Making Our Own Books: Together!

Making Our Own Books: Together!

I had the wonderful experience of teaching “MAKE YOUR OWN BOOKS’, an enrichment class offered at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica by the CREST Enrichment program.

webaThe sweet and talented students ranged from first to fourth grade, and had a blast making books of different sizes, structures and materials.

webcThey first bound together their portfolios, made of hanging file folders, then designed and developed the outside covers of these,

webegetting acquainted with each other, their materials, myself, and their own creativity and imagination.

webdThen we began our book projects…which included accordion fold books, flag books, fan books,

webbsingle signature bindings, and side “stab” bindings.

webfTo celebrate our achievements, learning and fun, we had a “last class” family event.

webtFamily and CREST staff were invited to Make Books Together!

webkDid we have fun making “double” single signature books, learning the pamphlet stitch, and embellishing up a storm!

webu

webmMoms,

webh

webi

weblNannies,

webo

webs

webpand Dads got into the act,

webq

webr

webn

webvalong with our delightful students…

webwand CREST staffers who got to take a creative break!

i will miss this class, and the open, fluid creativity of the students. I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again!

 Wishing everyone a creative and healthful New Year…and a celebration of the positive power of the Imagination. Let us imagine a better world…and Make It, Together.

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The Big Draw LA: Drawing for All

The Big Draw LA: Drawing for All!

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of leading a drawing event for The Big Draw LA at the Fairview Branch of the Santa Monica Public Library.

The Library staff set up four large rectangular pieces of white paper on tables, for participants to work on together and create “Big Drawings” that would be hung on panels around the community room, and serve as decor, color, inspiration and fun!

Children from the ages of two to twelve showed up with parents, and jumped into the activity with gusto! Moms and Dads followed suite….

WEB3They used a myriad of colored pencils…

WEB7and markers..large and small.

WEB6Artist moms got the opportunity to play with color, shape, line and pattern…

WEB9and some young artist chose to work on their own drawings, separate from the group projects,

WEB93c0mplete with lots of detail.

WEB91Toy horses were outlined,

WEB92and rainbows were born.

WEB95The result was magnificent…the result of many artistic voices.. An enterprising eleven-year-old started this piece off by drawing in the horizon line, and adding a few mountains rising up above it, to show distance. The composition grew from there, as each participating artist added their “thing”. Slowly the land and sky developed into a wonder world.

WEB99 Rowan volunteered to be outlined on  another sheet,

WEB94and so did Ellie on yet another.

WEB96It took the devoted efforts of several drawers coloring to make this piece complete. Are his hands purple, or is he wearing purple gloves?

WEB97Two young artists with a  love of green created the border around the edge of this drawing, then Ellie was outlined inside. parents and children worked together to make the dress as green as the one she was wearing. What a happy face!

WEB98As patrons came into the community room, they were invited to outline their hand along the edges of the fourth piece of paper, then design, develop and decorate it, adding their name if they wanted to.

WEB990The community room is now alive with the work of the community.

WEB991Line, shape, color, space, composition, perspective, proportion, scale…who knew learning about these could be so fun! Learning by doing, making art in community, and having a blast at The Big Draw LA, at The Fairview Branch Library

Many thanks to The Fairview Branch Library Manager, Erica Cuyugan, for the vision and commitment to make this event possible.  Thank  you Erica!!!

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When Your Head Explodes

When Your Head Explodes

Despite the provocative title, this post is NOT about self-destruction, or really any other kind of explosion.

It is about how to avoid that, in a world, and a time, when everyone is overloaded, overstimulated, overwhelmed, and maybe just barely keeping themselves from going over the top.

What to do when conflicting demands, world crises, the seemingly ever-faster passage of time, and the never-ending allure and addiction of the internet challenge our time management skills?

Well, in many cases we may  need to do what one of my students did in a recent workshop….create

…and make lemonade out of lemons, and not the other way around.

One way to do this is to, as I term it, “Slow it all down” and take a breath, take a moment, and if you are engaged in a task, really concentrate on it, focus, and allow yourself to be drawn into its magic, and even its mystery.  Allow your attention to be captured, and the results may be unexpectedly healing, centering, renewing, and revitalizing.

I did this recently, when in a moment of feeling conflicting demands, needs, commitments, desires and possibilities, including the need to post on my Artissimablog, took a moment, and focused on my HOUZZ  design blog posts. Some of you may subscribe to this amazing entity…and receive, like I do, hundreds of fascinating, applicable and glorious posts, images, ideas and blurbs a week.

Hard to keep up with, and I have moved from reading EVERYTHING/EVERY ONE, to just those that truly fall within my current central focus of interest: color, art integration, decorative painting, D.Y.I., small spaces, the handmade, hands-on, bespoke, vintage, re-purposed and recycled. Plenty to keep anyone busy.  However, often I am rushing through them, just to get them “done”, read, checked off my ever-lengthening “to-do list”.  Not always really taking the material in; like flipping through a magazine, and not really reading.

Well,  on this particular day, for whatever reason, despite feeling like I needed to and should do a host of other things, I scanned my HOUZZ posts, and chose a few “treat” myself to. I put my whole attention on reading them, taking in the images, opening my heart, mind and soul to the ideas, aesthetics, whimsical innovation, and sheer beauty before  me on the screen.  As I became absorbed in what I was doing, the concerns, tensions, worries and conflicts seemed to slip away, and I was transported into other worlds of artful fascination and loveliness, feeling my spirit drink this in for all it was worth. The beauty, stimulation, and peacefulness of the images and ideas before me “worked” upon me, instead of the other way around.

When I had perused and imbibed  several chosen, intriguing posts, I was ready to move forward with my day, energized, calmer, and with renewed vigor for the tasks at hand.  It was like my nervous system had taken a break and come back refreshed, and maybe it had. Agitation may drive us to the place where we need to be creative or productive (not always the same thing), but it doesn’t seem to be the state  in which we ARE the most creative or productive, as John Cleese shares  with us in an intriguing talk.

Sometimes that is just a matter of a shift in attitude, decision, focus, or breath.

Quiet, clear, calm, focus, seems to be necessary, for us to “drop down” into that state where we are free of worry and stress, and can just roam; create, produce, play, complete, whatever.  Anxiety and the worry over conflicting demands takes a greater toll on our energy sources then simply releasing ourselves from those states, and giving ourselves fully to what is before us.

So, the next time You feel that Your head might explode,

               STOP….

Take a breath. Stay calm.  Choose a task, or just focus on the one right in front of you, and for just a few minutes, try to give yourself to it completely, and see what happens.

You may find yourself not only calmer, more alive, and less agitated, but also a bit richer in experience then you were before.

And that is certainly worth the price of admission!

To the Letter

To the Letter

When we think of lettering, fonts, text, and color, we don’t always think about marketing, or poetry, or decorative painting.  But the truth is, all of these things can and do work together to tell a story, communicate a brand, and create a mood.  For all of these things are more inter-related then we may think.

Cathedral School for Boys, an independent Episcopal school Founded in 1957 ,  located on the grounds of Grace Cathedral in  San Francisco  enrolls approximately 267 boys in kindergarten through eighth grade.  When their Development Director engaged me to hand paint the school’s motto and other signage, we had to think about the size and style of lettering, font, and color that would best reflect its essence.

The Development Director wanted to identify “Alumni Hall”, which holds commemorative plaques listing the names of the student body dating back to the 19560’s.  The lettering of the words had to command the wall on which they were placed, and the dates, to clearly identify each decade of  pictured. A deep, rich custom blue was designed, reflected in the existing visual identity of the School, and the font “Perpetua” was chosen, appropriately enough. (Was that a fluke? A “meant to be”…?  A so-called, “Freudian slip” ?)

The school’s motto, “Minds  Hearts  Hands  Voices” was lettered across the front of the architectural detail directly facing the front glass window, creating a potent and effective message.  Key was planning the spacing between the words, as the Headmaster wanted the look to be clean, simple and streamlined, and thus elegant. No muss, no fuss.   It was just to be those four words, after all.   Let the words do the talking, supported by their size, spacing, color and font.  The space between each word serves as a visual and aural “beat”, or resting point of space and silence, which becomes part of the motto’s overall rhythm and poetry.  Aural, because the words “speak” to us the viewer.  As we read them, we hear them inside our heads, and as we are moved to speak, recite, or chant them.  This process again supports and enhances the messaging of The School, and perhaps, the adjacent related Grace Cathedral as well.

Without being overpowering, the power of the words which embody the intent, spirit and brand, of The School communicate, while integrating perfectly into its presentation, its lobby, its front office, and its formal signage.

The architecture of the building, its purpose, where it is situated geographically, its urban and natural surroundings, and its spiritual identity and associations are also an inspiration for the aesthetic choices relating to it.

Seeking grace and maybe sometimes  finding it.  The elements of visual and literary art, architecture, design, urban planning, education, the natural world, our creative, quirky and infinitely original  imagination, these gifts are always at our disposal to feed our hungry souls, and those around us.  Here’s wishing you grace, and the ability to offer it to others, through the powers of  our own perception.

Have YOU found a moment of grace through the powers of Your own perception?

If You feel so inclined, please share about it with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all  finding our own manner of grace in this thing called Life, together.


Windows to the Soul

Windows to the Soul

Picking up where the last post left off…let this be a not quite seamless transition to further observations on how we employ nature to define and manipulate the architectural space, and thus our own sense of space, and soul.

Whether plants…foliage…hedge or vine, are used to create, or frame a window, or many windows, the result is by turns arresting, intriguing, mysterious and playful.  The endless  resourcefulness of humans, harnessing the abundance and generosity of nature, responds to  to our need for connection, intimacy, solitude and privacy, through the medium of design: shape, form, texture, and color- a function of light.

In the meantime, seeing through apertures  framed in a plethora of leaves…is…fun!  And, enlivening.  And fun.

Peekaboo to the Church on the other side of the hedge…

Ivy league feel…giving a sense of the venerable…

Almost done…

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, do windows offer a view to the soul of a building?  Or, are windows the eyes through which a building views its surroundings,  and sees our souls?

Either way it seems,  some aspect of  soul is involved.

Viva la Natura!

Featured Work: A Mid-Century Tale

Featured Work: A  Mid-Century Tale

Once upon a time,  in March of 2011, I had two wonderful and creative Clients who wanted a special decorative / design application on a perfectly blank wall in their master bedroom.

Here’s where we started…

And..here’s where we ended up.

So…what happened in-between?

Well, having done a custom application in their guest room,

I had familiarity with the Clients’  home, tastes, design style, and color preferences.  It was immediately apparent upon entering their space: these Clients have a passion for  Mid-Century/ retro style and design.

Their strong affinity for hues of orange fit right into their Mid-C sensibility.

The Clients’ unified approach to their home decor and design is expressed in just about every detail of their space, including

tray tables…

shower curtains….

coasters,

textiles,

a sunburst clock,

vases (and furniture and ornaments),

and more vases (and furniture and ornaments).

We began our collaboration with a small gem of an idea…a snippet of  inspirational pattern that caught my Clients’ sensitive eye.

We played with the scale, the sizing and the spacing,

 

and I created custom stencils.

We did the math (a few times…), and I marked out the pattern on the wall with chalk.

I did the first stencil application. The pattern emerged, and,  the wall came alive…  the pattern just animated that wall!

The secondary stencil animated the pattern, design, and wall surface yet further.

Little rings of fire did their job…added energy, snap, crackle and pop that was just, well, FUN.  (As my Clients are).

The result, though we had planned for it carefully, surprised us all in its whimsy, uniqueness, and aliveness.  (Also qualities of my Clients.)

Somehow the wall, and the design, the pattern  and the treatment became more than the sum of their parts…

one of the happiest outcomes of the Arts!

And here we have the happy ending of the tale…or, is it a beginning?

Have YOU ever had the experience of your collaborations and creations becoming more than the sum of their parts?

If you feel so inspired,  please share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all creating this story of our LIVES, together.

May You have JOY and Aliveness in your Life, as you Live it!



Niki, Too

Niki, Too

Poet and Muse

Mosaic sculpture by Niki de St. Phalle., near the entrance to the Mingei International Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Who is the Poet, and Who is the Muse? Does the Poet hold up the Muse, or vica versa?  Both are monumental, in Niki’s eyes.

“My feet’s too big….” Not in Niki’s eyes, or hands. Certainly not in her soul.

Nikigator

Mosaic sculpture by Niki de St. Phalle., also adjacent to the  Mingei International Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

The elaborate, fantastical “Nikigator” provides fun and fantasy for the young at heart. thrilling their imaginations.

Who needs a playground, when you have a Nikigator?

Too friendly to be ferocious? OR, Too ferocious to be friendly?  An easy or uneasy balance between the two?

The Nikigator is encrusted with brilliant “Niki “gems”…

…wild and fantastical designs and patterns that adorn her extravagant creatures…

And delight our souls.

What is your response to “Niki”?

If you feel so inspired, please share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all creating this thing called Life, together.

Here’s to Imagination…Creativity…DeLight….
Listen “Charlotte Talks“…all about Nikki…her daughter and granddaughter share about this wondrous being… and .prepare to be inspired!









Mysterium

Mysterium

It is easy to lose sight of the beauty and mystery that surround us continually, in every day, or every night, life.

No matter where we are, or what we are doing, something strange, mysterious, possibly marvelous, and hopefully wondrous is happening, that we can tap into, and feel once again, how amazing and magical the world can be…is.

It may just take looking at something familiar in a fresh new way….

Or, seeing new meanings in the not so mundane…making potentially poetic connections.

It may mean letting beauty light your fire for just a few moments…

Looking up….

Or down…

Out…

Or in…

Seeing the treasures of the exterior built environment,

Or the interior.

All, a testament to the extraordinary creativity and ingenuity which resides within us.  Don’t miss it.

Take a look.  No doubt, you’ll find yourself inspired.

What every day, or every night mystery has inspired YOU lately?

If you feel so moved, share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all in this thing called Life, together.

May the mysteries of 2011 unfold in the most marvelous way possible for all  this year!