We are back from our Southern vacation. My sister and I loved traveling through the Southern states! We had a great time with family in Charlotte, NC and soaking up the beauty of Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. It was everything we'd hoped it would be: wonderful architecture, easy to get around, friendly people and great food, especially seafood. Let me share with you some of the highlights.
We started our trip in Charlotte, NC where we stayed with family for a few days.
This is my sweet Aunt Karen, cousin Karen Helen and husband Rick who live in Charlotte, NC. They were kind enough to host us at their beautiful home. Pictured is their fabulous vacation house on Lake Wiley. They rent it out by the week. It has every amenity you can think of including a swimming pool and boat dock and sleeps 20 (its already booked for this summer). If you want to know more about it, here's the link.
On our first morning in Charleston, my sister and I visited Middleton Place, the oldest rice plantation in the US. It was settled in 1705 and it remains a working farm today. You can tour the main house, stables, and gardens and see volunteers acting the part of blacksmiths, farm workers and stablehands. They have a pair of water buffalo (originally for plowing the rice fields), horses, goats, sheep, chickens and other animals in the stable yard. The gardens and plantation spread over 64 acres along the Ashley River. The butterfly lakes (decorative ponds) and waterways are beautiful to see, but watch out for alligators. We saw one floating in the river and decided against dipping our toes in the water!
By chance we learned that the Tall Ships were traveling to Charleston for the first time in 15 years. We had to see these amazing beauties for ourselves so we stopped by the harbor on our way out of town. These ships will be racing from Charleston to Bermuda and onto other destinations throughout the year.
Throughout the south we were amazed at how beautifully preserved everything was. History is found everywhere and treated with respect and pride. We loved Savannah, GA with its lovely walkable parks and historic architecture. Savannah is also a fun and eccentric city, one of the few cities in the US where you can carry your drink with you out in public. Don't be surprised if your waitress asks if you'd like to take your cocktail "to go".
Savannah highlights: The Telfair museum, historic homes, the Pirate Restaurant (the oldest building in GA, also serving tasty food), the "bird girl" statue at the Jepson Art Center, our last night dinner at Alligator Soul (try the alligator jambalaya), the riverfront, and the Klimpton Brice hotel's garden with blooming crepe myrtles.
We loved the South and would visit it again in a heartbeat. So until next time, we say "bye y'all"!
After the holiday hustle of December I look forward to the quiet calm of January. January's short days and cold bluster keeps me from planning to much into my daily schedule. It also gives me space to pause and think about where I'm headed and what's missing from my creative life. January is the ideal time to try new creative endeavors and refresh skills that have been dormant but are now whispering for attention.
Every artist hits a wall sometimes, where our work feels a bit stale and in need of new inspiration. To quote Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way, our inner artistic well should "ideally be like a well-stocked trout pond. We've got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish - an abundance of artistic fish to fry... if we don't give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked."
Julia recommends doing two things to keep your creativity fresh: writing 3 pages of longhand journaling first thing each morning and taking weekly artist dates. The journalling is a way to talk to yourself, pouring out any discontent and finding those nuggets of truth that resonate with where you are now. An artist date is spending a couple hours a week alone with yourself doing something interesting, something your intuition nudges you towards in your journal.
Of these two tools the artist date tends to be the most difficult to commit to. We don't allow ourselves time for them because they look suspiciously like play (they are!) which we don't have time for. However giving yourself permission to play for an hour or two each week is often the best way to unblock creativity and be more productive when you return to your work.
Yesterday I took myself on an artist date with my camera. I wanted to find some color and winter fun in Boulder. Despite the cold temps and grey sky there was plenty to see and do. Here are a few highlights:
Sculpture of an upside down "David" and painted artworks on the Dushanbe Teahouse.
Artworks inspired by the landscape showing at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
After getting inspired by Rex Ray's collage art, I dived into Lisa Congdon's "Creativebug Bootcamp" series on Creativebug.com. This six week series focuses on color and shape, with Lisa discussing how she approaches her own artwork and offering us exercises to try. This week is week 3 in the series but since you go at your own pace you can jump into the class anytime.
Creativebug classes can be purchased individually or you can buy a monthly subscription that includes hundreds of classes by many contemporary artists for the same low price. I have a year's subscription so I dip into a variety of mediums when I want to try something new.
I love their 30 day creative challenge classes. I have followed various illustrators that lead you through 30 days of illustration prompts and another one where the talented staff at Creativebug tells you their favorite creative tips on everything from creating mail art, organizing your iPhone apps and going on a thrift store art material haul to creating color swatches from your favorite artworks. I find these classes much more fun to watch than TV.
These are a couple of art pieces I created last week. The collage is made with found papers and maps cut into flower shapes. The watercolors are a Windsor and Newton travel set. The pencils are a part of a set of up-cycled Derwent watercolor pencils I found at Art Parts Creative Reuse Center. You can find similar pencil sets at Dick Blick. Sometimes just trying a new art tool or paint color will spark a project idea for me.
Here are links to more ideas for those of you craving a new spark for your creative endeavor or artist date:
Classes around Boulder (try googling similar classes for your area)
Cooking classes at Sur La Table.
Dessert baking classes and tastings at Piece, Love and Chocolate
Modern sewing classes at Fabricate.
Paper crafting classes at Two Hands Paperie
Boulder's Lifelong Learning center
Online classes and tutorials
Classes in lots of different mediums via Creativebug classes (ditto for Skillshare, Ravelry and other creative websites)
YouTube has videos on everything imaginable like this one on how to film video on your iPhone.
Pinterest boards with links to DIY projects, like PaperNStitch's DIY board
Blogs with lots of DIY links like Poppytalk DIY
Whether you crave getting out and meeting people or staying cozy at home while learning new skills, there's a class out there that will open up new possibilities for you. I encourage you to make a list of artist dates you could do this month and go exploring!
Happy Martin Luther King day!
Last weekend was Boulder's Open Studios, a yearly event where artists throughout Boulder open their studios to the public so we can meet and buy art directly from the artists themselves. I really enjoy seeing where an artist works and getting to know them outside a gallery setting.
A favorite studio that I visited is home to three artists: Eva Maier, Julie Ireland, and Caitlin Rice. Eva is a painter, collage artist and doll maker. Julie is a modern quilter and fiber artist. Caitlin is an abstract painter of bold bright canvases.
Eva Maier paintings and collage "doll" sculptures.
Eva's bright paintings depict children, rabbits, crowns and colorful blobs in a rich palette of oranges, blues and greens. Her collage dolls are a mix of fabric, felted wool and handmade ceramic clothing. Its so interesting to see how the art of doll making takes artists in such different directions. Eva's work is whimsical and bubbly with a hint of the mysterious.
Julie Ireland creates modern quilted pieces that become wall hangings or pillows. She also created the lovely embroidered butterflies mounted on beeswax seen above.
Julie's colorful fiber works have a happy modern vibe that would lend warmth to any contemporary home. Her quilted wall hangings and pillows make me want to decorate my house with them to ward off the winter chill I know is coming.
Caitlin Rice's bold abstract paintings.
Caitlin's big bright paintings could easily be the focal point of a room or entryway, offering an inspiration point for room colors or as a conversation piece. Her paintings command your eye to look deeper at their texture and angles, inviting questions about the story behind the artwork.
Open Studios is also about seeing work in progress and the tools artists use to inspire creative play. I loved seeing the paints, fabrics, brushes and sewing threads of these artists. Noticing a new-to-me material or way of creating is part of the joy of visiting art studios.
Open Studios is over for this year but there will be holiday markets and other opportunities to buy art from these artists. If you are interested in learning more about Eva, Julie and Caitlin's work, follow the links in this post.
The next opportunity to visit their studio is during the Women's Art Works Holiday Studio show and tell, on November 26th. Follow the NoBo Art District page on Facebook to learn more about various art markets here in Boulder, CO.
Thank you to Eva, Julie and Caitlin for letting me photograph and share your wonderful studio with my blog readers!
You may remember that I volunteer my time at Art Parts Creative Reuse Center here in Boulder by photographing cool stuff and loading up their Instagram page with my finds. With school about to start here in Boulder I thought I'd remind moms, teachers and home schoolers that thrift and reuse centers have lots of inexpensive and fun school supplies.
Through the end of August Art Parts CRC is having a sale on school supplies, 50% off for teachers/ 25% off for the rest of us. See the website for details. Follow us on Instagram to see what's new in the store.
There are many cool art and school supplies to be found, from old to new. Remember the colored protractors, mechanical pencils, index cards and eraser tips that we used to carry in zippered pockets? They're still around and Art Parts CRC has some. Need binder paper, glue sticks, magic markers, watercolor pads, charcoal pencils, origami paper? You will often find those things too, at great prices!
Kid art supplies are plentiful at Art Parts CRC as well as area thrift stores so do some creative up cycling. Speaking of supplies, don't forget to stock up your sewing room, craft space and embroidery box with new and vintage fun finds.
If you don't live near Boulder try a trip to your local thrift store. You just might find some vintage school or office supplies to add retro flair to your art space or cubicle. Have fun hunting for treasure!
Above: 1. A wonderful old Victorian photo album and loads of photos of relatives you can "adopt" for your collage projects. 2. Vintage "prim" dolls laying on a Bathymetric (ocean depth) map. These are just a few of the weird and wonderful donations that Art Parts CRC sells in their store from time to time.
Art Parts Creative Reuse Center
2870 Bluff Street
Boulder, CO 80301
Open Tues-Sat, 10:30 - 5:30
We've had a few days of lush sunny weather here in Boulder. Our lawn was mowed for the first time since fall and the lilacs are blooming. It feels like we've turned a corner into spring and everyone is breathing a sigh of relief. We will likely still have rainy days but hopefully the snow is behind us. Spring is brief here in the mountains and worth pausing to celebrate.
A thrift shop find of a tin of colored pencils turned out to be the perfect size to carry in my purse. It has a charming wildflower design on the box cover to inspire lunchtime sketching. I also found a bit of lovely vintage fabric with bright flowers that feels just right for a spring/summer doll dress.
This is the season for celebrations: graduation, weddings, birthdays. Today the Colorado University students are graduating here in Boulder. After the students head home this weekend, a relaxed feeling arises about town.
All sorts of outdoor activities are starting up again: farmer's markets, flea markets, plant sales, picnics and barbecues. Yay! I am eager to enjoy the great outdoors and sunshine this season brings.
My dolls are also eager for renewal, perhaps with new dress shapes and hairstyles. I plan to experiment with other styles of dolls too. I love the Garden Party Girls but feel they could use some new companions. We'll see who turns up!
Vintage notions and trim will always be a part of my toy making because I love them so much. I am grateful to live near Art Parts Creative Reuse Center where some of these materials came from. They are celebrating their first year in business this Saturday with a sale and a party! If you are in the area, I hope to see you there.
Art Parts Creative Reuse Center
2870 Bluff Street
Open Saturday, May 7, 2016, 10:30 - 5:30 pm
You may remember that back in January I participated in a doll show at Art Parts Creative Reuse Center here in Boulder. This retail store and gallery's primary purpose is selling recycled art supplies. Art Parts CRC is a non-profit reuse center that accepts donated used and new art supplies to keep them from ending up in the landfill. They resell the goods at a discount and the store has become my first stop when I am looking for art supplies.
Art Parts CRC is known among artists here as the place to donate your project odds and ends. Every week they get new donations of fabric, beads, metal parts, tools, sewing supplies, vintage patterns and notions, painting supplies, paper and more. The women who run the store rely on volunteers to help them sort and price the goods which are then added to the sales floor.
Artists, moms, students and seniors come in with their friends looking for unique supplies for their projects. There are so many interesting items appearing weekly that its worth visiting the store often. The staff and volunteers are helpful, encouraging and eager to help you find what you need in the store.
Since I visit often the owner, Denise Perrault, asked me if I would help them set up an Instagram page for the store. It sounded like a fun challenge so I agreed and I'm happy to say their page is gaining traction. Now Art Parts CRC can post shop updates on both their Facebook page and Instagram page. Follow them if you are curious about what's happening in the store!
I really enjoy wandering around the store selecting interesting things to photograph. I like to set up small vignettes to show the range of materials or suggest a use for random items. For example, below are collages I created based on vintage sewing patterns and notions, a collection of plastic beads that could be used to make a necklace and fun "office" supplies that might entertain a child. I photograph these items and then put them back so others can have fun hunting for goodies. The resulting photos get uploaded daily to the store's Instagram feed.
Once a week I head to the store and photograph quirky items to my heart's content. This job is a good fit for me because I love photography, sorting through vintage and unusual goods in search of treasure and interacting with other artists. When you get to do what you love, it makes volunteering your time so easy!
Art Parts Creative Reuse Center
2870 Bluff Street
Boulder, CO 80303
Open Tues-Saturday, 10:30 - 5:30
My Garden Party Girl dolls on display at Art Parts Creative Reuse Center
Last Friday was the open house for "Posers", an art doll show at Art Parts Creative Reuse Center here in Boulder. My dolls were featured along with two other art doll artists, Beverly A. Hamilton and Suzzanne McGuirk. Beverly creates mostly fairy/fantasy style dolls while Suzzanne's specialty is Steampunk. Both have years of experience making art dolls and are members of the Denver Doll Club.
Despite the snow on Friday the opening was well attended. I went back this week to take photos for this post. Suzzanne and Beverly create beautiful and detailed works of art and I wanted you to see them clearly. I am honored to be included with such talented company.
The "Posers" Art Doll Show runs through the first week of February.
The show was held in the gallery of Art Parts Creative Reuse Center, a store full of recycled materials for artists. They have a large variety of art goods at reduced prices, all of it donated. You'll find fabric and yarn, paper and paint, picture frames, metal parts, beads, books, easels, sewing machines, kids art supplies and more. Their stock is constantly changing as new supplies arrive each week. I have used Art Parts ribbon, fabric, yarn, faux fur and jewelry pieces on my dolls.
If you are local I recommend taking a look at what's in store. I start here for inspiration and never leave empty handed.
Art Parts Creative Reuse Center
2870 Bluff Street
Open Tuesday through Saturday
Stop in for some creative inspiration and wonderful supplies! Denise, Pat and their volunteer helpers are happy to help you find what you need.
If you are interested in any of the dolls seen in this post, contact Denise Perrault or Pat Witaker at the Art Parts Creative Reuse Center for more information. (720)379-5328
Boulder has a new art resource center for those of us who love up-cycling: Art Parts! This store specializes in art materials of every description. Paper, fiber, paint, collage, mixed media and fabric artists will all find creative materials here for their stash pile.
Prices are good - between 30 to 90% off retail. Their inventory is always changing and you never know what inspiring items you might find. On the day I visited I saw cool vintage beads and jewelry parts as well as artist staples such as watercolor paper pads, ink pens, craft paints, yarn and fabric.
The store is roomy and has lots of shelving and nooks for happy treasure hunting. Looking for a fabric sample book? Vintage office supplies? Frames for your artwork? Oversized knitting needles or crochet hook? Calendar art for your collage? You'll find it here. They also stock reams of paper, piles of beads and fabrics organized by color, books on every type of craft, metal pieces, glass mosaic bits and more.
A gallery space in the front of the store offers unique art pieces by local artists as well as found items like typewriters and antique items for sale.
You can also donate your leftover materials to the center. This keeps art supplies out of the landfill and keeps Art Parts open by giving them stock to sell at low cost to someone else. See their accepted materials list for what to donate. Donations are accepted on Fridays and Saturdays.
The store founders, Denise Perreault and Pat Whitaker run the center with an eye towards collecting items that would not be accepted in typical thrift shops. Since thrift stores rarely stock more than one shelf with art supplies, there are a lot of materials that unnecessarily become waste.
Denise is a nationally known fiber artist and saw first hand unintentional waste by her husband's window-covering company. They often had to throw away high end fabric at the end of a job because there was no place to recycle the materials. Art Parts seeks to fill that gap by partnering with businesses that have left over materials that artists might want.
The store will be offering a few classes for kids in the fall, with more events to come next year. If you live in the area, stop by Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 - 5:30, to treasure hunt and/or donate your leftover art goodies (donations accepted Fridays and Saturdays).
Follow Art Parts on Facebook to learn more about in-store events!
Creative Reuse Center
2870 Bluff St.
Boulder, CO 80301
On Memorial Day my husband and I went to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO. This non-profit rescues and provides a permanent home for wild animals, primarily carnivores, that have been abused, neglected, displaced and abandoned all over the world. They have 720 acres of property reserved for the protection and preservation of these animals, all of which were born in captivity and cannot be returned to the wild.
Its an amazing sight to see lions and bears roaming large enclosures from an aerial walkway built to give a bird's eye view of the park. The 1-mile long walkway takes visitors above habitats of different species of tigers, leopards, lions, several types of bears, lynx, serval cats, African porcupines, wolves and foxes.
I highly recommend visiting this sanctuary if you get a chance. The thrill of hearing lions roaring while bears romp and bathe in the sunshine cannot be overstated. Its so fun to see animals enjoying themselves in wide open spaces where they can roam about safely.
The sanctuary is open 361 days a year from 9:00 am to an hour before sunset; it is closed on 4 major holidays and when it is snowing. Do bring binoculars, cameras and sunscreen. Be prepared for sunny, windy conditions and wear layers. There is a snack center and gift shop but you can bring your own food along and eat on elevated decks complete with seating.
Donations to keep the sanctuary running are always appreciated. Find out more on their website.