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Adventures in Iceland

In mid-August, my husband and I went to Iceland.  He went for a conference… and I went as moral support… If you’ve never been, you should put it on your list!  It’s a beautiful place and the people are warm, generous and have a great sense of humor. Everyone in Reykjavik spoke excellent English (and other languages as well!). This was not a cheap vacation — a simple bagel with cream cheese and veggies cost $10!! But the quality was outstanding and we had a fabulous time. (The conference was productive, too…) The Strokkur Geysir erupts every 8-10 minutes. From the bottom of the dormant Thrinukagrigur volcano, looking up! Gulfoss Waterfall is like a double-decker Niagara Falls! It was midsummer so the glacier was melting. We had to walk through the run-off stream as we hiked through the ice cave. Inside the glacier. This glacier is near Katla Volcano which erupts every 5-7 years. You can see the layers of ash in between the ice. This ash makes the caves “stable” year-round. The town has a lovely lake in the center. Hallgrimskirkja, the church that is the centerpiece of Reykjavik. It’s modern architecture pays hommage to Iceland’s volcanic origins. A street in Reykjavik. There were murals on most streets downtown. I found the Kattakaffihusid, or Cat Cafe — and spent several hours drinking coffee and hanging around cats. Lexi liked to sit on that chair at the Kattakaffihusid. I glued down bits from a tour guidebook and sketched Lexi on top in my journal. In mid-August it didn’t get dark until 11pm! This shot of the Reykjavik harbor was taken at 11:30pm. Have you ever been to Iceland?  What was your favorite place?  I know we definitely want to return some day — maybe in October to see snow and

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Just Finished! A Rottweiler

This has been a busy month for things other than art.  My “day job” as a henna artist is in its busiest time of year so I’ve had to get very deliberate about scheduling time to make collages.  I started this rottweiler puppy early in the month and just finished it today! It starts with a sketch and a quick painting The underpainting is done and the color scheme has been set. Various paper is gathered and collected to be printed, stenciled and decorated, using the colors from the underpainting as a guide. Even leaves from the neighborhood plants are fair game for using to decorate the paper. I collected various fibers to make custom paper: shredded cardboard, dryer lint, old paper, and dog fur! After soaking everything in water overnight, I whirred it in the blender to create a pulp. I made a short video of the actual paper-pulling process.  This tub yielded 16 5×7 sheets of dog-fur paper. Paper made from dog fur. The handmade paper after printing and stencilling…ready to add into the portrait. Added in the background and started on the paws… Working on the face… And now he’s done! And ready for adoption once the varnish dries.

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A busy June culminating in Cats!

June just whizzed by!  I was mostly focused on getting ready for CatCon which was held June 29 and 30 in the Pasadena Convention Center.  But I managed to find time for some fun at the San Diego County fair. I spent 2 days doing demos of my collage process at the fair. It was a lot of fun and I was able to introduce the artform to lots of people who weren’t aware of collage. It wasn’t all work at the Fair…. I was able to check out lots of exhibits, artwork and see the animals.  I also enjoyed this fabulous “Mexican Churro funnel cake”!! (I did share it with my husband…) I finished the lion a few days after I did the demo.  All in all, it took more than 23 hours to complete the entire collage. But he was well worth the effort!  16 x 16, $1800. He is currently available. CatCon 2019! Going to CatCon was the culmination of more than 6 months of preparation — painting, collaging, making prints, cards, jewelry, marketing materials.  It all came together in one purr-tacular week-end. I had the thrill of meeting so many enthusiastic cat lovers and sharing my art with them. I sold prints, cards, totebags and jewelry and nearly ran out of mousepads!  I raffled off a totebag and a puzzle — which were won by Maria Blumberg of San Marino, CA.  Although it was very busy, I did manage to sneak away from the booth to check out the other vendors.  So many cool booths!!!  I met some new friends and also learned the proper way to do a cat-eye if you have mature, hooded eyes like mine (Thanks to the talented artists at the Kat von D booth!) How did she know what Miss Cali

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The Merry, Merry Month of May

May has been a very busy month so far!!! It started with the Walk for Animals on Saturday May, 4.  Over 5,000 people and their furry friends came out to Liberty Station  and raised almost $300,000 to support San Diego Humane Society. Our neighborhood group, Team Lemon Grove Rovers, were right there in that 5,000!  It was a blast!  And we helped the local Humane Society expand their much-needed services. The next week-end was World Collage Day… World Collage Day in Spanish Village, Balboa Park It actually rained on May 11, the original World Collage Day. Since rain and paper don’t play nicely together, I postponed the San Diego celebration until the next day. So we had a lovely event on Sunday, May 12, spreading the joy of collage art with young and old alike. Kyla shows off the card she made. Cards made with collage at the booth. And I’ve also been building my body of work for CatCon 2019.  So each week saw another new cat collage in process. Here are the latest ones hot off the easel! My challenge was to make a black cat without using the color black! I think I succeeded! This one has the working title of Miss Molly. Mr. Ginger wants his feather toy… and he wants it now…. Now it’s time to focus on all the other stuff that needs doing to get ready for CatCon…. flyers, prints, cards, mouse pads, etc.  Figuring out what the booth will look like and what I need to get in order to display everything well.  I’ve got my work cut out for me! But that’s part of the fun! Next month: I’ll be at the San Diego County Fair giving collage demonstrations on June 15th and 20th.  And then CatCon is in Pasadena June

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Studio Tour

Let’s take a little peek into my studio….aka The Guest Room that I’ve taken over. I have the right corner of the room for my work.  And although it may look chaotic, I know exactly where everything is and I can reach most things from my chair.  Today’s project is painting and stencilling paper for the background of a tigger portrait.  Taking a little detour from cats for a moment with this raven. I decided to use a non-commissioned bird to explore new techniques for suggesting the color black and creating texture. This is the underpainting waiting for the collage layers. Mr. Tux is partially collaged and waiting for more layers. I’ve decided to test out working on several pieces at once and see how I like that approach. Usually, I do one piece at a time from start to finish. An artist friend mentioned that she finds working on several pieces simultaneously more productive, so I’ve decided to give it a try. Miss Sahara, my supervisor, is glad that the guest bed is still an integral part of the studio… although I have dreams of moving it to the garage… in the meantime, she is busy.

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Behind the Scenes: HRH Java

Miss Java was my loyal fur friend for 17 years. Always patient, she put up with a live-wire kitten that turned into a bossy “sister” and with an interloper who arrived in 2015 and never left.  She moved from apartment in La Mesa, CA to apartment in Austin, TX to dorm room in at SDSU (we were dorm “parents” for 3 years) and finally to her dream home in Lemon, Grove — where she finally had her own place on the couch she didn’t have to share.  She ruled our home and hearts with a velvet paw. Miss Java as a kitten Her Royal Highness, Princess Java When my husband commissioned her portrait, I knew I had to do something amazing to honor my sweet and beautiful friend, a very special painting that incorporated not only bits of maps of all the places we had lived, but also some of her fur which I had saved from her brush before she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Java’s fur along with her favorite paper to rip — the packing from a Sephora box. Paper made from Java’s fur, some ripped up packing paper, and lint from her blankets. It starts with a sketch and painting in the color. The basic colors and shading are painted in — they act as a guide for the collage. I put in the background and started on the body. You can see some of the fur paper as it is laid down. More and more layers of hand-painted paper are glued down to create the portrait. HRH Java, Princess of Hearts

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