Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts

Friday, November 16, 2012


Annie Hall

Breakfast at Tiffanys


West Side Story


Saturday Night Fever,  Desperately Seeking Susan, Do the RIght Thing


Tomorrow I'm off  for a few days in New York, and am looking forward to the intoxication of that mad and beautiful city. New York was the inspiration for so many great movies--I've put some of my favorites above. Do you have a favorite New York movie?

I will leave my computer at home but will take camera and notebook and try to capture some New York minutes. Hope you have a lovely weekend.


Monday, November 5, 2012

embody the grace

In The Wasteland T.S. Eliot wrote, most convincingly, that April is the cruelest month, but I think perhaps it is November. In April we have May to look forward to, and all those flowers. But November slams the door on autumn. Autumn feels like the shortest season, and summer is the longest. Of course I'm speaking from a New England perspective. If I lived in California or New Mexico, I'd be complaining about something else.

And I have nothing to complain about. Winter does have charm. Especially if I am inside with a fire in the fireplace and a good book. Or out enjoying all those pretty holiday lights and trees and music. But that still seems far off.

I need to work on being more optimistic. This week I'm drawing inspiration from Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker who has been incredibly hands-on with taking care of his constituents (see here) 95% of whom lost their power for a week or more, whose schools have been closed for more than a week, and whose struggles are many.

"Give the respect you want to receive; embody the grace you hope to encounter; and help others with no expectations whatsoever."  --- Cory Booker

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

inside the flower

I have been thinking about nature large and small. A couple of posts ago I wrote that I wished I were a bee or a wee fairy, and could climb inside a flower. Sometimes when I look at the lilies of the valley blooming in my yard, or the last lilacs, I want to inhale them and stay, find "heaven in a wild flower". (see Auguries of Innocence by William Blake here).

I read this Georgia O'Keeffe quote twenty years ago, and never forgot it: 

Everyone has many associations with a flower - the idea of flowers...nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small - we haven't time, and to see it takes time, like to have a friend takes time. So I said to myself -- I'll paint what I see -- what the flower is to me but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it -- I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see. 

Pink Tulip, O'Keeffe, 1926 oil on canvas, 36" x 30"

Seeing a flower, finding eternity in a grain of sand the way Blake did, is possible for almost anyone outside of prison. Experiencing nature on a larger scale is not as easy. I've written a bit here about my childhood in the woods of Virginia, the rivers of Maryland, the California mountains and coast--how these environments are integral to who I am. My father worked for the Environmental Protection Agency. I helped develop an environmental education program for a camp and after school program I worked for during college.

That frequent intimate connection with big nature faded when I moved to New York, had children, urban jobs, a complicated life. When we bought our house in the Catskills ten years ago I found it again. We had been looking at charming old farmhouses, but then we saw this waterfall, and time stopped. 

The house is an ugly boxy 80's thing - the interior was entirely painted the color of Silly Putty - every wall, every piece of molding, even the ceiling fans. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets and counters are still Silly Putty colored laminate. But houses can be changed, and we fell in love with the waterfall, the creek, the surrounding woods--an entire wilderness environment.

I felt like I belonged there; like my vision had been fuzzy but now it was clear. That I could really see nature again, write about it. Paint. It was wonderful to see my children wading and wandering, exploring without limits.

When I opened the store I had the idea of sharing my love for nature with my customers, recreating it somehow, inside. I've accomplished that to some degree. But now, when I go to the country, I spend most of my time in the store. I take walks around our property, but I don't go hiking or do anything in depth. I don't have the time to look at everything up close, to breathe, to really see it. I want to be outside again. And have time to linger at the farmer's market, try kayaking, explore new places. And maybe get involved in environmental education again.

So I will be closing the store, a bittersweet decision. Sad, but also a relief.

                                                Jack in the Pulpit No. V,  O'Keeffe, 1930, oil on canvas 48" x 30"

"In the woods near two large spring houses, wild Jack-in-the-pulpits grew -- both the large dark ones and the small green ones. The year I painted them I had gone to the lake early in March. Remembering the art lessons of my high school days I looked at the Jacks with great interest. I did a set of six paintings of them. The first painting was very realistic. The last one had only the Jack from the flower."

*Quotations and flower paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Meet Iowa Jewel Julie

When I was planning Country Weekend I had to have Iowa Jewel's collage kits—they epitomized my vision for the store: creative, vintage, and whimsical. 

When I contacted Julie she was enthusiastic--she even created special packaging and custom kits for the store. Visting her Etsy store (here) always makes me happy; exploring Lets go Canoeing, Birds in Winter, The Bermuda Triangle, Sherlock Holmes, Fears and Phobias, Circus Dreams, Along the Rocky Coast, Alfred Hitchcock, Firefly Magic, Our Mysterious Moon, and much, much more, fires up my imagination. 

You can also find prints and other vintage ephemera on Iowa Jewel. 

 Julie obviously loves what she does and has fun doing it. I recently discovered that she reads this blog, and was delighted when she agreed to do a little q and a, which I know that you'll enjoy. (As always, click on pictures to enlarge. Captions have links if you want to see more.)

Tell us a bit about yourself and what led you to making collage kits.

I live in a small town in Iowa with my husband and three kitty cats. My biggest dream is to travel the world but until that day comes I am happy to visit everywhere my imagination can take me in collage kit land. 

When I was little, my sister and I would make collages out of pictures from magazines and make up stories about adventures we would have traveling. It made the whole wide world come alive for me.  I have always found great joy and contentment in creating.

Where do you get the materials for the kits? 

I go to garage, library and book sales. I also shop on eBay and Amazon. Most of my books are children’s, science/reference and travel themed and are from the early 1900’s through the 70’s.  I have way over a 1,000 books, they are in every nook and cranny of our small house; let’s just say I have a very understanding husband!
Julie and her books

Where do you get your ideas for themes?

Mostly from my never-ending imagination! I am inspired by romantic places around the world. California is special to me. My love for animals and nature shows up a lot! I also love science and old Hollywood. I combined two of those in my Mad Scientist and Evil Doctor kits which are inspired by 1950's horror movies.

A lot of times I come across an image that I fall in love with and end up building a whole kit around that one picture. That happened with my San Juan Capistrano kit. Also I get many requests from my customers for custom kits, and they have ideas that I would never have thought of on my own.

Tell us about your work space and work habits. Do you work on several kits at once or one at a time?

I have a small (10x 10) studio that I share with my husband. Since I don’t have a lot of room, I am always looking for more efficient ways to store all the things I use making my kits. I also do my packing and shipping here so sometimes I set up a portable table and use our dining room table for overflow!  I have 2 long tables that my husband made for me and many shelves to hold my supplies.  I spend most of my time here so I am happy to have a big window that looks out over our beautiful backyard and lets in lots of natural light.

I usually listen to music on my laptop when I am creating.  Sometimes I watch movies and they influence the kits I make or I watch the movie that I am making a kit of to help me with images I will add. Example: when making Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound kit and watching the movie I included a real fork to go along with a famous scene where Ingrid Bergman draws lines with a fork on the table cloth.  I enjoy writing stories to go along with my kits too.

I am always working on many kits at once!  Right now I am making a journal for a friend and woodland animal kits for a custom order.  I keep a list of each kit I sell so I can remake one like it and I have a list of all the kits I want to make and am collecting images for too.

Julie in her studio

Do you ever hear from people who've bought your kits?

Yes!  I get lots of feedback and it’s all been positive!  I am so blest to be able to create something I love as a job that brings so much fun and happiness into other people’s lives.

What amazes me is all the different things my customers use my kits for.  Scrapbooking, travel journals and collage art are probably the main things but just recently one of my skunk kits was used at a skunk rescue fundraiser and mad scientist kits for decorations at child’s birthday party in Australia!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

winter art

                 farm scene, recently purchased at auction

More and more I find myself wanting to completely cover the store walls with vintage art. I've been collecting store inspiration pictures on pinterest--look how many of them show that very thing.

                                       portrait, recently purchased at auction

Though we have had little snow this year it is bleak and cold. I want to linger in museums, study my art books, and take out my paints. I was a studio art major in college, and painted for pleasure occasionally after, but I never took myself seriously as a visual artist. Two winters ago I took it up again for a season, and now once more I find myself wanting to lose myself in color and form and inner landscapes.

I am going to the store less--there is very little business in the winter, and I need a break from the long drive. So for the next few months it will only be open Saturdays (except for holiday weekends) and I will probably go up every third week. For now, my weekends are better spent reading, visiting museums, and, for at least one more Sunday, watching football.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Friends--with the help of your comments, hundred of pictures on pinterest, and some long walks, I am close to working out my problems with the look of the store. I realized that it isn't just a matter of painting walls, or adding shelves, but more conceptual. And the vision I came up with is close to the original one I had for the store. But in the reality of setting up, stocking, and running a store (something I have zero experience in, and do much of from a distance) I got away from the vision in small but meaningful ways. So here's the vision, conceptually illustrated with pictures I've taken over the last year. Next I have to figure out how to execute and maintain it, but I think this will help me do that.

area one--the main room, now painted white with porch green floor.
lake, wildflowers, spring, watercolors, cottage, green, blue, white, touches of warm colors moving into summer

Area 2 : A transition space and the one I am having the most trouble with--white wall area from the desk to the red wall area---definitely need to paint this area
pond, farmhouse, ferns, summer, bay, mountains, sky, farmers market, landscape

Area three- red walls and wide pine floor
 rust, barn, workshop, autumn, forest, natural wood, cabin.

I am also considering whether to dedicate a wall or two to hanging art, salon style.

What do you think?