Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back to [Art]Work

Greetings friends!

I've taken a hiatus from my online life for the last week. It felt good to unplug, and spend time in my offline life. There were lots of visitors around for the holidays, including Matt's brother Luke from Bulgaria, my brother Kyle from San Diego, and my uncle Matt from San Antonio. Fun times!

The first week of my Christmas vacation flew by, but I did manage to get some art making in. I made wedding invitations for a client and for myself. (More on that coming soon!) I also had time to make a new chair piece.

Meet "What You Love",  an 8" x 8" mixed media work on cradled hardboard.  This piece not available at this time in my Etsy shop, as I'm saving it for my upcoming solo show at JR Kortman Gallery!  This is my first EVER solo show at a gallery, so you can imagine my excitement. The show will go up for the first Friday in February and be up for about a month. I'll pass along more details when I receive them. I'm hoping to debut several new pieces for this show, so I'm trying to make the most out of my free time this week. 

"What You Love" is available as an 8" x 8" archival print in my etsy shop. 

Ta-Ta for now!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays Friends!

Things have been so busy for me as of late that I can hardly believe that this is the last week of school before winter break.  I'm so looking forward to a few weeks at a slower pace, where I can enjoy time with family, friends, and art supplies.

As a way of increasing my presence on the World Wide Web, I've created a new Fan Page on Facebook.  Take a moment to check it out. I've posted a nifty coupon code that you can use in my Etsy shop. But do hurry, the coupon code expires on December 20th!

Signing off for now.  Wishing you health and happiness throughout the holidays.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rockford Handmade Market Preview - Part 3


I've got one more batch of Rockford Handmade vendors to show off. I'm heading to the Brewhouse after school today to help set up and decorate the space. I'm really looking forward to a fabulous holiday shopping experience. 

I will have a wide selection of my cards, prints and originals,  available at the show. Several of the originals are brand new, and never been seen by the public! Woo.

  1. Off loom beaded jewelry by Andek Designs.
  2. A wide selection of great vintage prints by The Vintage Print Shop.
  3. Handmade albums, notebooks and mixed media art by Celeste Mores.
  4. Handmade, natural wax candles, soap and air fresheners by Christina Candles. 
  5. Gourmet cupcakes by Caked.
  6. Unique jewelry created with vintage, found objects, and organic materials by mLindvall...inspired design 
  7. Jewelry and origami creations by Plan 9 Design.

Rockford Handmade Market
Prairie Street Brewhouse
200 Prairie Street
Rockford, IL
4-10 pm

See you tomorrow. Admission is free!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rockford Handmade Market Preview - Part 2

Happy Monday Friends. After 5 days off from work, it's been tough for me to get back into the swing of things today. 

Rockford Handmade Market is just 4 days away, and I've got some more goodies to share.  All of these works are handmade right here in Rockford, Illinois by one of our Rockford Handmade Market vendors.

  1. Flowers, bowls and more fashioned from found objects by Recycled Rarities.
  2. Original still life paintings by Art Friedl. 
  3. Handcrafted silver fingerprint jewelry by Precious Prints co.  
  4. One of a kind art dolls made from new and recycled socks and trinkets by Socks that Rock.   
  5. Contemporary felted toys and accessories by Lulu’s Stabbies Creatures.
  6. Hand stamped custom jewelry by Jewelry by Katie M.

 Hope to see you there! 

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Rockford Handmade Market Preview - Part 1

    I'm excited and gearing up for the upcoming Rockford Handmade Market.  Taking place this Thursday, December 2nd from 4 -10 pm, the historic Prairie Street Brewhouse will be filled to the brim with holiday cheer!   

    Free to attend, there will be 32 great local vendors present at this show, all of whom make handmade goods. I'm hoping to do quite a bit of my Christmas shopping here! You'll find art, home decor items, jewelry, paper goods, toys, candles, soaps, bags, posters, clothing and more, all in one cool space. Locally produced food and drinks will be available for purchase too. Here's just a small sampling of the goods that will be available.

    1. Upcycled coffee sacks transformed by Burlap Works.
    2. Artisan breads and pastries, homemade jam and gourmet butters by Crust n Crumbles.
    3. Wearable works of art made from antique and vintage items by Opaline1214.
    4. Repurposed vintage button jewelry, garlands and handmade prints by The Paper Button.
    5. Screen-printed tshirts, posters, pillows, and other goodies by Pirate Ninja Print Shop.  
    Stay tuned for part 2 of the Rockford Handmade Preview. 

    Be sure to check out the Facebook fan page too!

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Black Friday Weekend Sale

    It's Thanksgiving - time for the busy holiday season to kick into high gear. Let the shopping commence!

    I will be celebrating Black Friday with a big sale in my Etsy shop. All prints are HALF OFF and all original works ship for FREE, worldwide!

    Offers good from Friday 11/29 to Cyber Monday 11/29. (Well actually, free shipping on originals is already set. Go shop!)


    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Happy and Thankful

    Happy Thanksgiving friends! I hope you will all be able to share this holiday with ones you love.  

    No school today, so I am getting an early start on the Thanksgiving celebration.  Jack (My soon-to-be stepson) and I  will be heading over to my mom's house to make pumpkin cookies, an old family favorite.  Yum!

    Tomorrow,  Matt and I have two Thanksgiving dinners to attend.   We'll be with my family in the afternoon and then hop over to Matt's parents house in the evening. I'm looking forward to plenty of good company, good conversation, and way too much food.

    I will be holding a Black Friday Sale in my Etsy shop. Details will be posted on the blog tomorrow. Be excited - some deep discounting!


    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Autumn's End

    Outside, it's becoming cold and quiet.

    The last of the leaves are falling.

    Our long winter's nap is near.

    "Would Be" is a celebration of the last throws of autumn.  I created this 2.5" x 3.5" (ACEO) work on a piece of ledger paper.  It has been sprayed with a UV-resistant clear coat so that the colors of the magazine and ink stay bright as the day it was made.

    "Would Be" is available in my Etsy shop.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Holiday Shopping @ the Rockford Art Museum Store

    Photo of Rockford Art Museum store courtesy of RAM website

    The Rockford Art Museum Store is one of my go-to gift shops in town. If I'm in need of a unique, artsy gift, I know I will find something there. Just last week I bought my co-worker a beautiful handmade coil basket made out of newspaper and magazine.

    During  the holiday season the RAM store will carry a selection of my cards, gift tags, prints and originals.  I'm excited to have my work in a "brick and mortar" during the prime-time gift giving season!

    RAM Gallery and Store are open Monday through Saturday from 10-5 and Sunday 12-5.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Sneaking in Some Artwork at Work

    Today I had a little time to knock out some of my own artwork, while my students were busy on their art.

    Measuring just 2.5' X 3.5",  Fanciful Flourish is the first ACEO I've created in while. I forgot how rewarding it can be to work this small. In about an hour, an entire tiny treasure was created! 

    I'm really into the ledger paper at the moment. I enjoy the instant pattern it provides in the negative space.

    Find Fanciful Flourish on Etsy soon!

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    New Art - It's easy to be around you

    Doesn't this chair and this space just look comfortable and easy? That's where the idea for the title was derived.

    I've been working on this piece off an on for months now. I finally had a chance to devote some time to this and finish it up!

    "It's easy to be around you" is another of my Bic pen pieces. All of the black you see, including all of the detail on the chair was done with that classic office staple.  This work measures 8" x 10' and was created on a cradled hardboard. All of the papers were adhered to the hardboard with what could best be described as 2-sided sticker sheets. The sticker sheets allow me to get the paper totally flat on its support. After all of the inking was complete, I added a few little pops of color with a red Prismacolor pencil.

    "It's easy to be around you" is now available in my Etsy shop as a print. Look for the original at the upcoming Rockford Handmade Market.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    New in the Shop - Harmony and Beauty Print

    This past summer, I created "Harmony and Beauty" on a piece of vintage ledger paper. While preparing for my last art show, I found this tucked away in a folder amongst my art supplies.  Its time for this pretty one to be released out into the world.  You can now purchase this as an 10" x 8" archival print in my etsy shop.

    Find "Harmony and Beauty" here.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Old Print - New Size

    Good Day Friends!

    It's hard to believe that the holiday season is indeed upon us with the current 70 degree days we are experiencing. I got a good dose of holiday cheer last weekend, while exhibiting at Frost and Friends. I'm amped and ready for this busy time of year.

    Thanks to all who came out to Frost and Friends.  It was packed to the gills and lots of fun. I enjoying being able to interact with buyers at shows like this and see what they gravitate to in my collection.

    "Meant to Be" attracted a lot of attention at the show.  Several people requested that I print this in an 8" x 10" size.  They spoke and I listened.  Both of my "supersized" 12" x 15" prints are now available in my etsy shop at the 8" x 10" size. And at the $18.00 price point, they make a superb holiday gift.  Just pop them in a 8.5" x 11" frame and they are ready for gifting.

    I'm now prepping for the December 2nd Rockford Handmade Market. Expect to see more details on this show soon.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Frost and Friends

    I've been spending much of my free time gearing up for the upcoming "Frost and Friends" show. This annual holiday show has become a major Rockford event. I'm excited to be a part of it this year.

    I have been busy packaging up all sort of holiday goodies. My gift tags and cards will be available, as well as a wide selection of prints and original works. 

    There will be 40 exhibitors selling a variety of wares. Hopefully you'll be able to find all sorts of goodies for those on your holiday list.

    Frost and Friends runs Friday, November 5th, from 5-10pm and Saturday, November 6th from 9-2 pm.

    Find us in the ball room at:
    200 S Bell School Rd
    Rockford, IL 61108
    $5 Admission at the door

    Hope to see you there!

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    I am a Design Nerd, and Proud of It!


    Hello Friends! You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet for me on the art front.  Instead of focusing on new work,  I've been spending my art time on branding and design.

    I've got 2, and possibly 3 holiday shows on the horizon and I've been spiffing up all my packaging for these events. As I tell my students, a good package can sell a product and I've been trying to create some cohesion in the way I present myself and my work. 

    All of my card sets are now the same standard size and have a little enclosure that shows what's inside. I'm using the same set of fonts on each package and include this little logo on the back of each card.

    My card-making has become much more professional over the years. I used to purchase pre-made card backs from the craft store and mount Kinko's colored copies of my work on the front. Now, all of my cards are printed with archival inks on matte paper using my prized Epson printer.  I'm proud of how far I've come and hope to keep growing in my design skills. 

    So fellow artsy ones, I have some questions for you. How much of your time do you spend on packaging and design? Did you come up with your "look" on your own, or did you have professional help? I'd love to hear from you.

    Have a great week pals. Be sure to check out some of my new card sets available on etsy.

    Next up on the blog agenda: Wedding design.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Calling All Rockford Area Artsy Types

    We're in the last week of accepting applications for the first ever Rockford Handmade Market. This event is the brain child of my pal Danielle Kelley,  proprietor of Burlap Works.  Last year, she participated in the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair in Chicago and wanted to bring the idea of the indie handmade craft show to Rockford.

    We're looking for artisans of all types who make high quality and locally crafted handmade goods. It is our intention to bring together a diverse group of artists and crafters that create art, home decor items, jewelry, stationary, toys, candles, soaps, bags, posters, clothing and more.

    Rockford Handmade Market will take place on Thursday, December 2nd, from  4-10 pm at the Prairie Street Brewhouse.  If you haven't been to the Brewhouse, its a beautiful old space, located right on the river, off of Madison Street, in downtown Rockford. This is going to be a great event!

    Vendor applications will be accepted until Friday, October 8th. If you're interested, get a move on it! The application is short and easy and is available here. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Matt's at Artscene!

    This weekend, Matt (my husband-to-be) has his very first solo art show!  Featuring 9 new pieces,  "Suburban Still-Life" opens Friday, October 1st at JR Kortman Gallery.

    This weekend Matt and I took all the work over to Kortman's and helped gallery director Doc Slafkosky hang the show.  Matt's hard work over the last few months has paid off, as the art looks fabulous in the space.

    Now, this is not your grandmother's art show. Some of the pieces are provocative and in your face but not vulgar or graphic. If you can handle "Victor", whom Matt is posing next to, you can handle the rest of the show.

    The opening of this show corresponds with the city wide Fall Artscene event. There will be art on display and for purchase at 41 venues around town.  This is a totally free event!

    As many of you know, Matt and I met at Artscene last year, when we were both exhibiting art at WallBlank Gallery. We're hoping to have as much fun this year as we did last!

    All of the Artscene venues will be open on Friday, October 1st from 5-9 pm and on Saturday, October 2nd from 3-9 pm. If you can't make it out this weekend, "Suburban Still Life" will be on display during regular Kortman's store hours (M-Sat 10-6) until November 15th.

    Kortman's is located in downtown Rockford at 107 N Main St, just across the street from Octane.

    Hope to see you there!

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    What a Great Weekend!

    The rain came just as I had finished setting up my tent at the Greenwich Village Art Fair.   I zipped myself into the tent and held on for dear life so that the tent and I wouldn't be picked up by the fierce wind. (OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but the tent did move!) I feared that my bad art show karma, that made a mess of my last two outdoor events was again rearing its ugly head.  I was on the verge of a meltdown when the rain stopped, the winds died down and the sun tried to break through the clouds. Thank goodness! The weather behaved throughout the weekend, and the cloud cover actually kept things comfortable.

    Aside from its blustery start, this show was nothing but fabulous. I made some good contacts, got great feedback from the fair goers,  and made some serious moola! I sold 12 original pieces, as well as a boatload of prints and card sets. I've never sold so much in a weekend. What a great feeling! It's so vindicating when others buy things that you've made. Thanks to all who came out to support me.

    If you have ever considered doing the Greenwich Village show, I highly recommend it. It's very well organized, the staff is superb and they treat their artists very well.  I'll surely be back next year.

    I'm now gearing up for my next gig, Frost and Friends on November 5th and 6th. More info will be forthcoming.

    I'll leave you with some of the pieces I had to say goodbye to this weekend. I was a little sad to see them go, but know they are going to good homes and will be well loved.


    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Greenwich Village

    Today was a beautiful Indian Summer day, and I'm praying that this weather continues until the weekend.  I'll be spending all weekend outdoors at the Greenwich Village Art Fair, and I'd prefer not to have a repeat of my last outdoor art fair! 

    The Greenwich Village Art Fair takes place on Saturday, September 18th and 19th on the grounds of the Rockford Art Museum. This is a really fun show! Besides 100 plus artists, there will be gourmet food vendors who always serve yummy samples, live music, a Sunday morning champagne and omelet brunch, and a wide variety of leaded and unleaded drinks.

    You can find me at booth 35. I don't know exactly where that is yet, but there will be maps available at the fair entrance. I will have several brand originals, prints and card sets, much of which has yet to make an appearance on Etsy.

    The fair runs from 10 am - 6 pm on Saturday and 10 am - 5 pm on Sunday.  Hope to see you there!

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    New Art from the New Studio

    Happy Labor Day weekend friends. Doesn't Sunday feel so much more relaxing when you know you don't have to work on Monday?

    I survived my first week of school pretty much unscathed.  It's nice to just teach Juniors and Seniors who are interested in what we are doing. I know I'm spoiled teaching at a Catholic school. The problems I deal with are minuscule in comparison to my public school counterparts. I even had a student bake me a cake in the shape of a paint palette and two others bake cupcakes for my birthday this week! 

    I managed to get some artwork done this week.  Meet "Let it Be." This is the first piece I've created in my new studio space. Matt has turned his basement into a great art studio and we both have room to spread out without getting in each others way. We both spent the afternoon yesterday working away. Its nice to have someone to talk to while I work.

    "Let it Be" measures 7.5" x 9.5" and was created on an eggplant cardstock. This is a new color for me. I like the way the white ink pops on this deep color. This piece was designed to fit in a  11 3/4" x 15 3/4" Ikea Ribba frame. "Let it Be" is available for sale unframed in my Etsy shop, or find it framed September 18th and 19th at the Greenwich Village Art Fair.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Loose Ends and Lost Friends


    I ran a giveaway a few weeks back and failed to announce the winner.  (Sorry!) Danielle, the talented owner of Burlap Works, was the lucky recipient of the "Meant to Be" print. She creates beautiful bags and accessories fashioned from burlap coffee sacs. If you're a local, you can meet Danielle and see her beautiful bags at the City Market,  downtown on Friday evenings. She also offers her wares on Etsy.  I  am hoping to get one of her creations for my upcoming September birthday. (Hint, Hint Matt)

    On a much more sober note, I lost one of my very dearest and oldest friends today. Lynn's one and a half year battle with breast cancer came to an end this morning. Just 2 weeks ago I had a great visit with Lynn, who was one of my college roommates. We made dinner, drank wine, and talked until the wee hours of the morning. I am so grateful for this time with her and so grateful for my friendship with this wonderful woman. She will be missed by so many.

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    New Year Resolutions

    The end of August marks the beginning of the school year.  As a teacher, this is more of a "New Years" than January is. I've decided to make a few resolutions as I start the 2010-11 school year. I hope that posting them out for all to see on the blog will help me stick to them!
    1. I've got a wedding dress to fit into. (Yep, already bought one!) I will try to workout at least 3 times a week. I am so good about going to the gym in the summer. I hope to keep it up during the hectic school year for once! 
    2. I vow to continue buying all produce from local producers until the growing season is over.  Rockford's farmer's markets have become very strong. I love that every type of produce I'd want at this time of year is available from a local grower. 
    3. I vow to continue cooking 3-4 nights a week. After a week away from any cooking, I forget how much I really like it and how good I feel doing it.  Tonight I took all of the leftovers from the fridge and invented a new dish. I parboiled some pasta, layered it with leftover grilled eggplant, onions,  garlic, and summer squash, added some diced tomato, basil and oregano from my garden, threw in some egg and cheese to bind it, and baked it in the oven. Yum!
    4. Last, but not least, I vow to write one blog post a week. I have plenty to write about...No lethargy allowed!
    I leave you with a newish piece I've created entitled " Try, Look, Show, Tell." 

    Ta. Ta.

      Monday, August 9, 2010

      Italian Adventure Part Four: Roma

      As I sit and write this post, I am listening to my "Italia Soundtrack". This eclectic collection of songs brings me right back to our room at Hotel Elide in Rome.

      July in Rome is hot - desert hot. There was only so much walking and sightseeing I could do during the day without needing an air conditioned nap in our hotel room. (Matt, on the other hand could usually walk forever.) Our routine was to get up and go in the morning by 9 or 10 and then stay out until lunch time. Then, like all good Italians do, we'd head back to our room.

      Our Italia soundtrack was formed during our daily afternoon siesta, watching the only station with some English broadcasting. Unlike the American version, MTV Italia broadcasts music videos 90 percent of the time. It was refreshing, for a time, until we noticed that their playlist was limited to the same 20 videos or so. Matt and I know know every word to "California Gurls" by Katy Perry and "Waka-Waka" by Shakira. ( I don't know if that's something I should be bragging about!) Besides the usual sugar pop, we were introduced to some new favorites like Stromae from France, the Baseballs from Germany, and the Drums from Brooklyn. (So strange that I had to go to Europe to hear the Drums!)

      We spent seven days in Rome. This post would be a mile long if I wrote about all of the food, sights and art we took in, so I'll just hit some of the highlights.
      • Hotel Elide: I would recommend this place to anyone. Its right in the heart of things, on via Firenze between Via Nationale and via del Quirnale, with a metro stop just 3 minutes away. The rooms are updated and clean, the staff is fun and helpful. The only thing that was less than stellar was the breakfast. You're better off heading right across the street to the Snack Bar (also a Rick Steve's pick) for an espresso and brioche.

      • Baroque art in churches: The Catholic churches that seem to be on every corner, are truly best place to see Baroque art, and its free! Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa (above), Caravaggio's Conversion of St. Paul, The Calling of St. Matthew, and several other of his works line the walls of these churches. It seems ridiculous, but the lighting on these works is better than in Rome's showplace museum, The Borghese Gallery. In the Caravaggio room at the Borghese, you can't stand in one place and view the whole Madonna dei Palafrenieri at once. That's just bad! The churches are also great places to duck out of the heat for a bit too.

      • Borghese Park: Just 2 metro stops away, we spent quite a bit of time walking around this park, once the private property and home of the Borghese family. It's lush and shady, with miles of paved paths for walking or biking. When you get hot or tired, there are plenty of little carts and even a full blown cafe to grab a Pepsi or a Peroni. (You can buy alcohol anywhere in Italy, even from the street vendor.) Matt and I liked to go to the park to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
      • Fifa Fan Fest: While walking around Borghese park, we came across the Fifa Fan Fest cite. Rome was one of 6 international cities to host the event. Every World Cup match was shown on a huge screen and was free and open to the public. We decided to head down one afternoon to watch a match. As we walked through the park towards the cite, we worried that we may have gotten the time wrong. The park was dead silent! We approached the fan fest grounds and found thousands of people sitting silently, enthralled in the game. It was so different than any other sporting event I've watched in my life. The spectators were so into the game that there was little time for talking or drinking. We sat down on the ground at the top of the hill with hundreds of others and watched. It was sweltering hot, but a great experience.

      • The Roman Forum: We got lucky and visited the Forum on an overcast day, so Matt and I could really enjoy and explore this fantastic cite. The Forum was the heart of ancient Rome, both politically and socially. We walked along original Roman streets paved with huge stones that had also been walked on by the likes of Julius Caesar and Augustus. Rick Steves, our travel guru, gave us a guided tour via his podcast, that Matt had downloaded onto is Iphone. I just don't know how to explain how amazing it was to walk amidst these beautiful and iconic architectural marvels, made almost 2000 years ago.
      • In the foreground here you see an ancient Roman arch, and in the background a baroque era church. You find vignettes like this all over Rome, where old and new collides and even exists on top of one another. For instance, the ancient ruins of the Baths of Diocletian, dedicated in 306, were converted by Michelangelo into the Renaissance Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. The bath's ancient walls are integrated into and are preserved by this church. I didn't take any pictures inside of the church, but did take the shot below of the exterior.

      • Al Bric: Now, did you really think I could write an entire blog post about Rome and not mention the food? On our last night in Rome, we decided to splurge and headed to the Michelin rated Osteria Enoteca al Bric. (Yet again, Rick Steves did not disappoint.) To start, we drank wine from Montalcino (a stop on our Tuscan tour) and ate mussels baked in their shell with bread crumbs and Roquefort. Matt and I both had delectable fresh pastas with seafood, and we finished the meal with espresso and homemade vanilla ice cream flavored with acacia honey. Divine dining!
      I leave you with a picture of me in front of my boss' house. (St. Peter's at the Vatican. Catholic school teacher humor Ha.) Our 2 weeks in Italy were truly magical and Matt and I can't wait to go back again.

      Saturday, July 31, 2010

      Italian Adventure Part Three - Tuscany

      If I had to choose just one place from this last trip to visit again, it would be Tuscany. Spectacular scenery, delicious foods, world class wines and a laid back attitude so appealed to me.

      Our first stop in Tuscany was Montalcino. We parked the Cinquecento outside the city walls and walked in. (In most of the tiny Tuscan towns, only residents are allowed to drive in the town itself). We had lunch at a spot recommended by our guru Rick Steves, and of course, we were not disappointed! Anchovies with pesto, local pecorino cheese served melted with honey, gnocchi and a delicious salad. Very yum!

      We drove on to our agritourismo, just outside of Pienza. Podere Poderuccio is a working farm with 4 beautifully appointed and modern villas for tourists. For just 60 euro, we had our own air conditioned apartment with a kitchen. Wow! This is a shot of the outside of the villa. Erika, the agritourismo proprietor, wasn't quite ready for our arrival, so we drove into the next hill town over to spend the afternoon.

      Montepulciano is a quaint wine town; quiet, inviting and beautiful. When I think of my family living in Sicilia, this how I pictured things. Below you will see one of the first places we visited as we walked up into the city.

      Do you see the name above the door? Ok, so it says "Cacciatori" and my family name is "Cacciatore", but it was exciting! I took a lot of pictures of doors on this trip. So many beautiful wood doors with unique looking knockers lurking on every street.

      Matt and I walked around Montelpulciano for a spell and then settled into the outdoor cafe in the town piazza. They were playing the World Cup match of the day (England was slaughtered by Germany!) on a big screen. As I'd mentioned prior, it was fun to be in Italy during the World Cup and be amidst people who respect soccer as much as Matt and I do. The weather was mild, the house wine was tasty and they kept bringing us snacks. Pretty heavenly!

      Before heading back for the night we found a little place to eat with inexpensive wine and enticing looking antipasto. Matt (who is allergic to pork) indulged me and let me order a cured meat extravaganza. I have never seen cured, salted pork in so many different forms! Proscuitto, salami, a jerky of sorts, plus three other porkie products I'd never even seen before. Amazing!

      We struck up a conversation with the owners of the restaurant, a friendly husband and wife. It turns out that the husband is originally from Sicily and his last name is Torrisi. (The mom of my soon to be stepson Jack is a Torrisi. Small world!) The Torrisi's told us how much they'd like to live in the US and we told them about how much we'd like to live like they do in Tuscany. The grass is always greener I suppose.

      I leave you with a shot taken from outside our villa at Podere Poderruccio. There's nothing quite like the Tuscan countryside. I promise that I will finish up my Italian travelogue in the coming week. Last stop: Roma.

      Wednesday, July 28, 2010

      Wish I Could

      Matt is away with union work, so I have had much time to catch up on art making. Besides the Greenwich Village show in September, it looks as if I will be doing two holiday shows. I've got to build up that inventory.

      My love affair with the Bic pen continues. So many different marks can be made as well as a full range of values can be made. Plus, I just think its pretty darn cool to work with such a mundane material.

      I've been inspired by Matt's Scandinavian design book, copyright 1961. I'm drawn to the clean lines and sparse spaces depicted in it's pages.

      As soon as I started this last piece "Wish I Could" I knew it was going to have a melancholic feeling. There is an empty chair that seems to look out through the curtained window. The weather appears bright and sunny, so why are you inside? I wonder.

      I don't think that this original piece will be listed for sale on Etsy. I'm keeping it for Greenwich. But, if you just have to have it, please let me know. I'm sure we can work something out. "Wish I Could" will be listed on Etsy a large 12" x 15" print shortly.

      Speaking of "Supersized" 12" x 15" prints, have you entered the giveaway yet?

      P.S. I promise I will finish up my recap of the Italy trip soon. I just got a little distracted.


      Tuesday, July 27, 2010

      A Supersized Giveaway!

      For years, patrons have requested that I "supersize" my work. I finally did it!

      Meet "Meant to Be", my first 12" x 15" print. This is a big print of my original "Meant to Be" collage. This sucker will cover some wall space! I am really happy with how my original 8" x 10" work translated to this larger size.

      "Meant to Be" was printed with my fab Epson printer using archival pigment based inks on 13" x 19" artist quality matte paper. The image is centered on the paper with a white border for your matting/framing convenience.

      To celebrate my jump into jumbo, I'm giving away a "Meant to Be" print! (a $40.00 value)

      Want to enter?

      Just follow my blog and leave me a comment. If you already are a blog follower, just leave a comment.

      The winner will be chosen at random from all those entered on Saturday morning 7/31, whenever I get my butt out of bed. (I'm so official aren't I?) The winner will be posted later that day.

      Meant to Be is available for sale in my Etsy shop.

      Thursday, July 22, 2010

      Italian Adventure Part Two: Verona & Florence

      After 2 days in Venice, we rented a cute little Fiat Cinquecento (500) and headed to Verona. Matt was in love with this car and relished maneuvering the tiny thing on the crazy streets of Italy.

      With the help of the GPS program that Matt had loaded onto his Iphone, we made it to Verona. I would highly recommend a GPS to anyone planning on doing any driving in Italy. Streets are confusing and not all that well marked.

      We spent just a few hours in the city center of Verona, hometown of Romeo and Juliet. The "downtown" is centered around the Roman era Arena di Verona. Large scale productions like Aida are still held in this smaller scaled version of the Colosseum in Rome.

      After a hot night without air conditioning or even a fan, we made our way to Florence. What a fancy place it is. Capri Moon, our bed and breakfast shared a street with Gucci, Burberry, and the Versace store. I couldn't get over the fact that one minute you could be luxury shopping and the next you're standing in front of a renaissance era church.

      Florence is the birthplace of the early Italian Renaissance, so there was lots of art historical goodness for me to soak up there. The one thing that you can't really ever grasp via pictures is scale. Florence's Duomo is just enormous! I wish there was a way for me to bring all of my art history students to all of the places we study for this reason.

      I could go on and on about the art work we saw here - Donatello's Mary Magdalene, Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, The Orsanmichele, the most extensive collection of the work of Botticelli in the world. It was an art lover's paradise!

      The Caprimoon was one of our favorite accommodations on this trip. We were livin' it up with a TV, fan and an attached bath, all of which are not standard in Italian hotels. Every morning, we were treated to a great little breakfast in the dining room. I fell in love with "spready cheese" and salami on bread. Let me tell you, the cured meats in Italy were like nothing I had ever had before. You would be amazed at the vast array available.

      After 2 days in the packed, tourist encrusted, and bustling city, it was time to head out to the country. Tuscany was our next stop....

      More next time.

      Monday, July 19, 2010

      I'm Back!

      Ciao Friends!

      I've been home from Italy for about a week now, and am finally getting back into the groove of things. What a trip!

      Our Italian adventure started off in Venice. Such an interesting city - no cars, just sidewalks and canals for boats. I loved the layers of age visible on all the buildings. Matt and I enjoyed walking around the Island and sampling the local foods like sarde en sour (sweet, pickled sardines). It sounds awful but really does taste delicious! Our travel guru Rick Steves recommended that we order "misto" plates when dining in Venice. A misto plate is basically a combination a restaurant's antipastos and boy was Stevie right on the money. One night we ate octopus, sardines, grilled polenta and mussels.....and that was just the appetizer!

      On two separate occasions while in Venice, I ran into Travel Channel personality Andrew Zimmern. He was nice enough to take a picture with us. We didn't get to talk to him for very long, so we don't know what he was shooting. We'll be watching Bizzare Foods to find out.

      Something else quite newsworthy happened in Venice....Matt and I got engaged! We're so very excited and so is the rest of the Mullin and Johnson clans. We are planning a "destination" wedding in California wine country for June 2011.

      After 2 nights in Venice, we rented a car and headed south. More on Verona and Florence in my next post.


      Thursday, June 17, 2010

      A Great Escape

      We all need to escape sometimes.

      For some, escape is a place. The couch, a room, the beach, the mall.

      For others, escape is a state of mind. Prayer, food, exercise, reading.

      I find escape in many ways, with art being a primary means of escape. I can escape in the very act of creating. When I am making art, I am in that "right brained" state - losing track of time and feeling content and confident. I even escape into the images I create. With each piece, I aspire to create an ideal and comfortable little world within the confines of the format.

      Where do you go to escape?