Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gratitude . . .

It is the week of Thanksgiving. This year is different for our family. Generally we have a housefull of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. This year, the extended family have found themselves traveling to visit others around the area and our family will be enjoying a quieter celebration. I am grateful. With children growing, becoming adults, and moving on in the world, our time surrounding a dinner table is growing fewer and fewer. When we do find ourselves around the table, it seems that we are rushed and not as connected.

My memories go back to the time when the children were all in elementary and middle school. I have fond memories of sitting around the dinner table. It was generally casual. I love to cook, but hate the cleanup. Often our dinners were dished up at the stove and we carried what we needed to the table. In my childhood, dinner required "setting the table" with plates, glasses, napkins, knives, forks, spoons, and all of the accompaniments like butter, salt, pepper, jam, etc. Each meal was an event. And it was lovely. But I often choose a more casual approach. . .

Once we were all settled, I wanted to engage in conversation with the family. We would play "High Low". One by one we would go around the table and tell about the high point of our day, and the low point. Some days, we would have wonderful, exciting "highs". Mostly; however, it would be simple things like who they played with at recess or completing their homework on time. This simple ritual gave me a wonderful glimpse into my children's daily lives when they were away from me.

We will play a similar game around our Thanksgiving table this week. Each place setting will contain three pieces of candy corn. Each of these pieces represent an item of gratitude, which we will take turns sharing. This will be followed by a prayer of Thanksgiving and Gratitude before we begin our meal. Then - considering that my children don't sit around the table together often anymore, I am sure that it will resemble the "wild rumpus" that is oversaw by Max in the book "Where the Wild Things Are",(which is my favorite children's story -and hopefully, there won't be any gnashing of terrible teeth.

Although I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout the year, I wish to take this time to express my gratitude for the wonderful blessings I experience in my life everyday. I am grateful for family - my wonderful husband of 22 years, and my children; I am grateful to still have my parents in my life and my ability to pick up the phone and talk to them any time I want; I am grateful for some amazing friends (you know who you are - I have awesome girl friends!!!); I am grateful for my job; I am grateful for my talents and the opportunity I get to use them every day; I am grateful for my home - it's not perfect, but it protects me from the cold and rain; I am grateful for so many of my daily conveniences like good cooking utensils and my gas stove, a washer and a dryer, a refrigerator, indoor plumbing, a warm coat . . ." I could go on for hours! May you all take time to recognize those people and things which you are grateful for and may your Thanksgiving be a day surrounded by friends and family.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gallery Opening

Last night I attended a gallery opening, complete with great art, music, food, and . . .chairs by me! This was a first for me. I have attended sales and shows, but I have never had my work featured in a gallery show until now. It was quite exciting!
Sometime after the Gresham Art Walk, I received a phone call from someone who had visited my booth. She said she was working as a curator for an upcoming gallery show and was determined that she wanted to have some of my chairs included. What a great feeling!
The theme of the show was Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. I submitted 3 chairs made especially for this show. I think my favorite was "My Blue Heaven" which featured a mermaid playing beneath the waves.
Here is mermaid chair hanging on the wall of the display.

Me, standing in front of the display.
Here's Chrissy Missy attending the gallery show . . .and what is that cool bag hanging on her shoulder?

Is that a Laurie Miller design? Yep! One of my other product lines that you can see at my shows this season. . .heavy cotton tote bags with unique black and white designs. Perfect for groceries, school books, or a bohemian purse.

Thanks for sharing this experience with me. It was really wonderful . . .now I need to return to the studio to finish up all kinds of treasures for my upcoming shows! Hope to see you there.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Work in Progress

Pam is a coworker. She is a kind and compassionate woman. One of those people that you feel blessed to have met. A few months ago, she returned home from work to discover that her apartment had gone up in flames. She lost everything but the clothes on her back and her beloved cat.
In the process of rebuilding her home, she asked for a chair to brighten up the kitchen area of her new apartment. Her request was simple - lots of bright colors and lots of flowers. The chair is near completion. There are many details yet to be added, but you can see the main idea here.
Be sure and check back in the next few days and you can see the finished product. Thanks for your patience, Pam . . .it's almost ready.
And as mentioned before, I am currently ramping up for my Christmas sales. Here are a few new items:

This is one of several designs created with pen and colored pencil. Each one is sold in a double mat, ready for framing. You'll have to come and visit me to see the other designs.

Here is an example of my hand mirrors. Perfect for daughters, your hair dresser, a friend . . .everybody needs a hand held mirror. This is one of several designs.

So here is the deal - my big sale is in Seattle. If you are in the Seattle area, be sure and visit me on December 6 & 7 at the Phinney Winter Fest. Otherwise, if Portland is a little more doable for you - I will be showing a variety of "giftables" at the Scrooge Lives Holiday Festival on December 3rd and 4th at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham. The hours are from 10:00-6:00 on both days. Other than that, I will be doing a private sale - I will post the date when I have more details. Make this year something special and think about a special hand made gift for those people who are close to you. Contact me if you need a special order.

I want to thank those of you who commented on how they are going to try to cope with the chaos of the holidays. It seems like alot of you are looking at doing more service. In fact, I am going to a holiday party the first week of December. We are going to do the traditional "white elephant" gift exchange. But this year, we are putting a new spin on it. Instead of cleaning out junk to pass on to someone else, each person will wrap up a description of a service they are willing to do for someone else. An hour or two of housework, a batch of cookies, an offer to teach something you are really go at, etc. I thought the idea was brilliant. What a great way to share the holiday spirit. Keep those ideas and suggestions coming. Maybe you will share something that no one else has thought of.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas Surprise

*This is a Christmas secret. Only proceed reading if you can keep a secret. . . . . . .

Christmas is coming . . .my favorite time of year. Yet also a time of. year that brings out the worst in me. It becomes so full of stress. Last year I found myself just days before the holiday, and I had yet to feel the "spirit".

As an artist - this time of year requires alot of time and energy away from home doing shows and supplying people with gifts. Sometimes it takes some of the joy out of it. And the joy is replaced with stress. Now don't get me wrong - the idea that someone picks one of my creations to give as a hearfelt gift is very humbling. It is an honor to make my creations and know that they are being shared.

We have a wonderful tradition at Christmas of gathering with all of the extended family on Christmas Eve. We have dinner, a special program/talent show, the reading of the Christmas story, presents, and Grandma's famous eggnog. It is a wonderful evening filled with laughter, family and all that is Christmas. But the commercialism has become more and more taxing.

So we devised a plan - as the adults drew the names of those they were to buy a gift for, it was decided that we would exchange gifts that were hand created. The gifts could be very simple - some home made jam, hand copied family recipes, a photo album, etc. Or in the case of my sis-in-law . . .a home recorded Christmas CD for the grandparents.

My husband has a variety of equipment and we worked this last week on recording several pieces for our family CD - 2 daughters, my sister in law and myself did an accapella version of Silent Night and Still, Still, Still. Later we added versions of other classics. But here was the dilemma - where can we get good acoustics for vocals at home? Answer . . .the bathroom.

Chrissy prepping to sing (notice to music taped to the bathroom wall)

Cierra and Auntie Michele -

Auntie Michele listening to our creation.

Chrissy and Jon working on the mix and playback.

So here is my question? As the season approaches, what is your family doing to keep the spirit alive and to limit the chaos?

Here's to a wonderful and peaceful holiday season!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Vacation Day?

Tomorrow is Veterans Day - I know the reason behind Veterans Day and I am grateful for the sacrifice of those that have fought for my freedoms in this country.

This day; however, is really more of a day off. The kids don't have school and I get the day "off" from work. It seemed a bit odd this year - maybe my memory is fading in my "old" age - but I don't remember celebrating Veterans Day on any day other than a Monday. So it was rather odd when I discovered that it was being celebrated on the actual date this year and that I would be off on Tuesday. Being the practical person that I am, it only made sense to take off Monday as well and make it a 4 day weekend.
And so I have been on vacation since Friday night. Now don't get me wrong - I love having a few days off. But I don't tend to spend them the way most people would. How would you spend a four day weekend? Take a trip to the coast? Go skiing? Maybe a little shopping or a trip to a day spa? Most likely it would involve sleeping in and relaxing.

As an artist trying to grow my business while working at an 8-5 job, my days off have been spent . . . painting. For most, we are entering into the Thanksgiving season. For me, I am full blown into the Christmas season. I am working hard to build my inventory up for the holidays.

Here are a few of the mirrors I have been working on. The studio is becoming a bit crowded as we are lining up new products to take to our show.
While my days are off are spent "working" on my business, I can think of not better way to spend my time than painting and creating art. In this season of Thanksgiving, I wish to express my gratitude for the opportunity I have to develop my talents and use them to bring joy to others. I am grateful for my art and the peace it gives me. When I spend time with my paints and my brushes, the hours fly by. Painting is the first thing I think about when I wake up. I literally plan my day around when I can spend time in the studio.
And I hope that the example I am setting to my children will help them cherish their talents as well. They are all such gifted individuals. I believe that we all come into this world with a talent and drive that we are meant to develop. When we ignore those talents, it affects us in a negative way - whether through depression, or anger, or sadness. We must embrace that which we are meant to do in some way. We must make time for it everyday - even if it is only 5 minutes. Especially as women - as wives and mothers we tend to put everyone else's needs first, and in the end - we loose ourselves. I don't believe that is the way it is supposed to be. By embracing those talents and becoming the best we can, we give our children and families the opportunity to know us as a better version of ourselves.
Whatever your "thing" is - I hope you make time in your busy life to spend time doing that which brings you joy. and if you don't know what your 'thing" is, I hope that you will take the time to discover it for yourself.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Alone In a Crowd . . .

I recently had to serve on jury duty. This was a first. Not that I haven't been called before, but I always had an excusable reason. I was a nursing mother, a mother of very young children, I was self-employed and it would be a financial hardship, I had just started a new job and it would endanger my employment . . .This time was different and I showed up for my civic service.

I actually didn't mind the concept of serving. In a way, I was kind of looking forward to it. It was a new adventure! An opportunity to go downtown and feel the energy of the city. I used to work downtown every day - in fact it was where I met my wonderful husband - and I sometimes miss that energy. Nowhere else can you find that feeling. The "city" has it's own sounds, feel, and smells. So I gathered a few items to occupy my time while waiting and headed off on my adventure.

The first thing I encountered was the traffic. Oh my goodness!!! I had forgotten what the morning rush hour commute into downtown is like. I was a bundle of nerves. How do people do that every day and keep their sanity?!! My daily commute to my job is 15 minutes with very limited traffic. And then there was the parking. I found a smartpark garage near the courthouse, but those things are nervewracking. I drove around in circles forever trying to find a spot where I could park and then actually have enough room to get out of the car!

At the courthouse, it was the security check. They ran my bag through 4 times. I carry basic art supplies with me everywhere I go. In my pencil pouch was a compass for drawing circles. They finally decided that I would not be able to do any serious damage with it and let me go - the lady behind me with the miniature scissors for her sewing was not so lucky. She had to surrender those or not come in. What a sad world we live in.

Once in the courthouse, I checked into the jury room. There was a sea of people - a few hundred of us. I walked around looking for a space to become my home for the next few hours. I found my piece of real estate at a round table surrounded with chairs. I sat down and scanned the room. All types of people were there - business professionals, students, retired people . . .and not one person would look at another. No one said hello, or engaged in small talk. In fact it was so quiet, I felt self-concious moving my chair.

People had books, mp3 players, laptops, cell phones, knitting, and crossword puzzles. We were all there together, confined to a single room. According to our instructions, we could most likely be there for the next 8-9 hours. But we were all alone. Obviously people wanted to talk to someone - so they pulled out there phones and talked, completely ignoring the people surrounding them. Others buried their faces in their computer screens rather than making eye contact. It was truly one of the most isolating feelings I have had in a long time.

Now don't get me wrong - I love technology. It frustrates me, while at the same time amazing me with it's power. But as we have embraced technology, we have forgotten how to be human. People would rather communicate through a piece of machinery that to make the human connection, soul to soul. My children send over 3,000 text messages a month. They prefer that to talking on the phone. Emails have replaced handwritten letters.

I never did get called onto a jury - no one did. In fact they ended up releasing most of us by noon. But I left there with a renewed desire to connect with friends and loved ones. I challenge anyone reading this to call up a friend and go meet them for lunch, or coffee, or hot chocolate or tea or whatever you like. Pick up the phone and listen to each others voices. Or handwrite a special note. Let's remember we are all in this together and share the most valuable asset we posses - ourselves.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I think as an adult I have finally realized that I have ADHD. As a child, there wasn't a name for it - And it was probably a good thing. My daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD and although it has it's "issues" for the most part it is very manageable. And maybe even a good thing.

The biggest thing I noticed as a child was my need to be busy. My mother was very wise and she noticed that my hands wanted to be busy all the time. I remember my very favorite Christmas. All of my gifts were crafts . . .embroidery projects, a kit with yarn to crochet an afghan, some art supplies. I was about 10 or 11. She told me years later that she noticed I had a hard time sitting still unless my hands were busy. Not much has changed today.
I hate to sit. I love to go to lectures, to church, to other things that uplift me. But I find that my mind wanders very easily. I love to watch movies, but get very fidgety. One day, reading a book on art, I discovered someone who spoke my language. "Always have a travel kit of supplies with you where ever you go . . ." I began collecting things - a special sketch book, a great pencil pouch, my favorite pencils, erasers, etc. At first I was self-concious about drawing in church or while waiting at the doctors office - but not any more. It brings me joy. It helps me make the most out of those moments when we feel like our time is being wasted by others. It helps to listen and absorb what others are saying - I think if it wasn't for my "ADHD" - or whatever you call it, I would not feel the drive to create.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

God Bless the USA

It's voting season. This has been such an interesting year with the upcoming elections. Two candidates that are so very different, our nation in a financial crisis, and serious choices to be made. Living in Oregon, we have the ability to vote early. We are a state that operates with all mail-in voting - no long lines or going "to the polls". We received our ballots through the mail a couple of weeks ago. I decided that tonight was the night to do my civic duty.

I came home from work, got something to drink and pulled out my voters pamphlet. Some choices were easy - I had made my decision months ago. Others were more complicated.

Later my son came home. He just turned 20. He wasn't able to vote in the last presidential elections. We've had alot of conversations about the duty to vote. It's easy to take the attitude that "my vote doesn't count for much". After all, when you read through the manuals, alot of the language is hard to understand. But if you don't want to let your voice be heard, then you don't have the right to complain.

As we were reviewing the issues, Collin and I had some wonderful conversation. It really is frustrating - so many of the issues were not easy choices. Here in Oregon, we had three issues that, if passed, would require increases to our Property taxes. Now recognize, Oregon is a no sales-tax state. So we pay extra property taxes. The first issue is to pass a bond to fund much needed upgrades at the Oregon Zoo. The second issue is to pay for funding that would support foster child programs, after school programs, and a variety of state funded children's programs. The third is for a bond for our local school district to fund overdue repairs, improvements, and construction of a new middle school (there are over 1,000 7th and 8th graders in one school). My budget can only support so many increases to our property taxes - but all three issues are important. What would you choose?

Collin found himself in a unique position - he agreed that all 3 issues were important. He could vote for all three; afterall, he doesn't pay property taxes and probably won't for a very long time. So it doesn't really affect him, right? We found ourselves having a very interesting conversation. I made my choice, explained to him the implications of each option and he made his choice.

Other issues were equally difficult - many of them appeared smart on the surface, but through further reading the reality of what these choices would cost made them look a little less attractive. Many choices would reduce funding to schools. How can we do that? Our schools in Oregon are already sinking. How can we take more money away from them? Choices - spend billions of dollars to build more prisons and keep that money in the schools. These are not easy choices. Many things seem like the lesser of two evils.

But the reality is this -I get to have a voice. I get to vote. People fought for that right and I want to honor the sacrifice that they made on our behalf. The system isn't perfect, but I am greatful to live in this country. I am greatful that I have choices and can walk down the street and pursue my passions and go to a job. There are women throughout the world who will never be able to do those things. Let your voice be heard this year. Get out there and vote!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I love words. I have always loved words. When I was young I would write short stories, and write in my journal, and write letters (remember those?). When I was older, thanks to a "helpful" college writing teacher, I lost confidence in my own written words. When I would read I found that I gained alot of inspiration and strength from others' words. Remember Richard Bach who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusion? I practically had those books memorized. Or the Little Prince. That still remains one of my favorites.

For several years I kept a book full of interesting and uplifting quotes. I gathered them from all kinds of different places . . .movies, books, lectures, bumper stickers . . .Somewhere along the way, I stopped collecting my quotes. In fact, I lost my quote book altogether.

Over the last few years I have rediscovered the power of words again. I love to incorporate them into my art. Originally I started with just single words. Words like hope, dream, create, wish, imagine and more. But I wanted more - so I started adding phrases and then full quotes, poems, even lyrics from songs.

I collect quotes again. I have a wonderful handmade leather journal that I purchased from a local artist. I fill it with quotes, and poems, and words. I sketch ideas and I pull it out for inspiration. Friends send me wonderful quotes; family members call me with something they have heard or read. One day I received a text message that just had the words of a saying this person had seen. It was like a gift. People have given me books of inspirational quotes and sayings. The books are beautiful, but I find that I "feel" the words more if I copy my favorite ones into my quote journal. That way they become "mine".

I love to watch people get lost in the words as they look at the art pieces I have created. They will stand for long periods of time and read. Some people smile; some people get teary; some people are reminded of a friend or a loved one, some people feel the words on a spiritual level. Words - especially written words - are so strong. When they are written, you can read them over and over again until they become a part of you.

I was working in some small canvases (8 X 10) this week. I decoupaged some old sheet music for texture and then layered on some color. Then I pulled out my book of quotes and chose a few of my favorites. Here is what I came up with . . .

"If I could reach up and hold a star for every time you've made me smile - the entire evening sky would be in the palm of my hand".

"We are each of us Angels with only one wing and we can only fly by embracing once another."

"We all need music . . .Without it, we cannot Live."
Take some time this week to think about the words that bring you the most strength. Here's to WORDS.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There has got to be a better design . . .

Allow me to rant for a moment. There are certain parts of the body that were just not designed for long term use . . . The knees and the back. Last week, I felt a slight twinge in my lower back - I figured I had sat at my desk too long. Working at an office job, that seems to happen sometimes - I get carried away with the project I am working on and forget to move. Unfortunately by the time I left to go home, I was in a great deal of pain and had a hard time walking.

Thus began my week . . .my week of lying flat and doing very little. Now you understand that I am perpetually busy all of the time. If I am not at my day job, I am working in my art studio creating designs and filling orders or getting ready for an art show. And if I'm not doing that, I am running kids around, making meals, grocery shopping or completing other mommie-related tasks. Yes - I know my kids are growing up, but motherhood doesn't end at a certain age!

So - how does a person who is perpetually busy spend a week of bedrest? By watching alot of television. I think I have seen more home decorating shows on the HGTV Network this last week then I have in a year. And you know what - it got to a point where it was a bit depressing. I was watching people pay for these remodels and it started to remind me of the Brady Bunch. You know - how all of life's problems can be solved in less then 30 minutes?

This week was incredibly frustrating - the Holidays are fast approaching. Now in the "real" world, no one wants to think about that in October. But in an artist's world - the Holidays are a time of business. I generally spend a couple of months frantically working to build up my inventory for holiday sales. I am already filling orders for chairs and stools for Christmas gifts. As I was complaining about my frustration with not being able to sit, let alone work in the studio, my daughter put things in perspective. "Mom," she said, "maybe the Lord is telling you that you need to slow down and rest once in a while. If you aren't willing to slow down on your own - maybe He felt the He needed to make you slow down." Hmmmmm.

My back is improving - slowly. I was actually able to spend a few hours out in the studio yesterday and today. I'm not back to full function yet - but at least well enough that I have been able to turn off the tv! And as my back begins to return to normal functions, I will use this time of being an invalid as an opportunity to remind myself to slow down a bit and enjoy the moment.

So today, I left my desk and walked outside to feel the sun on my face. It may be the last time for several months. I stopped and looked at the changing leaves - the colors of orange and gold were spectacular. I kicked a pile of fallen leaves and listened to the crackly sound they made. I found an acorn - a whole acorn! And I took a deep breath and smelled autumn. Because remember - "it's not about how many breaths you take - but how many moments take your breath away."

Friday, October 24, 2008

This week we celebrated two birthdays - my niece and my son. They were born 6 days apart and both turned 20 this month. It is so surreal when I think of how I have become the parent of adults.

Allow me a few minutes to reminisce about life with my son - he was born the second of four children, and the only boy. His favorite things when he was small were the classics - Legos, Lincoln Logs, cars, and puzzles. For the first 4 years of his life he communicated with his own language. In fact, some members of the family thought perhaps he had "problems" and we should get him tested. But Mr. C is, and has always been a bit of a perfectionist. I think he just decided he wasn't going to talk until he knew exactly what he was doing. When he started to speak, he spoke in complete sentences. One of Collins favorite activities was to have puzzle races. He would take those cardboard puzzles that fit in the "trays" that are for children and he would challenge his dad and I to a race. We would dump the puzzles out on the floor, upside down - mix up the pieces, and see who could put it back together the fastest. He always won. He could tell you exactly where the pieces went just by looking at the - backwards - you know, on the cardboard side that is plain. That concept still fascinates me. He has always looked at things differently than me.

A few more things about him - he is my reader, he is very artistic (more so than he admits), he's very musical and taught himself how to play the bass guitar, he gets bored very easily, he is the "social director" among his friends, it's hard to keep up with his wit and humor, he doesn't like people to wake him up - he prefers to get himself up, he is loyal to his friends and family, his best friend is his older sister, family means everything to him, he prefers to work for himself rather than someone else (wonder where he got that from?), he loves adventure and he loves to be spontaneous, he could probably live on peanut butter - but really hates it if someone contaminates the peanut butter jar by using a knife that has butter on it, his favorite meal is lasagna, he has an enormous music collection, he craves "alone" time . . .he's my son! Happy birthday Collin.
These were the birthday cakes - chocolate with 7 minute frosting for Chelsea (her favorite) and homemade german chocolate for Collin (his favorite).

While at our family dinner on Sunday, it was so wonderful to watch the cousins all intermingle. Growing up, we didn't have alot of extended family events. On one side of the family, everyone was spread out over different states. The other side . . .well that's best left alone. When we did get together, I was the youngest. Several years seperated me from my cousins - so while my brothers and cousins hung out together, I was sitting with the adults felling . . .well . . .bored. I feel so blessed that my brothers and I live relatively close. One brother is in another state, and it always feels like someone is missing when we are together.

Several years back, we started having family dinners. The first Sunday of the month, we would get together and have a potluck dinner. The cousins would wrestle and play, the adults would catch up, and the grandparents would bestow some of their wisdom on us. I'm not sure why we stopped - life gets busy, and no one seemed to have time. The cousins have commented that they miss it. So last Sunday, my oldest brother put together a dinner and we vowed to get back on track. I am pleased. I like family dinners.

Grandma and Auntie Michele

The cousins - Jacob, Jordan, Chance, Angie, Chrissy, and Cierra
Chelsea (the birthday girl) and her brother Ron - he just returned from a two year mission to Rome, Italy - welcome back

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What a busy week . . .I repurposed a wonderful desk for Linda. She gave me a pine desk that was dated in it's "country" colors, but had great bones. We took it, stripped it down, primed it and gave it a whole new look. Here are few pictures from different angles. By the time I was finished, it was hard to give it back to her. I got pretty attached . . .

At the same time, I have been working on an 18th birthday present for Kerrie. She wanted a custom made mirror. We had talked for awhile about some of the images she wanted to see - and most important - a quote that had special meaning for her. "Open your heart and let the sun shine in." There will be a few baubles and beads added to the bottom to dangle and sway in the breeze. Then it will be all ready for pick up. Hopefully it will bring years of smiles to Kerrie. Happy birthday, Kerrie!

Besides creating art, this weekend was my daughter was a milestone as my daughter turned 22. I don't understand how that could be -especially since I am only 29! Or at least that is how i feel!

We celebrated by having our annual family favorite dinner . . .a shrimp boil! It is more than just dinner - it is a tactile experience. We cook the entire dinner in a huge pot seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning. There are small potatoes, sausage, corn on the cob, and most importantly . . .shrimp. We cover the table with butcher paper. Then once everything is cooked, we drain the liquid and dump the entire contents of the pot out on the table. No utensils are allowed. Melted butter with hot sauce, cocktail sauce, and a loaf of crusty bread finish out the meal. Everything is eaten with our hands. It is fun, delicious and full of good conversation. Everyone should do this at least once a year!

Happy Birthday jU-jU! I love you more than words can say. And I am so proud of you. You have turned into an incredible young woman.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Chair for a Teacher and Paul's Dad

I met Julie at an Art Walk this summer. She came to my booth and wanted a new chair. As a teacher, she had a special chair that she used in the classroom. Over the summer, she changed schools, and her new school had much smaller classrooms. She bought a new chair from me for her classroom, and offered to trade her old classroom rocking chair. She brought it over to me and it was obvious it meant alot to her. Many memories . .

I told her I would love to paint the rocking chair for her - something special so that she could keep her memories with her. She took the smaller chair for her classroom, and we decided to paint this up for a prayer and meditation chair for her. She wanted a place at home where she could sit and find peace and solace. I thought that was a wonderful idea. Using lots of greens and blues I created this for her -

When Julie came to pick up the chair, she mentioned that they had just got word that her mother-in-law had been taken to the hospital. She was quite ill and the doctors were not sure what the cause was. I hope this chair gives her a place to find comfort and peace. I know my prayers will be with her in this trying time. Thanks, Julie, for letting me do this for you.

Paul is a co-worker of mine. He had seen a few of the chairs I have done recently and asked me to create something for his guest room. The guest room was created for his father for when he comes to visit. He wanted the chair to be a homage to his father. Paul told me his father loves to read, and loves music. Taking those cues i created this tribute for Paul's dad. . .

I used deep earth colors like browns, greens, and oranges. A quote about fathers says "My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived his life and showed me how." I think that quote is a wonderful tribute to fathers. Blocks of color with images like a stack of books, music notes, and geometric patterns are laid over a branch with leaves. It has the sense of whimsy that I love, without being too feminine. Hope Paul thinks it will pay proper tribute to his father.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This Chair is Done . . .

Here is an image of the finished lawyer style chair. It is covered with all kinds of texture and embellishements. The little extras really made it pop!

Here is a close-up image of the seat . . .full of inspirational and uplifting thoughts.

And the back - if you could run your hand over this you could feel all of the texture! I think my friend is going to be pleased when she see this pulled up to the desk of her home office.

Next, I am going to be working on a chair for a co-worker. It's going to be a tribute to his dad. I'll also be starting on a wooden rocking chair for a local teacher. I can't wait to get started on these this weekend.

This mixed-media painting was created by my sweet daughter for her best friends birthday. She started with a blank canvas and layered in a variety of blues and greens. It has the feel of a clear ocean. Then she layered on a black and white clippling of s yoga pose, layers of oil pastels and then some dimensional elements to add some texture. Some clippings of quotes and some words finished it off. I think it turned out pretty great. I love to see my kids trying out their creativity. It's a habit they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Chair For Teri . . .

I am currently working on a chair for my friend Teri. She asked me for a chair for her home office and has been incredibly patient while I searched for the perfect one. I eventually found a wonderful solid wood "lawyer" style chair with a removeable swivel seat. This was a first. Generally, if I find this style of chair, it is unaffordable. I located this one at a garage sale of a young couple who were moving. When he heard I was going to paint it, he almost took it back. Good thing I'd already paid him for it when I told him my plan.

This view shows the base pattern on the seat . . .it still needs all of it's little details that will make it pop!

Here is the base with a few base colors laid in. It still has lots of doodles and dazzles to go before it is finished. It's a good thing I can seperate the pieces like this. When this chair is together, it weighs more than some tables I have worked on. When I bought it, I had to move it to my car in two pieces. This chair is solid and will last for years to come.

Here's an overall view of the main part of the chair - notice the metal rod in the bottom - it fits into the base above. It let will let Teri adjust the height of the chair and swivel. If she needs to smile, she can spin herself until she is dizzy.

The chair has a base color of black with layers and layers of bright happy colors that make me smile. Positive statements adorn the arms and seat. Teri - this should be ready for you by the end of the week. I hope you like it!

If you are interested in a special custom order for you or a friend, leave me a comment or shoot me an email at ldlmiller@hotmail.com Let's talk about a personal creation for you . . .

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me . . .

That's right . . .It's my birthday . . .well almost. My daughter was here from out of town and we spent the day doing girl stuff. Before we set out on our adventure, I was informed that I had some new accessories to wear. A sparkling tiarra with genuine plastic purple rhinestones!

Then it was off to one of our favorite breakfast restaurants, Sympatico, for omelettes and Eggs Benedict. It was wonderful and tasty. It was nice to have the morning to visit and catch up! And because of my birthday tiarra, I was treated to a free cookie - I haven't got a free cookie since I was about 9 years old and shopping at Albertsons with my mom.

And finally - pedicures. How indulgent! It was a perfect morning. (Check out those short, stubby toes!)

After a little shopping, my daughter had to head back to her home over the big mountain Then I went out with my good friend for a little lunch and girl talk. Several hours later I headed back home to find my younger daughters had picked up the house and were making dinner.

How's that for a perfect day? Good friends, good conversation, good food, no chores, and blue toenails!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A new Journey

The other night I spent the evening trying to apply for a Holiday Show in Seattle, Wa. It is a juried show, with a lengthy application process. There format is different than any other show I have applied to. They want to 8 ½” X 11” sheets with photos, descriptions, price ranges, and a brief bio. That was in addition to the traditional application. I worked on it for an hour, getting the photos just right and creating some creative quibbles about myself and my work. When it was all done, I decided to email to myself at my 8-5 job so I could print it off and mail it out the next day.
My computer at home is old and very tired. Even with a cable connection it is painfully slow sometimes. Two hours later, I was still trying to email off my pages. I had removed a few photos, shrunk them down – I event split the document into 2 separate emails. It finally worked after 2 ½ hours.
Fast forward to the next night. I am taking my daughter out to look for school supplies. I stop by my local Best Buy to get something for my IPod and walk out with a brand new laptop. The first one I have ever owned. Now I can really blog in style!
This blogging thing is a frightening new adventure for me. I love to read other people’s blogs. I have gained a world of inspiration from reading about other artist’s journeys. And I have always been a journaler. I love words and I love to combine them with my art. Blogging should be a natural progression for me. But considering how long it took me to join the Laptop revolution, you can understand my fear of actually doing my own blog.
This blog will be used to track my progression with my art – to create a witness , if you will. I hope to use it to track the progress on various projects and custom orders, as well as to let you know about my successes and my failures. I hope to use it to keep connected with friends – both old and new. Here is to a new journey and adventure!