Friday, March 29, 2013

The Perfect Perspective

Any photographer, no matter the experience level, knows perspective is the difference between a good photo and a masterpiece.  When it comes to the perfect shot, no risk is too great, no roadside position too humiliating if the reward is earned.
Normally I am alone in my photography quests but this week, as we all know by now, I had the good company of Ashlie Blake, who matches me in my fearless quest for just the right angle.  Stomping through ant-ridden sands, tip-toing around thorny shrubs, and trying to guess the stampede warning from a wary longhorn.  After all, "no trespassing" signs are just a suggestion, right?
The greatest fun at the end of the day was sifting through all the photo flops and laughing at how we got the shots in the first place.  The uncooperative butterfly, the blooms that knew to wind dance just when the focus was right, and broken window shots that look more like crime scene evidence.
There were the battle scars of the hunt: sun burned necks, dirt-filled shoes, and swollen hands from a palms-first fall into a raspberry patch.  All symptoms of a time-grown friendship
captured both before and behind the lens.
Finally meeting Ashlie in person has been one of the greatest joys in my life. If a picture is worth a thousand words- the story behind it is worth a million more. So if ya catch me smiling at the pics of our 4 day excursion- know that I am simply dreaming of the adventures yet to come.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wildflowers and Antiques

Country explores are fabulous medicine for the soul.  With old fashioned paper, pen, map and camera, Ashlie (Painting Bliss) and I set out to snap some good pics of Texas bluebonnets.  Amongst the blues, pinks, and rustic elegance of small town Texas, we found insta-relationships, heart melting homes, and an unexpected mega antique fair! 
Despite a dry season, the roadsides were alive with color.  Painted ladies danced from bloom to bloom as buzzing bees tunneled in bluebonnet towers. 
 The breeze so gentle, the hawks drifting circles in the sky, so far from any city it's as if nature pressed the pause button on our busy remotes. 
Today was a day to stop and smell the flowers.  And stop again.  Oh and over there!  Stop again!  Wait!  Back it up! (Ashlie can really fly a car in reverse!) No field or patch was overlooked on the road from New Ulm to Fayetteville!
Little did we know that our route to Round Top was taking us right into the heart of Marburger Farm Antique Weeks!  This time of year the fields are alive in sudden tent cities hocking the finest finds of the season. 
 From massive architectural doorways to the tiniest trinket, rust and chippy paint rule the day.  We arrived late in the day but it was perfect timing for us.  No crowds, no lines of people to dodge, just us and the vendors talking shop, reflecting on the day.

The day was coming to a close as the Texas sky clouded over and one by one the tents wrapped up for the evening.  Ashlie and I had a 2 hour ride back to Houston, the last stretch of what has been a phenomenal four days.  The bluebonnets fading into dusk, the car barreling south, all that was left to do was to celebrate the rarest of birds: true friendship.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Day For The Birds

A simple lunch and blog on the isolated sands of Bolivar Beach quickly turned to feathered mayhem when Ashlie and I decided we were done with our kettle chips and those two solitary laughing gulls wading in the gentle waves might really enjoy them.  There were only two birds sharing the shore with us.  What could it hurt? 
Soon we were flooded with laughing gulls swooping in for a salty treat!  Tossing chips in the air, more and more birds flew in for a chance to nab a quick snack.
These gulls are adept at hovering and snagging chips mid-air!  Like waiting pups, the wings fluttered ever so slightly, beaks aligned with chip trajectory, and eyes focused on the launching hand.  Bam! Another gull swoops in and steals the booty! And for a Nano second we lock eyes with the spurned gull and there is a solitary understanding of loss and redemption.
It was the perfect end to a beach explore spent wandering the empty sands, sifting for beach glass and feeling the warm Texas sun on our backs.  On the ferry ride back to Galveston, a gull perched as another flew in as if he were an old friend.  I'm pretty sure I saw a chip crumb on his beak!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Houston's Best True Art Gallery

So my bestie, Ashlie Blake, arrived from New York yesterday and what better place to start an artistic journey than the Houston Mural Project just a few blocks from Hobby Airport.  I was always weary about walking this exhibit by myself, but with my bestie by my side I was fearless and our eyes opened to some of the best graffiti in all of Houston.
A project of Bread of Life and Rice University, the Houston Art Project benefits the homeless of Houston.  This urban canvas covers an entire building, inside and out, several out buildings around the corner and throughout the alley. Raw and intricately beautiful, the artists' souls are on display in their interpretations of the Houston experience.
An entire wall is dedicated to a post modern version of Alice in Wonderland- I can relate because I find Houston to be equal parts fantasy and horror.

This little boy struck me as the face I see almost everyday in my south of Houston life.  He is the little child full of wonder, unscathed by the racial prejudices and stereotypes of this area.  He is the little child who can be anything he wants to be.  He holds the expression that must've been on my face when Ashlie rounded the corner at the airport and I saw her for the first time in person!
There are humors and nuances that translate so much better in person than skyping, texting or random snippets of the day.  Every day I greet Ashlie with a gangstah-style text and we do our best posse impressions but little did she know that this 5', 40-something white girl, really loves street art, abandoned run down places, and yes, Eminem. And in true bestie style, Ashlie never missed a beat!

Our adventure has just begun and will certainly fly by at turbo speed.  But I am here to attest that yes, true friendships can form on line and connections that you believe can't run any deeper can multiply ten fold.
Today our adventures take us far from the Houston chaos and into Pirate Lafitte's old stomping grounds on High Island.  Let the dolphins greet us, the pelicans swoop above us, and the tides meet our toes!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Rare Bird Flies South

Images from Papaya Art
My Foo Foo bestie, Ashlie Blake, of Painting Bliss, is coming to Texas this weekend!!!!
We all have friends- but, if we are lucky, a person comes along with whom you click, you jive, you laugh, you cry, you grow, and you just know this person is a soul mate.  Not the marrying, fall in love, mushy mushy goo goo soul mate- but a friend so close she surely was kin in another life.  
I met such a rare bird 7 years ago and she has been my sister ever since.  Ashlie lives in New York, I live in Texas.  With growing families we both have been bound to our home states and our friendship has grown through the internet, phone chat and Skype.  We have never met face to face.  Well folks, that era is about to come to an end!

Oh there will be an airport ruckus of girlish squeals and peoples' eyes will roll in their doldrums disgust!  There will be late night coffee chats, thrifting marathons in Houston, wildflower romping in Round Top, and beachy fun in High Island!  Oh there will be blogging and a Smash Book project as well!  And who knows what else we will find in the great wide openness of Texas!
Ashlie is such a part of my life she is insta-family, my right arm, and my morning cup of joe!  (Insert Hubby's eye roll and snide comment about my foo foo affections HERE!) This weekend marks 7 years in the waiting coming to an end and the dawn of a new chapter in our epic friendship.  And I CANNOT wait another second! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Inspirational Tweets Headed To Hendley

So many peeps chilling in the trees these spring mornings!  Nesting activities abound as the quiet winter skies give way to warmer days and green leaves.  In celebration of the season, new Inspirational Tweets have emerged from the studio ready to take flight to Hendley Market!
There were days when getting goodes ready for market was a fretful plague of anxiety, self-doubt and the certainty that Hand of Bela Peck goodes wouldn't match up to my fellow Galveston artists.  After the first basket was delivered I was shocked to see my Russian Mice collection grace the front table and doors! After the second basket, I fell into a welcome routine of artsy chat and friendship.  Now, several baskets later, the Hendley trip is a welcome break- a chance to share in recent finds and girlish banter on daily things.  In my Hendley journey, and over the past year, I've come to realize that all artists doubt their work.  I've found a new community of friends who try to balance the struggle for creativity with the challenges of everyday life.  Most importantly, in the vast anonymity south of Houston, I found a place where I belong.
Though timely for spring, this delivery of Inspirational Tweets reflects the feelings and undercurrents brought on by my involvement with the fab peeps of Hendley Market!  If you find yourself in the Galveston area- swing on in!  Hendley Market is located on The Strand and is open Thursday-Sunday. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Strippin' It Down!

There comes a time in every fiber artist's life, usually a few times a year, when the stash closet doors won't shut and the pile of storage bins is stacked so high and deep the garage door is rendered useless.  Reluctantly we know it's time to get back to the bare minimum and give up all those scraps accumulated for the sheer pleasure of collecting.
My wool scraps are the worst space suckers simply due to their over abundance.  It is in these bins I begin the task of cutting usable pieces from the chaos, grouping them with like colors and setting them aside for sale.  What fun is a stash if no one else can play with it?
Lamb In A Can and Sack-o-Lamb are created from the wee collections set aside.  Fun snippets of color, texture and patterns to ignite that creative spark in far away studios.  All tucked into a recycled coffee or tomato can- it's an eco-friendly up-cycler's playground!

Because I love the victorious feel of a bargain, I offer my wool scraps on Ebay with a very low starting price.  This eases my storage burden quickly and gives the buyer a chance to share the love! Look for new listings weekly at Hand*of*Bela*Peck on Ebay!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Photo Implosion

This past week my trusty ol' office computer gave up the ghost.  The black screen of death appeared and all hope was lost.  There was shock, disbelief, grief and my entire unsaved work flashed before my eyes!  What I had known, understood, loved, held dear- all was gone.  I had not cared for it, didn't back up my work and suffered the tragic pangs of nevermore.
I did what we all must do in times of loss.  I carried on. Not wanting to, but knowing I had to... for my business, for my connectivity, for all that is right in the creative world.   I replaced the desk top with a better laptop than my travel buddy notebook but skimped on the photo editing software after I balked at the cost of replacing my beloved PhotoShop.
I feel like a 5 year old in a snowsuit.  Cramped, confined, not understanding why I am slowed when I want to fly.  My grief is making me impatient combined with the new  work space, strange keyboard, and the constant call of projects neglected as I run through the muddy start up of a new virtual world.
Today will no doubt be swallowed by more attempts to unravel the mysteries of this Photo Explosion software.  There will be botched logos, layering failures, and certain storing mishaps.  As advertising deadlines loom closer, panic will set in, memories of my old reliable PhotoShop will drift through my head as I kick myself for being so cheap.  I will grab a fresh iced latte (because fattening coffee always makes me feel better), mosey out to the garage and sit vigil by my dear old computer who has gone to his grave with all my treasured secrets.  I will raise my glass in his honor and sing a sweet melody ode to my fallen, faithful friend.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jewett City Jaunt

A visit home in Connecticut is never complete without a Sunday morning trip to Jewett City for the great dusty flea market!  Fresh with spring mud and New Englanders emerging to celebrate an unusually warm March morning, the Jewett City Flea Market has been around longer than I can remember.
Two floors of jam-packed goodies ranging from the tiniest jewels to towering Early American cupboards and everything in between.  But the best picks are outside in the pop-up stands; sellers with new finds they are eager to off load!  Random china, folk art, military memorabilia, and taxidermy bring a chuckle, a memory, and a spark of imagination.
I can't resist shiny bits and baubles.  When they are offered at dirt cheap prices I can't help but dig in deep!  I spent $25 in total at the flea market and oh the treasures I did find; rhinestones glistening in the sun, cast off buckles and silver-plate gems!
 At 25 cents a piece I couldn't resist these vintage wooden knobs!  I have just the project for them but for now I am keeping that plan a wee secret.
I have an affinity for piggies and the market did not disappoint! I spent 10 cents on the ceramic guy, $15 dollars for the pinned pig.
The pins were my fave purchase.  Nestled in with the common pins there was a fine gold stick pin with a green stone- a thrifting pirate's treasure indeed!
 Best of all was having precious time with my family playing with the ridiculous and oohing at fabulous furniture I had no way to transport back to Texas. Seeing my Dad revel in sharing with my daughter an affinity for weaponry and Elvis trinkets, I know it's a memory they will both cherish. It was definitely a morning well spent under the warm Connecticut sun.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Millie In The Making

 Millie is a old girl who loves her quiet life on the sheep farm.  She is kind, introspective and always willing to help a neighbor in need.  This time of year she is anxious for the snowflakes to subside and to see stubby green growth of the daffodils peeking their leaves through the crispy leaves that cover her gardens.  She wanted to see what life was like in New England, so she made the trip from Texas with me.

Millie is made from a doll form I found at a garage sale.  I coffee stained her for proper age, needle sculpted her features and finished her with local goods here in Connecticut. I gave her a head of alpaca wool hair from Sixpaca, farm up the road in Bozrah, Connecticut.  Her simple dress is made from fabrics purchased at Colchester Mills while on my visit here. 
Millie will get a few more details on today's flight back to Texas, and will be completed back in my studio tomorrow.  She has an important debut on Olde Primitive Peddler on the 15th- so I better keep my needle cranked up to zoooom speed!
I have so enjoyed my time in Connecticut and sad to see it come to an end.  I know Millie is sad to leave as well.  She had grown fond of the alpaca farm.  But just like me, Millie will always have Connecticut in her heart and soul.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Creaky Step of Time

This staircase creaks something awful!  There are boards I know by heart that used to be a dead giveaway to my teen-aged curfew violations and though I am now 43, I still avoid those steps with cat-like agility. The sturdy banister is time worn and softer than cashmere, it's surface sanded by countless hands over two centuries. Steep steps that befuddle those not raised in an old house.  I can still hear the missed steps of visitors clutching the banister to steady their climb.  I still feel my own bruised tailbone from flying too fast down the stairs in socked feet, bouncing my way to the bottom.

Communion dresses, Confirmation dreses, prom dress after prom dress and eventually my bridal gown were carefully lifted so my toes would touch each step to avoid any mishaps. Shoes were always put on at the bottom of the stairs. I didn't realize then that my life would take me thousands of miles away from these creaky old stairs.  As the years passed I made it back home for holidays.  Tiny shoes of my daughter, new nieces, and nephews could be heard thundering up and down followed by the standard calls to be careful- though, remembering my own falls, I knew that the first careless slip was usually the last! And now those toddler steps are the lazy lunkering of teens on the verge of their own  high school proms.  So fleeting is time.

Sitting in my parents' house I realize I am on the threshold of change in my life. Until recently I have lived for everyone else- as all moms do.  I have made many school lunches, helped with homework, balanced a string of careers, maintained the home, fed a bazillion pets, and put 100,000 miles on my car just running errands and kids around town. But today, on vacation back in Connecticut with my only child on her final high school spring break, I realize that my soon to be empty nest is full of possibilities.

That man I married the day I carefully descended these steps with my fistfuls of lace, now travels the world and has afforded me the chance to travel with him.  Working full time for myself, I can spend more time visiting family whom I have missed so much over the past 20 years.  The greatest reward in life is family.  Having my daughter roll her eyes at her grandfather's jokes and crouch through the tiny corridors of this old New England house are priceless memories in the making.  Seeing my daughter skip the same stair steps that I did at her age, I hear her exclaim, "God, this stair CREAKS!".  Seeing her full grown, walking the stairs behind her grandmother, I can't help but think, "Yes, this stair creaks something beautiful!"

Monday, March 11, 2013

Home Visit

Home for me will always be those drafty walls of the rambling 1759 colonial in Norwich, Connecticut.  It is where my life began, where I played with life-long friends, and where I grew up with the boy who became my husband. It is a simple yellow house that contains more memories than any photo book can hold.

When I go home to visit my parents I know that my house will look the same today as it did when I left 25 years ago. The floorboards still creak out a welcome and baskets my Mom has made throughout the years hang from low beams scraping the heads of anyone taller than 6 feet.  

In my childhood bedroom many of my toys remain for my nieces and nephew to play.  The stencil I loved so much as a little girl still graces the walls.  I remember the summer my mother painted each simple stroke, patiently, precisely, until the room was ringed to match the quilt she and her quilting bee friends just finished for me. 

I am one of the lucky few who can still visit my childhood any time I want with a simple flight from Texas.  Where others have photos and stories, I have the real thing to touch.  I can take my own daughter into the time warp of what my childhood looked like.  She can look out my window and see the house where her Dad grew up, and we can walk the memories her Dad and I had as kids. I can take her to the old graveyard where the hand of Bela Peck still rests atop his sea scroll stone. She can understand the artistic influences of her grandparents and marvel at the one room school house next door. 
I treasure these trips home.  I can't imagine life without this house.  My greatest hope is that my daughter will be able to return here 25 years down the road and touch her own childhood memories of this grand old place.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Goal Power

Reaching a goal is an instant ego boost, but reaching a goal earlier than expected is like a thousand smiles burning into a permanent grin.  Chariots of Fire music plays in the back of my mind as I mentally burst through the finish line tape!  The choir sings a fast paced hallelujah and I am clapping and stomping in time!  Then I am ushered out of Barnes & Noble for the 5th time in a week..........
Ashlie Blake, of Painting Bliss, and I have mastered the art of goal setting and continue to see our dreams coming true.  Last year we set a goal that 2013 would be our year of publication.  Ashlie has many publications under her belt and it took me a while to conquer my fear of rejection.  But as Ashlie was claiming her third time in Somerset Studios, I knew I could no longer sit on the sidelines. Having both been published we set a new goal of being on the news stands in the same month.  This week that goal got a check mark when the Somerset Studios hit the rack! 
I have notebooks full of goals, because let's face it- I have A LOT I want to accomplish in this life.  Writing down goals, action plans, and dreams is a mental exercise essential to accomplishment. It is like putting in an order from the menu of achievements. Looking back at my earliest goals, I am amazed to see how far I've come.  And how far Ashlie and I have grown as artists.  There was a time when we felt we couldn't call ourselves artists but now we wear that crown with flashing lights!
We will have all of 2013 to enjoy our publication goal as we each have commitments from other magazines coming up.  But those shall remain secrets until the printed page hits the stands and I will again be asked to leave Barnes & Noble due to excessive celebration.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Serenity NOW!!!!!!!

Gotta love those days when I spring from bed full of energy and excitement and within a few footsteps that good mood decends into crumugeony crankiness and my light step resembles more of hooves contemplating a thunder!
Yup! 100 pound dog has puked over every tiny grid inch of her snoozing crate, the stubborn cat decided the bathroom rug would make a better litter box, and the bio hazzard known as my teenager's room remains in such an abominal state I am certain a small village of trolls lives in there!  All of this has to be cleaned and the house (which is also a disaster thanks to spring mud and tiny paws) has to be prepped for hubby's friends coming to visit while I am away- so there is no packing the suitcase and simply running away for me. (insert violins background music)
Oh what's that Al Roker?? A major snowstorm has shut down the airport I have to connect through??  Thousands of flights cancelled? Possibly a mess through the weekend?? AWESOME :/  Today is supposed to be blissful vacation prep but it feels more like trying to mop up after a hurricane!
Time to call in mental happy places!!  If there must be snow, may I be as content as this wee fellow in an old backyard tree.
And may all the noise of this day be washed in the silence of Saint Olaf's Kirke.
May my stress be cradled away in the arms of those I love as gentle as a dew drop in the morn.