Liberate Your Art 2017: “Experiment, Play, Create & Liberate”

The LYA blog hop has begun!

As mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I participated in Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art swap again.  The swap has been running for seven years. I’d “just missed” the first year when I found out about the swap, but I’ve participated every year since.

This year’s stats:

876 pieces of art liberated
146 artists participating
12 countries
30 US states and territories

The words that make up Kat’s theme, “Experiment, Play, Create, and Liberate,” serve as “clues to an expressive, playful, and free approach to making art.” She encourages participants to “keep those four words with us over the next year as we create and share our art.”

I’m happy to report that I received all six unique pieces of art sent my way. [As usual, April is insanely busy, and I haven’t had a moment to stage and photograph the postcards in my environment, so please forgive me].

“Angles and Lines” by Christopher A. 

My first card came from Christopher of Michigan, a piece of art he created in December 2016. Christopher’s circumstances “made” an artist of him and compelled him to take a minimalist approach to art.  He works with what’s available to him–a pencil and a piece of paper folded to make a straight edge.

He shares a quote that appropriately captures his circumstances and his art:

I’ve wanted to somehow convey to you the sensations–the atmospheric pressure, you might say–of what it is to be seriously a long-term prisoner in an American prison.  –Jack Henry Abbott

A few days later, a little bit of Hong Kong graced my mailbox.  Kris sends “love from Texas,” but as she points out, the scene is clearly not Texas:

“Not Texas” by Kris Mc.

I love everything about this photo–the composition, the tone.  There’s so much story in this image!  You can find more of Kris’s stunning work on her blog, on Instagram, and on Flickr.

Greetings from Gabriola Island (Canada) came next.

“The Road to Cold Mountain,” by Paul T.

Paul had fun creating this piece, entitled “The Road to Cold Mountain.” I find it intriguing.  I’d love to know more about it!

Siobhan sent a calming photo postcard with a clock tower reflected on a rippling river.

“1902 Clock Tower” by Siobhan Wolf

The photo was shot at Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington.  You can find more of Siobhan’s work at Wolf Tales, her blog.  I love her signature line on the card… #bethelove.

Ella sent a whimiscal watercolor.

“Puff” by Ella L.

Ella completed this watercolor a few years ago.  She sends her card with wishes for the “joy of playfulness.” Ella is a freelance illustrator who works with children’s books and poetry among other things. You can find more of her work on her website: Ellapointe Studio.

If you’ve been following along for the last several years, you know Kat’s postcard always ends the swap.

When I retrieved Kat’s card, I had mixed feelings–excitement because the “long anticipated” Kat card arrived, but disappointment because the card meant the end of the swap and I have to wait a year before it comes around again.

Digital Painting by Kat Sloma

Kat surprised me this year.  Instead of sending one of her photos, she sent a colorful digital art piece.  I realize, though, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  She’d been posting digital paintings via IG: kateyeview.  Trees are one of Kat’s favorite things to photograph, so I like how this image pays tribute to one of her favorite subjects.

Thank you Christopher, Kris, Paul, Siobhan, Ella, Kat and all the other wonderful artists who courageously share your art.  Your creativity inspires me!

I am so grateful for you, Kat.  Thank you for consistently, patiently, and meticulously coordinating LYA.  Your work pushes all of us to strive for the best in our work as artists.

Fortunately, side swaps help us liberate even more art.  If you’re interested in swapping away those extras, let me know. I’ll post the postcards I sent on “Microblog Monday.”

If you want to see more “liberated art,” check out the video featuring art from some of the participants. For a more comprehensive view of the exchange, click the tiny blue frog below.

 

Until next time…create more art!

My Mailbox Speaks French: “Les publicités anciennes” (Old Advertisements)

Though my skills in other languages are minimal, my mailbox is multilingual. Just a few days ago I retrieved a happy envelope full of postcard goodies from France.  Louise of Drops of Everything sent me the package thanking me for a kindness.  Of course, this was unnecessary, but I’m learning not to stifle people’s desire to give or my mailbox’s right to be happy. 😉

Louise sent a note via Instagram letting me know that “a little something” was on the way. I had no idea what, but since I love surprises, I didn’t even try to guess. Therefore, I was thoroughly pleased when I opened the envelope and found five glossy vintage French advertisement reproductions.

The postcards are from a collection of vintage postcard reproductions.  I’ve done my best to find out more about the collection, but my French is beyond rusty (an understatement).  No matter. There was a lot of great information on the backs of the postcards.  The collection is called “Les Publicites Anciennes,” roughly translated “old advertisements.”

Reproduction of a beautiful lithographic poster executed about 1900 (anonymous author) for cocoa "Van Houten." Printing works F. Champeois, Paris. Source: private collection

Reproduction of a beautiful lithographic poster executed about 1900 (anonymous author) for “Cocoa Van Houten.” Printing: F. Champeois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a famous and original charm-lithography of 1893 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for the "Chocolat Menier." Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private Collection.

Reproduction of a famous and original chromo-lithograph of 1893 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for the “Chocolat Menier.” Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private Collection.

 

Reproduction of an original chromo-lithograph of 1897 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for "biscuits Lu" (Lefevre Utile). Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of an original chromo-lithograph of 1897 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for “Biscuits Lu” (Lefevre Utile). Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a beautiful chromo-lithograph produced at the beginning of the 20th century for Ets Vendors which at that time made "Calais" biscuits. Printer: F. Champenois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of a beautiful chromo-lithograph produced at the beginning of the 20th century for Ets Vendors which at that time made “Calais” biscuits. Printer: F. Champenois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a famous illustration (first half of 20th century) produced by the artist Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) for the Paitissiers de face collective, found on pastry packaging and cake boxes. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of a famous illustration (first half of 20th century) produced by the artist Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) for the Pâtisserie de face collective, found on pastry packaging and cake boxes. Source: Private collection.

Aren’t these delicious? And they arrived in time for the holidays. 🙂

It seems the postcards come from a collection “Les Authentiques et les Imaginares.” In my search for more information about the postcards, I discovered that there are a number of counterfeits of Germaine Bouret’s work and some vendors continue to sell the postcards even though it is illegal to do so.  I’m baffled by the lengths people will go to profit off someone else’s creative and intellectual property, but I’m curious about the Bouret counterfeits.  In my curiosity, I was led to an original sketch of the illustration above: Bouret Advertisement Illustrations.  In fact, on this site the particular collection from which this postcard comes was listed as an offender (but not this particular postcard).  Interesting, right? When time permits, I’m going to uncover as much as I can about this collection.

So…Louise, thanks for sending me a bundle of gorgeous postcards AND the unplanned intrigue!

 

Pretty Purple Postcard!

Squeals! Look at what was in my mailbox:

"Creativity, Light, and Love," by Tiare Smith Designs

“Creativity, Light, and Love,” by Tiare Smith Designs

Neither my hubby nor I checked our mailbox Thursday, so this bit of awesomeness was retrieved Friday morning as I was heading out to work. Why the squeals?  My friend Cy and I “discovered” Tiare Smith Designs moments apart.  I actually shared her Etsy link with Cy when I saw some AKA sorority-inspired art.  As usual, I was multitasking while shopping, so the “Tia Collection,” one of the sets of postcards I placed in my cart, sold out before I could place the order.  I lamented missing out on Tia, but who didn’t miss out? And who sent me this postcard?  Cy!

Pause for the “happy mail” dance.

According to her creator, “Tia is here to bring light and love into the world.  She has many stories to share.”  Besides her “purpleness,” I love the innocence, sweetness, and light Tia projects.  She makes me want to skip through a field of flowers with nary a care in the world.

I initially went to Tiare’s shop to purchase a birthday gift for myself–a print the artist posted in “Black Women Who Plan and Create,” a community of black women planners, crafters, and artists on Facebook and Instagram.

"Fearless Girl" by Tiare Smith Designs

“Fearless Girl” by Tiare Smith Designs

This print captured everything I was feeling in the few days after my birthday. Focused. Determined. Fearless.

There was so much eye candy in the shop that I couldn’t resist purchasing other prints. Besides, I had gift cards to spend. 🙂 I purchased a total of 16 postcards, and Tiare included four extras, including three abstract still life prints and a multi-paneled print with tips for including it in planner layouts.  Here’s a peek at the order:

A collection of prints by Tiare Smith Designs

A collection of prints by Tiare Smith Designs

Tiare is a mixed media artist and instructor who obviously has fun with her work, but she also takes her work and her customers seriously.  She has great customer service–ships quickly, responds to questions, and customizes orders.  If you want to see more of Tiare’s art, check her out at Tiare Smith Designs or at her Etsy Shop. She’s also on Instagram and Twitter as @iamclassygirl and on Facebook: Tiare Smith Designs.

It’s always a treat to find a random postcard from Cy in my mailbox, partly because the writing side is always handled with simplicity and elegance.  Her message included a quote sticker:  “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” A “truth” to live by! 😉

Thank you, Cy, for always having my “postcard” back.

 

 

The Indigo Buntings of Academia

I stole a moment yesterday from all the “things to do” to “thin out” the stationery and planner pouches I carry to work with me. All the pretty things were spread out on the coffee table. Among them were at least seven letters to which I must respond soon. In that stack of letters was a gorgeous notecard from Omi, an adjunct English professor and one of my “Professors United” pals on swap-bot.

"Indigo Bunting" by Christy Lemp

“Indigo Bunting” by Christy Lemp

Lemp’s watercolor was one of the winners of the AAUW’s 2015 Art contest.  From the back of the card:

Christy Lemp always loved to draw and paint but only starred devoting more time to it after years of working other jobs and raising her family.  Spurred by the passage of a milestone birthday, Lemp quit her job and dove into her passion: watercolor painting.  After much hard work and persistence, Lemp’s dream of making artwork for people has come true. Indigo Bunting was inspired by a Mother’s Day visit of the beautiful bird to Lemp’s bird feeder.

I often think about adjunct professors like Omi who toil day in and day out with inadequate pay and benefits.  In this letter, Omi wrote about how the university that employs her changed the adjunct pay schedule from biweekly to monthly and were (or are) discussing eliminating adjuncts in her discipline altogether! I am sympathetic to the plight of adjuncts and disturbed by how some universities take advantage of them, but I know that many adjuncts appreciate having a paycheck and a job in academia, hoping that “a foot in the door” will lead to a full-time position.

According to the Chipper Woods Bird Observatory:

Indigo Buntings perform a valuable service as they consume grasshoppers, beetles, cankerworms, flies, mosquitoes, cicadas, weevils and aphids. Diet also consists of seeds of raspberries, grasses, thistle, goldenrod, dandelions and other weed seeds. It is well worth the effort to provide suitable brushy habitat and shrubby forest edges to assure a healthy population of these attractive little songsters.

I’m not in the habit of comparing people to animals, but it’s fitting that Omi wrote her letter on this card. It’s a reminder that adjuncts, too, provide an invaluable service to colleges and universities. They, often, perform in ways that other professors refuse, taking on the grunt work of service courses that leave them little time to pursue their own research and dreams.

Despite the challenges, Omi seems upbeat and optimistic. She’s writing, reading, crafting, sharing beauty, and loving her life–and her cats who “own [her] soul because she can’t resist their cute faces.”  =^..^=

Collage Art: The Little Matisses

“In the Style of Matisse” by Vaughan

[Art] is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.  –Henri Matisse

By now, you know that there’s a special place in my heart for children’s art and art created for children, so as promised, I’m back with another dose of fourth grade goodness.

About a month ago, Mrs. Johnson, my son’s fourth grade teacher, introduced the students to the art of French artist Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse.  Matisse, whose work spanned many decades, worked with various styles and media.  Mrs. Johnson’s art lesson focused on a technique Matisse mastered late in his career after illness and surgery left him physically unable to paint and sculpt–collages made from brightly colored paper cut in various shapes and sizes. I’m sure the students loved playing with construction paper, glue, and scissors to create their own masterpieces à la Matisse!

My little one created the one above. These (below) were created by the other students in the class. [Click on an image for a closer look].

Sixteen little Matisses. The bold colors and unique shapes are mesmerizing.  It is obvious that the children enjoyed creating the collages. I wonder if they felt as “mysterious” and “adventurous” as some of these pieces feel.

I’m no art expert, but as far as I’m concerned, children’s art–even when it is imitative–is always fresh and always bears a stroke of originality and innocence.

To find out more about Matisse’s life and career, check him out here: Matisse: Life and Painting.

The weekend is here:  Why not take some time to create something with construction paper, scissors, and a little glue?

Postcards from Dr. Seuss

"Speak for the Trees," Mail Art by Nancylee on swap-bot

“Speak for the Trees,” Mail Art by Nancylee on swap-bot

Wouldn’t pulling this envelope out of your mailbox make you grin from ear to ear?  Maybe, that’s just me?  Swap-bot’s Nancylee so cheerfully decorated the envelope she sent to me in celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday (in March) that I almost forgot to open the envelope!  The front was inspired by The Lorax; the back was inspired by none other than the Cat in the Hat.

Dr Seuss Bday Swap-1

Yes, she adorned the front and back with her imitations of Dr. Seuss characters.

Now, what was inside the envelope?  Two postcards from the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, Massachusetts, Theodor Geisel’s (aka Dr. Seuss) hometown.  Although she has yet to visit the sculpture garden, Nancylee’s mom visited and sent her a bunch of postcards.

The first postcard features Horton of Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg fame standing inside the pages of a book.

"Horton Court,"

“Horton Court,” Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Sculptor

A couple of my favorite Horton quotes:

from Horton Hears a Who–

Please don’t harm all my little folks, who
have as much right to live as us bigger folks do!

from Horton Hatches the Egg–

I meant what I said and I said what I meant.
An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent.

The second postcard features Yertle from Yertle the Turtle standing loftily on top of all the turtles of the pond.  Yertle is probably the favorite Seuss tale in our home.  We applaud the moxie of a “plain little” turtle named Mack who stands up for turtles everywhere.

"Yertle the Turtle,"

“Yertle the Turtle,” Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Sculptor

My favorite quotes from the book:

I know up there on top, you are seeing great sights
but down here on the bottom, we, too, should have rights.

and of course,

And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free
As turtles, and, maybe, all creatures should be.

The sculptures were created by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Geisel’s stepdaughter.  What a precious way to pay tribute to his memory and imagination!  If you’d like to find out more about the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, click the link.

 

Liberate Your Art 2015: A Quick View of the After Party

This year, like last year, I engaged in a little post-Liberate Your Art swapping and received more beautiful artwork to add to my LYA collection. Although many started swapping even before Kat Sloma sent the postcards, I preferred to wait till the blog hop to begin swapping–I like the element of surprise.

Here are the post-swap cards I’ve received so far.

Shelia Delgado

Watercolor by Shelia Delgado

Sheila of Sheila’s Corner Studio shared this pretty watercolor.  Instead of having her postcards professionally printed, Sheila printed her own, front and back.  She shared a personal note wishing me a “fantabulous” day and included a couple of quotes:

One eye sees, the other feels. Paul Klee.

Imagination needs moodling–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. Brenda Ueland.

“Crow in Flight” by Marsha

Marsha of Winnipeg, Canada sent this “heavily textured” photograph of a crow in flight.  She shot this photo a year ago. Marsha works with various art forms–photography, quilting, watercolor, gelatin monoprinting and more.  You can see more of her work on her blog, Coolquilting.

“Shipyard of Camaret,” by Louise Mamet Photography

Louise sent these ships with best wishes from Brittany, France. You can find more of her photography at Drops of Everything: Sharing Steps From My Path of Life.

Mixed Media by Heli

“Old Ways Do Not Open New Doors,” Art Journal Page by Heli

This one wasn’t exactly a direct swap.  Heli’s postcards took the long route from Finland to Kat’s address in Oregon and didn’t arrive until after the swap and blog hop were over.  Kat called for five volunteers to send Heli a card and she sent cards to the volunteers on Heli’s behalf.  Poor Heli. She even paid for expedited shipping. I’m pleased that I volunteered.  This is such a beautiful work of art. It is likely a reproduction of an art journal page.  Heli’s blog, Art Journal – Coloured Stories, features many of her art journal pages.

Finally, I received two mixed media cards from Janice who challenged herself to break out of her usual mode of art (photography) and ventured into mixed media this year.

“Love, Peace, and Joy” by Janice

This dreamcatcher postcard will be framed and placed in my office at work.  I was secretly coveting the image (below) when I saw it in a number of LYA blog posts and Facebook posts, so I was thrilled to find it in the envelope with an encouraging message written on the back:  “Share your passion!”

“All You Have to Do Is Fly,” by Janice

Check out all six of her LYA 2015 creations on her blog: Janice Darby: Photography Through My Eyes.

Thanks, ladies, for the cheer you added to my crazy May and hot June days. Thanks for creating art and for having the courage to liberate it!

Haven’t had enough? Check out the video Kat put together (of one postcard from each participant):  LYA Video.  The video is in the middle of the post.

Enjoy!

[Note: A few people requested a swap, but forgot to share contact information.   Please leave your email addy in the comments section and I’ll be in touch today. Thanks!]

A “Red, White and/or Blue” World: Not a Political Statement

Sometimes, I get a little too busy to share all the goodies that find their way to my mailbox, so on this exciting Saturday night as I get a jumpstart on laundry, I’m stealing a moment to share the beautiful notecards swap-bot Sharp Shooter “Midteacher” sent to me a few weeks ago.  These were sent for a “Red, White and/or Blue” swap hosted by one of the group founders, Lou.  She hosts a color-themed photo swap monthly.

Midteacher

“White Flowers” by Midteacher

Midteacher

“Red Flower” by Midteacher

Raspberries by Midteacher

“Raspberries” by Midteacher

Daisy by Midteacher

“More White Flowers” by Midteacher

Isn’t this a beautiful bundle of cheer to find in a mailbox?  Check out the detail of the raspberries! Midteacher edited the two photos on top in an app.   I love the linen fabric treatment.

I played around in an app with two of the photos I sent to my own partner for the swap.

Blue Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans City Park

Blue Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans City Park

Red Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park

Red Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park

You might be familiar with famous Cajun artist George Rodrigue‘s loup-garou, better known as the “Blue Dog.”  There are three of the “dog” sculptures in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Gardens at City Park in New Orleans (there’s also a yellow one). I edited these two in the Waterlogue app which was an obsession several months ago.   I think I like the app because it makes me feel like an artist. 😉

Here’s another of my “Blue Dog” modifications:

"Black and White and Blue All Over"

“Black and White and Blue All Over”

Only the dog kept his color.  These photos were shot three+ years ago. Frankly, I’m not crazy about any of “dog” photos–original or modified.  If I were to capture them again, I’m sure I’d take a completely different approach.

What’s red, white and/or blue in your world?

The Cat Behind the Hat Was Hiding in Walmart

My apologies to those of you who received an incomplete draft version of this post via email.  I mistakenly hit the publish button as I hopped from my chair to take a phone call.  I have a very sensitive mouse apparently!

I’m not sure where you shop, but you might want to check out the clearance books at your local Walmart.  Now, I’m not a Walmart fan.  In fact, I shop there as little as possible–opting to pay more $$$ at Publix for various reasons.  But if you’re into books and art and into Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss, it’s worth a trip if you find the deluxe collector’s edition–Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat by Caroline M. Smith.

Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat by Caroline M. Smith

My friend, Anitra, found this absolutely wonderful set at Walmart and gave it to our sons’ teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week.  If you’re a blog follower, you know I love Dr. Seuss!  Since I so obviously fell in love with the set, Anitra volunteered to go back to Walmart and pick up one for me.  Take a closer look:

The Cat Behind the Hat Front of Slipcase

The Cat Behind the Hat Front of Slipcase

Closeup of Art and Title

Closeup of Art and Title

The slipcase measures about 16 x 18 inches and is simply gorgeous.  You’ll have to trust me because my quick snaps do the actual items no justice.  When I saw this huge, gorgeous, foil-stamped, cloth-covered slipcase, I fell in love even before I peeked inside for a look at the contents!

What is inside the velvet-lined slipcase, you ask?

  • a cloth-covered 9.75 x 12.25-inch, 320-page hardcover book filled with colorful illustrations from what Geisel called his “Midnight Paintings” and the children’s book illustrations with which we’re all familiar.  Most of the pages are fully illustrated like those pictured below; some contain text and illustrations and/or photos. (Click an image for a closer look).
  • a 12 x 16-inch scrolled color lithograph featuring this image.

Cat Behind the Hat Images-4

  • three 10.5 x 8.5-inch black-and-white prints tucked into a pocket inside the slipcase (click an image for a larger view).

The book was previously published as Secrets of the Deep in connection with The Art of Dr. Seuss.  This revised edition was published in 2012 by the Chase Group, LLC and produced by Amazon Publishing in collaboration with Andrew McMeel Publishing and Lionheart Books.  The text, as noted earlier, was written by Caroline M. Smith, but the images were compiled and edited by William W. Dreyer, Michael Reagan, and Robert Chase, Jr.

From the product description insert:

This exquisitely produced collector’s edition redefines Theodor Geisel, known to the world as Dr. Seuss, as an iconic American artist. Illustrator by day, surrealist by night, Dr. Seuss created a body of little-known work that he called his “Midnight Paintings.” For sixty years, this work allowed Geisel to expand his artistic boundaries outside the confines of commercial influences and deadlines.  […] Though he fiercely protected his “Midnight Paintings” from criticism during his lifetime, his intention all along was for these works to be seen when he was gone. This comprehensive look at the art that he created over his lifetime is an eye-opening peek behind the public persona into the real story of he man who was Dr. Seuss.

The curators and publisher are quick to note that they had no intention of trying to offer Geisel’s work in its entirety, but instead wished to present a “medley” of his work in a “chronological-ish” way.

Here’s the Table of Contents.

The Cat Behind the Hat Table of Contents

The Cat Behind the Hat Table of Contents

The book contains 80 of Geisel’s “Midnight Paintings” along with the more popular illustrations, advertisements, drafts, etc.  For the artists among us, the medium used for each piece is also provided. I wish I could share every delicious image with you.

I am seriously giddy every time I open this book!  The art is amazing, as expected, and I get to enjoy it whenever I want!  I also sincerely appreciate the intimate look at one of the greatest storytellers of our time and the glimpse of his struggles and triumphs.  I empathize with his desire to keep these “midnight paintings” away from public scrutiny, perhaps avoiding painful criticism of some of his most personal works.

Aside from the fact that I consider this a literary and artistic treasure–one that my family and I are thrilled to have in our collection–the price makes this find even more spectacular. Here’s the original price:

Cat Behind the Hat Images-3_2

Yes, $300.  Thankfully, Anitra found this in the clearance section for…wait for it…wait for it…$16.00!!! Can you believe it? That’s slightly more than 5% of the list price.

I am sooo grateful to have friends who look out for me and cater to my interests. I am not much of a shopper–don’t like shopping much–so I rely on these kind souls to find the super bargains and call me and let me know about them.  I would not have thought to look in the clearance section of Walmart for this!

Thank you, Anitra! You have such a good eye for bargains and a giving heart!