Octo-Puss in Boots Catch up!

Octo-Puss in Boots still lives on. I have only gotten a few in the past couple of years.

At DesignerCon 2015 I was able to ask Leslie Levings of Beastlies and Shing Yin Kor of Sawdust Bear to each create one. They are such inspiring ladies. They have even created a inspirational away workshop, Wayward Ladies, for creative, full-time artist, women to participate in. They have already passed their time frame for accepting submissions for attendees; look for it next year.

lesliel shingyinkor

In earlier fall of 2015 my husband and I were able to sneak away to a Ben Hatke night in conversation with Gene Luen Yang about Ben’s book Little Robot. They were incredibly inspiring and kind in their discussion about their process and creativity. At the signing we were able to ask them to create Octo—Puss in Boots for us. I don’t think they planned on making almost the same face. (So sorry the Gene photo is so blurry! we were rushing to return to the sitter.)

benhaatke geneluenyang

Then just last week I went to see Kwame Alexander at Kepler’s my teacher from Storyteller Academy, Arree Chung joined me for the event. We were able to chat afterwards and he contributed an Octo-Puss in Boots.

arreechung

I am always awed at the creativity and uniqueness of each individual Octo-puss in Boots. Thank you all for being willing to contribute.

Birding and Leaf Painting

I have always collected leaves. Every year as the leaves turn I find myself picking up my favorites. In past years I did this without much plan; I would pick them up and shove them between book pages (books I clearly didn’t care about because leaf pressing in books wicks all the moisture from the leaf into the book, warping the pages). While this was fairly successful in pressing the leaves, they languished. I didn’t have a plan and the plans I thought I had wouldn’t work with the paper like dried leaf I ended up with.

This time I got a real plant press and prepared a set up to submerge the leaves in glycerin. I wanted to have two options, leaves dried like paper and leaves that were preserved maintaining their flexible state.

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A lettuce leave after soaking in glycerin. It looks like kelp!

The glycerin leaves are still in my processing space. Sometimes I have to sit and look at something day after day before the idea fully forms and I know what I will do with it. The dried leaves I immediately started painting birds on them.

Two separate things brought this idea together. I have always liked painting on none white surfaces. When I went hiking in 2010 and picked up birch bark off the trail, it looked so much like paper, I decided to paint on it. I left these paintings on the trail knowing they were watercolor and would wash off if no one picked them up (I found out the hut kids found them and enjoyed them). Then in the summer of 2016 I got a button maker and realized you could easily put leaves in the press. The jump to painting on the leaf first was a short distance away.

I decided on birds because I look at birds all the time. I have feeders all around my yard. My mother and her sister, Karen & Teresa are birders and they constantly teach us what birds we are looking at. Also, many family vacations now have large swaths of time devoted to birding. We all enjoy it including my son. It’s very similar to collecting Pokemon but, real animals and instead of taking them home we make a list of what we saw and/or heard.

I took the close up photos with my phone using a scope and binoculars for zoom, technology can be ridiculous.

I wanted to paint birds that came from the same locations as the leaves. Representing native species on both fronts, flora and fauna. However, even though the leaves I have collected are living locally, they are native to other countries. The Ginkgo specifically which, is a favorite to paint on. However, the birch and sweet gum trees are fine, as well as the blackberry, strawberry, saltbush, holly cherry, and other natives I have purposefully replanted in our yard. This follows my overall goals of native flora for the paintings and a native garden for the yard.

The leaves all react differently to being pressed and dried, sorted and held until I paint on them, and after they have been enclosed in a button. If the leaf isn’t fully dried it tends to mold within the button. These possibilities cause me to charge not much more than a fancy cup of coffee which, is also a short lived life enjoyment. However, there is the possibility the properly pressed leaves will survive for quite sometime. This is the moment where we say, ‘only time will tell’.

Photos of the buttons finished or pre-pressed. The penny is for size. These end up being 1 inch buttons.

I hope that this project will bring happiness to anyone who buys a button or other final finishing choices I am exploring (pressed in glass making it wall art or made into a pendant). I also hope it brings awareness to the many amazing species of birds that continue to thrive or struggle to live on this planet. I believe our coexistence holds more importance than we are fully aware of.

Hippo for Christmas

Thank you to those that came out to SF Bazaar and Cal Academy’s NightLife and shopped with all of us crafters and artists. We really appreciate the support!

Shop news, the closing down has begun. My shop Biology Class is going to close as of January 1, 2017. It is time for me to move on from making specimens in such a focused way. I am going to pair my art down to having one shop.

I am going to extend my holiday sale through December 15th still HOLIDAY2016, this works in both shops.

So come get goodies! Everyone wants a Hippopotamus for Christmas. My Hippo and Crocodile ornaments will be posted to my soon to be only shop Sunday at 10am.

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Hippopotamus for Christmas

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Crocodile Bring the Ham

The Crocodile carries the Christmas Ham because, what else would a Crocodile politely bring to the holiday dinner?

I am also going to post at least two new prints of work I made this year. Red Riding Hood and Tadpole. Maybe Peacock?

tadpole-caseygirard redridinghoodcaseygirardpeacock-1caseygirard

Shadow Boxes

After years of building with clay and painting with watercolors I believe I have finally found the place where they meet, shadow boxes.

Our school community hosted a show for the women that make art. This ranged from a group of teachers, alumni, and moms. Everyone helped to build the event, it was a very special night. This was the first time it was hosted so, the event was just for community members. Perhaps in years to come we will be able to open the venue up to more folks.

When I was asked to be a part of the show, I had just created my Red Riding Hood piece. It wasn’t completed and it was my first attempt at building a wood panel painting with a sculpted figure. The creator of the Women of Art event loved it and asked that I put her in the show. I decided to then look at two other fairy tales and put my own twist on them.

Beauty and the Beast has been getting a lot of negative coverage in my mind of late. There is an outcry that it teaches girls to believe that whatever man they find they will need to fix him to be a good person. My main exposure to this story was from Disney and I never got that message. I saw it that only his appearance that made him beastly and he should not be judged based on that(maybe because I myself have a facial/neck birthmark?). True there was some needed growth for him to do as a person, he did that during the story, and yes Belle was an incentive for him to change. There I also did not see that as a problem, we all have to grow as couples. I think most couples feel their partner helps them to be a better person. Is that unhealthy, I don’t believe so.

I wanted my piece of Beauty and Beast to be her finding the kindness and beauty within him and loving him just as he is. I am much more a reptilian monster maker, especially since I think they are sweet misunderstood animals. It fit perfectly for me to make him a lizard man. For Beauty and Beast I looked into French fashions to build their clothing. Making lace out of sculpey was a blast, I want to do more.

Sleeping Beauty, sadly was not completed. I put everything together and showed it as a work in progress. The shadow box had to lay down for the show because the glue that kept Sleeping Beauty in place was not fully cured. (This is my third shadow box, I have a lot to learn. In the past month, I learned how to build the outer box frame and attach everything in a way that allows for the art to come back out of the frame so it can be cleaned in the future.) For some viewers this actually had an added element. Sleeping Beauty is known as the princess who is found laying down but, in this image I have her running through the woods. Sometimes failures are exactly what your piece needed.

I have a photo of the Sleeping Beauty on my instagram as it was setting but, upon further examination I want to remake the figure because her head didn’t cure in the correct position. It makes her body off per her movement through the piece. I look forward to finishing this image up. I loved making the background, adding all the leaves, painting the trees and adding the tiny animals!

My hope for my next step is that I will be able to make some smaller shadow boxes of amphibians and reptiles in woodsy habitats. Then, some open square boxes with a section of scales. This way they are a tactile art piece that you can walk by and touch whenever you want. I am very excited about getting to all of these pieces. I am continuing to balance my work time. I do actually get work time on a regular basis now which, is wonderful! Now to get all the things done within the still limited time I have. Trying to figure out what I can really get done.

Also is there any interest in purchase of these images as prints? Comment if you want one! The pieces are for sale too if you want the full shebang. Just email me.

Reading

I love to read. I started reading when I was 8. I had always wanted to read but, I found the words on the page would not speak to me. I remember sitting in front of my book shelf and pulling down book after book until I was surrounded by a pile of books, crying because I couldn’t figure out how to read their stories. I especially struggled with Chris Van Allsburg books because you have to read them to really know what is going on. His pictures are beautiful and I loved them but, I never knew what the stories were about. I actually never read any of his books until I became an adult and had gotten over the hurt of them not sharing enough with me as a child. It was a tragedy against those books and this child.

Picture books could give me enough information to get by. The pictures generally shared an equal amount of the story letting me gain enjoyment. I also eventually memorized some of the books my parents read to me.

Yes my parents read to me, everyday. My Dad is severely dyslexic so, his reading of Calvin and Hobbes can never really be recreated for me. He doesn’t read sentences he reads each word and puts whatever punctuation comes to him. Strong nostalgia there. My Mom read to me everyday all the way through elementary school. She made up stories for me as well, those characters were like friends and family. However, none of this was enough for how much I wanted to read.

Once I learned how to read, my level was above average but, my speed was never very quick. I have learned that I have an audio dyslexia, I must hear the words out loud or in my head to understand them. So, speed reading is out. I had tried for years, I end up feeling like I read nothing. High School was such a challenge. The rate with which I was required to read in English was impossible with the amount of other homework and sports I was involved in. I would do my darnedest to get ahead to only fall behind half way through the book and never finish it. It is doubly sad because I loved all the books we read. However, I had to give them back to the school before I could ever finish them. I am putting those books into my reading lists now to finally finish them.

Until this year I have never been able to keep up with what I have desired to be my reading habits. The discovery, someone told me about their cousin who also has audio dyslexia, reads via audiobooks and can speed up the audiobook to 3x speed. I have been listening to audiobooks on an off for 6 years. Somehow I missed the setting where you can speed them up, probably because I started with cds, itunes, and then a library program. Since, I started technology has improved and on both Audible and my Library program; I can turn the speed up to at least 2x. Audiobooks are much more accessible for me because I can intake a story at the proper speed for my brain to take it in and for me to maintain interest. When the story is going to slow, I get bored because there is room for other thoughts to intrude on the story. If it is going fast, I can’t stop paying attention.

An added benefit to this speed listening is I am finding I can actually read faster. I never quit picking up actual books as I began listening to more audiobooks. As I sped up the audio, my mind could sound out text faster as it had gotten used to hearing words played faster. The joy this all gives me is immense. It has made me realize reading is the thing I will drop everything else for to do. As soon as I finish a book I check out what will be next. I have 35 audiobooks always at the ready on Audible, at least 5 on the library audio system and my recent visits to the library have become maybe too over zealous. I have 10 books out to myself right now. It does work okay when they are all middle grade which, 8 of 10 are. (I don’t like to keep a book out for long, I want to make sure it gets back in circulation asap so someone else can find it and enjoy it)

I am so satisfied by all of this. I once watched so much tv in the background as I worked(art, clean house, etc). I now hardly ever do, I’m listening to audiobooks. Even when I watch the COPA America games at home, I’m reading a book at the same time.

My son also enjoys listening to audiobooks. He isn’t at 2x so, we tend to share a book at separate times. It is nice to be able to double up on sharing stories together. I sadly can not read to him all the time. I’m so glad this technology is there for him in his childhood. They say listening to audiobooks helps with reading too. Take advantage of this tool to read more. Libraries have pretty excellent catalogs of audiobooks now.

If you care to see what I’m reading: follow along at Goodreads

Happy Reading!

Plein Air Painting

I was able to go on a road trip for Memorial Day. It was so neat to see the coast of Northern California. A friend and I drove up to Crescent City to visit a friend. Doing a short day trip. Mostly we spent a lot of time on the beach. The goal had been to find agates but, I decided to paint. I used some mussel shells to hold my water and used a newly set up gouache travel kit. This is what I made:

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Crescent City

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Crescent City005

 

Oregon001

Oregon

Oregon002

I loved having time to stretch my painting skills. I hope I can do some more of this during the summer. We will see what I can do. Perhaps another trip up the coast and I can also spend time drawing the trees in Humboldt County. Also, next time I won’t forget my coat. It was so cold!