Piecing Our Story

Piecing Our Story

FAITH_art2Faith Ringgold

Inspired by the “Story Quilts” of Faith Ringgold…I incorporated fabric collages into some classes and programs I  had the privilege of  teaching and leading.

WEB1The idea was to piece together elements of fabric…cloth…to express or depict aspects  of the maker’s life story. To “fabricate’ one’s story…to “cloth” one’s story in visual details…the definition can be rather loose.  Above, my sample expresses something of house and home…a broad theme that could encompass almost anything.

WEB1This fun and evocative piece created by a 17 year old makes beautiful use of aqua-blue wool…at least I think it is wool. As I get many of supplies at a place called “Trash for Teaching” , where companies’ left-overs or overstock is donated to be resold to teachers and others at very low cost,  I am not always sure of their origin. This artist did use paper for the face…extrapolating from a previous lesson on how to draw the face in proper proportion. She is also interested in becoming a make-up professional, so this piece may have played into that ambition and interest as well.

WEB2_2Totally different, but just as evocative is this piece that functions almost like a banner, celebrating the maker’s daughter. Balanced through the elements of color, shape and composition,  the use of the symbols of heart and arrow are  arranged to create the strong center of a radial design which continues and expands the motif of the arrow.  Arrow pointing to directly the heart? Seems like a rather clear story there.

WEB5These brilliantly colored feathers almost appear to emit light against the dark background.  Arranged in a repeating color pattern, the artist is careful to begin and end with pink,  containing the composition within that color horizontally, while flanking it vertically with luminous green, and thus employing the tension of opposites. Pink is a permutation of red, “light” red, (red plus white) which is the compliment, or opposite of green. The color story expresses the human story as a whole.

WEB3Two uses of the heart motif, one created through stitching, and another through the cutting and gluing of material define these two pieces.  Both hearts are tilted to the left, which gives them a dynamic feel of being on movement, and which in turn adds movement to the composition. Above  the deceptively simple composition of white and red on black belies the powerful associations of those colors. Below, warm hues of the  cool color of blue are offset by the soft pinkish-purple (which contains blue) in the center of the color scheme.  The piece is further enlivened by sharp dashes of back in the corners which radiate outwards, and black letters in the center set off by white, another system of opposites.

WEB4The use of the heart shape / symbol, as a central motif, the combination of different kinds of cloth/textile/fabric media, and employment of framing as a compositional device characterize the works above. Bows, pom poms, a scattering of smaller hearts and butterflies, and imaginative color choices are all at play, adding a layer of magic and whimsey to the feelings of hope and longing expressed in these pieces.

Web1AA Mom of two created this piece, which depicts her two children who also attended. Although she came in towards the end of the project, she was able to put together vibrant colors, and strong shapes which speak volumes about her commitment to her family, and tell at least a piece of her story. One strip of patterned ribbon is added which reflects the flowers, and ties the composition together by adding complexity and interest right in the center of the piece. This artist was very specific about which  ribbon she was going to use to achieve this, and with good reason, as the results are stunning.

 

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Material Girl 3: Many Parts Create The Whole

Material Girl 3: Many Parts Create The Whole…FLAG BOOKS!

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The fun and innovative Flag Book  structure can be a powerful  form to express thought, feeling and idea through word and image.

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Within the flag book…there can be a

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We all know that…

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Above are Flag Book front and back covers..with a “found writing” title..which employs  text,  color, the font/typeface, the design, composition, and space between the words for cognitive and emotional impact.

WEBn2A single word or phrase can pack the proverbial punch, when paired with color and placement.

WEBn3Putting together “found” words and phrases can yield unexpected poetry…the poetic power of  Found Writing.

Found Writing can help us define our vision (or one of them…)

WEBoWEBo2and give us a hitherto unknown directive of sorts.  We  find that we can advise ourselves…

WEBo4within the context of numerous ideas.

WEBo9The layering of words, colors, shapes and text

WEBo3creates new meanings,

WEBpand may tell us something important…

WEBp3about something we want,

WEBp2or need

WEBp6to know…

WEBp5or experience…

WEBp1or try….

WEBp7You may find that you make a promise…to yourself…

WEBp8That must be kept.

Something new…has been born.

Wave those flags!!!!

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Material Girl 2: Many Parts Create The Whole

 

Material Girl 2: Many Parts Create The Whole

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Preparing for bookmaking programs at the West Hollywood Library, the Diamond Bar Library, the Fairview Library, and the Montana Avenue Library isn’t just a labor of love…it can be pure joy.

WEbaWEbbThe spread of papers of just the right thickness, ready to be folded into the versatile accordion/concertina spine.

WEbc1Pages are attached to each fold of the spine. More folds = more page possibilities!

WEbe1A rainbow of front and back covers cut to the same height as the spines.

WEbe3Mottled” book pages.

WEbdHigh contrast, and “grey on grey” spine-cover color designs. The effect can be elegant!

WEbgWEbg2The glory of your basic colored construction paper…not just for kids.

WEbfAssorted papers…Japanese patterns, parchment, and ‘plain brown wrapper” card stock. Variety is the spice of life…and bookmaking!

WEbf1Let’s take a closer look at those papers!  Now…what can we do with them?

WEBmFront cover design…

WEBm1Use of paper heart found at “Trash for Teaching” in Los Angeles, on inside front cover.

WEBm2“Fan” page designs! The pages will be attached to each fold of the spine, and will “fan” out when the book is opened by pulling the back and front covers away from each other.  The “fan” book can also be opened ‘traditionally”,by turning the cover, and moving through the pages by turning them consecutively.

WEbiPutting it all together….a family theme.

WEbi1“Doors” and Windows” can be cut in pages and covers, to reveal the unexpected beneath and behind!

WEbj“Fan” pages are attached to the accordion /concertina spine, seen here in a variety of colors.

WEBkWEBk1WEBk2 WEBk3“Heart” openings on the “fan” pages  (“Windows/Doors”) reveal surprises behind and beneath…which can deepen and expand the theme of the book.

WEBl1WEBlCardboard shapes, another treasure found at Trash for Teaching, create a slight three-dimensional (“relief“) effect, and can be used to create visual frames for photos or other treasures added to the book.

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Don’t we all?!!

Creating Color Harmony

 Creating Color Harmony

On  April 21, I chatted with on her Artistically Speaking Talk Show about the “Art of Color Harmony”, based on the work of  Michel Eugène (M.E.)  Chevreul.  Chevreul was a contemporary of the painter Eugène Delacroix, and he penned “The Principles Of Harmony And Contrast Of Colors: And Their Applications To The Arts” in 1855.  He was a chemist, Chevreul’s color principles influenced great European art movements including Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism and Orphism.

Rebecca’s interview guest on the program that day was Rachel Rockwell, of Bubbly Nature Creations.  They discussed food photography, and Rachel generously offered tips for the novice, and aspiring photographer.  Rebecca suggested I use Rachel’s images to illustrate this post, and I  discovered something in common to these two, separated by over 150 years..soap! Chevreul’s research “enabled him to elucidate the true nature of soap…which led to important improvements in the processes of candle-manufacture.” Rachel started her blog as a way to document her soap-making!   Such… synchronicity!      But onward…to The Art of Color Harmony, illustrated by Rachel Rockwell, and Rebecca E. Parsons.

We discussed six ways of creating color harmony, three “Harmonies of Analogy”, based on similarity, or relatedness, and three “Harmonies of Contrast”, based on differences.  Interesting to note that “harmony” can be achieved by what would seem to be opposite principles…read on! (A word of advice: have your meal first..these images may have a mouth-watering effect!)

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What Chevreul called the “harmony of scale” involves putting together colors closely related in  value (lightness/darkness) and hue (the pure color itself).  Above the chocolate browns  create a most delicious tone-on-tone effect, relieved by the  complementary (opposite each other on the color wheel) red and green of the strawberries.

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Here we see a similar “harmony of scale” effect, with a gradation of color in the cake’s frosting, going from darker, brighter and more intense/concentrated at the bottom, becoming almost white at the top. Earthy and colorful touches break up the harmony of scale, to add “the harmony of contrast of colors”…but we will get to that!

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Not food photography above, but a lovely example of harmony of scale…pink on pink, with just a slight shift in value to the darker on the embellishment!

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Analogous colors (those next to each other on the color wheel, of similar value create the “harmony of hues” when put together, such as the oranges, golds and orange-browns above. They are beautifully offset by the complimentary blue box behind, which makes the whole composition pop.

Har3Photo by Rebecca E. Parsons

The third “Harmony of Analogy” described by Chevreul as “harmony of a dominant colored light” relates to, as I understand it, the harmonious effect of a “dominant tinted light” on varying hues and values. Above we see, gratis Rebecca, an assortment of variously flavored cupcakes of different hue, some darker, some lighter, illuminated by a warm light.  The color of the light is a unifying factor in the grouping, composition, and harmonious effect.

We now come to Chevreul’s three “Harmonies of Contrast” in which color harmony is achieved through differences, IE, contrasts. We begin to see how many different paths there can be to harmony…is there a lesson beyond color theory in all this…?

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I am not sure what the delicious-looking drink above above consists of as far as ingredients go, but it can be seen as an example of what Chevreul terms,  “harmony of a contrast of scale”. One basic hue, speckled with  much darker value of that hue creates a kind of tone-on-tone texture.  or, so it looks to be in the photo. In any event, the effect is that of unified harmony,  and titillates our taste-buds!

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By contrast (no pun intended) the “harmony of contrast of hues” is illustrated above. Related colors (red plus white equals pink) in highly differentiated values (white the lightest, the pink the mid-tone, and the red, though bright, the darkest) set each other off by virtue of their difference…not only in value, but also in purity, and chroma.

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Finally, we arrive at one of my favorites, the “harmony of contrast of colors“. Here is where the ideas of “the attraction of opposites” comes into play. We see how colors far apart in value and hue can be combined to create relationships that are dynamic and visually arresting, yet harmonious nonetheless. In the image above, we see aspects of the three primary colors, red, yellow and blue represented and cooled by white. The colors have a great deal of contrast, yet create a harmonious whole.

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Harmony can also be created by the presence of two complimentary colors,  (again, colors which are  opposite each other on the color wheel) such as red and green!  Notice how the green garnish sets off the reds of the tomato, and focuses the composition? Still harmonious, but powerful!

And, what can be more powerful at last, than harmony?

Here’s wishing YOU the peacefulness and power of harmony; in Art, in Work, in Life.

Here’s to a harmonious world.

Cheers!

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Installed

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Installed

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Last summer, I had the pleasure of meeting  Kaitlin Drisko, principal of  Drisko Studio Architects, known for “Integrating the new with the old…

I was honored to be engaged to transform a custom-built TV cabinet designed for The Briggs Residence, in the Historic West Adams District. into a singular work of art, that would be the visual focal point of the downstairs of the house.  Paul Davidson of Paul Davidson incorporated served as the owner’s liaison, facilitating and supporting every step of the project, from the initial inspiration, to the design phase, through the full-scale making process, to completion and installation of the piece.

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Framed by the dentil-style crown molding above,

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and the streamlined fireplace below,

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the four articulated doors swing open from stippled side pieces anchored to the wall.

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The inside surfaces of the cabinet doors are also stippled, then  stenciled with a custom motif and variations, echoing other design elements in the room.

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The stenciled pattern creates another frame when the cabinet doors are opened,

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while the Flying Cranes add movement to the room when they are closed.

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The transformed surface becomes a focal point for the room.

This project truly has been “A Saga of Flying Cranes” and a labor of love…

Gratitudes!

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Process

  A Saga of Flying Cranes: Process

I have had the opportunity, the honor, really, to work on a very special project for a historical residence, in the historical West Adams District of Los Angeles.  I was brought in by an architect specializing in the restoration and preservation of  historic buildings to transform a custom cabinet, designed to cover the living room television set, into a singular work of art.

I worked closely with the architectural firm, and project manager,  interfacing with the owner, interior designer, builders, and foreman, as we developed the design from concept to a specificity of  colors,textures,  materials and composition.

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Along the way, I amassed and created inspirational images, painted, gilded and stenciled mock-ups, to scale drawings, and numerous samples.

Once inspired by images, and with the design process determined, it was time to bring the rubber to the road…and take the concept to the surface!

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The inside of the four cabinet doors were stenciled with a customized motif that was variously rotated, flipped and reversed into variations that were combined to create an  elegant,  complex, yet fluid composition.

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The individual motifs, and the pattern they created when combined were designed to complement and reflect the pattern in the rug,

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and the carved images of  a free-standing wooden cabinet in the room.

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Even the decorative heating grate cover is an inspiration, and is integrated into the overall design and feel of the room!

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The architect’s office created a mock-up from copies made from the stencils themselves, and put together in the desired sequence for reference, to insure no mistakes were made.

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Due to virulent vigilance, none were.

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Stencils based on the chosen designs were drawn out to scale on acetate, a clear plastic material often used for this purpose, and hand-cut using an xacto knife, on a “self-healing” cutting mat.

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Once the stencils were used, colorful paint residue made it easier to see their pattern, and also served as a color guide. The hand-cut stencils can be too delicate to wash off, so the paint stays on them.

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After careful measuring and positioning, the stencils were taped into place over the primed, latex base painted, gold painted and several times stippled door panels..and the colors were applied in a stippled (or pounced),and  layered fashion.

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Stenciling is truly the art of delayed gratification…the total effect can really only be seen when done.  You have to  love it.  If you do, the effort, the care,  the patience and the high wire act is worth it.  It is for me…I truly love the process, and how complex the results can become.One of my favorites is the extraordinary ceiling of the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, housed in the Chicago Art institute.

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After the stenciling  was completed, three applications of composition gold leaf, also called dutch metal or schlag, were applied to the front side of the doors. Each surface was delicately sanded in-between, with a fine sandpaper of 400-600 grit.  Visual delineation of the  squares of gold leaf was the desired look. The  surfaces were  then sealed with a coat of  oil varnish designed for use over dutch metal, to prepare it for the painting.   Dutch metal will tarnish with any contact with water media, so this varnishing step is crucial.

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Finally, the initial painting of the “saga of flying cranes’ began…first in primer, as the paint is acrylic, and it would not stick to the oil-based varnished surface. Washes of color in acrylic were then built up over the surface, and detail laid in. The painted surfaces were lightly sanded between paint applications, to keep it smooth and satiny.

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More color details were added to give depth, dimension, and a bit of pop to the scene.

The colors were carefully chosen and designed to work with the room’s rug,

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(glorious colors and patterns…found by the amazing architect and designer and their team.)

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 fabrics, textiles and accessories…(some might say that pillows are necessities!),

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as well as the wall colors and finishes in the room. The undertone of deep blue violet in the birds also provides pop against the complimentary gold background.

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It was important to the architect that the crane’s feet have personality!

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Inspired by the film, “Winged Migration“, these cranes have grit and determination…they are going somewhere, and they are going to get there!

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On-site in the residence,  I treated the sides of the cabinet in the same stippled fashion as the interior surfaces of the door…but no stenciling here. I applied layers of stippled color over the primed, them base painted, then gold-metallic painted surfaces, as was done with the inside of the cabinet doors above.

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The room is handsome, serene, streamlined, and somehow both warm and inviting, and cool and elegant.

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I am looking forward to gong to the site soon,  to see and photograph the doors installed and the cabinet as a whole.

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When I do, I think I  will be tempted to say…”You’ve come a long way, baby!  You’ve flown the coop!”

Are You looking forward to flying in this New Year?

I hope You are able to take flight in 2013.

As we know…time does fly…so let’s fly with it!

E-Lumen-8 Part 1 Take 2

E-Lumen-8 Part 1 Take 2

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E-LUMEN-8 Your Life! 

The story of “Artissima Lumens”…painted light switch plates for your e-lumen-8-ed pleasure!

Nov072012_7170 The adventure begins  with prepping: sanding and priming the front surface of the nascent “Lumens”…making a tiny white canvass to frame the light switch aperture.

Nov072012_7157The “Lumen” prepared “canvasses” begin to stack up. Their tiny screws get the same treatment. Each is sanded, primed with a white-tinted primer, painted, and treated in the same manner as the rest of the piece. The entire surface is treated as one composition.

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  It is fun to play with the aperture, and use it as part of the composition.

Nov072012_7160Pattern rules. Words can express dreams, hopes, even prayers.

The possibilities are endless…the size restrictions a creative stimulant….as opposed to a limitation.

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Nov102012_7145  The interplay of textures, (built up through the application of  layer upon layer of stippled paint), and pattern, color and image, only become more fascinating to manipulate and explore.

Nov152012_7228Metallic paints provide glow and glimmer, sheen and shimmer, adding luster and elegance, or perhaps a celestial quality.

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Nov152012_7225The addition of paint, texture and color add depth…while sanding between the layers with wet-dry sandpaper makes the pieces smooth and sleek, creating a tactile experience to match the visual. Layering imagery over texture, then softening, or slightly obscuring it, can suggest an air of mystery, softness, and complexity.

Nov152012_7229The elements are engaging to play with, mix, and and match.

I hope that the addition of “Artissima Lumens” will add an element of detail, joy or  artistry to a room and make turning on the light not only an illuminating, but fun!

E-LUMEN-8 Your Life!

Turn it On!

May Your Holidays be filled with light, joy, and FUN!

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Inspiration

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Inspiration

Cranes are the inspiration for a project in a historic building  in the historic West Adams neighborhood of  Los Angeles.

The gold-leafed surfaces of traditional Japanese screens often serve as a background for crane, and other images.

           Although standing cranes are pleasing, flying cranes provide more movement.

The element of the fading red moon (probably conceived by the artists of such screen and scroll paintings as a sun), was found particularly attractive.

The richly textured and patterned borders of traditional Japanese scroll painting may provide direction and context for the border design of the piece.


The Asian depiction of cranes seems to differ in some aspects to the Western. Photographic and cinematic images of flying cranes stimulate design and composition ideas.

Incredible patterns and textures found in the image below suggest movement, relating to that of the Flying Cranes.

More Inspiration.

I am thrilled to be involved in such an exciting project, and am looking  forward to see what happens next!

To Be Continued…

The Objects of Our Affection: Vignettes 3

The Objects of Our Affection: Vignettes 3

Mystery

Familiarity

Artistry

Wearability

Functionality

Are our objects expressions of our love?

Our drama?

Our hopes, dreams, wishes, needs and desires?

Do our vignettes express that which we are, or that which we aspire to?

Or, are they the place where these meet?

Have a little fun…express yourself, and play…mix and match, or don’t match.

Live a little.

Juxtapose, and strike a pose, then tear it all down, and start again.

Refresh.

Fresh.

Object Lessons: Vignettes 2

Object Lessons: Vignettes 2

What makes a place your own…that goes beyond style, decoration and decor, becoming a personal expression that spells H-O-M-E, even  if the space involved is your place of business, work or office?  The way we put our objects of meaning together is a form of creative expression that is unique to each of our beings… in ways we don’t even seem to be conscious of.

Birds of a feather…flock together, or, do they?  There seems to be a common human urge to organize our aesthetic views by placing objects that have commonality together.  It might be common physical characteristics such as  color, shape, pattern or size, a common function, such as things to read, things to drink from, things to put plants in, or  a common material: ceramics, metal or  glass.

Or…the assembled objects may have a commonality known, and felt, only by the assemblers, and those they know, love and live with.  The “collection”, however spare, may be composed of objects which resonate with shared memory, joy, triumph, or transcendence, and which have an ineffable but profound effect on those in the know who gaze on them.

Other groupings may combine a number of these attributes, and create whimsy, humor, an inside joke, or, an outside joke.  The choice to display objects from different cultures which inter-relate on the basis of color, pattern, size and scale add other layers of meaning, and their juxtaposition may create new associations, or uncover existing ones.

The associations of “new”, and “old”, vintage, or contemporary, “My mother bought me that TV” or “My sister brought those slippers home from India” , speak to our memories, where we are now,  and even where we want to be- our longings, desires, dreams, hopes and wishes.  They are all there, impelling our choices, informing our decisions, coloring our moods, our plans,  our moments and our minds.

Reflected or unknowingly  expressed in the way we place our “stuff”…whether seemingly thrown together, or carefully designed and thought out on a conscious level, may be the design and drama of our whole lives, and an expression of the highs and lows, the needs and aspirations, the joys and sorrows therein.

What have YOU expressed through Your H=O=M=E arrangements, assemblages, collages, collections, compositions, and displays?

if You feel so inclined, please share about them with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all designing, assembling, collecting, gathering and displaying our way through this thing called Life, together.