7 a.m. to go to an outdoor Zumba class. Anyone who knows my legendary love of sleep knows that this was definitely a big change for me.

Alas, the class was rained out. So there I was taking a big step to change with no payoff. I could have just gone home, but I used the time to get in some morning walking and then headed over to the Y to try out the new Zumba instructor. That class starts at 9:10 a.m. I rarely make that one (too sleepy), but when I do I have loved the class . But the belove instructor who had  a huge following no longer does the Saturday class. Bummer. But–and this is why we need to allow room for change–it turns out that the new instructor is fantastic, different, but fantastic!

Great lessons: Be open. Go with the flow. Change can surprise you. The way you feel about the change makes all the difference. There are always two choices: Fight it or accept it. It’s all in the attitude.

The other change for the weekend was that this afternoon I tried a new technique that I saw in a craft magazine–creating reconstructed paper. I bought all of the supplies, couldn’t find one, improvised and couldn’t get the paper unstuck from the mat I created it on. It was supposed to peel off easily. It SO did not. I could have declared the project a complete failure, but I decided to improvise even more than the instructions called for and decided to reconstruct the paper on card stock. I love the results. And this is just the beginning. I know this will lead to so much more.

More change, please. Loving it.

CED: Big

This month’s theme for Creative Every Day Challenge was “big.” This is the one piece that I managed to do specifically for this theme. It’s a mixed media work on what used to be scrap paper, catching splatters beneath other paintings and drawings I had been working on. This is my favorite way of letting one piece of art lead to another. I call it “Big Dreams.”

NOT a lady in a flowing gown

This is NOT a lady in a flowing gown. OK, OK, yes, her dress is gown-like, but it is not flowing. I say this because I’m trying to work on some art creations that don’t involve the lady in the flowing gown to which I’m naturally drawn. I’m trying to challenge myself to explore other subject matter that might be lurking beneath my creative surface. It is always hard to know whether I’m doing the same subject over and over again because there is something about that subject I need to express or whether I go to the same subject because it is the first thing that comes to mind, is easy, safe. So…I explore…and I give you “Lady in Lavender” (mixed media collage with acrylic paint on canvas).