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23 May 2009

A Little More Fight...and a giveaway

"I am backed up into a corner
And there's barely room to breathe
I'm the underdog, the last, and lowest seed..."

Where do you turn when you are backed into a corner, when you are fighting to survive, when the world seems destined to drag you down?

I like to turn to music. I don't have 3,000 songs on my Zen player, nor do I have a vast collection of CDs. I am not even up on the most current players in the world of music. But I know what I like. And I like music that lifts me up and takes me away from the grime of life.

"My forces are outnumbered
The ground I gained is lost
Still I won't lay down my arms at any cost..."

A few weeks ago I was witness to the birth of a star. There is a local boy (I can say that because I am probably old enough to almost be his mother...) who had a concert at the University to celebrate the release of his first CD. A CD that features six songs written, arranged and sung by this oh-so-promising home-grown talent.

I invite you to take a little musical detour with me....



This is a benefit concert that Danny Mitchell played for the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra in 2007. "Raging River" is one of the six original songs on his album, "A Little More Fight."

"The walls I built are crumbling
My fortress has been breached
Yeah, but this white flag
Doesn't fly that easily..."


Danny says of the title track "A Little More Fight" (of which these quotes are the lyrics) that this has become a personal anthem for himself. I believe in having a song that is your anthem....something that you can turn to when you need that little push, that encouragement to go on. Danny's song is one that will be in my personal empowerment playlist.

"I may be all used up
And broken down
You won't hear me plead
No, no, no, I'll just dig in deep
And find a little more fight left in me..."


There are times when I doubt my own creativity. Those "why me" moments when I cannot believe it when someone gives me some accolade or postive comment. Those personal demons are the ones that I have to struggle with, that we all have to battle. It is at those times that I realize that it is in me and that I have to dig in deep and find that litle more fight left in me.

"Let me be the first to tell you
I'm as human as the rest
Sometimes I need to find my worst
Before I can find my best..."

One thing that attracts me to a musician is if they can play an instrument and sing. That is true talent. I can sing, but I could barely play the tamborine or the cowbell at the same time. So while I may have a gift of song, that is not where my true talent lies. Danny Mitchell has the most beautiful arrangements on the piano. He also has some incredibly talented friends, like drummer Wayne Salzmann and saxophonist John Greiner. Self-described as a blend of Harry Connick Jr, Norah Jones and Billy Joel...I would also add one of my very favorites Sara Bareilles. I appreciate the intricacies of his lyrics and the passionate delivery. But more than that, his music is just fun. Check out his rendition of Harry Connick Jr's "Come By Me".....



"And I cannot always be
The one who sets the pace
But you will never see me
Drop out of a race..."

This kid is going far. It is just a matter of time before you hear him on the radio.


To send him on his way, and to thank my loyal readers, I want to give away his recently released CD "A Little More Fight." I promise you will not be disappointed. I have it in my car and know all the words and discover new layers to the songs every single time I listen (and my kids think that he is better even than recent AI winner Kris Allen and ask to listen to him instead).

So....I am giving away not one, but TWO CDs (And who knows? Maybe a little something from the beading table as well!)

To enter answer the following question in the comments of this post:

  • What song is your personal anthem?
  • What makes it your personal anthem a good one to listen to when you need that "little more fight" to keep going?
One entry for commenting on that question.
One entry for posting this giveaway on your own blog, and sending me the link.
One entry for every person you send over to comment on this question who also mentions you.
I will pick two winners on Saturday, May 30th.

To inspire you (and put his smoldering eyes in your mind), here is the title track, "A Little More Fight"...



Check It Out:: http://www.sonicbids.com/epk/epk.aspx?epk_id=50576

Enjoy the day!

15 May 2009

Pick Me!

"The important thing is to dare to dream big,
then take action to make it come true."
-Joe Girard


Ever heard of Bead Star? Last year at this time I entered several pieces into the contest. I didn't make it in, but one of my pieces submitted went on to be featured in the Winter 2008 issue os Stringing. Not a total loss. Quite a good thing, actually.

This year, faced with an expanded time frame and armed with the winning designs from last year, I attempted to enter in all nine categories: Crystals, Glass, Seed Beads, Pearls, Stones, Plastics, Metal, Heart, and Under $25. Okay...so I only had time to submit in 6 of the 9 categories. But that is pretty good for working on it only in the month of April, right? (Expanded time frame...HA!)

Today, while perusing some of my favorite stops in the blog-dom, I came across my design for "Besame Mucho" on the Humblebeads blog. I used Heather Powers' fabulous Klimt-inspired bead for my "Kiss" themed Master Artist series creation.

So I quickly hightailed it over to the Bead Star website and the voting is now open. And the Bead-gods are smiling on me because I have pieces in three of the categories:

#10 in Glass - entitled "Koi Pond", inspired by Matisse's painting The Goldfish and with ceramic disk beads from Jangles. You might remember that I blogged about it here.



#6 in Heart - entitled "Good Advice", created with a heart pendant and word beads also from Jangles. (Found the picture!)


#5 in Seed Beads - entitled "Besame Mucho", inspired by Klimt's painting The Kiss and featuring a pendant from Humblebeads and 24kt gold charlottes from Itty Bitty Beads and crystal mixes from Fusion Beads. And I just recently blogged about it here.


But more than my three pieces I am so excited to see that some of my newest friends have designs in the contest as well. I encourage you to vote for your favorites, but you should really check out these awesome designs:

The awesome polymer clay necklace by Lorelei Eurto in Plastics category #7.

And the lush stylings of Heather Powers of Humblebeads in Stones category #8 and Pearls #11.

What I love about these gals is that they seek ways to incorporate the work of other artists into their pieces. Do check them out at their respective blogs.

What can you do? GO VOTE!


The top 5 in each category will be featured in the 2009 edition of Bead Star available in December. And the top designer chosen from all the first place finishers will be crowned the 2009 Bead Star with the cover spot.

All you need to do is go to the Bead Star website here, enter your email address, and start picking your favorites. Only one entry per email address so make your choices wisely (and I have given you my top favorites in six of the nine categories!)

Check It Out::http://www.beadingdaily.com/beadstar/

Enjoy the day!

11 May 2009

To Die For....

"Love and eggs are best when they are fresh."
~ Russian proverb.


What is it about Easter and eggs?
Easter was weeks ago, Erin? Why are you bringing this up now?
Easter is about celebrating our new life in Christ and eggs are the perfect symbol for new life, just as chicks hatch from the egg. There are many traditions that point to eggs being given to symbolize fertility and friendship and happy harvest and good wishes. And eggs that are colored and artistically designed are found in so many different cultures.


Check out these intricate eggs called Pysanky from the Ukraine. Wouldn't you love to learn how to do that? You can! Check it out here. (Personally, I am a bit daunted by the idea of blowing out the egg...wouldn't it break? What about all the raw egg flinging around? Wouldn't the egg break?)


I love dying the Easter eggs. I have done it in all sorts of ways, most often with the little tablets that you dissolve in hot water or the old fashioned liquid food coloring droplets with the precise concoctions for all sorts of Crayola shades on the back of the box. I have rolled them in glitter and used stickers or white crayons to leave a resist. I have sponged them and smooshed plastic wrap on them. I have even used onion skins and beets and other natural dyes...all in an attempt to push the limits of color after the dull gray of winter for the traditional hunt that takes place every Easter morn with my kids (yes, they still "believe" at 8 and 11 respectively. And Tiny Dancer indicated that the E.B would most certainly be hiding her basket in a much harder place in our little one floor home because she was so much bigger. He did. It was in her laundry basket!)


By the way....Did you know that the E.B. has scouts? Bunny scouts that is! One year in a spontaneous act of lunacy when my son the Sport-O was about 3 and not really behaving, we saw a little rabbit hopping around in the backyard. And on the driveway. And in the bushes. And darting out in front of my car when we drove down the street. That is where the Easter Bunny brigade was birthed. (And did you know that Santa has a similar brigade with the bellringers and mallworkers who keep him informed? Both have come in handy at certain times of the year...but I fear their effectiveness may be on the wane...)

Egg dying is a tradition that I have a feeling that I will continue for many more moons. I will choose to keep doing this because I derive so much inspiration from it. No matter how long my own children believe or want to participate or even if they are in the house anymore (I have many more years before that happens). I just like doing it. It is like breathing a little life into my home after months of gray days. Anticipating the rainbow hues just makes me happy.


I was so excited when I found a brand new way to dye the eggs. Tie-dyeing that is. And it is not what you think. I am totally not a "Martha" or even a wannabe, but this was the coolest thing, so I totally have to share. (But coincidentally, you can find very easy instructions to do this from Martha Stewart here.)

But in case you want to experience it from my point of view, head on over to my Watch Me Create blog post here.

Easter is so much more than that one Sunday in April where the world stops to seek colorful plastic eggs rattling with Jelly-Belly innards. Easter is about more than eating ham and scalloped potatoes and munching the ears off the chocolate bunnies (as long as they are Moonstruck bunnies...those are the kind that I buy...er...I mean the E.B. stuffs in the basket - because the children don't eat them. I do.). Easter is a about more than techno-colored Peeps and plastic grass.

Easter celebrates the day that Jesus triumphed over death and rose from the dead. Easter reminds me that although I may be a flawed soul, I am forgiven becuase Jesus took my sins upon his shoulders and gave his very life for me. For me! It is by far the best time in the Church, particularly in our parish, one I highly anticipate (and not just because I get to color eggs). The symblism is so rich. There is fire and water and oil. There are palm branches and foot washings. There is singing and silence. And the real meaning behind the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the wine.

First Holy Communion, May 3, 2009

The days of the Triduum and the pageantry surrounding it never fail to make me connect even deeper to my faith. This year more than ever I was very connected to it. You see my daughter, Tiny Dancer, was preparing to make her First Holy Communion (which she just did this past weekend). Witnessing faith through the eyes of someone so new to it all is really very humbling. I take for granted the stories that I hear every year. But I take great comfort in knowing that there are people around the world who are celebrating in much the same way that I am. We are telling the same story and reading the same Bible passages and singing Alleluia once again. Easter only begins the celebration on that Sunday in April. But it continues for 50 days total culminating in Pentecost, the celebration of the Holy Spirit coming down on the Apostles.

So I wish you a Happy Easter.


Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!


Check It Out:: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/eastercandy1.html

Enjoy the day!

04 May 2009

Meet My New Friend: Gustav

"There is no self-portrait of me." ~Gustav Klimt

I disagree with you, Gustav...I believe that the art you create is a sort of portrait of the artist. And I believe that the distinctive style of yours most certainly paints a portrait of you, Gustav Klimt, the artist.

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter who was a prominent artist in Art Nouveau style. Symbolism as an art form relies on metaphor and rejects the natural or realistic portrayal of subjects. Art Nouveau style was epitomized by flowing lines and symbolic deptictions and a sense of opulence and lushness. Growing up I was always fascinated by the works of Art Nouveau, literally "new art." Klimt's art is heavily influenced by Egyptian, classical Grecian and Byzantine mosaic styles. The most famous of his paintings were done in the early 1900s and were considered his "Golden Phase" since many of these portraits and depictions were heavily laden with actual gold. One of his most famous, The Kiss has always been a favorite of mine, and a poster of this is hanging in my home.


"All art is erotic." ~ Gustav Klimt

Klimt came from a family of seven who were very poor. His father was a gold engraver and several of the children showed a great aptitude for artisitic endeavors. In 1876 Klimt was awarded a scholarship to attend the Vienna school of Arts and Crafts. It was here that he refined the techniques that would later get him noticed for some very important commissions.

Well acquainted with scandalous and critical attention, Klimt's art was always highly charged with erotic scenes. In portraits he primarily painted women and especially the figure of the femme fatale, like that of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which ultimately sold at auction for $135 million in 2006, one of the highest totals ever for a single painting. Women fascinated him, and the artist was known to have had many discreet affairs fathering 14 children.

Now, I am not an art historian, but I do believe that every person needs to come to their own interpretion of a work of art. I am not denying the sexually charged nature of Klimt's work, but I have my own perspective on The Kiss in particular. I have always been drawn to the brilliant gold and the geometric decoration on this painting. I always imagined that the woman in this particular painting was like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The long lines of the flowered robes that entwine the couple make me think of the way in which a relationship can envelope you completely and cause you to become one, while still maintaining your unique identity, as evidenced by the different graphic symbols on each robe. And while the subject matter may be erotic in nature, I personally see that The Kiss is symbolically connected to fulfillment and the transformative power of love.

Given that this is a painting that I see daily, this was the first Master Work that I chose to do for my Master Artist series. And because it is something so special to me, and the corresponding design was more complicated, it did take me the longest. Twelve hours to be exact.


I wanted the necklace to reflect the color and movement depicted in The Kiss, and it certainly could be no other metal than gold. And as with the other pieces in this series, I sought out an artisan made component to focus my design. I was lucky to find that one of my favorite bead artists, Heather Powers of HumbleBeads had actually created a bead inspired by The Kiss. Heather creates the most extraordinary polymer clay creations that defie description. The process that she uses to create must be so painstaking, yet results in the most glorious use of color in distinctive shapes like this cylinder bead. I have been following her work for years since I first saw it in the pages of a magazine, and one day vowed to own one of her stunning beads. Do you see how the swirls on this bead mimic the detail on the woman's dress? I couldn't have asked for a more perfect representation of The Kiss than Heather's magnificent bead.

For the color I focused on Swarovski crystals of all sorts....bicones, faceted rounds, teardrops and briolettes. All in the fabulous array of colors that defines Swarovski.


I wanted the look of solid gold, but that was not to be. I found Itty Bitty Beads with their 24kt gold charlottes, which are eentsy-weentsy, teeny-tiny gold plated seed beads with a facet on one side to provide a little sparkle. What I didn't know, since I never use seed beads for anything other than an accent, is the higher the number the smaller the bead. So I ordered the 15/0.....and discovered that I needed extra light sources and a pair of drugstore reader glasses in order to work with them! (And I learned that next time I will order a larger size bead!)

I wanted to reflect the opulence of Klimt's The Kiss through this piece as well as the connection between the two lovers wrapped together. I envisioned this piece as a lariat that could be worn long or doubled, and I have found that the large focal bead can actually be worn two different ways. People have commented that it looks like a scarf all draped around the neckline. This necklace construction did take me over 12 hours to complete, but I think it was so worth it in the end. Even if I have to start wearing glasses because of it...



"Whoever wants to know something about me - as an artist which alone is significant - they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognise what I am and what I want."
~Gustav Klimt

So, if all art is a self-portrait of the artist who created it, what does this work say about me?
And what does your work say about you....whether you create in jewelry, or painting, or sewing, or baking, or even our children, our greatest works of art?

Do tell!

Check It Out::http://www.humblebeads.blogspot.com/

Enjoy the day!

01 May 2009

Excited. Honored. Humbled.

"Nothing happens unless first a dream."
~ Carl Sandburg


Isn't it great when a dream comes true?

Well, it is not my dream realized, but I did have a part in its fruition.

(And who knows? Someday this might be my dream, too!)

Miss Leah at Creative Every Day put a call out to her faithful readers awhile back to submit their comments about participating in her Creative Every Day challenge and send some pictures of the creations. I didn't hesitate to jump on board that train because I love that little community (even though I am not very visible on it regularly) and I do take the challenge of creating something every single day to heart. Miss Leah is just so creative and inspiring I knew that I just had to help her out.


It turns out that the reason she wanted these things was for an article that was being published in the Summer issue of Artful Blogging magazine. If you haven't seen this publication, you really should, as it is so lovely and lovingly made and has now become an essential tool in my quest to be more artful. It might cost a bit more than your average newsstand magazine, as are all the Stampington & Co publications of which I also subscribe to Belle Armoire Jewelry, and it is TOTALLY worth it.

I am excited to be a part of Leah's challenge to exercise my creativity every day.

I am honored to have been chosen by the editors of the magazine to be included in the article.

I am humbled that I am in such terrific company as these very talented people.




(In case you can't guess....my contribution is the jewelry shown in the gallery of artists. A little something that I made for a challenge on the Beading Daily blog and ultimately selected for their Heart Felt gallery in February.)



Please read more about this great honor over at the Creative Every Day blog by artist Leah Piken Kolidas. And join us in being Creative Every Day!

Check It Out::http://creativeeveryday.com/


Enjoy the day!

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