Zut alors!

You may recall that I visited my mother for a few days before I went to the Keys 4 Art, and while I was there, a few art-related things occurred. First, I brought my mother some Sharpies, which she wanted, but she felt were too frivolous to buy for herself (don't think too hard about this - my mom is a unique woman). When she took the sharpies out of the packaging, she noticed that the cardboard backing had a very interesting red and black design on it, and challenged me to make ATCs from it.

Secondly, we went to Michaels to buy some of the bulkier items that I needed to take to the art retreat that I didn't want to pack in my bags. While we were there, we noticed that Embossing powder was 40% off, so my mom bought a couple of jars and an embossing ink pad, with my promise to show her how to use it. The next day we went to Joanns, because we are ridiculous Americans who can't stop shopping. While we were there, we saw that their EK Success punches were 40% off, so my mother bought one.

So this is what I had - a challenge to make ATCs from the Sharpie package, a promise to demo embossing powder, and a new punch to play with, plus whatever I had brought for the art retreat. This included some Tim Holtz stamps and assorted gel pens. There were no collage images in my stash, so I bugged my mother for some magazines.

The girl in the first card is from a Starbucks prospectus, and the magazine bits on the second card are out of Vogue. Nothing like a challenge to get one's creative juices flowing, eh? In fact, I'm submitting these for two Gingersnap Creations challenges - Take on a Tutorial (ATC Angst) and Found Objects. I really like that punch, too. I might have to buy one for myself.

Juliet Arrighi

Mary Engelbreit teapots

They sell little chipboard shape books at Michaels in various themes, and Valerie saw the teapots and thought they would be great for a Mary Engelbreit swap. Valerie is the queen of punchart, and taught everyone how to make the largely geometric motifs that Mary Engelbreit uses with punches, but after looking at a multitude of samples, I decided to paint mine.

Let's just say that my hands are not as steady as Mary's. I will say that making these teapots was a lot like zentangle (repetitive patterns) and zetti (fill every open space with stuff), and that it was a lot of fun trying out this style. I hope the other people in the swap will consider my painted teapots to be as good as their punched ones. Punching gives you very clean lines, but painting gives a certain depth of color, I think.

Juliet Arrighi

The Keys 4 Art - my take

I have been sending you to other sites to read about this art retreat, knowing that other people could tell you about the art and the excitement and show you pictures way better than I ever could. However, there are a few things I would like to say that no one else is saying.

First of all, I want to make clear that The Keys 4 Art is not an ordinary retreat that just anyone can go to if they have the time and money, like a Teesha Moore Artfest or a Tim Holtz cruise. This was more like those Agatha Christie novels where the titled lady invites a curious collection of amusing guests to spend the weekend at her country estate, except instead of being at an English country estate, we were in Elena’s home in Key Largo, and instead of getting murdered one by one, we made art all together. Being invited was a privilege extended to a precious few who all feel very lucky for being chosen, and I can’t think of a surer way to guarantee that I never get asked back than to demand to come to the next one. If you have been emailing Elena and saying, “Pick me! I want to come next year!”, I’m pretty sure you just shot yourself in the foot.

I have to say that Jacquie and Elena are two of the most gracious, expansive women I have ever met. I really enjoyed the private time I spent chatting with Jacquie in her Miami Beach apartment while all the red-eye fliers were catching naps. I enjoyed meeting Al (Jacquie’s husband) and Bernie (Elena’s husband), and the other members of Elena’s family, too. There was never a moment when I was allowed to be hungry or thirsty or hot or cold or bored. The only disagreeable being I met the whole time I was there was Pancho (the parrot), but he reminded me of my youngest, so that was okay, too.

I could not have asked to be a part of a nicer group of ladies, either. Eileen got the coffee brewing first thing in the morning, and Gina worked her mad blender skills (margaritas!) in the evening. Everyone shared what they had, whether it was skills like Jen and her drawing or Elena and her bookbinding, or supplies and ideas, and I must have heard a hundred stories, from Patty and her chickens to Jacquie and her orphans (no, I’m not comparing chickens to orphans). Valerie filled every possible spare moment with more projects and more ideas. I was buried under an avalanche of gifts, physical and emotional and intellectual, and struggled to express my gratitude. Inspiration flowed like Cuban coffee, and all I wanted was more time to do everything that was spinning around in my head. I was very much awed by everything that was being created around me, and wondered how I ever got to enjoy the company of such brilliant souls.

These were four days of my life that will have no equal. The very worst part was that it had to end.

Juliet Arrighi

Playing with paint

I vividly remember making this piece, but I forgot about all the photos Val took until I read about it on her blog. The colors are deeper and more intense in real life(for some reason, all the metallics turned out muddy in the pic), but you get the idea.

Also in this photo you can see glimpses of my "Keys 4 Art" t-shirt, a crocheted necklace similar to the ones I made for everyone else, and a Tim Holtz apron (part of our excellent swag). there are more photos and a brief description of the process on Val's blog.

Juliet Arrighi

Keys 4 Art journal

One of the projects we worked on during this art retreat was a little journal in which to practice our techniques and record our trip. Val provided us with the most of the goodies, and we improvised with what we brought as well. On the front you can see the Drunken Scotch technique framing the shaker box. The covers were painted to acrylic ink and heat embossed with a couple of colors of Zing EP. I also used the Drunken Scotch technique on the two keys dangling from the ball chain. Val also gave us the little bottles filled with sand, and taught us how to make the wire bird's nest and polymer clay bits that you can also see in this scan. You can see a photo of us making the journal on Val's blog.

Juliet Arrighi

Home again!

I just got back in town - whew! I'm fried, physically and emotionally.

For some great pictures of the retreat, check Val's blog. I'm visible in one of the pictures, on the opposite side of the room, by the parrot cage. The parrot didn't particularly like me - he threatened me as best he could, seeing as he was locked up in a cage, but it didn't bother me much. I will post my projects, as soon as I unpack them all.

Juliet Arrighi

Playing with my mom's new scanner

I bought my mother an early Mother's Day present - a scanner/copier/printer. We did a few test scans:

This is my beautiful mother. The photo was taken while she was on a cruise a couple of months ago.

This is a card that I made for my mother last year - she liked it so much that she framed it (she cut a little off to make it fit in the frame) The focal image was painted by yours truly. No great art, but my mom really likes frogs.

On the run!

I'm going to this art retreat next week in Key Largo. I'm going to visit my mother first, so I will be flying down tomorrow. You won't hear from me for a little over a week, since I won't have a computer handy (sometimes it is good to step away). What's that you say? I've already been AWOL a week already? Yes, I'm guilty of making little gifts for the other artists at the retreat. I asked a few people for ideas, and got some great ones, but the best ones were from my neighbor, because she has seen me do all kinds of crafts for years, and knew what she would like if I was giving her a gift - one of these wire crochet necklaces.

That is a dozen necklaces, and my scanner bed is probably not the best place to show them off, but there they are. This is what I've been doing all week. I may make more while I'm at my mother's - I have to bring my wire supplies anyway for one of the classes at the retreat, so bringing a few more beads is no big deal. My sister says that some of them are a little short (they all fit around my neck, but some people have bigger necks, I guess), so I should probably have a few longer ones in the mix.

I miss you, and hope to be full of cool things to share when I get back!

Juliet Arrighi