Countdown to Christmas

Yesterday I went to school to make this gingerbread house with Ellie. It is a project for kindergarten that has been a tradition for many years now. I think she has been looking forward to it for a long time. Maya made hers 4 years ago and I've been able to seal it up every year in an airtight container and bring it out every year with the Christmas decorations. This may be the last year for hers. It smelled a little stinky when I opened the container so I left it in storage. I may try to let it air out, then spray it with varnish. The kindergarten teacher said some people have told her they have kept one for as long as 10 years, but she thinks that is silly. She said her daughter and sons make new ones each year. It's so easy... just a little half pint milk carton with 4 graham crackers and some left over Halloween candy along with a few additional purchased goodies. I prefer to try to preserve it, as it is a wonderful memory of kindergarten more than gingerbread cuteness.

The cookie factory.
I usually start baking on December 22 or 23rd. I make the exact same cookies every year for the family on Christmas Eve. This year, I decided to bake a few batches earlier so that I might share with others. Last week I made one batch of rolled butter cookies to take to work. Then, I decided to make cookies for teachers and neighbors, friends and out-of-town relatives. A few days ago I was notified that we would be having a bake sale and auction at work for a friend to suffered a terrible tragedy. So Monday and Tuesday I baked six batches of cookies. It seemed effortless, but now I have to start all over again for Christmas Eve. I actually didn't have enough to fill all the tins for all the friends and neighbors on my list.

At work we have had many bake sales and auctions in the office and it is heart-warming to see the generosity of the workplace as a whole. The first was for a co-worker whose wife had cancer. Even with health insurance the medical costs were overwhelming. Other offerings have been for Katrina Relief, house fires and various medical conditions that have devastated families. My latest bake sale offerings have been Helping Heart and Hand cookies. The holiday season added diversity of gingerbread to the mix.

In addition to the bagged cookies for the bake sale, I added this Christmas tin full of cookies for the auction. It includes a variety of "Patti Davis's Homemade Yummy Goodness": Rolled Butter Cookies, Gingerbread, Magic Seven Layer Bars, Pecan Tassies, Fudgy Pastry Cups, and Butter Pecan Turtle Bars. Some lucky auction winner who doesn't like to bake has the whole assortment of homemade Christmas Cookies!

A watercolor mandala I added to the auction.

By the way.... my cookie signs are made of recycled Christmas cards and the "magical special power" I mentioned in a previous post is just fake energy. It's sugar and caffeine. This is why I cannot maintain it for more than a month. I feel myself starting to crash soon. I only have to make it 6 more days. My morning cup of coffee has turned into 2 cups of coffee and the afternoon cup, I am afraid is sometimes 2 afternoon cups. I haven't exactly been seeking out the sugar. I am submerged in it, as you can see. My body will welcome healthy food and exercise. I actually prefer that to anything. Sugar is my weakness, and I will address that on January 2.
Happy Holidays!


Do Angels Drive Cars?

My mom gave me an old set of wooden ornaments. As I was hanging them on my tree, I said to Maya and Ellie "What is this? An angel driving a car?" We all got a good chuckle out of it. They assured me that angels have wings and can fly, so an angel driving a car is pretty funny.

I love this one, too. So simple. So cute.

I am always surprised how much I can get done during the holiday season. I feel like I have some sort of special magical power at this time of year. Last year I remember designing Katie's CD cover, printing out 100 of them, cutting them by hand and inserting them by hand (including taking each jewel case apart to insert back side) in time for her CD release show on the 20th. In addition to all the baking, shopping, and wrapping, we went to a wedding on the 23rd and I sewed the dress I wore. I wish I had this sort of energy all year round, but I could only sustain it for about a month - then I'm spent. I guess I do give up exercise for this month, too. Not something I would want to do on a regular basis.

It snowed pretty hard last night. We woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland. The girls were dressed and outside by 8am and back inside for hot chocolate by 8:30. Darrin finished shoveling with the help of the neighbor's plow and is now headed for my folks house to do their driveway. While he does all the hard work, I get to curl up in a chair and knit. As much I want to shed the stereotypical gender roles, sometimes I enjoy being the domestic diva. It's so romantic to knit a scarf and hat on a cold winter night. I can't tell you who this is for, it's a surprise. I splurged on really nice yarn since it is a gift and now I want one just like it!

It snowed 2 weeks ago on a Wednesday. I shoveled the driveway (most of it) in the evening after Girl Scouts and piano. Darrin was at class that evening and was surprised. He said "Who shoveled?" "I did", I said. All the while I was feeling empathy for single moms who probably have to work full time, but still do not have enough money to pay someone to do such things. If anyone reading fits that description.... strength and prosperity to you!


98% recycled

It's almost 9:30pm now and I am going to go paint a little before bed. I couldn't help myself and started playing around with recycling old Christmas cards again. All materials are recycled except for the ribbon and silver ink. It would be nice if I had a mantle to hang this from.



The Queen of Procrastination

I am aware too much of this blog is about how much I am not painting. I want everything in perfect order before I pick up the brush - and guess what? It's never that way. When I really feel a strong urge to paint I have to clean the house and get caught up on laundry first. It feels good to get these things done, but they could go neglected for a long time. It's only when I want to paint - but can't make myself sit down - that I start getting other things done.

Tonight I finally pushed myself just to get 2 watercolor washes done. I knew they would only take a few minutes and then will have to dry for a good long time before I paint the next phase. Before forcing myself to sit down at 9pm to do this I.... tidied up the living room and my bedroom, mopped the kitchen floor, washed and folded 3 loads of laundry, experimented with the recycled Christmas card idea, then... cleaned all the paper scraps off of my work table to do these 2 watercolor washes. (This was a day I actually went to work, too) The washes didn't turn out at all how I expected, but we'll see how the rest of this idea pans out. I might have to start over. Won't have time to paint again for days since I have to work tomorrow and leave early to go on a Girl Scout overnight with Maya.

Here is my tiny accordion-fold peace card, made from a recycled Christmas card. It measures 2-1/4" x 12". The punched hearts and flowers are sparkly and glittery, but you can't see that in the photo.


Zoo - Illustration Friday

Last year the girls and I were playing with some air drying clay. This is what I made. :) Maya and Ellie lost interest in their projects as I obsessively painted circles all over my giraffe the next day. I put a little tissue paper butterfly on his tail which disappeared a few months later. Now he is eating my houseplants!



Mandala . watercolor . 12"x 12" . Sold


Letting Go

Letting Go . acrylic 18x18 . 2006


Mandala Workshop

Short notice, but perhaps you would like to join us....


Grow - Illustration Friday

You see evidence of it on the outside,
but it's happening on the inside
and in the space between.


The Blues - Illustration Friday

You would not fully know what it means to feel joy if you have not felt the opposite of joy. If you are sad, do not suppress it. Feel sad for as long as you need to so that you can move through it, let it go, and are able to feel joy again.



Infinite Possiblities.

Infinite Possiblities.
No right or wrong, good or bad.
I spend much of my time contemplating art and the metaphysical. No wonder my energies are scattered. I crave objectivity, but I am living in the mystery. I can’t deny it.

I feel blessed that I could open my mind really wide and consider the infinite possibilities. I have even considered the possibility that the possibilities may be finite as well. What good are all these ideas if I cannot manifest them into something to be shared?

I am aware that people show up in my life to teach me lessons. The faults we see in others are just reflections of our own. I can’t describe them as “faults” when my lessons are revealed to me by Maya and Eleanor. They are children. They are innocent. They don’t know any better. But, what I try to teach them, I really need to learn myself.

Focus. Make a decision. Just do it.
Here is what I am trying to get my kids to do, while I am a scatterbrain myself. Sure, I could get my shoes on, brush my teeth and get in the car without someone standing over me and repeating the directions several times. But, I have a long “to do” list at all times. Some items are daily, menial tasks, some are big life goals. Progress seems slow sometimes because my head is in the clouds. I need to focus. Make a decision. Just do it.

My greatest frustration is getting the girls out the door in the morning. What are you going to wear? What do you want for breakfast? What do you want for lunch? So many possibilities... and these are such huge decisions for small children because in the midst of all the uncertainty of the whole entire universe, this is what they can control.

I try to simplify the process by limiting the possibilities. Either THIS or THAT for breakfast. I’ll pick out your clothes even though I’d rather see you express your individuality in the way you dress. We don’t have time for that. What kind of sandwich do you want in your lunch? And what will accompany it? Yogurt? That’s great! Strawberry or blueberry? I see you drift off... your eyes glazed over as if you are imagining the future where two parallel universes exist... and in one you are eating strawberry yogurt... and in another whole universe... it’s blueberry.

I’m sorry I raise my voice in anger. And I’m sorry I shame you for not putting your things where they belong while I search aimlessly for my car keys. I’m learning.


Today is The International Day of Peace

Our pinwheels for peace.

There was a little conflict and arguing in creating the pinwheels. I called to the girls attention "Are we arguing about peace?" I remained calm while in most cases I would throw up my hands and scream "Why can't you just be nice to each other!? You are sisters!" I am striving each day to be the peace I wish to see. It begins in the home. It begins with each individual. It begins with you.

May you create and spread peace in some way today - big or small. Smile. Be calm. Lend a helping hand.



Connecting with Peace

September 21 is The International Day of Peace. (Click to visit their site.)

For the past 3 years I thought I would do something really special on this day. So far, I have not.

This year I will at least make pinwheels with my daughters and put them in my yard. Next year, perhaps I could organize an event for my whole town where everyone could make a pinwheel and we could all put them in Main Square. Imagine.... whirled peace. (click on pinwheels to see the official site)

I will wake up at 6 am and meditate. If anyone would like to collectively meditate, I'm in the Central time zone.

How about a moment of silence at noon as well.




Yesterday I had posted this painting as a work in progress. After having worked on it some more, I don't know if I'd call this progress. I think I prefer the silhouetted negative space of the first post. Back in June, during an outdoor landscape painting class I intentionally left the subject silhouetted as negative space. Seeing the comparison of the painting before and after, I think I'll go back to exploring that idea.


Abstract Nature

Plants . Watercolor . 4"x11"
(work in progress)

I have been thinking about painting abstract nature for over a year. I have thought a lot about it and painted a little. All this time, I think I've been trying to make sense of it. I have felt that I need to completely understand something before begin to work on it. Whether it is an idea for a specific painting or a whole body of work, I feel I need to work out every detail in my head before I pick up a brush. And, with that, I have a whole conversation with myself in my head trying to describe the work's purpose, the content.

NOW! I am reminding myself that...
An artist gains understanding of their subject
through the act of painting it!

and Art describes an idea that words cannot describe!


Plastic Bag Bags

I suppose this is another example of "so Martha" and "such a hippie". I like to crochet purses from discarded plastic shopping bags. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. I don't have a pattern for the purses. I really don't know how to crochet. I just make it up as I go along. (I need to learn how to paint like that) Here is the link that describes how to make a "ball of yarn." After that, you can work with it however you like?


Alphabets . Illustration Friday

My second Illustration Friday. I am thrilled to be here. (click to see larger image)

A magical experience. I drew the girl reading a book then went to the bookshelf to pick some interesting text. I pulled "The Tin Woodman of Oz" - a book I have never read. When I opened to a random page, I started reading about Jinjur who can "paint anything."


A Beautiful Saturday

This morning I walked to the Farmer's Market downtown - something I've been wanting to do for a long time. It was a brisk 20 minutes there and another brisk 20 minutes back as Eleanor peddled her little legs furiously on her tiny two-wheeler.

Dorie had already suggested maybe I could bring bruschetta to our Women's Wisdom Circle tonight. How perfect! I was able to buy the ingredients I needed. And, no better place for locally grown farm fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and gourmet bakery bread.

I also felt like baking a sweet treat and realized I had everything in the house to make these simple, but elegant looking Fudge Brownie Cups. After having walked to the market, I did not want to get in my car and drive to buy one or two other ingredients.

Many people describe me as being "so Martha Stewart" and "such a hippie". (While I am not offended by either of those comparisons, I don't feel either of them is meant as a compliment) I found it confusing to be compared to both Martha and a hippie, but I guess today is a perfect example of how that can be.

peace. It's a good thing.


Visitors - Illustration Friday

I just added some black line. When I logged on to add my revision, I noticed a compliment I received about the "delicate work." Ironic. Perhaps I shouldn't have touched it. It was sort of difficult to draw a smooth line on rough cold press watercolor paper. And it felt a little backward. I'm assuming illustrators typically draw a clean black line, then add a watercolor wash?
This is all a learning experience for me.

My first Illustration Friday. Actually, my first attempt at illustrating anything. I am not satisfied, but I did not spend too much time on this ... so not too bad? I know I could use some darker darks, but it's missing something else, too. I don't know what? IF is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, and now I've started. Looking forward to next week's topic.

When I showed it to Eleanor she said "There were three bunnies in our garden?" I said "Actually, there are five bunnies in this picture, but I didn't see any bunnies. I just painted our garden and added the bunnies in myself." The best part of creating art!


Painted Cards

I've painted a little the past couple of days. Here are two sympathy cards and one card of encouragement. Watercolor mandalas.




Forgiveness . 36x36 . acrylic


The Mandala

"Surrender" . Watercolor . 2004